Sure, Jay Leno had President Obama on his show Wednesday, but for children of the ‘90s, it was Jimmy Kimmel who scored the night’s biggest booking: Guns N’ Roses star Axl Rose.
In his first live television appearance in 20 years, the famously temperamental singer was in an unusually gregarious mood. There were no tantrums, no surly answers, and no badmouthing of former bandmates. Instead, Rose came off as a benevolent rock-n’-roll Santa Claus. He told Kimmel about charming the neighborhood kids with a Halloween tree and ended the segment by handing out Tommy’s Burger Truck gift certificates to the studio audience.
“I thought it would be something fun,” he said. “Fun”?! This from the guy who used to incite riots onstage?
It was nice, if strange, to see the once reclusive Rose cheerfully promoting his band’s upcoming residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Somewhat more disappointing, at least for those of us who spent untold hours of our adolescence watching and rewatching homemade VHS recordings of the “November Rain” video (ahem), was Rose’s get-up.
Gone was the long, strawberry blond hair, the Sgt. Pepper jacket and the red kilt, replaced by a chin-length bob, jeans and – eek! – a white button-down. It wasn’t all bad, though: There was a blue bandanna peeking out from underneath his wide-brimmed black hat, just enough to remind us of the glory days.
Kimmel, who’s not exactly known as a tough interrogator, stuck to soft questions: He didn’t ask Rose about his refusal to attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony this spring, where Guns N’ Roses was being honored, and he made only glancing references to Rose’s contentious relationship with nearly all his former bandmates. Anyone hoping for a Barbara Walters-style teary confessional will be disappointed.
Kimmel did, however, ask Rose to weigh in on the presidential election. Rose admitted he’s not much of a voter because “I’m in California, and it usually leans Democratic, and that’s usually where I’m leaning anyway,” he explained. Pressed a little harder by Kimmel, Rose said, “I would lean Obama.”
Axl, we’ll forgive you for not voting if you promise to come back to TV again soon – and maybe perform a song next time.
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