How do you solve a problem like Axl?

Axl RoseAugust is typically a quiet month in music, with very little going on at all. Yet this week seems to have been a busy week for music news.

Okay, maybe ‘news’ isn’t the right term for all of it. Or even much of it. 76% seems to have involved Justin Bieber in some way, while one of the week’s major stories was whether or not Guns N Roses are still playing their upcoming UK tour dates – most importantly, Reading and Leeds at the end of the month.

That particular story all started with a tweet, as things generally do these days. A message appeared on Axl Rose’s page on the social networking site informing fans that all future dates were off. Such is Axl’s reputation for being a bit flaky, half the world had reported it as fact before anyone thought to check it out. On closer inspection, it was the singer’s first tweet for three months, and was posted via Twitter’s mobile website, rather than the Twitter For iPhone app, which Axl generally uses.

A spokesperson for Reading and Leeds quickly announced that everything was fine and that Axl’s account had been hacked. Oh, those pesky hackers, I reckon we’ll see more of them in this week’s Weekly, too. So, end of story, time to get on with our lives.

Except the story has continued to bob up again and again all week. By Thursday, it was Reading and Leeds boss Melvin Benn who was giving the statements. He’d spoken to Guns N Roses’ booking agent, who had spoken to Axl, who had said everything was still on. But that tweet remains online, and neither Guns N Roses nor any of their ‘people’ have made any direct statement, which is why the story just won’t go away.

The band played their last gig last Friday, headlining the Rock N Rev festival in South Dakota, the band’s only US date this year, following tours of South America and Europe. Next up is the band’s UK tour and more mainland European dates, which are set to begin on 27 Aug at the Reading festival, before taking in arenas across Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe through to a show in Barcelona on 23 Oct.

The fact that the band have completed all but two dates of their 2009/2010 tour schedule (and those were both due to problems with the stage in South America) does suggest that Benn is right and everything is fine. But there’s still that reputation Axl’s got himself in recent years.
Back in 2002, when the new Guns N Roses first went out on tour, Axl’s failure to turn up to a number of early shows resulted in rioting, leading to the rest of the tour being cancelled. Then, in 2006, Axl cancelled the final dates of a US tour to work on completing the ‘Chinese Democracy’ album, at the same time as firing the band’s manager, Merck Mercuriadis. By this point, the band had nonetheless played numerous shows successfully, but that’s not the kind of thing people get remembered for. Especially when they’re Axl Rose.

So, wow, look at that. All this because of one tweet, eighteen words long, which probably was put there by a hacker. But Axl really does know how to start up a fuss, even if he does it unintentionally. Any other band would have deleted the tweet and issued a statement clearing the whole thing up. Other bands wouldn’t assume that some festival in the UK could put everyone straight. But I guess that’s why other bands aren’t as entertaining as Guns N Roses.

Taken from the 20 Aug 2010 edition of CMU Weekly, which you can read here.

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