This weekend, Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will throw its annual induction ceremony and concert to celebrate its newest members, which include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donovan and Guns N' Roses.
Make that four-fifths of Guns N' Roses. Singer and co-founder Axl Rose released an open letter to the Rock Hall on Wednesday morning on The Times' Pop & Hiss blog declaring he'd skip the ceremony. He also requested that he not be inducted into the hall.
"I won't be attending The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction 2012 Ceremony and I respectfully decline my induction as a member of Guns N' Roses to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame," Rose, 50, wrote in the letter. "I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf. Neither former members, label representatives nor the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame should imply whether directly, indirectly or by omission that I am included in any purported induction of 'Guns N' Roses'."
The Hall of Fame announced Guns N' Roses' inclusion in February, leading to instant speculation whether the five core members of the band circa "Appetite for Destruction" would appear together for the first time since the early 1990s.
"This decision is personal," Rose said in his letter. "This letter is to help clarify things from my and my camp's perspective. Neither is meant to offend, attack or condemn. Though unfortunately I'm sure there will be those who take offense (God knows how long I'll have to contend with the fallout), I certainly don't intend to disappoint anyone, especially the fans, with this decision. Since the announcement of the nomination we've actively sought out a solution to what, with all things considered, appears to be a no win, at least for me, 'damned if I do, damned if I don't' scenario all the way around."
From the band's inception, the dynamics among the members had been volatile, and after releasing three platinum albums and two EPs, Guns N' Roses performed what would be its final show with Slash as its lead guitarist at the end of a South American tour in 1993. The group then went on a hiatus during which it was supposedly recording its next album.
Slash officially departed the band in 1996, followed soon thereafter by other members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum (original drummer Steven Adler and guitarist Izzy Stradlin had left a few years earlier).
Rose retained the rights to the band's name, and over the next decade devoted his time to creating the album "Chinese Democracy," touring with a revived Guns N' Roses and dismissing any suggestion of a reunion with the original members.
Just which Guns N' Roses members will accept the award remains a mystery. A spokeswoman for Slash, who declined to comment on Rose's letter, said the guitarist as of Wednesday morning was planning to attend. McKagan, meanwhile, will be celebrating the release of his book "It's So Easy (and Other Lies)" the night before the induction ceremony at Cleveland's House of Blues.
Late Wednesday, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame spokeswoman responded to Rose's letter: "We are sorry Axl will not be able to accept his Induction in person."
Since February, Rose had remained mum on his plans, even as Slash had spoken out in favor of a Rock Hall reunion while also acknowledging Rose's antipathy.
"He hates my guts," Slash, 46, told Rolling Stone in early April. "It's over a lot of different stuff; I don't even know. There's just no communication between us. I talk to Duff and Steven, but when it comes to old Guns N' Roses, there really isn't anybody that makes decisions."
This isn't the first time that band tensions and rifts have become the focal point of the Rock Hall ceremony, where new inductees are expected to perform at the event.
Following Van Halen's induction in 2007, tensions between original lead singer David Lee Roth and the band generated speculation as to whether Roth or singer Sammy Hagar, who joined Van Halen after Roth's departure in the '80s, would perform at the event.
Roth, who'd said he had been rehearsing for the Rock Hall event for months, backed out from attending because he said he wasn't asked to perform. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen released a statement saying he would be entering a rehab program, essentially putting an end to any and all speculation as to what version of the band would take to the stage.
Only bassist Michael Anthony and Hagar were on hand.
As for Rose, he's followed most closely in the footsteps of early punk rockers theSex Pistols,who were inducted into the Rock Hall in 2006 despite their protests.
The British band used all-caps to emphasize its disdain for the Rock Hall in 2006. Here is an excerpt of one of the tamest parts of the statement: "Next to the SEX PISTOLS, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain ... were [sic] not coming. Were [sic] not your monkey and So what?"
In Rose's case, his letter closes on a more congratulatory — if not ironic — note: "I'd like to sincerely thank the board for their nomination and their votes for Guns' induction. More importantly I'd like to thank the fans for being there over the years, making any success we've had possible and for enjoying and supporting Guns N' Roses music."