Share “Guns N' Roses returns to Oklahoma”

Guns N' Roses returns to Oklahoma

Frontman Axl Rose last man standing in what was once called “most dangerous band in the world”
MATTHEW PRICE Features Editor Modified: November 9, 2011 at 11:19 am •  Published: November 4, 2011

The follow-up, the dual albums "Use Your Illusion" and "Use Your Illusion II," sent the band on what was the longest tour at the time in rock history. But the entire band didn't make the transition: Adler was replaced by former "Cult" drummer Matt Sorum, and Rose's childhood friend Izzy Stradlin left the band, to be replaced by Kill for Thrills guitarist Gilby Clarke. The reasons for the departures were opposite: Adler's struggles with addiction were affecting his playing, according to Slash; Izzy, meanwhile, was struggling to maintain sobriety among the ever-harder-partying band.

The show at Oklahoma City's Myriad on April 6, 1992 is much-bootlegged, and features a raucous Oklahoma City crowd who booed opening act the Smashing Pumpkins and waited until after midnight for GN'R to take the stage.

"Ahhhh...the good ol' days," wrote Duncan's Amy Shelby in an e-mail to NewsOK. "My hair was big and my waist was much smaller. It's really funny how music can transport you back 25 years in a single riff... but the first 10 seconds of Sweet Child o Mine spirals me back to junior high. Not to mention that big wail that only Axl can do at the beginning of Welcome to the Jungle. Can anyone listen to that without throwing your arm in the air in traditional head banger style, with the little horns, and whipping your head to the beat? NO! Of course, it's that move that reminds I'm a bit older now.

"I waited for years for them to come to OKC.... I wouldn't have missed that for the world! And after a mediocre opening act with Smashing Pumpkins, it was worth the wait! Heck yes, I'll go again! I'm still a huge fan! And I'm going to rat my bangs!-- ok- maybe not. It's a fun thought. But I'm afraid my kids wouldn't let me out of the house."

Rose remained relatively drug-free (at least comparatively speaking) for most of the extremely long "Illusions" tour, but his show-delaying tactics were enraging the rest of the band. Slash writes in his autobiography the reasons he left Guns N' Roses in 1996.

"I'd like to state, very simply once more why I chose not to continue on with Guns N' Roses so that no one feels the need to ask me this ever again when they see me on the street," he writes. Here it goes: 1) the constant disrespect for all involved by going on late for no good reason night after night after night, 2) the legal manipulation that Axl forced on us, from demanding ownership of the name to downgrading us, contractually, to hired hands, and 3) losing Izzy and Steven, who were such an integral part of the band's sound and personality…without them, the band no longer had its original chemistry."

McKagan was the last of the original lineup to leave, in 1997. The final album featuring Slash and McKagan was 1993's "The Spaghetti Incident?" a collection of cover songs by the band.

For a decade after McKagan's departure, fans waited through a changing roster of GN'R members for a new album, to be titled "Chinese Democracy."

In 2000, Rose had another brief connection with the Sooner state — he told Rolling Stone how he had written a song called "Oklahoma" after the 1995 bombing of the Murrah building. He was in court with ex-wife Erin Everly, and was struck by the gravity of the Oklahoma situation, and how it was hard to take his court proceeding seriously in comparison.

On January 1, 2001, the new GN'R — including guitarist Buckethead and drummer Bryan Mantia — played its first concert in over seven years at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Buckethead would eventually give way to Bumblefoot — guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal. Other band members would come and go, but "Chinese Democracy" was no closer to completion. By the time the album was released in November 2008, 15 years had passed since a GN'R release.

The album was generally well-reviewed, though the odds it will ever make back its reported $13 million budget are long indeed.

GN'R is now embarking on its first U.S. tour since the official release of "Chinese Democracy." GN'R currently includes Rose, guitarists DJ Ashba, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and ex-Love Spit Love guitarist Richard Fortus, former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, keyboardist Chris Pitman and drummer Frank Ferrer. Reed is the only holdover from the "Illusion" recordings.

For most of the "Appetite" and "Use Your Illusion" era, Guns N' Roses would close its show with "Paradise City." The wistful longing for a past that probably never was, interspersed with a present that's brutally honest but hard to take, was a reflection of GN'R's entire catalogue.

"Paradise City" starts out banally enough, with "Take me down to the Paradise City/Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty," a sentiment that wouldn't have been out of place coming from anyone from Warrant to Motley Crue.

But Rose isn't content to cast a simple wish-fulfillment song of good-looking women.

As the chorus continues to call for a return to Paradise City, the verses drag Axl and the band deeper into corruption and decadence.

As the chaos continues lyrically, it's reflected in the sonic dissonance of the music; Axl's voice is straining to be heard amidst the increasing chaotic and relentless clamor of the song.

The beginning call of the song is simply a nostalgic call for home; by the end it's a cry for help. But it's all cast around a seemingly innocuous chorus.

"Paradise City" seems like a wistful remembrance of someplace nice, but by the end of the thing he's talking about being strapped to a chair in the city's gas chamber.

"Strapped in the chair of the city's gas chamber/Why I'm here, I can't quite remember/The surgeon general say's it's hazardous to breathe/I'd have another cigarette/But I can't see."

It's a microcosm for Guns N Roses itself—a fast-paced band with an appetite for destruction and a lead singer who's practically ravenous for it.