The reclusive Axl Rose resurfaced Thursday night in West Hollywood to sing with his former Guns N' Roses bandmate Gilby Clarke, much to the shock of both Clarke and 250-odd audience members. The event marked Rose's first public performance in seven years.
Management for Guns N' Roses confirmed to MTV News that Rose made an appearance at an L.A.-area nightclub after attending a concert by Roger Waters.
According to club co-owner and drummer Slim Jim Phantom (of Stray Cats fame), Clarke was heading up a jam session with the pair's sideband, The Starf***ers, at the intimate Cat Club on Sunset Boulevard.
The group, which also features Buckcherry's Yogi (who had taken over from regular guitarist Tracii Guns) and Slash bassist Johnny G, was just coming off a break when the word came down that Rose was in the club. Phantom told MTV News that he and Clarke approached Rose at the bar, said hello, and then took the stage.
"We did a couple of songs,
and then looked at Axl," Phantom recalled, "and he came up. He didn't need any prompting."
Rose and Clarke shared a mic for duets of two Rolling Stones songs, "Wild Horses" and "Dead Flowers." The latter was included on Clarke's 1994 solo album, "Pawnshop Guitars," with a vocal and piano track courtesy of Rose.
An audience member at the show informed MTV News that Rose was "really nice" and he "looked great." The singer was also said to be in fine voice.
Rose, who has rarely even been seen for the better part of the last decade, hadn't performed in public since the last Guns N' Roses tour wrapped up in July 1993. Clarke, who had replaced original guitarist Izzy Stradlin in late 1991, left GN'R acrimoniously in 1994. Clarke launched a lawsuit against Guns N' Roses in 1996 for misrepresentation of his name and likeness. The case was settled out of court.
According to Phantom, although Clarke was obviously surprised by the proceedings, he and Rose began talking
as if they had just seen each other "yesterday," in Phantom's words. "I left at 3:30 a.m., and they were still talking up a storm," he noted.
Clarke told MTV News that he and Rose mostly discussed Rose's new band and album. "He was really excited about it," Clarke said. "He was explaining it to me. We didn't rehash anything. We had a good time."
"I never really had any problems with Axl," Clarke added. "It was just business. It was an issue that wasn't getting settled: I wasn't getting paid, I wasn't getting a response, so the attorneys got involved. It was settled in a few weeks."
Rose is currently working on sessions for a new Guns N' Roses album with producer Roy Thomas Baker (see "Axl Records With Queen Producer").
Meanwhile, the appearance will further enhance the Cat Club's reputation as a celeb hangout. Recent guests have included Eddie Vedder, Rod Stewart, and Johnny Ramone.