After weeks of speculation, the rock family tree finally sees another connection. Axl Rose will join AC/DC, enabling them to complete their Rock or Bust world tour. Suddenly that title has a greater meaning. Have the aging rockers just taken their biggest gamble?
There’s no doubt W. Axl Rose catches people’s attention. He has courted controversy that has only been topped by AC/DC’s undesired foray into the dark side of the media. Where Rose appears to thrive on scandal, DC’s management has spent the last eighteen months trying to deflect negative media stories. From arrested drummers to career ending illnesses. Brian Johnson’s recent departure was the climax of a turbulent time.
Well, it should have been the final act. Since joining the band in 1980, Johnson has seen their biggest commercial highs (Back in Black), sustained exposure in America, and a genuine resurgence and acknowledgement of their reign with Black Ice.
Rather than fade into the night, confirmed as kings, they stuck around. They are only one of several rock bands that can fill stadium tours and still have thousands unable to get tickets. They have never attempt to upset the formula. AC/DC play good old fashioned hard rock and roll. The sound rarely deviates, neither does the popularity.
So why take the risk? Is the hunger from the remaining skeleton crew so strong they must go on at all costs? What makes the appointment of Rose an even more interesting proposition, is how initial reports at the time of Johnson’s departure claimed the Geordie frontman was unaware he’d been axed from the tour.
He had performed knowing the doctor’s diagnosis. It seems the band made the decision for him once they got wind of this. Only they know if this was an act of mercy or a deceitful plan to replace a singer they perceived to be on the decline.
During the Black Ice tour Johnson had spoken as if it could be his last. However, it proved not to be. He clearly still had the drive to perform as the voice of the world’s biggest rock band. But it could be his pondering during this period made the other members draw up a plan B.
That fresh alternative would need to bring a dynamic perspective. A new unknown would have been a gamble but a great way to break free from comparisons. Somebody that could do better justice to the original Bon Scott sound would have been a request from diehard fans. The ability, should they choose to carry on for years, to produce a definitive new album.
What they went for was rock’s version of a diva.
Nobody can doubt Rose’s charisma. After years of floating around with a band flogging a dead horse by using the Guns N’ Roses name, he remains in the public conscious because of his personality. His ability will be truly tested once again. This is a major step-up from his current comfort zone. There’s a good reason that former bandmate, Slash, enjoys so much critical acclaim with Myles Kennedy while Axl only makes headlines for being late at gigs.
All that aside, the thought of him fronting a new look AC/DC is tantalising.
It was put to Slash in an interview with Chris Jericho that a reformed Guns N’ Roses would be about the only band that could fill stadia like AC/DC manage. Slash agreed but said he was yet to get the bug. Rose obviously feels different. Unable to work through differences with his former guitarist, this offer gives him a pass back to the big time.
Chinese Democracy was eight years ago now. It didn’t give Axl the rebirth he’d hoped. The elevation in exposure he’s about to experience will. Just how these rock giants will mix, only time will tell. Will AC/DC play the odd Guns N’ Roses number or will it be a strictly DC set? And the biggest question is how will they deal with Rose’s eccentricities.
A failure to make a date because of his behaviour will surely put the final nail in the coffin for all those concerned.
Let’s hope nobody tells AC/DC to “Fire Your Guns.”