After convening on LA’s Sunset Strip in 1985, a location habited by ‘wannabees, dreamers and schemers’, they eventually became probably the most successful on the ‘hair bands’
This entertaining and timely documentary from John Brewer includes numerous talking heads (original drummer Steven Adler (now paralysed carrying out a stroke) his replacement Matt Sorum, Slash, A&R Tom Zumzuat, Michael Monroe, the bug-eyed Hanoi Rocks man, original manager, Vicki Hamilton) and features previously unseen footage courtesy in the ‘6th Beatle’ (surely it must have been the 6th G-Rose?) Slash’s childhood friend, Marc Canter, who overly permeates the film in comparison with the indomitable Axl Rose whose archived presence only symbolises his absence (so too Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan).
A slow-burning phenomenon that deployed strippers on stage and antagonised their crowds, their riotous spectacles (including Rose and Adler’s girlfriend’s live ‘show’ on stage) catapulted them in to the big time. The London Marquee gig plus the ‘Welcome for the Jungle’ video cemented their ascent. With success follows excess and what climbs up must go down.
The result’s a toxic triptych tale of fame, money and drugs culminating in litigation and disintegration within seven heady years. An ousted Adler suing, Slash and McKagan further succumbing to hedonism, Stradlin quitting for his personal sanity and Rose progressively more repressed and violent, continually arriving hours late for shows simply to then jump into your crowd to assault fans taking photographs.
The story ends in 1993 following The Spaghetti Incident, the group becoming a Rose solo venture reaching 2008’s terminally gestated Chinese Democracy for the recent news likely to reform with this year’s Coachella festival.
A 2011 interview with McKagan has him answering and adjusting a question of reformation with ‘We would reunite ideal rea$on$’ what might they be then, Duff? Unfinished bu$ine$$? Without Stradlin and Adler IS it Guns ‘n’ Roses or simply Trigger’s Broom? The ring of steel at Coachella best be ready for the phalanx of narcissists as well as their prying lenses.
Tellingly the film highlights how fearful, sedate and controlled today’s music scene is, they were extreme options for living, but, at the very least they were fearless, exciting and risqué, ‘generation gap’ music. It’s challenging to even imagine Ed Sheeran saying ‘Shit’ without apologising to his group of fans.
Guns ‘n’ Roses: notorious certainly. Dangerous, and then themselves.
‘The Most Dangerous Band In The World: The Story of Guns N’ Roses’ premieres on BBC4 on 05/02/16