Clip: The PR Skills of Axl Rose
Why Keith Richards Always Uses a Speechwriter
By CHRIS NELSON
Published: April 5, 2004
In the 11 years since Guns N' Roses last released an album, fans have often
wondered what Axl Rose, the group's reclusive lead singer, has been doing.
Apparently, attending how-to workshops for publicists has not been on the
Last week, Mr. Rose issued an emotional and apologetic news release through
the Business Wire to explain the recent departure of the new Guns N' Roses
guitarist, Buckethead, and the group's subsequent cancellation of its May
30 appearance at the Rock in Rio concert in Lisbon.
"During his tenure with the band Buckethead has been inconsistent and
erratic in both his behavior and commitment - despite being under contract
- creating uncertainty and confusion and making it virtually impossible to
move forward with recording, rehearsals and live plans with confidence.''
"Regardless of anyone's opinions of me and what I may or may not deserve,''
the release added, "clearly the fans, individuals in this band, management,
crew and our support group do not deserve this type of treatment."
Mr. Rose's approach was not embraced by his newfound colleagues. Public
relations professionals usually advise clients to distance themselves from
bad news by letting a representative or corporate entity break the
information, said Bob Merlis, who worked in publicity at Warner Brothers
Records for almost 30 years, and whose firm M.f.h. handles media contacts
for John Mellencamp and others.
Lois Najarian, a publicist with Dan Klores Communications whose clients
include Prince, called the dirty laundry Mr. Rose talked about in the
release "a cringe factor."
"The criticism that Axl gets when he does bold stuff is that he's showing
some sort of instability or lack of reason," Ms. Najarian said. Still, she
said some fans appreciate Mr. Rose's candidness.
Few have ever doubted Mr. Rose follows a quirky muse. He has spent more
than a decade working on his group's next record, and alienated his
original bandmates in the process. The group's 2002 tour was nixed after
Mr. Rose did not show up for concerts in Vancouver and Philadelphia.
Buckethead himself is no stranger to eccentricity. Born Brian Carroll,
Buckethead never appears in public without a wig, a mannequin mask and a
Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket on his head.
Despite Guns N' Roses' travails, the public's appetite for its releases has
not abated. Last week, the group's "Greatest Hits" album made its debut on
the Billboard 200 albums chart at No. 3, having sold 169,000 copies,
according to Nielsen SoundScan.