Craig Duswalt was Axl Rose’s personal manager during Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion tour. Now Duswalt has written a memoir, Welcome to My Jungle, about his experience with the band. As someone who had a ringside seat during the band’s last time together — during which singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash had a falling out from which they’ve never recovered — Craig has a unique perspective into the band’s interpersonal relationships.
Duswalt says he and the rest of the old-school GN’R camp think Axl and Slash are closer than ever before to patching things up, mostly because original Guns bassist Duff McKagan has recently played onstage with Guns N’ Roses, and Duswalt says they’re hoping McKagan will be an ambassador of sorts. “Duff is paving the way to open the gates again,” says Duswalt. “Axl and Duff are really getting along well at the concerts, so there’s an opening.”
Duswalt says Duff stepping in to cover for present-day Guns bassist Tommy Stinson while the latter’s playing a few shows with The Replacements was the first glimmer of hope in a long time. “About five years ago, Slash went to Axl’s house one day, and Axl didn’t want to see him,” says Duswalt. “We [had] thought for a while, ‘yes’ [a reunion could happen], but then it just got ugly again and we thought, ‘There’s no way.'”
The crux of the issue between Axl and Slash has always been a mystery to civilians, including even diehard Guns fans. Duswalt tells ABC News Radio, “It was a thing that happened at the end of [Use Your Illusion],” meaning there was a specific incident that precipitated the split. “There were also the differences in music,” Duswalt adds, “like Slash wanted to do more hard-rock stuff and Axl wanted to do more ballads, rock ballads. There was that difference, but there was a specific thing that happened that both of them are at odds over.”
Duswalt says when it comes to Axl and Slash, he knows “for a fact they hate each other right now. It’s bad. Axl is a loyal guy and you get on his bad side and some people don’t come back, but Slash and him were so close. We [in the old-school Guns camp] all have a feeling it will happen. It’s gonna happen in the next two years…there’s an opening because of Duff playing with Axl.”Welcome to My Jungle is available now in print and digital formats.