|By JANET MORRISSEY, For The Associated Press
Guns N' Roses fans nationwide started buzzing recently when Atlanta radio station 96Rock began advertising that the reclusive Axl Rose would be performing at a club in Cartersville, Ga., on Friday.
Even more exciting: Rose was said to be teaming up with former bandmate and songwriting partner Izzy Stradlin. The promo on the rock station's website promised a "three-hour set," with the $20 tickets limited to one per customer.
But it appears there will be no show. "Axl will not be there," GNR manager Merck Mercuriadis told The Associated Press.
Why not? The answer was unclear Thursday.
The radio station's program director, Jeff McMurray, initially stood by his promotion. He told AP he had seen contracts signed by Rose and Stradlin to appear at Coyotes, capacity 2,000. While he admits it seemed odd that a band of GNR's stature would play such a small venue, McMurray said it's not an unusual move for big-name bands. He recalled U2 and REM playing the Hurricane, a tiny club in Kansas City, a number of years ago.
But after further investigation, McMurray backtracked. "Although we have contracts stating that they'll be there, evidently (the contracts) are not from Axl Rose," he said.
The radio station promotions were pulled — but the club continued to promote the gig. On Thursday morning, a voicemail on the Coyotes' phone still said GNR was coming to town.
"I sent off a certified check. It was a legitimate booking agency," Coyotes manager Pete Grim said. "I had asked (the agency) several questions about the status of Guns N' Roses because I do know that Velvet Revolver is out and lots of the members from Guns N' Roses went there. But he assured me it wasn't the Velvet Revolver people — it was actually Rose and other original members."
Grim said he dealt with a booking agency called Bryant Entertainment. AP could not locate a phone number for the company. Strangely, the radio station would not provide a number. Requests to the radio station and club to pass on messages to the booker yielded no results.
The gig would have marked the first time that Rose — the Howard Hughes of rock — had performed publicly since promoter Clear Channel pulled the plug on his comeback tour in 2002.
The original GNR lineup imploded in the 1990s over egos and disputes over musical direction, leaving only Rose and keyboard player Dizzy Reed to continue under the GNR name. Partway through the comeback tour, Rose failed to show up for a gig in Philadelphia, causing riots, which led to the tour's demise.
Rose and his much-hyped album, "Chinese Democracy," which is 10 years in the making, have not been heard from since.