CLEVELAND (AP) — On their way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Guns N’ Roses got together for one more gig.
Axl Rose missed it.
The hedonistic hard rockers, who became the world’s top music act amid endless dysfunction, members of Guns N’ Roses reunited for three songs on Saturday night before 6,000 fans, many of whom were thrilled to see at least most of the band’s original lineup jam on classic hits such as “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Paradise City.”
Mr. Rose, the band’s frontman and ringmaster of the G N’ R traveling sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll circus, declined to attend the induction, saying he didn’t want to be part of the ceremony because it “doesn’t appear to be somewhere I’m actually wanted or respected.”
He was hardly missed.
While his decision disappointed some hard-core fans and ended any possibility of a full-scale reunion of the original lineup, guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steve Adler performed for the first time in nearly 20 years to the delight of the sellout crowd inside historic Public Hall.
Guns N’ Roses was one of the headliners of this year’s eclectic group of inductees, which included the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beastie Boys, folk icon Donovan, late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro and British bands the Small Faces and Faces.
The event lasted well into the early morning with an all-star jam featuring some of rock’s biggest names closing the 5½ hour ceremony with a stirring rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.”
Hours earlier, Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis said it was strange to be enshrined while the band was touring.
“We’re going somewhere,” Mr. Kiedis said. “How can we stop and take an award when really we’re just halfway there? But it is nice to be together with people that we spent some incredible years along the way writing songs and playing shows in little theaters and sweaty little transvestite clubs and having the time of our lives.”
Cleveland rocked without Mr. Rose.
As he inducted Guns N’ Roses, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong recalled the first time he saw the band on MTV.
“I thought, one these guys could end up dead or in jail,” he said.
Guns N’ Roses came out both barrels blaring, and their debut album, “Appetite for Destruction,” shook a music world that at the time was consumed with pop ballads and dance music.
“It’s the best debut album in the history of rock ‘n’ roll,” Mr. Armstrong said. “Every song hits hard. It takes you a trip to the seedy world of Los Angeles. The thing that set them apart from everyone else was guts. They never lost their edge for one second.”