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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:21 pm


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].

Last edited by Soulmonster on Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:08 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:21 pm


Axl was born William Rose ("Bill Rose") in Lafayette, Indiana ( a "hellhole in the Midwest", which he would later describe it [Hit Parader, April 1987]) on February 6, 1962.

Axl's biological parents were Sharon E. and William B. Rose [Kerrang, April 1990]. Sharon and William married when Sharon was still in high school [Rolling Stone, April 2, 1992]. Just before Axl had his 3rd birthday Sharon and William divorced [Journal and Courier, January 28, 1965]. About a year later Sharon married L. Stephen Bailey [Journal and Courier, January 27, 1966], resulting in the new couple changing the surname of Axl to Bailey, making his new name William Bailey.

It’s like, you know, my name was William Rose. My mom remarried and then my name was changed to Bill Bailey, William Bailey. My dad has told me that he begged my mom to change my first name, cuz he knew I was gonna get crap. I mean, imagine, you're a little kid, you know, and every place you go someone sings “Won’t you come home Bill Bailey.” I wanna cover the song. I like the song (laughs). [MTV, July 1989].
Sharon and William had one additional child, Amy [Journal and Courier, January 28, 1965], and Sharon and Stephen had one child, Stuart. Curiously, in Popular 1 from April 1988, Axl would be quoted as saying he has two brothers and two sisters [Popular 1, April 1988], but this is likely a mistake made by the magazine.

Axl grew up under the belief that Stephen was his real father and would only much later learn the truth about his biological father, William B. Rose [Rolling Stone, November 1989; Rolling Stone, April 2, 1992].

As a kid, it was like, I was obnoxious to get attention, but I was very shy and introverted. People didn’t see that side necessarily, but that's what's there. And it's still there. [MTV, 1989]
It has been implied that Axl was beaten by Stephen [Daily Press, August 1986] and he would talk about how he had been at odds with his stepfather and that he later saw "the pain that [his stepfather] has to go through in dealing with the way he raised me" [Rock Scene, October 1989].

In the early 90s Axl would claim that he had suffered abuse from both his biological father (William B. Rose) and his stepfather (Stephen Bailey), and neglect from his mother. This will be discussed in later chapters.

The household of Stephen and Sharon 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]
I was brainwashed in a Pentecostal church. I'm not against churches or religion, but I do believe, like I said in "Garden of Eden," that most organized religions make a mockery of humanity. My particular church was filled with self-righteous hypocrites who were child abusers and child molesters. These were people who'd been damaged in their own childhoods and in their lives. These were people who were finding God but still living with their damage and inflicting it upon their children. I had to go to church anywhere from three to eight times a week. I even taught Bible school while I was being beaten and my sister was being molested. We'd have televisions one week, then my stepdad would throw them out because they were satanic. I wasn't allowed to listen to music. Women were evil. Everything was evil. I had a really distorted view of sexuality and women. I remember the first time I got smacked for looking at a woman. I didn't know what I was looking at, and I don't remember how old I was, but it was a cigarette advertisement with two girls coming out of the water in bikinis. I was just staring at the TV - not thinking, just watching - and my dad smacked me in the mouth, and I went flying across the floor [RIP, November 1992].[/i]

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:25 pm


From an early stage Axl was interested in music despite limitation from his parents on what was acceptable music:

I started playing the piano when I was five, and I sang, alone or with my siblings, in a church outside the town. I went to church five days a week. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio there. I started listening to Elvis and gospel music, because that was what my dad had in his record collection and what he allowed me to listen to. If he caught me listening to something else, he would beat me up, because he said it was the devil's thing [Popular 1, April 1988 (although interview from October 1987; translated from Spanish)].
Music was my best friend. It was everything, so I'd find ways to listen to it. I remember once my friend Dave called me and played Supertramp over the phone. I just acted like I was talking to him so no one would know [Los Angeles Times, July 1991].
It wasn't necessarily the words in the songs but the melody and the feelings expressed in songs that somehow became a friend of mine when l was a child. The feeling that came out of the words, or the music, became my friend, my understanding friend, and then I knew that l could feel that way. I was denied feeling any way other than how my stepfather told me l should feel continually, about anything and everything. But in music, I could listen and realize you could feel other ways or new ways; it was O.K., because here were manifestations of those other feelings. […] Anyway, music became my ally. A lot of times it was music in my head, because l wasn't really allowed to listen to the radio. […] l was allowed to listen to the radio on Sunday afternoons sometimes. My dad would put it on, because l think that's when he and Mom had their special time together, and we had to take our naps; they would put on the radio so we wouldn't overhear anything. But rock n' roll was a bad and evil thing. l remember once I was singing a Barry Manilow song, "Mandy," In the back seat of the car. It came on the radio, and I kind of sang with it, and I got smacked In the mouth because that song was "evil" [Interview Magazine, May 1992].
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].
I was way influenced by Elton John. I got all his sheet music as a kid and everything, and figured, “Wow, this stuff is pretty technical. I can't play it, but I'll learn how to fake it real good” (laughs). So, it's like, instead of doing, like, you know, five finger things on the left hand and then how to do octaves killer. That's a lot easier (laughs). [MTV, 1989]
It all started with gospel - I started getting interested in it in the ‘70s - and also with everything I heard on my famous radio. One night I discovered Queen. They had what rock 'n' roll wasn’t supposed to have: technique. They were a perfect combination of technique and rock 'n' roll. I read about them, and their tours, and their great success in Japan. I got piano sheet music of their songs, and, since my parents were clueless, when they forced me to practice, I could play what I wanted, like Queen, the Beatles and the Stones. They thought I was practicing my daily lesson and had a satisfied smile on their face [Popular 1, April 1988 (although interview from October 1987; translated from Spanish)].
I didn't necessarily sing in a church choir. I had to sing in church as a kid with my brother and sister [Interview Magazine, May 1992].
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].
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].
In the fifth grade, I won a radio in a contest, and I remember that I spent the day listening to all the new music that was playing. One day, I heard a Zeppelin song, and when we went to class we started joking about it, but in the afternoon I sat in a corner turning the dial like crazy to hear that song again. Since then, I did the same thing every afternoon. At night, I hid the radio under my pillow, and listened to it thanks to a shaky set of headphones. If they caught me, the big brawl would start. […] The problem was that they wouldn’t just take away the radio if they found out, but they’d also hit me with a belt. One time I was in the car with my father, and  'Oh, Mandy' by Barry Manilow came up on the radio. I started humming it, and my father changed the station and gave me a hard smack [Popular 1, April 1988 (although interview from October 1987; translated from Spanish)].
My dad wanted me to play piano because he felt that he wished he could have and wished he would have taken time as a kid to learn how, because as he was older he knew he had too many things to do and he would never get into it [MTV, July 1989].
Umm, I can really only play my own songs. And… I really don't have the time to practice a whole lot. I'm hoping to… you know, get a piano and take on the road, and work with more often. Umm… I started playing when I was really little, kind of forced to. Umm, something my father wanted me to do, 'cause he regretted that he hadn't taken piano lessons. But, they didn't really know anything about music, so they couldn't tell if I was doing my lesson, or not. So, I didn't really pay attention to my lessons. I only played my lessons for the teacher. When I went in, basically, I had to sit down at the piano for a half hour to… whatever. Sometimes I'd sit there for a couple of hours and I just make up things. I think I could have… you know, learned how to be a lot better if I had been more dedicated. But there was, you know, so many crazy things going on in my household, that I didn't really need to be doing any extra-work like that. And it was hard to stay dedicated to something. But I did like sitting down and just trying to express the way I felt with the piano there. And it was also kinda like, while I was playing the piano, I wouldn't really be bothered by anything else going on in the family 'cause: "He's working on his piano now". So, I wouldn't be bothered by any of the problems or have to do more work, or be worried about getting yelled at, as long as I was on the piano. But, in the seventies, when I started playing rock n' roll… umm, my dad started getting a little wise when I was playing Led Zeppelin stuff on the piano, and he wasn't very happy with that [WNEW 102.7, September 1991].
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 wasn’t allowed to go to concerts, and my chances of escaping were limited, because [my parents] watched me a lot. Until tenth grade, if I wanted to leave I had to ask my parents for money, so they had control over me. It was horrible. But Izzy and I went to a Triumph concert, and then to a Johnny Winter one. I really started going to concerts when I moved to L.A. [Popular 1, April 1988 (although interview from October 1987; translated from Spanish)].
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'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].
That Axl preferred making up his own stuff is corroborated by Gary Branson, Axl's high school choir teacher:

"He was an interesting kid who wanted to write new songs on the piano instead of what we were trying to do" [Journal and Courier, May 1991].

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 song 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]
I remember listening to "Bennie and the Jets" - that's when l decided l wanted to play for big. I wanted to play a song l was proud of in front of big crowds [Interview Magazine, May 1992].[/i]
Axl 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, Axl didn't want to become a singer because, as he would say, "he didn't like his voice" [Spin, May 1988; Hit Parader, June 1989]. Also in 1987 would he claim to not being able to stand his own voice [Record Mirror, July 11, 1987].

[…] I always had a million different ideas of what I wanted to do. Just like any kid really, first I wanted to be a fireman, then a cowboy, and everything else. In about eight grade I knew I wanted to do something with music, and that took on all kinds of different shapes, and didn't really get solid until maybe 10 years ago, of exactly what I wanted to look like [Hit Parader, March 1992].[/i]
This insecurity in regards to his singing would stay with Axl 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, Axl 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]
If I wasn't doing this I'd be in law. But right now I don't have time to study. I hope to [Record Mirror, July 11, 1987].[/i]
I had aspirations of wanting to be a lawyer one time, because I like the intensity of the challenge [MTV, 1989].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:27 pm


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]:

I always used to get As at school — it got to be boring [Record Mirror, July 11, 1987].[/i]
His fifth grade teacher at Oakland Elementary School, Billy Johnson, would say that Axl was "very intelligent, very personable, always had a smile. He was always a step or two ahead of you in class, if you weren't careful, he'd take the class away from you" [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991]. Sue Ristau, who taught art at Jefferson High School, described Axl this way: "I would say he was active. I remember he had the class after lunch. I remember him bouncing into class. He liked art and was good in it. He could miss a lot of school and come back and still pick up and do better than the kids who had been there all the time" [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991]. Bill Lane, Axl's ninth grade science teacher would say that "[Axl] was one of those kids, as they say, has ants in his pants. He was constantly up-down-up-down around the room, like a little ant" [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991]. 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].
Being harassed by other kids

Axl would also describe himself as "never really popular" when he grew up [Rolling Stone, August 1989]. An old friend, Monica Gregory, would say Axl got "hassled a lot, for a variety of reasons" [Spin, September 1991]. His eight grade cross-country coach would say that his teammates once "taped his mouth shut" and another time "stuffed him in a locker" [Indianapolis Daily News, October 1991; A Current Affair, November 1991]. Axl would confirm that when he was in 7th grade, a bunch of 12th graders taped his mouth shut because he "wouldn't take their crap" [Rockline, November 27, 1991].

After Axl became famous, members of the Jefferson High School Class of ’80 reunion committee tried to contact him about a 10-year reunion, to which he sent them an "acid" letter telling them "he never was part of the class and that they should de­stroy his address" [Journal and Courier, May 1991].

Axl had numerous run-ins with the police when living 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]. He would later claim to always having been "in trouble with someone, somewhere. I've totally blackened out the early years of my life" [Hit Parader, March 1992].

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].
Police Chief Tom Leach would later claim that Axl was exaggerating:

"Lightweight all the way. We had some real heavyweights back in those days. To tell the truth, when I heard the name, I had to say, ‘Bill who?’. This is one of those times when we’re going to tell you that someone wasn’t so bad"[Journal and Courier, May 1991].

Journal and Courier would check Ax's police records in Indiana and found the following: "[Axl] spent some time in the Tippecanoe County Jail, accord­ing to county records. He spent a combined 10 days in jail as an adult over a period from July 1980 to September 1982 on char­ges ranging from public in­toxication to battery. He also was arrested four times as a juvenile" [Journal and Courier, May 1991]. The most serious misdemeanor was a charge of battery for slapping a neighborhood woman he knew [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991]. This would not be the last time Axl got in trouble after an altercation with a neighbor. Other charges were:

"Criminal trespass, for hopping a fence and swimming in the closed pool at a park near his home. He agreed to 20 hours of community service. Criminal mischief, for jumping on a 10 year old neighborhood boy's bicycle and breaking the reflector. A jury found him innocent. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, for going driving with a female friend who had taken her mother's car. He pleaded guilty and served six days of a 60-day sentence in the Tippecanoe County Jail. Public consumption of alcohol. He pleaded guilty and paid $59 in fines and court costs, a 30-day jail sentence was suspended" [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991].

After pleading guilty to consumption of alcohol, he was evaluated by a counselor with the New Directions Court Referral Center. The counselor would describe Axl as "an insecure, immature young man. Trying to change from loud mouth. Trying too hard to impress others", "having trouble growing up. Trying real macho image-anything to be liked and accepted" and "estranged from family. Confusion regarding career direction" [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991].

His grandmother, Anne Lintner, would say Axl was harassed by the police: "That's probably what's bugging him. Any of the accusations against him were all very minor. I've always had a feeling that it would dwindle down [his anger at Indiana]. But...they did pick on him" [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991].

At age 16 Axl was kicked out from home [Unknown UK source, June 1987] and lived with his maternal grandmother during high school [Jefferson Daily Star, October 1991]. Axl would describe being kicked out from home this way:

[...]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]
After having spent time in therapy, Axl would in 1991 muse on whether his rebellion was connected to his relationship with his stepfather:

I think a lot of it started because it was a way to strike back at my [stepfather]. Whenever I got into any situation with any form of authority, if I thought it was wrong or something, I wouldn't take one inch of it. I wouldn't work on communicating or working anything out, and I think they sensed all that hatred, which probably only made the (situation) worse [Los Angeles Times, July 1991].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:28 pm


One of Axl's 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].
Yeah, [Izzy] was a skateboarder. We hooked up in about 8th grade and started playing around that time [Rockline, November 27, 1991].
Together Axl 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].

Another of Axl's Indiana friends that would contribute song writing and play with Guns N' Roses in the future was Paul Huge. The following quotes are likely about Huge.

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, May 1987].
And coming from Indiana... I used to play with this guitar player named Paul and I learned about blues and emotionalism and stuff through him, and he was a big Page fanatic. [MTV, May 14, 1988]

Other Indiana friends were Mike Staggs, Dave Lank and Roger Miley:

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. [MTV Rockumentary, November 4, 1989]

It is likely Lank that is featured in the Hard and Heavy video from April 1989, and which Axl refers to as "my oldest friend in the world":

This is my oldest friend in the world. We grew up together. We’re two halves of the same person. [...] Twin sons out of different mothers. [Hard N' Heavy Video Magazine, April 1989]

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:29 pm


At 17, according to Rolling Stone, Axl found some insurance papers and his mother's diploma that told him for the first time about his biological father, William Rose, and that he had been baptized William Rose, too [Rolling Stone, November 1989; Kerrang! April 1990; Rolling Stone, April 2, 1992]. To distance himself from his biological father, he changed his name from "William" to just "W.". In 1991, Axl would comment upon his first name being just "W." and not "William" by saying it was because his "real father was kind of a jerk, so, you know, it’s just W. legally because I don’t really want to claim anything to that" [Rockline, November 27, 1991].

One of Axl'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].
"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 had a thing that I called AXL. That was a project, you know, and I was writing songs and I had them all in this little book and I was, like, looking for people. Izzy and I were trying to put it together. Axl, eventually, became me out of Izzy’s suggestion. He goes, “Look, you live, breath, walk, talk Axl. Why won’t you just be Axl.” “Okay, I’m Axl” [MTV Japan, November 1987].
A possible chronology of Axl's name changing may thus be something like this: First Axl first took back his birthname, Rose, to distance himself from his stepfather, becoming "William Rose". Then, as he considered himself as an uncompromising rebel and artist, the personification of his band at the time, added Axl to his name. Lastly, after coming to grips with the nature of his biological father (or possible early on to avoid the embarrassing name "Bill Bailey"), changed "William" to "W.", becoming "W. Axl Rose".  

Bill was something that got left behind long ago. I was named after my real father and that wasn't something I was a big fan of. If I'm getting in touch with the child in me then I'm dealing with Billy. But I'm Axl [Musician, June 1992].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:30 pm


At the age of 17, Axl travelled extensively:

St. Louis! I'll tell you a little something about this city. I was seventeen, and I left Indiana because I had a disagreement with one of the juvenile detectives. I had about 35 bucks and I took a bus to St. Louis. That was cool. I had about a half a joint and I went down by the Arch and smoked half a joint. And then I went out by whatever freeway I was closest to and I hitched a ride with some air conditioning repair man in a van. It all seemed pleasant and safe enough and nothing really much happened. I was, like, exhausted and beat and never been out of my fucking town on my own in my life. And we went to some fucking hotel and I crashed out and this guy crashed out, and I woke up and this guy was trying to fuck me. I don't care — you can be male, female, you can be a fucking dog — I don't care what you are, man, that shit ain't right. It took everything I had not to slash his jugular vein [Onstage, July 2, 1991].[/i]

Axl had been invited to come join Izzy and Los Angeles [Journal and Courier, February 21, 1993], so Axl decided to travel to California to look for Izzy in 1981. We know this since Izzy moved to Los Angeles after graduating in 1980, and met Axl there the following year [see chapter about Izzy].

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]
Izzy would  summarize this:

I moved to L.A. first, then Axl moved out a year later. Then Axl went on a hitchhiking tour across the states, then showed up again in LA and we started putting the band together and writing songs [The Boston Globe, February 5, 1993].[/i]
In 1981, Axl claims to have moved permanently 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]
As seen from the previous discussion, this is likely not entirely correct. Izzy moved to LA in 1980 and Axl hook up with his there in 1981, at the earliest. In the summer of 1982, he was back in Lafayette and started to date the local girl Gina Siler. According to Siler, Axl had "already bussed or hitchhiked out to LA and back twice" [Spin, September 1991]. Siler would describe him this way: "he had on a long trench coat, dark glasses, collar pulled up, and said he was trying to stay away from the police" [Spin, September 1991]. Siler and Axl would do "stupid things" together, like "smash windows along Main Street" [Spin, September 1991]. Siler would recall Axl being hassled by the police one time he was back in Lafayette:

"[Axl] was walking down the street, and it was probably two o’clock in the morning. From the back, he looks very effeminate, with his long hair - not common for that area - and very thin legs, and he had a long coat on. These police were making comments, making gestures, because they thought he was a woman. Until he turned around, and they were very embarrassed to find out it was a male. So they started hassling him, because they were homophobic as hell. They questioned him, and then found out it was Bill Bailey, who’d obviously been in trouble before, and threw him in jail." Axl would call her in the early morning: "'I’m in jail. You got to get me out.' I skipped school the next day. And they brought him out in cuffs. Took him to court. I had to pay his bail" [Spin, September 1991].

On December 19, 1982, after Siler graduated from high school early, they moved to Los Angeles and lived together in Hollywood "on or off until 1985" [Spin, September 1991]. Their first apartment was, according to Siler, "some shit hole" at 1921 Whitley Avenue in Hollywood, where they lived together for five months before Siler moved out. Later Izzy would move in with Axl in that apartment [Spin, September 1991].

Later in life Axl would have a contentious relationship with his hometown Lafayette and Indiana. At a concert in Indianapolis in May 1991, Axl would liken living in Indiana to be "prisoners in Auschwitz" [Onstage at Deer Creek Music Centre in Noblesville, May 1991] and talk about how parents and teachers "can rob young people of their individuality and aspirations" [Los Angeles Times, July 1991].

Axl would explain what he meant about those comments:

You get a lot of teaching in high school about going after your dreams and being true to yourself, but at the same time (teachers and parents) are trying to beat you down. It was so strict in (our house) that everything you did was wrong. There was so much censorship, you weren't allowed to make any choices. Sex was bad, music was bad. I eventually left, but so many kids stay (in that environment). I wanted to tell them . . . that they can break away too [Los Angeles Times, July 1991].[/i]
Despite this, there would be a few media reports where Lafayette citizens were confronted with Axl's statements resulting in negative comments towards him, like when Axl's high school principal, Dennis Blind, would say, "At this point, we’ll probably have no reason to invite him back and I don’t know whether or not he would even come back" [A Current Affair, November 1991].

And while reflecting on his upbringing:

You know, it's strange. In some ways I hate the way I was raised . . . the lack of support for anything I was into or good at. But in some ways I can't hate it because it gave me this sense of drive . . . this mission to do something with my life [Los Angeles Times, July 1991].[/i]

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:31 pm


According to Tom Zutaut, Axl was homeless for a period:

When [Axl] came out here, he didn’t have money for rent or anything, so he and a group of street nomads would move into some half-finished building when the workmen left [Baltimore Sun, August 12, 1988].[/i]
In Hollywood, Axl had various jobs, including being paid "$8-an-hour to smoke cigarettes" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

At some point, likely not long after coming to LA, Axl tried out for a punk band but didn't make it because he was told he "sounded like Robert Plant" [RIP, November 1992].

One of the first bands Axl played in after coming to Hollywood, was Rapidfire together with the founder 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. According to Siler, Rose was formed while she and Axl lived together in Whitley Avenue [Spin, September 1991], which, if true, must mean that Rose was formed between December 1982 and May 1983. Since Rose (and Hollywood Rose) came after Rapidfire, it must mean that Axl was in Rapidfire some time before December 1982 or May 1983.

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 from Rose to Hollywood Rose, although Weber could not remember why [Rock City News, January 1988].

At some point Izzy and Axl put out an ad for a new lead guitar player which caught the attention of Slash:

The first time I met him was at an apartment. They'd had an ad in the paper. Him and Izzy had an ad in the paper for a lead guitar player. Now, I'd already met Izzy, without knowing that's who I was calling back, and I went down and met Axl.
And he was on the phone talking about himself for... for the entire time that we were... He was talking to some chick. I don't know what was going on, but that was when we first met. And nothing came out of that
[97.7 HTZ-FM, January 1994].[/i]

Later on Slash would join Hollywood Rose but he and Izzy got in a quarrel resulting in Izzy quitting:

Then Izzy quit, because... That whole guitar player syndrome, you know, like... I don't wanna have to... Izzy is the kinda guy that don't want somebody else making his decisions for him. And so when I came around...I'm sort of like a power-freak too, I guess. You know, I'm sorta like: "this is what we should do here". You know, and so we got into conflict. So he quit. Me and Axl carried the band on for a while [97.7 HTZ-FM, January 1994].[/i]

But Slash and Axl would also get in a fight resulting in them splitting [97.7 HTZ-FM, January 1994]. This is likely when Hollywood Rose dissolved and Axl joined the new band L.A. Guns together with Tracii Guns.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:32 pm


To be added.
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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:33 pm


Izzy Stradlin was born Jeffrey Dean Isbell on April 8, 1962, and have two brothers [Rockline, January 25, 1992]. Izzy had his first years in Florida. His father was an engraver, his mother worked for the phone company [Musician, November 1992]. His parents divorced when Izzy was in third grade [Musician, November 1992] and he 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].

Like Axl, Izzy didn't have much nice things to say about Indiana:

Fuck you and your magazine. There’ll be no shit about me being from Indiana. It deserves nothing; it was a worthless fucking city – it’s shit. […] The fact that I’m from Indiana has no business being in my career[Music Connection, April 4, 1986].
Although years later, when he had moved back to Indiana, he would excuse his comments with being drunk during the interview:

You gotta understand, from 1980 to '87, I was in California and Guns N' Roses. We did some interviews, the first ones we'd done, in '86 or '85, drunker than s —. The subject of Indiana came up and somehow we were sputtering crap about it. […] I was 20 years old. I guess I should have known a little better [The Indianapolis Star, February 21, 1993].
Music was an important part of Izzy's family and childhood:

When I was a kid, we used to have parties at our house every week, with kegs of beer and a band and everything. My brothers and I were supposed to be the beer runners, but as the night would go on, the band would take a break, and I’d sit down and start banging on the drums. I was 8 or 9 years old, and I already had this spark going in me [The Daily Spectrum, April 11, 1993].
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].
We used to have Rock 'N' Roll bands come to play at our house when I was a real young kid. My dad used to have these parties and me and my brothers were beer runners. The bands were always downstairs and I always hung out with them. When you're a kid and these guys would show to play stuff on the drums, it was great. They'd play stuff like (Credence Clearwater Revival's) 'Proud Mary'. I was lucky 'cos I got to grow up with that. I've been hooked on that ever since[Raw Magazine, November 11, 1992].
I suppose when I was in high school, I thought that it might be cool to be a lead singer. At a few drunken keg parties, I’d sing a couple of Van Halen songs, but I was so drunk I don't remember if we ever finished a song[Star Tribune, February 26, 1993].
I lived in a government housing place and these neighbors were super cool. They had kids and a huge record collection with the Stones, Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd. So I listened to all that ’60s stuff. Then in the late ’70s, I got into all the punk records and really liked the Ramones[The Boston Globe, February 5, 1993].
On the autobiographic song 'Train Tracks' off his first record with the Ju Ju Hounds, Izzy would describe hanging out at the trains tracks drinking and smoking weed [Rockline, January 25, 1993].

In September 1992, Izzy would talk about getting his first guitar:

[My parents] wanted me to go to college. I didn't give a fuck! I was playing drums, I just wanted to hit my skins. My mother was behind me, but my father was really more skeptical. When I brought my first electric guitar at home, he went: "How much did ya pay for this?" "One hundred dollars" I answered. And him: "Some wasted money!"[Rock & Folk, September 1992].
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].
We did covers of Angel City, one of the Ramones, and we tried to make covers of Aerosmith, but we never got to do it. […] I was a drummer, for me it was easy, but the guitarist that we had at the time, was more into Led Zeppelin and Rush. Axl and I, we preferred to play Ramones or Angel City stuff, hard rock stuff, but with a different vocal style [Popular 1, November 1992].
Well, we’ve been together for 15 years […]. [Izzy] was a skateboarder. We hooked up in about 8th grade and started playing around that time. […]He was a drummer then [Rockline, November 27, 1991].
[Axl and I] tried to put together a band in Lafayette in the early days, and nothing came of it, unfortunately[Journal and Courier, February 21, 1993].
When in junior high Jeffrey adopted his nickname, "Izzy" [MTV Documentary, November 1989].

Talking about his jobs:

I worked in a car wash when I was 15. I worked where the cars come out and you have to dry the cars off. In the winter time with the wind chill it can be 10 or 20 below zero, and that was real work getting up at five or six in the morning. It was cold and you've got these towels that are freezing and you're washing these fuckers off. Music is more something that you love to do so it doesn't seem like work. The thought of having to get a real job is difficult. I was never that good at keeping a straight job and getting enough money to do what I wanted to do. At the same time I had to work as a kid. If you gotta do it you do it. […]

I've had different jobs. I worked in pizzerias and I actually enjoyed that. That was one job that didn't feel like work unless there was a gig or concert that I wanted to go to. In that case I'd leave work early anyway. I actually liked cooking pizzas, flipping the dough and stuff was cool.[…]

If I had to get another real job I would probably work in a pizzeria, or I'd work in the car wash and I'd be on the front end. The front end is where the guys would pump gas and vacuum the cars, and these guys were always the envy of everyone else who had it rough. This was back in the '70s when people would drive around with big joints in their cars. They'd smoke half a joint and leave the rest so that when one guy pulls up with half a joint in his ashtray, what happens to the joint? It ends up in the pocket of the guys who are up front who'd smoke them! I think I'd rather work in a pizza place though where it's warm and there's music
[Raw Magazine, November 11, 1992].
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].

According to Musician, Izzy did not enjoy school, he "built a wall of fog around himself with marijuana and managed to graduate in 1979 with a D average" [Musician, November 1992]. Actually, Izzy graduated from high school in 1980, not 1979 [Courier and Journal, May 19]. The same year he received a letter from a guitarist friend who had left for the California earlier, touting the advantages of Californian life together with some sample of Californian pot [The Daily Spectrum, April 11, 1993]. Izzy subsequently left for California that summer [Courier and Journal, May 19, 1980; Rolling Stone, November 1988; Courier and Journal, February 23, 1993] at the age of 18 [Guitar World, March 1989; Journal Courier, February 21, 1993].

I never really thought about coming back or not. You know, I'm 18 years old, I never thought too far ahead. I've got enough money for gas and I got all my stuff. I'm going to get in a band and maybe check out the beach and get some sun [Journal and Courier, February 21, 1993].
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 [Popular 1, November 1992], The Naughty Women. They rehearsed for a week in the bassist's parents' home in Orange County [Musician, November 1992] before playing their first gig in downtown Los Angeles [Musician, November 1992].

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]
I was straight outta the Midwest and I didn't have a clue, but I noticed there was something strange about the audience. They didn't have any hair. And we all had long hair. We were sort of a punk drag band like the New York Dolls, and the singer was this really ugly guy wearing a pink Spandex jumpsuit, a tanktop and lots of makeup. And the rest of us were dressed the same way.

So these guys with no hair turned out to be skinheads, and they hated us. They threw beer bottles and spit. They got onstage and broke the guitar player's finger, trashed the amps, beat the shit out of the singer. That was my first gig. We were called the Naughty Women. At the time I thought they must have it together because they had business cards
[Musician, November 1992]
I was in a punk band. I arrived in Los Angeles on a Sunday and by Wednesday I was already in that group. I had just arrived from Indiana, and I had no idea what was going on (laughs); for four nights I rehearsed with them, I had a car, a Chevrolet Impala and that’s why I became the roadie, and in my car, rode all the equipment, drums, instruments, it was a very big car. We arrived at the Troubadour, there was a punk concert; at that time in Los Angeles, people wore Cherokee haircuts, I, on the other hand, had waist-length hair, I came from Indiana (laughs), and the guys from my band came out of the dressing room like women, so I said to them “What is this about!” (laughs) No one told me anything! We could only do six or seven songs, people from the audience got up on stage, hit the singer and broke the guitarist’s hand, they destroyed the equipment and I said, “We’re leaving!” The police arrived. It was quite exciting, it was one of those things that makes you say “Uaauhh, so that is what happened!”[Popular 1, November 1992]
One of the first bands I was in after I came to California was called the Naughty Women, and I had no idea what they were about. Then we did our first gig, and they walked out on stage in full makeup and Spandex. It was a skinhead crowd, and they just hated us. They were throwing bottles and stuff, and I was in the middle of it all, just this normal-looking guy from Indiana who just didn’t get it. It was a trip[The Daily Spectrum, April 11, 1993]

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].
[Izzy] wasn’t a very good drummer (laughs). So him probably playing guitar was a better idea (laughs) [November Rain: Makin' F@*!ing Videos Part II, June 22, 1993].

Izzy invited Axl to come and join him [Journal and Courier, February 21, 1993] and the next year, in Easter in 1981, 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]
At the time Izzy was living in an apartment in Huntington Beach [Popular 1, November 1992].

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]. He would later say he had played in "several punk and rock bands in L.A. and at the West Coast [before Guns N' Roses]" [Gitarre & Bass, February 1993 (translated from German)].

At the age of 19, likely in 1981, Izzy had an experience that would later inspire the lyrics to 'Pretty Tied up':

My Mexican friend Tony took me to meet this woman named Margot at her house. She gave us some tequila or something and she goes in the bedroom and we walk in and there's this big fat naked guy with an onion in his mouth. He's wearing women's underwear and high heels and he's tied up with duct tape against the wall. Me and Tony were like, What the fuck is going on here? Cracking up laughing. She was this dominatrix chick. We sat around her living room for the rest of the afternoon, listening to records, and she'd go in the bedroom and do her thing. At the end of the day she turned him loose and he paid her all this money. She took us out to eat. There was this whole scene of dominatrix chicks who worked in the S&M clubs. They'd beat on guys and after work, they'd take a musician out to dinner, let you stay at their place sometimes [Musician, November 1992].
In about 1984, through Izzy's roommate at the time, he started smoking powdered Persian heroin and was quickly addicted [Musician, November 1992].

I had a couple of hits and it felt great. But it was just like they say: You kinda dabble in something and the next thing you know you got a habit [Musician, November 1992].
Izzy was introduced to Tracii Guns through Axl:

I met [Tracii] in Los Angeles, I don’t remember exactly what happened… I lived with Axl, they threw us out of where we lived and Tracii Guns came to my house one day and told me “Hey, if you want to come and live at my house…” He lived with his mom, in a small house in Fairfax, that’s a Jewish area in Los Angeles. I told myself, “I don’t even know this guy!” But I went to live with him for a couple of months and that’s how I met him, that’s how I met him in the beginning. I played with him in a band, too[Popular 1, November 1992].
That band would be Hollywood Rose [Popular 1, November 1992].

At first Izzy would call himself "Izzy Stranded" [Newsletter #1, December 1985] at a point when he "had no job, no car, no money" but decided that "Izzy Stranded" was too depressing [Star Tribune, February 26, 1993] so he changed to "Izzy Stradlin".

In 1988, Izzy would describe himself this way:

Quiet, articulate and full of shit[Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988]
In September 1992, after having quit Guns N' Roses, Izzy would look back at his decision to buy a guitar and not go to college:

The other day, I told [my father]: "Hey, pop, you remember when you shouted at me for that guitar? Well, how much money did I get with this guitar?" He's a real fan now. He's cool my father. He's got a tractor and he mows my lawn! He married a new wife and made two little girls, I told him "Hey, pop, slow down a little bit!" Ah, ah[Rock & Folk, September 1992].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:34 pm


For the band's 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.

And then I started playing with Axl, Izzy and a couple of other guys, called Guns N’ Roses [Circus Magazine, November 1991].
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'.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:57 pm


Michael "Duff" McKagan was born on February 5, 1964. Born and raised in the University District of Seattle ("The same city Jimi Hendrix was from; and I went to the same high school as him, only twenty years later!" [L'Unità, May 16, 1992]), in an Irish neighborhood [Much Music, September 22, 1993], near the University of Washington [Circus Magazine, November 1991], Duff was the youngest of 8 siblings. His parents were divorced and his mother supported the family as a typist [Circus Magazine, November 1991].

Already at the age of two, his parents started to call him "Duff" [MTV Documentary, November 1989].

Well, yeah, it was my nickname from when I was born. Because, you know, my mom would yell “Michael,” any mom would yell “Michael” out of the front door, and you’d see twenty kids come running. […] And “Duff” is a very common Irish nickname [Much Music, September 22, 1993].
I hate the name Mike! I love Michael, but I grew up in an Irish family, in an Irish neighbourhood, and ‘Duff” is a pretty common nickname. Like Duff’s tavern, Duffy O’Toole. Also, there were so many kids - six next door and we had eight - that on this block it was ridiculous. The McKagans, the Harveys, the O’Neills, all these Irish catholic families with tons of kids. So if someone yelled out, ‘Michael’ you’d see about five people come running [RAW, September 1993].
In 1991 Duff would say he hated the "Duff" nickname [Circus Magazine, November 1991]. He also had the nickname "Rose":

That was to differentiate myself from all the other Duff McKagans running around! [RAW, September 1993].
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].

I was fortunate to be from a large family who were all very musical. I got a lot just from hearing all my brothers and sisters play. Eventually I'd play something I heard on the radio, or something my brothers and sisters were playing, like a Jimi Hendrix record. I could figure out the chords in five minutes, without ever learning a chord in my life. I was gifted with that instinct [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].
[…] I just grew up listening to, like, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith... Aerosmith was probably the band that did it - cuz Led Zeppelin was brilliant musically and Jimi Hendrix was from my hometown, so he was real big there, but Aerosmith was the cool looking band, they were like the bad kids on the block. That’s basically how I was; you know, on the wrong side of the tracks, that type of thing. I saw Aerosmith in ’76, I was 12 years old, and I said, “This is what I want to do” [Finnish TV, August 1991].
When I was 12 in Seattle. I saw Led Zeppelin at the Kingdome and I said, 'I want to be up there someday.’ It’s a corny story that’s true [New York Daily News, July 29, 1992].
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].
When I was 15 years old I was like in three bands at one time — I'd go to one rehearsal playing drums, another playing maybe drums again and another playing guitar [Kerrang! July 17, 1993].
Duff played in "over 30 bands" [The Seattle Times, July 1991] or "31 bands" [Circus Magazine, November 1991; Kerrang! March 1989], alternating between playing bass, guitar and drums [Circus Magazine, November 1991].

[…]I'd been touring in punk bands since I was 15. I started on drums, but I was often times in two bands, where I'd have a gig in San Francisco playing drums and the next morning you'd find me with my thumb out hitchhiking to Portland, to get to my other gig[…] [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].
The bands included the Fastbacks, Ten Minute Warning, the Veins, On the Rocks, and Crisis Party [The Seattle Times, July 1991; Circus Magazine, November 1991], although a lot of them were just party bands that played together only once [Circus Magazine, November 1991]. The Fastbacks recorded a record and were featured on the first Seattle Syndrome LP [Circus Magazine, November 1991]. Duff would put out a single with The Veins [Circus Magazine, November 1991].

The first single I played on was with a band called the Veins, not to be confused with Vain. It was '79, and I was actually playing bass then. Then I played drums on a single in a band called the Fastbacks, who are still around. I was about 15, going on 16. I played drums on a few records of a band called the Farts, which were a very popular cult hardcore punk band. If you listen to those records, you can see where a lot of the speed metal comes from now, 'cause we're talking '79/'80, when there was no such term as speed metal [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].
The Fartz, do you remember that band? I was the drummer. Then we turned into Ten Minute Warning and I played guitar [Circus Magazine, November 1991].
When I was in The Fartz we were a Seattle band, as opposed to being from Bellevue, where the rich kids were from. We had shit places to play and no money. […] In 1982 we were on the cover of The Rocket (a notorious Seattle music scene paper) in a ‘Punk V Metal’ deal. Bellevue people thought that were superior to anyone else. Anyway, we went over there to play, and our Punk following didn’t come to see us, cos they were scared of the metal crowd ‘n’ the lumberjacks and shit. So the five of us played the gig. We got booed and had shit thrown at us, but we were used to that, so it was no big deal! […] The Fartz turned into 10 Minute Warning. When Guns had Soundgarden open for them in Europe, a couple of the guys from the band took me aside one day and told me how 10 Minute Warning had inspired ‘em. They were fans! […] It was a great band. It was like King Crimson hitting a brick wall! I played guitar. We recorded some stuff. I have the tapes and I’m thinking of remixing them and putting the material out. It’s awesome shit - just way out there, man! [Kerrang! January 1994].
My old band, Ten Minute Warning, did record some stuff that has been put out. I’ve just been talking to Bruce (Pavitt) from SubPop, about putting the stuff out again, once and for all. Just today, I was talking with my friend Jeff who’s still in a band in Seattle; he’s seen it all happening. He’s been there through the Seattle explosion crap. You know Seattle really had a great scene way back, thought I was too young to see most of it. I got into it in ’79, and I was kind of too late. There were so many heavy fucking bands back then, and now this whole Seattle thing had happened……I hate to say this but I feel maybe a little cheated. A lot of the bands are just copying shit that happened in Seattle 10, 12 years ago. They’re just copying that whole thing and taking credit for it, and that really pisses me off. I mean Guns N’ Roses copy all kinds of shit from the past, but we cop to it ya know?[Kerrang! April 1993].
Duff attended Roosevelt High School but dropped out of tenth grade [Circus Magazine, November 1991]:

I got great grades and was in the gifted program and all that shit and I learned all I needed to learn. So I got my GED and dropped out of tenth grade [Circus Magazine, November 1991].
I told my mom, 'I can't go to school. I've learned what I need to learn. I just want to get on the road.' After having seven other kids, she's like, `Okay, whatever you want to do' [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].
After quitting school he worked as a cook in a restaurant and played clubs at night [Circus Magazine, November 1991].

Apparently while living in Seattle Duff knew the serial killer Ted Bundy [Raw, September 1993; Okej, November 1993].

One hobby he had was skiing which he picked up as a teenager, and he did well enough to be picked out for the K2 ski team [The Gazette/Orange County Register, September 26, 1992]:

I'm not saying I'm the world’s greatest skier, but at least I made the team [The Gazette/Orange County Register, September 26, 1992].
Another hobby of his, if we are to believe Life Magazine, was car-theft, and according to this magazine he stole a total of 133 cars [Life Magazine, December 1992].

At the age of 19 [The Seattle Times, July 1991; Circus Magazine, November 1991], or 20 [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992], in 1983 [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992], Duff decided to move to Los Angeles together with Greg Gilmore from Ten Minute Warning [Circus Magazine, November 1991]. He had considered moving to New York, too:

Why did I move out of my nice, safe, Seattle surroundings? Because it was safe and nice and comfortable. I flipped a coin. It was either New York or L.A. and it went heads, so I went to L.A. My car never would have made New Yolk anyway [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].
The day before moving he decided to switch from guitar to bass [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].

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].
I knew there were a million guitar players, a lot of whom were technically a lot better than I was. So I sold all my stuff up in Seattle and bought a bass and a little combo bass amp, and I was going to play bass, basically, because bassists were hard to find. I used it to get my foot in the door [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].
When I moved to L.A, I wanted to play guitar. But in LA there were millions of guitar players, millions of Yngwie Malmsteens and shit, and I really wasn't into playing like that at all, I was more into playing like Thunders guitar. The bass was my least serious of the instruments. I was a better drummer than anything else back then, but my drum set was cheap shit, so I got a bass [Kerrang! July 17, 1993].
Well, I wanted to get my foot in the door in L.A. and I knew there was always a demand for bass players. I just had a cheap drum kit, a little Marshall combo amp and a little Hamer double cutaway Junior guitar. It was a great guitar but that broke, my Marshall got ripped off and my drum set was a piece of shit. So I traded in everything I had left and got a cheap bass and a little amp and moved. […] I thought that once I had got my foot in the door and met people, then I could go back to playing guitar or drums. But I really came to appreciate the bass and use it for more than just a backbone, for the melody and other cool things [Guitarists Magazine, November 1993].
Duff immediately got a job working at Black Angus [Circus Magazine, November 1991; Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].

The same week [Guitar for the Practising Musician in April 1992], a week later [Circus Magazine,November 1991] or just a few weeks after arriving in L.A., Duff answered an ad put in a magazine by Slash to become the bassist in Slash and Steven's band, Road Crew [Duff's biography?]. The ad said something like: "Guitar player looking for bass player: Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Dolls, Led Zeppelin and Fear. Call Slash" [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992]. They met at Canter's Deli [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].

[Slash] had some songs, I had some songs. Steven Adler was playing drums. The band was called Road Crew, so we played the song, "We Are the Road Crew," by Motorhead. We played "Mama Kin," by Aerosmith. I think "Back off Bitch" was one of the songs. We're rehearsing, we're humping our gear down to this tiny place that doesn't have storage. Even if it did, we weren't able to afford to keep our stuff there, and it was in a bad area. I don't know if I would want to keep anything there. We never actually did a gig because we couldn't find a singer. I was going to sing, but we didn't have a PA., so that's about as far as it got. Road Crew was very short-lived. Maybe two months [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].
Note: It is not likely they played 'Back Off Bitch' since this is a Hollywood Rose song.

Playing in Road Crew wasn't a success, though, and Duff split after six weeks [Kerrang! March 1989].

Then I met Izzy and he moved in across the street. I lived in this real bad neighborhood in Hollywood. […] So with Izzy, we see each other walking down the street, and I think he saw me carrying a bass and he goes, "Me and a buddy of mine (Axl) just got a band together. Do you wanna play bass?" I said, "Sure." I'll try anything once. So I went out there, and there was a drummer and this other guitar player [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].
This version of how Duff met Izzy and ended up in Guns N' Roses is also confirmed by Raz Cue [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 199]. In Kerrang! March 1989, it is claimed Duff joined GN'R after answering an ad made by Axl, but this is likely not correct and a confusion with Slash's ad for Road Crew.

And then I started playing with Axl, Izzy and a couple of other guys, called Guns N’ Roses [Circus Magazine, November 1991].
Looking back at his transition from small punk bands to Guns N' Roses and their commercial success:

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 Jun 15, 2019 8:00 pm


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]
Duff would remember the April 24 gig:

There were three people there, and one of them was our friend, and one was one of our girlfriends, and the other was the girlfriend’s friend. But we believed in ourselves from the first chord we played together [Guitars, groupies and lots and lots of hair, The New York Times, July 2012].
But things weren't working out for Duff:

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" [see section below], 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].

Later, Tracii would say he left for "the same reason Izzy left" [Kerrang! May 23, 1992].

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 [Kerrang! May 23, 1992].

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.


When Guns N' Roses blew up, Tracii would later express bitterness over the band being referred to as the "Gunners":

It pisses me off, I gotta say. It makes me so mad. […] Not only does that make me mad, it makes me mad that they didn’t change the name of the f**kin’ band when I split! […] It was Izzy, who was my best friend, that said, ‘No, we’re not going to change it’. I was like, ‘Why the f**k not? We’re selling out the Whiskey right now but we’re not that big. We can sell 500 tickets, so what?' In LA we’d only been playing for a year. I honestly didn't think they were going to use the name. Then they kept it and it really didn’t bother me because I didn’t think that things would happen... Then once they got really big I still never thought about it. But now, like the last two years it’s really pissed me off. They’re referred to under that name [Kerrang! May 23, 1992].

Especially the focus on music that was written when Tracii was still in the band would ire him:

I wanted to and I was ready to burn LA down -just like everybody else is doing right now. I was so pissed off. Everything on the first record I had done but that made sense: they got a deal, they didn't write any new songs except ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ after I left... But I dug the record. It was like, ‘Wow, it's a f**kin’ cool record. I wish I was playing on it...'.

Then they put ‘Don’t Cry’ out which was like four or five years after the fact and... Be cool, be cool to me. I never did nothing wrong to those guys. Sure, Axl will say all day long, ‘Ah, Tracii’s a dick, he left right in the middle', but I never said a bad word about those guys, never asked for nothing and they never offered me nothing so it kinda pisses me off [uneasy chuckling].

Give me five bucks, man, it's my name! Buy me a cheese burger! [chuckles]
[Kerrang! May 23, 1992].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:01 pm


With Tracii being fired and Rob leaving the band [or possibly the other way around, see discussion in previous section], a new lead guitarist and a new drummer was needed. According to Duff, Axl knew a couple of guys who could fill in: Slash and Steven Adler [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 61; Guitar for the Pracising Musician, April 1992]. 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 Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:02 pm


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].
After we had done a couple club gigs in LA., I booked us a tour. I said, "I'm going to see if this works." I came into rehearsal one day and I said, "Okay guys, let's tour. I've got all these numbers for all these clubs up and down the West Coast and Canada." Axl and Izzy were like, "Yeah!" We knew this guy with a car, so we knew we could get there [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].
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 one 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 (or possibly Gorilla Room) in Seattle on June 8 or 12.

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 the 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]
Duff says in his biography that the band was not paid for the show at the Gorilla because they didn't drew a crowd (only 15 people came [Circus Magazine, November 1991]); but according to other interviews the band was paid $50 instead of the promised $200 or $250 [Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1986; Circus Magazine, November 1991].

The guy promised us two-hundred and fifty bucks and only gave us fifty. We threatened to burn the place down and he called the cops and we high-tailed it out of there, after stealing more money from him [Circus Magazine, November 1991].
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].

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Jul 06, 2019 6:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:24 pm


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].
[…] I can't actually stand my own voice, but everyone else in this band is so scared of doing it that it's always left to me [Record Mirror, July 11, 1987].
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 a gig at Madame Wong's East (July 4).

We played Wong’s East one time, and it was just our girlfriends there [Rock Scene, September 1987].
The next show was on the Fourth of July at Madame Wong's East, a restaurant in Chinatown that hosted a lot of punk-rock shows at night. Guns played second on a four-band bill that night. Only three people showed up for our set, including Kat [Duff's girlfriend] and West [Arkeen].

The gig at Madame Wong's was like many of our first shows in that we were booked alongside unk bands. Early in our career we played shows with Social Distortion, the Dickies, and Fear. I guess at first we must have been perceived as that - punk
[Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 87-88].
Then they played another show at the Troubadour (July 20). At this 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).

[...] the night after we unveiled "Jungle" at the Troubadour, we played a UCLA frat house. We got $35 and free beer for that show. It was one of those spontaneous gigs - it was set up the same day we played. The students at the frat party weren't sure what to make of us and hung back a little. Axl's assless chaps may have had something to do with our tepid reception, too. Still, free beer [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 98-99].
The band then possibly played a show at the Seance (July 26), but little information on this show has been found.

In 1992, after having left GN'R, Izzy would look back at his relationship with Slash:

I don't think he 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. […] He was like a brother, but a brother who really wanted to be out on his own [Musician, November 1992].
And Slash would look back at working with Izzy:

Even though the band always sounded cool, Izzy and I never sat down together and worked out guitar parts. We weren't really a team, in that sense. We would just jam, and he'd play things his way and I'd play things my way [Guitar Player, November 1992].
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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:24 pm


Slash was born 'Saul Hudson' in Stoke-On-Trent in England on July 23, 1965, and has a younger brother called Ash, to parents Anthony and Ola Hudson.

Slash' father, Anthony, 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, 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 when he was 11, he moved with his mother to Los Angeles [Metal Zone, December 1993]. Slash would later be asked about his relationship with England:

I don't remember much of my time in England and I don't think I'm carrying anything typically English. It's not something I'm aware of anyway [Metal Zone, December 1993].

[…] I don’t feel so British. I was really very young when my family moved. We came back a few times to visit the relatives, but it doesn’t mean much to me [Unknown French Publication, June 1987].
Transitioning to Los Angeles wasn't easy for the young Slash:

[…] I went through a period where I just didn't fit in. When I moved to the States I didn't fit in. My parents were completely different then all the other parents of the kids that I grew up around, you know, looser and cooler and, you know, more in the music business as supposed to being attorneys, doctors. So, I didn't really get on. I don't have too many friends that I can think of, that go back to my childhood. I think I can count maybe five. [laughs] These were kids that were outcasts themselves. So we just sort of… just naturally fell together [Swedish TV, June 13, 1993].

When I moved to the States I didn't fit in. My parents were completely different then all the other parents of the kids that I grew up around, you know, looser and cooler and, you know, more in the music business as supposed to being attorneys, doctors. So, I didn't really get on [Metal Zone, December 1993].
In Los Angeles, 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].

I saw these temperamental, wacked-out people who happened to be friends of the family [chuckling], and it was par for the course as far as I was concerned. I grew up as a music fan, and as far as the lifestyle was concerned, I didn't realize it was all that different until I got into public elementary school and I realized I was waaay different from the kids there [The Washington Post, July 18, 1992].
Coming from a musical family meant his parents were supportive of him becoming a musician:

I have no complaints as far as the average rock 'n' roll person [who] has got all kinds of rebellious runaway stories, and of having to deal with their parents. I came up completely different. When I got involved in the actual playing and quit school and started working full-time to support it, I didn't get too much flak about it. Once it was established that I was going to be a musician everything with them was cool and they were supportive. […] One thing that stems from the way that I was treated as a kid was that I wasn't intimidated by the guitar, or particularly shocked by anything going on in the music business. That had a definite effect on how I learned how to play guitar. A lot of people feel like they have to reach a certain point, and that point is always hanging over their head. They're always trying to reach it, but it's a lot more difficult. Wherever I was fine. I just kept working hard at it, but I wasn't working towards anything. It's really a naive approach to learn that way [Guitar for the Practising Musician, November 1992].
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].

Do you know who Seymour Cassel is? […] He's an actor. […] he was Sam Katchum in "Dick Tracy". […] That's one of my best friends from Junior High School's dad. And we used to... All the bad kids in Junior High... You know, all the pot-heads and all that kinda stuff. We all used to have our own clique. And so we hung out at Matt's house, because Seymour was a druggie himself at that point, and that's we're we used to hang out. And I was always... 'Cause I asked him this the first time... we were on tour. So this was like a year ago, in Europe. I said: "why did you actually call me that? Where did it come from?" And he said it was because I was always in fuckin' such hurry and running around the house and so on. […] So, he called me Slash and it's just stuck after that. After a while all my friends started call me that. My mom even calls me that at this point [97.7 HTZ_FM, January 1994].
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].
One of his friends in Hollywood was Steven Adler, whom he met at Bancroft Junior High [Metal Zone, December 1993].

What I discovered in [Steven], and many others at that time, was that there actually were people who were ready to take chances, that were ready not to go the usual paths in life. And do something else than what you're "expected" to do [Metal Zone, December 1993].
A turning point in Slash' life came when he was visiting Steven 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 [Guitar World, March 1989].
Slash received his first proper guitar from his grandmother [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

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].
The guitar he got from his grandmother was an Explorer copy [Guitar Player, December 1991]. His next guitar was a Memphis Les Paul copy, that he "ended up sticking it through a wall neck first" because he "couldn't keep the fucking thing in tune" [Guitar Player, December 1991]. Slash grew obsessed with playing and quit school [Guitar World, March 1989]:

I'm real single-minded. so once I got into guitar, that's all I did. It basically replaced school [Guitar Player, December 1991].

Van Halen had just come out when I started playing, but I didn't think about how fucking good Eddie was. It just sounded great and gave me a certain kind of energy. When I started playing guitar. I did what I wanted to do. I wasn't intimidated by any of that shit, ever. When Guns was about to start, there was a certain point where G.I.T. suddenly became a big thing in Hollywood. Guitar players were doing this very technical playing. I never went for that [Guitar Player, January 1994].
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].
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].

He would then get formal training:

I wasn't real good with the lessons, 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].

One teacher, Robert Wollan—a great guy who had a lot to do with me getting into guitar—pointed me in the right direction. As all music teachers are supposed to do, he started me reading music and playing "Mary Had A Little Lamb." It was so boring! But Robert played the shit out of the guitar—he's still one of the most amazing players I've ever met. I'd bring in records, and he'd play "Stairway To Heaven" note for note. He had a great cover band that played Cream and Zeppelin. It really pissed me off, 'cause I'd sit there with this bullshit Mel Bay. […] Robert tried to instill that [=scales] in me. I must have learned pentatonic scales in a few positions, but as soon as I really started getting into lead guitar, scales went out the window [Guitar Player, December 1991].
But eventually he quit the tuition and just practised by himself:

Finally, I quit and spent a lot of time teaching myself. I worked full-time to support my guitar habit and stayed up until God-knows-when practicing and learning. My main thing was Jeff Beck at that time. I remember learning "'Cause We've Ended As Lovers" [Blow By Blow] note for note, getting every subtlety. There was Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, and Zeppelin. I sold my soul to the guitar [Guitar Player, December 1991].
Another hobby of Slash's was biking. The rapper Tone Loc would remember Slash being somewhat of a bike prodigy:

Loc: "He grew up not too far from me. We weren't really close buddies but we knew each other. He was a great bicycle rider, he could do anything on a bicycle. Wheelies, jumping up in the air, hopping, all kinds of things, the kid was tough" [New Musical Express, June 24, 1989], "I remember he used to be a hell of a bike rider— BMXs, Mongooses, that kinda shit. He was pretty awesome on a bicycle" [Sounds, August 5, 1989].

Some of the jobs he had to take to sustain himself was 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 bought 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].

The B.C. Rich Mockingbird would stay with him through various bands and become a favorite instrument, but which he would later regrettably sell off for drugs [Guitar Player, December 1991; Guitar World, February 1992].

I've never told this story in an interview, but my very first guitar was a mahogany, neck-through, B.C. Rich Mockingbird with Bill Lawrence pickups. It was great. I had it for a long time, but I hocked it during my drug trip, and I'll never forgive myself for doing that [Guitar Player, November 1992].
Slash would meet 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. In Road Crew, Slash would tune down his guitar one full step to get a heavier sound [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992]. Later, in Guns N' Roses, he would tune down a half step both for the vocals and for the heavier sound [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992]. Steven joined Road Crew to play drums after getting his own drum 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.

I was always playing, and one of the main things that got me from then to now is the fact that I was in bands regardless of whether I could play. Even though I probably wasn’t that good a guitar player, I was doing the best I could, trying to write songs and form bands I was really into. I went through tons of bands and kept doing it and doing it and doing it [The Calgary Herald, July 3, 1988].
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 Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:31 pm


Stevn Adler was born in 1965, in Ohio, into a liberal Jewish household of Mel and Deanna Adler. He had an older brother, Kenneth, and a younger brother, Jamie [Circus Magazine, October 1991]. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1972 [Kerrang! March 1989; Circus Magazine, October 1991].

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 Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:32 pm


Road Crew was one of Slash's earliest bands.

Slash: "They were the first real musical thing I had that actually went out and played, you know, at high schools and parties and a stuff like that. 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].

They needed a bassist, and after placing an ad in the local paper Recycler [Circus Magazine, November 1991], they met with Duff McKagan at Canter's Deli [Kerrang! March 1989].

Duff: "I called Slash up, thinking he'd be some Punk Rock guy with a name like that," Duff told Blast. "And I could barely understand him on the phone, you know how Slash talks, real soft. But he said their influences were Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Motorhead, AC/DC, . . So I thought, 'Cool, I'll try it out'. So I walk in there, still expecting to find some old Punk Rock guy. Both Slash and Steven were there with their girlfriends and completely wasted. And their girlfriends instantly thought I was a homo because of my hair!" [Kerrang! March 1989].

Duff joined the band.

Duff: "I met Slash the week I moved there. He had some songs, I had some songs. Steven Adler was playing drums. The band was called Road Crew, so we played the song, "We Are the Road Crew," by Motorhead. We played "Mama Kin," by Aerosmith. I think "Back off Bitch" was one of the songs. We're rehearsing, we're humping our gear down to this tiny place that doesn't have storage. Even if it did, we weren't able to afford to keep our stuff there, and it was in a bad area. I don't know if I would want to keep anything there. We never actually did a gig because we couldn't find a singer. I was going to sing, but we didn't have a PA., so that's about as far as it got. Road Crew was very short-lived. Maybe two months" [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].

To Kerrang! Duff would say he joined "just a few weeks" after coming to Los Angeles [Kerrang! March 1989].

But Road Crew was not a success and Duff would quit after just 6 weeks [Kerrang! March 1989]. One of their problems was that they couldn't find a singer [Guitar World, February 1992].

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:34 pm


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 probably 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 August 1985 the band first played at the Stardust Ballroom (August 30) and then at the Roxy Theatre (August 31). On September 9 they again played at the Troubadour where they debuted 'Rocket Queen'. The they played at the LA Street Scene Festival on September 28.

One of the more memorable gigs from the era was an outdoor festival called the Street Scene that took place on six or seven stages in downtown Los Angeles that occupied a circuit of city blocks. It was our first time playing it, and it was 1983 [eh, no], and we were scheduled to open for Fear, the only L.A. punk band that I really cared about. [...] We finally got close enough to the stage to realize there was no stage; Fear's fans had overzealously rioted and torn it down before the band even went on. Our manager, Vicky, and I wandered around this huge mess in an attempt to find us a slot somewhere on the day-long bill. We pushed our way from stage to stage talking to the organizers, looking for an opening until we found one - playing after Social Distortion. It didn't sound like the best idea, following a loyally beloved local punk band, but it actually turned out to be one of the greatest gigs we ever did. The audience was full on punk and still bloodthirsty after just having seen Social Distortion. We got up there and ripped into our set, and within the first thirsty seconds, the show became a spitting contest between us and the first five rows; their fans fucking spit on us, so we just spit on them back. It was hilarious and memorably sickening: I remember going over to Izzy's side of the stage and standing there beside him and spitting back and forth with these people because that's the band we were. [...] By the end of our set, this disgusting war of the wills became fucking fun. We ended up with green phlegm all over us, and considering that it was warm out, not only was I shirtless, but the heat cooked the spit and made it start to smell pretty bad [Slash's autobiography, page 127-128]
Every year in L.A. they held what was called the Street Scene. There were ten or more stages set up, all featuring free shows. Ut took up a few city blocks, and by the time we were asked to participate in 1985, it drew about a hundred thousand people. We were pretty familiar with the festival and felt that the gig could potentially get us some good exposure. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a very fucked-up show. I was on stage setting up my drums, putting the bass drum in place. All of a sudden, this empty Jack Daniel's bottle comes flying past my face and nails my cowbell. It missed my head by an inch! Some dumbass really tried to hurt me. During our set, people were actually spitting at us. It was pretty ugly. I think this was some sick remnant of the masochism and selfabuse of the punk era. It was odd, it was dangerous, but most of all it was sad [...] We didn't stand for shit like that and the band was spitting right back at them. It got so ridiculous it became funny. I remember seeing Duff looking all pissed as he hocked a big loogie into the crowd. It definitely was an unforgettable performance [Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 89-90]
Their next gig was another show at the Troubadour on October 10 where they debuted 'Paradise City'. Then they played at the Country Club on October 18, at Radio City on October 31, at the Troubadour at November 22 and on Music Machine on December 20. At the soundcheck to this last gig they allegedly came up with 'Nightrain' which they would play during the show:

While Tex's band sound-checked, Axl, Joe [Raz' brother], and I headed out to the back alley to do some drinking exercises. The guys had recently gotten into cheap wine, Night Train Express, and when Joe returned from a nearby liquor store with two bottles of that crap, Axl cracked open a bottle, took a big swig, smiled like a spectacular sunset over the glimmering ocean, and said, "This stuff is the best. We should do a song about it."

He whipped out his harmonica and tooted, "dant da na-na dant-dah," then proceeded to scribble into his notebook at warp speed. A few minutes later, he sang us his latest musing. I really thought he was kidding around, but no one should ever underestimate the power of cheap wine consumed in an alley. Within the hour, Guns N' Roses was working the song out during their sound check. "Night Rain" made it into the set that very evening, and for a period of time seemed to be their unofficial song
[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 230-231].
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:

When I used to work in a newsstand. I’d sit on the phone there and do all the band’s business. I got fired because the owner would call and the phone would always be busy; I was taking ads out for the band and calling promoters [The Calgary Herald, July 3, 1988].
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].
Another thing the band did was to set up a mailing list with the help of someone called Carrie and Bobbie. The first issue was released in December 1985 [Newsletter #1, December 1985].

Then came 1986. Their first show of the year would be at the Troubadour on January 4.

Guns N' Roses pulled a capacity crowd into the Troubadour on the first Saturday of 1986. Along with a first-ever opportunity for fans to purchase Guns N' Roses T-shirts, club goers also heard and felt the "My Michelle" debut. For months, Axl had wanted to use a particular segment from Scarface's score for the band's intro music, but he insisted it be high fidelity. The week before this show, he finally managed to get a Beta copy of Scarface and a hi-fi Betamax player at the same time, which he brought to my house so we could dub a cassette. Right before their set, when the Troubadour's soundman pushed play, the piece of music set an eerily perfect mood of tension and foreboding excitement. well done, Mr. Axl Rose[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 232].
The next show was at the Roxy on January 18; and 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 mid-January, Vicky Hamilton promoted her first G N' R show. I was able to get L.A. Guns onto the Roxy Theatre bill that also included Plain Jane, featuring a pre-warrant Jani Lane. [...] The show was well promoted, with ads and cool pro-style posters plastered throughout Hollywood. Word had it several A & R reps would attend, so G N' R decided to play earlier than scheduled. It was their show and so at sound check, when they told L.A. Guns to swap time slots, that's what happened. I had never seen G N' R play longer than forty minutes-ish, but the band rocked on for almost two hours, kicking ass and leaving the audience sweaty, drained, and semi-satiated[Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 233].
The Roxy show would also be mentioned in the band's third newsletter:

"That Roxy show last month was a smash! We oversold the place by two-hundred and eighty people thanx to each and every one of you! Plus we got the whole show on video tape and you were fuckin’ dynamite!" [Guns N' Roses Newsletter #3, February 1986].

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.

It was a period when I think Axl and I were writing songs, but we didn’t have a band together. We just had songs. But yeah, it was right around that time. I remember he had a Cadillac and he used to buy me drinks (chuckles). It was cool. I remember just hanging out with him at the Troubadour, really. That’s where I remember first meeting him. I think I remember him say, “Yeah, I’m a photographer, man. I’m gonna do some pictures”["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 19, 1994].

Slash was wary of John:

I treated him the same as I treat most outsiders in general. And I couldn’t stand him. I gave him such a fucking hard time at photo shoots. But, you know, that’s how a good solid relationship starts on either end of the spectrum. You can get through that, and finally end up in the middle, and then everything is cool and you can deal with anything. So, if you were to ask Robert, he’d tell you; he hated me, too (laughs)["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 19, 1994].

John particularly formed a strong bond with Axl, and they could talk for hours [Rock Scene, October 1989].

I think I met Robert John at the Troubadour. Izzy wanted him to shoot pictures of us in Rose, a band we had before Guns N’ Roses. Robert was working with WASP at the time and Izzy was going out with the girl that WASP tied to the rack as part of their stage show. She eventually became Robert’s girlfriend. Robert was just starting out, and when WASP got famous they didn’t want to have anything to do with him. They dumped everybody they worked with. Izzy brought Robert around when we were putting Guns N’ Roses together and we just hit it off right away. I took Robert’s work real seriously because I saw his dedication towards it. Somehow, he and I hit it off and we’ve been friends ever since.[Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History, May 13, 1993].
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].

When I met him, which was back in the Gardner days, he was a friend of Izzy’s, and we needed someone to take free photos because we had no money. And here came Robert after work, in his construction – he had mud all the way to his chest, you know. But he had a camera, and he had a box with stuff in it, and we were like, “Wow, he must be a pro.” And, you know, he sucked at first, but so did we (laughs). So it was great, and we just learned together. And we were more than glad to be guinea pigs, because we’d take those pictures and slap them on telephone poles and anything all over on Sunset["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 19, 1994].
Back then we had the flyer wars, where all the bands would go out and flyer every wall they could. But now it’s really – L.A. has kind of cracked down on that, and it’s a little bit harder to do that. But we had flyer wars, meaning that, like, if you got to a wall that didn’t have anything on it or the flyers were old, it was yours. But what would happen is, that then other bands would come up and put their flyers over your brand new flyers, that you spent your hard-earned money on, and it would turn into a war of it. Looking back on it, that was really fun; flyer nights was a lot of fun. But then we started getting bigger, so we hired people to put up flyers for us, and we’d find out that they would spend the money on beer and not put flyers up (laughs)["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 19, 1994].
You know, all the flyers and all the ads and everything, Robert saw it and he did it for free for us, because we were friends and we were an up-and-coming band. That’s just the kind of cat that he is. I remember, like, even helping him develop pictures and stuff in his darkroom (?). So yeah, we go back a long way. That’s kind of seven-eight years ago["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 19, 1994].

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].
A lot of times you would go to a club and get drunk, or whatever, and either wake up in the alley or at some girl’s house. We lived off everybody who was stupid enough to get involved with us at the time. We took advantage of everything and everybody we could until we got a studio [The Calgary Herald, July 3, 1988].
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 Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:35 pm


Success required lots of hard work, and Slash was not afraid to put in the hours:

When I used to work in a newsstand. I’d sit on the phone there and do all the band’s business. I got fired because the owner would call and the phone would always be busy; I was taking ads out for the band and calling promoters [The Calgary Herald, July 3, 1988].
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].
Another thing the band did was to set up a mailing list with the help of someone called Carrie and Bobbie. The first issue was released in December 1985 [Newsletter #1, December 1985].

In March 1993, Slash would look back at the work they had done:

When Guns N' Roses first started, actually trying to get gigs, we'd be lucky if we could get an opening slot on a Sunday night, if I remember correctly. And we persevered. We went from that, and taking all bullshit, you know, no pay and whatever other pitfalls there were. And then going from that to making a Monday night, maybe a middle slot, and working up the week, you know, working up through the week. And a lot of it was, you know, word to mouth. I mean, we worked our asses off, doing flyers, and do whatever promotion that had to be done, scamming like crazy, I mean, pulling all the stops. Just to continue on, without having any sort of prospects the, you know, the distant future of getting to be a big band.

And so we went up the ladder, to me what seems like these tiny, tiny steps, that when we finally did get to a point that we where successful. It didn't seem like that big of a jump to me
[The Civil War EP, March 15, 1993].

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:37 pm


One of the main competitors on the rock scene in Hollywood when Guns N' Roses was starting out was the band Poison. As Jeanna Barsamian, booker at the club Troubadour would say about them in early 1986, "They're the top drawing (club) band in L.A. When they play people pour in to see them" [Los Angeles Times, February 9, 1986].

Before Slash joined Guns N' Roses in 1985, he would audition to become the guitarist in Poison, but in the end they went with C.C. DeVille. As Vicky Hamilton, who was managing Poison at the time, would remember it:

They wanted to have C.C. in the band and I wanted Slash [Music Connection, June 1987].
Slash would later claim he turned the gig down because he didn't want to die his hair and daub his face, and "look like a clown" [Kerrang! July 30, 1988].

Poison was well established in the flourishing L.A. glam rock scene. As Bob Dalli, bassist in Poison, would say, "We dress up to give you your money's worth" and "Poison does not have a political message to give to anyone. […] Everything we do is about day-to-day life. We’re entertainment, pure escapism. We’re here to make you forget about your problems, forget about Monday through Friday [Chicago Tribune, September 7, 1986].

Guns N' Roses also started out with one foot in the glam scene [Chicago Tribune, September 7, 1986] and would wear make-up and typical glam clothes for their first shows. Chris Weber, who played with Izzy and Axl in Hollywood Rose before Guns N' Roses would claim they revived the glam scene in Hollywood:

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].
Slash would talk about how important the image was to the band:

It’s 75 percent music and 75 percent image. No matter what the music is, the kids need to have something visual to relate to. They need to look up and see someone who’s definitely ... having a good time. They need to feel a relationship with your attitude, something they can stand behind so they don’t feel alienated [Chicago Tribune, September 7, 1986].
But in contrast to Poison, Guns N' Roses was dead serious in their music and described the nitty gritty reality of the streets on which they lived. The band would also soon drop the glam outfits and instead go for a more punk and hard rock style. In subsequent interviews they would emphasize the differences to between them and bands like Poison who were posers first and musicians second.

In LA there’s a million people who think they’re musicians and only a few who are [The Guardian, April 4, 1987].
Talking about dressing up before shows: Like Poison, sure. I just can't do that, it's so fake and it's really asinine to me, you know. There's no real rock and roll attitude in a lot of things I see today, and I'm not trying to say we're better and this and that, just I know we have the right attitude [Japanese TV, December 1988].
The animosity between GN'R and Poison would go back to when the bands used to open up for each other in the bands early days:

Some nights [Poison]'d come on first, some nights we would. It really didn't matter which one of us came on first, neither of us had a really big following yet. A lot of people would just come down to the club to see what was going on and then split. […] Anyway, every time those assholes played first, Bret Michaels would end their set by announcing that Poison were having a big party somewhere, and everybody was invited, but those who wanted to go would have to come now because the band bus was leaving in 15 minutes! […] And man, the people who frequent the sort of dives we were playing in those days didn't need to be asked twice to go to some party somewhere, and within minutes the f**kin' club would be empty! We'd come on and play to half a dozen no-hopers who couldn't get it up in time to leave when everybody else did . . . I tell ya, they were always into pulling sneaky, shitty little stunts like that. Full of dirty tricks. And that kind of attitude sucks, man . . . I think it's because they're insecure about their talent. And then some time after that, when we both started getting some attention, I couldn't believe it when that CC DeVille started wearing a top hat onstage! Listen, I'm not saying I was the first rock and roller ever to wear a top hat onstage. But look, man, CC's the kind of guy who probably didn't even know what a top hat looked like until he saw me wearing one...  You know, I caught up with him one night in the Rainbow, and I just told him quietly, 'If I ever see you wearing a top hat onstage again, I'm gonna shoot you!' I tell ya, he freaked, man! [laughter]. And I mean, I don't own a gun ... wouldn't know how to use one if I did. And I'm really not a violent guy at all. I just felt something had to be said to that f**ker ... Sometimes, you gotta draw the line for people[Kerrang! July 30, 1988].
Duff would confirm that Poison "fucked [them] over on the LA scene" in the band's early days [Hit Parader, October 1988].

This would lead to GN'R repeatedly taking potshots at Poison in interviews and articles.

We don't want to associate ourselves with glam and the main reason, is because that's what Poison associates themselves with. I've told those guys personally that they can lock me in a room with all of them and I'll be the only one who walks out! They used to come to our shows before they ever played a gig. Everybody copying them? Sorry I don't see it. Poison came out in an article saying they started glam - I don't know where they were in the '70s [laughs]. The only reason I put my hair up is because Izzy had these pictures of Hanoi Rocks and they were cool, and because we hung out with this guy who studied Vogue magazine hairstyles and was really into doing hair... [Kerrang! June 1987].
[…] we're not filling anybody's shoes, so to speak. We're not trying to get live radio play, we're not trying to… to… We're not trying to be like Poison, you know. We're not trying to sacrifice ourselves to the media or anything [Vinyl Interview, June 1987].
Axl would be dismayed over the influence Poison had on the LA music scene:

Poison fucked it up for all of us. They said that everyone in LA was following their trend [The Guardian, April 4, 1987].
In particular the animosity between Slash and DeVille would be strong:

CC from Poison came up to me the other day like he was like my last best friend in the whole world, and came to me shake my hand I told him to get the hell out of my face [laughs] [Audio Interview, June 1987].
The sniping back and forth between the bands would eventually escalate to two members of Poison pouring alcohol (champagne, according to BAM Magazine), on Geffen publicist Bryn Bridenthal [BAM Magazine, November 1987; Rolling Stone, November 11, 1988], allegedly because they felt she was showing favoritism to GN'R [Juke Magazine, July 15, 1989]. According to Bridenthal, she would then have to plea with Slash and Axl to not fight the Poison members [Juke Magazine, July 15, 1989]. This incident led to a civil lawsuit between either Geffen, Bridenthal or GN'R and Poison [BAM Magazine, November 1987; Rolling Stone, November 11, 1988] which would be settled out of court [RAW, March 7, 1989].

Well, I won't slag [Poison], though I'd like to. [...] The epitome of Los Angeles is Poison, and what's wrong with Los Angeles. Okay? Enough said [BAM Magazine, November 1987].
According to Axl, the feud between GN'R and Poison would be settled some time in May or June 1988 when Axl had a talk with Brett Michaels:

We had some really heavy differences. Poison's comments were retaliations against comments we made. We talked about it that night. I said, 'We've got our differences from when we were rival bands on the street. We still have those, but I don't have time for 'em, you don't have time for 'em. You're doing what you're doing, I'm doing what I'm doing, let's just fuckin' right now put 'em aside [Screamer, August 1988].
Slash would also have a talk to DeVille and square up:

That whole situation got to be a real mess. I thought I was just making some honest comments, and then all hell broke loose. But after the dust settled I got together with C.C. and we've worked everything out. Actually, he's pretty cool. I really never had anything against him personally, but maybe when all that shit began to happen I wasn't in the right frame of mind to accept his success. There's room for everyone in this industry; we're not out to make any enemies [Hit Parader, November 1988].
Axl's quote about being locked up with Poison but only he coming out of the room, would be attributed to Slash, and when asked to comment on it, he would say:

I don't know if that was the actual remark, something like that, but I've been advised by the powers that be not to talk about that. There's already a magazine out with my feelings on it in big bold letters… I mean, I'd enjoy doing it, if I had it my way - I say all kinds of stuff, but I'm supposed to act like an adult… [Faces, June 1989].

In March 1989, Poison's Rikki Rocket would be asked about the feud with GN'R and answer: "Our bands don't hate each other. It's like once something's in the press it becomes an 'Issue', whether it's true or not. […] They've done well, more power to them. We made it before they did... I'm not trying to sidestep the question, but if I get too into it then I'll have another f**king lawsuit, know what I'm saying?" [RAW, March 7, 1989].

Last edited by Soulmonster on Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:55 pm; edited 19 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:40 pm


Living on the streets

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 lived in 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].
This is also possible the place Slash would later refer to:

It was the most disgusting apartment you could imagine, but we loved it because we could rehearse. It was in an industrial district and nobody came to complain about the noise [Unknown French Publication, June 1987].

Canter's Deli

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].

The studio off Gardner's

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].
I couldn’t pay the rent, so all five of us moved into this cheap studio that was about 15 feet long by about 9 feet high by about 8 feet wide. We rehearsed there and built a bunk above the equipment. It was the one bed we had, and I think that was probably the most decadent thing happening in Hollywood at the time [The Calgary Herald, July 3, 1988].
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 Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:41 pm


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].

Every one of the five band members dabbled in various substances in the band's earliest days. As the band started to live and party together, drugs were intrinsically connected to their lifestyle, and to some it became increasingly important. Axl would later look back at the time and comment that they "believed that substance abuse was a way to God" ["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 19, 1994].

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]
Before anybody knew who we were, and Geffen signed us, we were all f***ed up [VOX, January 1991].
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]; although in testimony in August 1933, he would say it had only been himself, Slash, Izzy and Steven [Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit; August 23, 1993]. As confirmed by a "Geffen spokesman", before 'Appetite' was recorded, Izzy, Slash and Axl had all suffered heroin overdoses [New York Times, December 8, 1991].


Izzy was the first in the band to become a heroin junkie. He started smoking heroin after having been introduced to it by a roommate in about 1984 [Musician, November 1992].

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 despite having had to go to rehab, 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, Vicky Hamilton would claim she knew Izzy was addicted to heroin back in 1984 [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", page 127].

Additionally, 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 likely allude to this when asked what his former job had been and reply with "illegal" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No 16, 1988]. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry would later claim they bought drugs from Izzy [Classic Rock, August 2018]. Izzy, though would later deny ever having sold drugs, although one can hardly find it surprising he would deny any such allegations:

No, I never sold drugs, yes, I did take drugs for a long time, but I never sold drugs. What I did was sell things that belonged to me to get drugs [Popular 1, November 1992].
Although this is somewhat contradicted by a quote from Izzy from April 1987 when he talk about how the band got by before them became popular:

Sold drugs, sold girls, sold… we just got it. We managed [Sounds Magazine, April 4, 1987].
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]
At some point Izzy managed to clean up after having been "busted" and "cheated by a lawyer" [Musician, November 1992]. Axl would likely refer to this incident at court in August 1993, when he mentioned that Izzy had been arrested for his heroin use at one time, and that he believed it had happened before the band started touring in 1987 [Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit; August 23, 1993]. By the time the band was signed to Geffen in March 1986 he was using again [Musician, November 1992].

In an interview with Musician in November 1992 Izzy would say that during the recording of 'Appetite' he stopped using again, and only drank alcohol [Musician, November 1992]. Although in an interview the next month he would specify that he still used cocaine (=krell):

When GN'R did 'Appetite For Destruction', I hadn't really cleaned up, but I'd cleaned up enough to record during the day, then go out at night and drink and do krell and stuff, sleep in till noon, come back in and record. So during the actual recording I wasn't getting too wasted [/i] [Kerrang! December 5, 1992].

Duff 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].

But alcohol quickly became Duff's demon.

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]
[Duff] can’t survive without a drink first thing in the morning [RIP Magazine, May 1987].
According to himself, not long after being signed to Geffen Records in March 1986, Duff was an alcoholic and Axl renamed him "Duff, the King of Beers McKagan [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 116].

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].


Steven had also started with drugs early. In his memoirs 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 mom 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 he had done at Welch's house, and got sick again [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 97].

Under testimony during the Adler vs. GN'R trial in August 1993, Duff would claim that he warned Steven against using heroin the first time he saw him doing it [The Reno Gazette, August 24, 1993].

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" [source?].

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]

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

He would later agree to having an addictive personality [Melody Maker, August 10, 1991].

According to Axl, Slash 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 [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 95]. Raz Cue would note 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]. Slash himself would confirm that he started soon after joining GN'R:

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].
It is possible that Slash would refer to this period some time in 1986-1987 in the Rolling Stone interview in November 1988:

There was a point where I fuckin' stopped playing guitar and didn't even talk to my band except for Izzy, 'cause we were both doing it. I didn't come out of the apartment for three months, except to go to the market. The one thing that really stopped me was a phone call from Duff saying, 'You've alienated yourself from everybody.' Since they're the only people I'm really close to, that really affected me, and I finally quit [Rolling Stone, November 1988].
As mentioned above, Slash's problems got so bad he decided to sober up, and this happened before they released 'Appetite' and went on tour:

Being an impatient sort of workaholic type, before the band went on the road and before the record came out, we had our problems. Then I cleaned up […] [Melody Maker, August 10, 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]
An old girlfriend in Lafayette, Gina Siler, from the period Axl was transitioning to Hollywood, would claim that the two of them, in the summer of 1982, did "a lot of hallucinogenics", yet, in 1983 through 1985, when they lived in Hollywood and had an on and off relationship, they "didn’t do drugs" [Spin, September 1991].

This might be slightly contradicted by Raz Cue who 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].
Siler also says that at "the end of 1985" she visited Axl again and was pissed because he was doing heroin. She would also claim that "when I went to see him before 'Appetite' came out" he had said to her, "I can’t wait until this album’s done, because I want to lock myself in a room for six weeks and do heroin" [Spin, September 1991].

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]
That Axl was able to shrug it off 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]
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].

The drug use of the band and their friends 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].
The band became famous in Hollywood for their drug use, and was referred to as "Lines N' Noses" in an interview in 1987, although in 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 Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:36 pm


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].
We were the product of hype before anybody even heard that first record! When you first heard about us, it was reputation - it wasn't music [Kerrang! January 8, 1994].

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 an article about the glam scene in Hollywood, Slash would comment on their image:

It’s 75 percent music and 75 percent image. No matter what the music is, the kids need to have some­thing visual to relate to. They need to look up and see some­one who’s definitely ... having a good time. They need to feel a relationship with your atti­tude, something they can stand behind so they don’t feel alienated [Chicago Tribune, September 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].
I’ll do my best to make a point for what it’s worth. We’ve got a lot of people, a lot of magazines and a lot of things going, “It’s a glam band,” “It’s a metal band,” “It’s a glam metal band,” “It’s a hard rock band,” “It’s a thrash band,” “It’s a...”. Fuck it! It doesn’t make a good god damn whether my hair is up, my hair is down, or I’m fucking bald. It’s all fucking rock ‘n’ roll to me. [Onstage at The Ritz, NY, USA, October 23, 1987]
Before Guns N’ Roses was big, I would go to the Rainbow, like, for the whole week, hair down, looking just normal. And then, like, on Saturday night, I’d do it way up, the full makeup, perfect everything and the right clothes. And all of a sudden I’d be swarmed, you know, by all the girls and stuff, “I didn’t realize that you could look like this” and “Oh my god, you’re a different person” and dah dah dah. You know, it kinda made you want to do it. It had nothing to do with being, like, feminine or anything like that. You got more people into you, you got the girls you wanted, you know, and you had fun being wild and stuff. It was a fun thing. [MTV, July 1989]
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.

Duff would later jokingly claim they did this to score with girls:

Back in the old days, we were styling like Hanoi Rocks and shit, you know? Crimped hair! Well, we needed to get girls so we could get something to eat. [laughing] There was a reason, you know? Like, 'Hey, can I borrow that?' [Metal Hammer, December 1993].
Looking at old photos in Robert John's book: Well, you gotta understand, this is 1985, and I even looked goofier than this [an old photo is being displayed]. But, back then, like here [shows a photo from Robert John’s book], I let this goofy girlfriend dress me up, but this was one of the first photo shoots we ever did ["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 16, 1994].
Looking at old photos in Robert John's book: Those shots, I remember we did it when the cops broke into the Gardner studio, when we got those rape charges. We were over around the corner at Monica’s house, Steven’s girlfriend – that’s a porno chick – and we did the photos there, and we were, you know, just fucking around. I don’t think – I mean, Axl probably looked good being sort of glammed out. Of course, Hanoi Rocks was around at the time, and I think Izzy and Axl were pretty influenced by Hanoi Rocks; whereas, when I came in, I pretty much looked the same way, just the same way. That whole photo session was a joke. I’m gonna kill Robert for putting it in the book (laughs). As for kids who look at that and go, “Wow, that’s how they used to dress,” it was one day (laughs) ["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 16, 1994].
[…] at that time it was either heavy metal, meaning that heavy metal was the studs all over up the arm; that, and black, and upside down crosses, and what-have-you; and some of the bands were really cheesy at it. Or there were all the glam bands - I mean, this is before Poison – and, you know, David Bowie was like God, and Hanoi Rocks was the coolest band in the world, and The New York Dolls ruled. It was either that or total heavy metal in the club scenes for the most part. So we did our thing for a while and got into it, and then we did other things. You know, it was just having some fun. It was a quite exhilarating experience (laughs) ["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 16, 1994].

One fixed feature of Slash became his top hat:

I bought [the top hat] on Melrose. I was walking around on Melrose and went into this shop, which isn't there anymore, and I saw a top hat. I tried it on and I bought a concho belt and I was sitting around with Axl, and I put the concho belt on the hat, took it apart and put it on the hat. And then we had a gig that night at the Whisky. There's a picture of it on the innersleeve of "Appetite For Destruction". There's a picture with me with no shirt on, playing a BC Rich and that's at the Whisky. Stoned out of my mind [laughs]. In those days, right. And wearing a top hat. And that's the first time I ever wore one. It was just like, cool looking, and at this point I can't wear it on the street anymore [97.7 HTZ_FM, January 1994].
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].
[...] I mean, a lot of bands probably don’t believe in what I’m saying. They go and get their make up together, and get their hair together, and get their clothes together; then they come in, they put a little act and all that crap. But, I mean, for us it’s just like, if we’re gonna have to do an interview or something, we just go in as us. […] Before we got signed to a record label, before we got signed to Geffen and all that, we basically were doing what we are doing now. And then, when the record labels got interested, we said, “Well, we weren’t looking for a record deal, so we’re not gonna change anything around as far as you’re concerned.” So, we just went in and signed to the label that was gonna accept us as is. We didn’t change anything [Much Music, May 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 Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:37 pm


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]. Fowley has also been the manager/producer of the LA band Candy, in which future GN'R member Gilby Clarke played guitar. 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].

In November 1993, Fowley would talk about he Los Angeles bands of the 1980s and mention Axl and Izzy specifically. His story deviates substantially from what is written above. In Fowley's story he received a letter from Axl and Izzy who had recently moved to Hollywood from Indiana: "They didn't know what they wanted me to do for them. Be their manager, producer, publish their songs. And I didn't do any of those things for the band, because the self-destruction thing was too much to deal with. So, I chose not to. It was all done over the phone and through the mail" [Goldmine Magazine, November 26, 1993]. It is possible Fowley here talks about his initial contact with the band, and doesn't mention that he later possibly wanted to manage or acquire publishing rights of the band.

After the band's sold out show on January 18, 1986 [see previous section], A&R staff from major labels started to attend gigs. The band then played at the Starwood Club on January 26 [we lack sources for this show and it may not have happened]. In the weeks after the January 18 gig, the record-label frenzy to sign the band peaked [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 106].

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. Zutaut had previously brought Motley Crue and Metallica to Elektra Records [New York Times, December 8, 1991].

By the second song, I was completely blown away. I'd been to really loud shows, and nothing had ever been too loud for my ears. But this was the loudest, rawest sound I'd ever experienced. It was actually painful. […] Everyone had talked about finding the next Jim Morrison. I'd heard these stories for years. But in my mind, this was as close as anyone had come. Axl Rose was the most charismatic performer I'd ever seen. The musicians were amazing. Slash was the best guitar player I'd seen. The two of them were like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Everything about the band was right[New York Times, December 8, 1991].
To appear to not be interested, Zutaut would claim to not have enjoyed the show:

As I left the club, one guy asked me, 'Don't you like the band?' I said, 'No, man, I'm going home because it's too loud'. […] When I got home I couldn't sleep, but the next day I called Axl. And he said: 'You didn't even see the whole show. We thought you didn't like it.' But I said: 'You've got yourself a record deal. I don't need to hear or see anything else. I just want to be the guy to help you take this out to the rest of the world"[New York Times, December 8, 1991].

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:37 pm


Critics don't like this kind of music. But they're going to sell millions and millions of records [Quote from 1986, New York Times, December 8, 1991].

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

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 again credit Brooks at the end of the music video for 'Don't Cry' with the words "P.S. thanx Joseph!":

And Joseph was the guy who... You know, Don’t Cry was his favorite song. He’s a DJ out here in Hollywood that keeps a lot of bands alive, and keeps people listening to them - you know, a bit alternative and a bit hard rock - and he works in all the hard rock clubs. And he’d got our song, Don’t Cry, to the record company in the beginning, and I didn’t feel that anybody that he had helped had really thanked him enough. And I knew if I put it on there, it would be permanent, and if I didn’t put his last name – his name is Joseph Brooks – people would be like, “Oh, who is Joseph?” [Unknown UK Source, June 1987].
Brooks involvement would also be explained in the band's March 1992 issue of their official fan club newsletter:

"Joseph is Joseph Brooks, a disc jockey who spins records in many of Hollywood’s hard rock clubs. He’s helped expose a lot of bands to the L.A. scene by playing songs (including ours) at the clubs. Plus... he got “DON’T CRY” to the record company in the beginning. Putting the message on the “DON’T CRY” video was our way of saying thanks for all he did to help us" [Conspiracy Incorporated Newsletter, March 1992].

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].
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 next show was at Fenders Ballroom on March 21.

When my boyhood rock idol Johnny Thunders came to town in late March 1986, the promoters asked us to open both his shows. For me, this was a huge deal. Probably for Izzy, too. [...] I was really looking forward to that first show at Fender's Ballroom. 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 our sound check. Johnny also wanted to know where he could score some dope. Axl flipped out when he got wind that Johnny had hit on Erin, and began a tirade backstage. Axl could be intimidating when he started yelling and carrying on. Johnny spent the rest of the night in hiding in his dressing room, jonesing for a fix [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 105-106].
Izzy would recount this episode slightly differently:

We opened for [Thunders] once in Long Beach during the early days. This was back when Axl used to wear those chaps with his ass hanging out and no underwear. I remember it was backstage, and Johnny Thunders said, `What are you, some kind of biker fag?' Axl goes, `I'll fuckin' kill you.' Really wanted to kick his ass. And Johnny just sat there smoking his joints and drinking his Budweisers. Great first impression [Musician, November 1992].
For their 1993 'The Spaghetti Incident?' record GN'R would cover 'You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory' by Johnny Thunders. Slash would then mention he didn't play on the song because he hated Thunders and refer to episodes one of which was likely the one mentioned above:

I didn't even play on the Johnny Thunders song cos I hated that little f**ker! So I really wasn't all that concerned when he died. We worked with him a couple times, and I didn't like him at all. No disrespect for the deceased, but he's not one of my heroes, let's put it that way! [Kerrang! March 12, 1994].
Just a few days after this show, on March 26, the band was finally signed to Geffen [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]. The total contract worth was $350,000 according to the New York Times in 1991 [New York Times, December 8, 1991] or $2,500,000 according to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1987 [San Francisco Chronicle, May 30, 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].

Robert John would recall the band being signed:

"When the band got signed, I got a phone call in the middle of the night from Axl. He said, “Come down to the Hamburger Hamlet. We’re gonna be signing a deal with Geffen Records.” So I drove down there and, you know, they did their deal and everything. And when they got their advances, everybody in the band gave me a little bit of money, because when I first started out, I only had one camera and one lens" ["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History" Documentary, June 19, 1994].

Talking about their relationship with John: That was pretty intense. So that helped, like, create a certain bond, a bond of loyalty, because he was willing to go for it with his career same way we were […] ["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History" Documentary, June 19, 1994].

In early 1994 Slash would talk about being signed:

We felt like we conquered a nation, because that was one of those things that we had no idea what we were doing (laughs). But we were pretty smart about it, and we ended up getting a really great deal for a new band [Musique Plus, January 1994].
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). These two shows would be advertised in the band's fourth newsletter:

"So you’re down and out and think you’ve reached the end of the road? Finally, Friday, March 28th, ‘Guns N’ Roses’ does a double-header at the Roxy and like cold beer thrown in your face, the light at the end of the road at last shines! With the hardest rock band out of England, ‘Carrera’ opening the first show at 8:00 and L.A.’s own ‘Lions & Ghosts’ opening the second show at 10:00, it is sure to be the event of 1986. Our new stage show alone, will make you cum in your pants!" [Guns N' Roses Newsletter, March 1986].

We played a celebratory gig at the Roxy [after being signed to Geffen], or rather two - an early show and a late show - on March 28, 1986. To be honest, the shows had been booked prior to our signing with Geffen. They were supposed to be label showcases. Events overtook our plan, however, so we took out full-page ads in the local music papers to announce the gigs: Geffen recording artists Guns N' Roses, live at the Roxy. [...]. We all had fresh tattoos at the Roxy shows, and people wanted to touch them. We felt like we ran the city that night [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 114].
On April 5 they 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". This show would also be advertised in the band's fourth newsletter:

"And at long last, the Whiskey A Go Go reopens its doors as the major Hollywood rock n’ roll nightclub it once was, and ‘Guns N’ Roses’ was called in to christen this historic event as the first band to play there in almost five years! Opening the show will be Hollywood’s new band ‘Faster Pussycat’ at 9:00 and hot on the huge success in New York, ‘Angels in Vain’ at 10:00." [Guns N' Roses Newsletter No. 4, March 1986].

It was expected Guns N' Roses would quickly release a record and leave for world touring.

The icing on the cake came a week later, when Guns rechristened the Whisky a Go Go on April 5; the legendary Sunset Strip venue was being converted back into a club after serving as a band for a few years. The poster asked, WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW A REAL ROCK N' ROLL BAND AT THE WHISKY A GO GO? And, since it was assume we'd be making a record soon and then be off to tour the world - or, as eventually was the case, one-horse towns in the Canadian rust belt - below that was written: THIS COULD BE YOUR LAST CHANCE. Reopening the Whisky was sweet. It meant that somehow, despite the fact that nobody gave us the time of day on the Strip during the year it took us to find an audience for our idiosyncratic sound and style, we now embodied L.A. rock and roll to the extent that this legendary venue wanted to associate itself with us to restake its claim on the city's musical landscape [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 114].
The shows were getting crazy and this anecdote from Axl is likely from the day of the April 5 gig, or just before:

I'm scared of thrashing an asshole and going to jail for it. For some reason I can walk into a room and someone will pick a fight. That's always happening with me. Like, I went into a store once to buy a stun gun. We were headlining the Whiskey and things were getting out of hand, so I figured, 'I'll buy stun guns. We won't have to break their jaw; we'll just zap 'em and carry them out.' So my brother and I walked into the store and I said, 'Excuse me, sir, can I see this stun gun, please?' Being very polite. And the guy goes, 'Listen, son, I don't need your bullshit!' And my brother says, 'Listen, he just got signed, he can buy 10 of these,' and the guy says, 'I don't care, I'll sell them to you but not to him.' [Musician, December 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:43 pm


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 would recount an episode from some time in 1986 or 1987 that happened at the Troubadour::

We walked right across the stage while the band was playing and started running sound. [The club owner tried to calm Axl down by buying him a drink, but Slash] drank it while I wasn't looking. I got mad, and the next thing I remember was lyin’ on my back with a crowd of people tryin’ to punch me while I was kick-in' 'em in the face [The San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 1987].
The Chronicle would also claim Axl "was alleged to have pulled the band off stage, hurled insults at several Marines and ripped the dress off a porno kingpin's daughter" but that he "says he can't remember the incidents" [The San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 1987]. He allegedly also challenged a skinhead called 'Animal' who had "sworn to kill [Axl]" [The San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 1987]. This must be the same 'Animal' that Mick Wall describes as a "psychopathic skinhead stalker" in Hollywood and who Slash and Duff had been afraid of [Mick Wall, Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses, 1991]. Time Out Magazine in June 1987 would also mention that the band was afraid of a skinhead nicknamed Animal [Time Out Magazine, June 3, 1987], and this is likely the original source for

Animal may be the person Axl would allude to in this quote:

We've had guys come to the shows standing outside the doors with 9mm Lugers waiting to blow me offstage. I told one of them that if he was going to do something he'd better make it good, 'cos if he didn't I'd be back to get him [Record Mirror, July 11, 1987].
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 Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:45 pm


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].
Not surprisingly, we started to run into trouble with the police—though oddly, it wasn’t the LAPD so much as the West Hollywood sheriffs, who would leave their jurisdiction to mess with us. Raids were difficult to escape because we were in a dead-end alley, after all, and there was no place to run. I remember the cops coming there and asking who was who, let’s see IDs, blah, blah, blah. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t much of a big deal. Izzy was smart about his dealing, and even the supposed complaints from girls were probably just ruses that were held over our heads to scare us—a response by the West Hollywood cops to getting an earful from parents of kids who showed up late and wasted after a night in our backyard. Of course at the time it all felt much more serious and sinister, and some of us would hide out for periods of time after the police turned up asking questions[Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011].

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.

According to Duff, once they did it looking for Axl: "They wanted him to answer what turned out to be a bogus rape charge." [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011]. This incident inspired 'Out Ta Get Me', that was debuted on February 28, 1986.

This is a brand new one. I wanna dedicate this to the LAPD and any young girls who like to fuck around [The Troubadour, Los Angeles, USA, February 28, 1986].
In an interview in 1986, Axl would describe one such incident:

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].
Based on the L.A. Weekly editor’s note in parentheses, the incident described by Axl had led to charges being filed against him (that were later dropped in court), despite the fact that the girl had identified someone else as him.

Raz Cue would also describe an event taking place at the Gardner rehearsal space in his biography, involving a “psycho chick” who was led out to the street, then returned with the cops saying that Axl had raped her, and, like in Axl’s story, ended up identifying someone else (who, according to Cue, was Dizzy). In Cue’s story, though, Axl wasn’t present when all that happened, and the girl “had wandered down the alley” looking for him; moreover, Cue didn’t mention whether the girl ended up on the street naked or not, and didn’t clarify whether the incident eventually led to a rape charge [Raz Cue biography, “The Days of Guns, and Raz’s”, 2017].

Cue would later retract and revise that story on his homepage [, July 2, 2019], saying that he had mixed two different incidents: one that he had witnessed, involving the girl he had mentioned in his biography (in which Axl wasn’t present), adding further that the girl, who he would now describe as a “scruffy hippie chick”, was “tossing around gear” in the studio - similarly to Axl’s story above - until she was thrown out, again without clarifying whether naked or not [, July 2, 2019]; and a second one, involving a young girl called “Michelle,” which was a story he had heard from his brother (JoJo), who had been present:

The night that happened, I only heard reports from my brother, who was GNR’s stage manager and piss boy. He came in the house and straight off told me, “Axl’s such an idiot, he banged that chick Michelle, then she wouldn’t leave.” So he tossed her out naked and threw her clothes at her and locked the door. I heard this CYA story the night it happened because my brother lived at my house [, July 2, 2019].
So, according to Cue’s brother, Axl had sex with Michelle who was subsequently - similarly to the above quote from Axl - thrown out of the studio without her clothes. Cue would also repeat, as in his biography, that Dizzy was mistakenly taken away by the police instead of Axl, but imply that his arrest had to do with the second incident involving “Michelle”, which was the one that had led to a rape charge against Axl [, July 2, 2019].

Vicky Hamilton described an event that took place at the Gardner studio in an interview in late 1988, which has similarities with Axl's story:

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 2016 biography, Vicky says she got this 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", 2016, p. 132]. The addition that Axl had sex with the girl, makes the story similar to the one Raz Cue had heard from his brother.

If all this is to be believed, there were two separate incidents involving rape allegations against Axl (the "psycho chick”/”hippie chick” and "Michelle" from JoJo's story) It seems, however, that only the second incident had led into actual charges  [, July 2, 2019]. What makes things even more confusing, is that neither of the two incidents described by Cue on his homepage matches exactly the story told by Axl in L.A. Weekly in June 1986, although, as pointed out above, each of Cue’s descriptions contains different elements from Axl’s story. So maybe this was actually one story that has been made into two by Cue. Another possibility is that Axl had mixed two incidents into one. A third scenario, that seems more plausible, is that Axl was referring to an incident (during the first part of which he might or might not have been present) unrelated to the rape charge that was eventually filed, but the journalist in L.A. Weekly, knowing about the charge, just assumed that it was the incident leading to it (hence the editor’s note in parentheses); which would mean that there were indeed two separate incidents, but at least one or them has not been recounted accurately by Cue.

In another 1986 band interview, published just a few days after the one in L.A. Weekly, it was mentioned that two rape charges were filed (and subsequently dropped), against both Axl and Slash [Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1986].
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, July 6, 1986].
Slash talked further about the rape charges that were filed against both Axl and him, saying that the incident that had led to the charges involved two girls:

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].
Izzy affirmed that there was a second girl involved, and, confounding the issue further, he implied that Steven had a peripheral role in the whole story:

It turned out that our drummer had fucked one of their mothers, so it was a complicated story[Spin, May 1988].
In 1989, Axl was quoted referring to the rape charge like this (likely it was an older quote reprinted in Hit Parader):

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].
Slash would later revisit the events in his autobiography (and, interestingly, he wouldn’t make any reference to a second girl this time):

After one particular gig, as usual, our friends and whoever else was in the club came back to tear it up at our place well into the early morning. Now, most of the girls who chose to party in our alleyway until six or seven a.m. weren’t the sharpest pencils in the box; but this particular night one of them lost it completely. My memory of the events is hazy, but from what I remember she had sex with Axl up in the loft. Toward the end of the night, maybe as the drugs and booze wore off, she lost her mind and freaked out intensely. Axl told her to leave and tried throwing her out. I attempted to help mediate the situation to get her out quietly, but that wasn’t happening.

About a week later, Steven was there when the cops stormed in and turned the place upside down. They broke a few pieces of equipment searching for contraband and hassled anybody associated with us in any way; they threatened Steven with arrest if he didn’t tell them where to find Axl and me because we were wanted for allegedly raping that girl. Steven got in touch with us and warned us, so we stayed away from home for the rest of the day. I headed back there the next morning; it was raining and unseasonably cold, and I found Izzy when I got there, picking his way through the mess that the cops had left behind. I was completely puzzled because I hadn’t done a thing that I could think of—I hardly spoke to the girl in question that night, nor had anybody else.

It was a bad situation, so I took my cue and split; I grabbed a few things and headed off to hide out with Steven at his new girlfriend Monica’s apartment, which was within walking distance. Monica was a Swedish porn star who’d taken Steven in and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to lay low because we used to have awesome threesomes. Monica was great, she was a really wonderful hostess that way, plus she had a phone, so I was able to receive constant updates on our legal situation. Generally, the news wasn’t good: this was a real situation—Axl and I were charged with felony rape. The future looked grim and the band’s progress halted immediately.

[...] The truth was, Axl had definitely had sex with the girl, but it had been consensual and no one had raped her. For my part I hadn’t even touched her!
[Slash’s autobiography, 2007].
According to Vicky Hamilton, Axl hid in her apartment to escape the police, and when the Gardner place was raided, the rest of the band moved in there, too [Musician, December 1988; Marc Canter, “Reckless Road”, 2008; Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2016].

Izzy and Slash would also talk about hiding in Vicky’s apartment, mentioning again that both Axl and Slash were sought by the police:

The police were after Axl and Slash. We returned from the studio to a kind of house without neighbors. We lived in the hallway together with two or three other bands. The police had told us that they were going to beat the shit out of us when they got ahold of us. So, we went home, it didn’t have a door, and we told a friend of ours, Robert John, photographer, that had a big Cadillac, “Robert, you’re our roadie now” (laughs). We loaded the equipment in the car and we left that place in an hour. And Vicky Hamilton offered to help us [Popular 1, November 1992].
The thing that I remember most about Robert John, is when we all lived in that studio, and then we came back to the studio one night after doing a photo shoot with Robert John, and our door was kicked down in the studio; and the guys next door were all freaked out and scared, you know, and they said, “Man, you guys better get out of here, cuz the police were here, and they kicked in your door, and they said they were gonna kick your asses when they catch you.” And of course Robert had the Cadillac, so we moved everything out that night and moved down Sunset Strip to another apartment, to somebody else’s place. And that’s what I remember the most about Robert John, because he was, like, photographer and...[Del James suggesting] Getaway driver! That’s it (laughs) ["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 19, 1994].
Axl and I were being sought by the police for something that we didn't really do, so I asked Vicky if we could crash at her place. It was Vicky and Jennifer Perry in a one-bedroom apartment off of Sunset Boulevard and that's where Axl and I lived for a while. We were right across the street from the Whisky. Izzy, Duff and Steve were with their assorted girlfriends. Vicky was great; she was sort of like the big den mother[Marc Canter, “Reckless Road”, 2008].
Vicky additionally hired a lawyer to assist with the rape charges [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2016, p. 138], which, as has already been mentioned, were eventually dropped.

The girl’s parents had contacts in the LAPD, and intended to press charges to the fullest. Axl took off to Orange County and hid out at some girl’s place for a few weeks, while I stayed with Steven and Monica. For fear of arrest, we didn’t book gigs and maintained a low profile. When we got our wits about us after a few weeks, we dealt with the situation through the proper channels. [...]
Axl returned to L.A. and the two of us moved in with Vicky Hamilton and her roommate, Jennifer Perry, and Vicky hired a lawyer to handle our case. [...] The case went to court, but somewhere along the line, the charges against me were dropped. Axl, however, did have to get himself a suit and face the judge, but once the testimony was given, the charges were dropped and that was it.
[Slash’s autobiography, 2007].
The lawyer hired by Vicky was, most likely, the same one whose name was included in the “Thank You” notes on the Appetite for Destruction album: “GUNS N’ ROSES WOULD LIKE TO THANK: [...] Richard Caballero (for keeping Axl and Slash outta jail)”

Curiously enough, neither Vicky Hamilton nor Raz Cue have made any reference to the charge against Slash.

Based on these quotes it seems most likely that it was (at least) 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 or someone one of the band members was briefly involved with (and led to both Slash and Axl being charged with rape). In addition, we have the "Michelle" girl who Cue tells about and who claims she was raped by Axl, but does not mention a second girl nor that Slash was involved.

A related issue that is worth noting, is that Vicky Hamilton’s and Raz Cue’s accounts differ in regards to when exactly those events took place. According to Hamilton, it was in December 1985, before the holidays [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2016]. Cue, however, in his biography, placed the events around the time of the show at the Roxy on January 18, 1986 [Raz Cue, “The Days of Guns, and Raz’s”, 2017] and didn’t seem to retract from that timeline in his later, revised account of the events [, July 2, 2019]. Based on the known show dates of that period, in combination with the second excerpt from Slash’s autobiography above (in which Slash mentions that the band was afraid to book shows), Raz Cue’s timeline seems more plausible. Additionally, the following dedication by Axl during the Roxy show also suggests that the band was still at Gardner then:
This is for the last two weeks worth of partying at the studio, and all those sweet girls that we asked to see their tits[The Roxy, Los Angeles, USA, January 18, 1986].
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… [Appetite for Conversation, 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" [Appetite for Conversation, 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 bring in a stun gun [Spin, January 1988].

Slash would later describe an encounter with the police, which had led him to spend two or three days in the Los Angeles County Jail:

I was cruising around with Danny one night looking for dope and we managed to cop some shit, but it was very little; it was just a taste. [...] We were coming up La Cienega when the blue and red lights went on behind us. [...] We had nothing on us, but Danny had forgotten the needle he had in the breast pocket of his shirt, which gave the cops carte blanche to do whatever they wanted. [...]
They impounded Danny’s car and arrested him for possession of paraphernalia. They cuffed me, too, but wouldn’t tell me on what charges.  [...]
After Danny had sat around long enough, they let him go [...]. He was booked for having the needle and was given a court date, and all of that. I was the only one left, and since I thought that I hadn’t done anything, I figured that I’d get out any minute now. [...] I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the guards’ attention to ask why I was still being held.
The only answer I got was being shuffled from the small cell of the night before to a larger cell with [...] a lot of inmates [...] After a while we were loaded onto one of those horrible black-and-white transformed school buses with gates on the windows. I was shackled at the ankles and wrists and chained to the guy in front of me. I still had no idea why I was there, but I realized that I was going to the county jail, so I immediately started chewing off my black nail polish. There was no way in hell that I was going to county with fingernail polish on. [...]
It was the most tedious bureaucracy I’ve ever seen in my life, and it didn’t help that I was genuinely dope sick during it all. [...] I was housed in one of those big old-fashioned rooms with a few rows of cots, where I sweated it out, nauseous, sick, and exhausted. [...]
Then all of a sudden they let me out, again with no explanation, and I had to go through the whole fucking entrance process in reverse.  [...] When they handed me my clothes and belongings, I was finally informed why I was there: I’d been hauled in for a six-year-old jaywalking ticket. There had been a warrant out for me after I’d not shown up in court or paid the fine. Of all the things I’ve done, I got busted for jaywalking. Well, at least I did my time and paid my debt to society. [...]
When I found out later that Axl was the one who scraped together the bail money, I was touched. That was pretty cool of him.
[Slash's autobiography, "Slash", 2007].
According to the close friend of the band Marc Canter, the above incident took place some time in mid-1986, during the sessions at Pasha studios [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2008]. Referring to the event, Marc would also mention that the officers in the County jail were suspicious of Axl when he went there to bail out Slash:  

Marc Canter: "[Slash] had been a passenger in a car that was pulled over by the Sheriff’s department for a broken taillight. Danny Biral, a roadie for the band, was driving. The sheriff’s deputies found a hypodermic needle in the car, and somehow Slash ended up getting arrested. This wasn’t the first time the band had been in trouble with the Sheriff’s Department, and it wouldn’t be the last.
Axl and I went down to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department to bail Slash out. By the time we arrived, Slash had already been shipped off to the L.A. County jail. [...]  When we arrived at the jail to post Slash’s $178 bail, one of the officers noticed the medallion in the shape of a tiny gun hanging around Axl’s neck. Evidently alarmed at the threat posed by Axl’s necklace, the officer threw him up against the wall and frisked him. Finding no additional threatening objects, he let Axl go, and we went back to my car and waited about five hours for Slash to be released."
[Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2008]


Thanks to @Blackstar for massively rewriting this chapter!

Last edited by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:59 pm; edited 9 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:47 pm


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 Cue 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. Randy also played in the LA punk band 'Black Randy and the Metro Squad'. According to Duff's memoirs, Randy 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 afterwards [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, Cue 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 her biography, she helped manage the band already from when the band was first started, before the Hell Tour. Cue denies this.

Hamilton 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].
Hamilton would then book shows for Hollywood Rose.

Despite Cue and Hamilton 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]]

One thing Hamilton did was send out a band bio to interested parties:


Wild abandon & streetwise composure are encompassed by the music of the savvy & sexy guns n’ roses. rising from the hollywood underground, the band has confidence, raw power, and the authenticity of actually surviving the streets. A power based in the hard knocks depths of reality let [sic] the music of the band exude confidence in themselves and their music.

Izzy Stradlin and W. Axl Rose played together and separately for ten years before forming guns n’ roses in the spring of 1985. Soon added Were the duo of Slash and Steven Adler, who had worked together for over five years. Duff McKagan on bass completed the gang. His previous experience in guitar, drums, and vocals cements his place in the band.

Guns n’ roses is the combination of individuals and personalities that each member has been striving for since their long ago start in rock & roll. Perhaps selfish in the fact that they please themselves first, this enables the band to play music they truly believe in. Guns n’ roses runs on the pure strength of emotion and feeling as can be seen in their highly visual and energetic performances. They aren’t afraid to be themselves and refuse to compromise their stance and beliefs for anyone or anything. They’ve paid their debt to society and are ready to take on the world. . . .

In the words of Axl Rose:

'We’ll be damned if it isn’t everything we can give, or there’s no point in existing.'
" [Steven Davies, Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses, 2008].

At the same time as Hamilton was helping the band, the band was, according to Hamilton, working with another manager, Brigitte Wright [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 132].

The band moved into Hamilton'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].

The police were after Axl and Slash. We returned from the studio to a kind of house without neighbors. We lived in the hallway together with two or three other bands. The police had told us that they were going to beat the shit out of us when they got ahold of us. So, we went home, it didn’t have a door, and we told a friend of ours, Robert John, photographer, that had a big Cadillac, “Robert, you’re our roadie now” (laughs). We loaded the equipment in the car and we left that place in an hour. And Vicky Hamilton offered to help us [Popular 1, November 1992].
At this point, Slash would allegedly agree that Hamilton 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 Hamilton, she and Cue met 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].
Some point after being signed to Geffen, the band was managed by Arnold Stiefel from Stiefel Entertainment [New York Times, December 8, 1991].

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