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How Different Would Things Be Now If Axl Went Solo?


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57 minutes ago, RussTCB said:

GN'R playing to smaller and smaller crowds by 2011 has nothing to do with Axl keeping the GN'R name. 

In the decade prior to that, GN'R had massive buzz whenever they did anything. The whole world was waiting for him to release the next GN'R album, but in the mean time, GN'R were playing tours that sold well along with headlining several huge festivals and getting critical and fan acclaim for it. 

The album was finally released to extremely positive press, including glowing reviews from major publications. The general public also responded well initially by buying enough copies to put it near the top of the charts during the week of release. 

So all of incredibly positive things were happening with no need to claim that Axl wasn't successful because of the GN'R name. 

The reason GN'R ended up playing half filled arenas and even theaters by 2011 - 2014 was because Axl failed to capitalize on any of the huge forward momentum GN'R had in the decade prior. 

Yep and failed again after the big threeunion in 2016. Year on year decline again. Will be playing in empty theatres and arenas soon if nothing changes.

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~ 45 contemporary reviews of Chinese Democracy here (among some other articles):

https://www.a-4-d.com/t2566-chinese-democracy-album

I'd say reviews were rather mixed. Some very positive (e.g. Rolling Stone, Klosterman), some so-so and some negative. Some of the favourable ones were along the lines "it's good, but it's not GN'R). Axl's vocals were generally praised.

The 2002 US tour didn't sell well, with the exception of MSG and a couple of other big cities (ironically, the cancelled/riot show in Philadelphia was one of the best selling shows). The concert reviews were mostly negative also. It wasn't a much different picture, as far as ticket sales, on the 2006 US tour, although the reviews were generally better than in 2002. It did a lot better in Canada.

 

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1 hour ago, ©GnrPersia said:

Dave Grohl was just a drummer in Nirvana and most casual people/fans didn't probably know his name at the time unlike Axl Rose. But Dave managed to create Foo Fighters. Reinventing the wheel from scratch without looking back at his Nirvana years. Today Foo Fighters is headlining festivals.

Point being:
If Axl would go completely solo,
under his own name or any other name than GNR,
and most importantly would behave like an organized, normal and active musician and tour, promote and release albums every few years,

His band could become as big as classic GN'R.

And to be fair Axl didn't even need to put massive effort like Dave Grohl to achieve this. He just needed to behave normal and work 9AM to 3PM everyday.

 

 

I agree.

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52 minutes ago, Blackstar said:

~ 45 contemporary reviews of Chinese Democracy here (among some other articles):

https://www.a-4-d.com/t2566-chinese-democracy-album

I'd say reviews were rather mixed. Some very positive (e.g. Rolling Stone, Klosterman), some so-so and some negative. Some of the favourable ones were along the lines "it's good, but it's not GN'R). Axl's vocals were generally praised.

The 2002 US tour didn't sell well, with the exception of MSG and a couple of other big cities (ironically, the cancelled/riot show in Philadelphia was one of the best selling shows). The concert reviews were mostly negative also. It wasn't a much different picture, as far as ticket sales, on the 2006 US tour, although the reviews were generally better than in 2002. It did a lot better in Canada.

 

Rolling Stone giving the album a 4 star rating is a huge win, no? Also, the 2002 ended because of Axl's antics, not anything at all to do with the GN'R name. 

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While I agree that Axl is the problem and not the name, I do wonder how the album would have been recieved if it was released as an official Axl Rose solo album and therefore changed the expectations surrounding it. Then with different expectations could come a different public perception of the album itself. 

 

That being said it wouldn't make the album better, maybe just given a different set of "ears" to listen to. 

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Posted (edited)

Is it at all possible that Axl refused to promote CD because they released it without the proper booklet? Is it possible that the booklet artwork was being held up (because everything is always held up with Axl) and he asked for a slight delay in the release date (maybe Christmas vs Thanksgiving) the label and or Best Buy said no and released CD without the super weird and somewhat awesome booklet and Axl just freaked the fuck out? Because let’s face it the booklet we got DOES NOT fit the vibe of CD at all. It feels rushed and cheap. And when you have toiled over something for so long you want everything to match and be perfect and this shit rush job booklet just broke Axl’s brain. It seems too insane and insignificant right? But it wouldn’t be to a crazy artist. A crazy artist would want his booklet with the weird art and weird manifestos and shit. It completes a part of the vision. I think the Red Hand and Grenade are what Axl wanted. I’m sure the Bike cover would have been fine too had the inside been the same as the Red Hand. Just some food for thought…….

Edited by Arnuld
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3 minutes ago, Arnuld said:

Is it at all possible that Axl refused to promote CD because they released it without the proper booklet? Is it possible that the booklet artwork was being held up (because everything is always held up with Axl) and he asked for a slight delay in the release date (maybe Christmas vs Thanksgiving) the label and or Best Buy said no and released CD without the super weird and somewhat awesome booklet and Axl just freaked the fuck out? Because let’s face it the booklet we got DOES NOT fit the vibe of CD at all. It feels rushed and cheap. And when you have toiled over something for so long you want everything to match and be perfect and this shit rush job booklet just broke Axl’s brain. It seems to insane and insignificant right? But it wouldn’t be to a crazy artist. A crazy artist would want his booklet with the weird art and weird manifestos and shit. It completes a part of the vision. I think the Red Hand and Grenade are what Axl wanted. I’m sure the Bike cover would have been fine too had the insane been the same as the Red Hand. Just some food for thought…….

The artwork obviously meant a lot to Axl:

Axl: There are 2 more covers/bk cover combos and the real booklet that is all artwork that will be out shortly in some form. It's been an ugly battle that hasn't made any sense to anyone and whether anyone cares about such things the booklet or artwork has always been something I've been passionate about and to release the album with unapproved and unseen final artwork with a !st work only error filled draft when others more recent were readily available still has not been explained but is finally getting cleared up. My fave is the How Are You Grenade cover {mygnrforum.com, December 12, 2008].

And when asked if he considered the job done:

Axl: For me, once the real accompanying artwork is there with a few videos and some touring, the package was achieved and delivered [Billboard, February 6, 2009],

So obviously the artwork meant a lot to Axl, as it should to any artist. But at the same time he would express happiness over the record:

Axl: I'm very happy with the album, looking forward to audiophile and Blu-Ray mixes at some point if we're lucky, as that's really what it was designed for since first hearing about Blu-Ray [The Oakland Press, February 2, 2009].

So I guess it is anyone's guess, but personally I don't think the flawed artwork is the sole reason Axl refused to be part of the immediate promotion. My belief -- and this is just conjecture -- is that his anxieties got the best of him. He had just delivered Chinese Democracy after 15 years of stress and pressure and it got mixed reviews and he was afraid of having to confront the press who he felt was out to get him and he had a reaction to all that. It's human in a sense but Axl is particularly sensitive and it had become too easy for him to just let Beta and Azoff work as a buffer between him and the world outside.

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Posted (edited)

It's difficult to speculate because Axl is Axl, so I'm not sure what might have changed had he gone the solo route for a bit. He probably should have listened when everyone was telling him to step away and do a solo album while him and Slash were battling in what direction GNR should go after the Illusions tour ended. Maybe it would have been successful both critically and commericially and it would have put GNR away for a few years and we would have had a reunion in 99 or at latest 2002. 

In an ideal world, maybe him branch out into doing some sort of eclectic album that would allow him to experiment with all the stuff he was excited about at the time and taking time away from GNR might have given him a different perspective on what the band was about and what it could be without steering it too far away from where his bandmates were comfortable taking it. Maybe the band doesn't break up or at worst they take a few years break and reconvene in 99 or 2000 to make/release a great album and they go on to continue making albums and we have double the albums they have now and everyone is happy.........

It's rather fruitless to speculate really, actually its kinda depressing to think what might have been had this band function even a bit normal. We've got what we got now and it is what it is. 

Edited by NicDwolfwood
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One thing I've always wondered: would CD have been more of a success in the states if it had been offered through Walmart vs Best Buy? Black ice was such a huge success, and it was also released through one store

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3 hours ago, axl666 said:

One thing I've always wondered: would CD have been more of a success in the states if it had been offered through Walmart vs Best Buy? Black ice was such a huge success, and it was also released through one store

I believe so. There are more Walmart stores than Best Buy stores, even then. I remember being laughed at when I asked folks at work who live/work in a fairly rural area if they had a Best Buy in 2013. They had a Walmart of course. 

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Posted (edited)

He felt that Azoff and the label “sabotaged” the album, forced its release with the ultimate goal of bringing on a reunion  

If that were his fears, then why sign with Azoff? The guy notoriously meddles with artists, labels, promoters etc to get his outcome and is the major power player in the industry. Of course he wanted to cash in on a reunion. Why else is he interested in representing you? 

I don’t think Axl ever truly intended on releasing anything. I think he was upset at the industry and the label for dictating his art and rejecting the first submission. So he took their $, ran up the budget and held onto the project as payback. It’s the name of the project after 2000 Intentions died. Chinese Democracy. Something that may sound good in theory but it’s existence will never be seen 

Edited by guitarpatch
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4 hours ago, axl666 said:

One thing I've always wondered: would CD have been more of a success in the states if it had been offered through Walmart vs Best Buy? Black ice was such a huge success, and it was also released through one store

I've wondered about that too but the fact remains that the album debuted very strong. 

It debuted at #3 in the US behind new albums from Kanye West (#1) and Taylor Swift (#2) 

The difference between what happened after that for those albums and what happened with Chinese Democracy is that the above artists promoted their albums heavily. So those albums continued to stay in the public eye. 

Chinese Democracy fell off quickly after a very strong start due to a complete lack of promotion from the band itself. So, again, Axl... 

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12 hours ago, RussTCB said:

Rolling Stone giving the album a 4 star rating is a huge win, no? Also, the 2002 ended because of Axl's antics, not anything at all to do with the GN'R name. 

The album being widely reviewed extremely positive is a big exaggeration. There were lots of bad reviews too. Especially from writers who expected the album to sound like gnr

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9 minutes ago, StayofExecution2020 said:

The album being widely reviewed extremely positive is a big exaggeration. There were lots of bad reviews too. Especially from writers who expected the album to sound like gnr

It received generally positive reviews.

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24 minutes ago, StayofExecution2020 said:

The album being widely reviewed extremely positive is a big exaggeration. There were lots of bad reviews too. Especially from writers who expected the album to sound like gnr

 

14 minutes ago, Sweersa said:

It received generally positive reviews.

It did in fact receive many high profile positive reviews. The point is that the GN'R name wasn't some huge problem that held Axl back from success. Axl is what held Axl back from success. 

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8 hours ago, jekylhyde said:

If he would've gone solo, he would've been more free to do music he wanted to do. The label apparently rejected the first version of Chinese Democracy, because they didn't think it was on par with Guns N' Roses' commerciality. But if that album would've been an Axl Rose solo album, they probably would've released the first version, because a) the label wouldn't have given Axl so much money for a solo album that they did for Gn'R album and b) it didn't need to sound like a Gn'R record.

In that scenario everyone would've won, I think. Axl, the label and the fans. Axl could've reinvented himself (because he would've had the self-confidence and the drive after the successful release of the first solo album) and we might have gotten more records. The label would've made more money on smaller investments.

Keeping the Guns N' Roses -name and getting way too much idle money ruined everything.

This is a really important point that I think a lot of people are forgetting. The labelled obviously wanted the album, but they also didn't like the direction. According to Chinese Whispers, Jimmy Iovine said, "It's not GNR without Slash" - so you can imagine him not being hot on the industrial sound Axl was going in.

Remember the reaction we all had to the Rough Master leaks? People freaked and said it was great and that "Axl was right all along." This was the album that was done in Axl's mind in 1999/2000 that Bob Ezrin said had "three good songs". This could have come out then because Axl thought, "it just needed mixing". Then they spent years adding layers, adding parts, adding players and, lo and behold, when it came out, it was fundamentally the same tracks as eight years prior.

I'm not saying Axl bears no blame because he obviously does. His bizarre work habits, his showing up late (or not at all) to shows, strictly playing AFD songs in concert and not adding anything new to the setlist, not promoting the album upon release - but I just don't think it's all on him. 

He never helps his case either because he just says nothing and truly believes everyone is against him - the press, the public, the old band - and after seeing some of the awful shit said about him, it's hard to not see why.

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13 hours ago, RussTCB said:

Rolling Stone giving the album a 4 star rating is a huge win, no? Also, the 2002 ended because of Axl's antics, not anything at all to do with the GN'R name. 

Yes, the 2002 tour ended the way it ended because of Axl. But before that, the shows were selling poorly and the band played, with some exceptions in half (or less than ) full arenas. The poor attendance had - undoubtedly - much to do with the MTV Awards performance. I suppose that Axl would have gotten the same flak for his own performance (and appearance) regardless of the name; however, the flak for the "guy with the bucket in his head," the "freak show" and "the guys who aren't Slash" would probably have been much less under a different moniker. A band that was interesting and talented in its own right wouldn't have to be unfairly compared to the classic band, and we would've been spared the "better than the old one" etc. silliness.

Not everything that preceded the release of the album was positive for Axl. It's true that there was a lot of interest (even if it was, in some cases, in the form of morbid curiosity) for it in the press, mainly because of the mystique, the time it took to make and the money spent on it. The album went to #3 in the charts, which normally wouldn't have been bad at all for a rock band in 2008, but the press considered it a failure for such an anticipated album. There were also indeed passionate fans who supported the new band as GnR, but there was also a lot of negativity and the fanbase was divided - but I guess you know all this very well, since you've been on the boards much, much longer than I've been :)

I'm not saying that the name was entirely responsible for what went wrong - after all, it was Axl's choice to keep it, which had its advantages and disadvantages, and he'd have to deal with both. For example, if Axl had released an album in the early 2000s, followed by one or two more like he had originally planned, and the shows relied more on the new material than on the old songs, there was potential for the band to have been established as a successful new version of GnR. But then again, it was the name that allowed Axl the luxury to continue touring the old songs without releasing new music, whereas had he gone solo/under another name he would have to release and perform new music in order to be able to play in anything bigger than a club. Of course, this is all a big "if". Like I said earlier, I don't know if Axl would've had the drive and confidence to start over, if that had been what he would have to do in order to continue being an active musician on his own.

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19 hours ago, RussTCB said:

GN'R playing to smaller and smaller crowds by 2011 has nothing to do with Axl keeping the GN'R name. 

In the decade prior to that, GN'R had massive buzz whenever they did anything. The whole world was waiting for him to release the next GN'R album, but in the mean time, GN'R were playing tours that sold well along with headlining several huge festivals and getting critical and fan acclaim for it. 

The album was finally released to extremely positive press, including glowing reviews from major publications. The general public also responded well initially by buying enough copies to put it near the top of the charts during the week of release. 

So all of incredibly positive things were happening with no need to claim that Axl wasn't successful because of the GN'R name. 

The reason GN'R ended up playing half filled arenas and even theaters by 2011 - 2014 was because Axl failed to capitalize on any of the huge forward momentum GN'R had in the decade prior. 

Hmmmm... a lot of revisionism here in my opinion. The whole world was NOT waiting for Axl to release a GNR album by 2008. Sure in the late 90s, there was a lot of interest and intrigue. But then 2002 VMAs happened. Very few folk took that circus lineup seriously as Guns N Roses. Music moved on, people lost interest. CD definitely got better reviews than people recall but the thing is, the ship had sailed by then. He may have manged to relaunch GNR in the late 90s but he didn't and the subsequent release of CD sold considerably less than any other GNR album.

As an aside my friend reminded me today that  when CD came out, I was a big fan. Less so now! I think I just find the whole thing a shame and wasted opportunity of a career. Anyhoo, onwards and upwards... 

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8 minutes ago, 19AT5 said:

Hmmmm... a lot of revisionism here in my opinion. The whole world was NOT waiting for Axl to release a GNR album by 2008. Sure in the late 90s, there was a lot of interest and intrigue. But then 2002 VMAs happened. Very few folk took that circus lineup seriously as Guns N Roses. Music moved on, people lost interest. CD definitely got better reviews than people recall but the thing is, the ship had sailed by then. He may have manged to relaunch GNR in the late 90s but he didn't and the subsequent release of CD sold considerably less than any other GNR album.

As an aside my friend reminded me today that  when CD came out, I was a big fan. Less so now! I think I just find the whole thing a shame and wasted opportunity of a career. Anyhoo, onwards and upwards... 

Chinese Democracy was still a very highly anticipated album in 2008. Should it have been released wayyyy before that? Absolutely. However, there was still a huge amount of anticipation for it in 2008. This is easily proven (again) by the fact that it debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts, only behind Taylor Swift and Kanye West. 

Also, the VMAs did do a lot of damage but the 2006 tour was a success after that. So the 02 VMAs performance didn't cause the world to stop caring about the album. 

Again though, none of that has anything to do with the GN'R name. Had Axl played his cards right, he could have been very successful GN'R name or not. 

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Just now, RussTCB said:

Chinese Democracy was still a very highly anticipated album in 2008. Should it have been released wayyyy before that? Absolutely. However, there was still a huge amount of anticipation for it in 2008. This is easily proven (again) by the fact that it debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts, only behind Taylor Swift and Kanye West. 

Also, the VMAs did do a lot of damage but the 2006 tour was a success after that. So the 02 VMAs performance didn't cause the world to stop caring about the album. 

Again though, none of that has anything to do with the GN'R name. Had Axl played his cards right, he could have been very successful GN'R name or not. 

It was highly anticipated because of the length of time it had taken to release! My overriding memory of the release was most people saying "it doesn't sound like GNR!" Which is 100% true. I still remember buying it and running back to work to play it. Fuck, I have fond memories of the leaks and what not. But over time I've come to conclude it is an utter mess. All that said... and I mean this... I'm bloody glad they continue to play tracks off the album. Rather than pretend it didn't happen.

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3 minutes ago, 19AT5 said:

It was highly anticipated because of the length of time it had taken to release! My overriding memory of the release was most people saying "it doesn't sound like GNR!" Which is 100% true. I still remember buying it and running back to work to play it. Fuck, I have fond memories of the leaks and what not. But over time I've come to conclude it is an utter mess. All that said... and I mean this... I'm bloody glad they continue to play tracks off the album. Rather than pretend it didn't happen.

I still like the album a great deal, but I get why people didn't like it then or now. I'm also glad they play tracks from it. It's one of the things that makes GN'R unique. I can't think of another band who's done something like that. 

In any case, my whole point is that the GN'R name isn't what caused Axl's career to be where it is right now. Axl caused that himself, IMO. 

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9 minutes ago, RussTCB said:

I still like the album a great deal, but I get why people didn't like it then or now. I'm also glad they play tracks from it. It's one of the things that makes GN'R unique. I can't think of another band who's done something like that. 

In any case, my whole point is that the GN'R name isn't what caused Axl's career to be where it is right now. Axl caused that himself, IMO. 

I'd likely agree with your last point. He fucked it single handedly himself. 

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