Everything Guns N’ Roses "Reckless Road" Part II Marc Canter
Guns N’ Roses, the original Spaghetti Incident!
"Axl Rose will never change. He does what he believes. He won’t sell himself short. It’s victory or death."
By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Contributor
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — OK, here we are with part 2 of Metal Sludge’s exclusive interview with Marc Canter’s of the famous Canter’s restaurant in Hollywood – the famed 24-hour deli of the stars including most of the world’s most famous rock musicians through the years. You can read part 1 right HERE
We left off with Guns N’ Roses, and what each band member likes to order at Canter’s.
But the relationship between Marc Canter and the band, particularly Slash, actually goes way back. The restaurateur and the guitarist grew up together, went to school together, and even made a pact together that Marc would help support Slash and Guns N’ Roses financially and in other ways.
And though Canter, who would go on to write the book RECKLESS ROAD about his relationship with Guns N’ Roses and the band’s rise to fame, was more of a benefactor than an investor, he did keep track of the forwarded monies. Did Guns N’ Roses pay Canter back? Keep reading …
Slash rocking suspenders and eye shadown back in the day.
Metal Sludge: So take us back. How did you first meet Slash?
Marc Canter: It’s a funny story. We were in elementary school together but didn’t know really each other, and one day I parked my mini-bike in front of KFC – and Slash was trying to rip it off, I think, kind of circling around it. Then, I came out, and he recognized me from school, so he didn’t want to steal it, but he asked if he could ride it, and I said, “Of course.” And we became friends.
Metal Sludge: Was there any early spark about the kid? Did you think he was going to be a star one day?
Marc Center: Oh yes. He was incredibly talented from the very beginning. I noticed it in his drawings – in elementary school, he could make drawings of dinosaurs and snakes. In about 1978, he was doing BMX stuff on his bike before there was BMX. He would go off jumps.
Metal Sludge: So he was really athletic?
Marc Canter: Very, very athletic. I remember I raced him, and Slash was super fast, like super human fast. Even at 13 or 14, he was fastest kid on the block. If you would race him from a starting point to three houses, he would be finished before you crossed the second house. He was the strongest kid on the block, too.
Metal Sludge: What about musically? Do you remember when Slash first learned to play guitar?
Marc Canter: Yes. After two or three months, he sounded like Eric Clapton. By the way, did you know Slash worked at Canter’s?
Metal Sludge: Really?
Marc Canter: Yeah, I gave him a job. By 1982, we were best friends, and I kind of created a job for him, based on what I was kind of doing for the restaurant back then. He would go through all the waitresses’ checks and make sure they were run up properly on the cash register. There were no computers back then. In fact, we still don’t have computers at Canter’s. But it was Slash’s job to go through everything and make sure all the pieces fit together.
Metal Sludge: At some point, Guns N’ Roses formed. What was your involvement?
Marc Canter: I was constantly bankrolling the band because he was my friend, and because Slash had really good talent. At some points, he or the band would pay me back, a little here and a little there. I helped with flyers, did photos, that sort of thing.
Metal Sludge: Dude, didn’t anyone ever tell you that investing in a rock band is crazy? Surely you must have had second thoughts about this, Marc.
Marc Canter: They were my friends. If they weren’t my friends, I still would have done it. I saw a band that could do wrong. I thought they could be the next Led Zeppelin.
Metal Sludge: Were you a millionaire?
Marc Canter: Oh no. The restaurant business is tight. My family might have millions, put only in the property. The profit margin is really, really tight in the restaurant business. They’re just happy employing 140 employees. Canter’s has never raised prices unless we really had to. I was getting paid $300 a week in those days, and 80 percent was going to the band – like almost all my money. That wasn’t easy because I had a girlfriend, too, but I definitely saw good things in the band.
Metal Sludge: There is that famous picture of Guns N’ Roses in a booth at Canter’s, looking all played out.
Marc Canter: That was right after they returned from their infamous, ill-fated tour to Seattle, when their car broke down and they were like starving for two weeks before one of Duff’s friends drove everyone back to Los Angeles. But that tour bonded them, they were like blood brothers after that, and the photo is when they came back and came to Canter’s for a meal. I actually didn’t take that picture, my friend did. But everyone thinks I took it. But the one thing about that photo is it says 1,000 words.
Metal Sludge: Guns N’ Roses was so well known for misbehaving. Did they ever misbehave at Canter’s?
Marc Canter: No, they always showed respect. Oh, except for one time, I left them alone for a minute, Slash and Axl, and the next thing I know there’s a food fight, and there’s food all over the wall. I was so angry, I was streamed. The only thing I could do was grab a whipped-cream pie and smash it into their face. But that was 1984, before Guns N’ Roses, because there was Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns and a few other formations.
Metal Sludge: Did you do drugs with the band?
Marc Canter: Oh no. I might have smoked a little bit of pot when I was a little kid like 12 to 15, but nothing like that, no heroin or anything like that. I would break their heads. I was like their mother, so they always hid that from me. Slash, I knew he was a drinker, and Axl had no vices at all. Then, all of sudden, in 1986, the summer of ’86 in June, July, August, some time around then, Slash started doing dope, and it really pissed me off. I told him to stop.
In fact, that’s when I cut them off. Morally, I couldn’t put any more money in at that point if they were doing heroin, so I cut them off. They would call me, ask me to bring them food from taco bell or something, and I was like, “I’m not going to do it.” The logic might have been a little screwed up, but by then they had so many others like strippers who would give them money and feed them. I told them to get their support from all these strippers they used to hang out with, and they said OK. [laughs] But we were still friends. They would still come to Canter’s, and I would feed them, but they never took advantage of it. They would never do something like that to me.
It was a little later when I first heard the song “Welcome to the Jungle.” It had such a groove, that’s when I knew they were going to be millionaires one day. I was like, “Wait a minute. That’s a hit.”
Metal Sludge: At that point, how much money had you put in?
Marc Canter: Well, there were two tabs. I actually kept track of everything. Slash owed me $3,000 or $4,000, and the band owed me $4,300. I never asked for the money back, but then I was getting married a few years later in 1989, so I told Slash, “Hey, I need that money,” and Slash gave me $10,000, but that was actually just supposed to be his tab. I guess he paid me interest! I think at this point, he was worth a few million, but he only had like $600,000 cash, I think, because you know how the music industry works – you get paid like six months later. But to make a long story short, Axl has given me some incredible gifts, too, and I’ve been paid back many times over. He would send me things like DVD players when no one had DVD players, all the latest stuff, and every birthday a big gift would always come – Axl never forgot a birthday or an occasion.
He liked the way my wife would cut his hair, so he would fly us in to places like Cleveland so he could get his hair cut, even though he had other guys that would do that. On “Use Your Illusion,” Guns N’ Roses had a pinball machine, so they sent me one of the pinball machines. I still have it.
Or he would fly us to New York and we would stay at the Ritz for four nights, all paid for.
In 2001, he flew my wife and I out to Rio. I brought along a hard salami from Canter’s because I knew he would appreciate it. We cut it up and made sandwiches in his hotel room. With some rugelach cookies, too.
Axl Rose, a very loyal friend to Marc Canter over the years.
Metal Sludge: So Axl was a loyal friend?
Marc Canter: Very loyal. He came to my wedding on March 4, 1989 at the Hilton Hotel, and he wore a suit, gave us a $200 gift certificate from Shaper Image and played the piano at the wedding. It’s on my wedding video. He played “November Rain” at my wedding two years before the song came out – I think I actually first heard it in 1985 – which is weird because there’s a wedding scene in the “November Rain” video. The funny thing is, of course we were all wondering if Axl was going to be late to my wedding because you know Axl, he’s always late, but Axl Rose was on time to my wedding. And like I said, he was wearing a suit. Slash showed up, too, but he was wearing a leather jacket. He was dressed as himself! [laughs]
Axl is 100 percent about what he sees in his head as right and wrong. During the riots in 1991, I was on the roof with guns, protecting Canter’s, our property, because they were burning places down, and Axl called my wife and asked how Canter’s was doing. He was said he was on the way, but my wife told him we were OK. He also offered to send the Guns N’ Roses security team to Canter’s to help me.
Metal Sludge: Do the Guns N’ Roses guys still come to Canter’s?
They do. Duff was here not long ago, and I still covered the bill. He was here for lunch, and he tried to take the check but I took the check, so he plopped down $20 for the waitress. He’s sold 100 million records, but he is also rich from investing in Starbucks and Windows in the beginning. At one time, I think Duff had invested $50,000 in Starbucks and it was worth something like $18 million.
Metal Sludge: What about Axl?
Axl hasn’t been here in about two years. We had a little falling out because he did not want me to put the book out until after “Chinese Democracy” came out. He had told me that, so he’s a little disappointed in me. We’re not enemies or anything like that, but we do have a few things to talk about about because he’s upset over a couple of issues.
He’ll never change. He’s always the same. He does what he believes. He won’t sell himself short. It’s victory or death.
Make sure to check out Part 1.
In the mean time, order the bookReckless Road direct from Marc Canter himself.
Gerry Gittelson can be reached [email protected]
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