PERFORMING ARTS

Goodbye, Guns N’ Roses: The Crime, Beauty, and Amplified Chaos of America’s Most Polarizing Band

Misfit. Apr. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781770415119. $26.95. MUSIC
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Using language that’s rife with explicit imagery and pop culture references, music journalist Tavana explores the impact of hard rock band Guns N’ Roses on the American music scene of the 1980s and 1990s. Focusing mainly on the controversial antics of lead singer Axl Rose, the author asks readers to “suspend [their] moral judgment” and view the band’s hypermasculinity with amusement. Tavana relies mainly on previously published interviews to explore the rumors surrounding the group, and he blames Rose for the band’s ultimate failure. He writes that Rose never overcame his childhood trauma (Rose was abused by his father and felt abandoned and betrayed by his mother) and argues that this led to a deep distrust of and hostility toward women, borne out in his personal relationships. He sexualized patriotism, glorified Charles Manson, and used artwork promoting rape and violence on the band’s albums. In Tavana’s narrative, Rose’s final undoing was the rise of Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain, whose dismissal of Guns N’ Roses was a blow to Rose’s confidence, from which he never recovered.
VERDICT Much has been written about Guns N’ Roses. Tavana sets his book apart by using pop culture analogies throughout, but he provides little in original insight or access. The work is entertaining, but die-hard fans will not learn anything new.
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