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Golden Gods Awards 2014: Guns N' Roses, Joan Jett, and More From Heavy Metal's Biggest Night

Guns N' Roses at the Golden Gods.
Guns N' Roses at the Golden Gods.
Lauren Wise

Ahh, the Revolver Golden Gods Awards. A time when the metalheads freaks and rock 'n' roll geeks gather in one small venue to pay tribute to all the artists in the industry who don't really get credit for their masterful guitar riffs, rumbling bass licks, incessant double kick drum, and vocals ranging from melodic to menacing.

See also: Golden Gods Awards 2013: How Gene Simmons Gets Out of Interviews and Other Black Carpet Tales

This year's four-hour ceremony, held April 23 at the intimate Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, was full of highs and lows -- mosh pits, booze, old and new friends, and a handful of technical difficulties. And attending this year for the second time made me realize something important about the industry.

Many people were there specifically to see Axl Rose get the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award (and see whether he was going to deliver live), and to watch Joan Jett rock the stage and make history as the first female to receive the Golden God Award.

For me, the concept of the Golden Gods always delivers on some level. I truly enjoy seeing the variety of cameos and musical performances. But my main issue with the Golden Gods has always been this: The event, which is one of the biggest celebrations of heavy music, isn't supported by the industry nearly as much as it should be.

The world of heavy metal constantly complains about how the genre isn't taken seriously. Every single Grammy season, an influx of whining tweets, posts and sound bites go out in to the void about how heavy metal is blatantly disregarded. Hell, I even wrote a Metal Mondays post this year called "The Grammys Must Hate Heavy Metal."

So you would think that when heavy metal musicians and those who work in the industry have a chance to celebrate their own type of "heavy metal Grammys," there would be an overwhelming out-pouring of support. It would seem that unless you were touring, there's no excuse not to go to the Golden Gods as a heavy metal artist, whether you want to jump on stage for a cameo performance, hang out with your friends and down some drinks, or just be there to support the industry. However, that doesn't really seem to be the case--at least not this year. Then again, last year Metallica headlined, and they pretty much assure that anyone whose anybody in rock and metal are at their major events.

Prior to the event, the black carpet was full of familiar and surprising faces. There was Marilyn Manson toting actress Kyla Kenedy in his arms (Kenedy portrayed Mika in Season 4 of The Walking Dead). Max Cavalara suggesting that his family do a reality show like The Osbournes, and his son Zyon saying that his mom (Gloria Cavalera) should be nominated for a Golden God as mom and band manager of the year. Jose Mangin told me he wished he could be a "Spanish" fly on the wall for the recording on Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power album.

 

Marilyn Manson with Kyla Kenedy
Marilyn Manson with Kyla Kenedy
Lauren Wise

Andy Dick raced around, flashing peace signs. I told Mike Portnoy, there with The Winery Dogs, that his blue-tipped facial hair reminded me so much of Dimebag Darrell I wanted to hug him, and he got a little bashful, and shortly after, Wendy Dio recounted tales of how Dio has influenced all of these Golden God inductees.

Andy Dick
Andy Dick
Lauren Wise

While it was fantastic that Joan Jett was being inducted that evening, there was something I wanted to ask each woman I encountered on the black carpet. With more than 70 nominees in all the other categories (Best Guitar, Best Bass, etc.), there was only one woman (Emma Anzai from Sick Puppies). Who else would women want to see nominated in any of those categories?

I was a little disappointed in the answers.

Jill Janus from Huntress said that there was no one, really, and that it's all about longevity and it's necessary to prove yourself in heavy metal as a woman. The girls (residents of Arizona) from Eyes Set to Kill looked clueless at the question at first, and then said they thought Emma Anzai definitely deserved it because she's a better bassist then most guys. Ashley Costello from New Years Day was one of my favorites: "I looked up to the Runaways when I was younger since I was trying to find my voice and create a band. So I'm really excited to see Joan Jett. She was absolute my 'golden god' growing up, her and Gwen Stefani and Debbie Harry. And Taylor Momsen flew through the black carpet with her band The Pretty Reckless, posing for photos and keeping to herself.

Taylor Momsen
Taylor Momsen
Lauren Wise

But to my surprise, Joan Jett didn't even walk the black carpet. I expected that out of Axl Rose; but really, Joan? A landmark for women in rock and metal and you aren't going to do any press, photos or gloating?

The guys almost had better answers than the women. Tyler "Telle" Smith from The Word Alive told me his Golden God growing up was Pat Benatar and that was the first concert he went to as a kid. The members of Suicide Silence excitedly told me that they thought Poison Ivy from the Cramps, Sean [Yseult] from White Zombie ("she's fucking bitchin' man!), and Candace [Kucsulain] from Walls of Jericho. From Five Finger Death Punch's Chris Kael said that he wished Lzzy Hale from Halestorm was on the bill, and recounted the first time he heard her singing as he was leaving a club and he turned back around and went to see who was on stage ("she stopped me in my tracks and I listened to her do a Judas Priest song. The only other person who has stopped me in my tracks was Chris Cornell").

 

The show started off with a surprise set from Slayer introduced by Marilyn Manson. The three-song set included "War Ensemble," "South of Heaven," and a brand-new jam "Implode" (which you can download for free of Slayer's web site).

Suicide Silence was one of my favorite bands to talk to on the black carpet, as well as watch on stage. It marked the band's first U.S. appearance with their new vocalist, Hernan "Eddie" Hermida, and they killed it. They even got an all-girl mosh pit going right in front of the stage - -especially when joined by Soulfly member Max Cavalera for a cover of his former band Sepultura's "Roots Bloody Roots."

The technical difficulties of the show will probably be discussed just as much as the high points. During Zakk Wylde's lovely piano performance of Black Label Society's "In This River," there was an embarrassing snafu: as photographs of passed rock and metal legends created the backdrop, deceased Warrant vocalist Jani Lane was listed as a member of Motorhead.

Runaways founder Joan Jett -- Runaways founder, iconic rocker, singer/songwriter, legendary adwoman -- has had a string of tributes lately, from being honored with her own day in Hollywood to fronting Nirvana for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" during the bands' Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in early April.

"Awesome, I'm a Golden God," Jett said after accepting her award from Alice Cooper, who was quite enthusiastic about the task. "I remember buying Alice's singles 'School's Out' and 'I'm Eighteen.'"

Jett thanked her former Runaways band mates Cherie Currie and Lita Ford, who were also in the audience. She joined the ranks in Golden Gods history as the first woman to get the Golden God Award, alongside such past winners as Gene Simmons, Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper, the latter of which introduced her.

It would be good for metalheads to keep in mind that although they may feel too cool for school at times, it's okay to just geek out on occasion -- or at the very least, show some respect. I had to turn around and hit the guy next to me upside the head because he kept shrieking "turn around and show us your ass!" to Joan Jett when she was trying to give her award acceptance speech just 20 feet away.

I'd have to say the strangest win was Deep Purple for Comeback of the Year, beating out Black Sabbath and Suicidal Tendencies (I was pulling for the latter). Anthrax's Scott Ian announced the nominees, and firmly stated to the crowd that, "I had no part in choosing the winner!"

Avenged Sevenfold, who never seem to attend, were the biggest winners of the night with three awards: The Dimebag Darrell Best Guitarists award went to Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance (beating out Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi); Band with the Most Dedicated Fans, and their new drummer, Arin Ilejay, won best drummer.

Five Finger Death Punch also grabbed two Golden Gods awards, and Chris Kael won best bassist, admitting that three years ago he was bartending in Vegas, so people should take chances.

That's the thing about the Golden Gods though -- since they are completely based off of fan votes, there's not really anyone to be upset with except yourself! (Or the new generation of metalheads...)

The Pretty Reckless (fronted by Taylor Momsen) put on a pretty solid three-song set earlier in the night, including "Going to Hell" and "Heaven Knows," but currently big rock radio hits. She has undeniable stage presence, and had traded in her usual leather and lingerie persona for hippie sunglasses, long flowing locks, and an open gold jacket.

 

Momsen also joined Joan Jett onstage for the jam "I Hate Myself for Loving You." However, the band did the song a second time since Momsen messed up a line of the song, and Jett's keyboardist apologized to the crowd, admitting they hadn't practiced the song with Momsen before. During the second performance, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons sauntered out on stage, and while I expected him to join in on the song, he just kind of stood around smiling at the audience and urging them on to cheer.

Toward the end of the show, comedian Andrew Dice Clay and Nicolas Cage honored Guns N' Roses Axl Rose with the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award, whose previous honorees include Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, and Rush. Axl humbly accepted the award and actually thanked the band's past and present lineups before taking to the stage to perform.

Axl's vocals sounded good compared to 10 years ago, although he did have some issues hitting the high notes and the falsetto fell short here and there. But the singer was uncharacteristically patient when the Golden Gods crew had to set up for the show for several minutes and encountered microphone problems.

Guns N' Roses at the Golden Gods.
Guns N' Roses at the Golden Gods.
Lauren Wise

I wouldn't call Guns N' Roses by that name anymore; because to me it isn't GnR without Slash. But founding bassist Duff McKagan played this particular set, and it was really cool seeing the hour-long set that included "Welcome to the Jungle," "Paradise City" and "November Rain." McKagan played with GnR for a few South American dates earlier in April, but this was the first show McKagan played with the group on U.S. soil in 17 years. Plus, guitarist Richard Fortus did mention on the black carpet prior to the show that the band was working on new music that they may release during the next year--so that's exciting.

 

Guns N Roses
Guns N Roses
Lauren Wise

Now for a list of the 12 categories that fans voted in; the winners are in bold.

Golden God Award: Joan Jett Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award: Axl Rose

Album of the Year Avenged Sevenfold, Hail to the King Black Sabbath, 13 Five Finger Death Punch, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1 and 2 Korn, The Paradigm Shift Queens of the Stone Age, ...Like Clockwork Volbeat, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

Best Vocalist Jeremy McKinnon (A Day to Remember) M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold) Ivan Moody (Five Finger Death Punch) Papa Emeritus II (Ghost B.C.) Jonathan Davis (Korn) Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age)

Dimebag Darrell Best Guitarist(s) Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) Synyster Gates & Zacky Vengeance (Avenged Sevenfold) Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) John Petrucci (Dream Theater) Zoltan Bathory & Jason Hook (Five Finger Death Punch) Munky & Head (Korn)

Paul Gray Best Bassist Johnny Christ (Avenged Sevenfold) Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) Chris Kael (Five Finger Death Punch) Rex Brown (Kill Devil Hill) Fieldy (Korn) Emma Anzai (Sick Puppies)

Best Drummer presented by Razor & Tie Arin Ilejay (Avenged Sevenfold) Brad Wilk (for his work with Black Sabbath) Vinnie Appice (Kill Devil Hill) Matt Halpern (Periphery) Chris Adler (for his work with Protest the Hero) Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs)

Best Live Band The Dillinger Escape Plan Gojira Lamb of God Mötley Crüe Slayer Rob Zombie

Song of the Year presented by Randall Amplifiers Alice in Chains, “Hollow” Avenged Sevenfold, “Hail to the King” Bring Me the Horizon, “Shadow Moses” Five Finger Death Punch, “Lift Me Up” Of Mice & Men, “You’re Not Alone” The Pretty Reckless, “Going to Hell”

Best Film & Video presented by Eagle Rock Entertainment Behemoth, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” Huntress, “Zenith Lamb of God, As the Palaces Burn Metallica, Through the Never Motionless in White, “America” Pierce the Veil, This is a Wasteland

Best New Talent presented by Victory Records Deafheaven Heaven’s Basement Issues Scar the Martyr Twelve Foot Ninja (Crosses)

Comeback of the Year Black Sabbath Carcass Deep Purple Nine Inch Nails Queens of the Stone Age Suicidal Tendencies

Most Metal Athlete Tony Alva (skateboarder) Grant Balfour (MLB) Josh Barnett (mixed martial artist, UFC) Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors, NBA) Derek Garland (Metal Mulisha, motocross) Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins, NHL)

Most Dedicated Fans A Day to Remember Avenged Sevenfold Five Finger Death Punch Of Mice & Men The Pretty Reckless Slayer

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