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1993.04.11- The Daily Spectrum - Stradlin can’t get handle on rock ’n’ roll lifestyle (Izzy)

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Post by Blackstar on Tue May 21, 2019 4:12 am

1993.04.11- The Daily Spectrum - Stradlin can’t get handle on rock ’n’ roll lifestyle (Izzy) 1993_115


Stradlin can’t get handle on rock ’n’ roll lifestyle

Special to the Spectrum

He has loved rock ’n’ roll music for as long as he can remember, but Izzy Stradlin may never get a handle on the rock ’n’ roll life.

“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,” said Stradlin.

‘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 road got a little smoother, and the scenery became a little more familiar, but Stradlin’s journey from outcast to fallen star to happy guy had its share of weird detours and surprise curves.

He grew up in Lafayette, Ind., where his musical training came from 70s FM radio (Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin), 70s television (“The Midnight Special,” “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert”), and his parents’ house parties, where the then-young Stradlin got his first taste of live rock ’n’ roll.

“When I was a kid, we used to have parties at our house every week, with kegs of beer and a band and everything,” Stradlin, 30, said. “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.”

In 1980, Stradlin got a letter from a guitarist he knew who had moved west. The letter contained a note touting the advantages of California living and a sample of California pot. Stradlin relocated the following week.

He ended up in Orange County, Calif., where he hung out in punk clubs and lived in his car when money got tight. After a few years and several band experiments, Stradlin ran into a childhood friend and formed another group. The friend was Axl Rose, the group was Guns N’ Roses, and the success was monumental.

So were the pressures. Million-selling albums such as 1987’s “Appetite for Destruction" and 1991’s “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II’’ led to big-budget videos, big-time tours of arenas and stadiums, and, ultimately, a surplus of big-shot behavior.

Drugs and alcohol were consumed in large quantities. Stradlin was arrested for relieving himself in the galley of an airborne jet. Rose was arrested for inciting a riot in St. Louis. Recording sessions went overtime and over budget. Concerts started later and later, as the band members waited until close to midnight to begin their three-hour shows.

“The last three months of our last tour got to be a little too much for me,” the diffident guitarist and vocalist said. “We were having trouble finishing our sets, we couldn’t seem to get on stage at the right time, and it all seemed wrong to me. It just wore me out, and I started thinking, There’s got to be a better way to go about this.’ ”

Finally, Stradlin decided he’d had all the excess he could stand. After the "airplane incident” landed him in jail, Stradlin decided to give up the drugs that were messing with his head and the alcohol that was pickling his insides. And in November of 1991, he walked away from the rock ’n’ roll monster that was making him miserable.

‘The morning after I’d decided to leave, I felt like a huge burden had just disappeared from my life. That’s the best way to describe it. I loaded up a van and went on a two-week road trip to the Grand Canyon, New Orleans, the Florida Keys and a bunch of other places. It was great to get back to everyday life, where you pump your own gas and change your own tires. It was a long overdue vacation, and I loved it.”

Rested, renewed and celebrating his third year of sobriety, Stradlin has a new band, a new album and his same old love of rock ’n’ roll.

With guitarist Rick Richards, bassist Jimmy Ashhurst and drummer Charlie Quintana in tow, Stradlin recorded “Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds,” a bracing blast of blues-spiked rock ’n’ roll that includes enticing whiffs of punk speed ether pile-driving “Bucket O’ Trouble”), Tex-Mex romance (‘Time Gone By”) and Rolling Stones’ grit (“Shuffle It All”).

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