Axl Rose Makes First Live-TV Appearance in 20 Years, Refuses to Give People the On-Air Meltdown They Want

Axl Rose stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live last night for an appearance that had been hyped weeks in advance as his first live television interview in 20 years. (Rose also did a much longer, non-live interview on VH1’s That Metal Show in 2011.) Rose was there to promote Guns N’ Roses’ upcoming Las Vegas residency, which begins October 31 at the Hard Rock Hotel. He was also tasked with damage control after a disastrous performance last weekend at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit, where GNR played acoustic versions of classics like “Welcome to the Jungle” that were marred by Rose’s ineffectual (and apparently strep throat–ravaged) vocals. In this video, for instance, he sounds like he’s singing out of a straw that’s been plunged into his esophagus, possibly by Izzy Stradlin.

Anyway, the Kimmel interview proceeded with shocking normalcy, to the visible surprise of both the host and his guest. Rose wore what is currently his standard attire: black jacket, black hat, an oversize button-up white shirt to conceal his growing paunch, MILF-y blue jeans, and that unnaturally smooth and pinkish facial mask emblazoned with a red-haired Fu Manchu and demonic Chucky smirk. Kimmel briefly broached the subject of the Bridge School gig, which Rose gamely deflected by insisting that “it went great” — which is sort of like describing The Spaghetti Incident? as an important, vital, and not-at-all shat-out collection of music, but whatever.

Axl was affable throughout, even as Kimmel continually needled him about his trademark lack of punctuality. (Kimmel mentioned in his monologue that Rose had not yet shown up to the studio as the show was under way, which may or may not have been a joke.) While the interview stretched across two segments, it was short on noteworthy morsels, though Rose did share anecdotes about hitchhiking to L.A. at age 19 (even if every GNR fan prefers to pretend that he took the bus and chewed on the same piece of straw the whole time, as depicted in the “Jungle” video) and working as a store manager at Tower Video in the ’80s. He also expressed no remorse about his “cornrows” period circa the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, and hinted that if he were into voting he’d support Barack Obama. He also gave away a bunch of hamburgers and concert tickets. So overall, it was a thoroughly professional and non-embarrassing television appearance. Sigh.

Filed Under: Axl Rose, Guns N' Roses

Steven Hyden is a staff writer for Grantland. His first book, Your Favorite Band is Killing Me, will be released in May.

Archive @ Steven_Hyden