« 25 Things (about Glam) | Main | Another Band Added to South Texas Rock Fest 2009 »

Watch You Bleed, The Saga of Guns n' Roses

Posted on Monday, February 9, 2009 at 12:01AM by Registered CommenterAllyson B. Crawford | Comments15 Comments

I requested some books for Christmas. Under the tree I found a few titles, including Watch You Bleed, the Saga of Guns n' Roses by Stephen Davis (Gotham, 2008).

The name Stephen Davis should sound familiar if you're into rock biographies. He's written a ton, including histories of Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin.

 Anyone who really loves Metal already knows the story of Guns n' Roses. You know, a bunch of ne'er do wells learn to play music and all eventually form bands...meet in L.A. and somehow to get together. Along the way, they bring a history of abuse, neglected childhoods, drug addiction, alcoholism - and horrible tempers. The men that would eventually become the classic lineup of Guns n' Roses formed a certain type of gang, with the mission to survive, make music and become famous. They succeeded.

Since its release more than 20 years ago, Appetite for Destruction has become one of the top selling rock records of all time. A large portion of Watch You Bleed, the Saga of Guns n' Roses is spent recalling events that led to Guns signing with Geffen records and eventual recording of Appetite. In a lot of ways, it seems that Davis is trying to make the reader feel like an extra member of the band, recalling club shows, interviews and recording sessions, paying close attention to detail. There's an overwhelming bit of minutia here as Davis explains conversations by random engineers and always makes a point to list the clothing of each band member (obviously this detail comes by way of thousands of photographs).

When Davis gets past the Appetite sessions, the book gets a little more interesting. The stories of infighting and drug addiction are well known. The stories of Axl Rose going bonkers are well documented...and yet it's still hard to read. I mean, Axl was (is?) just really nuts. Davis uses Axl's episodes to paint a pretty bleak picture of the biggest band in the world. Instead of happiness, most everyone in Guns was a miserable wreck - no one more so than Axl Rose. 

The attention to detail that Davis affords many tour stops on the "Get in the Ring World Tour" (in support of the Use Your Illusion discs) is appreciated. Sure, there are factual errors. I've found this to be the case with every music biography I've ever read. While some deeply criticize Watch You Bleed, the Saga of Guns n' Roses, I can't help appreciating the book for what it is: a tormented and entertaining journey down one of rock's darkest alleys. Appetite for Destruction is probably the best record released during the 1980s - but that doesn't make it all sunshine and kittens. That record was borne out of street smarts and desperation - and kids were eager enough to take it all in. When the Illusion discs were released, Guns were world famous and rich - and no one could handle it. To his credit, Davis is able to depict Axl for what he is: a maniacal genius and generally terrifying.

Should you read Watch You Bleed, the Saga of Guns n' Roses? Absolutely. The book is fun, does provide a few new tidbits for die hard fans and paints a very clear picture of what it was like backstage at some of the last Guns shows with all original members. I must note: the recalling of the way Axl beat his girlfriends is upsetting. Stephanie Seymour would fight back but it seemed as if Erin Everly just took more than she gave. Truly painful to try and understand.

I must say Watch You Bleed, the Saga of Guns n' Roses is not as good as Walk this Way, which I consider to be Davis' best work. Still, the Guns book is probably the best offering out there for a complete history of GnR. Obviously no one in the band would talk. Axl still has people under "gag orders" from the Illusion tour. Those people spoke with Davis on the condition of anonymity. Perhaps someday Axl Rose will get enough mental stability to write an autobiography, but I'm pretty sure I'd only believe every fourth word of that anyway.

 

Buy the book here.

Reader Comments (15)

i read this late last year and i thought that the writer payed out on every other band in the 80s.

basically calling motley crue teen metal, and riding the pop wave. i mean fuck off, motley crue started it.

once you get over the snobbery its good i guess
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermetalsucks large jockstrap
i'm almost through reading this book and while the writer does slag on some of the bands the majority of it, i feel is done from gnr's point of view. THEY had those thoughts about the other bands and he just goes along with it.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdon
Axl - I believe that he is very misunderstood and the most misunderstood rocker out there, crazy? well Davis needs the book to sell so paints the picture to sell.
Axl just wants the music done right and if he comes across has crazy then more power to him.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLooksthatkill
every fourth word he wrote?
I'd believe about 4 words he wrote.

Axl's a nutter.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucifer
anyone else find it funny that axl sports a crue concert tee on the cover of a book that puts them down?

very nice.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercruefreak9
yeah i noticed that too - i wasnt goin to read it after i read a few bad reviews.Still not convinced to buy.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterred6ixx
im about done and its a great book. they do diss poison and motley but they also support motley at times saying they were the beginning and they had good music. and yeah nice shirt axl haha
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermotleycrue666
you guys do realize that neither axl nor the band had anything to do with this so that means they didn't approve of or choose the pictures right?
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdon
G 'n' R and a lot of their die-hard suppoters have been revising the band's history since Appetite broke. Especially when it comes to the bands negative feelings about their '80s contemporaries. Def Leppard wins the silver and Motley the bronze in this department, but the Gunners overwhelmingly win the gold.

BTW: All rock 'n' roll is for teens and the teen at heart like myself! Especially G 'n' R!
February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAccording_to_topher
An addendum to my prior post: Ther's a great YouTube.com press conference clip (find it yourself, I'm too tired lol) of Axl and Slash speaking (well, at least Axl is speaking, Slash appears to be in another solar sysytem lol) about their upcoming support slot with Motley Crue on their '87 Girls, Girls, Girls tour (which eventually went to Whitesnake due to a delay in Appetite's release, I think). Axl made it clear that it should be a great tour because both bands are very similar and will share a lot of fans. So at least Axl then and now (read his current rant via his website or MetalSludge.tv) acknowledges his '80s influences.

Also, Axl vaguely mentioned in said rant for some reason I can't recall implied Slash harbors much negativity toward their peers. I remember seeing Slash back in the day wearing a Bon Jovi tee and a Mickey Ratt tee and speaking very fondly of other bands from the '80s... not anymore. I've actually heard him say multiple times in recent years that the '80s was the worst decade for rock music. Yeah, maybe his tastes have changed (as if Slash's Snakepit & VR [to a lesser degree] aren't in the glam-metal neighborhood) but I think it has more to do with him believing his own hype (hype I think
that has more to do with his less colorful image than his peers) and wanting to keep a distance from said peers that most snobby, pretentious rock critics revile due in-large part for the aforementioned image reason. Let's face it, George Lynch, Warren DeMartini, Reb Beach, Richie Sambora, Vito Bratta, Andy Timmons, etc. are never going to get the respect they desreve that Slash gets even though they're just as talented if not more so for all the wrong reasons.
February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAccording_to_topher
An addendum to my prior post: There's a great YouTube.com press conference clip (find it yourself, I'm too tired lol) of Axl and Slash speaking (well, at least Axl is speaking, Slash appears to be in another solar sysytem lol) about their upcoming support slot with Motley Crue on their '87 Girls, Girls, Girls tour (which eventually went to Whitesnake due to a delay in Appetite's release). Axl made it clear that it should be a great tour because both bands are very similar and will share a lot of fans. So at least Axl then and now (read his current rant via his website or MetalSludge.tv [he really digs WASP]) acknowledges his '80s influences.

Also, Axl vaguely mentioned in said rant for a reason I can't recall that Slash harbors much negativity toward their peers. I remember seeing Slash back in the day wearing a Bon Jovi tee and a Mickey Ratt tee and speaking very fondly of other bands from the '80s... not anymore. I've actually heard him say multiple times in recent years that the '80s was the worst decade for rock music. Yeah, maybe his tastes have changed (as if Slash's Snakepit & VR [to a lesser degree] aren't in the glam-metal neighborhood) but I think it has more to do with him believing his own hype (hype that I think has more to do with his less colorful image than his peers) and wanting to keep a distance from said peers that most snobby, pretentious rock critics revile due in-large part for the aforementioned reason. Let's face it, George Lynch, Warren DeMartini, Reb Beach, Richie Sambora, Vito Bratta, Andy Timmons, etc. are never going to get the respect they desreve that Slash gets even though they're just as talented if not more so for all the wrong reasons.
February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAccording_to_topher
Sorry for the "double" post. I thought I could edit the first by hitting the back button. I prefer the slightly different second addendum. And yes, I do have OCD, seriously lol
February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAccording_to_topher
"Santa" got me this book too and I read it in one night. It wasn't what I would call a great read and I don't find him a particularly inspiring or skilled author. None-the-less I couldn't put the book down. Lets face it, Appetite For Destruction is definately up there when it comes to the greatest albums (I'd place it 2nd only behind AC/DC Back In Black). GnR rocked my world, and shaped a generation.
February 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRailene
Guns N' Roses...yes, absolutely classic. I shall put that book on my list.
My theory is that perhaps this is why I got to like Adam Lambert so much. He reminded me of Guns N' Roses.
May 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChrista
Axl said in an interview that he wanted out of the band way before they broke up. He was going crazy because he had to put up with them just for a contract or something like that. I love Axl because he IS a genius and he'snot crazy, just misunderstood.
March 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBJS

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.