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The band that time forgot is the complete Guns N' Roses unauthorised biography, written by Paul Stenning.
For a fan of Guns N' Roses it will be a book you will find yourself unable to put down, once you start reading. It's certainly true that Guns N' Roses have had a very interesting past, so there are a lot of stories to be told. The book also tells you were all the guys are now with their careers - Velvet Revolver, Solo projects, and perhaps most importantly...... Axl Rose and the much awaited 'Chinese Democracy' album. After reading the book I have much more insight into what was, in my opinion, one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Fans of Guns N' Roses know that what eventually lead to the breakup of the band was them all wanting different things. Sure, there are a lot of stories about bust ups within the band, but most of all, it was band members wanting to go in different directions music wise.
" Axl's whole visionary style, as far as his input in Guns N' Roses is completely different from mine. I just like to play guitar, write a good riff, go out there and play as opposed to presenting an image. " -- Slash
From all the press the guys received back then, it seemed to be mostly Axl and slash making the headlines. But what you might not know, is that Duff had problems with drink and drugs too, leading to quite a few 'incidents' that never made the papers. There is one story in particular that's actually quite funny...
--- Kidnapped ---
Duff had been on the booze one night when he convinced himself that his band mate Steven Adler had been kidnapped. As Duff is telling this to his friend, she suggests taking him to find Steven, despite not exactly believing his tale. They set off towards Sunset Boulevard, on the way stopping off at Duff's house, where he speeds in and out of the house carrying a shotgun upon his return. They set off again in the car and are driving along, when Duff shouts for them to stop the car. He then races over to the house to be met by an old man who, upon meeting with a rather vicious looking, gun wielding maniac, clutches his heart and falls into his aged wife's arms. Duff meanwhile, runs past them both, scanning all the rooms, screaming the place down. Leaving the baffled couple to work out what the had done top deserve such a confrontation, Duff is frog marched back into the car by his friend, who tries to gently persuade him it might be the wrong house.
Back on the warpath Duff spots the actual house he has been looking for....... or so he thinks. The friend is once again forced to let manic Duff inspect his next point of call. This time he is met by a screaming Vietnamese lady. Duff goes bounding into her house asking "where the f*** is Steven?" He decides to rummage around the kitchen cuboards (to see perhaps if Steven is being stored in there?). It's at this point Duff is once again escorted back to normality by his friend. Finally the search seems to have proved ineffective enough for Duff to conclude "F*** it, let's go get a beer". Of course, Steven had not been kidnapped, as if you needed me to tell you, but this is just one of the many stories throughout the book.
Soon after this incident Duff was told by his doctor, after yet another bout of alcohol induced illness, that if he took one more drink he would die. This was a wake up call for Duff and made him change his whole lifestyle.
" So much has gone on in my life over the past few years. Having to battle against the ravages of my lifestyle was really difficult, but overcoming my dependencies was the best things that ever happened to me. It opened my eyes, it turned my life around. It made me realise what was really important to me. I was offered a lot of money to stay in Guns N' Roses, and I was very honoured by that. But I realised that I had never gotten into making music for money in the first place so why start now."
--- Chinese Democracy ---
Now, I had all but given up on the Chinese Democracy album ever being released before reading this book. I had resolved myself to the fact that it looked like it was never going to happen, and I was fine with that, the reason being that perhaps it was best to stick with the great music we have already been given by the old Guns N' Roses, why risk ruining that. Besides, after hearing about the new Guns' members - a guitarist who goes by the name of 'Buckethead' because he, erm, always has a KFC bucket on his head (I swear I'm not making this stuff up), would you be confident about the new album?
However, a few people that had done some work with Axl on the album were very impressed.... "I've heard some of the songs on the album and they were amazing! A couple of sure-fire hits there... I don't know why Axl is delaying the release". But understandably, Axl wants the album to be perfect. There is a lot of pressure on him. He has built up the album too much and has kept people waiting too long. Slash, Duff and Matt did not have to face that sort of pressure when forming 'velvet revolver' because they always kept a realivly low profile and never made any huge promises. There were expectations of course, as the guys had been part of such a huge band, but I think they more than proved that they have still got it with the release of their album, 'Contraband'. But Axl has so much more to prove to people, including it would seem to some of his old band members.....
"I just wish the f***** would get the f****** record out so I could see why he took something so cool and systematically destroyed it. I want to hear where he was headed, and what he was trying to communicate that none of us in the band could relate to" -- Slash
So is there hope for the 'Chinese Democracy' album? Well, from reading the book, I would say yes. Whenever Axl feels it is perfect. But there is a lot of exciting stuff in the book about it that does give you hope, you will have to read and see for yourself. As for all the reported tantrums, riots, arguments between the band members etc, again you will have to read the book to find out what really happened. All I can say, is as a fan who thought nothing could surprise me, who thought there are no stories about Guns N' Roses that could shock me, there is some stuff in there that really did both shock and surprise me. Like I said at the start of this review, Guns N' Roses have a very interesting past. Perhaps that is why I could not put the book down once I had started reading. I would give it more than 5 stars if I could.
Paperback bought for the bargain price of £6.99 off Amazon.
Thanks for reading.
They are the most explosive band on the planet. During their heyday in the late 80s and early 90s, they sold over twenty million albums and performed sell-out stadium gigs in every major rock capital of the world. Having gone more than ten years without a new album and now with only one original, they are still very popular.