Yeaahh! Tonight’s the night. Guns N Roses are coming to town. I’ve taken out my trademark red headband. I’ve just about fitted into my blue, torn at the knees, jeans. My leather jacket waits expectantly by the door. And I’m preserving my voice for all the screaming I’m going to engage in. I don’t think there’s ever been a band that does that for me like these guys from California.
It’s a generational thing - but if you were a kid growing up in the late seventies through to the late eighties, in the Bombay that was, rock music defined you. Our sleep deprived parents will vouch for the ‘noise’ that emanated from our record players in the bedroom next door. What marked rock bands from this era, was singer-guitar duos. Singers that harmomised with their guitarists so they sounded like one. I have some that I will always cherish - Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppellin. And Axl Rose and Slash from Guns N Roses.
Music triggers memory. For a lot of us, rock music guided us through childhood. Yes, I confess to memorising lyrics written by these masters, and passing them off as my own, to break the ice with unsuspecting damsels at crucial moments. Deep Purple was my companion through my teens, Led Zeppellin saw me through the treacherous early twenties.And Guns N Roses, defined my adulthood. As they did for a whole generation. This quintet revived heavy metal, at a time when popular music was dominated by dance tunes.
From the 1980s and early 1990s, GNR brought violence back into music, earning them the nickname ‘The most dangerous band in the world’. If you Google Axl Rose, it’ll read like the diary of a madman. Much substance abuse, live concert violence and serious band member bad blood. He went into hibernation for ten years, holed up in his multi million-dollar mansion.
The singer is truly a bit crazy, bad boy par excellence. But when he first appeared, as a scrawny 25 year old with the gravel-ly voice, swaying while he sang, 1987 came to a standstill. And ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ forced its way into our cassette players, like very few songs can.
I salute you Axl. One of the last of the great men of classic rock. In an age of Justin Beiber and other such effeminates, Axl Rose has brought retro back to metrosexuality. Sure Beiber eats health food and Rose ingests heroin. But whose music will survive the next twenty years? So see you tonight, Axl…sweet child of my generation. We’re knocking on your heaven’s door.
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62 @gmail.com.
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.