Dan LeRoy of the Charleston Daily Mail reports:

A few years ago, Sebastian Bach almost became the lead singer of VELVET REVOLVER, the band started by three ex-GUNS N' ROSES members.

Now he's opening for a revitalized GUNS N' ROSES on a sold-out arena tour, and even got the chance to fill in for Axl Rose to close one memorable gig at London's Wembley Stadium.

"These days," says Bach with a laugh, "I say, 'VELVET who?' "

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Getting to play sold-out venues like Madison Square Garden for the first time will give a guy that perspective.

It's an experience Bach didn't even have the first time he opened for GUNS N' ROSES 15 years ago, as leader of New Jersey metal band SKID ROW.

Back then, SKID ROW's second album, "Slave To The Grind", had just debuted at the top of the Billboard charts, and the flamboyant, outspoken Bach was the glam-metal pinup of choice. And GUNS N' ROSES, touring behind the simultaneously released "Use Your Illusion" albums, was the biggest band in the world.

A lot has happened since those heady days. Bach was dumped by his bandmates in 1996, yet has since carved out a successful career as a Broadway actor (with the title roles in touring productions of "Jeckyll & Hyde" and "Jesus Christ Superstar"), reality-show participant (he's appeared on several VH1 series, including "SuperGroup") and solo artist.

But when he talks about being part of the current GUNS tour, which will come to Huntington's Big Sandy Superstore Arena on Friday, it's clear that the side projects haven't completely filled the void.

"Dude, I've been waiting so long to do a big huge arena tour," says Bach, the enthusiasm evident as speaks by cell phone, on a drive from Jacksonville, Fla., to North Carolina. "So long. That, for me, is the most fun you can have."

If a lot has happened to Bach since his first GUNS N' ROSES tour, Axl Rose's career in the years since has been marked by closely monitored inactivity. His group has been largely dormant since 1993, with most of the news concerning frequent, and frequently bizarre, changes in band members and producers.

Meanwhile, the album Rose has been laboring over for more than a decade, "Chinese Democracy", has become a much-discussed rock 'n' roll myth. Yet Bach says he's heard most of the finished version, which is rumored to finally be on the release schedule for late 2006.

"What I've heard is awesome," says Bach. "And Axl's always been a man of his word with me. So if he says it's coming out, I believe it's coming out."

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