When we think of classic or hard rock groups, we tend to attach them to specific eras. This is true with Guns N’ Roses even though the band rose to prominence toward the tail end of its genre’s heyday. Even so, 1987’s Appetite For Destruction still stands as one of the most impressive and enduring hard rock albums of all time. Even casual fans recognize tunes like “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” GNR made its mark on the 1980s, and that’s how we’re used to thinking of them.
But the members of GNR have also done more than most of their peers to stay relevant in the modern era of music. Yes, their music is mostly associated with the past, but that hasn’t stopped these musicians from trying some decidedly modern tricks to retain the interest of fans (and maybe even rope in some newer, younger ones).
The first gimmick they tried, which seems to have worked like a charm, was allowing their music and likenesses to be used in online games. Specifically, slot reels and jackpots at prominent casino sites have made a habit of developing games based on licensed properties and GNR—along with a few other noteworthy rock groups—has hopped on board. Playing the Guns N’ Roses slot reel is like playing a simple arcade game that doubles as a tribute to the band and it kicks off with an epic montage of the band’s most memorable moments. It’s a fitting tribute that’s bound to get a lot of players to go searching for old tracks and albums once the reels stop spinning.
Next up on the modern publicity gimmick lineup was a teaser trailer not unlike those we sometimes see a year or so in advance of major movies or TV shows. It was late 2015, and the band attached a trailer to screenings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which (we probably don’t need to mention) was the biggest movie of the year. The trailer was vague, but it served exactly the right purpose, which was to get people excited and asking questions about the reunion tour.
By now you probably know the rest of the story if you’re a GNR fan. The band took the stage at Coachella and rocked it, and then launched the “Not In This Lifetime” tour, which is still going on now. Following some fun and unexpected digital efforts to stay relevant, GNR wound up making the most explosive and total comeback we’ve seen for an older band in a long time. And recently, some news came out that indicates said comeback was even more successful than it looked like from the outside.
According to Billboard’s latest list of the highest paid musicians of 2016, Guns N’ Roses came in second behind only pop superstar Beyoncé. They came in second; a band that made it big time in 1987 and relies on high energy rock performances came in freaking second… in 2016! The band apparently roped in just over $42 million, which has to have surpassed even its own members’ wildest dreams.
We can only hope that number will inspire more reunion tours from the bands of the era.