Curmudgeonly Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose has sued his former manager Irving Azoff for $5 million, saying that Azoff sabotaged sales of 2008’s forever-in-the-making Chinese Democracy and tried to screw up the band’s live itinerary around the release of that album in hopes that Rose would begrudgingly reunite with the probably more lucrative Appetite For Destruction-era lineup of the group, despite there being many bygones to be bygoned on that front. The release of Chinese Democracy was certainly one that raised a lot more questions than it answered, and it would appear that this particular piece of litigation is something of an attempt to answer at least a few of them. Would Chinese Democracy have sold better had it not been sold only at Best Buy outlets, which didn’t really go the distance as far as promoting the thing? Did it need Slash’s guitar lines as a selling point? Or would it have sold better if it didn’t sound like it had been labored over for 14 years?
The lawsuit will certainly shed a bit more light on one of the more murkily twist-filled (yet ultimately disappointing) pieces of recent rock and roll lore. But is something of a risky move for Rose as far as his future in the business goes; not only is Azoff his former manager, he’s the guy in charge of the behemoth concert-promotion-slash-ticketing company known as Live Nation Entertainment — the end product of the recently approved merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster. Perhaps this is a sign that the man is, once and for all, done with the business. But if Axl does want to tour again while this litigation is going on, where will he play? Basement shows? Or just the basement of the John Varvatos store that sits where CBGB once did?
One thing’s for sure: A sequel to this song is long overdue.