Influencing before Social Media: the Power of Axl Rose

I had just entered my teen years when the Use Your Illusion albums were released. I grew up reading everything I could find about Guns N’ Roses, acquiring every bootleg album I could get my hands on and essentially listening over and over to their tunes, much like every other kid my age. You can say that, in a way, we were all followers of Axl, even though the concept of social media was still years away.

Pedro Fernandes, Chief Marketing Officer at Primetag

Theodore Andreadis is a talented american musician of Greek ascent. Throughout his career he worked with a stellar list of artists, such as Alice Cooper, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Roger Daltrey, to name just a few. His musical talent alongside his instrument versatility garnered him the respect and recognition of his peers.

However, and despite being acknowledged by the very best in the industry, Theodore wasn’t a mainstream media celebrity. He played with the best, hang out with the best and, in fact, he was one of the best. But he just wasn’t recognized by the audiences as being a rock n’ roll star. It all changed one night.

Teddy goes to The Jungle

Let’s go back a little bit. In 91, Theodore Andreadis was given a ticket to enter the jungle and paradise city, all in one. Our hero was invited to join Guns n’ Roses on the “Use your Illusion” tour, playing keys, harmonica and helping with background vocals. That meant sharing stage with the most charismatic, incendiary, magnetic, hellraiser and sought-after rock n’ roll stars of the late eighties and early nineties. Namely, Duff McKagan, Slash and Axl Rose. 

(…) and the band’s slightest misstep becomes controversy and turns established magazines and newspapers into veritable Guns n’ Roses fanzines. No wonder they take themselves so seriously.

“Use Your Illusion II” review, Rolling Stone magazine, October 17 1991

And so, Teddy Andreadis started playing before fifty, sixty and seventy thousand people, day in and day out, taking part in what became the longest tour in rock n’ roll history. 

Teddy "Zigzag" Andreadis with Guns n' Roses bassist Duff McKagan, circa 1992
Teddy Zig Zag with Duff McKagan

Axl Rose, the legendary frontman, had the habit of, every night, introducing all the musicians on stage. However, the addition of Teddy Andreadis to the band brought in a little problem. Apparently, the name Andreadis was a bit too complicated to pronounce, so Axl would quite often mispronounce it (or either flat out make something up, like “Teddy angry anus”). Until, that is, the day when Axl is walking backstage and overhears a crew member talking with Teddy, calling him Teddy “Zig Zag”. 

Axl Rose singing on stage during concert in Use Your Illusion Tour
Axl Rose on stage

That night was the night that forever changed Teddy Andreadis life. Axl went on stage and, for the first time ever, he introduced to the World the guy that was playing harmonica as being “Mr. Teddy Zig Zag”. Remember this was the early nineties. No social media. No internet. No youtube to amplify what had happened that night. Just a musical performance for around sixty thousand people and the media, that would write about the show in the next day newspaper or in next week’s magazine. However, Axl Rose’s influence power was such that, from that night on, Theodore Andreadis became Teddy Zig Zag. Forever! From that day on,  everybody started addressing him as Teddy Zig Zag. 

Even today, in a World with so many social media celebrities, with thousands and even millions of followers, that kind of influence is absolutely uncanny. The magnetism, the charisma, the power of influence of Axl Rose was so colossal that in one night, in one second, he threw Teddy into mainstream celebrity. And that, kids, is how you influence people. 

The World has changed

In the past we had a handful of people that were known on a global scale. Today, the number of people recognized globally has increased by an order of magnitude. I grew up with only two TV channels. So, give or take, we were all subject to the same media content. And that, in a way, favoured the appearance of Axl Rose type of phenomena: the combination of highly charismatic and magnetic personalities with the concentration of existing the media. Today there is so much dilution of content, so many channels and communication platforms available that I don’t think we’ll ever be able to witness such phenomena.

Bad obsession, featuring Teddy ZigZag on the harmonica and Slash on the Travis Bean

Chief Marketing Officer at Primetag. I'm passionate about music, marketing and technology. Suggestions of books and podcasts are appreciated. My super power is making wine disappear.

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