And that rage is really just a refuge from sadness and helplessness. Their most-successful song isn’t one that thunders out of the gate — it’s "Sweet Child O’ Mine," where Axl explicitly identifies the woman he’s singing to as a shelter from all that fury. There were some people who looked old enough to remember GNR’s original run, mostly in the VIP section (and up front, where GNR die-hards began camping out six hours before the show would begin).But walking through the festival, most of the people wearing GNR shirts were kids, who’d presumably bought them at the merch tent.
After this apology for Axl's broken foot, Angus Young, 61, enters to do Chuck Berry’s duckwalk across the stage for two AC/DC covers "Whole Lotta Rosie" and "Riff Raff." This appears to delight everyone onstage, and why shouldn’t it?They’re playing with one of their childhood heroes.Guns N’ Roses got the cover — Aerosmith had been upstaged by their opening act. By 1990, when the band returned to record Use Your Illusion I and II, drummer Steven Adler could barely keep time. Anyway, 30 takes were required for "Civil War." Adler was the first band member to be replaced — by Matt Sorum, who had previously played for The Cult. When the albums were released in September 1991, they debuted at number one and two on the Billboard charts.People waited in line to buy the album at midnight, and within two hours, 50,000 CDs were sold.The One True Lineup made the album everyone agrees on: the 1987 debut Appetite for Destruction, which has sold more than 18 million copies.
That puts the album in the neighborhood of The Beatles.On the strength of that album, and its number one single, "Sweet Child O’ Mine," Guns N’ Roses turned into the biggest band in the world.GNR were opening for Aerosmith in 1988, according to Aerosmith manager Tim Collins, when Rolling Stone showed up, ostensibly to write about Aerosmith.Adding to my sudden fearfulness: this is Coachella, a cosplay convention for the wealthy children of LA.All the press making fun of the flower crowns and crocheted white dresses has in no way deterred the legions of women decked out in them; the men tend toward the frat boy standard — T-shirts, baseball caps, and cargo shorts — though a brave few appear to be wearing the beta versions of their Burning Man costumes. And then, the opening notes of "It’s So Easy." The voice is unmistakable. The vibrato is still rich and open, even after some scream-singing. GNR might have once been the most dangerous band in the world, but has also been one of the commercially viable.The guy at first appears to be about my age — early thirties — but at the end of the set, I get a better look at him. He’s kept himself up well, but he’s almost certainly in his forties. "They’re too young." I think my new friend might be about to say something else, when Axl apologizes, for the second time, for not being able to do "his thing." What he is referring to is the snake dance.