Earlier this week, Axl Rose celebrated his 57th birthday. “Happy Birthday to my other life-long partner in crime,” Slash wrote on Instagram, not acknowledging the fact that for two decades of his life he didn’t have any contact with Axl whatsoever and the singer called him a “cancer” in the press. The two have yet to fully explain exactly what brought them back together, but Guns N’ Roses grossed more than $550 million on their Not in This Lifetime reunion tour. We may be going out on a limb here, but it’s reasonable to think that maybe that had just a little something with their willingness to let bygones be bygones. It’s amazing what a half billion dollars (not even counting merchandise sales) can do to fix a damaged friendship.
The last time that Axl Rose and Slash shared a stage before the Not in This Lifetime tour was the epic Use Your Illusion tour that kept them on the road for 194 shows between 1991 and 1993. Here’s video of them playing “Don’t Cry” at Japan’s Tokyo Dome in February 1992, back when Axl’s tiny red biker shorts and Jane’s Addiction t-shirt were the peak of high fashion. Duff McKagan is opting for the black suspenders and no-shirt look, while Slash is rocking a Pepé Le Pew shirt. It also looks like they may have imbibed a cocktail or two before taking the stage.
There were three Guns N’ Roses shows at the Tokyo Dome that week and Slash stuck around the city to play two nights at the same venue with Michael Jackson on his Dangerous tour. “I experienced the biggest contrast you can imagine between the two audiences,” Slash wrote in his memoir. “I can’t think of a more surreal switch than playing one night for Michael Jackson, who was flying around the stage and had kids and toys backstage, to playing with Guns and everything that came with that world two nights later — all in the very same building. To top it off, I spent the day I had off between the two shows at Tokyo Disney.”
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Guns N’ Roses are taking a well-deserved break this year and Slash is taking the time off to tour the world with his solo project. Nobody seems to know what Axl Rose is up to this year. At one point it looked like he might record a new album with AC/DC, but there are strong indications that Brian Johnson has returned to the band, costing Axl his side gig. There might be a new Guns N’ Roses album at some point. They might simply hit the road again in 2020 and continue flogging the old songs. Another possibility is that Axl Rose is never seen in public again. With that guy, nobody ever knows what’s going to happen.