Guns N’ Roses is considering removing its version of a song by mass murderer Charles Manson from future copies of its new album, sources close to the Los Angeles hard rock group said Tuesday.
The composition, “Look at Your Game, Girl,” which appears on “The Spaghetti Incident?” album released last week, has come under fire from law enforcement and victims rights groups, as well as from the head of the band’s record company, entertainment mogul David Geffen.
“I would hope that if Axl Rose had realized how offensive people would find this, he would not have ever recorded this song in the first place,” said Geffen, who knew two of the six victims killed in an Aug. 9, 1969, Benedict Canyon rampage masterminded by Manson.
“The issue is not the song itself,” Geffen said. “The fact that Charles Manson would be earning money based on the fame he derived committing one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th Century is unthinkable to me.”
Geffen, who spoke Tuesday by phone from the Caribbean where he is on vacation after overseeing the making of a film in New Orleans, said he learned from a CNN broadcast Monday that the song is on the album.
The decision about removing the song rests with Rose, who could not be reached for comment. But sources said that most of the five band members want the song taken off future copies of the record, and that Rose is considering that action.
In a statement scheduled to be released today by Geffen Records, Rose did not say what he would do about the song.
“Personally, I liked the lyrics and the melody of the song,” he said in the statement. “Hearing it shocked me, and I thought there might be other people who would like to hear it.
“The song talks about how the girl is insane and playing a mad game,” Rose says in the statement. “I felt that it was ironic that such a song was recorded by Charles Manson, someone who should know the inner intricacies of madness.
“Manson is a dark part of American culture and history,” Rose said. “He’s the subject of fear and fascination through books, movies and the interviews he’s done. Most people hadn’t heard anything Charles Manson recorded.”
The singer pledged to donate all performance royalties from the song to a nonprofit environmental organization.
Industry sources estimated that Manson’s publishing royalties could amount to as much as $62,000 for every 1 million albums sold.
At least 1 million copies of the album are believed to have been shipped to stores since the collection was released Nov. 23. The group’s last pair of albums, 1991’s “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II,” have sold about 5 million copies each in the United States.
Sources said that Geffen Records may donate its proceeds from the song to the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau, named for the late mother of actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered by Manson’s followers in 1969.
Patti Tate, the actress’ sister, expressed outrage at the song’s inclusion on the album.
“Doesn’t Axl Rose realize what this man did to my family?” said Tate, who now runs the victims rights group. “It really hurts and angers me that Guns N’ Roses would exploit the murders of my sister and others for capital gain.”
Manson, 59, is serving a life sentence in Corcoran State Prison near Fresno.