Axl Rose suing Activision for $20M over Guitar Hero III

Guns N' Roses frontman taking publisher to court over virtual Slash, Velvet Revolver songs included in the game.

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock set a record in 2009, when it became the first multiplatform console title to generate more than $1 billion in revenue. However, it appears as if $20 million of that nine-figure sum may be diverted out of Activision's coffers, as the game is now the target of a high-profile lawsuit.

Rose has pegged his damages at $20 million.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose has sued Activision for its use of the virtual likeness of Saul Hudson (better known as the top-hat-donning axe legend Slash) in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.

In the court documents (available online from Radar Online), Rose alleges that Activision convinced him to lend "Welcome to the Jungle" to Guitar Hero III on the grounds that the game would not feature Slash's likeness or the guitarist's follow-up group, Velvet Revolver.

Slash was featured heavily in Guitar Hero III. He graced the game's cover and was a playable character in the game. Further, songs from Velvet Revolver ("She Builds Quick Machines," "Slither," and "Messages") were made available to gamers as downloadable content following the game's release.

"[Activision] began spinning a web of lies and deception to conceal its true intentions to not only feature Slash and [Velvet Revolver] prominently in GH III but also promote the game by emphasizing and reinforcing an association between Slash and Guns N' Roses and the band's song 'Welcome to the Jungle,'" the statement reads.

In addition, Rose claims that "Sweet Child O' Mine," which was used to market Guitar Hero III, was only authorized for the title's predecessor, Guitar Hero II, and he is seeking reparations for that alleged transgression.

Rose isn't the first noted musician to sue Activision for rights violations in the Guitar Hero series. Last year, Kurt Cobain's bereaved wife Courtney Love sued the publisher over the Nirvana singer's virtual likeness in Band Hero.

For more on the title, check out GameSpot's review of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.

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Discussion

527 comments
Tharkun89
Tharkun89

GnR is dead. Axl is a hack. How does he even BEGIN to think he owns Slash's likeness?!? Chinese Democracy was the worst piece of crap to hit shelves from a once respected band ever...just look at the ratings.... Want a respectable band?? Metallica's Death Magnetic was number one sold album in every country that sold it. Enough said as for the courtney love bullcrap...she signed off on his likeness, giving them the right to do whatever they want with it....stupid facef***ing celebs thinking they own everything.

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

@SomeUndeadGuy: You do realise that Slash WALKED OUT on G'n'R back in 1995? For you, or anyone to still like him would mean you didn't like G'N'R in the first place and were glad to see them disintegrate. That's fine, everyone has an opinion. As far as I'm concerned, you could have robots playing the drums, bass and guitars, and as long as Axl is frontman, you have a band. One of the key things people bring up, is Axl's continued use of the band's name "Guns'N'Roses" in the new line-up. The thing is, Axl never left the band. Izzy left because of not being able to handle the spotlight, Slash left because of delusions of grandeur, and then of course Duff left, at which point the only person left is Axl. True historians will know , that Axl and Duff were the only members of the original G'N'R lineup, Slash got brought in by Duff. It just really irritates me that people have the facts wrong, and I hope by reading this people will re-evalute their opinions on Axl and Slash, and just realise they grew up, and when you grow up sometimes friendships break up, sometimes in a bad way.

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

@klugenbeel: Incorrect, Chinese Democracy outsold Libertad. Velvet Revolver is no longer together as a band, which shouldn't come as a suprise since it featured all three members who quit the "old guns n roses". It also hasn't taken 3 years for axl to "get around to it" as someone else had said, I remembering him making the complaint about Guitar Hero III years ago (search gamespots news archives). Slash wasn't "a huge part of that band", he was one of the musician's in that band. He contribute sweet f' all to the actual music, except for his mastabatory, yet excellent, solo's.

bksras17
bksras17

courtney love suing over a kurt cobain resemblance????????? wtf.....GET SOMETHING BETTER TO DO!!!!!!! call me crazy, but i think the character represents nothing more than the 90's grunge/alternative genre...livin' with your parents, makin' a band in your garage after school, smoking stuff ur not supposed to!!! (and claiming you hate vids!! lol!!) you know, popular with teens of the mid-90's.....and unfortunately kurt fits the bill (so MAYBE they could've given the hair a different colour instead of bleached blond??) like, the guy was dead when i was 14 and starting highschool, but the guy was never forgotten about...but are today's teens playing GH REALLY correlating this resemblance?? is nirvana really a popular band still making headlines??!!! get your head outta your a** and off the drugs, you 90's leftover....

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

Axl Rose, the original Dbag... (imo) Axl honestly... either come out with a new alblum or just go away... I suppose he has a right to do this, but what? years after gh3 was released? I think he's just scrounging for money by doing this...

Son_Jazrin
Son_Jazrin

I have to agree in part with Io_ACE_oI, it's been over 3 years, why is he complaining about it now?

Io_ACE_oI
Io_ACE_oI

Guitar Hero 3? Wasn't that release like 3 years ago? Axel is just now getting to this? I guess Axel took his M$ payment and blew it on some drugs and is just now coming down off the high. He must need more money for court fees.

klugenbeel
klugenbeel

Axel n' Roses (Chinese Democracy) will never be as good as the old Guns n' Roses. Slash was a huge part of that band, and it goes to show how Velvet Revolver has had more success in 2 albums, than Axel has had in his recent release of Chinese Democracy. I bought GH3 just because of how much Slash shreds, and he does, still does and always will be Shred-Tastic.

Plinkmo
Plinkmo

Kurt Cobain wasn't in Band Hero he was in Guitar Hero 5.

magusat999
magusat999

No matter what reason he was kicked out of the band (the real reason was probably big egos, jealousy and they couldn't stand that he was getting bigger than the rest) that is no reason to follow him around and try to thwart (Slash's) opportunities. They shouldn't be trying to make FAKE history by forcing others to pretend Slash doesn't and didn't exist. If he played on those songs, screw off Axl - it's accurate and his image SHOULD be there. Oh and the article failed to mention that Courtney Love LOST that case... authors need to stop playing word games when reporting FACTUAL EVENTS - you are trying to hype things up by saying "Courtney sued" (which does not reveal the outcome - but most people assume she won when you say "she sued") when you should be saying she tried to sue but did not win the case.

AgentNala23
AgentNala23

If you all knew ya music and business news, you would know that Axl Rose / G&R kicked Slash out cause he would not get off the drugs with the rest of the band (why they kicked him out) and Activision is sneaky and worse than the banks.

fanirama
fanirama

As much as I hate Activision, go home Axl and read those contracts that you signed. Being stoned and signing stuff and losing money won't make you rich here with a frivolous lawsuit.

grounderman
grounderman

axl you crabby ol' coot! sounds like you need some love.

teeskoowared
teeskoowared

Seems to me that Axl is just a dbag...not only from this but every other time I've seen him haha

Chaozi
Chaozi

Wouldnt you expect activision to ask them to be in the game beforehand?

josef8
josef8

Axl out of money? GNR is on their Chinese Democracy tour so money can't be an issue.

japanesegoth
japanesegoth

when musicians are unable to perform any more they turn to ridiculous lawsuits apparently.

Nodashi
Nodashi

Just 20m? Just pay up, Kotick. Cheaper then the suit and the game is worth 1 billion...

irishdude199210
irishdude199210

Axl Rose is the biggest t**t in music history! FACT!

SomeUndeadGuy
SomeUndeadGuy

Screw Axl. The mans nothing but a washed up leech still riding the coat tails of a once awesome but now expired band. It's a jealousy thing because everyone still loves Slash. I hope activision counter sues Axl on the grounds of him being a tosser

anzelm
anzelm

@luisdaobese It's not Slash that sues Activision. It's Axl Rose and as it seems it's because they connect Slash with Welcome to the jungle. And why wouldn't they since he was a memeber of Gn'R. I just wonder why it took Axl this long to figure this out. The game has been out for a couple of years now.

Crichton76
Crichton76

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@luisdaobese No your not I saw that video as well

firgie
firgie

thats why kurt cobain and the others so piss off abt axl..such a baby

luisdaobese
luisdaobese

Was I the only one that saw the "Behind the Scenes" video where Slash is in the motion sensor suit for the game? He obviously didn't have a problem being in the game, why is it such a big deal now?

egres122
egres122

All I can say is that Activision f%$#ed up.

GC4ever
GC4ever

i can see why he would do that for 'GNR' songs but for slash's image and velvet revolver songs he doesn't own that..... THAT is a little too far axl....

DrewTheSchu
DrewTheSchu

First of all, yeah...the terms were clearly violated and he has grounds to sue but a couple things... 1. Why agree to those terms? Yeah, GNR has some of the best rock songs in genre period...but when you have thousands upon thousands of historic rock songs to choose from, YOU shouldn't have to do the begging. 2. How old is Axle Rose? "NO!!! I'm NOT going if HE'S going!!!!!" (so it sounds anyway). Seriously? Yeah, you have issues with Slash, but the 90's were nearly two decades ago. Grow up and move on.

TrueIori
TrueIori

the enemy of my enemy is my friend..>: )

Zophar87
Zophar87

Axl was, is, and always will be a wanna-be and his title of "legendary" is the biggest stretch of the word I have ever heard of. He's an overrated douche bag who deserves to be beaten severely (Vince Neil, if you're reading this, my head just tilted your way) for the shape he's put the "GNR" title in. Chinese Democracy is the biggest disappointment of the past 20 years, and Axl shouldn't be allowed to create, publish, or even consider making anything in the music industry for the next 20. Amazing what GNR made with "just Axl." Just give it up and throw in the towel, jackass.

bushisprez
bushisprez

guarantee Activision loses nothing from this win or lose. Kotick should suffer for burning infinity ward. But Axl Rose should not be suing over Slash being featured in the game he doesn't own him only partial ownership of gun n roses songs.

KhanBloodsucker
KhanBloodsucker

I guess having a net worth of 277 million dollars isn't enough for some people.

MorbisDraconis
MorbisDraconis

@earlmccormick88 I think he's finally running out of money, lol.

earlmccormick88
earlmccormick88

Why would he wait so late to sue Activision? That game came out in 2007! However, he has a legitimate claim.

BelaidKL
BelaidKL

its taken them quite some time to figure all this out....just seems like theyre just out to attack Activision and Guitar Hero and are just suing for those reasons to do so (which isnt a bad thing.....but still)

nparks
nparks

Read the actual complaint online. There's some good stuff in there. Presented as "facts": "Guns N' Roses is one of the most popular and famous rock bands of all times. The band has...by all accounts redefined rock music. Guns N' Roses has reach iconic status." "Rose is the legendary lead vocalist and songwriter of Guns 'N Roses...and is widely regarded as one of rock's all-time greatest 'front men.' " "Guns N' Roses and its members were transformed into true 'Rock Legends' as a result of [Welcome to the Jungle]. Activision understood this connection and...was willing to do whatever it took to get the song." "Despite the fact that Slash has had nothing to do with Guns N' Roses' ongoing popularity and success since 1996, his association with the band lingers, at least as far as certain members of the media are concerned." "As a means of compensating Rose and Guns N' Roses for the wrong it perpetrated, Activision floated the idea of a video game with a theme based on 'Chinese Democracy,' Guns N' Roses' new album" "In tears, [Tim Riley from Activision] apologized for the way in which Rose and Guns N' Roses had been mistreated by Activision. He said 'I can't sleep at night.' "

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

Axl Rose is somewhat of a litigious arse, and those terms were bizarre to begin with, but he appears to have a legitimate claim here (no matter how dumb it sounds).

galdor77
galdor77

this is stupid why would you sue for this

Reilly86
Reilly86

Maybe Axl Rose should pay more attention to his fans then a video game. Apparently thier latest concerts in Ireland didn’t go down to well. But then again Activision deserve a to be brought back down to Earth for a while.

Tharkun89
Tharkun89

the story never said they had a contract. think about that for a minute before you go defending a money hungry washed up rock star

Bl00dnFl4mes
Bl00dnFl4mes

If only both of them could lose the money...

Ultramarinus
Ultramarinus

Cut that 20 million from Kotick's salary and it's all good.

zombified
zombified

Old GNR this, new GNR that...blah, blah, blah. Can't deny that Appetite for Destruction is still one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

yxw
yxw

wow great publicity stunt .... Now we can all talk about Axl , Slash , Velvet Revolver , Guns and Roses , and guitar hero ......Last week I wasn't thinking about any of them . Nice job Axl !!!!

Taegre
Taegre

@hyttenhoof The point of contention isn't whether or not Activision violated the terms of the contract so much as it is whether the terms of said contract existed in the first place. Axl has a tendency to take anything said to him as a verbal contract. He's also known for making stuff up, like his claim years ago that Slash wanted to rejoin GnR.