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My affair with Guns n’ Roses

Anyone who knows me reasonably well would know me to be an ardent fan of Guns n’ Roses but let me tell you a bit about how that really began!

It was in the year 1989 that a friend of mine called me over to his house to record a few songs on tape. Back then, we depended on those who had friends in the US to bring down new music so we could make copies on dual cassette recorders. He then played ‘Sweet of Child o’ mine’ which immediately got my attention. I said “I’ll have that one” and I had the classic loaded on to a compilation that also had Bon Jovi, Scorpions etc.

In 1990 while sitting in class, back at school, a class mate of mine Sameer came in and got on the teacher’s table and shouted out ‘This is a song about your...’. I was aghast. Not only was he pushing it in a school such as mine but he was truly crazy. It was all kinds of wrong!

In June 1991, I was sitting in one of those boring Accountancy sessions in college and my dear friend Shekar and I were talking about music and he asked me if I had heard this album called ‘Appetite for Destruction’ by a band called Guns n’ Roses. He gave me a tape and said “dude, be very careful with this, it is my favorite album”. I took it home and put it in my massive deck. After a few familiar crackles from what was clearly a recording from a vinyl, the familiar distorted strokes with their now ever familiar delay kicked in leading to one of the most violent, destructive wails I had ever heard. I had never heard anything like that! Welcome to the Jungle was just the beginning as one classic led to another. 4 hours later, I had gone through the record over 5 times. I was hooked! I returned that tape to Shekar with much reluctance but ensured I got my own copy a few days later.

All we did for the next few days was talk about the upcoming album of the band. On one of our visits to Basement Blues, (a store that would record new albums for folks such as us) in Chennai, in August 1991, we found two CDs with the names ‘Use your Illusion I & II’. We were grinning from ear to ear with excitement as the guy threw in the first CD to play the first track ‘Right next door to hell’ and we were just done! Cable TV had just gotten into India and we found the video of ‘Don’t Cry’ playing rampantly through the day. It was a great track that my mate Gerard and I would learn to perform with our band ‘Acanthus’. And then the release of ‘November Rain’ happened on TV and it was like watching a short film of a band that had gone from the wild and baddest bands in rock n’ roll to a suave, fashionable, yet edgy ‘don’t know what’s gonna happen next’ band creating epics of music. I got my first CD player in October 1991 and with it came a small consignment of CDs from my Dad - they included Use Your Illusion I, II, Waking up the neighbors - Bryan Adams and a few others. The excitement of having a CD player in Chennai at that time made me a bit of a celebrity amongst my buddies but it played only 3 CDs again and again...and again!

Over the months, Shekar and I would read the lyrics in great detail, looking to memorize them and understand the meanings, the state of mind or the lack of it. I had already started writing my own music and I can say that GnR’s music and style was a huge influence and with good reason.

By 1992, I had all their records (at that time) on CD and got the first recording of ‘The Spaghetti Incident’ when it came out 1993. I soon had it on CD too. I even had a recording of their performance at Tokyo Dome in 1992 which was a refined bootleg and was gifted a copy of the last single ‘Sympathy for the devil’. And then came the hiatus. I waited and waited and waited. I followed the events that led to everyone leaving. It was depressing for a fan such as I. While my interests in music had diversified, my heart remained with this band that had been a companion of mine, my alter-release of sorts, my form of resistance.

When ‘Oh my God’ was released in 1999, I was honestly depressed. It just wasn’t Guns n’ Roses! It had no soul. And with the many ‘scares’ that the new record would come, constantly leaving me on the edge, I finally heard of the release in November, 2008, I had a friend of mine who worked for an airline pick up 5 copies of the record from a store in the UK on November 25, 2008 - 2 days after it came out! I took it into my room and locked myself in there for hours as I ran through the record again and again. I didn’t sit down to run comparisons on the line up. For me, the band was back! It was what I had grown up on and while I found a lot of similarities in the music I found the differences too but most importantly was able to respect the work done by Buckethead and Bumblefoot.

When the ‘new Guns n’ Roses performed in Abu Dhabi on December 16, 2010, I was there and I just cried when the first chords of ‘Chinese Democracy’ ripped through...for me that was enough! Many years of emotions, experiences all culminated in one mega experience that I will never ever forget. It was also the same week, that my band Vin Sinners had finished up with the first record.

Over the past several years, I’ve followed the band’s progress and the shows and a lot of rumors had started to spread about in on various blogs about a possible reunion. There was a slip up by one of Duff’s wife’s friends at a local gathering saying that ‘Guns n’ Roses’ were getting back together. DJ Ashba and Bumblefoot left the band in quick succession but none of that meant anything until that short preview started to play at the launch of the Star Wars movies and then Slash very subtly put up the old classic logo of the band on Instagram saying nothing else. Duff did the same.

Many want it all to be very perfect with Izzy and Steven Adler or / and Matt Sorum to join this line up but Izzy has never ever been the person interested in the big stage and he’s joined the band on several occasions in the past too. He’s just done things his own way. Adler did join the band on the US and South America leg of the tour on a few songs. Let’s respect the fact that Richard Fortus has been with Guns n’ Roses since 2002 and was also a member of Thin Lizzy! Frank Ferrer on drums has been with GnR since 2006 and played on the band’s previous record. He knows ALL of the band’s old and new material.

So, tomorrow night, I fulfill a long cherished dream. Watching my favorite band of all time live on stage. As far as I am concerned, this is my experience!! And I will live it out in FULL!

So, tomorrow night, I fulfill a long cherished dream. Watching my favorite band of all time live on stage. As far as I am concerned, this is my experience!! And I will live it out in FU