Axl Rose and Slash shared a stage for the first time in 23 years on Friday night, kicking off one of the most-anticipated (and potentially lucrative) reunion tours in rock history. No member of Guns N’ Roses has yet said a single word to the press, but the show still answered many long-burning questions. We now know that Axl, Slash and Duff McKagan were joined by keyboardist Dizzy Reed, guitarist Richard Fortus, drummer Frank Ferrer and new keyboardist Melissa Reese. We know that at least two Chinese Democracy tracks will be in the mix for the tour, as well as the Use Your Illusion super rarity “Double Talkin’ Jive.” But there are still a ton of lingering questions. Here are six of them.
1. What’s the deal with Steven Adler?
Perhaps nobody on earth wanted to see the original Guns N’ Roses lineup reform more than drummer Steven Adler, and since the reunion announcement, he’s been completely silent. Many fans figured that meant he was involved at least to some small degree, and when he bailed on a solo show at the Whisky a Go Go a couple weeks back, it seemed like possible confirmation. But he was nowhere to be seen onstage at the Troubadour.
L.A. Weekly is reporting that his absence was due to medical reasons. “A source close to the band told me that Adler is having back surgery, which is the real reason he pulled out of the Whisky show,” they report. “I’ve also been told he’s not ready to tour with GNR, not yet, and maybe not ever.” If true, that’s an incredibly cruel fate. Let’s all hope it’s not true and they’re just waiting for Coachella to break him out.
2. Was Izzy Stradlin even invited back?
The reclusive guitarist gave us quite a surprise last month when he joined Twitter and called us up to say that he wasn’t involved with these comeback shows. Sadly, we never got the chance to question him. Did the Guns N’ Roses camp make any attempt to bring him back into the fold? Was he made an offer he deemed insulting? Did they worry he was simply too unreliable to depend on for an extended tour? Does he even want to be a part of this? As of now, we simply have no idea.
3. How exactly did Axl and Slash mend their relationship?
Axl Rose made it abundantly clear in nearly every interview he granted over the past two decades that a reunion with Slash — who he once deemed a “cancer” — was a non-starter. “Give me a fucking break,” he told Billboard in 2009. “What’s clear is that one of the two of us will die before a reunion and however sad, ugly or unfortunate anyone views it, it is how it is. Those decisions were made a long time ago and reiterated year after year by one man.”
What exactly changed? Did Axl simply get a monetary offer he couldn’t refuse? Did they actually sit down and mend their personal relationship? Did it take an army of lawyers, managers and therapists, or did they handle this themselves? There wasn’t a lot of onstage interaction at the Troubadour. Are they even speaking terms even now? Once again, we don’t know.
4. Are they planning on recording new music?
Few people buying tickets for this tour care much about hearing Guns N’ Roses perform new music, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Axl Rose and Slash have a pretty good track record in the studio. For all we know, there have been secret sessions this past year and a new album is in the works. That feels unlikely, but the cone of silence around the band makes almost anything seem possible.
5. Do they ever plan on talking about this?
Their “no interviews” strategy hasn’t exactly prevented them from getting much press. If anything, it has added a huge aura of mystery to this whole thing and gotten them more attention. It’s easy to imagine this entire tour selling out fairly quickly. If that happens, what motivation do they have to submit themselves to potentially awkward questions like, “Hey, Axl, is Slash still a cancer? What made you say that in the first place?” Still, one of them needs to eventually talk about this, right?
6. What happened to Chris Pitman?
This might seem like inside baseball, but keyboardist Chris Pitman joined the group in 1998 and was involved in all activities through 2014. Dumping guitarists D.J. Ashba and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal makes sense since Slash was coming back, but why did Pitman leave? “We are playing at Coachella 2016, look out!,” he wrote a few months ago in a now-deleted Tweet. “I was just informed by mgmt to not acknowledge anything about coachella, gnr, etc,” he wrote soon afterwards. “When I said ‘We are playing at Coachella,’ I meant me and my daughter like to play in the sand.” Not long afterwards, he scrubbed all mentions of Guns N’ Roses from his Twitter page.
Did his loose lips sink him? Did they simply want to replace him with Melissa Reese? And what’s her deal? How did she break into the Guns N’ Roses boys club? As usual, we have a lot more questions than answers.Listen to reclusive guitarist Izzy Stradlin’s voicemail to Rolling Stone in our animated video.