When classic-era Guns N’ Roses members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan played their first gig together since 1993 last week, comedian and actor Andrew Dice Clay was among the VIPs present. In an interview with Rolling Stone that will run in full next week about his new Showtime series Dice – which premieres 9:30 p.m. EST on Sunday – he recounted his role in getting the three warring musicians to embrace a truce and what he saw onstage last Friday at Los Angeles’ Troubadour. Guns N’ Roses will be playing their first big show tonight in Las Vegas, and continue into the summer with a massive North American stadium tour. Here’s what Dice had to say:
There was a lot of excitement in the room. I wanted to be at that first show because honestly I really … I don’t know how to say this, because I don’t want to take credit for anything, but I was very aggressive in trying to help this band get back together. These are guys that I’m hanging with since, I think, ’89. They came to see me at the Wiltern, and that’s how we all became friends. We’ve always bonded beautifully. I’ve always had pure love for the guys and their music.
My son, Max, who’s the drummer in a band called Still Rebel, would say to me, “Dad, you know you’re the only one that can really put this band together. There’s no agenda. You just love the guys.” Every manager tried. Every attorney tried. Every agent tried. But the reason I got aggressive about it was because last year, when Axl was still working with the new band, he was at the Hard Rock Hotel, and I opened for him for the last show they did. That was a lot of fun.
Then I did an Australian tour. I was in town in Sydney about a half hour and I see Slash having breakfast. We’re out on this big porch at the top of this hotel and I walked over to him and said, “You mind if I smoke?” And the guy looks and he goes, “Hey, Dice!” And I said, “All right, listen. Whatever the problems were 20 years ago, whatever it might have been, we’ve got to put that to rest, because you guys peaked rock & roll. You’re all around and you’re the greatest band.” And he was saying really good stuff about Axl, so that was a good sign to me.
When I came back to L.A., Duff McKagan came to see my son’s band live. He looks at me and goes, “Dice, they’re ready.” As a father, I was just like, “Really?” So he met with my son two days later at a Starbucks with [GN’R road manager] Tom Mayhew to talk about music. And I go to Duff, “All right, we’ve got to make a move, because rock & roll is coming back in a bigger-than-life way. The minute the show Vinyl hits, the rock explosion is gonna start. Then there’s another show, Roadies. All these bands are getting back together. You guys owe it to yourselves, and all these millions of new fans from the last 20 years, to go out there and kick their asses.” Then on Axl’s birthday, Slash tweeted some very nice stuff about Axl, and the rest is becoming history.
I know Steven Tyler came out and said he put the band together. Everybody likes taking credit. And maybe he did have something to do with it; I’m sure he’s buddies with them. But I aggressively went after it. I just love the guys.
So obviously, I wanted to be there for their first show at the Troubadour. It was so exciting to see them onstage again. I felt so happy for them. I was like a proud father of them. And they did a kick-ass show. Axl has lost nothing. He’s the king of rock & roll. That’s it. He’s got that thing, that X-factor. And Slash’s guitar playing was just beyond belief. These are world-class musicians. These aren’t just some rock & rollers. They know their shit inside and out.
Before they played, I really had a good time hanging with Nic Cage, ’cause he’s very into the band and he hangs with them. Then I was hanging with Bradley Cooper who I never knew was such a Dice fan. He was with his mother, and she was going, “You don’t understand what you mean to us, how many times we came to see you.” And then I was hanging with Lenny Kravitz all night, who’s just the coolest motherfucker on earth. He actually made me feel good, because when he met my son, he said, “I know you guys. I heard you on SoundCloud.” I was very excited for them.
When Guns N’ Roses got onstage, it was exciting. It was electric. They’re not using Steven Adler or Matt Sorum, but the drummer they’re using I thought was phenomenal. It was an incredible night and the crowd was pumped. It was just great to witness this. The first time I saw them was in some downstairs rock & roll club on Fairfax. So I wanted to see them the way I saw them the first time and be at that first show. They did about an hour and a half, which was perfect for that room and just rocked the fuck out of the room. They’ve got so many great songs, but their closer was “Paradise City,” and you just get chills. You just get absorbed in the music and the performance. They’re the best.
Duff McKagan looked better than he’s ever looked in his life, and Slash, even, is all buffed out. And when Axl walks out with the black leather jacket and the red bandana, you go, “Here they are.” I’m just a fucking fan at that point. Axl’s voice is as good or actually better than it’s ever been. The thing is this, when you start out, you have potential as a performer. And as you grow as that performer, even though they hit when they hit, he wasn’t done growing voice-wise. To watch Axl perform the way he does, he’s just a master. They rocked that fucking room.