They knew if they built it, fans would come.
Rocklahoma, that is. The organizers of this rock 'n' roll campout established in 2007 outside of Pryor came up with three “dream acts” they wanted to land as headliners as they planned for the growth of the event.
Motley Crue. Check. They came in 2011.
Guns N' Roses. Check. The band is playing Friday night.
TBA, hopefully in 2014, if the third act on their wish list comes true.
Meanwhile, GN'R will close out the first official night of the 2013 edition of Rocklahoma, which stretches over this Memorial Day weekend from Friday deep into Sunday night.
Other acts topping the bill this year include Alice in Chains, Korn, Cheap Trick, Bush, Bullet for My Valentine, Papa Roach, Skillet, Hollywood Undead, Steel Panther, Asking Alexandria, Ratt, Halestorm, Device (with David Draiman), All That Remains, Escape the Fate, Dokken, Clutch, Motionless in White, Big Wreck, The Sword, Young Guns, Thousand Foot Krutch, Otherwise, Red Line Chemistry, Mindset Evolution, Heaven's Basement, We As Humans, American Fangs, O'Brother and many more — nearly 80 acts in all.
“There are certainly other substantial and well-recognized classic rock acts out there that we're going to target in future years, but we're really, really happy that we were able to get the timing to work to get Guns N' Roses to perform this year,” said Joe Litvag, senior vice president of St. Louis-based AEG Live, which has produced Rocklahoma for local founders Pryor Creek Music Festivals Inc. since 2010.
“It's something that we've been talking about for a few years now,” Litvag said of the headliners.
Aside from Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose, the last original member of GN'R, keyboardist/vocalist “Dizzy” Reed is the longest-standing player the band, having joined just before they recorded “Use Your Illusion I” and “II,” the 1990 pair of albums that stands as the Los Angeles band's most epic and critically and commercially popular work.
Reed has heard good things about the Pryor festival, which has grown in attendance by 150 percent since AEG Live began managing the event, with about 25,000 a day expected to show up this year.
“Here in L.A., I have a lot of old friends and stuff from back in the day that have played at Rocklahoma the last few years,” Reed said in a recent phone interview from his home during a tour break.
“And also my booking agent that books me, Bigtime Entertainment, over the years they've put a lot of bands on that show, so I've heard quite a bit about Rocklahoma and actually have been trying to get on the bill myself, but now I'm doing it with Guns N' Roses, and that's even better.”
After the 1993 release of “The Spaghetti Incident?” an album of punk covers that failed to capture the rowdy spirit of their previous works, Guns N' Roses famously went into limbo amid reports of Rose's tyrannical behavior and the departures of founding members, including guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin.