Along with all of the other Guns N’ Roses fans around the world I read “An Open Letter To The Fans From Axl” this evening with much interest. About half way through it occurred to me that I had read much of this before. In fact, I had written the blueprint for it in an email for Axl’s attention two days ago which I have copied below.
The reality is all of this year’s touring was planned and agreed between Axl and myself, with a view to the album being in the stores before the 31st of December ’06. This was confirmed by Axl in numerous interviews – most famously at the MTV Video Music Awards. We planned the tour in February, just after Axl’s birthday and we were supposed to finish the album in May, before it started. We sent our engineers to New York, where we all waited, for over a month, for the muse to come but she never arrived. We then scheduled sessions in London in August and had our engineers meet us there at the end of the English tour. August came and went and once again the muse did not show. We postponed our proposed radio date of Labour Day for the first single and we came back to LA and tried to finish before the San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles shows but yet again she eluded us. Axl then asked me to postpone the North American tour which was due to start on 24th of September by a month and finally, early in that period after the euphoria of Inland Invasion, Axl made a break through and got two or three very productive days under his belt.
At this point we were very excited as Axl’s feeling was that we had two or three days of work left to tidy things up and we still had three weeks before the tour started, so we were in good shape. Unfortunately the muse disappeared just as fast as she came and the tour started with no single at radio to support it and the album still needing two or three days of work. Despite this, it was a break through period as Robin, Bumblefoot and Frank had all made important contributions to the album that made it even stronger. By the way none of the above is meant as a criticism of Axl. It is the reality of trying to create something special under incredible pressure from the public – that wants and DEMANDS the record – and the record industry – that NEEDS it. The creative process is not something you can dictate and Axl is a true artist.
At this time I seriously considered postponing the start of the tour, again, as the album was of paramount importance but the reality was that our historic track record left us with very little good will with you, the fans, and we needed the money to be able to complete the album and keep the band alive. We scheduled sessions in New York and once again sent the engineers there for the first two weeks of November while the tour was based there – but the hectic touring schedule meant nothing got done. The record company refused to conclude the renegotiation until we were ready to hand over the finished album and refused to prepare a marketing campaign or commission video treatments until they had it in their hands. This is still their position as of this week.
At this point despite the success of many of the dates on the tour the pressure on all of us became unbearable. While some of Axl’s letter is disappointing – As John Lennon once asked Paul McCartney “How Do You Sleep?” – until you have walked a mile in his shoes you cannot begin to comprehend the pressure he is under. I know I sleep well at night in the knowledge that when Chinese Democracy hits the streets in March that it is in large part down to my efforts over the last almost 5 years. I found the money and the motivation to keep Axl and the band alive and get the record made when everyone else had given up and walked away. We worked as a team united to make Chinese Democracy a reality. In the end the album will speak for itself but our relationship could not survive the pressure.
I have no regrets. I believe Chinese Democracy is one of the best albums ever made, Axl Rose is one of the greatest vocalists and front men and the new Guns N’ Roses (which kicks the shit out of the old) is one of the greatest bands. What we accomplished in 2006 only hints at what is to come.
I believe in Axl Rose. I am the artist’s manager and it is my responsibility and job to take the heat. I promise you Chinese Democracy is worth it and you should keep the faith. I will walk away knowing I have done my best and that next year will see Axl recognized not only as a great singer and rock icon but as one of the greatest artists of all time.
Merry Christmas and all the best to you for 2007!
PS I apologize to all the fans irked by my facetious comments regarding the release date to Rolling Stone magazine. They were meant to poke fun at a magazine that had announced a definitive release date, causing us all lots of grief, when none had been set. Unfortunately many of you took them to heart and for that I am sorry.