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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:08 am

This thread will present the history of Guns N' Roses, from its beginning in 1985 to today. Although all posts are by me, I wouldn't have been able to do this without the massive help from @Blackstar Smile

Each post in the thread will deal with a time-period, and the posts will be cross-referenced to the interview and article databases. We will aim to avoid unsubstantiated rumours and myths, and instead focus on what is actually known about the period based on biographies, interviews, articles, etc. In those cases where the sources disagree, we will aim to present every side to the story. We welcome anyone with first-person account of the band to voice their opinion, especially if they disagree with the story as it is told. There is no agenda behind this work, besides trying to present an objective account of the history of the band.

The thread is currently under development. Each post will be improved as new sources are consulted. I am doing this chronologically, and the sources that have so far been included is displayed here: As new interviews and sources are made available, the thread will be updated. As such, it is a living document that can be adjusted and revised at any time as new stories and quotes emerge.

Hopefully, in the end, this will be the most comprehensive source to the history of the band, and will supplement the other sections of this site. It will be the go-to site to delve into any particular chapter in the story of GN'R. And the according comprehensive database of articles and interviews will be valuable to anyone who writes their own story of the band.


Chapter 1: October 1984-March 1985 - Guns N' Roses Is Formed.
Chapter 2: Axl - Before Guns N' Roses.
Chapter 3: Izzy - Before Guns N' Roses.
Chapter 4: Duff - Before Guns N' Roses.
Chapter 5: April-May 1985 - The First Lineup Falls Apart.
Chapter 6: June 1985 -  Formation of The Classic Lineup.
Chapter 7: June 1985 - The Hell Tour.
Chapter 8: July 1985 - The Right Guys.
Chapter 9: Slash - Before Guns N' Roses.
Chapter 10: Steven - Before Guns N' Roses.
Chapter 11: August 1985-March 1986 - Local Fame.
Chapter 12: Rehearsals and Living Quarters.
Chapter 13: Drugs and Booze...
Chapter 14: ...and Branding.
Chapter 15: January-March 1986 - Interest from Record Labels and Signing with Geffen.
Chapter 16: Personal Issues.
Chapter 17: The Police.
Chapter 18: Early Management (Raz Cue and Vicky Hamilton).
Chapter 19: The Fallout with Vicky Hamilton.
Chapter 20: March 1986-June 1987 - Life After Signing.
Chapter 21: October 21, 1986 at the Arlington Theatre - Axl is AWOL.
Chapter 22: West Arkeen.
Chapter 23: The Drunk Fux and Other Side Bands and Collaborations.
Chapter 24: Splitting the Loot.
Chapter 25: Who's The Boss?
Chapter 26: Finding the Right Producer.
Chapter 27: Live?!*@ Like A Suicide.
Chapter 28: Mike Clink.
Chapter 29: Recording Appetite for Destruction.
Chapter 30: June 1987 - The Band Travels to England.
Chapter 31: The Death of Todd Crew.
Chapter 32: July 1987 - The Release of Appetite for Destruction.
Chapter 33: Artwork Controversies.
Chapter 34: Lyrical Content Controversies.
Chapter 35: How to Sell a Record.
Chapter 36: July 1988 - 'The Dead Pool'.
Chapter 37: Artistic Sacrifices.
Chapter 38: Explaining the Success of 'Appetite'.
Chapter 39: The Band's First Music Videos.
Chapter 40: 1987 - Cancelled Tours.
Chapter 41: August-September 1987 - Opening for The Cult.
Chapter 42: September-October 1987 - Headlining in Europe and USA.
Chapter 43: November 1987 - Opening for Mötley Crüe.
Chapter 44: November 22, 1987 - The Omni, Atlanta, Axl Gets Arrested.
Chapter 45: The Business Side of Things.
Chapter 46: December 1987 - Opening for Alice Cooper.
Chapter 47: December 1987 - Steven Breaks His Hand and Fred Coury Steps In.
Chapter 48: December 18, 1987 - "Bon Jovi Can Suck My Dick!"
Chapter 49: December 1987-February 1988 - Shows at the Perkins Palace and Individual Shows.
Chapter 50: January 31, 1988 - The Limelight.
Chapter 51: February 2, 1988 - "Welcome to the Jungle, Ritz!!"
Chapter 52: February 13, 1988 - Axl is a No-Show and is Fired from the Band.
Chapter 53: The Escalation of Bad Habits.
Chapter 54: Axl's Mental Issues.
Chapter 55: The Making of 'GN'R Lies'.
Chapter 56: February 1988 - Missed Tour and Playing on ' Under The Wheels' with Alice Cooper.
Chapter 57: February 1988 - More Lost Tours and US Tour with Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction and UDO.
Chapter 58: 1988 - Documentary and Book Plans.
Chapter 59: May-June 1988 - Opening for Iron Maiden.
Chapter 60: July-September 1988 - Opening for Aerosmith.
Chapter 61: September 17, 1988 - Texas Stadium.
Chapter 62: 1986-1988: The Press I.
Chapter 63: Professional Crew - Alan Niven.
Chapter 64: Professional Crew - Doug Goldstein.
Chapter 65: Professional Crew - The Others.
Chapter 66: August 20, 1988 - Tragedy at Monsters of Rock.
Chapter 67: Dealing with Success - The Good Stuff.
Chapter 68: Dealing with Success - The Bad Stuff.
Chapter 69: From Rags to Riches.
Chapter 70: November 29, 1988 - The Release of 'G N' R Lies'.
Chapter 71: The 'One in a Million' Controversy - Racism.
Chapter 72: The 'One in a Million' Controversy - Homophobia.
Chapter 73: December 1988 - Touring Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Chapter 74: 1989-1990 - Things Fall Apart, Part I: Drugs & Booze.
Chapter 75: 1989-1990 - Things Fall Apart, Part II: Band of Brothers No More.
Chapter 76: Summer of 1989 - Relocating to Chicago.
Chapter 77: July 22, 1989 - Axl jams with West Arkeen at the Scrap Club and Axl and Izzy jam with The Cult.
Chapter 78: 1989-1990 - Personal Issues II.
Chapter 79: Axl's Perfectionism.
Chapter 80: 1989-1990 - Run-Ins with the Law.
Chapter 81: 1989-1990 - The Press II.
Chapter 82: September 6, 1989 - Izzy and Vince Neil at the MTV Music Awards.
Chapter 83: October 10, 1989 - Making the Video for 'It's So Easy' and Axl Befriends David Bowie.
Chapter 84: Branding II.
Chapter 85: October 1989 - "Dancing with Mr. Brownstone".
Chapter 86: "We Were Never Any Good With Communication".
Chapter 87: October 29, 1989 - Izzy Gets Arrested.
Chapter 88: 1989-1990 - Relationship Issues.
Chapter 89: 1988-1989 - The Planning of Use Your Illusions.
Chapter 90: Lawsuits.
Chapter 91: November 1989 - Axl's Feud with Vince Neil.
Chapter 92: December 1989- -The Making of 'Use Your Illusions'.
Chapter 93: Geffen Grows Impatient.
Chapter 94: January 22, 1990 - Profanity at The American Music Awards.
Chapter 95: March 1990 - Geffen Records is Acquired by MCA Inc.
Chapter 96: March 1990 - Dizzy joins the Band.

Chapter 93: January 20 & 23, 1991 - Rock in Rio.
Chapter 61: Dizzy before Guns N' Roses.
Chapter 62: Steven is fired.
Chapter 63: Matt joins the band.
Chapter 64: Matt before Guns N' Roses.
Chapter 65: The release of Use Your Illusion I and II.
Chapter 69: Touring with Metallica.
Chapter 70: Izzy leaves the band.
Chapter 72: Axl's demons.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:12 pm; edited 85 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:12 am


Guns N' Roses was formed in early 1985 in Los Angeles, California, USA, when Tracii Guns and Axl Rose, with experience in the bands L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose, decided to form a new band together. The idea for the band originated already in October 1984 when Axl had been fired from the band L.A. Guns where he had played with Tracii:

Talking about Axl getting fired from L.A. Guns and the formation of Guns N' Roses: I don’t even remember. It was probably over something ridiculous. We were all teenagers. It was after a gig, and we were all driving home in the same car. And Raz [Cue], our manager, just turned to Axl and said, “You’re fired. You’re not going to be in L.A. Guns anymore.” When we got home, Raz went into his room and Axl and I sat on the couch. We both looked at each other and said, “How in the hell can he fire anybody?” By the end of the conversation, we had constructed Guns N’ Roses. Also, Izzy wasn’t playing in London any longer, so that was kind of the catalyst to start a new band. [...] There was only one Rose, but Guns N’ Roses sounded better. It was just a coincidence that Duff was going by Duff Rose when he joined the band, so Guns N’ Roses made more sense at that point [Tales From The Stage, February 2013].
We got together, and we were going to change the name or something - and I was always going to do some solo stuff with Tracii anyway. And I said we’ll call it Guns & Roses. So we just decided to call the band that. And then, when Tracii and I quit working together, I just kept the name cause I thought of it and it was really working for us; plus we really dug the hell out of the name. Simple [Rock City News, January 1988]

In his biography Raz Cue talks about what happened between him and Axl when Axl left LA Guns:

[...] Axl, Ole, Joe [Raz' brother], and me headed for the Rainbow. When we requested the big booth in the corner, Michael [from the Rainbow] tried steering us toward a smaller table more suited to a party of four, but relented because more of our friends were expected. We ended up with the shittiest waitress possible, and even though our booth filled up within minutes, a half hour passed and she had yet to take our order. So when Michael came to force our relocation, Axl refused to budge and told him, "We've been trying to order for twenty fucking minutes." Michael ignored him [...] I was halfway to the smaller table when I heard a commotion behind. I turned to see Axl pinning Michael backward over the table, fist cocked, ready to strike a devastating blow to Michael's left eye. [...] I was beyond pissed [after being thrown out of the Rainbow] and grumbling to myself as I rolled my chair out of the parking lot. When I took a right onto the sidewalk, there stood Axl with the body language of one contemplating handi-homicide. I peered angrily towards him and vented some steam of my own, hollering, "I can't believe you fucking got me kicked out!" Axl reached for a pair of sunglasses atop his head and fired them past my ear to smash against the wall. Then he yelled, "I can't believe you're mad at me after they disrespected us like that." [...] "I quit! Fuck you, and fuck L.A. Guns!" [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 174-176].

So according to Cue, Axl quit the band, although it could be that Axl cooled down and that he was then fired by an angry Cue as they were driving home to the apartment.

The incident between Raz and Axl as described above happened at Halloween, October 31, 1984, so if we are to believe Tracii's account that they came up with Guns N' Roses on the same day that Axl left LA Guns, then Guns N' Roses, as name at least although not necessarily as a musical group, was founded on October 31, 1984.

Axl, in an interview in December 1986, would claim he deliberately got himself kicked out of LA Guns and that it was Izzy and Axl who came up with the name:

[...] during the time I was in LA Guns, Izzy and I started doing stuff on the side and calling it Guns N' Roses. [...]Meanwhile, the other band I was in [LA Guns] got sick of me sitting around saying "Slash would be great for this..." Finally, I got myself kicked out of the band by putting on a pair of ripped up black jeans and a spray-painted pink and black biker jacket, doing my hair, putting full makeup on and running all around the stage and out into the crowd one night. The guitarist [Tracii] freaked out 'cause it was his band and he was used to getting all the attention. So, before I could say "I quit", he kicked me out. I said, "yeeahhh!" It was so great! [Hit Parader, December 1986].
This is likely not entirely correct. It seems logical that Tracii would have been part of coming up with the name, providing the "Guns" to Axl's "Rose". In December 1986, when this quote is from, Axl was probably still angry with Tracii because of the 'Michelle fight' that had happened between them in March or April 1986 which may have led to Tracii leaving Guns N' Roses.

Later on Axl would be more honest about Tracii and acknowledge his role in the formation of Guns N' Roses:

The name Guns N' Roses come from Tracii Guns and Axl Rose [Interview after show, October 1987].
This is supported by Tracii, as seen in the earlier quote and this quote from 2005:

Axl ended up singing for LA Guns until he got in a fight with our manager. But Axl decided we should continue writing songs together since we lived together. Then we came up with the name Guns N' Roses - it was like: 'I'm Tracii Guns and you're Axl Rose' [The Days of Wine and Roses, Classic Rock, April 2005]
Despite this desire continue to work together, and also stated by Cue in his biography, while in LA Guns, Axl had quarreled with Tracii over musical direction and was frustrated over Tracii being hard to write songs with [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 208]. Axl would also go on to say that "the rest of the band [= LA Guns] [Tracii] had at the time […] just didn’t seem to have the drive, and it fell apart [Cream, September 1989].

If Axl was so opposed to Tracii's musical direction and found it so hard to write songs with him, then why would they form Guns N Roses together? Here is Axl's explanation:

The first time Tracii and I went our own directions, we decided we’d still get together to write some stuff because we still appreciated each other. And we’d call it Guns N' Roses when we collaborated [Cream, September 1989]

Here is another time Tracii explained the start of the band, leaving out the fight between Cue and Axl:

Axl moved out here, and was staying...I think he was staying with Izzy. And Izzy kept telling me about this guy, who was like his best friend back home, and he's really cool. I'm gonna try and make him sing, you know? And so they put Hollywood Rose together, you know -- or Rose ... I think it was called Rose. First it was called A-X-L -- that was the original name of their band, A-X-L ... and whatever that meant. But, anyway, Axl ended up using that as his name. And then they did Rose, and Hollywood Rose, and they had different people in that band. So then we moved to this house, and Axl decided that: Well, you know, I don't know what's really going on with me, and I know that L.A. Guns is doing it's thing. So, you know, why don't we just continue writing songs together, since we live together and everything? And I was like: Yeah, of course -- you know, do whatever we want. And then we came up with the name Guns N' Roses -- you know, it just made sense. You know, it was like: Hey, you know? I'm Tracii Guns and you're Axl Rose. Let's just, you know, kinda put it together. Yeah, so we'll put out singles and we'll call it Guns N' Roses [Spin Magazine, Outtakes for Axl Rose Issue, 1999]
In another interview Tracii corroborates on this indicating that Guns N' Roses was originally intended as a record label:

We're all living together at this point and Axl and I sat down and went 'What are we going to do?' So we both said 'Fuck that', and came up with the name Guns N' Roses which was going to be just a record label that we'd put singles out on. Sadly that idea only lasted for about 10 minutes and then we decided to keep L.A. Guns going, add Izzy and call it Guns N' Roses. And that's it, that's the whole story [The Quietus, 2016].
What Tracii doesn't mention, is that in the beginning of 1985 he got in a fight with Mike (Jagosz), the singer of L.A. Guns, which would have pushed Tracii towards Guns N' Roses:

About a week into 1985, I arrived to the studio to find Tracii and Mike yelling and screaming at one another. A piss-drunk Mike had pawned Tracii's bookshelf speakers to buy more cocktails. [...] As Tracii stormed away, Mike yelled, "If you do that guns and roses thing, I am going to quit." Once everything calmed down, I asked, "What was that you said earlier, 'guns and roses'?" Mike sneered, "Tracii wants to do a jam band with Bill [=Axl] and call it "Guns and Roses" [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 186].
This supports the theory that Tracii and Axl came up with Guns N' Roses already back in late October 1984, when Axl quit L.A. Guns or were fired by Raz, but probably didn't jam with a full band until later.

Tracii would later fire the singer Mike from L.A. Guns, resulting in Axl spending more time with the band members of L.A. Guns again (Axl and Mike were not friends at all) [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 195]

Raz Cue was a close friend of the band. Raz had originally met with Tracii and Rob when they played in the band Pyrrhus [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 110]. Ole [Beich] would later join Pyrrhus as their new bass player [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 133]. Raz met Izzy back when he played bass guitar in the band Shire. Later on Izzy would quit bass and Shire and start playing guitar in the band Rose instead. Raz went to see a Shire gig and Rose was on the same bill, that's when Raz met Axl who was the vocalist for Rose at the time [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 137]. Later, Raz would be introduced to Slash through his friend Mike (Jagosz), who was the singer of Pyrrhus, and Mike would later tell him that Slash had beat Tracii in a guitar playing contest at school a few years earlier (while both of them were beaten by another guitarist) [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 140].

Tracii left Pyrrhus to form a new band, L.A. Guns, together with Ole and later Rob [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 142-150]. Raz invested in L.A. Guns and became their manager [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 149-155]. While managing L.A. Guns, Raz would bump into Axl who was with Steven [Adler] at the time. Steven was playing drums in Hollywood Rose. Raz tried to get Axl to join L.A. Guns as their first singer, but Axl refused. Only a few weeks later when Hollywood Rose had broken up, and after some hesitation, did Axl join L.A. Guns, becoming the band's original singer. Part of the reason was that Tracii had told Axl the band would become more blues-based and less metal [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 159].

Already at L.A. Guns' first show at the Troubadour at October 5, 1984, did they play the songs "Anything Goes," "Back Off Bitch," "Shadow of Your Love" (all songs from Hollywood Rose), "Heartbreak Hotel," and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 165], which would later be released or played by Guns N' Roses.

So Axl quit (or were fired from L.A. Guns) and Mike took his place as vocalist. After Mike had left L.A. Guns in early 1985, the band had one more gig already booked at the Troubadour for March 26, 1985, and without a singer, Tracii asked if Axl wanted to do a one-off. Axl agreed. Cue then, according to his biography, suggested they'd do it under their "Guns N' Roses" name and that they'd also bring Izzy in [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 197]:

By the following afternoon, Tracii had put together an L.A. Guns flyer with pictures of him, Axl, Robbie and Ole. When Axl dropped by to approve the artwork, I said, "If you two are going to jam together, why not bring Izzy in and do that Guns and Roses thing you talked about?" Axl did a double take, gave me one of his dog-eat-dog sly smiles, and then, after a slight pause, nodded and said, "That sounds cool. I'll see if Izzy'll do it." [...] If it sounds like I, trying to claim credit for coming up with the name, I'm not. Axl Rose conjured up Guns N' Roses all by himself, combining surnames Tracii (Guns) and Axl (Rose). It's just until that very point in time, Axl had no idea I even knew he and Tracii had considered a side project. All I am laying claim to is this: Guns N' Roses formed in my living room after I suggested Izzy join in on a previously booked L.A. Guns show" [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 197].
This happened a couple of weeks before the March 26 show, so it must have been in early March 1986 [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 198].

The band now consisted of Axl Rose on vocals, Izzy Stradlin on guitar (or "Izzy Stranded" as he referred to himself in the beginning), Tracii Guns on guitar, Rob Gardner on drums, and Ole Beich on bass. The members formed two factions, with Axl and Izzy being good friends from Indiana, and Tracii, Rob and Ole being from LA Guns and having a more metal approach to music playing.

They band did their first rehearsal at Willie Basse's Wilpower Studios:

I'm well aware it's a common phenomenon for folks to believe their friends' mediocre band is great. But that very first rehearsal was totally awesome, dude. It was immediately evident Guns N' Roses were beyond something special. Without a doubt, L.A. Guns had delivered some major ass-kicking with Axl Rose up front, but the addition of Izzy and the new songs "Don't Cry," "Move to the City," and "Think About You" blew my mind." [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 198].
For their third rehearsal, they struggled to get hold of Ole:

I will remain a fan of Ole Beich till it's time for my dirt nap. [...] I still miss the guy and feel awful that he didn't seem to care enough at the time to make sure he stayed in Guns N' Roses. Unfortunately, at times the dude could be a real downer, sullen while keeping to himself [...] After that second practice, another rehearsal was set for a tentative "in a few days." Ole neglected to tell anyone of his newest girlfriend, so when the next practice got scheduled, there was no way to get ahold of him. After three days of not hearing from him, and rehearsal scheduled for the following evening, Izzy said, "If Ole doesn't want to be in the band, there's a guy who lives across the street from me who'll do the show." [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 199].
So Ole was out of the band almost before it started.

In September 1987, someone in Guns N' Roses would refer to Ole as the "dumb schmuck bass player" [Rock Scene, September 1987]. This was probably Izzy since Axl was likely not present at that the time when those words were spoken and none of the other guys (Slash, Steven and Duff) were in the band together with Ole (although they likely knew him from the Hollywood music scene). The "guy" Izzy knew across the street and could replace Ole, was Duff McKagan. It has also been said that the band found Duff by placing an ad in a local magazine [Kerrang! March 1989], although this is more likely the ad Slash and Steven placed to recruit a new bass player for their band, Road Crew.

Cue would comment on Ole leaving:

I sometimes wonder if it was a political play by Izzy, so Tracii would not have two automatic band-votes on his side to vote-block against him and Axl. But I think it far more likely Izzy felt Ole wasn't into it, and his style made G N' R too metal. I don't know the answer, but the next night, Izzy showed up to Wilpower Studios to introduce Duff Rose. That was his name the first time I met him, and we all knew it was a sign. Ole was an old-school, brain-damage, hard-rock 'n' roller, devoid of even the slightest punk influence. But Duff was an O.G. Seattle punk, pre-grunge glamster with a far more upbeat personality, a cool bro to hang out with, a world class musician, and no doubt perfect for Guns N' Roses. [...] Ole was surprised when I broke the news to him, but didn't argue or even ask me why until years later [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 199].
Duff was in some weird Top 40 band, but Izzy was like, 'This guy's got short hair, but he is into New York Dolls and stuff like that.' He had a Johnny Thunders T-shirt on, and we were like, 'This guy's perfect' [The Days of Wine and Roses, Classic Rock, April 2005]
Duff would reminisce about the first rehearsal he did with the band:

When I showed up at my first GN'R rehearsal in late March, 1985, Axl and I said hi to each other and started joking around about this and that. I liked him right away. Whoever was running the sound then asked Axl to test out the microphone. Axl let out one of his screams, and it was like nothing I had ever heard. There was two voices coming out at once! There's a name for that in musicology, but all I knew in that instant was that this dude was different and powerful and fucking serious. He hadn't yet entirely harnessed his voice - he was more unique than great at that point - but it was clear he hadn't moved out to Hollywood from Indiana for the weather. He was there to stake a claim and show the whole fucking world what he had [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 58]
In mid-to-late March the band did their very first radio interview with KFPK FM Los Angeles. This interview came just hours after the band has been in Willie Basse's studio recording early versions of the songs 'Think About You', 'Don't Cry' and 'Anything Goes'. During 'Anything Goes', Axl can be heard introducing Duff as a new guy. The band members also say they are going to release a picture disc EP with these songs as well as 'Heartbreak Hotel', although this EP was probably never released. Tracii's mom recorded the interview and handed a copy to Cue [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 200]

The first Guns N' Roses show was held on The Troubadour on March 26. This was the show that had originally been intended as a LA Guns show but fell apart when Mike left the band. It is assumed the setlist consisted of songs from Hollywood Rose as well as newly written songs, including 'Anything Goes', 'Think About You', and 'Don't Cry', which would all later be officially released, as well as covers including 'Heartbreak Hotel'.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:42 am; edited 59 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:31 am


Axl was born Bill Bailey in Lafayette, Indiana (or from a "hellhole in the Midwest" as he would say [Hit Parader, April 1987]) on February 6, 1962.

Bill was the oldest of three siblings (Stuart and Amy) and his parents were Sharon and L. Stephen Bailey. Stephen was Bill's stepfather and Bill would later talk about how he had been trying to find his biological father [Kerrang! April 1990]. It has been implied that Bill was beaten by his stepfather [Daily Press, August 1986] and Bill would talk about how he had been at odds with Stephen and that he later saw "the pain that [Stephen] has to go through in dealing with the way he raised me" [Rock Scene, October 1989].

Bill's family was very religious:

My parents were holy-roller pentecostals. I wasn't allowed to listen to the radio. But I made sure I won at a contest in school. I always kept it hidden. The things I went through in childhood definitely had an effect on where I'm at now. […] Now I am just sitting here reading my D-cup magazine [BAM, November 1987].
We went to a country church eight miles outside Lafayette, Ind., and I sang in a trio with my brother and sister. I played piano at church. I helped teach Sunday School. I went to church three times a week: Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday evening. […] This was a holy roller, Pentecostal, hell-raising revival. We had tent sermons. People would speak in tongues, foot washings, the whole bit. […] I was an outcast little nerd, because my parents made me dress weird and forced me to get a bowl haircut. It was really embarrassing [Daily Press, August 1986].
I wasn't allowed to listen to the radio when I was young because rock was considered evil in our house. But I won a radio when I was in the sixth grade and it quickly became my best friend [Los Angeles Times, December 1988].[/i]
Talking about the religion of his parents: Fanatics. Although now they’re very against what they were into at that point. Extremely against it. […] I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere, do anything. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio. It’s, like, one week you’re able to watch TV, the next week all the TVs have been sold, a month later there are TVs again – it was back and forth, you know. They couldn’t decide what was a sin and what wasn’t. Everything was so back and forth in this church [L.A. Weekly, June 1988].[/i]
From an early stage on, Bill was interested in music:

I’ve been singing since I was five years old. I sang in church from the age of five until I was 15. It was a Pentecostal holy roller church, eight miles out in the country. I played the piano in church. I even taught bible school one year. Then I got into The Greatest Gospel Hits of the ’70s, and it was all over [Spin, January 1988].
I’ve been singing since I was five. I sang in church. My brother and sister and I – sometimes just me – we’d get up and sing whatever the latest gospel hit was [L.A. Weekly, June 1988].
We had the Bailey Trio. Me, my brother and sister. And we worked out three-part harmonies and we get up in front of Church and we'd sing like some gospel hit of the seventies, a little bit more rocked out than the actual hymns, you know, but I was like the bass then, I was like, [singing with a deep voice] "One more time. Jesus [?] burden." It was so much fun, it is really weird to think about that. We looked so geek [laughter] [MTV Documentary, November 1989].
It was in the country; you'd get up and sing old gospel songs and hymns, and gospel hits of the '70s. I loved to work on harmonies. I was always getting in trouble in choir practice for singing everybody else's parts [Musician, December 1988].[/i]
When I was in first grade, I wasn’t allowed to cross the street until I sang two Elvis Presley songs. And then, when I was in third grade, at recess, I would have to get on top of a tree stump, and the teachers would make me sing all the Top-40 and Elvis tunes for the younger kids [Concert Shots, May 1986].[/i]
I grew up as a kid listening to Elvis Presley and gospel records, you know, and then when I got older I got into greatest hits in the 70s and all that stuff, and I played piano for years so I was really into anything to do with piano, Elton John and Billy Joel and stuff like that. But then when I started singing, you know, hardcore rock and roll I was really into Dan McCafferty of Nazareth [Unknown UK source, June 1987].[/i]
I've been playing piano my whole life. I took lessons, but I only really played my lesson on the day of the lesson. All week long, I'd sit down at the piano and just make up stuff [Rolling Stone, August 1989].[/i]
In about eighth grade I knew I wanted to do something with music, and that took on all kinds of different shapes, and didn't really get a solid shape until probably about eight years ago of exactly what I wanted it to look like, and I think we're achieving that now [Rock Scene, October 1989].[/i]
Talking about his three favorite songs, Axl would list 10cc's 'I'm Not In Love', Led Zeppelin's 'D'Ya Maker' and Elton John's 'Bennie and the Jets [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993], the latter would also make him want to become a performer:

[…] "Benny and the Jets" with the ambience and the sound and the way it’s recorded, made me want the stage. That’s the song that made me want the stage, 'cos it made me think about a concert and being on a stage and the way it would sound in a room. Things miked out and this and that... Plus, it just reminded me of the Glam scene that was going on around America, and the clubs that I would read about in the old Creem magazine and stuff like that [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993].[/i]
Bill would later exploit his ability to sing in different voices for recording with GN'R, and he would later say that he had been "working on those different voices for a long time" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988]:

I think I'm actually a second baritone. I used to take choir classes and sit there reading music and seeing if I could get away with fooling the teacher by singing other people's parts. We had this teacher who was pitch-perfect. He had ears like a bat, man. Like radar. So, in order to get away with singing someone else's part, you'd really have to get it down. Or else, he'd know exactly what corner of the room it's coming from. So, I guess I really started working on my different voices back then by trying to mess with my teacher's head! (laughing) He used to wonder how come he's hearing a soprano in the bass section! [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].[/i]
Despite his fondness for music and extensive choir experience, Bill never wanted to be a singer because, as he would say, "he didn't like his voice" [Spin, May 1988; Hit Parader, June 1989]. This insecurity would stay with Bill for a long time like when he in December 1988 talked about the challenge of being a frontman:

I am very shy and can be very insecure sometimes, but you have to find a way to communicate your feelings every night on stage. You have to try to win the audience over. It's very challenging . . . like an actor on the screen, in a way. The only difference is that I'm not playing a part. I'm playing myself, but I'm always looking for ways to go beyond the music itself to express what I'm feeling [Los Angeles Times, December 1988].[/i]
Despite not believing in his own voice, Bill really wanted to become a musician:

I always wanted to be in a band, but I never thought I'd be a singer — I never thought I had a good voice. But I was ready to do anything to be part of a rock group, and since I really got off on singing I figured I'd give it a shot. I ended up singing in bands out of necessity because I was the only one who could carry a tune. At first, I thought I'd play keyboards, then I shifted to bass, then I finally got to singing. But I guess things have worked out for the best [Hit Parader, June 1989].[/i]
In addition to becoming a musician, in early years he also considered becoming a lawyer:

Being asked if it is correct he wanted to become a lawyer at some point: That was something, it was like my choice of whether I wanted to do music, or do school, and I picked music. My brother just graduated pre-law. Law is something that interests me, cause there's always someone that wants to sue you, so I like to know everything I can about it. So, I'll be learning as much as I can from him and maybe, eventually, one day that's something that I'll turn to, just because it's something that I want to know about [Rock Scene Magazine, June 1988].[/i]
Bill had numerous run-ins with the police when in Lafayette. As Rolling Stone would describe it: "[Axl] was the local juvenile delinquent in Lafayette, Indiana, and was arrested, by his count, "over twenty times," serving as long as three months in jail and representing himself at trials "'cause I didn't trust the public defenders for shit" [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

I was one of the craziest of my friends, but also one of the smartest, so they figured I was the ringleader. They never got me for anything, though. Once this girl picked me up in a car; she was 16 or 17 and her mom reported it stolen. The police tried to get me for grand theft auto, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, statutory rape - and I didn't touch this girl! After they filed the charges I went to her house and we had a party. Then I left town [Musician, December 1988].
Me and my friends were always in trouble. We got in trouble for fun. It finally reached a point where I realized I was gonna end up in jail, 'cause I kept fucking with the system. This guy and I got into a fight. We became friends afterwards, and he dropped charges against me, but the state kept on pressing charges. Those charges didn't work, so they tried other ones. I spent three months in jail and finally got out. But once you've pissed off a detective, it's a vengeance rap back there. They tried everything. They busted me illegally in my own back yard for drinking. They tried to get me as a habitual criminal, which can mean a life in prison. My lawyer got the case thrown out of court. I left and came to California. They told me not to leave, but I left anyway. My lawyer took care of it. I didn't go back for a long time. Now when I go back to see my family, I avoid the police there. I try to avoid all police in general [Rolling Stone, August 1989].
One of his childhood friends were Izzy Stradlin.

[Axl] was like a serious lunatic when I met him. He was just really fucking bent on fighting and destroying things. Somebody'd look at him wrong, and he'd just, like, start a fight. And you think about Lafayette, man, there's, like, fuck all to do [Rolling stone, November 1988].
The first thing I remember about Axl, this is before I knew him - is the first day of class, eighth or ninth grade, I'm sitting in the class and I hear this noise going on in front, and I see these fucking books flying past, and I hear this yelling, and there's this scuffle and then I see him, Axl, and this teacher bounding off a door jamb. And then he was gone, down the hall, with a whole bunch of teachers running after him. That was the first thing. I'll never forget that [Musician, December 1988].
It is claimed that Axl's restlessness and rebellious natur resulted in poor grades at school [Juke Magazine, July 1989], although it has also been said he got straight A's [Daily Press, August 1986]. When asked about his performance at school, Axl himself would say "on the placement tests in school, I was always in the top three percent" [Rolling Stone, August 1989], but that he "dropped out in the eleventh grade, went back as a senior, then dropped out again" [Rolling Stone, August 1989] because:

I couldn't make school work for me. I was having to read books, sing songs, draw pictures of things that didn't stimulate or excite me. It just didn't do anything for me. So I dropped out and started drawing and painting at home and spending a lot of my time in the library. Basically I started putting myself through Axl's school of subjects that I wanted to learn about [Rolling Stone, August 1989].
Axl would also describe himself as "never really popular" when he grew up [Rolling Stone, August 1989].

Together Bill and Izzy had a garage band [Unknown UK Source, June 1987] but when Izzy graduated from high school in 1979, he left for California [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

At age 16 Bill was kicked out from home [Unknown UK source, June 1987] and presumably lived with his grandmother for a while.

[...]And then finally, I was accused of doing drugs and drinking and all this stuff that I wasn't doing, and I was kicked out of my house for not cutting my hair. And it was above my ears at the time. And I was 16 and at that point, I just said, "Well, if I'm gonna be accused of all these things, I might as well find out what they're all about" [Headbanger's Ball, May 1988].[/i]
[...] I got kicked out. when I got told to leave. When I got told, "cut your hair," and I said, "no," and they said, "go," and I said, "I'm leaving." You know, but that was like when I was 16, but now my dad is like one of my closest friends I have. It's taken us 10 years to build up that kind of relationship, but we worked at it a little by little and it didn't start happening just because of my band, it didn't [?] just happen this year. It's been coming back together over the last five years [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].
You know I grew up in a place where I got sick of being made fun of by the straights. I had long hair. I got kicked out of my house when I was 16 ‘cause my dad was real strict and I wouldn’t cut my hair anymore. Then I was being called a drug addict. I was running cross country and was completely into health at the time. So, that’s when I left home, got into beer, drugs and went to jail about 20 times. Then I got out of that, but I always kept my hair long. I went back to my old high school where certain people had respect for me, some of the athletes and the student council. All of a sudden, they didn’t. They thought I was a hippie, but I wasn’t really friendly with the hippies ‘cause I liked all kinds of music. If you thought Devo or the Sex Pistols had a good song, all of a sudden you were a punk rocker! If you liked Bowie and the Stones, then you were a fag! So all of a sudden I was a hippy, punk rocker, faggot, you know? All at the same time. So, then I came out here [=Los Angeles] ‘cause I’m too far gone for Indiana, and I’m some hick-ass who just got off the boat [Concert Shots, May 1986].[/i]
At 17, according to Rolling Stone, "[Bill] discovered that his real last name was Rose. His natural father, a chronic troublemaker whose whereabouts are unknown, had left his wife and family. When Sharon Rose remarried, she and her new husband gave his surname to her children. […] Axl discovered his hidden past at a time when he was growing his hair, playing in bands, and fighting with his parents. So, Bill Bailey began calling himself W. Rose [Rolling Stone, November 1989].

One of Bill's first bands in Indiana was called AXL and he would later rename himself after that band:

I was originally in a band called AXL a long time ago. I got the name because peo­ple said you live, breathe, walk, and talk Axl, so why don't you just be Axl [Cream, September 1989].[/i]
"Axl" came along as name of band my friend used to write down. My friend Dave Lank wrote down names of bands, him and Mike Staggs and Roger Miley. And we always thought of names of bands and he had this page, like hundreds of names he thought of for names of bands. One day they called me up they said, "We got a name for a band, 'Axl'" and, like, I don't know, the world was coming down on me in my house and it's, like, I answered the phone and I was like, "What do you want?!" "We got a name for a band: Axl. How's your response?" And I was like, "A-X-L" *click* [laughter] [MTV Documentary, November 1989].[/i]
Axl decided to travel to California to look for Izzy, probably in 1980.

I hit L.A. with a backpack, a piece of steel in one hand and a can of maize in the other. And guys were trying to sell me joints everywhere, and then some black guy turned me on to the bus station. So, I found the bus station. And there'll be a song about the bus station on our EP called "One In A Million". And then I rode all around Fullerton [in Orange County] thinking it was just the smallest city I'd seen and I would find Izzy. I rode the bus for like, two days. Never found Izzy. But, you know, I stayed in Huntington Beach [in Orange County] for a while. I found this empty apartment with the door open and a skateboard in the corner and that was Izzy's. Got lucky. Paid some guys a case of beer to help me find Huntington Beach, 'cause I didn't know where it was. And then... Then I hitchhiked the whole country for a while, looking for where I wanted to stay and start working on a band. You know, went all the way up to San Francisco, went to Rhode Island, went down to Hollywood, Florida. Back to Indiana for a while to regroup... my brain. And then back to L.A. and moved Hollywood and moved in with Izzy and worked on the band [Headbanger's Ball, May 1988].[/i]
This travelling of Axl back and forth between Los Angeles and Lafayette probably lasted for a couple of years, until he in 1981 permanently moved to Los Angeles:

I've been out here [=Los Angeles] on and off since '80, and then I was in here straight from '81, you know solid [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].[/i]
In Hollywood Axl had various jobs, including being paid "$8-an-hour to smoke cigarettes" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

One of the first bands Axl played in after coming to Hollywood, was Rapidfire together with Kevin Lawrence. According to Chris Weber, Lawrence would not let Axl sing with a high voice [Rock Scene, October 1989].

Axl left Rapidfire and formed the band Rose together with Izzy and Chris Weber [Rock City News, January 1988] who was 16 years old at the time. Weber would claim that he encouraged Axl to sing with his high voice [Rock City News, January 1988].

According to Weber, Axl "got mad one day" and they changed the name of the band to Hollywood Rose, although Weber could not remember why [Rock City News, January 1988]. Hollywood Rose would dissolve and Axl would join the new band L.A. Guns together with Tracii Guns.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:09 am


Izzy Stradlin was born Jeffrey Dean Isbell on April 8, 1962, and grew up in Florida first and then moved with his mother to Indiana [Guitar World, March 1989], "so far out in Bumfuck I could drive to somebody's house for 10 miles all on dirt road" [Musician, December 1988].

When I was 11 or 12 I had this friend whose older brothers were like hooligans; they rode bikes, would get drunk and fight all the time, and they'd have these bands play at this big farmhouse, it was like an airplane hangar. So I'd be hanging out there, getting shit-faced, and after a while they'd be so drunk they couldn't even play and they'd go, 'C'mon up here, little kid, and play the drums!' So that was the first adrenaline rush. Other than that my life was completely boring [Musician, December 1988]
When I was 13 I started going to block parties and there would be bands playing. Every once in a while on American Bandstand you'd see a good band. Don Kirshner's shows helped cement the foundation. I started on drums moved to bass and then guitar. I played bass for a year because i found it real easy to get around on. I've only been playing guitar for about five years. I wasn't a frustrated guitarist who chose the bass, I was frustrated drummer [Guitar, September 1988]

Jeffrey's parents split up when he was a teenager and he moved with his mother to the slightly larger city of Lafayette [Musician, December 1988], where he befriended Axl:

Axl and I have known each other for 15 years. We grew up together back in the Midwest. We had a couple garage bands that never went out and did anything. [...] I wrote pretty much right away with Axl. He would come over with a lot of lyrics. It was basic stuff but it got us going and it was fun [Guitar, September 1988]

When in junior high Jeffrey adopted his nickname, "Izzy" [MTV Documentary, November 1989].

Izzy and Axl were into punk, and Lafayette's bars only had room for country and cover bands - "which we hated at the time. When you're 16 you hate everything you see when you live out there" [Musician, December 1988].

Izzy graduated from high school in 1979 and left for California [Rolling Stone, November 1988] at the age of 17 or 18 [Guitar World, March 1989]. According to Musician, December 1988, he first tried his luck in Chicago and Indianapolis, before throwing his drum kit in the back of an old Chevy Impala and heading for Los Angeles. Within three days he was in a band.

Since I had a car and a drum kit, I was an asset. We're getting ready to go on, and these guys show up completely in drag! I mean, lipstick, eyeliner, pink Spandex, Afros... this was my band! They didn't tell me there was a motif, you know? And it was like, slam music, one-two-three-four. We made it through about three songs, and then all these skinheads were onstage and beating the fuck out of the band. I took a cymbal stand, took a few swings and was out the back door. That kind of broke me into the way things were out here. After that I had no problems with how anyone looked or sounded, or if they didn't like you. So I guess it was a good way to break the ice [Musician, December 1988]
Izzy would then shift to bass before settling on the guitar [Guitar World, March 1989]:

It was a natural thing to do, though I really can't explain why. The music I was into and wanted to play lent itself better to the guitar. I was always into hard stuff, the Ramones, the raw power that stuff had, the sound of the chords. So I got this Les Paul, which was real good for barre chords—all I could really play at the time, anyway. Then I got my friend's guitar, a Gibson LG5, I think. I'd play that guitar to Ramones records forever. Soon after that, I got my hands on a Gibson Black Beauty […][Guitar World, March 1989].
The next year, in Easter in 1980, Axl found Izzy:

Axl shows up on my front door, soaking wet with a backpack. He'd been looking for me for about a month. He didn't know how big this place was [Musician, December 1988]
Together with Axl and Chris Weber, Izzy founded the band Rose which would be renamed to Hollywood Rose later.

We had Izzy's little tape deck, and this girl named Laura came by and she turned us onto Hanoi Rocks and we really got into them. We were the first band to really revive glam in Los Angeles because back then heavy metal and leather and studs were in. It was really big to wear black, spandex, and studs, and we started wearing bright colors and makeup. We were the first band to do that since the '70's, when the last glam bands died out, right before punk. We wanted to revamp it in Los Angeles. In the beginning, we got a lot of flack for it, with our big hair, a million different ways. My hair was white and Izzy's was blue/black, and we had these rhinestone earrings, scarves, pink leather jackets and high-heeled boots. We got a lot of shit, but we were really proud. We went up there and played a lot of hard rocking stuff, a little heavier than Guns N' Roses is now. So we had that glam thing going, and people started catching on to it. We were friends with Poison and they were kinda dressing like that too [Rock Scene, October 1989].
[We were] slumming it here and there. We started writing songs in this roach-infested pad off Franklin Avenue. We were doing speed like there was no tomorrow, and night after night we would just pump out this fast, upbeat, insane music. Literally slapped together a band, and I'd tell club owners we were playing parties and could easily bring in 500 people. When 20 would show up they'd get really upset and we'd never get paid. But we were slowly getting it together [Musician, December 1988]
Eventually, Izzy would quit Hollywood Rose to play in the band London [Circus Magazine, May 1988].

In 1988, Izzy would describe himself this way:

Quiet, articulate and full of shit[Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988]

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:33 am


Born and raised in Seattle, Michael McKagan was the youngest of 8 siblings. Already at the age of two, his parents started to call him "Duff" [MTV Documentary, November 1989].

Duff's family was musical. His father "sang harmonies in a Barbershop Quartet" and "almost all his elder brothers and sisters had sung or played in numerous bands at some point" [Kerrang! March 1989].

Duff's main musical interest was punk, his favorite song was Fear's 'I Don't Care About You' [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988], a song the band would later cover for their The Spaghetti Incident record, although his favorite band was AC/DC [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

I grew up surrounded by music. They always played the rock stations in my house when I was a little kid. Then, when I was in eighth-grade, my brother Bruce started giving me lessons on the bass and I just got right into it [Blast, 1987 (mentioned in Kerrang! March 1989)].

Duff would quickly change instrument from bass to guitar and then to drums [Kerrang! March 1989] after a local band spotted him playing drums and asked him to join them [Raw Magazine, July 1989]:

It was easy to pickup the rudiments of drumming, especially Punk drumming, so I accepted the offer [Raw Magazine, July 1989].
Duff played in "over 30 bands" in Seattle before leaving for Los Angeles [Kerrang! March 1989].

I was a guitar player before I moved out to LA. But I had heard the stories about LA, where there were millions of guitar players, and really didn't think I was good enough to be one of the top players. I mean, I wasn't ever going to be anything like Slash. So in order to get my foot in the door I decided to get a bass and a bass amp and come on down to LA [Blast, 1987 (mentioned in Kerrang! March 1989)].
And I moved to California and I didn't I... I wasn't that good of a guitar player, really, to be like... cuz there's a million guitar players in LA. And then my drum kit was just it was a piece of junk, you know, so I said, "Okay, I'll play bass" just to get my foot in the door and this is the door I've stepped into [MTV Documentary, 1989].

Just a few weeks after coming to L.A., Duff answered an ad put in a magazine by Slash to become the bassist in Slash's band, Road Crew. It wasn't a success, and Duff split after six weeks [Kerrang! March 1989]. He had just quit Road Crew when answering Axl's ad to join Guns N' Roses as the bassist after Ole was fired [Kerrang! March 1989].

It's funny, but it was never my idea to 'make it' by joining a commercial band. And in fact, [Appetite] is not a commercial record. Its appeal has really amazed me [Musician, December 1988].
Before making it as a musician, Duff worked as a cook [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

Duff describing himself in late 1988:

Down-to-earth, a lover of music and making music and making love. I love to make people happy and I think I'm basically a good person… despite what you might read about me [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:39 am


In April 1985 the band played four shows in Los Angeles: April 11 at Radio City, April 24 at the Troubadour, April 25 at the Dancing Waters Club, and April 27 at the Timber's Ballroom.

You know, I think the first show we actually sold like 80 tickets, you know -- which was like really big, you know, back then. You know, to be able to pull 80 people at The Troubadour -- or like, you know, this place called Radio City in Orange County, or any of those places -- was like really good. And then, you know, we just kept doing the thing -- you know, doing shows here and there. [Spin Magazine, 1999]
After we'd played the Dancing Waters club and another gig so forgettable I can't remember the name of the venue, any excitement I had for the band dwindled. I missed the next rehearsal [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 59]

Duff was not initially impressed with the band or Axl. In early 1990 he would recall that his initial thoughts on Axl was, "He is good, but I don't know" but that this might have been due to Tracii and Rob being in the band [Kerrang! March 1990]. With Duff starting to lose interest and skipped a rehearsal, Axl called him up and insisted that he had to be part of the band and to give it another chance [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 59].

In May, the band played two shows, at Radio City (May 11, 1985) and at Joshua's Parlour (May 12, 1985). The band probably played no other shows in May 1985 and it is likely that this is due to the band starting to fall apart. According to Raz, Tracii and Rob weren't as driven as Izzy, Axl and Duff:

Izzy, Axl, and Duff each had their own business instincts, ideas, and connections. But no one ever cared what a drummer has to say. And Tracii was still in baby-rock-star mode, more than content to have others worry about band stuff [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 204].
Duff was eager to travel to his hometown of Seattle to play shows there, what would later be referred to as the "Hell Tour", while Tracii and Rob were reluctant. Tracii and Rob were from Los Angeles and Duff didn't see the same hunger in them to make it, compared to the rest of the band members who had moved to Los Angeles and would do anything to succeed [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 59].

Rob and Tracii were skeptical about the idea [the Hell tour] from the start. I guess they weren't sure whether to take the leap of faith necessary to leave home with nothing but your bandmates and wits to depend on. And just a few weeks before we were to leave, they broke the news: they weren't up for a no-budget trip. Not knowing where we would sleep each night was too much for them. I assured them we'd find places to crash, and anyway, what did it matter - we would be on tour, a concept that to me was pure magic.

It didn't matter. First Rob and then Tracii backed out
[Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 61]
That Rob left the band before Tracii is supported by an article in Cream 1989 where Axl stated that Steven and Duff joined the band before Slash. In other words, that Ole and Rob were gone before Tracii.

Then Tracii and I decided to bring Izzy into the band - and then we got Steve and Duff. And then Tracii wasn't into it because it wasn’t going quite the direction that he wanted to go. So he went his way and put L.A. Guns back together, and we brought in Slash. […] And when we put the band together the second time with Izzy, Duff and Steve […] [Cream, September 1989]
According to Raz' biography, Axl and Tracii butted heads over musical differences, and does not mention the Michelle event which he might not have known about. Raz also claims that Tracii was fired before Rob:

Initially, only three of Tracii's tunes even made it into rehearsal, and at shows he was lucky if the guys even played one of them. Five shows in, and it was all Izzy and Axl's songs, plus some covers. Instead of taking it as a challenge, Tracii acted perpetually petulant. The morning after G N' R played the Timbers gig [April 27], Axl was in an extremely foul mood. More specifically, he was thoroughly pissed off at Tracii, who the night before reportedly remained out of sight behind his Marshall stacks the entire show, all the while playing way too loud and purposely fucking up songs.

Axl went on and on griping, and I began to get the impression he sought my okay to get rid of Tracii, so I said, "Fuck Tracii. Fire him if you want. [...]

Izzy and Axl agreed Tracii would get the boot from Guns N' Roses after their next show, the second week of may, giving them a month to find a replacement.[...]

The next afternoon, Tracii called me to tell me about Axl firing him from G N' R. Tracii didn't seem at all upset, mostly just talked shit about the guys
[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 208-209].
A day after Tracii got ousted, Robbie quit the band. We were all floored. No one had even contemplated Robbie abandoning the project. Izzy and Axl tried to change his mind. When that didn't bear fruit, they asked me to have a talk with Robbie and let him know they really wanted him in the band. At the very least, see if he'd stay until they found another drummer. When I called Robbie to see where his head was at and tell him he was missing a great opportunity, before I even got my whole pitch delivered, he gave me a dismissive "I'm not going to play with those guys." [...]

The guys were pissed at Robbie for leaving them hanging, so Izzy taught me an awesome trick, which I employed relentlessly over the next decade - a free ad got placed in the Recycler, something like: "Gay Drummer Available. Into Duran Duran, Flock of Seagulls, Pet Shop Boys, Haircut One Hundred...Call Robbie before 6 a.m.," and listed Robbie's number. Classic!
[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 209].
Tracii presents it like him quitting the band due to having had an argument with Axl over Michelle Young and from being annoyed by Axl's stage antics:

And then, all of a sudden, I noticed that Axl was like talking a lot in between songs. You know like we'd play, and then he'd talk to the crowd for like five minutes in between a couple of songs. And that kind of evolved to the point where me and Izzy, you know, really provided a lot of direction, and, you know trying to like keep this thing right, and just rock'n'roll, and just fun, you know? And he was like: No, the people need to -- you know, they like it, you know? So like: Okay -- whatever, you know? But it kept getting worse and worse and worse. And then he started hanging out with Michelle Young, And that's what that song "My Michelle"'s about, is about this girl. The two last shows that I did, we do sound check, and Axl shows up kinda late -- and he flips out. He's like: Tracii, motherfucker. You know, Michelle -- you know, Michelle Young's name isn't on the guest list. I'm like: Oh, well, I put it on there. And I did, you know? I was just like: What's this guy's trip? But he really, you know, fucked up the gig for me, 'cause I was like not into it. You know, I was like: Oh, this sucks. You know, this guy's all pissed off, and now he's dictating to the 150 people that are here, you know. [Spin Magazine, 1999]
But I also think - which is one of the reasons I left Guns 'N Roses in the first place - once we started having this very minor success here in L.A., Izzy and I were running into problems with him. His extended speeches on stage, this newfound power . . . the power of his voice to communicate how he felt about situations on stage. At that time we were allotted an hour; you know, you go up there, you've got an hour to play your songs and then get the hell off the stage. The first show we did ten songs, a couple of shows we did nine songs, and then the last few shows I did, we were literally playing five or six songs and then letting Axl just stand there and talk, and tell everybody what he thought. Which is great, but for me personally, I wasn't playing music to support any cause, or any local clothes maker or whatever [Classic Hard Rock Examiner, 2011].
And then I lasted for about seven or eight months in that, and then Axl and I got into an extraordinary fight - and we had never argued ever in the past few years before. [Then] I just kind of went my own way. [...] That fight [with Axl] stemmed from a girl named Michelle Young [of 'My Michelle' fame] not being put on a guest list at three in the afternoon before even sound check, and we did two shows after that argument and then I left. It just wasn't fun anymore. I was probably 19 then and I thought Great band, and I love these guys, but they're not worth the headaches.' Even at that age I didn't want to deal with it [The Quietus, 2016].
Slash would comment on this:

Tracii had a falling out with Axel [sic], which is typical, because everybody has a falling out with Axel [sic] at some point or another. But he also played the wrong kind of guitar for the kind of band it was [Scene Magazine, April 1988]
So in early March 1985, the fledgling band had already lost two of its members, the lead guitarist and the drummer.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:14 pm


With Tracii being fired and Rob leaving the band, a new lead guitarist and a new drummer was needed. According to Duff [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 61], Axl knew a couple of guys who could fill in: Slash and Steven Adler. Duff knew, them, too, having been the bassist in Slash's band Road Crew just weeks prior to joining Guns N' Roses [Kerrang! March 1989]. According to Raz, on the other hand, Axl was only eager about getting Slash into the band, although Izzy was reluctant:

Axl only had one guitarist in mind. But Izzy expressed a desire to explore all options, in hopes of finding an older, more established musician. Axl remained steadfast and eventually convinced Izzy to at least invite Slash over to talk music, and perhaps those two might play some guitar together. The day after that get-together, Axl happily reported of his plan's rousing success. Izzy was floored by Slash's talent, and a quick meeting turned into those two jamming through the practice amps in Izzy's living room for most of the day [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 210].
This reluctance can be inferred from later interviews that Izzy did:

There's nothing more annoying than a guitarist just noodling. Shredding, it's horrid. It's the same thing when you try to get a band together, you always end up with these noodlers, y'know...[...] when I first met him, yeah. Slash was a noodler, man. I think he still is. Like in Guns N' Roses he would noodle but then the vocals would come back in and that would shut him up! [Total Guitar Magazine, August 2001]
According to Izzy, the feeling went both ways:

I don't think [Slash] really wanted another guitar player, but it was kind of a package deal, Axl and I. We had periods where we actually wrote songs together and worked out our parts. There was a little bit more interplay on Appetite than Illusion. He was like a brother, but a brother who really wanted to be out on his own [Musician, 1992]
Originally I don't think Slash ever wanted to play with another guitarist. But we both really loved Aerosmith and the Stones and we just used that idea to make it all work. My favourite band was always the Ramones - just four guys wailing with power chords. At some point he and I hooked up and we started making it work. It became fun, just working with another guy like him, opposites attract, I suppose (...) He's a great guitar player - he'll go, he's a guy if you let him go, he's just off, out there. You gotta reel him in now and then, but that's what he loves to do. Listen to the end of Paradise City, I'm just doing the power chords, G and D. And Slash just goes manic in the last four bars. It's incredible. Those were great times...[Total Guitar, 2001]
And Slash would confirm this:

When we first met we didn't click musically at all. [...] If you listen to the record, me and lzzy don't play anything alike. Our sound is completely different. He doesn't play lead hardly at all, but his rhythm style is cool. I was a lot heavier than he was. But we worked it out and it wasn't even a conscious thing. We just played together and eventually got better and better and now we sort of jell more [Guitar For The Practising Musician, September 1988]
Slash himself was not sure about joining a band with Axl again, having fought with him previously when they both played in Hollywood Rose [?]:

At first I didn't want to do it because me and Axl had been through some bad times together [Guitar, September 1988].

In February 1988, Slash would shed more light on this:

Axl was a bit temperamental, a bit moody, so we had a falling out and we split[Circus Magazine, May 1988].

While Axl wanted Slash in the band, he was not so sure about Steven:

It wasn't an automatic deal that Steven Adler joined Guns N' Roses, merely an audition. When done, he packed his gear and split. After he hit the road, Joe [Raz' brother] set up Steven's kit again so the guys could audition a few other drummers. There was a dude, Chain, who Axl really dug and insisted on hiring. Izzy steadfastly refused to play with him, and almost quit G N' R over it. At some point, Chain told me, "I don't think Izzy liked me." I said, "It's worse than that." To keep everyone calm, some diplomatic maneuvers were employed. All agreed Steven would play the next show, but G N' R would keep searching for a drummer [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 210-211].
Although you wouldn't know this from reading Steven's biography:

[...]one night Slash called me up. He sounded excited and told me Izzy had resurfaced and wanted us all to play together again. [...] my heart really started pounding because Slash told me that they had committed to doing a show Thursday night. And Friday they were planning on heading up to Seattle to play a couple of shows. [...] The next day I got together with them, and they told me the band was now called Guns N' Roses, after the band's founders: Tracii Guns and Axl Rose [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 76-77].
Both Slash and Steven were well known by the other band member from before. Duff had applied for the bass job in Road Crew (an early band of Slash and Steven) while Slash and Steven had played in Hollywood Rose with Izzy and Axl for a while. In fact, Slash and Axl had previously had a fight, according to Duff, Axl had at one point slept with Slash's girlfriend [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 69].

I thought Slash was much better for that band than I was. You know, I thought that like: Wow -- you know, this guy's really got a creepy image, you know. But different than a, you know, white guy with black leather on. You know, it was like a creepy dude, you know? He's like really cool-looking, played really cool -- one style, all the time -- and, you know, just like a real like Joe Perry type guy, you know? And that was -- pretty much, it had to be Axl's decision [Spin Magazine, Outtakes for Axl Rose issue, 1999]
First meeting of Slash and Steven, when he applied for the Road Crew job: I walked in [at Canter's], looked at the first booth on the left, and saw all this fucking hair. Somehow I had expected these guys to look like Social Distortion. Instead, even though they appeared about my age, the dudes in Road Crew had long hair and rocker chick girlfriends [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 29-30]
Talking about leaving the band and Slash taking his place: I figured that would be the obvious choice. He had played with everybody in the band except Duff. He was one of my closest friends, and had actually come up with the original GNR logo before he was in the band. He was a real fan of Guns N’ Roses. I think that having him see the band from the audience, made him appreciate it more. As soon as he was in the band, I really started enjoying the band more. I think it worked out the best for everybody. I really do. [Tales From The Stage, February 2013]
About Slash joining the band in June 1985: Slash was inclined to try [Guns N' Roses] because Guns seemed more where he wanted to go musically than Black Sheep [his current band at the time]. [...] Slash liked the idea of joining a band with the intention of making its own mark [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 69]
With this new lineup consisting of Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven. In an interview in 1986, the band would refer to the coming together of this lineup as when the Guns N' Roses was formed [Los Angeles Times, 1986.06.07], probably to distance themselves from the short-lived original lineup, and to create cohesion as a band of brothers. Guns N' Roses was Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven. But already in December, 1986, Axl would be back to making a distinction: "This lineup has been together for two years" [Hit Parader, December 1986]].

The band played its first show at the Troubadour on June 6, 1985, only a few days after Slash and Steven joined the band. The June 6 gig is the first where we have the entire setlist: Reckless Life, Shadow of Your Love, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Think About You, Move to the City, Don't Cry, Nice Boys, Back Off Bitch, Anything Goes and Heartbreak Hotel. All of these songs were either covers or original songs written before Slash and Steven joined the band, but the new guys immediately put their stamp on the songs, especially Slash's emotive leads.

We played our first show at the Troubadour and it was sold-out. It was like we were rock stars, but just in Hollywood [The Days of Wine and Roses, Classic Rock, April 2005]
On Thursday, June 6, we played our first live show with the Appetite for Destruction lineup. The bill at the Troubadour included Fineline, Mistreater, and, at the very bottom, Guns N' Roses. Slash's high school friend Marc Canter, - he turned out to be part of the family that ran Canter's Deli - came and shot pictures. He made prints f each of us the next day so we'd have head shots to put up in the places we played on our tour [the Hell Tour]. That was Friday [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 70]
Talking about the AFD lineup coming together: We had a show together, I think it was at the Troubadour, [...] the audience comprised of a bunch of our friends[Ultimate Classic Rock, September 2014]

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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:18 am


Let me tell you about when Guns N' Roses really first... like, the moment of revelation, the moment which began this whole... movement. It was when our car broke down a hundred miles into the fuckin' desert when we were drivin' to our first ever gig. Duff, when he joined -- like we said, 'Hey, wanna jam?' He said, 'Yeah!' -- he got us these gigs in Seattle to play. Duff said, 'Yo! Seattle, it's right on top of America.' We said, 'Hey, cool,' y'know. 'Let's fuckin' go.' It was a complete disaster. So we're stranded in the fuckin' desert, right. Ain't no way we're going back to Hollywood. I mean, these are 300 bucks a night gigs we're talkin' about here… So we hitchhiked. After two fuckin' days in the desert a guy in a semi picked us up. Finally we made it to Seattle. We played. There were ten, maybe twenty people there. We didn't get paid. Finally we had to steal another car to drive back to L.A. again. And from the day we got back to Hollywood, it's been, like, whatever goes down, y'know, we're still united in this conflict against... everything, really. Guns N' Roses' motto from like that day on has been 'Fuck everybody,' y'know. 'Fuck everybody before they fuck with you' [The Face, October 1989].

In June 1985 the band embarked on their first tour outside of Los Angeles, on what they would later refer to as the Hell Tour. The idea was originally Duff's:

Axl, Izzy and myself sat down one night and agreed that we should do a West Coast tour. I had done tours up and down the Coast and had the numbers of all the clubs along the way [Kerrang! March 1989]
Up until this point the band had still not decided upon having Steven join as a full-time member, but his eagerness jo join the Seattle tour on short notice (they asked him to join the day before departure), helped seal the deal [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 210].

Due to various problems they only played show at this tour (although Axl, in an interview in June 1987, would curiously claim they played "a few shows" [Unknown UK Source, June 1987]), at the Gorilla Garden in Seattle on June 8 or 12. Duff says in his biography that the band was not paid for the show because they didn't drew a crowd, but according to an interview in 1986, the band was paid $50 instead of the promised $200 [Los Angeles Times, 1986.07.06]. Duff and Axl half-heartedly tried to burn the place down in revenge.

The club was called Gorilla Gardens, which was the epitome of a punk-rock shit hole: it was dank and dirty and smelled of stale beer. [...] We just got up and did our set and the crowd was neither hostile nor gracious. [...] That night we were a raw interpretation of what the band was: once the nervous energy subsides, at least for me, we'd reached the end of the set. That said, we had a very small number of train wrecks in the arrangements, and all in all the gig was pretty good [Slash's autobiography, page 106]
Boy, what a road trip for our very first one! But the crowd response was good and that's when we really took off. We were doing a little bit of everything -- Elvis Presley tunes, blues, you name it! We didn't give a damn about anyone or anything. We just wanted to play. [Interview with Izzy, 1991]
[...] our gear hadn't arrived when we played the show on Wednesday night at Gorilla Garden. We were sloppy on borrowed gear, though on the plus side only about a dozen people were subjected to our set [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 78]
[...]and took us to the Gorilla Gardens, the filthy dive bar where we were to do the show that night. When we got there, we walked right onto the stage, and just in the nick of time. We didn't have time to grab a beer, smoke a joint, or put on makeup. Although we were still at the stage where we'd tease our hair up to God and slap on the eye shadow, heavy eyeliner, and lipstick for our stage performances, there just wasn't a moment to spare. [...] Most fortunately, we were able to use th previous band's equipment. We just went on, jacked in, and played our songs. [...] And although we didn't exactly bring down the house, we got decent applause and were all smiles after the show, feeling that for the most part, it went over pretty well [Steven's autobiography, "Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 80]
The band would later look back at the tour as a formative moment, an early obstacle that tested the relationship between the band members:

When the band started - it was like the day after Duff or Stevie joined - we had the infamous Seattle trip. We hitchhiked up there for a gig, and it took a long time, but it pretty much solidified the lineup. If everybody could hack it and get along in the back of a semi trailer that's five feet by eight feet, with five guys and no money, was like a test to see if everyone could get along in the long haul [Circus Magazine, September 1988].
That Seattle trip was the proving ground. If we could go through that shit, we could go through anything, and we've been through a lot of shit. At one point, we were living in a one room place in Hollywood, where we also rehearsed, and we had no money but we just survived together. If you had something to eat, you had to share it with everyone else [Circus Magazine, September 1988].
After returning to Los Angeles, the band played one show at the Stardust Ballroom (June 28), where they played 'Mama Kin' for the first time.

Our first gig back in L.A. was on June 28, 1985, at the Stardust Ballroom, our eats of Highway 101. They had a club night called Scream. It had started as a Goth night; Bauhaus and Christian Death were the most popular acts the DJ played. We were at the bottom of a four-band bill and had to go on stage at 8 p.m. [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 87].

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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:29 am


As the new lineup played more and more gigs, and did more and more rehearsal and song writing together, they started to gel. The mix between Duff's punk rock sensibilities, Izzy's low-key rhythm and feel, Slash's loud bluesy and fast leads, and Steven's idiosyncratic groovy drums, turned out to be a potent combination. And on top of that was Axl's intense, strong vocals that were filled with emotions.

And although not every band member always appreciated everyone else in the band, especially since compromises had to be made, the new lineup started to gain more and more popularity in the L.A. music scene.

Hearing Axl for the first time from a demo tape: But through the static din, way in the background, I heard something intriguing, that I believed to be their singer's voice. It was hard to make out and his squeal was so high-pitched that I thought it might be a technical flaw in the tape. It sounded like the squeak that a cassette makes just before the tape snaps - except it was in key [Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York].
We were probably the only five guys in L.A. with this attitude, a punk rock, very anarchistic '70s kind of thing. And we did whatever we wanted. We drank. We did drugs. We screwed girls. We did whatever. We were really bad, you know. And it was like all of a sudden, we were there, the five os us. Prior to that, it had all been different combinations of guys, like me and Axl; me, Duff and Steven; me, Izzy and Axl, and none of the combinations really worked until the five of us got together[/i] [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989].
Duff was as musically versatile as he was driven (...). I respected him immediately for his devotion: he and I shared a similar work ethic. It established a kinship between us right away that hasn't faltered at all over all these years [Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York]
[Slash] will be very quiet and stuff, most of time, and really won't let a lot of himself out until he picks up the guitar and then his heart and soul seems to pour out through the guitar [MTV Documentary, November 1989].
[Izzy] he wasn't a great guitar player, but I liked that - both in him and in general. I wasn't a great guitar player, either. It was a punk thing. One night we were talking after a rehearsal, Izzy mentioned a band called Naughty Women. It rang a bell. "I know that band," I said, trying to place the name. "I think I played a gig with them once. wait, wait, wait. Were they...cross-dressers?" "Yep," Izzy said. He paused. "I was the drummer," he said. Cool, I thought., this guy really was a veteran of the punk-rock club scene. He was the real deal [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 58-59]
First meeting: Steven and I went to see Hollywood Rose at Gazzari's and it was the first time that I beheld, hands down, the best singer in Hollywood at the time: W. Axl Rose. Much like the tape, the show was nothing more than an amateur garage band doing their best, but they had an amazing sense of reckless abandon and energy. At least two of them did: apart from Izzy and Axl, the band was pretty nondescript, but those two friends from Lafayette, Indiana, had an ominous presence about them. Izzy kept doing knee slides all over the stage and Axl screamed his fucking heart out-their performance was blistering. Axl's voice drew me in immediately; it was so versatile, and underneath his impossibly high-pitched shrieking, the bluesy natural rhythm he had was riveting [Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York]
In the studio our drummer is completely hyper [Guitar For The Practising Musician, 1988]
Duff and I were the keystone; we were the rock that rolled. We were to become the rhythm section for the biggest rock band in the world, and we pushed each other day and night to get there ["My Appetite for Destruction", 2010]
To me, Axl when we first got together, I was like, ‘He’s good, but I don’t know’. But that’s when we had these other two cats in the band [guitarist Tracii Guns and drummer Rob Gardner] and the band was not clicking. But by the time Slash and Steven had joined the band and we were starting to really click. Axl all of the sudden clicked too. It took something for him to click, and it took something for Slash to click. But when it happened, it was somethin’ to see. I’m telling ya [Kerrang, March 1990]
We all went back to Slash's place [after Canter's] - he was living with his mom. It was obvious even on the acoustic guitar he played that first night that Slash was a special player. I was absolutely stunned by the raw, emotive power he so easily tapped. Slash was already in a league of his own and watching him play guitar was a "holy shit" moment [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 30]
Without missing a beat [Axl] grabbed the mike in the middle of the song and just started running up and down the walls, screaming and wailing like someone had his pants on fire. I had never heard such a sound in my life. It was like some otherwordly banshee cry. I was stoked. I remember my eyes bugged a bit and my pulse shot up; I was thinking this dude was insane, so original ["My Appetite for Destruction", 2010]
We really had to make a drummer out of [Steven]. We took all his drums away – he had a double-bass drum and all these fuckin’ toms – and he ended up with a kick, a snare, a floor ton, crash and ride cymbals and his hi-hats: a Ramones-style kit. The band would rehearse, then Steve and I would get together – just bass and drums – every day and work on grooves [Bulletproof - Duff interview, Guitar World’s Bass Guitar June/July 2004 Issue]
Izzy looked like a young Ron Wood, with that gaunt, angular cut to his face, perfectly framed by straight black hair that hugged his jawline, making his face look even more thin and elongated. He was into heroin, just like Ron Wood and Keith Richards, his heroes in The Rolling Stones (...). He had thick-soled platform shoes and always wore black pants with some sort of super-tight shirt. He looked more like his shadow than himself and to me he was the personification of cool. Izzy and I hit it off right from the start. We each saw something in the other: perhaps it was just the way we talked about music. Izzy was the consummate rhythm guitarist. I loved the solid power chords he built into Rose's songs ["My Appetite for Destruction", 2010]
The timing for me and Steven to meld as a rhythm section was perfect. Steven had tons of drive, and we kept at it hour upon hour, day after day - just mercilessly[Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 84-85]
Slash is one of the most emotional guitar players that I've ever met or ever seen. [...] It took 5 years to find somebody who played more from the heart rather than just trying to be the fastest or trying to be this or that to be a big rock star, someone who, like, he'd be really quiet [...] most of the time and really won't let a lot of himself out till he picks up a guitar and then his heart and soul seems to pour out through the guitar. I sit down a lot of times at shows, I sit down right at the stage right in front of him amp when he's doing a solo, because, to me, it means just so much to me to hear that [Interview with Axl and Slash, 1988]
I liked Izzy. He was, after all, the first guy I met and I enjoyed his style and admired his talent [Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York]
Before Izzy, I'd never been able to play with another guitarist. Axl was the only guy on the whole L.A. scene who could sing, and there was no getting Izzy away from Axl. The funny thing about Izzy and I is that we each play what we want, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It can be frustrating for me because he's very stubborn. He plays very lightweight, sort of Keith Richards style, whereas if I want a heavy riff, I'll want a heavy riff, I'll want us both to play it to make it really stick out. There's a lot of songs on our album I'm really not happy with that way: 'Welcome to the Jungle,' for instance. Sometimes Duff will beef it up, like the riff in 'Paradise City.' I'm a little more knowledgeable on guitar; Izzy's a good songwriter with a great sense of style [Musician, December 1988]
The band would quickly realize the special bond they had:

[...]We got we have the lineup that, you know, we're gonna keep unless someone dies and then it's like, "How we're gonna replace that person?" You know. That's gonna take a lot of work because there's nobody we want [Unknown UK source, June 1987]
In July 1985 the band played gigs at Madame Wong's East (July 4) and at the Troubadour (July 20). At this last gig they played 'Welcome to the Jungle' for the first time. This was the first song the new lineup wrote together.

Axl remembered a riff that I'd played him when he was living over at my mom's house, which was ages ago at this point: it was the introduction and the main riff to 'Welcome to the Jungle'. That song, if anything, was the first real tune that the band wrote together. We were sitting around rehearsal looking to write something new when that riff came to Axl's mind. " Hey, what about that riff you played me a while ago?" he asked. "When you were staying with me?" I asked. "Yeah. It was good. Let's hear it." I started playing it and instantly Steve came up with a beat, Duff joined in with a bass line, and away we went. I kept throwing parts out to build on it: the chorus part, the solo, as Axl came up with the lyrics. Duff was the glue on that song - he came up with the breakdown, that wild rumbling bass line, and Izzy provided the texture. In about three hours, the song was complete [Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York].
This would be typical for how many of the new songs would be created: as a collaborative effort by five guys who lived together.

The band then played at the UCLA (July 21) and possibly at the Seance (July 26).

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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:30 am


Slash was born 'Saul Hudson' in Stoke-On-Trent in England and has a younger brother called Ash.

When he was still young, his parents, an interracial couple, moved to Hollywood. His father, Anthony Hudson, British and white, was a graphic designed who designed album covers, including Joni Mitchell's 'Court and Spark' [Musician, December 1990] and John Lennon [Rolling Stone, January 1991]. His mother, Ola Hudson, American and black, was a clothing designer who made David Bowie's suits for 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' [Musician, December 1990] as well as outfits for Lennon, Diana Ross and the Pointer Sisters [Rolling Stones, January 1991].

In the 70s, his parents split up and his mother would date David Bowie for a while [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

Slash would describe his mother as "a real happy-go-lucky, San Francisco hippie" [Musician, December 1990].

Recalling driving along the cliff of the Big Sur in California with his mother and her friend when he was a small kid, the grown-ups stoned on pot and him just absorbing it all: "It was the time of 'free love,' and there was no saying no. It's one of the things that's made me comfortable with myself as a person and at the same time has probably made me...not necessarily the way I should be, in certain areas. But my parents were always supportive and I love them for it [Musician, December 1990]. And "I come from a very loving and supportive family, thank God. I could be a lot worse than I am now" [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

Slash's family was also very music-oriented:

I come from a musical family. We had tons of records throughout the house when I was growing up, and my parents were both in the music business for as long as I can remember. My mom used to make clothes for rock stars, and my dad used to design album covers for artists such as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash. So I was more or less surrounded by music, in every sense of the word [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989].
This predates CDs or even cassettes, but we had something like a thousand records at home, all kinds of stuff. So, by the time I became interested in playing the guitar, I had a pretty acute sense of what I liked and why I liked it. That can be very important [Guitar World, March 1989].
I grew up in the music business. I grew up pretty heavily in it, so... I always had, from what I can remember, always had a real fascination with it, you know. I loved the environment and I loved the people and I loved the equipment, you know, things to mess around with. Like anytime we'd go to a rehearsal I'd be on the drum set or a guitar. Any of that stuff I've always had an affection for [MTV Documentary, November 1989].
Slash was given his nickname by a friend's father:

It came from a father of one of my friends, believe it or not. He just started calling me Slash whenever I came by, and the name stuck. I haven't used or divulged my real name since I was about 13 [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989].
An artistic kid, Slash "contributed a series of animal illustrations to The Bestiary, an unpublished book of verse written by Joni Mitchell, who was a neighbor" [Rolling Stone, January 1991]. As his mother would recall: "He was drawing from the time he could pick up a pencil" [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

In 1988, Slash would say his family gave him a lot of freedom and that he "used to not come home for weeks" [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

When I was 12, I sneaked out one night to Hollywood Boulevard. I was standing in front of this hamburger stand, where a crowd had gathered, and this crazy guy on acid or something decided he was gonna beat everybody up. And he went after the wrong guy and he got knifed. He was just laid out on the sidewalk - and I've been here ever since [Musician, December 1988].
A few years later, his mother would soften the image of Slash more or less living on the streets: "I’ve been shocked at a lot of things I’ve read where it sounds like I left him on somebody’s doorstep in a basket. They make it seem as if he never had a family and grew up on the streets like an urchin, but that’s not true. It’s just part of his image. He’s not all leather and tattoos" [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

His decision to become a musician wasn't deliberate.

My mom tried to get me to take piano lessons which I couldn't stand and didn't last very long. And I played, I think I played, not harmonica, recorder, you know that flute like thing in fifth grade or something which I wasn't really into either. Little bit too lightweight an instrument [MTV Documentary, November 1989].

A turning point came when he was visiting his friend, Steven Adler, and Steven put on a Kiss record, a band that Slash "always hated":

But he turned the amp all the way up and we'd hit—anything! That sound was so powerful, so intense, we decided to put a band together. I quit riding my bike and started playing guitar [Musician, December 1990].
It was really because of Steven Adler, our drummer. We had known each other for years, and I used to go to his house to listen to Kiss records, and he'd play along with his guitar. So when we decided to start a band, even though I didn't know the difference between a bass, lead or rhythm guitar, I figured I'd start taking lessons. Then when we had our first group meeting, one of the guys asked if I preferred bass over guitar. And not knowing the difference, I said I'd take the guitar because it had more strings! Then as I began to learn more about what I was doing, I really got into the instrument[Goldmine Magazine, May 1989].
I had a guitar and a little amp and I invited [Slash] over by my grandmother's bedroom, showed him the one chord and one scale, put my Kiss record on, and I did all my Ace Frehley positions[MTV Documentary, November 1989].
Another occasion where Slash was mesmerized by music:

When I was 14 I was over at this girl's house I'd been trying to pick up for months, and she played Aerosmith's Rocks; I listened to it eight times and forgot all about her [Musician, December 1988].
It just started for me with no real planning. I never looked down the road and said I'm gonna be famous someday. I just got into guitar playing and was real diligent about it, and played with a number of bands [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989].
His first guitar was a one-stringed Spanish guitar:

It wasn't a real bad guitar or anything, but it did have just one string—the low E string. I was real determined to learn, so just having a guitar was a start. I taught myself a bunch of songs on just that one string. Then, when I finally went for lessons, the teacher just sort of looked at me and asked if I had another guitar. I guess I was kinda naive back then. So, there was a long period before I had a real guitar. […] I wasn't real good with the les-sons, though the guy I did study with, Robert Wolin, was a big help. He was an inspiration, in a way, because he had a band, one of those really good Top 40 bands, the kind that played all the classics, night after night. He was literally the most amazing player I'd ever seen. He turned me on to what the difference was between lead and rhythm, showed me how to recognize and play the different things that I was hearing on records. It was a lot of fun, really, because I'd bring him a record, he'd put it on, and he'd learn it right there, all the leads, everything note-for-note. When you're a teenager, the most amazing thing is seeing someone play 'Stairway to Heaven' right in front of you. So this teacher gave me the basics in just the right way, which enabled me to take things off of records and learn 'em myself, which is what I did for a long time [Guitar World, March 1989].
Slash received his first guitar from his grandmother [Rolling Stone, January 1991]. It is not clear whether this was the one-string Spanish guitar and the proper guitar he got when he started to take lessons.

I didn't really know how to start; I was looking in a book playing scales and didn't know where I was going 'cause that didn't sound anything like 'Cat Scratch Fever,' you know? But my grandmother used to play piano, and she got me my first guitar. She was very patient and supportive, especially because she'd come from a rich black family where, at the time, soul music was considered in bad taste and she wasn't even allowed to listen to it. So when I'd crank up 'Black Dog' she'd gel really upset—she'd been raised to hate stuff like that. And of course, being the punk that I was, I'd crank it up even higher [Musician, December 1990].
"Growing increasingly obsessed with the guitar, Slash, an admitted "fuck-up" in school, practically ditched the entire seventh grade to sit home and practice" [Guitar World, March 1989]. According to Circus Magazine, Slash's last grade was "the 11th grade" and that he then "quit school to work full time so I could support my guitar addiction" [Circus Magazine, May 1988].

I had long hair, and the schools I went to were filled with kids of bankers and real-estate agents. It wasn’t like any of them came from the same background I had [Rolling Stone, January 1991].
I had long hair, and the schools I went to were filled with kids of bankers and real-estate agents. It wasn’t like any of them came from the same background I had [Rolling Stone, January 1991].
But as he started to play the guitar he went from being a "loner who never had many friends" to become more popular [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

Before becoming a musician, Slash had various jobs, in "theatres, newsstands" and "in a place that made clocks" [Circus Magazine, May 1988], and as a "recording studio assistant" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

Describing what he would have done if he didn't become a musician: I'd probably be doing something that had to do with art and wouldn't be a nine-to-five thing. I just can't do that mundane sort of every day thing. It would have to be something where I could make my own schedule [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].
The last job I had was in a music store and I got fired. I worked other jobs too. One job I never even showed up at because I found out Motley Crue was recording in L.A. so I went to hang out outside the studio [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].
It was probably through the job in this music store he was able to get good deals on guitar and equipment, and bough his first decent guitars, like "a B.C. Rich, then a real nice '59 Stratocaster and then a '69 Les Paul Black Beauty, which I really liked" [Guitar World, March 1989].

Slash would meet with Axl, Izzy and Duff, and together with Steven they would play in different bands. One of the most well-known of these band were Road Crew. Steven joined Road Crew to play drums after getting his own kit:

Then Steven all of a sudden showed up one day and said, "Get rid of your drummer, he's not good enough'. Steven had somehow got his hands on a kit and he'd gotten good. So me and Steven carried Road Crew on, which was a great little band. Sorta like what Metallica are now without a singer [Kerrang! March 1989].
Duff would also join Road Crew for about 6 weeks, playing bass [Kerrang! March 1989]. At some point, Slash also tried to "steal" Axl for Road Crew, but it "didn't quite work out like that" [Kerrang! March 1989]. Whether this attempt at stealing Axl caused the rift between the two which they would later mention, is unknown.

At some point, Slash would also join a black funk band:

A real odd choice but definitely a good move. We didn't play many gigs—I think we played just once—but we jammed all the time. It really helped getting my feel together, my sense of rhythm and overall approach. I'm really glad I did it. I feel it helped my attitude for when Guns N' Roses really happened [Guitar World, March 1989].
Describing himself in late 1988:

I'm pretty much shy and quiet. But I am short-tempered. I like to read. I like to draw. That's probably a real contrast to what's been written about me so far [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].
In October 1987 as GN'R was touring in England, they passed near where Slash's grandparents were living and they hadn't seen him since he was 11. When asked if they'd be shocked to see him, Slash replied, "Probably not, cause the rest of my family is pretty wackos" [Super Channel, October 1987].

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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:54 am


Born in Ohio, Steven's family moved to Los Angeles when he was still quite young [Kerrang! March 1989].

He started out playing the guitar, but shifted to singing when that didn't work out, in one of Slash's garage bands. That didn't work out either, and he shifted to drums and played with Slash in Road Crew [Kerrang! March 1989].

Steven was a fan of the oldies goldies and would say in 1988 that Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons was his favorite band  [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

The first record I remember ever putting on was "Working My Way Back To You, Babe" by The Four Seasons. I love The Four Seasons, man! I met 'em all! I got to meet Frankie Valli in Las Vegas once. Mr. T was there and it was the best! I been into The Four Seasons since I was five years old [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].
I'm pretty down-to-earth. I really don't care too much about causing problems for other people. I just want to do my own thing and if I can help somebody, I'll do what I can. I'm just a nice guy, I guess. I have no enemies... that I know about. I like to take it easy when I have the chance. I like to relax [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].
Steven was completely self-taught and his drumming idols were Roger Taylor of Queen, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Keith Moon of The Who and jazz drummers Gene Krups and Buddy Rich [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

I never took a drum lesson in my life. I learned from watching and listening very closely to other drummers. That plus wanting it real bad and believing in myself [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].
If Steven wasn't a musician he would have loved to become an actor [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

Before the success of GN'R, Steven would have lots of "goofy" jobs: Mopping bowling alley lanes, sweeping floors, washing dishes, waiting on tables, warehouse worker, paperboy [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:57 am


For the rest of 1985 and the start of 1986, the band played numerous shows in the Los Angeles area, and debuted more songs: 'Rocket Queen' on the Troubadour on September 9, 'Paradise City' on the Troubadour on October 10, and 'Nightrain' on Music Machine on December 20.

The band would later lament how hard it was for outsiders (none of the band members were originally from Los Angeles, although Slash and Steven had lived there since they were kids) to gain popularity in the insular LA music scene:

It seems like when you come to this town unless you are part of the mommy's-boy-daddy's-money poseur rock scene they try to puke you right out. You fight for your place. I remember two years of standing at the Troubadour and talking to no one, not knowing what to do, and everybody thinking they're so cool. Eventually we did our own thing, made new friends, and brought a new crowd to the Troubadour [Los Angeles Times, 1986.06.07].
Success required lots of hard work, and Slash was not afraid to put in the hours:

I worked my ass off to promote the band in the beginning, get us from spot to spot on the club scene. Making flyers and phone calls and screw the right people... I'm pretty level-headed and don't make to many dumb decisions [Musician, December 1988].
At the Roxy show on January 18, the band sold out for the first time:

On January 18, 1986, before our show at the Roxy, a friend ducked his head into the backstage area. "This fucking gig is sold out!" When we looked into the crowd, we still saw the same faces. We knew most of the people in the audience, even after we started selling out venues like this. Del, West Arkeen, Marc Canter, and assorted girlfriends assembled backstage as usual. The big difference? One of my nephews stood in front of the backstage area as "security" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 104]
In August 1985 the band records 5 songs in Mystic Studios (?). This is likely the demo the band paid $300 to record [RIP Magazine, May 1987]. This demo is likely the one the band gave a copy of during the Country Club gig in October 1985, but then asked to have back to give to a record company executive who was in attendance [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 225].

In the beginning of 1986, a friend of Izzy's called Robert John started to photograph the band. Robert used to race motorcycles, but an accident cut his future career short, and hence through the urgings of friend Chris Holmes (of W.A.S.P) he pursued his hobby, photography, as a possible alternative [Rock Scene, October 1989]. John befriended Izzy before Guns N' Roses was formed, and would be introduced to the rest of the band through Izzy. He particularly formed a strong bond with Axl, and they could talk for hours [Rock Scene, October 1989]. John had already photographed W.A.S.P and the band liked his pictures [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 104]. "Robert made the guys look like rock gods," as Raz would phrase it [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 229].

Although the band was starting to grow som local popularity, the band was still living on very little means:

You drifted around, you stayed in friends' garages, cars, stayed one step ahead of the sheriffs [Kerrang! June 1987]
Basically, it's just down to a poverty thing, that's where that kind of 'fuck you' attitude comes from, because you're not showering, you're not getting food or nothing, you do what you have to survive [Kerrang! June 1987].
Raz would speculate on why the band was so creative during their first months together, writing 'Welcome to the Jungle,' 'My Michelle,' and 'Paradise City,' among others:

I'm not sure why those months were so exceptionally creative; might be the interesting times of youthful freedom and being part of something they knew was special. Or maybe it was the unencumbered creative outlet a lockout studio provided, combined with meeting the great songwriter West Arkeen and hearing daily the skillful songcraft of Johnny X as he worked out his tunes right next door with The Wild. Influence is a two-way street, and The Wild and West became much more aggressive and musically streetwise after crossing paths with G N' R, thus making the whole rock scene exponentially greater than the sum of the parts[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 228].
Slash would later describe the magic of Guns N' Roses song writing this way:

I come up with the majority of riffs, Axl the majority of melodies and lyrics, and Izzy will come up with really good chords. We work together, so everybody enjoys doing it[Musician, December 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:16 am


The band used various places to both rehearse, record and live - often the very same place. Some of them had their own apartments, at times, others would just drift around and sleep wherever they could.

Up until we got signed, I lived on the streets for five years. I never live din one place for more than two months, always crashing at people's houses. My parents would say, 'Come back home and go to college and we'll pay for it' but I would reply, 'No, I have to do this now' " [Hit Parader, April 1987].
We'd walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard and visit every porno store there is, 'cause they stay open 24 hours [Hit Parader, April 1987].
One of the first places the band rehearsed was a space in Silverlake which they rented for $6 per hour [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 69].

They would later live together in a one-room apartment somewhere in West Hollywood (probably Orchid Avenue), but presumably got evicted around June 1986. Izzy would refer to living at this place as "rats in a box" [Los Angeles Times, 1987.06.07].

Later they would meet at a rehearsal space owner by Nicky Beat, which was in an "industrial wasteland" out by Dodger Stadium [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 83].

We started rehearsing at this guy Nicky B's place. His house was by the L.A. zoo. It was a dumpy dwelling in an industrial area literally plopped in the middle of nowhere. [...] That was our rehearsal spot for a while. Then Nicky B joined Tracii Guns in his new band, L.A. Guns, and we had to find another place to jam [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 82].
One popular meeting place for the band was Canter's Deli at Fairfax. Canter's was a 24-hour restaurant run by the Canter family. Marc Canter was an old friend of Slash and became a good friend of the band. His interest in recording led to him chronicling the start of the band, taping most of the band's first shows. Marc also helped the band out financially, by loaning them money to pay for tickets (rock clubs often required bands to pay for a certain amount of tickets ("pay to play") which the band then had to re-sell) as well as for stamps they needed to send out the band's newsletters [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 90]. In his biography, Steven would argue that Guns N' Roses would never go along with the pay-to-play policies [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 92].

Marc ended up taking pictures of the band at our shows. He was a smart, artistic, compassionate guy. We felt comfortable trusting him to shoot all the behind-the-scenes images of GNR. We knew he wouldn't compromise our trust, wouldn't sell out to some rag-ass tabloid, or let anything out that we didn't approve. Marc and I are still close to this very day [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 73].

Their first regular rehearsal space was on a dead-end alley off Gardner street, behind a public elementary school and behind Sunset Grill. The alley contained half a dozen doors to cinder-blocked self-storage spaces, and the band rented one of these for four hundred dollars a month. The band turned this space into their regular rehearsal studio, and often used it for parties. There was no toilet or a/c or heat, but the band could play there 24/7. They built a ramshackle loft for sleeping. In this place many of the songs from Appetite for Destruction and Lies, and a few from Use Your Illusion I and II, were written [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 96].

For a while there, we had the band and four other women living in a 12-by-12 loft behind the Sunset Grill [L.A. Weekly, June 1986].
Nine people living in this one room with a bathroom destroyed by people throwing up! I used to shit in a box and throw it in the trash because the bathroom was so disgusting [L.A. Weekly, June 1986].
So to compensate for space, we built this loft out of stolen stuff [L.A. Weekly, June 1986].
People would show up at all hours, and we’d talk everybody into climbing into the loft, and someone would hit the light and go, “Alright! Everybody in the loft! Let’s get naked or leave!” This one girl fucked almost the whole band, friends of the band, the band next door and two days later she goes, “Axl, I’m having your child” [L.A. Weekly, June 1986].

This was also the place where Axl would realize they had the right songs:

I knew, out in the parking lot one day, we didn't have a PA so the band would practice and I would be out in the parking lot listening, so I could, like, hear all the parts, if I sat there in the room with them it was too loud to what was going on, but I knew that we hit the kind of songs that I've been looking for. [Interviews with Japanese TV, November 1988].
Axl would mention this event again a month later, in November 1987, in an interview with Steve Harris, and also add that Izzy now finally understood what Axl had been "talking about for the last three years" [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]. When Harris mentioned this to Steven and Duff a year later, they would mock Axl [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].

Another Hollywood band called The Wild, rehearsed nearby the Gardner place. The keyboardist in The Wild was Dizzy Reed, and the band got to know him and the rest of The Wild early on [Raz' biography, page 225].

We stole wood, we built a loft and slept above the equipment. But, yo know, we almost miss it. Every weekend, the biggest party in LA was down in our place. We'de have 500 people packed in an alley and our old roadie was selling beers for a buck out of his trunk. It was like a bar and everyone had their whiskey. We could get away with whatever we wanted, except when the cops came. [Hit Parader, December 1986].
Nearby Gardner there was a Mexican restaurant the band used to go to:

Me and the band used to live in a garage down the street when we first started out, and we used to come here all the time. We always used to sit here in the corner, right where we are now, because it's the best spot to get a blow-job without anybody knowing. I know this place is kinda seedy and run down, but I like it here. I feel comfortable[/i] [Kerrang! December 1988].
On how they managed before they got signed: Sold drugs, sold girls, sold… we just got it. We managed. In the beginning we’d throw parties and ransack a girl’s purse while one of the guys was with her [1987.04.04].
According to Steven, the band "could count on one hand the number of rehearsals Axl had been to". This was due to him noe having a PA system back then:

Sometimes, he would sit just outside the studio door and sing along, but usually we would just give him a tape of our rehearsals and he would go off with it somewhere [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 83].
In February 1986, the band sort of fled the Gardner studio when Axl had a rape charge against him, and moved in with Vicky in her apartment.

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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:27 am


Every one of this band has had some kind of alcoholism or drug-addiction. It's not that we've got anything against being 35, there's none of that attitude. It just comes down to the pace we've been living. There's been no time to sit down and think about taking care of ourselves, watch what we've been doing [Melody Maker, June 1987]

Izzy was the first in the band to become a heroin junkie. It is unclear whether Izzy was addicted already when he arrived in Los Angeles (when?), or if he picked the habit up in Hollywood. In an interview with Musician in December 1988, he would describe how Axl and he would be doing speed "like there was no tomorrow" back in the early 80s when they were in Hollywood Rose together [Musician, December 1988]. Chris Weber, Izzy's co-guitarist in Hollywood Rose, had to go to rehab in 1984 and moved to New York City not long after [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", page 127]. Yet, Weber would in an interview in 1989 deny that they had been using hard drugs, but "just a little bit of pot smoking" [Rock Scene, October 1989]. It is hard to find that credible with all the other sources telling that Izzy was a heroin addict already before Guns N' Roses was formed. For instance, Duff knew Izzy was "pretty much strung out all the time" before Guns N' Roses, and he would later come to know that Izzy sold heroin out the back window of his apartment [Duff's Biography]. Izzy would allude to this when asked what his former job had been and reply with "Illegal" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No 16, 1988]. Vicky Hamilton also knew Izzy was addicted to heroin back in 1984 [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", page 127]. Despite his addiction, Izzy was able to function and only took enough to stave off withdrawal. Duff accepted that Izzy would "do whatever it took, heroin habit or not".

Talking about meeting Izzy for the first time: [Izzy] was into heroin, just like Ron Wood and Keith Richards, his heroes [...] [Steven's biography, page 61-62]

Duff himself was no virgin as far as drugs went, back in Seattle he had experimented with speed, cocaine, LSD in sixth grade and mushrooms, but quit due to increasing panic attacks which he feared might be drug-induced [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011].

My old man gave me some whiskey when I was real little. It was a Hawaiian whiskey, and it had this long Hawaiian name, and he said, “Take a swig and pronounce the name.” And after about four swigs I couldn’t pronounce the name because I was too drunk. That’s a true story [RIP Magazine, May 1987]

Steven had also started with drugs early. In his memoir he talks about starting with weed at age eleven, at the same age he was kicked out from home and had to live with his grandma. After that he lived a reckless life in Los Angeles filled with drinking, smoking and sex. He started prostituting himself at an early age for drugs and at age 14 he was raped by an older man after having been led to an apartment with the promise of weed. At age 14 he would move back to his mon and stepfather, only to be kicked out again at age 15 and moved to a foster home in Pasadena, from which he immediately fled. He then went back home but was kicked out again and moved back to his grandma [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010].

He tried crack cocaine and heroine for the first time in 1984, at Bob Welch's house in the Hollywood Hills, when he was handed a pipe from Bob's friend Ted and later a wad of heroin to smoke [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 66-67]:

I had inhaled crack and exhaled my soon-to-be shattered soul. It was the first time I smoked the shit. As I sat there, an incredibly powerful urge came over me. I have never experienced such a dire need to get high again. Right away. Now. And this was only about ten seconds after that first incredible high. All I knew, all I cared about, was that I wanted the feeling to last longer. So I continued to hit the pipe. I didn't know it then, but at that very moment I had tasted the beginning of the end [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 67]
Later on [sometime in 1986?] Steven would walk in on Izzy and Slash shooting heroin in Izzy's apartment behind Grauman's Chinese Theater in the heart of Hollywood. Steven did not want to use needles, and instead smoked heroin like at Welch's house, and got sick again [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 97].

Slash's father was an alcoholic [Musician, December 1988] and Slash picked up the habit, too.

According to Axl, he trashed two rented vans while intoxicated, something that would be commented on in the thank yous on the Appetite for Destruction sleeve [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]. Drunk driving was also a habit Slash would admit to [Kerrang! December 1988].

You get warned that when you go on the road, people will try and push shit on you – drugs and booze. In this instance we’re going to push it on them. Me and Duff have been on this drinking phase for about two years. When we get up in the afternoon to do a soundcheck, we drink so much that we can’t play, because our hands are shaking like windmills. So what happens? We drink! We drink more and more, and then we’re fine, and we wake up the next day with some floosie, and you don’t know her name, and you’ve got fucking weird shit on your dick, and your bed’s all wet from pissing in it, and you go, “listen, will you do me a favour and find me some booze and some pizza? [Time Out, June 1987].

Slash started using heroin soon after Guns N' Roses was formed:

I started [with heroin] sometime during the very beginnings of the band. I got turned on to it, and that was the beginning of the end, I guess. The first time I did it, I smoked it, and then I snorted it once. But the first time I really got high, I shot. I was that kind of junkie — snorting it wasn’t enough and smoking it wasn’t enough. Anyway, it’s one of those drugs where it’s a great high and you love being on it, and it really fucks your life up. It’s unfortunate that something as fucking menial as a little pile of powder can do that, but it does happen [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

Axl started off with drugs and booze much later than the rest of his band mates later:

The first time I got drunk I was 16. I know I was late. I was with these three guys, and I had never smoked or taken any drugs before. We brought a case of beer, and we bought joints, and I bought 40 Valiums-10 mg Valiums for $5.00 a piece. I ate ten them, drank a bunch of beers, and smoked all these joints. Then we went to this rock concert downtown at Morris Theatre. This band called Road Master was playing. I went down to the theater, and girl goes, “You’re just too fucked “So, I tore up her ticket and threw it her. Then I went out in front of the hall and directed traffic for a while. I threw a beer at this fucking cop, so friend grabbed me and put all these different jackets on me and snuck me into the concert. It was packed. I walked in, and one of my friends passed out in the aisle. Then this guy stands up, looks at me and says, “What are you looking at?” He was a big guy; so I hit him. I saw his teeth go back down into his throat, and I ran.

Lots more happened that night. I fell out of the window of a two-story build­ing and broke my hand. I broke into an insane asylum; broke in one side and out the other because I didn’t know how to go around the building. I wrecked a bicycle that had no brakes underneath a train. Then my friend Paul put me in his car, and I went flying over another car, and my friend’s dad came running out of the house from across the street. He was going to shoot my friend because he thought that somebody was out to kill me. It was a really exciting night.
[RIP Magazine, May 1987]
Raz would recount that back in 1985, Axl had warmed up to intoxication:

Axl wasn't the biggest fan of weed, but that rarely stopped him. Similar to my brother and me - with a tip of the hat to Alice in Chains - his drug of choice was whatever you got [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 205].
Robert John would mention in an interview in 1989 that Axl tried shooting heroin "like a couple times and that was a few years ago" [Rock Scene, October 1989]. This is likely the same incident that Axl would refer to in an interview with RIP in April 1989 and which he in Rolling Stone in August 1989 would say happened "over two years ago":

I did it for three weeks straight and had one of the greatest times in my life, because I was with a girl I wanted to be with in this beautiful apartment, and we just sat there listening to Led Zeppelin, doing drugs and fucking. It was great, 'cause at that time I had nothing to do but sit on my ass and make a few phone calls a day. I stopped on, like, Saturday, because I had serious business to attend to on Monday. I felt like shit, sweated, shook, but on Monday I was able to function [RIP, April 1989]
This would be confirmed by Steven:

Of all of us, Axl seemed to be the most straitlaced. He'd drink and smoke, but I never saw him get out of control with any hard drugs [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 98]
As the band started to live and party together, drugs were intrinsically connected to their lifestyle, and to some it became increasingly important. Duff recalls that Steven at one time said to him, "You know, all I want in life is to make enough money one day so I can have a bag of good weed and a big ball of crack around-all the time." Duff himself was starting to warm up to pills and booze.

[Duff] can’t survive without a drink first thing in the morning [RIP Magazine, May 1987]
The lyrics of their early songs reflect this wild lifestyle, with numerous references to partying, drinking and drugs. Often other musicians, strippers and drug dealers would hang out with the band, bringing with them quaaludes, Valium, coke and booze [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011].

Talking about 1986/1987: A very heavy drug period for the band. A lot of the music is a reflection of that. There's always a lot of abuse going on in Hollywood, but at that time it was like we were in the middle of a pinwheel [Musician, December 1988]
It didn't take long before Slash and Steven started with occasional heroin use [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 95]. Raz noted that Slash used heroin not long after the band had signed with Geffen in March 1986 [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 238]. Axl would say that the whole band had "dabbled" with heroin while Slash and Izzy were addicts around the end of 1986 [Bam, November 1987]. Steven would also become a habitual crack smoker.

I think Stevie was willing to try anything that might dull the memories of his nightmarish childhood. Poor fucker [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 116]
The drug use of the band and their friends also caused problems with their first manager, Raz Cue:

[...] I noticed my Marshall amp was not in attendance. I formed a fairly good theory about why. Izzy had recently figured out a way to monetize his hobby, and soon almost everyone in our circle was into tinkering with model trains. A few of them were making several trips daily to the hobby shack to pick up the stuff needed to keep trains on tracks. It's not a poor man's hobby. So when the band's roadies had to have a new caboose they had their eye on, at times they sold some equipment. One little snag though - it was my equipment. [...] Before we finally figured out roadie Carlos was the fiend stealing gear, I placed a free Recycler ad offering "Marshall 100-Watt Head Modified by Jabco. $100 or Trade for Lionel 408E Standard. Call before 7 a.m.," and left Izzy's number [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 218].
Duff tried crack cocaine for the first time in February 1986 when he and Slash were with Robert John to go through photographs [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 108].

According to an April 1987 interview, the band became famous in Hollywood for their drug use, and was referred to as "Lines N' Noses", although at the same interview, their manager Alan Niven made them steer away from any drug-related questions [Sounds Magazine, 1987.04.04].

In hindsight, it is hard to separate deliberate myth building from reality. In the case of Guns N' Roses it is likely to have been both: the band members were wild outcasts to whom sex, drugs and rock and roll was life and future, yet Geffen would likely at times have exploited this image, and supported it, to create a band they knew would appeal to fans. As an interview in April 1987 would claim, off record a Geffen representative would say "Guns N’ Roses? Yeah, they’ll make it. If they live…" [Sounds Magazine, 1987.04.04].

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Post by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:35 am


We got hired to be the bad boys [Headbanger's Ball, May 1988]
I don't care if people think we've got a bad attitude. We're the only band to come out of LA that's real. And the kids know it [On The Street, December 1988]

Already from the start the band had a conscious relationship to the importance of image and branding. This can be revealed in an early 1986 interview where the band was asked what importance image is to GN'R. Izzy would start by saying, "Very little" but Axl and Slash would then disagree and explain:

No. I would say, when we were looking for a band, the image played a big part in it, ‘cause we were looking for people who tried to be somewhat fashionable in their own terms and fit in [Concert Shots, May 1986]
What we were looking for really, was personality. If they had the personality, then that came through in what they wore [Concert Shots, May 1986]
This band is not image-oriented, it’s music-oriented [Concert Shots, May 1986]
The image is a non-image [Concert Shots, May 1986]

In a later interview, Izzy would expand upon how they had been conscious about their stage-attire:

Commenting on how they built their image: That’s funny how that happened. A couple of us would come over to somebody else’s apartment to dress for a gig and say, ‘I like that belt, yeah. I like those pants you’re wearing, and I’d trade you that scarf for that belt’ [Rock Scene, September 1987].

So it is clear the band was deliberate in their image, realizing its importance in succeeding as musician. Axl would explain how he hadn't understood this when he first came to Hollywood:

I wear what I want to wear, and I don’t want to analyze it ‘cause I might be scared. I like to put my hair up and wear makeup. When I first came here, I thought wearing any stage clothes or makeup was a false image, something gays did. But I was naive [Daily Press, August 1986].

Part of their image was also their names. Slash refused to reveal his real name in interviews in the first years. Izzy played around with variations to the last name of his pseudonym (calling himself "Izzy Stranded" for a while). And just before signing to Geffen, Axl started the process of legally changing his name from Bill Bailey to W Axl Rose. He had been calling himself Rose since finding out about his biological father when 17, and added the Axl after having played in the band AXL, and now made it official [Kerrang! March 1989].

In the beginning, the band was often mixed up with the glam bands that frequented the Los Angeles clubs [Concert Shots, May 1986] and the band members would themselves experience with make-up and teased hair at some early shows. But what set them apart from most of the other contemporary bands was a feeling of realness and genuineness in their music.

What I think is wrong with the whole L.A. scene is that so much of it is just a front, and there’s so much falseness in the way all these bands take on a certain style that’s in. All the basic stuff that’s real important, they miss, and they spend more time getting the whole image down. So, I have to say, the glam scene’s cool, and there are bands that we like, but at the same time as a whole, it’s pretty false [Concert Shots, May 1986]
The extent to which Geffen directed the creation of the band's "bad boy" image, would be discussed in the media. Axl and Slash would claim the image came naturally to them:

The guys in the band, myself included, are what we are and we aren’t going to try and hide that so we can sell more records or become popular and accepted. […] The more they yell and scream, the more we will do it. It’s like being the bad kid in school. The more attention they give you the worse you get [Morning Call, October 1987].
Nothing was calculated for image reasons. Nothing. When we got together with all the right pieces, we realized, wow, the way we are is gonna go over great, so, we won't hide anything. We realized all we had to do was expose the way we really were and it'll work. We wouldn't have to make anything up. A lot of the things we exposed about ourselves, other people might think would hurt their image… but we were supposed to be this hard ass rock 'n' roll band that does nothin' but play music and get in trouble. It helped us. And, we also exposed the lighter sides and other types of music we like and that helps broaden our base and pulls in more fans. If I say I like Frank Sinatra, I'm not making it up [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

And Slash would deny the label having any finger in helping to establish the "bad boy" image:

That doesn't hold up because for a year we were banned from the radio and MTV just because of that image and the words of our songs. That was hardly what the record company were after [New Musical Express, April 1989].
The band was probably aware of the importance of branding, at least later on in their career, and would occasionally be overly outrageous and brazen in interviews, embracing the image of reckless badboys:

When we see some fucking punk faggot from Beverly Hills walk into the Troubadour with spikes in his hair, we just want to smash his fucking face. We’ve been playing rock ‘n’ roll for too many years for people to call us posers [RIP Magazine, May 1987]
I mean, we have done some crazy things, but never really bad things to hurt anybody or screw anybody up. We're not into that. We're into having fun. As long as we don't hurt anybody or rip anybody off, there's nothing wrong with having a good time. […] So we broke some stuff. So we had a few too many drinks. So what of it? I personally have thrown everything out of my hotel window. I got twisted, man! It's like the golden rule of rock: if you get this far in the business, you have to do these things. You have to break things. You have to go to jail. You have to throw everything out of your hotel window. It's just one of those things. You have to do it. We never hurt anybody. I went to jail in Chicago once. We got into this big fight, a major fight in the bar of a hotel. But I better not say anything else about that [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988]
Although they would also distance themselves from the image yet admit to take advantage of it:

I'm immediately embarrassed when that image comes up. A lot of bands go: ‘Good, we got the bad-boy title this week,’ but with us, it’s like we’re just a rock’n’roll band. A lot of things go along with that that we take full advantage of at times. We were doing all that stuff before we were in the band, though. We didn’t try to create any kind of image. It was created for us. Decadence was laid on this band [Spin, May 1988].
Slash would echo this sentiment in 1989, admitting to seeing the positive effect of being the bad boys of rock 'n' roll:

We've never really cared about all the crazy rumors the press prints about us. I've read where all of us are dying of AIDS and that we're all drug addicts and that Axl died of an overdose. We can laugh at those stories because we figure they just make the fans more interested in us. The kids will read about that stuff and they'll make 'em want to buy the record or check out the live show. Once they do that, we've got 'em hooked [Hit Parader, March 1989].
The band would further suggest the label capitalized on the image:

It’s kind of weird, because we are just being ourselves, but at the same time, these ‘bad boy’ images tend to sell. So it’s being capitalised on, and I think the industry may not know how to deal with it because they’ve been dealing with bands as a package for years [Spin, May 1988].
I think the record company was just jazzed because we were so brash. In fact, when they saw us at the Troubadour (nightclub), it was like we were the loudest thing they'd seen since AC/DC. We were loud and tough, real right-in-your-face. So I think it had an impact, and when we were recording, they just basically wanted to keep that feeling intact [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989].
As RIP Magazine would state it: "Watch out for Guns N’ Roses. They are your new role models. Boys want to be like them, girls want them and everybody’s going to hear from them." [RIP Magazine, May 1987].

It is plausible that the band's craziness quickly became to much for the label:

We were partially signed for being a bad-boy band, but then they (the powers-that-be) say ‘get it under control.’ It’s contradiction [Rock Scene, September 1987].
[…] half the time Geffen are thrilled with their acquisition, and half the time they’re scared shitless [Time Out, June 1987].

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:55 am


The first interest from record labels came by the end of 1985 when the independent label named Restless contacted the band. To prepare for their meeting, Izzy bought a book about the music industry. Restless offered them a 'pressing and distribution deal', plus about $ 30,000 towards recording costs. The band decided to not sign, and instead wait for better opportunities [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 102].

The next interest came from Kim Fowley, who wanted to manage the band, and who allegedly was a friend of Slash [Goldmine, May 1989]. The band was reluctant to take Fowley on, due to knowing him as a shady character and being fearful of being ripped off. Fowley then wanted to buy publishing rights to 'Welcome to the Jungle' for $ 10,000, and later $ 50,000. Again, the band decided to wait [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 103]. According to Vicky, she had convinced Axl not to accept Fowley's offer [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 145]. Despite this, Slash would say that Fowley started "the big hype in New York about us. Also in Chicago and London, as well" [Concert Shots, May 1986].

After the band's sold out show on January 18, 1986, A&R staff from major labels started to attend gigs. On Friday, February 28, the band headlined the Troubadour and at least a dozen record executives were rumoured to be in audience. And in the weeks after the gig, the record-label frenzy to sign the band peaked [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 106].

Then they finally started to be courted by big labels.

What happened was, we were just plodding along as a band. We weren’t thinking about record deals. […] All of a sudden there was this nationwide buzz about us amongst record executives. And, since a lot of them lost their metal acts, all of a sudden we became talked about and sought after. Then we found out that all the people at different record labels knew each other, and if one guy wanted us, they all did. All of a sudden they were all fighting between themselves. We ended up having the A&R guys come to our Roxy show, and we were gonna have a bidding war in the back, ‘cause we wanted to get the most money possible. Then we decided to interview some of these people to decide where to get the most to make our band happen, and get the most support, rather than the most money[Concert Shots, May 1986].
We just kept playing and we made so much noise in the city, there were so many things happening around us, that the labels started to come to us. They came to us! They would come over to the studio and come in the alley and see drunks - there was this drunk with a bottle of Thunderbird on top of his head - and next thing you know we're going to their office! We made them take us all out for dinner for like a week or two and we started eating good! We'd order all this food and drink and say, 'OK, talk! [Kerrang! June 1987].
The buzz got out and we kept getting invited down to see these idiots. One label - I swear - we were talking to, I was saying, 'It kind of sounds like Steven Tyler'; and the chick said, `Steven who?' And all of us just looked at each other and said, 'Can we have another one of those drinks?' And we started eating good and 'none of our clothes would fit us any more!" [Kerrang! June 1987].
According to Steven's biography, Vicky Hamilton orchestrated some of the early label interest:

Whether at her apartment or at the clubs, Vicky worked her ass off for us. The first representative of a record company she brought in to see us was someone from Elektra Records. It didn't go well because we insisted on maintaining total artistic control over our music, and that was just unheard of at the time. But regardless, after word got out that Elektra had sat down with us, all the record companies became interested. Vicky set up meeting with the record people and she would screen each one of them, knowing what they wanted. If she felt that a label was genuinely promising, then she would have us meet them [[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 101]].
Around this time Vicky Hamilton received a call from Karen Burch from Music Connection magazine. They wanted an interview with the band. Vicky thought this was a good idea to drive the bidding war between labels higher. Burch insisted that the interview should be done in Vicky's apartment, their "true environment" [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 144]. The interview The interview was aired in early April 1986, after the band had actually signed with Geffen.

Chrysalis offered the biggest advance, about $ 400,000 [Duff's biography], but the band was not impressed by Chrysalis, and Axl allegedly said to Susan Collins, the A&R executive from Chrysalis, that they would sign with them if she would run naked down Sunset Boulevard. She declined [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 144].

On February 28, 1986, the band played at the Troubadour:

[...] when we arrived at the Troubadour for the show, I counted sixteen A&R people - at least sixteen that I knew of. The band put on a killer, yet very loud show. They built train track crossing signs that blinked on and off with the tempo of their song "Night Train," which was super cool. Even though the song was about a cheap wine, the band liked the idea of representing a real train on stage.

A few songs into the set, I looked over my shoulder and noticed that a lot of the A&R people were leaving. I walked outside to see where they were going. To my horror, I saw most of them standing outside talking to each other. Peter Philbin [from Elektra Records] introduced me to Tom Zutaut out on the curb in front of the Troubadour. Tom said he would like to talk with me, so I walked away from the front door where the music was blaring so that I could hear him better.

I said, "What did you think of the band?" Tom said, "I really liked them, but it was so loud I couldn't really tell if the singer could sing. Can he sing?" He looks at me with his piercing blue eyes. "Oh yeah, he can really sing," I said, handing Tom the demo tape. Tom thanks me, saying, "I'll call you tomorrow after I listen to the tape. If he can really sing, I'll sign them."
[Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 146].
Tom Zutaut was an A&R guy at Geffen and 26 year-old at the time he saw the band play at the Troubadour.

Steven credits Vicky with getting the band in touch with Geffen:

One night [Vicky] introduced us to Tom Zutaut and Theresa Ensenat of Geffen Records. We could sense these people were the big guns by the way they conducted themselves. They took us to dinner. I think it was Wolfgang Puck's on Sunset. It was very unusual for all of us to be in agreement but somehow this pair won over the entire band. After we were guaranteed absolute and complete control over our music and image, we knew this was the way to go[[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 102]].
According to Rolling Stone Magazine, Ensenat and Zutaut had spent "months" trying to get in contact with the band who didn't own a phone [Rolling Stone, November 1988] and Vicky made sure ads and flyers contained her name and telephone address, allowing media and labels to get in contact.

Axl, on the other hand, would credit the DJs Joseph Brooks and Henry Peck at the record store Fetish Vinyl for setting up the connection with Zutaut:

There are these two guys, Joseph and Henry, and they run a lot of the after hours clubs. They knew Izzy and they liked our band, so they told Tom Zutaut from Geffen about us. He met us and he liked us. Then he came to another show and he liked it a lot. He had signed Motley Crue and Dokken to Electra, and he said that he hadn’t seen that kind of excitement for a long time. And he also thought that we were the loudest band since he’d seen AC/DC at the Whiskey. We’ve been the loudest band in Hollywood. Last time we played the Troubadour, we were over 130 decibels. That’s equivalent of a 747 on the runway! [Concert Shots, May 1986].
Well, what we did is we shopped the tape around and some other people were doing it for us and they got it to Elektra and we thought, "Wait," and there was such an interest we thought, "Wait a minute, well, if they got an interest maybe someone else have some interest, too?". And we started getting around and there's a guy in L.A., there's two of them, Joseph and Henry, they're DJs and they run all these after-hours clubs and stuff and all the best dance clubs, they're the DJs at all these clubs. And they have a record store called Vinyl Fetish which handles all the imports, especially from London, and the rest of the world, and they introduced our tape to Tom Zutaut of Geffen Records who signed Mötley Crüe and Dokken when he was at Elektra, and he signed Tesla at Geffen. And they introduced our tape to him and he came down to the show and we started talking with him [Unknown UK Source, June 1987].

This is confirmed by Geffen's own press release regarding the release: "imagine our excitement when we received a phone call from Joseph Brooks of local record emporium Vinyl Fetish, informing us of a headlining club date they would soon be doing and of the fact that he had put us on the guest list" [July 1987, Press Release].

Axl would also stress the point that Zutaut was more important than Ensenat:

[…][Ensenat] surely did not discover us. She did a lot of good things for the band and helped us get the first album cover distributed, but she did not do nearly as much as Tom Zutaut did. Tom's the first major record person we were able to talk openly with, and he's the main reason our record happened[RIP, April 1989].

The decision to go with Geffen is also explained by Duff as coming down to trusting Zutaut. Zutaut was "saying all the right things about how we should be produced" and that they would have "absolute artistic freedom at Geffen". An interesting footnote here is that Slash's family knew David Geffen [Rock Scene, September 1987].

We were out there just gigging and gigging and gigging and gigging, and we managed to get a pretty big following. And so all the record companies at one time all of a sudden decided to see who this band was. And we had pretty much every major record company down there, and Geffen was the only one that had Tom Zutaut in it, which is the guy that actually signed us, who was cool enough for us to actually relate to. Everyone else was like, signing the band because we had a crowd, and people were interested.

[...] Tom was cool. There's a perfect example of like, the record business nowadays, where Tom went up and saw us at the Troubadour in LA. And then came back to the front of the club after the show was over, and all the other record company guys said: "What'd u think?" you know. And he said: "Oh, they're terrible". [...]But he calls us the next day and said we're great
[Unknown source, June 1987].
Tom [Zutaut] was a very cool guy. He was all about giving us major freedom. It wasn't like "We'll only change this" or "Do it like this and you're in." That's why we liked him. Other labels pretended to go along with us but always tried to tack on some bullshit clause at the end. They wanted to control us and just make us some puppet band.

So we kind of knew we were going to go with Geffen early on, but-and this shows our playful mind-set at the time-there were still a few labels that hadn't taken us out to dinner yet. So we told Tom we needed a little time to think about it
[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 102-103].
And we also talked with, you know, every other label there was and we had all these other labels and we had everybody offering us this and that, but Tom knew what to do with us and wanted a rock and roll band. And none of the other labels, they liked it but they didn't know what to do with it, and we went where we felt we were in the best hands and we got everything we wanted, you know, money-wise, anyway, so someone else could have came up with more money but, you know, what good is it to get a half a million dollars when they're gonna just blow it, and they don't know to spend it right
[Unknown UK Source, June 1987].
[i]Eventually we got all the labels to wine and dine us: Sony, Elektra, and Warner. At one point, Megaforce was interested, and rick Rubin wanted us too, but our minds were made up [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 103].
The band was signed to Geffen on March 26, 1986 [Duff's biography; Goldmine Magazine, May 1989], or on March 25, according to Steven's biography [page 104], for a $ 75,000 advance [Musician, December 1988; Duff's biography]. This was a so-called "memo deal" and later (August 1986?) they signed a 62 page re-draft that released the rest of the advance money [L.A. Rocks, August 1986]. According to Goldmine Magazine, this was a seven-record deal [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989]; according to Rock Scene who interviewed Axl, it was a six-record deal with "two albums firm" [Rock Scene, September 1987]. Half of the advance ($75,000) was immediately divided up between the members ($15,000 each) and half of that ($7,500) was handed out to each member while the rest was saved for later [Duff's biography].

The signing with Geffen was celebrated at the two following shows on March 28, 1986, at the Roxy (and early and a late show the same day). On April 5. they also played at the re-opened Whisky A Go Go and the poster said, "When was the last time you saw a real rock n' roll band at the Whisky A Go Go? This could be your last chance". It was expected Guns N' Roses would quickly release a record and leave for world touring.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:05 am


Axl's personal issues quickly became a problem to the band. Axl was well known as a volatile personality and he founded Guns N' Roses together with Tracii after having been fired from LA Guns. Already back in Indiana he was a hellion who got in trouble numerous times, but after relocating to Los Angeles he was described to have been mellow and almost shy:

I hear a lot of stuff now about Axl being moody, but when I knew him he was just a nice, pleasant, and caring guy, who would talk and listen to me, and I would listen to his problems. He was real mellow. He took his time on things, and was very meticulous. [...] He never really was that moody, just introspective. Maybe if they understood him more, the times they think he's being moody he's probably just thinking. Or maybe he's upset inside. That's just the way he is, and the way I grew to know him. Don't push him, that's all [Rock Scene, October 1989]
But this mellow side to him seems to have received competition from a more impulsive and volatile personality. Tracii would later blame him quitting Guns N' Roses on Axl's increasingly large persona.

Our friend Michelle was getting ecstasy long before it became a popular drug. Axl is bipolar and he was doing it, it made him mean. The guy I was living with for the past two years was now crazy [Glitzine, November 2005].
Axl had intense emotional swings marked by periods of incredible energy followed by days on end when he would be overtaken by black moods and disappear-and miss rehearsals [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 58].
Recounting a confrontation with Axl from the early days while in a driving car: I hadn't known Axl long, but I already knew him well enough to understand that he was a sensitive, introspective person who endured serious mood swings, so I chose my words carefully and presented the issue in a very nonjudgemental, objective tone. Axl stared out the window as I spoke, then he started rocking back and forth in the passenger seat. (...) when suddenly, he opened the car door and jumped out without a word. He stumbled, kind of hopped, and made it onto the sidewalk without falling (...). It was pretty clear to me from that point forward that Axl had a few personality traits that set him very far apart from every other person I'd ever known [Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York]
[Axl is] the most temperamental fucking meanest little fuck in the world [Time Out, June 1987].
Talking about meeting and opening for Johnny Thunders at Fender's Ballroom in December 1986: ...Unfortunately, one of the first things that happened when we got down to Fender's for the show was that Johnny started to chat up Axl's girlfriend Erin while we were onstage doing sound check. [...] Axl flipped out when he got wind that Johnny had hit on Erin, and began a tirade back-stage. Axl could be intimidating when he started yelling and carrying on. Johnny spent the rest of the night hiding in his dressing room, jonesing for a fix [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 58]
Axl's mood swings and erratic behaviour seems to have increased further as the band gained popularity, and it would become a large problem later on in the band's history. Duff, who struggled with his own panic attacks, related to Axl and would be one of the band member's to best cope with his bandmate's emotional struggles.

Axl's unpredictable mood wings also electrified him-a sense of impending danger hung in the air around him. I loved that trait in him. Artists are always trying to create a spark, but Axl was totally punk rock in my eyes because his fire could not be controlled. One minute the audience might be comfortably watching him light up the stage; the next instant he became a terrifying wildfire threatening to burn down not just the venue but the entire city. He was brazen and unapologetic and his edge helped sharpen the band's identity and separate us from the pack [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 96].
From early on, there seemed to have been some animosity between Steven and Axl:

Axl, West, and Del had their own little clique that wasn't really part of the Drunk Fux, and I couldn't have given less of a fuck about it. I don't mean that as a slight to Axl. I just wasn't into piing away at not being asked into his elite crew. I got along with everyone and was always laughing, having the time of my life [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 85].

I always thought Axl was a totally cool asshole. I knew he was a fucking star, a truly great performer. But I was also aware that at times, he would be an insecure prick. As long as he wasn't fucking with me, however, we were cool. That's how it was. Then he pulled the first of a series of fucked-up shit that he did to me over the years.

I remember Axl was staying with Jo Jo at his apartment. I stopped by to hang out a bit. I just opened the door and Axl jumped up and lunged at me. The place wasn't that big so he only had to take two steps.

It happened so fast, I was like, "Huh?" He hauled off and kicked me in the balls. I could tolerate a lot of bullshit from Axl because he had some really unfortunate hang-ups, but getting my nuts cracked was the last thing I expected. I doubled over from the pain, and my eyes teared up. Then, when I was finally able to breathe., I just yelled, "Fuck you!" and left. It was the weirdest goddamn thing. But ultimately I let it go. At the time I felt I had to
[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 85-86].

I never did anything against [Axl]. Any chick he liked I wouldn't fuck, although some made it clear they wanted me. If Axl was interested, I figured it was his girl. I could respect that because in the end, I didn't care and everyone knew how insanely fucked up he was around women [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 86].

I became more frustrated with Axl's actions over the next year [1986]. Axl's behavior became seriously unpredictable. He was getting into fights, often starting shit at the Hell House with random people who came to party, so they just learned to give him lots of room. Some of the uglier incidents were just hushed up, because, well, it was Axl. Axl had one rule for himself: there are no rules [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 86].
Vicky tells of an episode that happened on February 28, 1986, the same day as the band had a Troubadour gig, when Axl was staying at her apartment. Steven helped her clean up mess in the apartment while Axl was sleeping on her couch. Axl woke up and repeatedly asked Steven to stop. When Steven refused, Axl jumped at him and a fight broke out [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 145-146].

A particularly stressful event was at the day of signing with Geffen, about a month later. Axl was angry, supposedly due to not being able to find his contact lenses, and left Vicky Hamilton's apartment just when they were about to sign. As both Vicky and Steven would tell in their biographies, he was later found sitting on top of the roof of Whisky A Go Go, and according to Vicki, Axl would state that someone must have hidden his lenses in an effort to sabotage the signing. Upon questioning whom that could have been, Axl suggested it was Vicky herself [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite for Dysfunction", page 2-3].

In his biography, Steven also talks about how the rest of his band mates would not help him in 1987 when Axl demanded more in royalties than the rest of the guys, and accepted 5 percent from Steven's share, resulting in Axl receiving 30 percent and Steven 15 percent:

As long as Axl got more than everybody else he was a happy pig in shit. And at this point we were all trained to feel that as long as Axl wasn't being pissy, as long as Axl was content, then we should all be happy. [...]

We didn't know that Axl had a medical condition, manic depression, at the time. We just knew that dealing with Axl was tricky, that he was a moody motherfucker, and that you had to be prepared for craziness. One day he'd be hugging you and the next day kicking you in the balls. But Axl did some loving things for me that surpass anything the other guys ever did for me, so who am I to praise or condemn. I love the guy to this day, I honestly do. But that doesn't mean I'm going to lie to you about the way he was
[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 113-114].

Axl could be very uptight, while I was usually the opposite. [...] Fact is, Axl had trouble getting along with himself. Axl was always living in his own little high-class snobby world, or at least he was in his twisted little mind.

I remember at this one show, he left after the first song because the monitors sucked. So he just split. As he stormed off the stage, he walked right by me. I shouted, "Why don't you come to sound check? Then you'd know what the monitors are going to sound like. You could even get it straightened our before the show" Nut no, that was asking too much.

Axl stood up thousands of fans without a second thought. [...] and after we became famous, he kind of took the GNR fans for granted.

[...] Later that night we were in a bar and he's sitting away from the band with his latest bunch of "friends," who were lately shaping up to be B-list actors and wannabe models. He's shoving his smokes into a fancy cigarette holder, and he's looking fucking ridiculous. The other guys wanted me to leave it alone, but I couldn't, so I stood up and said, "Look at you, you pathetic little stuck-up motherfucker."

Axl just laughed at me: "Ha. Stevie, you're funny."[...]

The other guys knew better than to draw the wrath of Axl, I guess. They would just look the other way and stow their feelings. But there were times when Axl treated me with twice the respect that anyone else in the band did, and I think it was because I was real with him. Somewhere in the depths of that tortured soul, he appreciated that. But eventually I wouuld pay dearly for standing up to Axl, because I became the guy with the bull's-eye on his back
[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 114-115].

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:37 am


The cops were after us for some incidents, and we were hated by them, so anytime there was a gig with our name on it, they were there, but it's no big deal[Faces, June 1989].

Due to their wild lifestyle, the band quickly developed a strained relationship with the police.

The police would occasionally raid their rehearsal space at Gardner. Once they did it looking for Axl. In Duff's words: They wanted him to answer what turned out to be a bogus rape charge. This incident inspired 'Out Ta Get Me'.

Raz has more on the story:

About a week after the Roxy gig [January 18, 1986], at a more intimate gathering, some psycho chick who had stalked Axl for more than a year showed up. [...] Eventually, someone led her by an elbow out to the street. But twenty minutes later, she returned with the cops, claiming Axl had raped her. The cops made everyone come out of the studio, where [the girl] pointed at Dizzy Reed from The Wild and said, "That's Axl. He raped me." As Dizzy got hauled off, people yelled at the cops, "That's not Axl!" and, "That chick's crazy!"[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 234].
Vicky Hamilton described it like this in late 1988:

There was a girl over there [at the Gardner place] one night, and she wouldn't leave Axl alone and he got pissed, so he ripped off her clothes, threw her out and locked the door. So she went to the cops and said he raped her [Musician, December 1988].
In her 2014 biography, Vicky says she got the story from Slash, who had said that Axl had consensual sex with a girl, got angry at her, and kicked her out to which she responded by going to the cops and saying he raped her [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 132].

Vicky hired a lawyer to assist with the rape charge [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 138], and eventually they were dropped. According to an interview from 1986, two rape charges were filed, against both Axl and Slash [1986.06.07].

Axl probably mentioned this incident in a June 1986 interview:

Being bad is a rush. One time this hippie chick wandered into our studio and she was fucking with our equipment, trying to break stuff. We wouldn’t call the cops – they’d turn the situation around and hassle us for picking on this poor girl. So eventually she wound up running down Sunset naked, all dingy, doesn’t even know her name. The firemen and the cops all came down on us, and I’m sitting in there hiding behind an amplifier. They got six or seven people lined up in there, and she identifies someone else as me. (He went to court and got off, by the way.) While the cops are there harassing everybody, asking questions, I’m with this girl behind the amp, going at it, and that was a rush! I got away with it! It was really exciting! [L.A. Weekly, June 1986].
Slash would confirm that both he and Axl had been in trouble, so this was perhaps another incident:

That was no big deal. What happened is Axl and me were with these two girls, and they got in a sexual situation and they decided to file rape charges. Me and Axl had to borrow suits one day to go down to the police station and turn ourselves in over this crap – and when it came down to the wire, they dropped the charges because it was all bogus. We didn’t fucking do anything to them [Spin, May 1988].
Well, there were these girls who wanted to get laid, that were very severely frustrated because they weren't getting any. We gave one of them to a bunch of friends of ours, the other I took up to the bungalow to meet Axl one night, but I said, 'I'm drunk, I'll let Axl fuck you and I'll watch; then her boyfriend walked in, and they claimed it was rape. Me and Axl had to hide out from the cops for weeks and shit, and then we had to go to all these lawyers and go 'what the fuck do we do?' But it was a big mistake, because in reality it wasn't true, so when it came down to the wire and were down at the police station' getting questioned and I was getting my arms fucking checked for tracks and getting completely humiliated by the cops, when it came down to the end of it, when they had to testify and make something up, they didn't have the balls for it [Metal Hammer, February 1990].

Everyone was trying to hide it from the record company. 'Rape charge? What rape charge?' The charges were dropped eventually, but for a while we had to go into hiding. We had undercover cops and the vice squad looking for us. They were talking a mandatory five years. It kind of settled my hormones for a while [Los Angeles Times, 1986.06.07].
In 1989, Axl would refer to a rape charge with this:

I mentioned to one person about some trumped-up rape charges that we had, and that started appearing everywhere. It really wasn't that big a deal - just some old girlfriend trying to get back at us. People seem to want to believe we're really bad guys. Yeah, we've had some run-in's with the cops and we've done some strange things in our lives, but I think people are just making too much out of 'em [Hit Parader, March 1989].
Based on these quotes it seems most likely that it was two incidents, one involving a "hippie" girl that wasn't able to recognize Axl (and may not have led to a rape charge), and one involving two girls where one was an old girlfriend of Axl (and led to both Slash and Axl being charged with rape). To further confound the issue, Steven may have had a role:

It turned out that our drummer had fucked one of their mothers, so it was a complicated story[Spin, May 1988].
Axl hid in Vicky's apartment to escape the police, and when the Gardner place was raided, the rest of the band moved in there, too [Musician, December 1988].

An interview from April 1987 describes how police cars would drive up to The Hellhouse to check on the band [1987.04.04].

The West Hollywood sheriffs have got to be the biggest fucking pigfaces I’ve ever known. They know our name, too, because of all the things that have happened [1987.04.04].
LAPD are really fucked up. I mean, everywhere else you go, the cops are really, really, really relaxed and cool. In LA, especially in the area that we're in [...] They're like the fuckin' nazis. [...] Or like the Gestapo. You know, they're really bad. And they know… [...] I got hassled on my way just walking down the street. I was only like, say a hundred… not even a hundred yards from the apartment where I'm staying. I was walking by a club called the Whiskey. I was walking down the street and there was cops down at the end of the street, and the only thing that was wrong with me, I wasn't wearing any fuckin' shirt. And I got thrown over the top over the top of the car and whole bit. And, you know, it's just like that. You can't walk out of a fuckin' club without seeing a cop and wondering if you're gonna get… [Unknown source, June 1987].
We jaywalked, it was me and [Steven], and Todd [Crew]. It was you too, right? And a couple of guys. We didn't even jaywalk. It was a thing… The cops were standing across the street, they could see the fuckin' thing. It's red, we walked. We're not gonna jaywalk in front of cops. You just don't do that in West Hollywood. You don't do it anywhere. And we get across the street and they fuckin'… come up to us. We're going: "What the fuck?" We're up against the wall, got our hands behind our back. And it hurts. This is a nice little trick they got. They lace your fingers behind your back and they grab… Here, just feel it. Lace your fingers, I won't do this. And you know, they do this. Really hard, you know. [...] I just got a ticket the other day, or about three weeks ago, for conversing with a female motorist. I was walking to my apartment, a friend of mine came up, I was on the sidewalk, said: "Hi, how's it going? Blablablablabla". She took off, cop pulls in the alley in front of me, up against the car, the whole fuckin' thing again, you know. Got a ticket for conversing… It says right on the ticket, "conversing with a female motorist" [Unknown source, June 1987].
Slash and Duff travelled back to Seattle some time in 1987, and allegedly tried to burn down a bar (possibly The Gorilla Gardens where they played at the Hell Tour?):

Slash and I almost got arrested in Seattle. We went back there for a little vacation, we were going to burn some bar down. Then on the way back to L.A., we were drunker than shit, and we sat next to this kindergarten teacher on the plane. First she told us to calm down. Then she pulled out this book she wrote called From A to Z, and she read it to us, and drew pictures for us. By the end of the flight we were so tranquil, we went right to sleep[Spin, January 1988].
When travelling to Canada for their first concert on the tour with the Cult, Axl was arrested for trying to being in a stun gun [Spin, January 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:42 am


Raz Cue had been L.A. Guns' manager and just continued managing Tracii's new band. According to Cue in his biography, the band referred to him as their manager:

[...]but in reality, all I did was let them use my place for band meetings. Or, if they were short, I'd chip in a few bucks - like five - for rehearsal. I'd share my reheated leftover Naugles' French fries, or let them borrow my van, amps, cabinets, wireless microphone, or whatever they needed. Joe, Guns N' Roses' stage manager, would cart all the gear to the show, and when my van came home, so did my gear. No charge. With a vast fecal sea of inferior bands drowning Hollywood, it was my pleasure to help out an obviously above-average group. Didn't cost me nothing, and that gear would just have sat in storage with my van stuck in the driveway. Plus, I got to see G N' R well over a hundred times and you didn't [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 204].

But Raz grew frustrated with the band and their circle of friends stealing his equipment to score drugs, and kicked Axl out of his apartment [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 217-218]. With that his semi-official management of Guns N' Roses ended.

The band was later managed by a co-worker of Duff called Black Randy. Black also played in the LA punk band Black Randy and the Metro Squad. According to Duff's memoirs, Black videotaped the band in their rehearsal space at Gardner's wearing children's Halloween tape. Unfortunately, this tape has not surfaced. Also unfortunately, Randy had AIDS and died soon afterward [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 100]. According to Chris Weber, a demo tape was produced with Randy with Weber as the producer [Rock Scene, October 1989].

After quitting as manager of Guns N' Roses, Raz suggested to Vicky Hamilton, the manager of Poison, that she should manage Guns N' Roses, but she had just scoffed of the idea [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 217-218]. According to Vicky's biography, she helped manage the band already from when the band was first started, before the Hell Tour. Raz denies this.

Vicky had met Axl and Izzy already back in early 1984 when they played in Hollywood Rose:

[...] I received a phone call at my day job-booking bands for an entertainment company. "Vicky... My name is Axl Rose, and I am the lead singer for a band called Hollywood Rose. We are going to be the biggest band in Hollywood, and you were recommended very highly to me. Can you help us get some gigs?" "Do you have a demo you can send in for me to hear?" I asked. Axl said, "Yes! How about I just come there now and play it for you?" I laughed, yet I was already charmed by his enthusiasm. "Well, Axl, I think you should just mail the demo to me," I responded. "Why?" he asked. Taken aback, I responded, "Well for starters, I don't have a stereo here to listen to it on." Axl persisted, "That's ok, I'll bring my ghetto blaster." At this point I gave up the fight and gave him directions to the agency. A couple hours later Axl and Izzy arrived and sat in the lobby [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 125].
She would then book shows for Hollywood Rose.

Despite Raz and Vicky disagreeing about when she got involved with Guns N' Roses, by the end of 1985 she definitely did her best to help them out:

As 1985 neared its end, artist managers were in a constant swarm around the Gardner Studios, all seeking to ink G N' R to a management deal. They would schmooze, bring booze and grub, then pitch the band as to why they should sign with a particular company. Vicky Hamilton was one of many who wanted those guys bad. She promised to land them a record deal, all the while offering to promote G N' R shows with good guaranteed paydays, plus pay for full-page ads, posters, and flyers[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 231].
It was no secret that we were becoming a major draw on the Strip, and Vicki was determined to capitalize on our popularity. Over the course of a couple of weeks, she approached each one of us, either before or after our shows. She took the time to answer our questions and impressed us with the fact that she knew the business inside out and had no ego. I took an instant liking to her. She looked you right in the eye and didn't brag, blow smoke, or over-promise. She basically said her actions would do the talking and told us she had already booked us a show.

This was the first time that we didn't have to book a gig on our own. The general attitude among the guys was very simple and straightforward: as long as Vicky was helping us, hustling up something good for the band, she was part of us [...] I would have to say that out of all the guys, I was the most vocal about the fact that I was impressed with her. The other guys always played it closer to their chest with their thoughts and feelings. I appreciated the jump start she was giving our career. She really believed in us, and just helped tremendously. I have to say that looking back, if it wasn't for her, who knows?
[[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 100]]
At the same time, according to Vicky, the band was working with another manager, Brigitte Wright [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 132].

The band would then move into Vicky's one-bedroom apartment at Clark Street (when Axl got a rape charge against him), which she shared with a girlfriend, Jennifer Perry [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 100]. At this point, Slash would agree that she was their manager [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 134].

The girls took the bedroom, and we crammed into the living room with all our equipment. We had free rein in the place, and we would have chicks over and party all night. The phone rang nonstop, and there was something going on there 24/7 [[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 100]]
[We]destroyed her apartment. It was like five bags of garbage - all of us in one room and the girls coming over. There was eight people living there, and dog. It got really crazy, really crazy, It got really rude. These two girls were like guy-crazy and bandcrazy and there was no way any guy in any band was going to be caught dead with either of them, especially us. So Slash would milk that for everything it was worth - free drinks, free food, everything without ever having to do anything. Which eventually caused big problems! [Kerrang! June 1987]
In early February 1986, a week after moving in with Vicky, Raz met Vicky at a show:

[...] I saw Vicky Hamilton working the guest list and tabulatin the head count to keep the club honest at pay time. As we chatted, I was very curious about her role and asked, "Are you managing G N' R now?"

She smiled, like one aware that her answer would get back to the guys, and said, "No, I'm still trying to convince them that they need me."

At the time, the way I understood their arrangement was that Vicky was only promoting shows and handling phone calls; so the band had a professional contact. A month and a half later [March 26], Guns N' Roses signed with Geffen Records - I believe - without ever officially hiring Vicky as their manager
[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 235].

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:43 am


Despite all the good work Vicky did for the band, she did not have a written contract with them. After a meeting with Peter Paterno, a music attorney she knew, she was handed a contract to give to the band. She told the band that they either had to negotiate and sign the agreement, or move out of her apartment. When this didn't produce results, she took them all to Paterno's office to negotiate the deal. After the meeting Paterno told Vicky that he would handle the legalities of working out a record deal for the band and that she should get another lawyer to represent her on the management agreement [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 136-137]. Vicky would claim to have borrowed $25,000 to help finance the band [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 147].

in February/March 1986, Vicky had a talk with Axl:

[...] Axl had invited me to the Rainbow and bought me dinner. He said he really needed to talk with me. After the first two rounds of drinks, he said to me, "I really appreciate all you have done for the band and I really intend to pay you back, and give you a bonus on top of that, but I am not sure that you will be our manager once we sign a deal. You are really great on a local level, but I don't know if you have what it takes to take us to the top, to worldwide success."

My feelings were hurt, but I said, "What if I got a big time management partner?" Axl said, "Maybe... Who would you go to?" "What about Doug Thaler and Doc McGhee?" McGhee Entertainment already had Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and the Scorpions. "That might work," Axl said
[Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 148].
Vicky then set up a meeting with McGhee and Thaler, but the band was strung out and tired after partying the night before, even to the extent of falling asleep during the meeting, and McGhee and Thaler declined to co-manage them [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 149].

The situation between Vicky and the band can be described like this: Vicky was negotiating a management deal with the band while they were negotiating a record deal with Geffen.

Zutaut eventually contacted Vicky and said he would give her a scout job at Geffen if she would help him get the band signed to them. Zutaut would then get the band a big-time manager. She agreed to this and at the same time Axl had decided to sign with Geffen. Peter Paterno looked over the deal memo and the band was signed on March 26, 1986 [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 149-150]. This ended Vicky's attempts at becoming the band's manager.

On April 1, which was my birthday, Axl and Robert John had brought me a glass pipe and got me some strong pot. Beyond the offer to pay for a tattoo, which I declined, the pot was about all I got from GN'R for all the work I had done for them - and I still owed Howie twenty-five thousand dollars[Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 151].
The band would later claim they didn't have a manager in this period, and negotiated the deal with Geffen themselves [RIP Magazine, May 1987]. This was made abundantly clear in Axl's response to the Music Connection interview from April 1986, which is believed to have been published in August 1986:

Vicki Hamilton is a kind, good-hearted person. There is a sizeable list of tasks performed and duties completed by Vicki, none of which have been unappreciated. Vicki is exceptional in booking, promoting and as she says herself, babysitting a band. Without her the road would have been considerably rougher. Vicki, however, did not negotiate our record deal, plan or design band direction, or choose personnel in the Guns N' Roses organization[Music Connection, August 1986].
It is true they didn't have an official manager, nothing management contract was signed, but it is undeniable that Vicky helped them out a lot. This is clear from Steven's biography where he states that Vicky was managing the band at the time and that she had a lawyer look over the paperwork [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 105].

It is interesting how Duff barely mentions Vicky's name in his biography, while Steven describes her as instrumental in very important events in the band's history.

The reason why the band never signed a management agreement with Vicky could be that Raz had warned them against having a manager at the time when negotiating with their label:

With Christmas [1985] coming up, the guys held a band meeting to decide on which manager to hire, so that everything would be in place once business got cranked back up in the coming year. Me, Joe [Raz' brother], and Robert John crammed into studio B as the band discussed amongst themselves various pros and cons of each managerial candidate. When someone asked me who I liked, I said, "If you sign with a manager, you'll owe them part of your entire record deal."

Izzy perked up, "Say that again, Raz."

I said, "If you guys sign with a manager and get a record deal the very next day, you'll owe that manager their percentage of the entire deal, even if you fire them before the ink dries on your recording contract." I added, "If all these vultures are circling, it means that everyone knows you're going to get a deal soon, with or without their help."

The guys chewed on that info for a few minutes and ultimately decided their interests would be better served if they sought legal advice before signing any contracts
[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 231].
In June 1986, the band did still not have a manager [Los Angeles Times, 1986.06.07]. At some point, Zutaut invited Tim Collins, Aerosmith's manager, to see the band play. When the band members came back to his hotel room, Collins checked into a second room to get some rest. In the morning, he learned that they had ordered $450 worth of drinks and food on his bill. He decided not to manage them [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

Talking about the period after signing with Geffen: And just about every single manager that we met was scared shitless of us [Spin, May 1988]
Vicky was out of the picture as per her agreement with Zutaut, something that was unknown to Steven:

All of a sudden, out of the blue, Vicki was no longer around. It just happened. At first I thought she had cut some severance package deal with Geffen and that was why she just dropped out of sight. I had heard no talk about tossing her aside when we got signed. I believe that she still had some tricks up her sleeve and would still have plenty to contribute to our success.[...]

I guess the band as a whole felt she was not established enough, and in fact, a general feeling surfaced that a man would have more power. This was particularly true for Axl, who believed a woman would not get the same kind of respect as a man. Alan was a cool guy and never uttered a negative word about Vicki. [...] I kind of made a mental note to find out the details of Vicki's departure, but in the swirl of getting the live record out, I never really followed up on it
[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 110]
In April, 1987, it is hinted that the band was in "legal wrangles with former managers" [Sounds Magazine, 1987.04.04], and in May 1987 it is said that the band had gone through "ump­teen different managers" [RIP Magazine, May 1987]. By August 1988, it is reported that Hamilton had sued the band [Screamer Magazine, August 1988] for $10,000 [Musician, December 1988], so it is reasonable to think this explains some of the "legal wrangles" mentioned in April 1987. By November 1988, it is reported that the suit was settled out of court [Rolling Stone, November 1988]. In 1989, Axl would also mention that they've had to pay some "out-of-court settlements" [RIP, April 1989], the settlement with Hamilton is likely one of them.

In December 1988 Musician Magazine published an interview featuring Hamilton. In her biography she would claim she was "still pretty angry about what had happen between the band and me, I didn't hold anything back. All of it was true, but for some reason, Axl didn't like the fact that I had told my side of the story to the writer. He left me a threating [sic] message on my answering machine, 'You better watch what you say bitch, as I always get what I want and right now I want to bury your ass'" [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 209].

This is what was printed in Musician Magazine:

Axl won't talk to me. Why? Maybe because I sued them, but I gave up trying to figure him out years ago. There are times when he's the sweetest boy you could know, but when he gets mad, he's like a top spinning off. He's not consistently evil. And he's not consistently nice either. It's two personalities. That's what's so scary. But you're talking about street creatures. They had never had any money before and suddenly it was like, 'Life's a party now.' The day they signed I was crying because I knew what was lying ahead [Musician, December 1988]
It is likely that Axl's anger at Vicky stemmed not only from what she said in this interview, but also from the fact that she had sued the band. In her biography she implies to have sued the band in early 1986, when the three-year statue of limitation was about to close, but as demonstrated by the above quotes, this can't be true. She also states that she sued them for $1,000,000 but settled and received $35,000.

Slash would later look back at this period and mention "creeps" who wanted to manage the band but that they managed "to get through that and through a couple of band management situations" [Scene Magazine, April 1988].

Axl would comment on this again in April 1989, likely after having read Hamilton's comments Musician in December 1988:

Vicky Hamilton was a woman who basically had a monopoly on booking bands at the Roxy and the Whiskey, and we needed to get those gigs. We also needed a place to live. Vicky offered us help. She said she'd get us $25,000 we desperately needed for the proper equipment to start getting close to the sound we wanted. She never came through with the money; so with an important gig coming up, we got Geffen to go for a $35,000 memo deal, which means that we didn't have to sign with them but we had to pay the money back. Now Vicky's claiming that she managed us and that we wouldn't pay her back. She claims she invested $100,000 and she should be party to any of the money we make. She says we all get along, but in reality nobody likes dealing with her. Nobody trusts her. She managed the band? We - Slash, Duff, Izzy, Steven and Axl - managed the band. A year later she sued us for one million dollars. We didn't want to go to court, pay lawyer fees, court expenses and shit, especially when I don't trust the law and judicial system. I don't need the hassle. I don't believe in the fuckin' law system. I don't believe in the fuckin' government. I do believe that America is the best country on the face of the fuckin' earth, but that doesn't mean that America isn't run by assholes. Poor Vicky might look great in front of a judge, and Guns N' Roses look like slime, so they should lose. We settled out of court for $30,000, 15 of which Geffen paid [RIP, April 1989]

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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:49 am


After signing, Geffen demanded that the band stopped playing live shows to build on the mystique. To get around this, the band started doing shows under the name 'Fargin Bastydges'. The setlist and everything else was just as with a normal Guns N' Roses show.

Just after we got signed, we booked a show at Gazzarri's as the Fargin' Bastarges. We got that name from the movie Johnny Dangerously starring Michael Keaton. The band guys in the movie always talked like that, mangling expressions: "You friggin' iceholes. You fargin' bastage. You cork soaker!" [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 100]
With new-found wealth coming from the advance the band received from Geffen, the band could afford a more luxurious life-style, or at least not live in abject poverty like homeless people. They could also afford new tattoos, better equipment, and more drugs and booze.

I carried the advance money in my boot ‘cause the bank had lost my records. […] with our advance, I bought equipment, and clothes. We also rented this house, and we partied for a while. Steve ate breakfast at Hamburger Haven for a week. We took cabs. I also took people out to the raddest restaurants I could find. I felt I owed some people things [Concert Shots, May 1986].
Well, what happened is, we got restless. We get signed, they give us a bunch of money, put us in an apartment, we can’t go out and do any gigs – so we fucking got bored, and started doing a lot of drugs, drinking a lot, tearing up houses. We had $7,500 apiece – which was unheard of for us. [...] We used to have to look for drugs, now people force them on us [Spin, May 1988]
We partied hard for about two weeks [Spin, May 1988].
Slash quickly spent the advance money and was back to poverty with Rock Scene listing his worldly possessions when they met the band in likely April or May 1987: "Clean clothes, dirty clothes, a bolo tie, magazines and equipment, all in bags" [Rock Scene, September 1987], and Izzy would claim "I’m so rich I need to borrow $20 to go out tonight" [Rock Scene, September 1987]. Axl had settled down and lived in an apartment with a girlfriend after having lived in "over 37 places, including cars" [Rock Scene, September 1987]. At this time the label had put the band members on a weekly allowance of about $100 a week [Rock Scene, September 1987].

I think they [=Geffen] like us living like this, with no money [Rock Scene, September 1987].
Slash doesn’t get a fuckin’ cent because he spent everybody else’s money on equipment [Rock Scene, September 1987].
Taking to Mike: Do we have cash for dinner? We need food, Mr. C [Rock Scene, September 1987].
Slash and Duff drank a lot. Duff was an alcoholic by this time and Axl renamed him "Duff, the King of Beers McKagan [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 116]. With extra cash Slash became addicted to heroin and then so did Steven. In addition, Steven was smoking crack. In 1986, Steven and Izzy were in a constant cycle of sobering up and returning to drugs [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 117].

At some point in time Geffen held a party likely in honor of Peter Gabriel and his hit single "Sledgehammer" (likely late 1986 or early 1987). Slash had an interviewed earlier in the afternoon (and got so drunk he peed on his pants), and when he came to the party and was given a real sledgehammer (like a commemorative item), he went out in the parking lot and, for unknown reasons, proceeded to throw it throw thru one of the Geffen windows. Unfortunately, he threw it through the windows of an adjacent building belonging to someone else [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987].

Friction in the band grew bigger. For the Club Lingerie gig on July 24, the band took a time-out to discuss their problems:

[…] we didn’t break up, we just had a long talk; sorted out a lot of shit [L.A. Rocks , August 1986].
There was a conflict of a lot of things and a lot of disagreements at the time of that show. I thought it was one of the worst shows we ever played. But the next day, we had to have it out. A lot of things went to our heads because this is all new to us. If we did break up, who else are we going to play with that we really value as much as we value each other. […] After the Lingerie show, it was like starting over again. Most of us have worked together off and on. For over 3 years, we’ve exploded on each other many times, and we always come back [L.A. Rocks , August 1986].
But then, just a week later, at Timber's Ballroom in July 31 (Duff claims this happened at a Fender's Ballroom gig on March 31.), Axl turned up so late the band had to start without him. It is probably more likely this happened on March 31 as Duff says, and that it partly lead to the band having the talk on July 24.

All the recklessness and chaos resulted in the band almost dropping them, according to Izzy, although he says that happened about a years after signing (so in March 1987, but likely before) [Spin, May 1988].

Despite all this, the band was gaining in popularity and played increasingly high-status gigs, opening for established artists like Ted Nugent (August 30), Alice Cooper (October 23), Red Hot Chili Peppers (October 31) and Cheap Trick (December 21).

According to Raz, after signing with Geffen, the band rented a "luxury apartment" on the corner of La Cienega and Fountain [Raz' biography, page 238]. This meant that the band moved out of Vicky Hamilton's apartment for good.

In the beginning of and at least into May 1987, the band lived, or hung out, in a "smallish, detached, flaking white-wood house just off Santa Monica Boulevard" [Sounds Magazine, 1987.04.04], also described as "a filthy, blitzed suburban bungalow in an otherwise pristine street in West Hollywood" [Time Out, June 1987]. This place would affectionately be referred to as The Hell House and the address was 1139 N Fuller Avenue. As with their former hang out at Gardner's, Hellhouse was also checked in on by the police regularly, as Simon Garfield from Time Out Magazine could confirm when he visited in 1987 for an interview: "During my brief visit, the cops pull up at the Hellhouse three times: once to advise an occupant against parking on the front lawn; once to announce that if there was any more bottle smashing in the road there would be severe trouble; and once to raid a Hellhouse car and its passengers for drugs. No drugs are found, but one of the women in the car is called Candy, and she winds up with one officer’s home phone number and promises to call" [Time Out, June 1987]. Garfield would also witness Slash insisting on breaking a bottle of Jim Beam inside the Hell House:

Garfield wrote:Slash: ‘I got to, man.’

Alan Niven, manager in English accent: ‘Oh come on now, Slash.’

Duff: ‘Please don’t.’

Local hairy: ‘Please don’t, I live here.’

Axel [sic]: ‘Only do it up and across the street.’

Slash: ‘I got to!’

Alan: ‘Come on now.’

Axel [sic]: ‘No, no. You don’t live here anymore.’

Slash: ‘Just against this wall here, I just want to break it.’
Alan: (Turns white.)

Slash: ‘This little wall. Hello wall!’

And he breaks the bottle, it shatters everywhere, and he seems relieved.

At some point, according to Izzy, likely in mid-to-late 1987, Alan Niven got them "this huge house in the hills" [Guitar, September 1988]. This house is likely not the Hell House, since the latter wasn't in the hills.

Axl would often arrive late to the band's concerts, a habit that would draw ire from his band mates and slowly drive a wedge between them:

I don't know if it was part of a brilliant strategy, but Axl often arrived at the club far past his band's scheduled start, mere minutes before the following band's scheduled timeslot. Guns N' Roses would then only have the okay to play for ten minutes, so they'd rip through three or four "we're all super pissed off," powerful, in-your-face tunes to whip the amassed crowd into a frenzy. Then it was over. The fans needed more, much more. And they would get it if they went to the next show [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 230].
In December 1988, Slash had an apartment on Sunset Boulevard where we lived with a girlfriend called Kimberley [On Th Streets, December 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:04 am


The band would also do more high-status gigs. In October 1986 they were invited to open for Alice Cooper in Santa Barbara.  For the Alice Cooper gig, Axl again turned up late and was unable to enter the venue. The band had to do without their singer, with Izzy and Duff trading vocals. In Duff's words: "We traded some words with Axl when we found him in the parking lot afterward, but at the end of the day the situation lacked much in the way of consequences" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 119]. This inability or unwillingness to solve problems within the band, especially with a band member who increasingly got the band in trouble, would remain a fixture of this lineup and would eventually cause such rife conflicts that band members would leave.

When we did that show, we were supposed to do the hour-long ride out there together, but Axl insisted on driving with his girlfriend Erin at the very last minute. We were all aginst it, as was Alan, but Axl convinced him that there was nothing to worry about. We got to the gig; Axl was nowhere to be found, but was apparently on his way. It came time to take the stage - no Axl - so Izzy and Duff and Stave and I got out there and started playing without him. Izzy and Duff sang "Whole Lotta Rosie" by AC/DC and a few other covers. We were opening for Alice Cooper but basically that set was a drunken jam fit for a bar - except we were in an arena. It got so bad that at one point we asked the audience to sing lead and then asked if there was a lead singer in the house. We were friends with the crowd for a minute, but that quickly changed; we ended up insulting them and throwing things at them. It was ridiculous. We stayed up there for the allotted amount of time and then retreated from a totally embarrassing disaster. We got out of there immediately and drove back to Hollywood, so pissed that we talked about kicking Axl out of the band that night and looking for a new singer [Slash's autobiography, p 216-217]
The night of the Alice Cooper gig, Axl showed up late again and then was unable to get into the venue. Izzy and I sang. At the time it was almost funny - though we were definitely pissed, too, and we absolutely trashed the dressing room. We traded some words with Axl when we found him in the parking lot afterward, but at the end of the day the situation lacked much in the way of consequences. We did the show, we got paid, and the crowd was there to see Alice anyway. That was that. For now [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 119-120]
In May [Steven's got the date wrong], we were given a great opportunity to do a single show with Alice Cooper in Santa Barbara. [...]On the day of the show, we all piled into our new white van (we got another one after Slash totaled the first), while Axl was just standing there, outside. We were yelling to him,"C'mon, Axl." He was all like, "Naw, I'll meet you there; some chick is gonna take me." [...] We were ready to go [on stage], but sure enough, someone was still missing. Next thing you know, we're supposed to be on in five minutes and everyone is screaming, "Where's Axl?" We stalled as long as we could, but we really had to get out there out of respect for Alice. At eight o'clock we hit the stage as scheduled. Without Axl, we just did our best and improvised. We did 'It's So Easy' and Duff sang. After that, we just performed blues jams. We would always include a blazing blues jam in our sets, so we still managed to rock out for the audience, and I don't think they felt incredibly cheated. Izzy and Duff screamed a few words here and there. Duff's tech, Mike "McBob" Mayhue, may have sung something, too. Bottom line was, without Axl present, we didn't deliver the true Guns N' Roses as promised. We just played, packed up our shit, and got out of there. Because of my worship for Alice, and my feeling about what Guns N' Roses was about, it was one of the most humiliating nights of my life [Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 122-123]
What happened was he, Axl, showed up later than everyone else and didn't get a backstage pass, and they wouldn't let him in. Meanwhile, we were onstage already, playing. We played the whole set without Axl, and I ended up getting really drunk and insulting the crowd. They were wondering what the hell was going on. They probably thought we were just some circus act or some-thing... [Metal Hammer, February 1990]
According to Steven, the band considered firing Axl after this incident:

Afterward, we were all pissed, and for one infuriating moment, we all considered kicking [Axl] our of the band. But we realized there was nothing we could do. The album had already been recorded [Steven must be thinking about the EP Live! Like A Suicide] and Axl was an integral part of our mage and sound, so we never actually talked about getting another singer [Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 122-123]

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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:20 am


The regulars at the Hell House included Duff, Slash, Izzy most nights, and me. Jo Jo, Raz, Danny, Dizzy, Del, and West were there almost all the time. Axl liked writing songs with West. He liked kicking it while West played guitar. I was there all the time, literally spending whole days and nights. There wee always random people crashed out on the floor. It was a never-ending revolving door of derelicts, a hilarious party scene [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 85].
West Arkeen was a great friend of Axl and Duff and would later co-write many of the band's songs. In late 1988, when asked who his favorite musicians are, Axl answered "David Lank and West Arkeen" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

West was also the first artist the band signed to their own label, Uzi Suicide [Raw Magazine, July 1989].

We're definitely going to sign West Arkeen (long-time friend of the band and co-writer of "It's So Easy" off Appetite) and possibly some other acts [Circus Magazine, May 1989].

Axl spent a lot of time hanging out with West and they would be recorded playing together at the Scrap Bar in New York City in July 1989.

Axl would also talk about West in interviews:

West gets all drunk. He was getting drunk every day. He got thrown out of the bar and cut off more times than anybody in history. And, like, all these actors, Nick Nolte and stuff, have partied there for years. So they’ve dealt with all this before but West would get cut off for breakfast, cut off for lunch, cut off for dinner and then talk 'em into opening the bar at three-thirty in the morning so they can make another drink, right? And it was gnarly, right? And so he’s got this fart-ball, and he goes downstairs with it, you know, and he’s all wasted. And he’s beside this older couple and stuff and he, like, keeps doing this fart-ball and making, like, weird faces and fanning his rear end and stuff, like he just farted, like, “Oh... what was that?” And these people go, “You’re disgusting!” and they move away. OK, so then I get this call from Sean Penn, his company or what­ever – these people that work for him – and he wants me to come see an advance screening of his new movie, Casualties of War. And if I want, you know, I can bring West. So West comes up and he’s wasted. So I throw him in the fuckin' shower, help him get dressed and we headed out of there down to the lobby. And there’s this old couple there and this lady introduces herself and goes, “And this is Sean Penn’s parents and they’ll be going with you.” I said, “Hi, my name’s Axl and this is West...” And they were like, “Oh no! You’re that guy in the bar!” ’ He laughed and looked me in the eye for the first time. 'It was Sean Penn’s parents, you know... it was so great. Then we got in the back of this station-wagon, and there’s these little fold-down seats and we’re sitting on them. And, like, somebody pulled up in a car – we were trying to get out of there before these people arrived that were coming to my room – and suddenly there they were. And we were like, “Oh, fuck...” And then I went, “Oh, I'm sorry,” and Sean Penn’s dad turns round and goes, “Listen, goddamnit, don’t ever fuckin’ talk like that again, you understand me?” And then spins around and starts laughing because he just cussed me out.’ He chuckled. 'I thought it was just great. Those guys were great... [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993].

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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:47 am


The band got an increasing number of friends and followers as they became more popular, including fellow musicians, both great and small, bikers, artists, and street people. Together with some of these they [when?] would form a jam band called the Drunk Fux. Steven and Duff disagrees about this band:

Out of this drunken wasteland [= the Hell House] everyone kind of spontaneously formed a fun jam band called the Drunk Fux. Many different people were in that band, including Tommy Lee and Lemmy. It was just a jam thing really, and we played some free benefit shows around L.A. [...]

Axl, West, and Del had their own little clique that wasn't really part of the Drunk Fux, and I couldn't give less of a fuck about it
[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 85].
Duff recalls that the Drunk Fux was first formed later when Axl, Slash and Izzy went to New York City for the mixing of Appetite. As he says in his biography: During this time he started playing rhythm guitar in a side project called the Drunk Fux. Todd Crew [former bassist in Jetboy and great fan of the band] would join Drunk Fux playing bass after being kicked out of Jetboy. Steven was on drums, Del James was singing and West Arkeen played lead guitar [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 122].

Del James was a friend of Axl who would later do interviews with Axl for RIP Magazine [RIP, April 1989].

This contrasts with Steven's biography where he indicates that Drunk Fux was formed earlier and that Axl and his posse didn't want anything to do with it, while Duff indicates Axl was away when Drunk Fux was happening and that indeed Del and Arkeen, who were Axl's friends, sang and played in the band. It appears that Steven is wrong on this and that Duff is correct. corroborates this by listing a Drunk Fux show in May 1987 with Arkeen and Del participating and one in January 1988 with Axl singing.

According to Goldmine Magazine, in February 1989 a promotional CD was released with a band called "Black And White" featuring "Slash, Axl Rose, two members of Motley Crue and two members of Ratt" [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989]. Axl and Slash contributed a "guest rap" on the song "Rainbow Bar and Girls" [Circus Magazine, May 1989]. According to Circus Magazine, "Black and White" was a duo, but it doesn't say who played in this band [Circus Magazine, May 1989]. The promotional CD release coincided nicely with the American Music Awards, in which 'Sweet Child O' Mine' was voted Best Rock Single of the Year" [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989].

Also in 1989, it was reported that Axl was collaborating with Steve Jones from Sex Pistols in his second solo record [Hit Parader, July 1989]. From this rumors spread that Axl would take over the singing responsibilities after Johnny Rotten in The Sex Pistols. Axl would deny this in an interview done in early 1990:

We just jammed with Steve Jones, that's all. He comes up to Slash’s, we talk on the phone. It’s like he’s a friend of the family you know? Slash is really into the guitar parts on the Steve Jones record. And I really like a lot of the songs. And we did the one Sex Pistols song together on it, “Did You No Wrong”. You know, so we try and get up and jam with him whenever we can. I mean, I slept through his New Year’s Eve gig and I was supposed to do three songs with him, man. But I hadn’t slept in, like, three days and now it's like I feel really bad about it. I definitely owe him one. ‘And the guy gets screwed over, man,’ he continued, smiling dolefully.

He did the Palace [Theatre, in Hollywood] and they put the curtain down when Slash and I were setting up at the side of the stage getting ready to do the encore, you know? They walked off stage, we were gonna walk right back on, and this guy shut the curtain and told the curtain guy to leave it ’cos he didn’t want the show to continue! So we went down and I grabbed the guy – you know, I was with Steve Jones and stuff – and I grabbed the guy and he was like, “I don’t like your hand on my shoulder.” I was like, “I don’t give a fuck what you like! Put the curtain up or I’m gonna go out there and start a riot!” But then they’d taken the drum-set down and once the mikes and the drum-set are down it’s over, you know? So it was like... fucked.

Then another time [at the Palace a few weeks before] we were supposed to do “Suffragette City” with Mick Ronson and Ian Hunter – Steve Jones and Slash and me. But then Steve decided he didn’t wanna stick around, so me and Slash got up and did “White Light/White Heat” with Ian and Mick. I didn’t even know the song and neither did Slash, we learned it really quick right before we walked on stage. I remember just following Ian around going ooh wooh, white light la la... It was fuckin’ great
[Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993].
Axl also added background vocals on the song "I Will Not Go Quietly" from Don Henley's album "The End of the Innocence" which was released in June 1989. To return the favor, Henley would step in to replace Steven on that year's American Music Awards [Circus Magazine, May 1989]. Steven was at the time in rehab. The song that was chosen was 'Patience' and band management would claim that since the original version of the song doesn't feature drums, Steven simply "made other commitments", yet when the band realized they needed a "drummer as a visual timekeeper, they called on Henley" [Circus Magazine, May 1989].

Slash, who was dating the famous porn star Traci Lords, would lend "his talents to a demo" she was making [Circus Magazine, May 1989].

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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:15 am


Early on, presumably before being signed to Geffen in 1986, the band hired a lawyer to construct "a legal framework for what had been just a one-for-all-and-all-for-one-gang". The lawyer, Peter Paterno, explained to them that they needed a partnership agreement. As Duff said, "He did a great job lassoing in a bunch of guys and making sure we understood the implications of various aspects of the contracts among the band members and between the band and the label" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 100].

One of the first things the band argued over was splitting publishing royalties. Despite the band members contributing in complex ways to songwriting, they finally agreed to split everything equally across the board. And their lawyer enshrined it in writing [Duff's biography].

At some point, when working on Appetite, the band gathered in Alan Niven's place in Los Feliz to sort our who would get song writing credits. They had already discussed this in 1986 (see above), and then decided to split everything equally (Duff's biography]. This time Axl ended up receiving more. Axl would shed light on this when he in 1989 said they had calculated that he wrote 41 % of the music of Appetite for Destruction, but that they still split the revenues "pretty close" to equal among the five members [Howard Stern, February 1989; RIP, April 1989].

According to Steven, during this meeting Axl argued for a bigger share and tricked Steven into getting 5 % of his, resulting in 25 % to Axl, 15 % to Steven, and 20 % to each of the three remaining band members:

Now, I thought it was kind of a formality because we had talked about all this before and from day one it was always supposed to be an equal share for everybody. But Axl had changed his tune. Axl wanted a bigger slice of the pie. Axl didn't think it was fair to split royalties evenly five ways on our songs. He believed he was entitled to more than the rest of us. The other guys were smart, they just stared at the floor. No one said a fucking thing. I don't know if Axl intimidated them or if they just knew that silence was the best way to deal with his ego. Well, I couldn't just shut the fuck up about it. The reason I wouldn't dummy up was I was so outraged. So right of the bat, I was like, "Screw you, I was here from the beginning, I worked on putting those songs together just as much as you." I had no trouble standing up to Axl because I was right. So now there's this deadly silence again, and it is obvious that its become a big fucking deal. Still, no one else is saying anything, so rather than get into a big argument, I proposed what I thought was a fair offer: "Considering Axl did write most of the lyrics, which is a huge fucking part, I'll give you five percent of my twenty percent." Axl shot me this look of not thanks, not of appreciation, but of arrogance and triumph. It was like he expected it. So I looked around the room because what I expected was for everyone else to follow suit and up the ante too, but the room went dead quiet again. I looked around and everyone kind of started taling about other stuff. The matter was over, settled, done. Axl was happy and I was like, "Fuck!" So it went 25 percent to Axl, 20 percent for each of the other guys, and 15 percent for me. The entire ordeal lasted only a couple of minutes [[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 112-113]]

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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:16 am


The internal rivalry in the band would be fully apparent in the 90s, but already in the 80s were the seeds for these conflicts sown. Axl quickly took a leading position and would to an increasing extent describe the band as his, as in an interview with Steven Harris in December 1987:

Being asked if he is the moral head of the band: With the direction, yeah. With the direction and with, you know, my real strong believes and faith in what we do as artists, yeah. I'd say so [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].
A year later, Harris would interview Duff and Steven and took the opportunity to ask for their comments about Axl's comments in-which he claimed Axl said he had to take care of the rest of the guys in the band:

As far as he knows! [laughter] Fuck! Did he say that?! Yeah right! […] He wasn't laughing when he said that or anything? [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].
Yes, he is just there, every day, taking care of us! […] Don't get me wrong, we love Axl and we always will, but that's just the way he is. But we are all big boys, we can take care of ourselves [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].
During interviews Axl was often the most vocal, both due to his strong personality but also due to his band mates invariably being under the influence. Here is Karen Burch's description in April 1986: "Although I hate to focus solely on Axel Rose, the vocalist's personality certainly demands attention. Axel appears to be the creative force that drives the band. Soft-spoken and intensely serious, he prefers to converse mainly about "the music." While the band refutes that there are any one leader, per se, Axel emerges as the dominant figure [...]" [Music Connection, April 1986]. In this interview Slash would also famously quip that Axl wants to be the Ayatollah.

In the very early days, Izzy was more vocal, but as the band grew in popularity, he gradually slid into the shadows, allowing Axl and, to an increasing extent, Slash to front the band. As Izzy would state in September 1988:

I don't really enjoy being a center of attention. [...] It suits me fine. I don't even have to think about actually planning out what I want to say in interviews, or what topics I'm gonna talk about. It's funny, because I can walk through a club without anybody recognizing me, knowing me or bothering me, whenever I want to. [Axl and Slash], they're so out front, no matter where they go they get spotted [Circus Magazine, September 1988].
Duff would echo this statement:

I don't give a shit. Slash and Axl are vocal and they like talking a lot. I mean, we're all onstage when we play, and that's what's most important. As far as magazines and stuff like that goes, it doesn't matter who does what. It's a band, and our fans know it is. They know it's not just Axl and Slash. There's no jealousy about that between anybody in this band [Circus Magazine, September 1988].
In late 1987, Axl would also indicate that any disagreement in regards to the musical direction of the band had been put to rest by late 1987, and that the band now was on the same page:

[...] we were practising in a one-room studio and I was standing outside because there was no PA, so I stood outside to listen clearly, in a parking lot, I heard 'Nightrain,' and 'Rocket Queen,' and 'My Michelle' coming together for the first time in rehearsal, right, and these guys were all okay, they were on top of it. I was like, my eyes were watering and I had chills, and I was like going, "We finally got the songs I've been looking for," and Izzy told me, you know, out [?], "Now I see what the fuck you've been talking about for the last three years." It's hard to convince someone, they don't know what they had, I'm real good at seeing a person's potential, okay. Sometimes so much so that it costs me problems because I see the potential in this person and I put so much belief in them, you know, but they never, but they don't have the guts to dig for what I see inside of them, you know, so some times that's been problems. But other times, like with Izzy, I was always pushing him with songs and now he's really glad I did and it worked out good for the both of us. [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].
Again, Steve Harris would confront Duff and Steven a year later with this comment from Axl, receiving the following response:

No, no, no [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].
We were going nowhere when we were in the studios. We didn't even have a record out the [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:26 am


After having signed with Geffen in March 1986, the band rented a cheap rehearsal space in an old shopping center called the Golden Mall in Glendale, near the Burbank line. It was better than the Gardner space, and included a little stage [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 112].

In the summer of 1986, the idea was to travel to Britain to record their debut record [Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly, June 1986; Sound Connection, July 1986] with Bill Price (Sex Pistols, Pretenders) as the producer [L.A. Rocks, August 1986], but that didn't work out, so the band continued to look for a producer in the US. With the plan of going to UK to record aborted, the band would first travel to England for their three shows at the Marquee one year later, in June 1987.

The band had clear ideas about what they wanted in regards to producers (According to Vicky Hamilton, at the day of signing the handed a list of possible producers to Tom Zutaut [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite for Dysfunction", page 7]), but finding the right one was difficult. As Duff said, "Everybody wanted to take the edge off our music or to transform it into something they already understood".

Tom Werman, Mötley Crüe's producer, armed with a "case of light beer" [Juke Magazine, July 1989] "came down to rehearsal, covered his ears and left," according to Duff [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

Manny Charlton from Nazareth was flown in and the band worked with him for three days, according to Izzy [Guitar, September 1988] resulting in the famous Sound City Sessions bootlegs that were comprised of at least 27 tracks. But, as Axl would state it, "it just didn't feel right" [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]. Despite this, they recorded many songs with Charlton and were thinking about what to do with the master tapes:

We spent time with Manny Charlton from Nazareth. He came over because we were thinking bout having him produce the record. We were in the studio for two and a half days and we did everything live. We recorded 25 or 30 tunes. We never did anything with that album but we have the masters to it. It's something where we'll go back and pick through it. A lot of the stuff that comes out when your just jamming as a band is the best [Guitar, September 1988[/url]].
Geffen planned to "release [the tracks] as a kind of legal bootleg" [L.A. Weekly, June 1986] or "release some of the demo material as an 'authorized bootleg' " [Sound Connection, July 1986]. Of course this first happened 32 years later when Appetite for Destruction was re-released in 2018.

Paul Stanley from Kiss was another of the would-be producers (some time before June 1986), but according to Duff, he was dismissed when he wanted to add double kick drums to Steven's kit [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 118]. Other band members were altogether not impressed with Stanley:

Paul Stanley came down to one of our shows and hung out where we hang out. I'm looking at this guy watching what we do. He's a nice guy, but he didn't have a clue as to what we were doing. Everyone gets the basic idea: They're a rock 'n' roll band. But they don't get the formula [Los Angeles Times, 1986.06.07].
We kept meeting all these schmuckos, for example this famous rock star, I won't name any names, he just wanted to change the music. Like, "Don't Cry," they wanted to change the chorus and everything... we were just saying 'fuck off' [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987].
And Stevie's claim to fame at the time was that he had no tom toms, except for a floor tom tom, he had the simplest kit in town...snare drum, floor tom tom...kinda like the Cramps set, you know. The first thing this guy says, this famous rock star, he goes "You need tom toms, you need this, etc..." [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987].
Paul Stanley of Kiss saw one of our shows and became very interested in producing us. He contacted Zutaut, and Tom arranged for us to meet him. I was so stoked, I couldn't sleep. [...] Paul came to the apartment and sadly, almost immediately, the guys hated him. [...] To be fair, I am sure Paul felt he had to strut in with an authoritative manner to show us he could be in charge, but nothing, I mean nothing, he said resonated with us [[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 107-111]].
[...] Paul came to us because he was interested in producing. Slash had him come over and I sat down and talked production with him and played him the demo. He wanted to rewrite two of our very favorite songs, so it was over right then and there [Hit Parader, December 1986].
We talked with Paul Stanley for about five minutes and he wanted to rewrite 'Jungle' and something else so that was the end of the conversation, and now he's going round saying he was going to produce the record "but these guys were too crazy," this and that. No, there was no chance of him producing the record. We talked to him once, that was it [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].
Mutt Lange, the producer behind AC/DC's 'Back in Black' was another possibility, but he demanded $400,000 just to walk into the room (one million according to Axl in December 1987 [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]) plus a share of future earnings from the record. It was too expensive for the band. Could it be Lange that Axl was referring to in June, 1986, when he said the following: "We've been very busy with a lot of new pressures we've never experienced before. We've got to go have a meeting with some guy that's a millionaire. I don't have a cent in my pocket and I have to act like I'm more in charge than he is. That's really strange."

In this period, Axl also wanted Thomas Ray Barker as the producer [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]. It was also reported that the band met with Rick Rubin, probably in early 1987, allegedly because he wanted the band to make a song for a movie [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987].

By December 1986, the band was still discussing with Geffen on who would be the producer of their album, trying to find someone who would be able to do the band and their songs justice. It was reported in November 1988 that around this time (?) the band disbanded for a while, but came back together again [Rolling Stone, November 1988]

We recorded a couple of test tracks with different producers and [Geffen] decided it was "too radio". That was really nice to hear. [KNAC, December 1986].
It was very hard to find someone to produce the record because some of the main producers of our favorite material from the seventies have changed their styles, their approach, or burned out, you know, or people that the record industry won't work with any more, just because they don't know what they are doing because they are too into drugs or something [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:03 pm


To "all the people who have helped keep us alive".


In August 1986 the band had still not entered a recording studio to record their debut record as they hadn't found the right producer yet [L.A. Rocks, August 1986]. To do something, the band and label decided to release a limited edition "bootleg" EP, 'Live! Like a Suicide' in the mean time to be out by September [L.A. Rocks, August 1986].

The EP was eventually released in December 1986. It was released on the UZI SUICIDE logo, allegedly the band's own label but in reality it was released by Geffen Records itself to make it seem this was an independent release. The accompanying press release was sent out by "the Stravinski Brothers" and signed by "Alan G Stravinski," obviously Alan Niven [December 1986, Press release].

As a sidenote, the band would later use the Uzi Suicide label to sign other artists, including their friend West Arkeen. And Slash would joke that they also intended to release an exercise video on it, based on "Slash-aerobics" [Circus Magazine, May 1989].

The pressing of 'Live! Like a Suicide' was limited to only 10,000 copies to make it exclusive [Hit Parader, April 1987; Goldmine Magazine, May 1989]. The songs on the EP were 'Mama Kin', 'Nice Boys', Move To The City' and 'Reckless Life'. Originally, the band wanted four cover songs on one side (including 'Jumpin Jack Flash' and 'Heartbreak Hotel') and four original songs on the other [Concert Shots, May 1986].

Tom [Zutaut] had the idea for us to go in the studio and record an EP under our own label, Uzi Suicide, which was actually financed by Geffen. [...] Geffen wanted to put out the live album quickly and get people even more excited about us. It would also get us warmed up to record our full-length album [...] The idea was to have a "live" record with thousands of people screaming in the background, therey making is sound as popular as, or maybe more popular than, we actually were. So yes, we knew from the start that they were going to add an audience. We were cool with it. Just as long as it sounded right. We didn't want this album to sound tinny or cheesy. Geffen's engineers told us there would be too miuch shit involved (i.e., it would cost too much) to actually record a live record, so we were told to create the live audience effects in the studio [[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 107-108]].
The songs on Live! Like A Suicide was recorded in Pasha Studios right next to Paramount Studios near Melrose Avenue in Hollywood and it took no more than "two or three days" [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 109]. Spencer Proffer was hired to produce and it was his studio [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108]. The band made a mix-tape of their influences which was handed over to Proffer. The tape was called "Spencer's Easy Listening" and was meant to help him in creating the sound the band was looking for [RAW Magazine, May 1989].

We were all in the same soundproof room and we actually recorded those songs together to give it a "live" feel, instead of each performer laying down a separate track, then assembling the tune. The only stuff they overdubbed was the backing vocals. If you listen closely to "Nice Boys," you can hear Axl singing backup to his own vocals [[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 109]].
After we finished the songs, Spencer added the audience. He used archived tapes of live performances by Dio and Quiet Riot and mixed the cheers in [[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108]].
The band would claim the time with Proffer only resulted in a demo [Hit Parader, December 1986], to keep up the illusion that the EP was recorded live. Slash, as late as September 1988, would still state it was a live recording [Guitar, September 1988], as would Duff and Steven in December 1988, even to the point of arguing that a live record is more accurate in presenting the band [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].

In May 1987, it was also said in an interview that they had argued "profusely" with Proffer, and "forcing him to leave the project"[RIP Magazine, May 1987], which suggests why Proffer was not used as the producer for Appetite for Destruction. Despite this, Steven would later claim he loved working with Proffer [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108-109]. In December 1987, Axl would admit that the EP was recorded in Spencer's studio, despite him making the songs "sound really weak" [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].

The band would explain why they released the EP:

Because we wanted an inexpensive dedication to all the kids who helped us get by when we were really low and had no money and were living in abandoned apartments. The kind of record that not everyone will have, because we're only printing 10,000 copies initially [Hit Parader, December 1986].
There is covers on [Live! Like A Suicide] that we wanted to put out because we do them live and the people like them live, and we kinda wanted to do this like, 'this is for you', and this is something that we have been doing in our set[KNAC, December 1986].
It's like an inexpensive dedication to all the kids that helped us get going when we had no money[Hit Parader, April 1987].
Live, "Like a Suicide” is indicative of what this band was all about when we first got together. We didn't sit around in rehearsal studios saying we have to be like this or that. We wanted to go out and play live. We would write songs real fast because we had already booked the gigs. We were an angry bunch of kids. That Ep means a lot to me, because we wrote songs, got them together in an evening, and then went out and played them. The album has songs that we sat down and worked on and actually wrote and worked it out. "Suicide” was from the early days, the beginning[Guitar, September 1988[/url]].
The EP was finished just before the October 31 show at Ackermann Hall. 'Move to the City' received some airplay, especially in the Los Angeles area, as well as overseas, and the 10,000 copies of the first pressing were sold out in 4 weeks with no advertisement [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989]. In December 1986 the band were talking about a reissue [KNAC, December 1986].

The band would claim they financed the release of Live! Live A Suicide with their own money:

We financed it off… pretty much the bulk of money that we had, you know, accumulated there and there [Unknown source, June 1987].
So the purpose was to release a fake live EP allegedly released by the band itself, from their own money, to foster more hype about the band and build anticipation for the full-length record to come.

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:11 pm


As mentioned before, a big problem was finding the right producer. But eventually they met Mike Clink. According to Axl, they met him at "The Rage", but it is not known what that was [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987]. Clink loved Guns N' Roses and had seen them live a few times. He did a playback and said, "This is how I think your record should sound." As Duff would say, "It was basically us live. And I immediately thought, That's exactly right" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 120].

[...] it took us a long time to find Mike Clink. And Mike Clink is like, we worked with him and it's basically like a co-produced album. But, you know, we got him for a lower amount of money [?], giving him the name, and plus then he in turn gave us full freedom to do whatever we wanted. Which worked really good for us. And he trusted me a lot in the studio, with all the vocal ideas, because most of the harmonies and stuff I came up with, like 'It's So Easy' and 'Paradise City,' I came up with the night I was recording those parts because I'd never had the opportunity to work on it before [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].
[...]we went with Mike Clink was because we’re so set in our ways that we didn’t want anybody to re-write our songs. So what we did for the album was, we signed up with an engineer, who was really hot shit. He produced the album. Basically he just got all the sounds, and produced it. He just basically got Guns N’ Roses on tape [Rock Scene, August 1988].
With my favourite punk bands, the bass was the loudest thing and led the way. And now as Mike Clink started to produce the songs that would make up Appetite, the bass was the loudest, roundest thing on the recordings. It had a lot of space. And it wasn't on the outside or underneath the way it was on a lot of records back then-Clink had it right in the middle [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 121].
Mike is really, really good. He let us have a lot of freedom to do what we wanted to do. We were basically in the production of this record, you know, we were there like every step of the way, every step of the way. When we went to mix it, you know, usually these people don't have anybody there, we went there with the mixing, we were there when they mastered, we were there. And so when you get this record, you know, maybe it's not produced as well as something else you might hear that's done by the best people in the world, but that's because this is more real, this is us. This isn't somebody else doing it, this is us. It's our work [Unknown UK source, June 1987].
[Mike] pushes us to do a better job of what we want. […] He makes us analyze things [Rock Scene, September 1987].
Steven was initially not so happy with Clink, though:

[...] Our producer Mike Clink came up to me and suggested I change my drum setup. [...] Mike asked me to change "Anything Goes" and that really hit a nerve.

"Fuck you, don't tell us how to write songs." I got so pissed because you don't meddle with the music. I pouted, stomped around, and behaved like a real dick. [...]

So we tried his idea, and to my surprise, it came out great. [...] But I will be the first to admit when I'm wrong or out of line, and after we worked it out, I looked Mike straight in the eye and said, "I am so sorry"
[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 116-117].
The band affected the non-smoker Clink in various ways:

Yeah, we all smoke a lot, and we were in the studio for a couple of months. He went to his doctor one day and he said, “Man, you gotta stop smoking.” [Rock Scene, August 1988].
We used to get him all drunk and shit [Rock Scene, August 1988].
You should have seen him. When we first met him he was Mike Clink and then after a while with us he was Mike Clink plus 15-20 years. After we finished the album there was a complete difference. Then he started going out, he started screwing around with all these different girls, he broke up with his girlfriend. Then he started getting difficult about jobs. He started getting real picky [Rock Scene, August 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:26 pm


In April 1987, Axl described his vision for their debut album and beyond:

We’ve got our progressions already planned out. How we’re going to grow. This record’s going to sound like a showcase. I sing in, like, five or six different voices, so not one song is quite like another, even if they’re all hard rock. In the last year I’ve spent over thirteen hundred dollars on cassettes, everything from Slayer to Wham! – to listen to production, vocals, melodies, this and that. I’m from Indiana, where Lynyrd Skynyrd were considered God to the point that you ended up saying, ‘I hate this fucking band!’ And yet, for our song Sweet Child O’ Mine I went out and got some old Lynyrd Skynyrd tapes to make sure that we’d got that downhome, heartfelt feeling [1987.04.04].
In June 1988, Axl told Rock Scene Magazine that when they signed with Geffen they had 27 songs:

When we went into the studio initially, to do some test tracks and lay down some songs and see what we had together, we had about 27 songs together when Geffen first signed us [Rock Scene, June 1988].
In July 1989 he would also say that they originally wanted Appetite to be a double album:

[…] Appetite for Destruction was meant to be a double LP too, but Geffen got cold feet about putting out a double as a debut LP [Juke Magazine, July 1989].
And that the purpose was to make a consistent hard rock album:

We can only put so many songs on one, album, and we wanted our first record ('Appetite For Destruction') to be a full hard rock record from beginning to end [Kerrang! June 1989].
Preproduction rehearsals for Appetite took place at SIR Studios in Burbank [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 112].

Recording for Appetite took place at Rumbo Studios (Rumbo Recorders), at 20215 Saticoy Street, Canoga Park, CA, and happened over two weeks in January 1987. It has also been said the recording took three months and was finished by the end of March 1987 [Rock Scene, September 1987]. Rumbo Studios was chosen by Clink to keep the guys away from their wild lives in Hollywood.

When we started working on Appetite we were in a hotel in Manhattan Beach, which was like a forty-five-minute drive to Rumbo. I have no idea why we were so far from the studio. [[Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 116]].
Listening to the playback of recently recorded songs in Rumbo Studios: I think it's going to kick ass. It's against the - mainstream grain. It's definitely a case of you'll either love it or hate it - which is good, as long as you notice it [Kerrang! June 1987].
Well, it was done live, pretty much. The drums, the rhythm guitar, the bass are all live from the same room. So there's bleeding on each other's instruments, and tweets [?] on other's mics. Things like that. Just to get the most energy and good [?] to the songs [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].
Talking about how he stretched himself vocally, singing bass parts and reaching the F above high C, and that he’s pleased with his vocal performance, as is Geffen: Tom [Zutaut] told me if I lost my voice it was okay, I could use my rough tracks [Rock Scene, September 1987].
We go in, play, and try to do it the first or second take, and if what comes out is decent enough to use, you don’t go back and keep fixing it – you lose the spirit. When we did solos, I couldn’t stand going back and doing it more than three times [Rock Scene, September 1987].
My contributions to the record took six days, start to finish, and I was done. On the other hand, Axl would insist on doing his vocals one line at a time, and that took much longer. [...] It was beyond what a perfectionist would demand. And it soon became obvious to us that it was obsession for the sake of obsession [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 118].
We did the basic tracks in two weeks. We'd have all the amps set up in one room. We had the guitar amps isolated and the bass direct and Steve's drums were in the room and we played in the room off the drums, putting all the tunes down in two weeks. Once in a while Slash would do a live solo an he usually would go back and recut them. He is a perfectionist in a lot of ways. [...] When we were going to do that [= add scratch vocals to play along with] Axl got a sore throat so he ended up doing it later. There were previous recordings where we recorded with vocals [Guitar, September 1988].
[...] we did basic tracks in two weeks and then I went back in. Izzy did the basic tracks, that’s it. Otherwise what’s coming out of the left speaker is what we did in two weeks. Everything he did was in mono. I went back and did all the stereo stuff. Izzy is on the left, I'm on the right and I'm in stereo with the echo and slide stuff. I'm more distorted than Izzy. [...] I went in and did basic tracks and played along with the drums and bass and Izzy. I would screw around but keep the actual song going. Then I would go back later and redo the whole rhythm and all the leads in front of the monitors in the control room. I had the monitors cranked up really loud and would just play along. I can’t play with headphones [Guitar, September 1988].
We actually went in and recorded in pre-production. We picked the 12 songs we were gonna stick with, refined them, went a in, recorded them and put them on the record [Kerrang! June 1989].
With only two weeks for the recording, most of the songs were done in very few takes, like 'Sweet Child O' Mine' which was recorded in one take, while 'Think About You', one of the simpler songs, required more (Steven would say 50 takes while Duff would argue 8) [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988]. Duff would later claim that the whole process has been rushed, and that they would spend more time on their second album:

Again, the success and the respect that we've gotten from the industry and from our company will just give us more time and more of ourselves to put into the next record. You know, we'll be able to, the first one it was rushed, and while "these guys ain't shit, they gonna do shit," you know, and blah blah, so, and so we were kind of rushed, in a way mentally, and, and, eh... [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].
After all recordings for Appetite was done, Axl, Slash and Izzy went to New York to sit in on the mixing process. The guys who mixed the record was Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero who had previously mixed the last Tesla record [Unknown UK source, June 1987].

Looking back, in early 1990, Axl would describe the process like this:

But what people don’t understand is that there was a perfec­tionist attitude to Appetite For Destruction. I mean, there was a definite plan to that. We could have made it all smooth and polished. We went and did test tracks with other producers and it came out smooth and polished – with Spencer Proffer. And Geffen Records said it was too fuckin’ radio. That’s why we went with Mike Clink. We went for a raw sound, because it just didn’t gel having it too tight and concise. We knew this. We knew the way we are on stage and the only way to capture that on the record is to make it somewhat live. Doing the bass, the drums and the rhythm guitar at the same time. Getting the best track, having it a bit faster than you play it live, OK, so that brings some energy into it. Adding lots of vocal parts and overdubs with the guitars, adding more music to capture… ’Cos Guns N’ Roses on stage, man, can be, like, out to lunch. Visually we’re all over the place and stuff and you don’t know what to expect. But how do you get that on a record? But somehow you have to do that. So there’s a lot more that’s needed on a record. That’s why recording is my favourite thing, because it’s like painting a picture. You start out with a shadow, or an idea, and you come up with something that’s a shadow of that. You might like it better. It’s still not exactly what you pictured in your head, though. And then you add all these things and you come up with something you didn’t even expect... Slash will do, like, one slow little guitar fill that adds a whole different mood that you didn't expect. That’s what I love. All of a sudden it’s like you’re doing a painting and then you go away and you come back and it’s different. You use the brush this way and allow a little shading to come in and you go, ‘‘Wow, I got a whole different effect on this that’s even heavier than what I pictured. I don’t know quite what I’m onto but I’m on it,” you know? “Paradise City”, man, that’s like, I came up with two of those first vocals – there’s five parts there – I came up with two and they sounded really weird. Then I said, look, I got an idea. I put two of these vocal things together, and it was the two weirdest ones, the two most obtuse ones. And Clink’s like, “I don’t know about that, man...” I'm like, "I don’t know either, why don’t we just sleep on it?” So we go home and the next day I call him up and now I’m like, “I don’t know about this.” But he goes, “No I think it’s cool!” So now he was the other way... So then we put three more vocal parts on it and then it fit. But the point is, that wasn’t how we had it planned. We don’t really know how it happened [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993].

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