Tons of sex, drugs and, oh yeah, a dash of rock ’n’ roll.
The frontman of multi-platinum-selling hard-rock purveyors Guns N’ Roses, William Axl Rose was everything you could want in a rock star: enigmatic, unreliable, darkly charming, substance-abusing and, when he wanted to be, a damn good performer. Rose wasn’t like Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, who overcame his demons and had a long, productive career; G N’ R was only truly relevant roughly between 1987 and ’93. In those few years, Rose caused a few decade’s worth of trouble, making him an ideal subject for an in-depth, in-your-face biography. U.K.-based music journalist Wall was at one time one of Rose’s favorite confidants; the singer had no compunctions about summoning the writer to his apartment for a late-night (or early-morning) confessional interview. Rose and Wall had a falling out—which explains the “unauthorized” caveat—but their once-fruitful relationship ensured that the author had more than enough firsthand source material to draw on. Wall shapes it into an archetypal rock biography that captures the runaway-train spirit of the singer and his band. Rose is a veritable tornado, and Wall does a terrific job of bringing the reader into the middle of the chaos, gleefully delivering dozens of anecdotes about the band’s mind-boggling excesses. Unlike Everett True’s baggy Nirvana (2007), Wall’s forays into first-person journalism aren’t self-serving. Rather, they add color to an already colorful story.
You don’t have to be a Guns N’ Roses fanatic to dig this energetic, comprehensive, few-holds-barred portrait of modern metal’s most charismatic figure.