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Heavy Metal Wonder

Axl Rose, the Musical. Who knew?

January 18, 1998|Neal Weiss

With a five-record deal having just disintegrated, Andy Prieboy was in a creative funk in 1996. So the singer-songwriter, best known as front man for the critically acclaimed L.A. band Wall of Voodoo and for the soul-searching AIDS-themed song "Tomorrow, Wendy," started goofing with some heavy metal progressions on the piano.

Suddenly his thoughts turned to his neighbors, who could often be heard composing bad Broadway-style musical pieces. Which led Prieboy to wonder: What if such composers were to write about someone who wanted to be in a rock band? Imagining a hayseed rock-and-roller stepping off the bus in Hollywood to seek fame and fortune, Prieboy massaged the ivories and sang most pleadingly, "I want to be in a metal band."

"I cracked myself up," says Prieboy. "It was so awful yet right on the money of how some theater twerp would want to present it."

Which was how Prieboy found himself penning a flurry of tunes that fused Gilbert & Sullivan with droll observations of the music biz and the glammy Sunset Strip culture of the '80s. He based the musical's protagonist on Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose, the essential large-living rock star from the '80s. "His real life story is along the lines of a number of feel-good 1940s musicals," says Prieboy, who shares Rose's home state of Indiana.

Using Rose's rags-to-riches saga, the story line includes a requisite mean-streets initiation, a heart-to-heart with Steven Tyler, trysts with supermodels and, in classic Broadway fashion, a stargazing moment that finds our hero emoting, "Somewhere, there's a song for me."

The buzz on "White Trash Wins Lotto," as the musical is currently titled, has spread from the cozy confines of Fairfax Avenue's Largo, where Prieboy and a five-person support cast occasionally perform the low-frills work-in-progress, to the land of lunchtime deal making. Prieboy recently signed a publishing deal for the musical's songs with BMG and is being courted by major record labels and the inevitable movie producers.

As for Rose's reaction, well, the singer hasn't spoken to the press in years (a spokeswoman at Rose's label, Geffen Records, said he would have no comment), leaving Prieboy to speculate:

"I'm expecting him sooner or later to step backstage and either say, 'I was really great' or, 'I'm gonna kick your ass.' "

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