Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose is one of the most polarising figures in rock music. His skill as a vocalist is undoubted, and his wide range and propensity to deliver siren-like wails are two of the most iconic aspects of his work. He has laid down many impressive performances on iconic cuts such as ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, ‘November Rain’ and ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, to name just a few.
However, in a strange aversion to the norm, Rose is more famous – or even notorious – for his personality, and at points, this has threatened to overshadow all the great work he has done over his nearly four decades in the sun. Best described as an iconoclast, Rose is something of rock music’s version of Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, whereby the world has felt the brunt of his emotions over the years, as it is everyone else is in the wrong.
From Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe to the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and even his own bandmates, Rose has had a string of high-profile feuds over the years, a reflection of his unfettered personality and dedication to his sense of the self. Whilst you might not agree with a lot of what he has to say, the fact that Rose has invariably backed himself is pretty remarkable.
Given that he is such a significant personality, over the years, Rose has given his thoughts on a whole host of musical artists and, at different points, has showered praise on the likes of Paul McCartney, Jeff Lynne and James Brown. However, for him, one band and one iconic frontman lauds above all else. The group in question is English rockers Queen, and Rose holds a special love for their late vocalist Freddie Mercury.
When speaking to Atlas Magazine in 2018, the Guns N’ Roses frontman praised Mercury and Queen, claiming that they are the best band of all time and that Mercury was the finest singer in history. He said: “For me, it’s easy – Queen is the greatest band and Freddie is the greatest frontman of all time. The band are the greatest because they embraced so many different styles”.
Per an account in Express, Rose praised Mercury’s lyrics and revealed that Queen helped him through his troubled childhood: “If I hadn’t had Freddie Mercury’s lyrics to hold on to as a kid I don’t know where I would be. It taught me about all forms of music… it would open my mind. I never really had a bigger teacher in my whole life.”
Famously, the Guns N’ Roses rocker would get a chance to meet his idols, performing with the surviving Queen members Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, and Elton John at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992 after Mercury tragically passed away.