Near the end of Guns N’ Roses’ set at the Etess Arena in Atlantic City on Sunday night, right before playing “Don’t Cry,” Axl Rose got uncharacteristically nostalgic.
“This next one is the first song that was written for Guns N’ Roses,” he told the crowd. “I went over to Izzy [Stradlin]’s and I threw some rocks at his window. He came to the window and was worried I came over there to kick his ass. We’d been in an argument for a few months. It was like the Blues Brothers. ‘We gotta get the band back together.'”
“We sat down,” he continued. “And I was like, ‘Hey, I got some really depressing lyrics.’ He was like, ‘I got a really depressing guitar part.’ I was like, ‘Perfect, we got it made.'”
The story takes place in early 1985, just as Guns N’ Roses was rising from the ashes of the Sunset Strip bands Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns. “Don’t Cry” was a part of their live set during their earliest gigs at L.A. clubs, but it wouldn’t appear on an album album 1991’s Use Your Illusion I. It was fleshed out by background vocals by Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon.
The “Don’t Cry” story that Rose told the Atlantic City audience was one of the few times he’s mentioned Izzy Stradlin onstage during the band’s ongoing reunion tour with Slash and Duff McKagan. Straldin left the group midway through the Use Your Illusion tour in 1991. He guested at a handful of shows between 2006 and 2012, but didn’t take part in the reunion tour. He said very little about the matter in public other than “they didn’t want to split the loot equally.”
Here’s fan-shot video of the “Don’t Cry” story along with a performance of the tune, a cover of the Who’s “The Seeker,” and the grand finale of “Paradise City.” The band is touring heavily through the end of the year with shows all over North America in the next month before they go to Australia and New Zealand in November. They then head to Europe for a run of shows in the summer of 2022.
Last month, the band released a reworked studio version of their early 2000s studio outtake “Silkworms” under the new title “Absurd.” It seems to suggest that rumors of a new studio album could be true, but they’ve yet to announce any such plans.