On July 22nd of 1992, during their famous joint tour with Metallica, Guns N' Roses co-headlined at the Hoosier Dome in Axl Rose's home state of Indiana. They appeared on stage last, almost two hours after Metallica had finished their set, and were headed by an angry frontman. Two days later, a less-than-glowing review of his band's performance — which can be read below, in full, after the letter — appeared in The Indianapolis Star, written by the paper's music critic at the time, Marc Allan.
Thanks to Marc, we can now enjoy Axl's entertaining response to that piece: a defiant letter he faxed to the paper's offices that day.
Transcript follows. Huge thanks to Marc Allan for getting in touch.
(Source: Marc Allan; Image: Axl Rose in 1992, via The Telegraph.)
W. AXL ROSE
2001 BARRINGTON #100
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90025
GUNS N' ROSES
July 24, 1992
MARK D. ALLAN, (USED TO BE THE NAME OF OUR TRAVEL AGENT, WE FIRED THEM)
You don't get it... Wait, that's too easy... Maybe you don't want to get it - or you'd have to face yourself and oh my God that's just too scary. Maybe it's impossible and it's too late for you - you know, have someone stick a fork in your ass and turn you over you're done. Indiana needs to wake up and hey if that takes a little taunting and 2 and half hours of music + a fireworks show + cartoon for a total of 2 hours and 50 minutes to wake up maybe 5% of a 48,000 plus crowd then so be it. I can also suffer your redneck, blind, narrow minded refuse about ranting - you nor anyone will ever dictate my actions, attitudes, comments, oratation, and musical performances on stage. Don't kid yourself and act above, better than, or even comparable to me or G N' R. If that were true there'd be no reason to censor my language in your basic Indiana attempt at journalism.
I came here to enrage... Thank you, you have helped me know I succeeded. I've made my inquiries, I am your Rock N' Roll nightmare. And you... You're just gonna sit on your wanna be ass and watch me, born a Hoosier, grow larger than you could ever imagine or ever be able to stop. That's not to say I didn't appreciate your anger, hostility and general ignorance. It shows me my so called "RANTS" are a much needed, missing piece in our puzzle of society.
stay away from microwaves-
(Signed, 'W. Axl Rose')
P.S. Oh, and it was never a battle O' the bands, I imagined this thing, and everyone wins, as long as I show up to my own dream, that is!!!
July 24, 1992
MARC D. ALLAN
Guns N' Roses/Metallica
Opening band: Faith No More.
Where: Hoosier Dome.
Ratings: Guns N' Roses 2 1/2; Metallica 3 1/2; Faith No More 1 1/2
Metallica won the Wednesday night/Thursday morning hard-rock wars at the Hoosier Dome, demonstrating how to vent anger and frustration in music without victimizing the audience.
The titans of hard rock played a taut 140-minute set that burst with brilliant flurries of music and contained no attitude other than gratitude.
By contrast, Guns N' Roses played its usual waiting game, taking the stage at 11:55 p.m. Wednesday — nearly two hours after Metallica had cleared out. Over the next 2 1/2 hours, the audience would be lectured to, briefly walked out on and forced to suffer Guns N' Roses' foolishness.
While Metallica played for its fans, profusely thanking them for their fierce loyalty, Guns N' Roses taunted the audience. At 1:40 a.m., singer Axl Rose announced that the band would take a short break until the fans up front decided to stand.
"I didn't come here with the intention of you liking my (bleep) tonight," Rose sneered at one point.
When Guns N' Roses decided to shut up and play, it successfully defended its standing in the hard-rock pantheon. Compared with the group's previous central Indiana performance, this show found the members playing as a unit rather than a loose collection of talent held together by drummer Matt Sorum.
Double-Talkin' Jive featured guitarist Slash reeling off several intricately textured runs and also spotlighted the muscular trio created when its lead guitarist, drummer and bassist Duff McKagen jammed.
Slash and harmonica player Ted Andreadis teamed for a swampy version of Bad Obsession. Later, during his solo, Slash again played the blues in tandem with keyboardist Dizzy Reed, displaying as fine a combination of speed and tastefulness as any hard-rock fan will see.
Rose's sole shining moment came during Welcome to the Jungle, a bitter assault that found him at his snapping-turtle angriest.
When Rose puts his spleen into the music, he has few peers. But his spoken tirades about Indi-(bleeping)-ana and boxer Mike Tyson's rape conviction display an arrogance and petulance that may be cute on the gossip pages but have no place in a concert setting.
Metallica wouldn't even think of wasting its audience's time with petty ranting. It knows the crowd has come to hear its engines-racing brand of music, and there's no time to waste.
The group's stripped-down set eliminated nearly all solos and occasionally created a whiplash effect by going from one song directly into the next.
During Fade to Black, Shortest Straw and One, the band entered an attack mode where it shut out everything else and played with unparalleled intensity. With guitars blazing and drums bashing, the four members sounded more cohesive than ever.
Perhaps they were trying harder, too. Metallica usually plays before its own crowd, a hopelessly devoted throng that knows every word, every beat, every stop and start.
Here, in trying to win over Guns N' Roses fans, singer/guitarist James Hetfield spent some time trying to rally the crowd, estimated at 40,000. He shouldn't have to. Metallica may not have easily accessible melodies, but that's not what its fans want. They want action.
Metallica provided that in abundance.
Faith No More ended up the big loser in this three-band bill. A miserable sound mix killed any chance the band had of trying to put across some of the considerable humor and subtlety in its music.
Confined to a small portion of the stage and forced to play while sunlight kept the dome bright, the band worked hard. But as much as singer Mike Patton tried — climbing ladders, acting like a human pogo stick, even jumping into the audience — he likely generated more cries of "what?" than "wow!"