GUNS N’ ROSES – not your average boy band, oh no – in their hey day of the late 80s, early 90s, they were ugly, misogynistic, and violent. However, they were also funny, vulnerable, and occasionally sensitive, as their breakthrough hit, Sweet Child O’ Mine, showed.
Guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin spat out the riffs, Axl Rose sang/screeched his heart out and bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler kept the music loose and powerful. There was something refreshing about a band that could provoke everything from devotion to hatred.
Guns N’ Roses released their debut album Appetite for Destruction in 1987, and built a following from their live shows. Soon they became one of the world’s biggest bands. Their debut single, Welcome to the Jungle, shot into the top 10 and Paradise City followed in its footsteps. However, One in a Million, sparked controversy with Axl Rose distilling every form of prejudice and hatred into one five-minute tune.
In October 1990 the band fired Adler, replacing him with Matt Sorum, and during recording, they added Dizzy Reed on keyboards. The new album became two – Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, both released in September 1991 and both were messy yet fascinating, showcasing a more ambitious band.
Nirvana’s Nevermind hit number one in 1992, and made Guns N’ Roses very uncool and, with the departure of their best songwriter, Stradlin, rumours began to fly about the band breaking-up. Rose wanted to pursue a new direction and Slash wanted to stick with their blues-inflected hard rock, a situation which left them in limbo for several years.
Rose remained out of the spotlight, becoming a virtual recluse and doing nothing but tinkering in the studio. The inclusion of Rose’s childhood friend, Paul Huge, infuriated the remaining members, especially when Stradlin and Clarke were excluded from rejoining the band. By 1996 Slash was officially out of Guns N’ Roses, leaving Rose the lone remaining survivor from the group’s heyday.
2000 brought the addition of guitarists Robin Finck and Buckethead. 2001 was greeted with Guns N’ Roses’ first live dates in nearly seven years, as the band (Rose plus Finck, Buckethead, Stinson, Brian Mantia, Paul Huge and Dizzy Reed) played a show on New Years Eve 2000 in Las Vegas.
2002 saw Slash, Duff, and Izzy work together on new material, Rose ending up in the news for firing producer Roy Thomas Baker, and any rumours of re-forming were put to bed when Stradlin, Slash, Sorum and McKagan announced that they were searching for a vocalist for a new, Axl-free band. Three ex-members of Guns N’ Roses currently play in Velvet Revolver: Slash (guitar), Duff McKagan (bass) and Matt Sorum (drums). Dave Kushner joins them on rhythm guitar and the vocalist is Scott Weiland.
In 2006, It is sad that there is still such animosity between Axl Rose and the ex-members, with several court cases still in progress relating to royalties, among other matters, but the legend of Guns N’ Roses continues to grow with each year. The five original members wrote one of the most critical hard rock albums of all time, and have secured their status as the most vital force to hit the mainstream rock scene in the 80s.
As well as the news that the current Guns N’ Roses line-up (which is yet to be confirmed for this show), is set to play several festivals this summer, the music press is also full of rumours that a new album, entitled Chinese Democracy is about to be released, suggesting that the audience at Rock in Rio Lisboa will be treated to some long awaited new material.
AFTER ACHIEVING superstardom throughout Latin America, Colombian born Shakira became Latin pop’s biggest female crossover artist since Jennifer Lopez.
She maintained an extraordinary degree of creative control over her music, writing or co-writing nearly all of her own material, and when she released her first English material in late 2001, she became an instant pop sensation.
Shakira wrote her first song at just eight-years-old, began winning talent competitions at 10, and started learning the guitar at 11. Her 1991 debut album, Magia, didn’t break internationally, but it started to make a name for her in her home country. In 1995 she asserted more control over the direction of her music, and the first results were Pies Descalzos, released in 1995, making number one in eight different countries, eventually going platinum in the US as well.
She signed Emilio Estefan, Gloria’s husband, as her manager and producer, which paid off when her follow-up album, Dónde Están los Ladrones? became a worldwide hit. When Gloria Estefan offered to translate Ojos Así into English, Shakira decided that the most effective way to maintain control over her material was to learn English well enough to write in it herself. Shakira dyed her long brown hair blonde, romanced Antonio de la Rua (son of the former president of Argentina), and went to work on her first English-language album, Laundry Service. The single/video Whenever, Wherever was released in late 2001, and made her a star in the English-speaking world almost overnight.
• Guns N’ Roses and Shakira will be performing at Rock in Rio Lisbon 2006 on May 26 and 27. For more information e-mail patricia.gonç[email protected], visit www.rockinrio-lisboa.sapo.pt or call 214 665 500.