Once upon a time, led by their Wild West crooner Axl Rose, a band called Guns N’ Roses blazed through the music scene like a band of outlaws on the run from their own tragic destiny. Along with a ‘take no prisoners’ approach to live shows, G N ‘R didn’t seem to have any notion (or care in the world) about their public image. Slash, their clandestine guitar player, hiding behind the shadows of Axl’s stage antics, spat out raging guitar riffs that combined the raw talent of Jimi Hendrix with the melodic charm of Joe Satriani. Below the blazing guitar dominance of Slash, as well as the blood-drenched vocals of maestro Rose – Duff McKagen and Steven Adler (later replaced by Matt Sorum) managed to keep the rhythm train on the tracks for a few glorious recordings.
The most notable, and perhaps the greatest anthem in the history of rock n’ roll was 1991’s “November Rain.” The culmination of eight years of being on the road and sleepless nights full of angst – “November Rain” managed to sonically capture the evolution of a group of gunslingers heading towards the sunset of rock n’ roll infamy. It was a nine minute conundrum that left most loyal G N’ R fans scratching their heads (A love song? Orchestral? Really?). And for that reason, it is pure genius. Naysayers slammed Axl for ‘forcing’ the other members to record a symphonic ballad that included a music video worshipped by the same teenage girls that watched “Beverly Hills 91201.” But really, who cares about what the naysayers think. The music video for “November Rain” (released in 1992) should be celebrated for its storytelling and production value. Axl and company lead us through a dark fairy tale filled with sleeping pills, booze, supermodels, and one heroic guitar solo. The video tells the story of a tortured rocker on a quest to find a happy ending in a world filled with everything but happiness (we can all relate, can’t we?). After re-watching the video over the weekend, I found a new appreciation for the classic rockstar of yesteryear and his (or her) ability to tell a story. The music video for “November Rain” embodies a flair for the dramatic that is nonexistent in today’s music video style (which seems to be ‘less is more’). So I say we celebrate rock n’ roll excess and drink wine from a diamond-studded goblet and embrace the audacity of Axl Rose losing his mind in the early-’90s. Sure, we have all seen the music video for “November Rain.” Some of us saw it on MTV in 1992. A few of us, the aggressive ones, requested the video on The Box. Others, the younger generation, have it saved on their YouTube ‘Favorites’ tab. Either way, in celebration of G N’ R and their controversial induction into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, here is a look at the rockstar excess that appears throughout the unforgettable music video for “November Rain.”