Will Axl Say He’s Sorry? ACT UP Applies Pressure

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Can you imagine more than 70,000 people booing Guns N’ Roses?

Or Elton John, George Michael and Metallica publicly shunning Axl and the boys?

Both things will happen at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert next month at London’s Wembley Stadium if the London branch of ACT UP has its way. The controversial AIDS awareness organization is calling for these actions at the April 20 concert honoring the Queen singer, who died from AIDS in November--unless Rose formally apologizes for what the organization feels are anti-gay lyrics and statements.

“We will accept Guns N’ Roses (on the bill) when they have a press conference and publicly denounce everything they’ve said about AIDS and homophobia,” said ACT UP/London’s John Campbell, referring to an anti-gay lyric on GNR’s old song “One in a Million” and other statements made on stage or during interviews.

“We want the words, ‘We were wrong. We’re sorry,’ ” said Campbell. “They’ve been responsible for misinformation about AIDS. Their homophobic attitude creates an atmosphere of ignorance and intolerance.”


If they don’t apologize?

“We will ask artists to put pressure on the show’s management to remove (Guns N’ Roses) from the billing,” Campbell said. “If management refuses we won’t ask anyone not to appear, but for Guns to be snubbed by the other artists, and we’ll ask for people to boo the band off the stage.”

So will GNR apologize? Campbell shouldn’t hold his breath.

“We’re disgusted by ACT UP’s lack of sensitivity in trying to politicize this tribute,” said a Guns N’ Roses management representative. “Perhaps they should read Axl Rose’s comments in the new issue of Rolling Stone for a more enlightened perspective. We refuse to be their pawn.”

In the Rolling Stone interview, Rose just touches on “One in a Million,” dealing more with the song’s racial tone, but says that he is growing and learning and acknowledges having said and done things in the past that he now regrets. But Campbell said that ACT UP would settle for nothing less than a full apology.

It wouldn’t be the first time GNR had been dropped from an AIDS-related event. The band was slated to play a 1989 concert being organized by the New York-based Gay Men’s Health Crisis, but pressure from gay activists troubled by “One in a Million” forced the organization to remove GNR from the lineup, and the show was ultimately canceled.