Guns N' Roses guitarist Richard Fortus insists the rekindling of the friendship between Axl Rose and Slash and subsequent return to the band for the latter had nothing to do with money.
The stadium tours with the current line-up of Guns N' Roses with Slash and Duff back with frontman Axl Rose are reportedly raking in in excess of $5.5m per show.
But speaking to Guy 'Favazz' Favazza of the St. Louis, Missouri radio station KSHE, Fortus shot down suggestions the reunion was fuelled by dollar signs.
“No. Axl has been going on on time for years before [the reunion],” said Fortus.
“It's been great. Is money the motivating factor for him? Absolutely not. I've never seen that guy motivated by money, as long as I've known him. Otherwise, this reunion would have happened a long time ago."
“Honestly, I don't think money was a motivating factor for anybody, other than the stars just seemed to align. We didn't have a bass player, we didn't have a guitar player. Really, that's how it sort of happened.”
Favazza pressed Fortus on reports that it was Axl who finally made the decision to reach out to Slash but the guitarist wasn't sure how it went down.
“No. I think Slash had been trying to get a hold of him for a while. And they sat down, and Axl was, like, 'Okay, let's just talk it through.'
“And they sat down privately, went through their laundry list of issues, and were able to put it behind them, and here we are. And it's been really great. It's been incredible, actually.
“Man, we communicate all the time. Between Slash, Duff, Axl and myself, every night there's texts going back and forth after… once we're back in our hotel rooms. We hang out, we all travel together on the same plane.”
Fortus also confirmed a rumour that he was approached for a spot with Slash with The Conspirators prior to Slash making the return to Guns.
"It was actually, at aThin Lizzy show. We were playing a festival and his manager came up to me and said, 'Man, we'd love to steal you.' And I couldn't do that to my friend [Axl]. That would be such a slap in the face.
“Once we started playing together we got along great. We clicked really quickly. It was a trial period; we were checking it out: Is this gonna work? Duff and I had played together before.
“And it really clicked quickly and easily. We have a great rapport. We come from a very similar background, you know, as far as the classic rock and the punk rock stuff.”
2016 was the year in which Axl Rose returned to the throne of rock n' roll where he juggled his hugely successful run with GNR with a stint fronting AC/DC in place of Brian Johnson.
"It was incredible,” grinned Fortus when asked about Axl/DC.
“I was absolutely blown away. I flew up to Detroit to see it. It was absolutely devastatingly good. He really killed it. He texted me when [he found out he was going to do the AC/DC gig]… He said, 'Hey, I haven't told anybody yet, but I'm gonna go audition…'
“Well, he didn't say 'audition.' [He said] 'I'm gonna go play with AC/DC and see how it goes.' And I was thinking to myself, 'Man, that's a tough… I don't know, man. That's a tough one.' And then everybody got back to me that went to the audition and saw it and said he was just amazing. And when I saw it, I was blown away.”
Fans remain desperate for some new original music from the Guns N' Roses camp – especially now Slash and Duff are back in the Guns camp.
And new music is something Fortus is excited about himself.
"We are messing with ideas every day. I mean, every day we do at least an hour sound check, and we'll play through different ideas, like new ideas, put stuff down on tape. It's really organic. And it happens… Same in rehearsals — we were always putting down different ideas and getting stuff together and getting ready for that, yeah.”
Guns N' Roses will kickstart a lengthy European stadium tour in late May in Dublin, Ireland, before ending on July 12 in the Netherlands. A July 15 show in Tel Aviv, Israel will also precede the North American leg which will see the band play at least another 15 stadium dates, on the 'Not In This Lifetime' reunion tour.