Love them or loathe them, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Guns N’ Roses drastically changed the face of modern rock’n’roll. The LA rock band instantly made the glam metal scene of the 1980s look ridiculous, and they injected rock music with a good dose of nihilism and a lousy attitude.
All of this has meant that it’s remarkable that Guns N’ Roses are still an active rock band. It’s been 23 years since their iconic debut album Appetite for Destruction was released. But the group’s Not In This Lifetime tour is still going ahead and will take them to South America for the end of 2020. So what’s behind the longevity of this famously decadent rock band?
Ultimate Rock’n’roll Iconography
While Guns N’ Roses’ music is pretty powerful, it’s nothing that other rock bands like Aerosmith haven’t done before. The sleazy blend of blues-rock and metal made GN’R perfect for disaffected youth in the late 1980s, but they cleverly packaged the whole thing to make the band instantly identifiable.
As such, the Guns N’ Roses brand has become translatable across a wide range of media well into the 21st century, and it seems that there’s an ingenious business brain behind all of the chaos. For example, they had their song Welcome to the Jungle used in the Grand Theft Auto video game. They even have an officially licensed Guns N’ Roses casino game among the new online slots in the UK. Without mentioning the whole merchandise and fashion built around them, which is massive.
It’s something that the band has worked on over the years. From the likes of Slash’s top hat, ever-present cigarette, and Les Paul guitar, to W. Axl Rose’s often wayward fashion tastes that once featured a penchant for cycling shorts, this is a band that knows how to make a big splash.
While some of Guns N’ Roses fashion decisions have been questionable, it at least makes them a more exciting proposition than looking at how Nickelback dresses up for their press photographs.
Keeping The Press Happy
If there is one thing that Guns N’ Roses know how to do, it’s to create newspaper headlines. Admittedly these are often for all the wrong reasons, but it just goes to show that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Over the years, the band has received vast amounts of negative publicity for anything from racist and homophobic lyrics to the fact that Axl Rose couldn’t take the stage without being at least two hours late. Such outlandish antics have been documented perfectly in Slash’s tell-all autobiography, which revealed in endless escapades of alcohol and drug-related carnage.
However, it seems that bad press can only go so far, and Guns N’ Roses have been getting dangerously close to being on the charm offensive recently. This gets even more apparent when Axl Rose helped out AC/DC by being a substitute for their singer Brian Johnson in 2016. This act of charity earned the famously tempestuous vocalist plenty of new friends, and it shows that even bad boys can do some good.
But What About The Music?
Despite all of the press headlines, it’s hard to overlook the basic fact that Guns N’ Roses have pretty much failed to make a consistently good album since Appetite For Destruction. While Use Your Illusion had its moments, it was a patchy affair that suffered from way too many piano ballads. Plus, although Chinese Democracy has its admirers, it isn’t worth the ten years of studio time that the band allegedly put into it.
As a result, it seems that Guns N’ Roses are putting all of their efforts into keeping their fans happy. They are going on their Not In This Lifetime tour that has been running since 2016. This has reunited the core members of the band, and while it features little in the way of new music, it should be enough of a cash cow to keep the Guns N’ Roses machine up-and-running for many years to come.