Over the past 25 years, many bands have put aside years of infighting to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Nobody ever thought that bands like Cream, the Talking Heads, Led Zeppelin and The Police would ever play again, but they all did when they got into the Hall of Fame. Guns N’ Roses may be the exception. The original line-up hasn’t played together since 1990, and Axl Rose has said vicious things about Slash in recent years. Despite all that, fans are incredibly hopeful they’ll put that aside next April in Cleveland. We checked in with former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler to hear his feelings on the induction, and to see if he thinks that a reunion is likely to happen.
Congratulations on the big news.
Dreams do come true.
Tell me your first reaction to hearing it.
Of course, excitement and joy. I always knew it was going to happen, just like when the band first started. I always knew that we were going to be successful and accomplish and succeed at our dreams. There was never a doubt in my mind. When we were recording Appetite For Destruction, we all knew. I’ve been blessed. I grew up and played and worked and created with the Freddie Mercury, the Jimi Hendrix, the Keith Richards, the John Paul Jones of my generation. I love those guys, no matter what happened. Everything was meant to happen the way it happened. I always knew that we were going to succeed.
You guys got in your first year of eligibility. That’s pretty rare these days.
It was such a historical, monumental record. It blows my mind that KISS isn’t in there. If it wasn’t for KISS, there would be no Guns N’ Roses. Bands like that made Guns N’ Roses. We were five guys with five personalities and five different influences. The stars were aligned for us.
Popular on Rolling Stone
Getting inducted is a huge deal for me. I just read that Eric Clapton was inducted into the Hall of Fame twice. I went, “Wow, I’m being inducted into the same club as Clapton Is God and the Beatles and Elvis…” It’s a honor and a dream come true.
Are you looking forward to the ceremony?
I’ve been working on my speech for the last three weeks, since I found out we were on the ballot. I’ve got a tent and a sleeping bag, so I’m going to be there the week before.
Do you think that all five of you will show up?
Absolutely not. But, as far as I know, there is a God and a higher power, and it’s possible. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee it. You figure that time could heal all wounds, but some people just REALLY hold a crazy grudge.
I think that Axl is cool with you, Duff and Izzy…
He should be cool with Slash! The real shame about the ending of the Guns N’ Roses when I got kicked out wasn’t just that I got kicked out, but Slash and Axl stopped working together. They are the Keith Richards and the Mick Jagger! The Steven Tyler and Joe Perry! For twenty years, because of some STUPID grudge, which I guarantee you that neither of them could even tell you what it was. They don’t even know! I just had lunch with Slash two days ago. He loves Axl. He holds no grudges towards him. Twenty years of great music wasn’t created because of some stupid grudge. That’s a shame.
It’s interesting that Axl was willing to make peace with Duff and Izzy, but he seems to have really held onto his anger towards Slash. He even called him a cancer.
I’ve been reading his Tweets about all the shows he’s been doing in the same states. My brother e-mailed his manager to see if I could come play a song. I had him do it twice, and he has not returned the e-mail. He can’t be mad at me!
Didn’t you talk to him in Las Vegas a while back?
Seven years ago! But everything was fine. I didn’t like that interview he did on That Metal Show. I was very disappointed. He didn’t answer one question. I guarantee you – and I could tell by the looks on Eddie and the other guy’s faces – that before Axl came out, his manager told those guys, “If you ask him this, if you ask him that, he will stand up and walk out in the middle.” I guarantee it. And the questions that that they did ask, he didn’t answer. He just started talking about whatever he wanted to. And, he blamed everybody else. He blamed everybody! Who gives a crap? Don’t blame people. I was disappointed. I was hoping to hear something better from him.
Then, when he talked about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…that’s why I don’t think he’ll show up. He seemed to have such a grudge! He didn’t even answer. Eddie asked him, and he did not give a straight answer. He said, “blah blah blah blah.” Then he said something about, “I don’t know what they’re expecting of me and expecting of the old band.” What do you mean what they’re expecting? Can’t we just be fucking people who played music and accomplished a huge goal in their life and just play a couple songs? It’s only rock and roll, my god! It’s not rocket science.
Bands tend to reunite at the Rock Hall.
If the Police could do a reunion…One of the biggest jerks I ever met was Sting. If he can do it, then anyone can do it. It’s not that big a deal. And the Eagles! They did it! They severely hated each other. It’s just rock and roll.
Five old friends playing music shouldn’t have to be this complicated.
It shouldn’t be. It’s nerve-wracking. Thank god I believe in a higher power, because it’s nerve-wracking. Especially because whenever I go out, even to the 7-11 or something, someone is going to ask me, “When are you guys going to do a reunion.” Look, if it was up to me, we would have done it 20 years ago! People fight, they get angry, they do drugs, and they do crazy things. If you survive and get over it, you’re supposed to be able to move on. These are the only wounds that I’ve ever heard of that can’t be healed by time. It’s not like anyone has fucked anyone’s wife or stole their wife, like the Rolling Stones with Brian Jones and Keith Richards. None of that crap happened.
I think Axl might come and it might happen. This is the one time where it feels possible.
It would mean so much to me if he did. Izzy too. I know that Duff and Slash will show up. They’re basically normal human beings. Izzy is a gypsy. He’s happy doing his own thing and he lives life to the fullest. Izzy is one of my heroes. I look up to him more than anybody. Steven Tyler and Izzy are the two coolest people that I’ve ever met or ever wanted to be influenced by. But Axl…it would mean so much to me. I personally just want to finish what I started with those jack-offs. We started off something, let’s end the career playing together, at least once. I’d love to do a whole tour of the world. I personally, and I know that Slash and Duff feel the same way, we owe it to the fans to do a tour around the world. We haven’t performed for over 20 years and they’ve stuck by us and believe in us. I get Tweets every day from people around the world saying how much they love the original band.
When it comes to after I left, I do believe that Matt Sorum and Dizzy Reed both have every right to be inducted too. Dizzy did play on Use Your Illusion, and he’s been with Axl longer than anybody. He deserves it. Matt Sorum also played on Use Your Illusion. I think that the seven of us deserve it. I was just texting Matt Sorum in Australia. I’m going to play with him at The Roxy next week with Camp Freddy. He invited me to come down and play. He’s a great guy.
It’s going to be a pretty great night in Cleveland with you guys and the Beasties…
Do they do it in Cleveland? I thought they did it in New York.
It’s in Cleveland every third year now. It’s going to be at Public Hall.
Look at that! I was born in Cleveland. This is how I get to go back. This is fabulous!
It’s you guys and the Beastie Boys, Chili Peppers, Donovan, Laura Nyro, The Faces with Rod Stewart…
Oh, wow! Rod Stewart is going to be there too? Wow. I haven’t talked to him since he called me up and yelled at me about his ex-wife (laughs hysterically). I love you Rod.
You know what’s really cool about the Chili Peppers being there too? Me and Slash and Flea all went to junior high together. We all grew up in the same neighborhood. We all used to play football in the street and Flea would play trumpet for my grandmother on her porch. It was really cool that me and Slash and Flea recorded a song for Slash’s solo album last year. That was really exciting…But this! Three punks from the streets of Hollywood who grew up together and did good.
What do you think the moment will be like when you’re standing at the podium accepting the award?
I’ll tell you after it happens. But I’ll tell you that I’ve been working on my speech for the past three weeks.
Didn’t you just find out yesterday?
Once I heard we were on the ballot, I knew we were going to win. That’s one thing with this band, I never had any doubts with it…Expect for when they kicked me out. Then I had doubts. My doubts were confirmed! It wasn’t like when Bruce Dickinson joined Iron Maiden. The band didn’t get bigger and better. That’s what was supposed to happen, but it didn’t. You’d figure after that normal people would realize, but I guess that we aren’t dealing with normal people.
Was Axl always like this? Back in the day was he easier to deal with?
I think that he’s exactly the same. From the Tweets that I read, nothing has changed. Back in the day, he did show up on time. He didn’t necessarily stay onstage for that long, but we were on time.
How is your health these days? Are you clean?
My health is wonderful. I work out. I’m working. Playing music. I have a beautiful wife, a nice home, a nice car, I got money in the bank. I got three beautiful dogs that love me. Like I said, I’m blessed. I survived. If you want to know what it was really like being a part of Guns N’ Roses from the very beginning, you have to get my book. And Slash’s book and Duff’s book too. If you put them all together, it’s like you are best friends with all three of us. I want to see Izzy’s book. I want to know what was going on with him. I was there, but I wasn’t always there.
Are you clean right now? Off drugs?
Yeah, I’m clean. I work with Dr. Drew. I work with Dr. Sophie. I work with Bob Forrest. Now I’m very excited. I have something to live for.
Do you see this induction as the highlight of your career?
It is a highlight, but the highlight would really be if the five of us could perform together again. That would be the highlight. Yes, this is very huge. Of course. Eric Clapton, John Lennon…I’m getting inducted. Those are going to be my brothers. But the real thing would be if we could perform together. If Axl and the other guys will consider doing it, it would be a dream come true for me. As I said, I would like to finish what I started with them.
I’m guessing that over the next four months there’s going to be endless drama and stories of “will they or won’t they.” I envision lots of drama coming.
The drama hasn’t stopped for 25 years. I don’t forsee it stopping, but I know there’s love between all five of us. I know there is. Not just four of us, five of us. Five. We owe it to the fans. The LEAST we can do is give them one great performance.
Well, I’m crossing my fingers.
Me and you both. My fingers are crossed. My toes are crossed!
• Guns N’ Roses, Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers Chosen for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
• Anthony Kiedis on Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction: ‘My Dad Cried When I Told Him’
• Faces and Small Faces Keyboardist Ian McLagan Talks Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
• The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Greatest Moments