W.A.R. by Mick Wall

Kim Simpson

How does one explain Axl Rose? The unauthorized biographer, and the book reviewer, take a crack at it.


Publisher: St. Martin's
Subtitle: The Unauthorized Biography of William Axl Rose
Author: Mick Wall
Price: $26.95
Length: 368
Formats: Hardcover
ISBN: 0312377673
US publication date: 2008-02

“Hey Dad, who’s the mean looking guy on the cover of that book you’ve been reading?”

“Well, son, the book’s called W.A.R.: The Unauthorized Biography of William Axl Rose, so that’s William Axl Rose on the cover. He was the singer for a rock group called Guns N' Roses and most people just knew him as ‘Axl’. They were extremely popular way back before you were born. They played a kind of music a lot of people called ‘heavy metal’, and they played it louder and better than most other groups. They also used a lot of bad words and would sometimes say some not very nice things about certain kinds of people.”

“What does ‘unauthorized’ mean?”

“It means that the person who wrote the book didn’t have Axl’s permission to write it.”

“Then why did he write it? That doesn’t really seem fair.”

“In a way it’s not, but Axl Rose doesn’t like the guy who wrote it and the guy knew Axl would have said no. But because he wanted to write it anyway, he did. I think I can understand Axl’s feelings. How would you like it if I wanted to write a book about how your mom and I are disappointed how you don’t always clean your room when we ask you to and that we sometimes find surprising food items in your bed?”

“Or if I wrote a book about how Mom says you snored all night and…”

“Right, right. We wouldn’t really like it even though we like each other! Imagine if people we didn’t like wanted to write books about those same things.”

“What are some of the bad things Axl has done?”

“Well, son, are they ‘bad’ or just ‘misunderstood’? Or maybe they’re just ‘disappointing choices’. I already told you that he swore a lot and complained about certain kinds of people on his CDs. But he also fought a lot with his friends, especially his girlfriends. He fought so much with his friends in Guns N' Roses, in fact, that they all left the group. And a lot of people are mad at Axl because of that.”

“But he’s still really famous and a lot of people still like him and buy his CDs and go to his shows, right? So none of that really matters.”

“The problem is, he hasn’t been exactly nice to the people who like him, either. Many times, he’s made the disappointing choice, at the very last minute, to not sing for people who have bought expensive tickets to see him. Or he’s made people sit in concert halls for hours on end waiting for him, sometimes until the sun comes up, just so he can finish watching TV. Remember that magic show we saw last weekend? Imagine if the magician showed up at midnight instead of six o’clock and then swore at us and talked all night about how great he was. We’d probably feel a little grumpy, wouldn’t we? One time Axl left a show almost immediately after it began, and people got so mad that they almost started a war! They almost had to call in the United States Army.”

“Do you think someone will ever write a book about Axl that he says is OK?”

“You mean an ‘authorized biography’? Someone might, but it probably wouldn’t have as many interesting stories in it.”

“Does Axl still make CDs?”

“He’s still working on one that he started before your mom and I even met. It’s called Chinese Democracy and he’s already spent $ 13 million on it.”

“Then it will probably be the greatest CD ever made!”

“Maybe so, son. I would sure think so.”

“Why does Axl hate the guy who wrote the book? What’s his name?”

“His name’s Mick Wall, and he’s from England. He already wrote one book about Axl and his group called Guns N' Roses: The Most Dangerous Band in the World. Axl liked that book, and he and Mick Wall were friends until Mick Wall wrote a story in a magazine that he says Axl ‘authorized’ him to write. It talked about how Axl hated the singer of another heavy metal group called Mötley Crüe. But even though Axl had said earlier that it was OK for Mick Wall to write the story, Axl changed his mind and got mad at Mick Wall for writing it. He got so mad, in fact, that he did a whole song called ‘Get in the Ring’ where he screamed about how he wanted to fight Mick Wall! They were never friends again.”

“Then how could Mick Wall write a book about Axl’s life if they weren’t friends?”

“It was probably hard to do, but he still knows a lot more about Axl and Guns N' Roses than most people because I think he still likes Axl and maybe talks a lot to people who are still, in spite of it all, friends with him. He’s also lucky because Axl has said so many things about himself in concerts and on websites. All Mick Wall really needed to do was write them all down in his book. Although this was a smart thing for him to do, Axl’s words are hard for your old man to read without his mind wandering.”

“But do you like Axl’s music?”

“Well, yes and no. You’d need to be deaf not to like most of his first songs with Guns N' Roses, and you’d need a neck brace not to move your head back and forth while you listen to them. But some of their later songs go on a bit too long for me and make me want to drink about five bottles of that cough medicine your mom just gave you.”

“Can you tell me another story from the book?”

“One day Mick Wall was with Axl’s half-brother, and Mick Wall was boiling some eggs. When Mick Wall asked Axl’s half-brother to ‘fetch him some egg cups’, Axl’s half-brother had no idea what he was talking about. This experience with Axl’s half-brother demonstrated to Mick Wall just how little Axl, too, probably understood about the world he lived in.”

“Dad, what are egg cups?”

“I have no idea, son. No idea.”

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