Gn'R Blame Rio on Buckethead

Axl pulls his troupe out of summer festival

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Guns n' Roses have pulled out of their May 30th Rock in Rio festival in Lisbon, Portugal. The announcement came from frontman Axl Rose just a week after guitarist Buckethead announced that he was departing the group after four years of service.

"The band has been put in an untenable position by Buckethead and his untimely departure," Rose wrote in a lengthy statement. "There is not a member of this camp that is not hurt, upset and ultimately disappointed by this event. Regardless of anyone's opinions of me and what I may or may not deserve, clearly the fans, individuals in this band, management, crew and our support group do not deserve this type of treatment. On behalf of Guns n' Roses and myself, I apologize to the fans who planned to see us at Rock in Rio."

Rose accused Buckethead of being "inconsistent and erratic in both his behavior and commitment -- despite being under contract -- creating uncertainty and confusion and making it virtually impossible for to move forward with recording, rehearsals and live plans with confidence." In February, Buckethead allegedly told drummer Brian Mantia that he was rejoining the band, but Rose said that he was unaware that he had left. Last week, Buckethead's manager publicly stated that the guitarist had quit the group and had a pair of albums due this summer. "It appears his plans were to secure a recording contract," Rose wrote, "quit Gn'R and use his involvement in the upcoming Guns release to immediately promote his individual efforts."

That Guns release, which has long been tagged with the working title Chinese Democracy, has been greatly anticipated, as Gn'R haven't issued an album of new, original material in more than a decade. Rose said that the group was "moving forward" and plans to announce a release date for the record in the near future.

The nixed Rock in Rio is just the latest stumble for Gn'R as the group -- Rose, Mantia, guitarists Robin Finck and Richard Fortus, keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman and bassist Tommy Stinson -- had the plug pulled on a U.S. tour in the winter of 2002, its first in seven years. A European tour earlier that year was scotched when Buckethead suffered an undisclosed stomach ailment. And the lengthy process of getting Chinese Democracy into stores seems to have worn thin with the band's label, Geffen. The label released a live compilation in 1999, and this week Geffen issued Greatest Hits, despite Rose's attempt to have the record blocked through the courts.

As for Rock in Rio: Lisbon, the festival is searching for a replacement for Gn'R. Evanescence and Kings of Leon are among the other acts already signed on to perform.