The year was 1991. Guns ‘N’ Roses were, by almost every conceivable measurement, the biggest rock band on the planet, riding high on the platinum-selling success of their albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. At that moment, the band had just began a massive world tour and were in the midst of a three-night residency in Madison Square Garden. To hear Doug Goldstein, the band’s former manager tell it, before one of the shows, he was approached by a local real-estate magnate who wanted to meet the band. Actually, he wanted to meet one member of the band specifically: Lead singer Axl Rose.
“He said, ‘Can you make a pass for me?’ I said, ‘Yeah sure.’ So, being quizzical, I said, ‘Why are you here?’” Goldstein asked the oddly-quaffed mogul. “He said, ‘I want to meet the Donald Trump of rock and roll.’” For someone as ego-obsessed as “The Donald,” bequeathing his name unto another person might be taken as the highest compliment in the known universe. “He said, ‘You know Doug, when you’re an underdog, everybody puts you to the top. Press, your fans, and once you get to the top, they jerk your ass back to the ground. That’s what Axl Rose is.’ So I introduced Axl to him after the show.”
In 1991, it was readily obvious as to how Trump could see a mirror image of himself in the wiry, swivel-hipped singer. Both were brash iconoclasts, given to mouthing off in the press, with whom they both had a fraught relationships. Both demanded the spotlight and knew how to use it to maximum effect. Both had definite, inter-personal relationship problems, demanding loyalty and subservience to those who entered their orbit. And both were distinctively American creations, becoming something of a fun-house mirror reflection of the society from which they had sprung.