Last Of The Giants-The True Story of Guns n' Roses (Book Review)
Released: 2017, Lesser Gods
Mick Wall has gone back to the well again with his third book about Guns N’ Roses, but this is the first one, post feud.
There is quite an interesting back-story to the infamous Wall-Rose Feud. I suggest you go on-line and look it up. The short version is that while acting as a journalist he befriended Guns n’ Roses at the height of their power. He wrote something unflattering things about Rose. Rose retaliated by writing the vitriolic song ‘Get In The Ring’ which directly challenges Wall (among other journalists) to a fist-fight! Classic Rose. Classic Wall. The feud has lasted decades. Eventually Wall admitted he was wrong and has apologized in writing.
The very first page of Wall’s new book LAST OF THE GIANTS-THE TRUE STORY OF GUNS N’ ROSES starts on a conciliatory note and perhaps and a sad one. The very first page has a dedication. It says, ‘For Axl, you won’.
And so on that slightly demur note, starts what will likely amount to be one of the best, if not the best, biographies about one of (again) if not the biggest, Hard Rock bands on the planet. At well over 400 pages long, new (ish) publisher Lesser Gods has done a fine job putting together this hard cover. The cover is a bit weak, just a drawing. For one it would be too expensive to ask permission for an actual photo of the band, Axl probably would not allow it, but secondly, the cover art is extremely similar to that of Adlers 2010 autobiography, MY APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION.
There are a couple dozen pictures, printed on glossy plates in the book and most of them I have never seen before. I think Wall made sure to cover his ass this time as there is a very extensive list of notes and sources. I’m fairly confident that Roses lawyers are more powerful than Wall’s lawyers and I have no doubt that Wall is well aware of that fact! I jest, this time around Wall is more measured…he is not tiptoeing around the difficult truths but he is not digging dirt or slinging mud either. The fact remains, the band were a bunch of drug addicts and alcoholics and there is no pretty way to discuss that.
LAST OF THE GIANTS follows the trials and tribulations of the band from the very early days, the story has been well told time and again. Post Rose feud the detail gets a bit more thin, Wall having to rely on secondary sources more often now that he had been ex-communicated from Camp GNR.
Wall is the Grand-Daddy of UK Hard Rock journalism with cred for miles and an attitude to match. This is not the first rodeo for this man and it is hard to imagine what he could say that has not already been said about that band. Anchoring the new materials are extensive interviews with G n’ R management and record company people; people like Alan Niven, Tom Zutaut and Doug Goldstein. Wall himself was entrenched with G N’R for a time and has plenty of insight to the early days of the classic line-up so in my mind the information is accurate! I really enjoyed learning some of high-powered business side of it. I never realized how instrumental that David Niven and Great White of all bands were so instrumental in getting G’ N’ R off the ground. It follows the ups and downs over the past couple of decades as Rose becomes increasingly paranoid (my words) hiding in his mansion, surrounded by handlers, sycophants, yes men, fortune-tellers and psychics. An unflattering picture perhaps, but Rose is the only one who decides how he lives his life and so it should be. Who are we to judge?
The book ends on a slightly melancholy note, fitting perhaps that the band is still at an all-time high with the latest reunion tour making mega-millions of dollars. If G n’ R never make another studio album they can go out on a qualified high, as Wall so accurately puts it, the last of the giants. It will be sad to see them go and although the demise of the band is not a forgone conclusion, I agree with Wall on this one, it’s essentially over.
Three of the five ‘classic’ members (Slash, Duff, Steven) have written their autobiographies and both Rose and Izzy have had the biography treatment and maybe one day will tell their own stories in their own words. Until that point in time, there is not much more to say than this is the most definitive account you will get of Guns N’ Roses.