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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:00 pm



On Halloween, October 31, 1984, two young men were sitting on a couch in an apartment in Hollywood where they were staying. They were discussing the future. The two men were Tracii Guns (age 18) and Axl Rose (age 22). Tracii was the lead guitarist in the Hollywood band LA Guns, and Axl had until earlier this evening been the singer in the same band. Raz Cue, the owner of the apartment, was the manager of LA Guns. Now they discussed what to do.

When we got home, Raz [Cue] 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.
Tales From The Stage, February 2013

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.


A couple of years later, Axl would claim that he was the one who came up with the name together with his friend Izzy Stradlin (age 22 at the time), and not mention Tracii. The foundation, according to Axl, also happened earlier when Axl was still playing in LA Guns:

[...] during the time I was in LA Guns, Izzy and I started doing stuff on the side and calling it Guns N' Roses.

This is likely not entirely correct. It seems reasonable that Tracii would have been part of coining the name by providing the "Guns" to Axl's "Rose". In December 1986, when this first 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 [see later chapter], and decided to erase Tracii's involvement.

What supports this is that in October 1987, Axl would acknowledge that Tracii had a role in the formation of Guns N' Roses:

The name Guns N' Roses come from Tracii Guns and Axl Rose.

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.

In 2005, Tracii would also reiterate his involvement in founding the band:

Axl ended up singing for LA Guns until he got in a fight with our manager [=Raz Cue]. 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'.
Classic Rock, April 2005


A conundrum here is that Axl and Tracii had disagreed over musical direction while playing together in LA Guns [see later chapter]. Why then would they want to form a new band together? Perhaps they intended Guns N' Roses to be musically different to LA Guns? Or perhaps they just admired each other too much, despite any musical differences that might have been? Axl shed some light on this in 1989:

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.

Or perhaps Guns N' Roses wasn't intended as a band at all, but as a record label as Tracii stated in 2016:

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

In his great book, Reckless Road, Marc Canter who was a friend of the guys in Guns N' Roses, would state that "Guns N' Roses originally began as a side project of Axl's and Tracii's" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007] confirming both of their involvement but also the somewhat down-prioritized status of the band in its very beginning.


As far as we know, not much happened with Guns N' Roses in 1984 after the two guys on the couch first came of with the name. It seemed to have been an idea, a concept, but not much more. Then, in early 1985, Tracii got in a fight with the new singer in LA Guns, the guy who had replaced Axl. This guy was Mike Jagosz and he was not a friend of Axl.

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 1984 but that it hasn't evolve dinto a full band yet.

Tracii would then fire Mike Jagosz from L.A. Guns, resulting in Axl spending more time with the band members of L.A. Guns again since Mike was gone [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 195].


But Tracii and LA Guns had a problem, the band had one more gig already booked at the Troubadour for March 26, 1985, but they had no singer. Tracii asked if Axl wanted to do a one-off, one more show with LA Guns as the singer, and Axl agreed. Cue then claims to have suggested they'd do it under the "Guns N' Roses" moniker 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 [Gardner; drums] and Ole [Beich; bass]. 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 who were to play at the Troubadour consisted of Axl Rose on vocals, Izzy Stradlin on guitar (or "Izzy Stranded" as he referred to himself back then), Tracii Guns on lead guitar, Rob Gardner on drums, and Ole Beich on bass. Ole and Rob were band mates of Tracii in LA Guns. These first members of Guns N' Roses formed two factions, with Axl and Izzy being good friends from Lafayette, Indiana, and Tracii, Rob and Ole being from LA Guns and having a more metal approach to music playing.


The band now had a few weeks to rehearse together an prepare for the show. They 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

But this lineup was not to last long…

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:57 pm


Axl was born William Rose ("Bill Rose") in Lafayette, Indiana (a "hellhole in the Midwest" as 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).

Sharon and William had one additional child, Amy [Journal and Courier, January 28, 1965], and Sharon and Stephen got 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 not his stepfather, 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.

Axl would later imply he 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 open up and  claim that he had suffered abuse from both his biological father (William B. Rose) and his stepfather (Stephen Bailey), as well as neglect from his mother. This will be discussed in later chapters.

The household of Stephen and Sharon was very religious.

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.

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.

[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.

I was brought up in this ful­ly religious, very strict, holy-roller Pentecostal country church. […] I believed ev­ery word of it, and I tried, but nothing ever happened to me. I watched my father speak in tongues and people in­terpret it. I watched him sing in perfect Japanese—and my dad doesn’t know Japanese—and sing every note right on key with his eyes closed, driving 100 miles an hour down the freeway and not hitting a car. I don’t know how that happened. I’ve seen people healed, and these were not people who were paid $5 to [get healed]. I’ve seen people with no eyes read. It was very strange, but nothing ever happened [to me]. I always won all the Bible con­tests. I taught Sunday school. I played piano. I knew more gospel songs than anybody I knew. [...] I always thought I was cursed or something. Now I just feel pissed off. If there’s somebody up there, I don't know. I just don’t have a clue about it.

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.

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.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:04 pm


Tracii Guns, born Tracy Richard Irving Ulrich on January 20, 1966, grew up in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

One of Tracii's first bands was Pyrrhus together with the drummer Rob Schneider [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 110]. Ole Beich would later join Pyrrhus as their bass player [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 133].

Raz Cue was a close friend of the guys in Pyrrhus [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 110].

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]. Cue 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, Cue would bump into Axl. Cue tried to get Axl to join L.A. Guns as their first singer, but Axl refused. Only a few weeks later when Axl's current band, 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 Axl decided to join LA Guns 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].

On Halloween 1984, Axl would be fired from LA Guns, and Tracii would Axl would form Guns N' Roses.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:12 pm


Hollywood, in that day-- I mean, Guns N' Roses probably came on the scene, I'd assume, around like '85 -- There was a very small contingent of people who thought bands like The New York Dolls, and even like The Clash, and Hanoi Rocks, and things like that, were cool. So those kinda people just kinda like, you know, knew each other. So that's how I ran into Izzy. It's like, you know, we all just kinda liked the same kinda music..

In the 1980's, the Sunset Strip was a thriving, micro-music eco-system, teaming with glam, sleaze and punk rockers; all attempting to bait an audience, land a deal and enjoy the bounty with bacchanalian delight like their rock n' roll predecessors. […] Although club owners could always bank on a thirsty crowd for Friday and Saturday nights, they lost money during the week. Therefore, Pay-to-Play was introduced in the 1980's: an insurance policy to cover the costs of operation during down time. It required that bands slotted to play during weeknights collect a minimum cover fee by pre-selling tickets to their own gigs. […] If the band caused trouble, however, and cost the [club] owners more than they brought in, getting blacklisted was almost guaranteed. This could be achieved by trashing dressing rooms, bar fighting and assaulting patrons. If a band was banned from enough clubs, they could kiss their dream of a record contract goodbye.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

When we were in high school, bands were mainly formed by friends. There was always a drummer, because there were no lack of parents who were stupid enough to buy drum sets for their kids, The garage would end up being the rehearsal room for many budding young bands. Then there was the singer; the charismatic, cool kid. Mostly they couldn't sing for shit, but sometimes a great singer actually emerged. Then there was me, and what seemed like a million guitar players, all practicing their Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen or Jimi Hendrix solos. Two or three guitar players would hook up and the least talented one would be urged by the others to play bass. The band was formed, except for the name. Bands broke up before playing one gig because no one could agree on a name.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Launching a successful rock group in the early eighties required three ingredients: a dream, some talent, and die-hard ambition. The origins of Guns N' Roses can be traced to a handful of friend with similar taste in music, clothing, girls and drugs, and a collective fantasy to be the next Aerosmith, Zeppelin or Stones. Bands made their initial mark by clearing a garage, jamming cover tunes and playing underage parties. The real dream, however, required talent and skill that matched ambition, and players not up to par had to go. It wasn't personal; it was business.

For those who remained, a front-man and a few original songs were required to break out of high school keg parties and climb the Hollywood club food chain. Promiscuity ruled, as members of one band played sessions with others; everyone trying to find the right combination that could take over the Sunset Strip and land the coveted record deal. Band loyalty was achieved by growing a fan base or through the impenetrable bonds that formed while living subsistence lives together in L.A..
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

So many of the kids who were into the Sunset Strip music scene and trying to start a band were not from California. They moved here and they didn't have a background on each other and there were so many of tese hard rock, hair metal bands to select from in the early eighties. If they were sporting the same T-shirts or the same kind of stud jacket, Conch belts and service clothes, they found a way to get together. The camaraderie began with a shared interest in the genre of music that they liked and the time they spent together hanging out on the Sunset Strip and at shows. But when personality conflicts arose, off they went to start or join the next band.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

There was both an art and a hustle to promoting a club gig, especially when it came to flyering. Slash and Axl would cruise the Sunset Strip, tacking flyers up on every telephone pole an covering up their rival's flyers in the process. They gave out tickets like candy on the street to anyone who crossed their path in an attempt to raise the minimum amount to play. When they fell short, friends of the band (like Marc Canter) often stood outside the clubs on the night of the show and sold tickets one-by-one. When that failed, someone had to pony up the remaining amount or the band didn't go on. If you wanted the dream, these are the clubs you had to play.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:13 pm


A young Axl quickly became interested in music despite his family's limitations on what was regarded as 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 [Lank] called me and played Supertramp over the phone. I just acted like I was talking to him so no one would know.

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."

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.

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.

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).

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.

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].

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

In 1991, when 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 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.

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!

Despite his fondness for music and 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].

[…] 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.

Also in 1987 would he claim to not being able to stand his own voice [Record Mirror, July 11, 1987].

I was in choir. I loved to sing but I never was fond of my own voice or sure of my own abilities. I knew I loved doing it but I always heard tapes and thought `That's what I sound like? God, I'm terrible!' I got pushed into it with the band by Izzy.

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.

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.

His first concert was with Johnny Winter and Triumph at the age of 17 [Metal Edge, June 1988].


In addition to becoming a musician, in early years he also considered becoming a lawyer [Metal Edge, June 1988]:

[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.

If I wasn't doing this I'd be in law. But right now I don't have time to study. I hope to.

I had aspirations of wanting to be a lawyer one time, because I like the intensity of the challenge.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:17 pm


Raz Cue got involved in managing both LA Guns and the fledgling Guns N' Roses.

Cue met Izzy Stradlin 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, together with Axl. 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 the guitarist 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].

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:21 pm


Axl's fifth grade teacher at Oakland Elementary School, Billy Johnson, would say that Axl was "very intelligent, very personable, always had a smile" and that Axl "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.

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" and that 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]. It is claimed that Axl's restlessness and rebellious natur resulted in poor grades at school [Juke Magazine, July 1989], although Axl himself would said he got straight A's [Daily Press, August 1986; Record Mirror, July 11, 1987]:

I always used to get As at school — it got to be boring.

But Axl would also say 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.

He also told Metal Edge that he couldn't "handle" school [Metal Edge, June 1988].

One of the reasons Axl might not have enjoyed school that much, might have been problems with other kids.


Axl would describe himself as "never really popular" when he grew up [Rolling Stone, August 1989]. An old friend of his, 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.

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.

Jim Padach, who owned a record store in Lafayette, would remember Axl this way:

Axl couldn't get a job at the mall stores because they had all caught him shoplifting-I always had to watch him when he came in. The last memory I have of him is when he came into the store and told me he was going out to L.A. to become a rock star. I was, like, "Yeah, right"

Police Chief Tom Leach would later claim that Axl was exaggerating in the press:

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 would check Axl'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.

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.

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" and "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.

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."

[...] 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 […]

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.

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.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:24 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]. In an interview in 1998, he would interestingly claim to have been born in Lafayette, Indiana [Rock & Folk, April 1998]. He would also say his father was an insurance salesman [Rock & Folk, April 1998], so possibly his father changed professions.

Like Axl, in the beginning 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.

Although years later, when he had moved back to Indiana, he would excuse these 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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

[…] my grandma played the organ at home. She had also played the drums in a swing group. She played “Proud Mary”. My parents, they listened to the Fat Domino and other records… My dad sold insurance but, on the weekend, his pals would come over to listen to records and take shots in the basement. I served them beer and, since I had a drum kit, I asked Clay, a friend of my dad, to teach me Jazz rolls and rock beats. Lately, I’ve been coming back to the drums, I don’t play anymore… There was also a guy who came with a guitar and his amp and he also taught me a lot of stuff.
Rock & Folk, April 1998; translated from French

I remember that I was fascinated with The Partridge Family on television. I thought it was great, this family who had a group and a van. Then when I was 10, my parents took me to see David Cassidy, as part of a big motorcycle and car race. David Cassidy arrived surrounded by 20 police who got him on stage and the girls began to scream. He had sung nice in playback, the girls raved so much over his sequins and his platform boots and everything he did. Me, I found it a little crazy that he didn’t play with a group and I quickly got into the Monkees. It must have been around the end of the 60s, television was like a drug in Indiana cities. The arrival of FM radio was a revolution, we started to hear music with new strength. In this remote place, who would have imagined tone day the emergence of rock TV like MTV? We discovered “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, and above all, if you wanted to do something with your life, you had to go to California....
Rock & Folk, April 1998; translated from French

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!"

Talking about early bands:

I had a neighbor who played guitar and, since I played drums, we spent our afternoons in my mom’s garage. Anyways, there wasn’t a place to play rock at the time. We had to either play country or the pop hits of that time, not to mention the minimum age to enter clubs was 21 years old. We could’ve played in high schools, we even tried a little but I hated it, it was too depressing, it was a dead end...
Rock & Folk, April 1998; translated from French

His family was not particularly religious and Izzy would describe finding church experience "bizarre" [Rock & Folk, April 1998].


Izzy'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]. Talking about growing up in Lafayette:

"It was cool growing up there. There's a courthouse and a college (Purdue University), a river and railroad tracks. It's a small town, so there wasn't much to do. We rode bikes, smoked pot, got into trouble - it was pretty 'Beavis and Butt-head,' actually.


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].

[Being asked if he was a good student]: No, I just excelled in drawing and painting. I always did little cartoons and I still like to copy Al Jaffee’s style, who did all the stuff on the back of MAD.
Rock & Folk, April 1998; translated from French

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


In Lafayette Izzy also befriended Axl Rose:

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.

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.

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.

[Axl and I] tried to put together a band in Lafayette in the early days, and nothing came of it, unfortunately.

I have particularly vivid memories of the two of us together when we were 17, driving around those Indiana back roads all the time, fried on acid, and listening to a tape of Queen II.

When I first met him, I thought [Axl] was totally crazy. In fact, my first memory of him goes back to school, I saw him flying out of the classroom door with the teacher at his heels, chasing him down the hallway throwing books at his head. I had a cousin who was popular, a real redneck, who kept hacking on Axl and me because we had long hair. They then built a skateboard park in town which was a fucking event. We were there all the time with our boards. What was funny was that Axl had money and I was always on the street…
Rock & Folk, April 1998; translated from French

Talking about other drug experiences:

I started smoking firecrackers when I was fifteen. At first, it didn’t do anything to me, then three pizzas devoured later, I took coke. I didn’t drink much and did a little acid during my time in high school. We took blue-birds, speed, I had spent all of my high school years completely loaded.
Rock & Folk, April 1998; translated from French

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].

[…] when I thought about making a band, I immediately realized that I needed a charismatic singer. [Axl] was cool, savage, he was expelled from school, he had plenty of personal problems… We started playing with our guitarist pals things like Ramones, Ted Nugent, and the Beatles, then with two Hungarian brothers, one of whom was totally psychotic and had a similar demeanor to Charles Manson. Axl played the bass. It was weird being together in a living room playing Robert Palmer’s and the Beatles’ songs…
Rock & Folk, April 1998; translated from French


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.


When I wasn't in school, I was practicing. I was trying real hard to put together a solid band in Lafayette, but it wasn't working out. After graduation, I just said, 'Fuck it - I'm going to L.A., because the weather's better and that's where everything is.'

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.

According to Musician, December 1988, he first tried his luck in Chicago and Indianapolis, before throwing his drum kit and P.A. ("this little-bitty P.A. system some nutbag had stolen from a church and left in my garage" [Press Kit for 117 Degrees, January 1998]) in the back of an old Chevy Impala and heading for Los Angeles.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:26 pm


Out of Axl's friends in Indiana that would have the greatest impact on Guns N' Roses, was by far Izzy Stradlin. Izzy and Axl found each other at school:

[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.

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.

Yeah, [Izzy] was a skateboarder. We hooked up in about 8th grade and started playing around that time.

See previous chapter for more on Axl and Izzy together in Indiana.

Together Axl and Izzy had a garage band [Unknown UK Source, June 1987].

Yeah, I had a garage band back home. I was writing songs, playing keyboards. I ended up singing 'cause they thought I could sing better than any of them. I loved singing but I felt like an idiot 'cause I was very insecure.

[…] when I thought about making a band, I immediately realized that I needed a charismatic singer. [Axl] was cool, savage, he was expelled from school, he had plenty of personal problems… We started playing with our guitarist pals things like Ramones, Ted Nugent, and the Beatles, then with two Hungarian brothers, one of whom was totally psychotic and had a similar demeanor to Charles Manson. Axl played the bass. It was weird being together in a living room playing Robert Palmer’s and the Beatles’ songs…
Rock & Folk, April 1998; translated from French

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.

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.

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.

It is likely that it is Lank that is featured in the Hard and Heavy video from April 1989, and whom 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.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:29 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.

"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].

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.”

Mike Staggs would later talk about AXL, the band, and jokingly claim they had been pissed when Axl used the name:

Axl was a band name Dave lank roger Miley and myself came up with. (Although we hadn’t started really “playing” yet Smile ) upon departing to california Bill asked if he could take/ use the name and We refused - I have an old never-completed 14 year old’s attempt at a legal document to that effect (!) But once he was in California he legally changed his name to what it is now. Rose being his real fathers last name. Although we all had the thin lizzy black rose album on repeat at that time - hence his first tattoo, I believe. Anyway, we were pretty pissed !
Mike Staggs, Personal communication, February 17, 2020[/url]

A possible chronology of Axl's name changing may 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.

In 1988 Slash would try to explain Axl's name and mistakenly claim that Axl was born "Axl":

I think [the "W."] stands for William. […] Because it looks cool with “W.” I don’t know (chuckles). […] Well, I think [Rose is] actually a family name, somewhere in there. Somewhere in his family it’s the name “Rose.” Same with Axl. Axl’s real – that’s his god-given name, you know, birth-given name.

In the June 1992 Musician issue, an interesting description of Bill Bailey's transformation to Axl Rose and the artistic awakening of Axl Rose, would be presented:

[Axl] also says that while he was growing up, forbidden access to rock culture, the only music magazines he saw were the publications he could buy at the local grocery store: teenage poster mags such as Circus and Hit Parader. Axl Rose shaped his vision of rock 'n' roll out of rock 'n' roll's most unsubstantial debris. Unaware of all the possibilities, he began his career expressing his talent through a limited vocabulary.

As a troubled child Billy Bailey looked at pin-up pictures of silly heavy metal bands and thought they really meant in. So he took that trivial style and infused it with a powerful creative vision. He brought integrity to a shallow genre through his own passionate belief. Billy Bailey was a sad, scared kid who recreated himself as a rock star named W. Axl Rose. And then, against all odds, he found himself again.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:32 pm


In 1980 Izzy left Indiana for California and Los Angeles. He first settled in Huntington, Los Angeles [Los Angeles Daily News, March 20, 1998].


Within three days of leaving Lafayette for Los Angeles, Izzy found himself 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.

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.

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; translated from Spanish

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.

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

They were kinda like the Stooges. The guitarist looked like Gene Simmons. He had this apartment covered in rock posters, with a ton of records. And to me, straight from Indiana, I thought, 'He's really got it goin' on!' I had a car, a kit and a P.A., so they figured, 'This guy came from Heaven!'

I played my first gig with them in downtown L.A. The audience was like the angry guys in 'The Decline of Western Civilization.' I'm sitting there waiting for the rest of the band to come onstage, and they finally get out there - and they're all in drag. The singer's wearing pink spandex and this big afro. I'd never thought twice about the name Naughty Women. The crowd hated us. They were throwing beer bottles and jumping onstage. Finally they started beating the shit out of the singer. They knocked over the guitar player's amps, and he got his hand busted. I just grabbed a cymbal stand and stood on the side trying to fend them off, yelling, 'Get the fuck away from ME, man!' That was my introduction to the rock scene in L.A. I was like, 'Wow, this is exciting!'

According to Tracii, the name of the band was The Babysitters and Izzy wore a dress and received a beating [Spin, July 1999].


His tenure in The Naughty Women only lasted for two months after which he joined the band the Atoms which was "more of a Johnny Thunders/Rolling Stones cast" [Press Kit for 117 Degrees, January 1998].


While in the Atoms Izzy had parts of his drum kit stolen and thus switched to bass guitar [Press Kit for 117 Degrees, January 1998].


After the Atoms he joined the "Scorpions-like" band Shire, but left by 1983 [Press Kit for 117 Degrees, January 1998].


Then Izzy switched to huitar[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 […]

[Izzy] wasn’t a very good drummer (laughs). So him probably playing guitar was a better idea (laughs).

A friend from Indy had lent me his guitar for three months. I had this little amp and just taught myself to play. It seemed cooler to play guitar, and easier to write songs on it.

I started out on drums, and I goofed around with guitar, but I never got into it, it was just out of necessity. When I was living in LA I had a few drums ripped off, my car broke down I was out of money, and I thought, "Maybe I better learn to play bass." Then I switched to guitar, I mean, I always had an interest in it. My friends played, I'd borrow their guitars once in a while, finally I ended up getting myself a guitar, and that was it. I said, "I'll do this." But I play drums more than guitar anymore.


Izzy invited Axl who was still in Indiana to come and join him in Los Angeles [Journal and Courier, February 21, 1993] and the next year, in Easter 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.

At the time Izzy was living in an apartment in Huntington Beach [Popular 1, November 1992].


A crucial moment came when Izzy met Chris Weber:

My friend Tracii Guns and I were hanging out at the Rainbow Bar and Grill and he introduced me to Izzy. I was only sixteen. Izzy and I sat in my car for a couple hours, listening to tapes he had in his pocket. He'd say, "this is what I want to sound like" and he'd put in a copy of Hanoi Rocks album or a New York Dolls album. Littered around my car were the tapes I listened to: Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, and Aerosmith. He'd say, "Yeah, that stuff is great, but I want to look like this" and he showed me a picture of Hanoi Rocks. Done deal; I was sold. We jammed for a day or two, and then Izzy mentioned he had a friend from Indiana who had just moved to Hollywood.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road, 2007

That friend was Axl Rose.

Together with Axl and Weber, Izzy founded the band 'Rose' that morphed into 'Hollywood Rose' [see other chapter for details on these bands].


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].


In about 1984, through his roommate at the time, Izzy started smoking powdered Persian heroin and quickly became 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.

Around 1984-1985 Izzy would call himself "Izzy Stranded" [Newsletter #1, December 1985] at a point when he "had no job, no car, no money", but eventually decided that this name was too depressing [Star Tribune, February 26, 1993] so he changed to "Izzy Stradlin".

At some point Izzy would move in with his girlfriend Desi Craft to an apartment on Orchid Street. This would be the hub for Hollywood Rose, because, as Craft would say, they kept the beer there. Craft and Izzy would also be selling heroin out of that apartment, and Craft would be supplying heroin to the band [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


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.

At some point he worked in a guitar shop [Metal Edge, January 1989].

In 1988, Izzy would describe himself this way:

Quiet, articulate and full of shit.

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.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:34 pm


At the age of 17, Axl travelled extensively. This was likely partly caused by his growing problems with the law in Lafayette, conflict with his family, problems fitting in, and a desire to become something.

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.

[The police] 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.

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.

But before Axl moved to Los Angeles he would travel around, seeing various parts of the US. Including St. Louis area where had an unpleasant experience:

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.

Axl had been invited to come join Izzy who had already left for Los Angeles [Journal and Courier, February 21, 1993], so in 1981 Axl decided to travel to California to look for him. We know this since Izzy moved to Los Angeles after graduating in 1980, and met Axl there the following year [see chapter about Izzy]. As in the music video for 'Welcome to the Jungle', and the lyrics to 'One in a Million', Axl would arrive by a Greyhound bus [Metal Hammer (Germany), September 1989]

The cultural shock of coming to Los Angeles was heavy on Axl:

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.

Izzy would summarize this and say that Axl quickly went on a another hitchhiking trip before returning to LA:

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.

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.

By 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.

As seen from the previous discussion, this is likely not entirely correct. Izzy moved to LA in 1980 and Axl hooked up with him 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 Axl 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[/i]." Axl would call her in the early morning: "[i]'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.

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.

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.

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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:35 pm



After coming to Los Angeles, and possibly after breaking up with his girlfriend Gina Siler, Axl lived on the streets 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.

Axl was working at Tower Video on Sunset […]. He eventually became the manager of the store. He sometimes slept in the parking lot under the stairs after the store closed for the night. He told me that one of his goals was to get a membership at a health club so he could always have a place to shower.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

In Hollywood, Axl had various jobs, including being paid "$8-an-hour to smoke cigarettes" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988]. He also worked in "telephone sales, fast food places, washed cars, and was the night manager at Tower Video in L.A." [Metal Edge, January 1989].

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].

1982/83 - RAPIDFIRE

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 AXL together with Izzy and Chris Weber [Rock City News, January 1988] who was 16 years old at the time. At this time, Axl was still going as "Bill". AXL was a band that originated in Indiana [see previous chapter], but was then resurrected in Los Angeles.

Chris Weber would explain meeting Axl for the first time:

We [=Izzy and Weber] drove over to an old, crappy apartment building on Whitley in Hollywood. We took the gated elevator to the roof and got out. I could see, way across the roof, something shining in the sun. We walked over and lying on a small towel, on the burning tar roof, with long red hair and skin as pale as a piece of paper was "Bill." We went down to Axl's girlfriend's apartment, laid around, talked and played songs on an acoustic guitar. That was the beginning.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The apartment at Whitley was were Axl and his girlfriend Gina Siler were living.

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.

[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.

At some point, Axl moved in with my parents and I and after a while, so did Izzy. That's where we wrote all our early songs. We wrote music and rehearsed during the day and we'd go out to the clubs at night. By this time, Izzy hadcreated an image for the band ad Axl and I were both spraying our hair to the roof with Aquanet Extra Hold. Izzy made Concho necklaces and wristbands and sold them for extra money. We'd be clad in tight black jeans, Concho belts, Capezio shows and bangles all the way up your arm.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Tracii would try to recount Axl's early time in Hollywood:

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.
Spin Magazine, Outtakes for Axl Rose Issue, 1999

Weber would claim that he was the one who encouraged Axl to sing with his high voice [Rock City News, January 1988]:

When I first met Axl at that apartment [=at Whitley Street], I didn't think much of him. He could sing, but his voice wasn't unique. Axl said he had learned to sing in the choir and, at the time, he only sang his stuff in a smoot, baritone voice. Then we week, or so later, Izzy and I heard Axl sing "hair of the Dog" by Nazareth while in the shower. Izzy and I looked at each other and said, "That's it! That's the voice." We asked Axl if he'd consider just singing in that voice and he said, "fuck yeah." The rest is history.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

1982/83/84 - ROSE

According to Weber, after a couple of shows as AXL, Izzy and Axl got in an argument. Some days later Izzy and Axl wanted to play again but Izzy insisted they changed the name to Rose:

A few days later, Axl wanted to bury the hatchet and start playing again. Izzy said he'd only do it if we called ourselves "Rose." We changed our name and played under the name Rose […].
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Our first gig was at Raji's, in Hollywood. We realized that if you wanted to get a club gig, you had to say, 'Oh, man, we're HUGE in Orange County. We play these keggers, and they're MASSIVE. We can probably get 500 people.' Then seven people would show up, but we got to play.

Siler would also say that the band 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.

Marc Canter, on the other hand, puts the date of Rose to January 1984 [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Axl would describe his first professional show as a singer, at Gazzarri's, and likely while playing in Rose:

Yeah, at Gazzari's. I couldn't even move. I was scared to death. I just stood there, clutching that mike stand with my eyes closed. Now I move all over the place.


Weber have two explanations for why they then changed the name to Hollywood Rose. In an interview from 1988, he would say that Axl "got mad one day" and they changed the name of the band from Rose to Hollywood Rose, although Weber could not remember why Axl got mad [Rock City News, January 1988].

Another question would be why changing the name would help with Axl's anger. Then, for Canter's book "Reckless Road", Weber provides the explanation for the name change on there being another band called Rose:

We changed our name and played under the name Rose, until we discovered there was another band called Rose. So, we changed our name to Hollywood Rose.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

At some point Axl quit Hollywood Rose and Izzy left to play in the band London. This could have been as a result of Axl getting "mad one day", as described above. But the band was resurrected:

Axl came back. He showed up at my apartment saying he wanted to start the band up again. It seemed like a good idea.

Bret Michaels from Poison would recount hearing Axl for the first time at a Hollywood Rose show at Madam Wong's East on March 16, 1984:

We're out in L.A. in March of '84. And Kim Fowley introduced me to a girl named Athena Bass -- which is Tommy Lee's sister. And she said: I want to take you to a club tonight to see this band play. They're sort of like Poison of the West Coast out here, you know. And they were playing a place called Madame Wong's East. And I remember going down to the club. It was just me and Athena and her boyfriend at the time, right? And we just went down there, and it was a band called Hollywood Rose. And Axl was singing for the band. He was sort of what you would remember him from the "Welcome to the Jungle" video? Over-the-top glam, hair just teased out -- you know, just really pretty insane and wild.


I mean, it was like a Monday night. You know, there was like maybe eight to 15 people in the club. You know, it was this little teeny club upstairs. The way I could tell it was the same attitude that he had was the same attitude I had -- he was playing as if he was playing for a million people. You know, I mean, his attitude was, you know, I'm going-- You know, he didn't have this-- I mean, he had a great vibe. He just came onstage and he was -- "electric" I guess is the best word to say.

The bands Rose and Hollywood Rose would have various members, and Marc Canter mentions Johnny Kreis (drums), Rick Mars (bass), Andre Troxx and Steve Darrow (bass) [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Darrow played bass with Hollywood Rose for a short time but would be present when Izzy met Duff:

Izzy and I actually ran into Duff in the parking lot of the am/pm across from the Whisky. And Izzy said, "I think I know that guy. I think I met that guy at a party or something." Duff had just moved into town from Seattle and was playing with this guy Michael McMahon n a power-pop band. Izzy started talking to him and asking about what his situation was. Duff described the kind of music he was looking to play: Stones, New York Dolls, Hanoi Rocks. Izzy was impressed and probably thinking in the back of his head that if things don't go well with me, he would definitely call Duff because he wanted to create exactly what Izzy had in mind.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Although Duff would never get to play in Hollywood Rose, Izzy would keep him in mind for later and remember him when they needed to replace Ole Beich in the first lineup of Guns N' Roses.

Around the same time Izzy would meet Slash when looking up the artist of an Aerosmith drawing that had been floating around the town; the artist was Slash [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Slash would be given demos of Hollywood Rose (or possibly Rose) and hear Axl sing for the first time:

[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

This prompted Slash and Steven Adler to go see Hollywood Rose play at the Gazzarri's [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Slash and I were in a band called Road Crew. One day we found a flyer for a band called Rose. We said, "These guys look cool-we oughta check them out." So we went to see them at [the Sunset Strip rock club] Gazzarri's and said, "We get those two in our group and we're gonna have the hottest band around."

Steven was more or less responsible for hooking up myself with Axl. I had already met Izzy.

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

After the show Slash wanted Axl in his own band, Roadcrew [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007], but didn't succeed. Instead, Slash would end up joining Hollywood Rose. At some point, likely April or May 1984, Izzy and Axl put out an ad for a new lead guitar player which caught the attention of Slash, and Slash decided to audition:

The first time I met [Axl] 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.

This was the apartment where Izzy lived with his girlfriend Desi Craft. Craft would describe the meeting:

I remember when Slash came and auditioned. He came to the apartment where Izzy and I were living on Orchid. Izzy had me hide in the hallway while they talked and played, but I peaked through a crack to see. I remember seeing his high-top sneakers and his guitar case and I knew he would be hired. Our apartment was the central hub for the whole band. We kept the beer there.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

So Slash and Steven joined Hollywood Rose in May 1984, resulting in a lineup consisting of Axl, Slash, Izzy, Steven and Steve Darrow on bass [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. Steven Darrow would describe the new lineup:

At one point we got a rehearsal together with Slash, Izzy, Steve Adler, Axl and I. And it sounded really good. Slash had added a whole other dynamic, in contrast to Izzy's stuff that was simple, straight-ahead, and fast. Slash thought this would work, that we could be great. We had a few rehearsals, probably about once a week at best. It wasn't anything steady and none of us had a lot of money.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The next day [after having seen Hollywood Rose at Gazarri's], I was leaving a girlfriend's house and Axl was walking up and we got to talking. We rented a studio and we were jamming on this song called "Reckless Life" and Axl grabbed the microphone and started running up and down the walls, screaming like I've never heard in my life. From the first note, I knew this was gonna be it.

This was possibly when Axl started calling Steven "Popcorn":

When you play you pop up and down like pop­corn.

But then Izzy left the band after only one week:

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.

According to Darrow, Izzy also had a problem with Steven's double bass drums [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Marc Canter would provide a third explanation for why Izzy left, disagreements with Axl over whether the riff for the song Cold Hard Cash should be kept or not [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

After Izzy leaving the musical style of Hollywood Rose would turn more towards street and away from glam, and Axl would work on some of Slash's songs [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

This lineup of Hollywood Rose, billed as New Hollywood Rose, played their first show on June 16, 1984 at Madame Wong's West [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. Another show with this lineup took place on July 10, 1984 at the Troubadour. According to Marc Canter, Axl broke a glass against the back wall and was told they would never play the Troubadour again. Fortunately, Darrow knew the booking agent for the band Poison and was able to get Hollywood Rose back on the bill at the Troubadour for a show on August 29 [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Before the show on August 29, 1984 a the Troubadour, Darrow had been replaced by a bassist called Snake [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

But Slash and Axl would also get in a fight resulting in them splitting [97.7 HTZ-FM, January 1994]. Years later, when talking about his hesitation to joining Guns N' Roses, Slash would shed some more light on what had happened between them while in Hollywood Rose:

At first I didn't want to do it because me and Axl had been through some bad times together.

Axl was a bit temperamental, a bit moody, so we had a falling out and we split.

Duff would go in more detail: Axl had slept with Slash's girlfriend [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 69].

1985 - L.A. GUNS

With Izzy having left to join London and Slash looking for a new band, Axl decided to join Tracii Guns in the new band L.A. Guns. The other members of L.A. Guns were Rob Gardner (drums) and Ole Beich (bass).

The rift between Slash and Axl had been bad, so when Axl called Slash and asked him to help Tracii with the riff for 'Back Off Bitch, Slash blew him off [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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. At this gig, LA Guns opened for Izzy's band, London.

But LA Guns would not work out for Axl.

Axl ended up singing for L.A. Guns until he got in a fight with our manager.

[Talking about Axl getting fired from L.A. Guns]: 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.”
Tales From The Stage, February 2013

According to Cue, Axl wasn't fired but quit the band himself, allegedly after a violent episode at the Rainbow:

[...] Axl, Ole, Joe [Cue's 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 Cue's apartment.

Axl, in an interview in December 1986, would claim he deliberately got himself kicked out of LA Guns by Tracii:

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!

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].

Regardless of how it went down that Axl left LA Guns, the result was that on October 31, 1994, Axl and Tracii found themselves sitting on Cue' couch, discussing what to do.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:21 pm

MARCH 1985

In March 1985 the newly formed GN'R lineup consisted of Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Tracii Guns, Ole Beich and Rob Gardner. With a show coming up at the Troubadour on March 26, the band was rehearsing and preparing. But 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 [see later chapter].

Tracii would remember Izzy suggesting that Duff would replace Ole:

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

And then I started playing with Axl, Izzy and a couple of other guys, called Guns N’ Roses.

Duff would later discuss meeting and playing with Izzy:

[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

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 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

And Tracii would talk about working with Izzy:

Well, he was the silent controller, and I was the vocal one. You know, it was like he'd say: Trace -- you know, I got this idea. You know, what do you think about this? And, you know, blah blah blah. And I'd go: Well, you know, that's all right. But if we do this, it might make it a little harder, or a little cooler.

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]

Talking about joining Guns N' Roses and indicating things were good in the beginning:

After [Road Crew] I got together with Axl and Izzy; they had a band and they said, can you come and play bass for us? It was already called Guns N’ Roses, but there was another guy on guitar called Tracii [Guns] and a different drummer [Rob Gardener], and it was a real iffy band. Like, I would hardly show up for rehearsal, and that is not like me. I am always the first guy to show up at rehearsal, the first guy to do everything like that.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

The first Guns N' Roses show was held on The Troubadour on March 26. The lineup was comprised of Axl, Izzy, Tracii, Rob and "new guy" Duff. This was the show that had originally been intended as a LA Guns show but fell apart when Mike Jagozs 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'.

There was a lot of politics with the Troubadour. There was an older woman that ran the Troubadour and she would ban you. This woman was not somebody you would necessarily fuck with. […] [At] the Troubadour […] you could always manage to get a spot -- maybe not a weekend night, but a Monday or Tuesday. At the Troubadour, we had to pay for lights and sound, which was a racket.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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 […]

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:22 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.

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.

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!


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.

[…] 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.”

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.

There were a lot of records around in my house so I didn’t have to go out and buy them — James Gang, Beatles. The first one I actually got was Kiss Alive I and an Aerosmith bootleg, but I didn’t buy them, I stole them. We had a system. In the record store there was a pinball at the back with a window above the door. I used to put them in a bag, have one of my buddies go outside, and then put them through the window.

[Talking about the record that changed his life]: Mine was a single. I heard it before I’d heard The Sex Pistols — D.O.A, ‘The Prisoner’. These guys were like 150 miles away from me, in Canada, and they just opened my eyes. I didn’t think of it in terms of punk rock then, it just made me go ‘Wow, I can go play.’ Then I got the Pistols record and The Damned and Stiff Little Finger, The Vibrators and Johnny Thunders. But D.O.A and Johnny Thunders were probably the ones who changed my life.

I grew up listening to stuff that influenced me on the bass later. Sly & the Family
Stone, the James Gang, Prince... I went to punk gigs, but I’d also go to see Grandmaster Flash. So there are funk elements in my bass play­ing, but they’re always applied to straight-a-head rock.

[Talking about the first record he bought]: There were a lot of records around in my house -the James Gang, The Beatles-so I didn't have to go out and buy them. The first one I actually got was Kiss' 'Alive' and an Aerosmith bootleg-but I didn't buy them, I stole them!

We had a system. In the record store, there was a pinball machine at the hack with a window above the door. I used to put the records in a hag, have one of my buddies go outside, and then put them through the window.

I couldn't figure out what I wanted to play. I got a record by Prince and was like, 'Wow, this guy played everything.' All my older brothers and sisters liked James Gang, Sly And The Family Stone, Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge... Maybe it was mainstream stuff, but they were hippies. I liked the soulfull and ripping stuff and Zeppelin, too. I saw Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel when they came to Seattle, but mainly I was into Prince and I still am.

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].

Talking about what made him want to become a musician:

Probably because of Iggy Pop. Actually, as I’m thinking about it, Iggy Pop has a place in my top 5 - definitely the Raw Power album by Iggy & The Stooges. He's an honest guy. I had a dream when I was twelve, before I even knew him. I dreamed of singing in a band and running around on stage. A few years later, I saw him and I thought, “That’s my dream! I want to do exactly what this guy does!

Duff's brother Bruce would teach him to play bass [Popular 1, September 1993]:

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.
Kerrang! March 1989; from Blast, 1987

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.


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.

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[…].

The bands included the Fastbacks, Ten Minute Warning, the Veins, On the Rocks, Crisis Party [The Seattle Times, July 1991; Circus Magazine, November 1991], and Silly Killers [Music West in 3-D, 1997] 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.

[Talking about playing bass before Guns N' Roses]: When I was 15 I played bass on a punk single, by a band called The Veins, but that was it.

The Fartz, do you remember that band? I was the drummer. Then we turned into Ten Minute Warning and I played guitar.

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!

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?

In 1982, the English punk band The Angelic Upstarts toured North American and passed through the Seattle area. Duff was then asked to join the band as their drummer but declined [Popular 1, September 1993]

Fuck! How do you know that? They knew a friend of mine and I knew all their songs by heart. I played drums at that time. They asked me to join them and I refused. […] I wasn’t thrilled with the idea [of living in England].

[…] it was before I moved to Los Angeles. The problem was that they wanted me to move to England, and I was scared to take that step.
Popular 1, January 1994; translated from Spanish


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.

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.'

When I was a kid, I was really good in school. It was kind of easy for me. I dropped out of high school because I was starting to tour in little punk-rock bands. So I took my [high-school equivalency exam] early.

After quitting school he worked as a cook in a restaurant and played clubs at night [Circus Magazine, November 1991]. He would later talk about trying to find a job:

There was a time from about ’82 to ’83 when I was looking for jobs. I'd take a bus to do a dishwasher job. I was like sixteen or seventeen, and they’d have a forty-year-old man next to me washing dishes too. It’s like that all over the country...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

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.

I used to be an athlete when I was a kid. I played football, basketball and baseball. I was good at all three. But I hated jocks by the time I was in ninth grade.

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]. He also started out early with drugs, "smoked pot by Grade 4 and snorted cocaine by Grade 7" [Music West by 3-D, 1997].


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.

There was a lot of heroin in Seattle when I was playing in punk rock bands from 1979 to 1984. Heroin flowed just like that and everybody was a junkie. There were no clubs for playing, no nothing! It was one of those times in life when you have to make a choice. I had to choose between staying in Seattle or moving to Hollywood for a chance. And that's what I did.

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.
Kerrang! March 1989; Blast, 1987

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.

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.

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.

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.

My drum kit was kind of a piece of shit, and I knew I wasn’t really that good at guitar. So I sold my equipment, bought a bass and an amp, and came down [to LA] to get my foot in the door.

Duff immediately got a job working at Black Angus [Circus Magazine, November 1991; Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992]. Before making it as a musician, Duff worked as a cook [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].


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?]. See a later chapter for information on Road Crew.

Playing in Roadcrew wasn't a success, though, and Duff split after six weeks [Kerrang! March 1989]. According to Steve Darrow, who played bass in Hollywood Rose for a short while, Duff played in a power-pop band with a guy called Michael McMahon [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007], and this was likely after having played in Roadcrew.


Duff then hooked up with Izzy.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:30 pm



In April 1985 the fledgling 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 at the Troubadour and seem to have a somewhat different recollection than Tracii on the sizes of the audiences:

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


Duff was not initially impressed with the band or Axl and 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

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 skipping 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 and in the region that he was so familiar with from his previous bands, what would later be referred to as the "Hell Tour" [see chapter below], but 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].

Anyway, I planned a fuckin’ tour for us. Cos I'd played in punk rock groups all over the country, in punk rock clubs. So I booked us this tour - just up and down the west coast. But Rob and Tracii suddenly chickened out, like, three days before the thing was due to start. Like, “Oh, we don’t know if we wanna do it..." I was like, fuck you!
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

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

Izzy and Axl and I were just like, "Yeah, let's do it. Let's go on the road. Let's do this thing." Tracii Guns and Rob Gardner were more concerned with where they were going to stay or how we were going to get there. They got cold feet at the eleventh hour for doing a tour of the Northwest. Izzy, Axl and I just didn't care. When they pulled out, we asked Slash and Steven to be in the band and the Troubadour was our first gig as a band.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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 […].

According to Raz' biography, Axl and Tracii butted heads over musical differences, like they had in LA Guns, 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

[In 1985] I just wanted to get away for a week or something, and I recall Axl or Izzy calling and leaving a message-"We got rehearsal this week." I just ignored it. I didn't hear anything for a couple of days and then finally the whip came down-"Slash is going to play guitar because you haven't come to rehearsal.

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. 208-209

That Tracii went before Rob is also stated by Slash and Steven:

Rob Gardner couldn't cut it; he was scared to go. I called Steven. He came down and we had one day of rehearsal. It really was like a synergy. It was like we'd been playing together for years.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

I guess Tracii Guns and Rob Gardner didn't want to do these shows up north. So Slash calls me and says, "We have two empty shows you want to do them? One's at the Troubadour and we're going to go up to Oregon and Seattle for the others. And I said, "Fuck yeah, of course." The two other guys didn't have it in their hearts to do it ad we did.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Tracii would go on to present 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].

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.

So in early March 1985, the fledgling band had already lost two of its members, the lead guitarist and the drummer.


Tracii would look back at having worked with Axl:

I've seen Axl once -- I saw him in a liquor store -- and that was about seven or eight years ago. He was like: Hey, man -- what's up? We gotta talk, you know? I go: All right. And then Doug Goldstein called my house once, and I called back, but I never got an answer back -- so I don't know what that was all about.

I'll tell you the one thing about Axl that was always really cool, man -- he was really loyal, till he's not loyal anymore. If that makes any sense. He'll kill for you, until he decides not to. And then, once he decides not to, then that's it.


He's not really someone ... if you're not on the payroll you should be scared of, heh ... you know. I think he basically means well -- I think he really does, you know?. You know, he wants everybody to like him for him.

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.

Especially the focus on music that was written when Tracii was still in the band would irk 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].

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:38 pm

JUNE 1985

With Tracii being fired and Rob leaving the band [or possibly the other way around, see discussion in previous chapter], 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 Practising Musician, April 1992], which Axl knew from Hollywood Rose. 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].

So we got Slash and Steven in the band at the last minute, and it clicked. We had three days to rehearse and everybody was like, OK, we’ll give it a shot.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

Axl would later explain some of the attraction he found in Slash's guitar playing:

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.

[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.

According to Raz, Axl was eager about getting Slash into the band while 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.

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.

Although in his biography, he would gloss over this:

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

Slash had recently started playing in the band Black Sheep, so Axl, Izzy and Steven went to a Black Sheep concert on May 31 to convince Slash to join Guns N' Roses. A few days later he did [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Slash himself was not sure about joining a band with Axl again, having fought with him previously when they both played in Hollywood Rose as described in a previous chapter.

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 Steven's would not mention this in his 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

I guess Tracii Guns and Rob Gardner didn't want to do these shows up north. So Slash calls me and says, "We have two empty shows you want to do them? One's at the Troubadour and we're going to go up to Oregon and Seattle for the others. And I said, "Fuck yeah, of course." The two other guys didn't have it in their hearts to do it ad we did.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

After joining the band, the rest of the guys had to change Steven's drum kit:

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

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

Steven talking about Izzy:

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

Looking back, Tracii would be magnanimous about being replaced by Slash:

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

[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

Duff would also discuss why Slash wanted to join:

[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

But the leader of Black Sheep, Willie Basse, was not as eager to see Slash join Guns N' Roses:

Guns N' Roses had a gig they were planning to get to in a station wagon to Seattle. I remember calling Slash's mom and saying, "You can't let him join the band. They're all a bunch of heroine addicts." I tried to get her to talk hm out of going. Slash told me that his mom didn't speak to him for a year after I called. I as trying to block it but it was fate. He left Black Sheep and joined Guns N' Roses.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

With these two additions, the 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 would Axl point out that this was one of the band's lineups: "This lineup has been together for two years" [Hit Parader, December 1986].

Already at the first rehearsal sparks flew:

When this band got together, everybody felt, ‘This is the right place.’ You know how this goes. You’re in a band, and there’s always a loose link in the end. Al­ways. Every band I’d ever been in before, there’d always be one person, or two, that wasn’t cutting it. This band, it was finally like, ‘Okay, this is it.’ You could feel it at the first rehearsal. It just felt right.

[Steven] came down and we had one day of rehearsal. It really was like a synergy. It was like we'd been playing together for years.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The first rehearsal day that we had as the five guys was at a studio in Silverlake. Playing the first few chords was like thunder had hit the room; like lightning had hit the room. That day was probably the most important day of the five of our lives, as players and musicians. It definitely ranks up there because that's when we all knew it was solidified. This was the best band that any of us had come close to being in.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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

Theis new lineup played its first show at the Troubadour on June 6, 1985, only a few days after Slash and Steven joined the band. This show is the first Guns N' Roses show 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

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 Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:39 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 [Guns N' Roses Interview Disc, June 1988].

Slash' father, Anthony, was British and white while his mother, Ola, was American and black [Musician, December 1990].

And my grandparents hate my dad, and my dad hates my grandparents, because he went off on this tangent and he went marrying a black woman; and, you know, instead of following the family way, he decided to become a graphic artist and hang out with all that whole free kind of lifestyle.

Anthony 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].

[Listing album covers his father worked on]: A lot of the early Joni Mitchell album covers, Neil Young and the Crazy Horse albums... Who else he was doing it for then, um... I know there was a lot of people, but Joni Mitchell and Neil Young are the only ones that are really still around. Crosby, Stills and Nash, I think there was a couple of things. But the other people who he worked for were happening then, but they’re not around now, you know.

Ola 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, the Pointer Sisters [Rolling Stones, January 1991] and Chaka Khan [Blast! April 16, 1988].

My mom was a clothes designer for a lot of rock bands in the 70s. My dad did album covers. As far as the bands he did, Bowie, Lennon, Ringo, The Pointer Sisters – fuck, there’s a whole bunch of them.

I was in the music business ever since I can remember. You know, I’ve always been around it, which is probably one of the reasons I can deal with it so well. […] My parents – my mom used to make clothes for rock stars. […] And then my dad used to do album covers for – actually for David Geffen, so I’ve known David Geffen since I was a kid, you know? (?) He lived in the same building.

Because of his family Slash got to meet many artists early on:

I know Joni Mitchell pretty well. I know David Bowie, you know, from when my mom did clothes for him. I got to meet Keith Moon when I was younger. Let’s see, who else... Nobody really that I’ve kept in contact with, because these are friends of the parents, just people I was around. But Joni is a sweetheart.

Slash would describe his mother as "a real happy-go-lucky, San Francisco hippie" [Musician, December 1990; The Howard Stern Show, February 1, 1995].

And my mom is about as much of the flower girl as they get, a flower child as you’d call it. So I was raised around that very open minded kind of – and rock ‘n’ roll was very popular with that kind of crowd.

I was born right during the big 60s, that kind of thing. So I grew up with hippie parents and all that stuff.

But his parents' dedication to the ideals of hippie-life could result in embarrassing situations for the young Slash:

[…]it was during the free love thing. My parents – I had to be naked. I had a birthday party, which I’ll never forget. I was so embarrassed. I had a birthday party and I couldn’t have been more than, like, six years old; and all the adults there had a naked pool party, and they threw all the kids in the pool, took their clothes off, threw me...

In the 70s, his parents split up and when he was 11, he moved with his mother to Los Angeles [Blast! April 16, 1988; Metal Zone, December 1993]. [Actually, this happened already when Slash was 5, insert correct quote]. His father moved to Los Angeles, too [actually, Ola moved first and then his father and Slash followed later; although one source claims Ola never lived in England but stayed in Los Angeles the whole time because of her job [Blast! April 16, 1988]].

Straight to Hollywood, [laughs] and ALL of Hollywood, too, because my family was always real mobile. We never lived in one place for more than a year, so I lived in all of the greater Hollywood area.

When I was a little kid, they brought me out here to LA with my grandma and I wasn’t that fazed by it. Then I went back to England for Christmas. I went back and forth a few times. My earliest memories of America are, like, seeing King Kong on TV for the first time and noticing how it was always sunny... The English way is so different. You know, they know how to cook and the food’s just different, and everybody’s sweet, and it’s like you know everybody in that neighbourhood and the neighbourhood doctor and all that.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview fro June 1988

Slash would later be asked about his relationship with England and his family there:

I never went back to see my family, ’cos they hadn’t seen me since I was a little kid, anyway. Actually I never visit the family. So that’s sort of deleted at this point.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

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.

[…] 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.

Transitioning to Los Angeles wasn't easy for the young Slash:

[…] I was just pretty much an outcast from even when I lived here in England, because I always had long hair and I was always wearing holey jeans. It was just a different – you know, the average preschooler doesn’t walk around like that (laughs). And when I moved to L.A., when I was in school, I was living in a pretty substandard area, but I was going to a decent school and all the kids there were – it was all about having certain kinds of shirt, a certain kind of pants, and so on. I just did my same trip, so I was always very outcast.

[…] 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.

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.

In Los Angeles, his mother would date famous artist David Bowie for "pretty close to a year" [Rolling Stone, January 1991; Dutch TV, June 5, 1995].

David and mom would be praying to the little lamp that they had (laughs). […] They had one of those little Buddha things, you know […]

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 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.

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.

Slash was an artistic kid with a talent for athletics. Some of his hobbies would be drawing and biking, and these are discussed in a later chapter.

He did not enjoy school much, though, at least not maths:

I could add and subtract and shit. But when it came to matrix and algebra I was failing miserably at school, and mom tried to stick me in a summer school in an algebra class.

I’d go in every day and smoke cigarettes. It was just me and the tutor for the first week and a half... You know, I do honestly try. So I went and this boring fucking asshole was trying to shove this shit down my throat. I was so sick of it I just split. I wasn’t real good at that. But English was one of those subjects that my dad pushed on me at an early age, ’cos he reads and all that. Other than that I was just average...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview fro June 1988

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].

[…] I had great parents who were really cool. I happened to be one of those kids that was given freedom. I went in no particular direction, but always had the moral set.

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.

In 1995, he would claim he grew up on "drugs, parties, alcohol and women" [Metal Hammer, February 1995]. He would reveal his first sexual experience:

The first time I got laid I was 13 years old. The girl was 26 — one of those mysterious women who moved in next door kind of things? She used to have a white picket fence, the whole thing, and she would sit out on her porch. She was gorgeous. Steven Adler and myself used to walk down the same street every day and one day she called us over. She cooked for us and she took us into her bedroom. And she fucked Steven and then she fucked me! And then she moved two weeks later! It was sort of like The Summer Of 42, remember that movie?. I was very quiet but very horny, so I was willing to get over the intimidation to get on with getting on! Steven got busted! He was doing her and her gay roommate and this guy walked in the room and she threw him off the bed and he landed hardon-down on the floor! And then I was next!

In 1991, Slash's 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.

Slash would also comment on this:

My mom’s way cool; my dad’s way cool. I never give them any credit. I said something in the Rolling Stone article about being out on the street, and my mom took it personally. She thought i meant that she had kicked me out of the house when I was a little kid. I was talking about when I’d left home, and the band and everything. I was just scumming it, you know what I mean. But they were always f?!king cool parents. I respect them as friends, not as parents.

His main interest became guitar playing, and this is discussed in a later chapter.

Slash's last grade was "the 11th grade" [Circus Magazine, May 1988; Netscape Online Chat, July 30, 1996] and that he then "quit school to work full time so I could support my guitar addiction" [Circus Magazine, May 1988] and also that he was "crap in school" [Guns N' Roses Interview Disc, June 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.

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].

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; Metal Edge, January 1989], and as a "recording studio assistant" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

[Talking about the newsstand where he had worked]: It was at a place called Centerfold on Fairfax Avenue, near Melrose — the place with all the crazy letters on it. That was my last job. It's the only job I ever got fired from because I was on the phone all the time, try­ing to get band business done because I used to do all the business for the band in those days—the gigs, promotion. So I'd be on the phone all night long. I worked the late shift, so the boss usually wasn't around. But he started to call, and the phone would be busy for like half an hour. So I finally got canned, I moved out of this apartment I was living in with this girl named Alison. She also worked at the newsstand. She was this real cool chick, and she let me stay in her apartment for like $100 a month.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-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.

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.

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.

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].


After leaving his family in Stoke Slash didn't maintain his relationships with them, yet in October 1988 he would discuss considering visiting them:

I was thinking about spending Christmas in England. I don’t know, it depends if it’s snowing and all that shit.’


I still do have family there. I'm thinking of visiting them but they haven’t seen me since I was about ten or eleven years old. I don’t really know if they’re still there. We went through Stoke on our English tour. I could have stopped and gone over there - I knew exactly where it was. I couldn’t take the pressure, though. Can you imagine?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

Although his reason for considering spending the Christmas of 1988 in England could also be to visit his girlfriend at the time's family.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:40 pm


One of Slash's hobbies were biking. The rapper Tone Loc would remember Slash being somewhat of a bike prodigy:

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

Slash's friend, Marc Canter, would confirm:

By 1978 we were riding bicycle motocross. The tricks that he performed were ahead of the time. Slash was a star. Camera flashes would go off when he took his jumps.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Life", 2007

Slash also "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.

Later on Slash would be involved in drawing flyers and posters for the various bands he would be in, many of which are shown in Marc Canter's book Reckless Road.

From an early age, Slash also became an animal lover. His fascination with snakes started early:

I started with the whole reptile, dinosaur and monster fascination as far back as I can remember. When I was young and lived in London, I think that one of the biggest thrills that I had was going to Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace is a big park, and it had huge, life-size sculptures of dinosaurs. The figures they had, though, were completely anatomically incorrect. I kept going there and looking at the sculptures and was very much into that.

I started keeping snakes and reptiles when I moved to California with my mom. I remember keeping a cage full of garter snakes. They were beautiful, and I kept a whole lot of them in one tank. Since then, I've been keeping snakes around, and I've always been studying up on them and learning more.

When I was a kid, my mom took me to San Francisco to stay with some friends. It was in the country outside of town. I caught a garter snake in the front yard, and by the time we left, I caught about 300 more. I kept them all in this big tank.

When I was a little kid, I caught a snake in San Francisco and ever since then I’ve been fascinated with snakes. But snakes, dinosaurs, lizards, we have tons of cats... There’s a certain kind of mysterious kind of vibe that those particular animals give up that I really like.

Slash would tell a story from likely 1984 or 1985 when Axl was living with him:

We had another snake named Bonnie, who was a small retic, while Axl was living at my house. One night Axl was sleeping on the floor, and I woke up and couldn't sleep at about four in the morning. My snakes were kept off of one of the bathrooms, and there was a hole in the side of their cage that wasn't completely covered by a piece of wood. They would sometimes push out, crawl over the wood and come into the bedroom, which was no big deal.

But anyway, one night I woke up at four and saw this retic right next to Axl, who is sleeping on the floor. I woke Axl up and said, "Axl, don't move! Whatever you do, don't move!" (laughs). The snake was really close, just like this (Slash holds his hand in front of his face like a snake's head). This retic was just sitting there...and sitting there. And Axl's not a snake guy, man. The snake never would have bit him, but Axl didn't know that (laughs). I kept saying, "Don't move. Just stay there!" This went on for almost an hour. […]

He never even slept on the floor again!

Another hobby of Slash was reading:

I like reading. But the problem with me is I won’t take a risk on buying a book that I see just ’cos I like the look of it. I read what people give me. The last batch of books I read were those Anne Rice vampire books. And I read Islands in the Stream by Hemingway, which was really boring. Another bad habit of mine is to read books, take it all in and toss them. I read just to read.’


Celine [is my favorite author] - I read a bunch of his books which were just the best! He’s got probably one of the most bitter fucking, most negative outlooks on life I’ve ever read. It was a great, I read a couple of his books. That was another thing that my dad turned me on to... I love reading when it’s good, I hate reading when it’s crap. That Shaun Hutson guy, a lot of his books are funny. That one about the slugs... the part where the couple are squatting - it’s fucking great! There’s a part when his bum starts getting into a piece of fruit that’s been thrown away... oh God...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:41 pm



With both his parents involve din the music business, Slash grew up in a music-oriented home:

We had a record collection that was just vast! One wall, about 16 feet long, was piled up with crates of records. I just loved music, and all I used to do all day was pick out records to listen to from The Who, Joni Mitchell, Minnie Ripperton, The Stones, Chaka Khan, Rufus, Cream, Derek & The Dominoes, David Bowie, The Beatles and more, but I never planned or aspired to be a musician at that time.

Well, when I was a kid, we had tons and tons and tons of records. You know, like, lots and, like, whole walls of milk crates filled with albums. I used to listen to The Who a lot. I liked Joni a lot. There was a lot people that I wouldn’t necessarily go out and buy their records now, but were really cool. Minnie Riperton who died a while back was a real good friend of the family – you know, I went to the funeral and all that stuff. Cat Stevens... Let’s see... Zeppelin, (?) - I didn’t know who any of these people really were, you know, I used to listen. I was exposed to a lot of David Bowie at that level, you know. […] Oh, [Minnie Riperton] was great. She was such a good singer. Let me see, who else was it that I really listened to a lot? Just everybody that was around that was any good, basically. I used to like Neil Young a lot, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young I used to like a lot. And Chaka Khan, when she had Rufus... Let’s see... And there was a lot of classical music. It goes on, and I have a pretty heavy-duty music that I was influenced a lot by, and that’s what I was surrounded by.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I was more or less born in the show business. I was exposed to music very early on and for the most part it was rock ‘n’ roll. I lived in a rock environment, besides what my parents listened to. I was very young when I started to decide what I liked and what I didn't like.

I heard a huge array of music when I was a little kid. The first band I was turned on to was the Moody Blues. I was into the Beatles and the Stones and the Who and Led Zeppelin. Then there was Bootsy Collins and Chaka Khan, and my dad listened to a lot of Muddy Waters. I picked up a lot of stuff as the heavier bands started to come out, but I still like the old stuff.

First thing I remember is my Uncle David used to play the Moody Blues a lot. And my Dad - there was a lot of Bob Dylan going around, and Jimi Hendrix - and when I moved to Los Angeles, Zeppelin happened right around then. The Who, and the Yardbirds, and Cream, they all happened at different times, but for some reason they all came together for me around 1972-73. And there was like Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell, and tons of stuff, and from my grandmother's background there was all the classical stuff, cause my grandmother was a classical pianist.

Recounting his first concert:

I think it was the World Music Festival, which was a couple of days. It was two concerts at the Coliseum here and it was Aerosmith, Van Halen, Boomtown Rats – I mean, like, a whole day of bands, two days in a row. The next day was Ted Nugent and Cheap Trick. That was the first major concert I ever went to, got exposed to, like, big outdoors – you know, that was a great time for summer festivals, Cal Jam and all that. And then I just, like, would go to whatever I felt like going to. I’ve never been a heavy concert goer, because I always felt real uncomfortable trying to find seats. I used to love Van Halen a lot, you know. They were a great band to go see live. But they weren’t that many - you know, Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Aerosmith... Ted Nugent I didn’t like when I saw him, because he just bored me, but I still like Ted Nugent records, do you know what I mean?

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.

[…] my grandmother was a classical pianist. So she wanted so much for me to be a nice clean-cut pianist - I had piano lessons when I was about ten or eleven years old, but it didn't last very long... But she did turn me on to classical music, she was very supportive as far as music was concerned. But I think it wasn't necessarily the style of music, it was the rock'n'roll lifestyle that drew me in.


One of his friends in Hollywood was Steven Adler, whom he met at Bancroft Junior High [Metal Zone, December 1993]. They met when Steven fell of his skateboard and Slash approached him to see if he was hurt [Metal Edge, January 1989].

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.

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":

Steven had an amplifier in his bedroom, and he had all of these Kiss records. He was a total Kiss freak. He had a guitar and an amp, and he’d just plug it in and turn it all of the way up when his grandparents were at work and bang on it real loud, and I was just fascinated by it. Right off, I wanted to start a band but didn’t know anything about playing. I just wanted to be in a band and learn how to play. Steve had a guitar, but he couldn’t play guitar; he just knew how to bang on it. He’d bang, like, one song on one string, and since he had a guitar, he wanted me to play bass.

I was 14. Steven — our drummer — actually got me started playing guitar. He owned one. Before that, I was just like a Hell's Angel on a dirt bike bicycle, right? And I met Stephen, and we used to hang out and ditch school together. We'd cut seventh grade together. He had a guitar at his house, and I got totally turned onto it. And I've dug it ever since.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

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.

I started out with a bass, because I’ve known Steven, our drummer, since we started. He’s the one who really turned me on to what guitar was, because I really didn’t know. I mean, I’d just been – something had always been around, but I didn’t know what the difference between lead guitar and rhythm guitar was. I was really, like, you know, unexperienced and naive. And Steve had an electric guitar at his house, and he used to play Kiss records and bang on and stuff, and I was just instantly turned on, so we were gonna start a band. So I was gonna play bass, which I didn’t even know what the difference between bass and guitar was as far as that goes. And I went in and I figured, “Well, I’ll take lessons.” So I went in without a bass, no instrument, and I said, “Well, I wanna learn how to play bass.” And so the guy says, “What do you want, to play bass or do you want to play guitar?” And I said, “Well, what’s the difference?” and he was like, “The guitar has six strings.” I said, “I’ll take that one that’s got more strings on it” and that’s where it started from. Then I realized what it was that I was doing and I got really into it.

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.

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.

He’s the one who started me playing guitar in the first place. I met him, we became friends and ditched the whole seventh grade together. […] We were really good friends.

[Steven] couldn’t play guitar, but there was something about it, that he had one at home. When his grandmother would go to work in the morning, we’d ditch school and hang out at this grandmother’s house, and he had a little amp and a guitar, and he’d put, like, a Kiss record on or an Aerosmith record on or something. And then he’d just bang away on it. He couldn’t play it, he just banged on it. I got a fucking hard-on from it, so –.

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.

I was infatuated with this older girl when I was in junior high school. She was like the impossible catch; she had another boyfriend. I finally managed to get over to her place, and that's the record [=Aerosmith Rocks] she played. So after working so hard to procure this woman, she puts on this record - and that's all we did! We listened to it four or five times, and I rode home on my bike, and that was it for me. That record was right up my alley - my discovery record as an individual as opposed to something my parents played for me.

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.


Inspired by Steven, Slash then decided to learn to play and went to a music teacher, but without an instrument or even an idea of what instrument he wanted to play:

I decided that if I wanted to learn how to play, the first thing I should do is try and take some lessons. I had no instrument of my own, and I was really ignorant about the whole thing.

I wasn’t piecing it together or trying to look at it realistically. So, what happened was, I went to take lessons without an instrument. The teacher asked me which instrument I’d rather play, bass or guitar, and I didn’t know the difference! When he explained the difference, I said, 'Guitar.’ It sounded more interesting—it had more strings on it, and I never went back to take lessons.

Well, the way it started was, for one, I didn't know the difference between a guitar and a bass when I first started playing hands-on music. And being that I was raised in a musical environment, I just never even thought to think what the difference between more or less what the instruments were - I mean, I knew what drums were, I knew what stringed instruments were, and what singing was - but I never really differentiated in particular. I mean, there were different basses, different guitars, different kinds of drums. So when I decided I was going to play something, I started out playing bass, and that didn't sound right to me, like that wasn't the answer to what I wanted to do, so I ended up playing guitar. Because it had more strings on it, and the guy that turned me on to guitar playing knew how to play Stairway To Heaven note for note, like the solo and stuff, I said - "That's what I want to do!" - so I started teaching myself how to play it.

His first guitar was a one-stringed Spanish guitar that he got from a "garage sale or something":

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.

First, I got a one-string guitar from a garage sale or something, and I started teaching myself UFO songs, Aerosmith songs, all on one string. I’d be going up and down the neck, you know—you have to stretch around.

Slash received his first proper guitar from his grandmother [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

Finally, my grandmother bought me a cheap acoustic nylon-string guitar. I thought, 'Now that I’ve got the right instrument, I should go back to this guitar teacher,’ and I did.

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.

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]. After the Les Paul his grandmother bought him yet another guitar, the B.C. Rich Mockingbird:

So the first electric guitar that I got was a Les Paul copy, I think it was called a Memphis. And I basically got going with that, and I started a band and everything. And then my grandmother footed the bill for a B.C. Rich Mockingbird, 450 bucks I think it was - rest in peace, huh - but she actually paid the money to do that for me. .


With the guitar he got from his grand mother Slash would go back to his music teacher:

He started teaching me stuff I wasn’t interested in—things like rudiments, basically. Still pretty much ignorant of the whole thing, I wasn’t hearing Ted Nugent, Aerosmith or Cheap Trick in the things he was teaching me, so, eventually, I quit.

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.

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.

There was a guy named Robert Wollan and I first started. He played 'Stairway to Heaven' for me, in front of me, meanwhile I was learning to play 'Mary had A little Lamb'. I was like, "that's not what I came here for" it and then he played 'Stairway to Heaven.' So I left. And I went home and learned off the records.

Robert was the first person I knew who could actually play. He knew songs by Zeppelin and Rush, and he sounded just like they did on their records. Watching him play gave me the confidence that I could do it too. I really got into the guitar after that and played and practiced all the time.


So eventually he quit the tuition and just practised by himself:

As soon as I quit, all of a sudden, I became very attuned to the whole thing and got really involved, and from then on, my life revolved around playing guitar. I was practicing, learning records, learning guitar licks, learning how to scam to get money to get other guitars and going through and doing the whole musician thing.

I was really diligent about it, and I got to the point where I would go to school and just ditch school entirely and sit in the bleachers and play my guitar all day. For some reason, everybody stayed away from me all of the time—not because I was an a—hole or anything, but because my head was so into this, and I became very introverted.

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.

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.

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.

According to Circus Magazine, Slash's last grade was "the 11th grade" and that he then "quit school to work full time so [he] could support [his] guitar addiction" [Circus Magazine, May 1988]. Later he would say he learned to play the guitar when he was 15 [Online Chat, October 16, 1996].

I was terrible in school. I went to every school in L.A.[…].

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.

I was real outcast in school when I started playing guitar. It was very easy to concentrate, trust me. […] But once I didn’t care about what anybody was thinking, I just started playing guitar. And all of a sudden it was cool. It was the weirdest thing. And, like, I wasn’t aware of this all of a sudden change over, you know?

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].

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.

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.

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.

A Mockingbird and I wish I still had it. It was a great-sounding guitar; it had old Bill Lawrence pickups in it. I hocked it at one point and never got it back, which is funny because I have Joe Perry's guitar which his wife hocked.


Slash's decision to become a musician wasn't deliberate.

I just started, I didn’t really have any kind of, like, looking down the road and “I’m gonna be famous one day” - you know, working towards that. It wasn’t anything like that. I just got really into guitar playing, and a particular kind of guitar playing, which is just, like, hard rock guitar, the Zeppelin-esque acoustic stuff and all the stuff that I grew up with. And I just kept doing it. I was real diligent about it.

As soon as I started [playing the guitar], you know, I didn't even really think about it that much, I just devoted all my time to it. And it just stayed like that. Wasn't something where I really looked towards the future with it, I just started playing and that was the whole thing.

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.

Well, okay, always having liked music and having been able to differentiate which music I liked to which music I didn’t like at a very young age, I didn’t have any expectations being a musician, but I was very familiar with music. So when I got turned on to guitar, it was just around the time that I was about 13-14 years old when I discovered it, and I actually started to play when I was 15.


Talking about his musical influences when he started out:

When I was in High School, that first Van Halen record came out and it was like a real kick in the ass, a shot in the arm, so to speak. And everybody was trying to figure it out. They put those pictures in magazines for the fingering and a lot of people were so freaked out because they couldn’t pull it off, or maybe they pulled it off to the extent that they just copied it because that’s all they knew how to do. But I said, ‘It’s cool; just let it be what it is and just do your own thing,’ so I never copped that wham bam guitar style, which really was Eddie’s...

Man, [blues] is what I was raised on. See, people always ask people about their influences. As far back as I can remember, with my parents being from the old school of rock 'n' roll and me being surrounded by the music business ever since I was little, I grew up on all sorts of different kinds of music. But as far as guitar playing is concerned, I naturally went in a blues and rock direction..

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:47 pm


Steven Adler was born in 1965, in Ohio, into a liberal Jewish household of Mel and Deanna Adler. He had an older brother, Kenneth/Kent, and a younger brother, Jamie [Metal Edge, January 1989; 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.

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.

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.

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]. He would also list "dishwasher, bowling alley janitor, busboy, pizza maker, lawn mower, and warehouse worker" [Metal Edge, January 1989].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:42 am


The first thing I did as soon as I could put three cords together was start a band. At a really young age, I was going around trying to find people to form a group and I was probably a little more ambitious and focused then most of my peers. It was difficult, but eventually I started meeting people that were into playing music. I was in and out of different, thrown together groups -- I guess you could call them garage bands.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Recounting his first bands:

I went through bands in high school, like, really fast, because I was real serious about it and I didn’t take any crap. It was like, if a drummer would throw a fit because he couldn’t, he was out of there. I had just been like that always, you know.

I played a couple of bars. I used to play a lot of bars with some older cats that played blues. I just used to jam with them and it was, like, free beer, and cigarettes and stuff. […] and I used to join bands constantly, do you know what I mean? Like, I just joined bands that I knew were gonna do a gig, for the exposure and so that I get paid for that - you know, that kind of thing.


Slash's first band was formed when he was about 15 [Total Guitar, January 1997] and was called Tidus Sloan.

The first band I played in was Tidus Solan [sic].

This band started with Adam Greenberg (drums) and Ron Schneider (bass), whom he met at Fairfax High School in 1981 [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. Greenberg would reminisce:

We always cranked it up to limit. When Slash got his amp, he would really fire it up loud and see what kind of feedback he could get.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


But Tidus Sloan didn't last long and from the ashes the band Roadcrew would rise.

I went through a series of different bands, one of them being Roadcrew, which was a band I think was the first real musical thing I was involved in where we actually went out and played at high schools and parties.

Ron Schneider would remember the transition from Tidus Sloan to Roadcrew:

Tidus Sloan was sort of short-lived. I never really got a clear definition of what that band name meant. One night, Slash called me up at like two in the morning and said, "hey check it out, I gotta talk to you." So we went to Canters for some coffee, and he goes, "Listen, I want to change the name of the band." And I was like, "Ok, what are we changing the name of the band to?" And on a piece of paper he had written out, in different styles, the name Roadcrew. And I was like, "Roadcrew?" The only thing I could think of was the Motorhead song, "Road Crew", or "We Are the Road Crew." I had to sit on that for a little hile and kick it around. I was like, "Yeah, Roadcrew! That works. I dig that. Roadcrew." So Slash, Adam and I trudged around for a little as Roadcrew.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Slash recruited Chris Torres as a singer for Roadcrew turning the band into a four-piece [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

In Roadcrew, Slash would tune down his guitar one full step to get a heavier sound [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].

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.

But the band needed to be improved, and Ron Schneider would explain how Steven Adler entered the band:

I wanted to get into more of the metal scene and I jammed with some other guys and nothing ever really clicked the way it clicked when I was working with Slash. So we tried again, and it was still Roadcrew, but this time we decided that something wasn't working and that something was Adam the drummer. So in comes this kid with really long blond hair and the super double bass drums and this guy had the look, he had the drums and he could play the heavy metal beat. That guy was Steven Adler.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

One day, out of the blue, Steven showed up at a gig and said, 'Get rid of your drummer--he’s not good enough! I did, and Steven and I carried on Roadcrew, which was really a great band, but we could never find a good singer. So, here I was with a killer three-man group and no singer.

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...

They needed a new 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 had just arrived in Los Angeles from Seattle [see previous chapter for information about Duff's life before joining Road Crew] either the same week [Guitar for the Practising Musician in April 1992], a week later [Circus Magazine, November 1991] or just a few weeks before [Kerrang! March, 1989].

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].

I called Slash up, thinking he'd be some Punk Rock guy with a name like that. 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!

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

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.

So, at 21 years old, I went to L.A. and I joined a band called Road Crew – the band Slash and Steven Adler were in.
Popular 1, January 1994; translated from Spanish

Note: It is not likely they played 'Back Off Bitch' since this is a Hollywood Rose song.

Duff would talk about his first impressions of Slash's guitar abilities:

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

Slash would later talk about playing with Duff:

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

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].

OK, here’s my story of the whole thing. OK, I moved to LA and I was in a band with Steven and Slash. I hated Steven. He was a real little asshole. He had a double-drum, all these drums and shit, and he was just a little asshole. I love him now to death, but he’ll tell you himself, he was an asshole then. We were in a band called Road Crew - not for long, nothing was really happening and I split.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

I remember that I left them because we suddenly stopped playing gigs and we didn’t even rehearse.
Popular 1, January 1994; translated from Spanish

During this time, Slash met Izzy for the first time:

At the same time, I was working in a guitar shop, and Izzy came in one day because he’d seen a drawing I did of Aerosmith and wanted to know if he could get a copy of it, and that’s how we met.

While doing Road Crew, Slash would hear of Axl singing on a demo tape and be impressed:

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

At some point, Slash also tried to "steal" Axl for Roadcrew, but it "didn't quite work out like that" [Kerrang! March 1989].

Some time later, I met Axl, and Steven said, 'They have a band—you’ve got to see their band.’ At that time, I wasn’t really interested in another guitar player because I’d never played with another guitar player. I just wanted to steal Axl for my own band, but I couldn’t get Axl away from Izzy. They were like, 'F—k you!’ And I was like, 'All right, f—k you, too, then!’ If it won’t happen, it won’t happen.

I had a band called Roadcrew and we could never find a good singer which is why I wanted Axl. […] Trust me, out of all the musicians in this town, you could find a million and one guitar players and they could all be pretty good. But you'd be lucky to find one good singer. Because guitar playing is something you can pick up. It's a physical thing but at the same time it's an instrument – unlike using your voice which comes from the heart.


Eventually, Road Crew disintegrated:

Eventually, Roadcrew broke up, and somewhere along the line, Steven got hooked up with Izzy and Axl, while I would do all kinds of strange stuff. I would play with anybody I could play with […]

Instead, Slash and Steven would join Axl and Izzy's band, Hollywood Rose and play there in May and June 1984 [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007; and see other chapters].

[…] and again, Steven pushed me to go down and play for Axl and Izzy because the guitar player they had [=Tracii Guns] wasn’t happening, and Steven persuaded Axl and Izzy to check me out again.

Axl and Izzy came down with this distant sort of attitude--the 'check-me-out’ attitude. Steven told me, unbeknownst to them, to play my most ripping heavy metal blah, blah, blah.

By this time, I’d become a proficient enough guitar player to play heavy metal, but mostly what I was into was blues stuff, but I could incorporate heavy metal into the blues or blues into heavy metal. The first thing I did was just wail, and they said, ’That’s great, but what happened to that stuff you played for us the last time we met you?’ I said, 'Oh... ’ I played it, they dug it, and we got together.

I didn't want to play with Izzy but Izzy and Axl came as a package.


But Slash didn't want to stay in Hollywood Rose, and in the fall of 1984 he was looking for another band to join. He then auditioned for the band Poison [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

What I used to do was, I would join bands and play one gig with them if it was a big enough place and join the band right at the right time when that gig was gonna happen. I’d rehearse with them and go out and do it for exposure. I was sort of like a loan shark in that sense, and it’s sort of selfish, but it’s a selfish business in that you’ve got to get by. So, I’d go out and play with bands because I couldn’t get my own thing happening.

I wasn’t gonna sit around and keep putting ads in the paper and wait around until I was 20. I could be as old as I am now and not have done anything. I still haven’t seen really anything I’m impressed with come out of Los Angeles. I mean, I love what we’re doing, and I honestly think that out of most of the bands in L.A., this is one of the few that really has any substance to them. And this is what I was fighting against when I was trying out for Poison. Matt, their ex-guitar player, called me and said, 'Listen, I’m going back to Pittsburgh. I’m starting a family, and Poison is open, and if anybody can do it, you can.’

Matt was really cool, and I dug him a lot. So, here I am thinking, 'Great! I know this band from when I played with them in Hollywood Rose! They’re basically the epitome of what I can’t stand, but I’ll go down there and play with them, and it’ll do wonders for me as far as getting out there is concerned. The auditions lasted for, like, two weeks. I went down a couple of times, had the songs down, played them really well, and then they called me up and said, 'Well, everything’s going great. Let’s have a meeting. This is like a dress rehearsal—don’t bring your guitar.’

I went down there, and I figured, if anything, they could have the style and image they had, and I’d still go down there being me, and I could always be the f—ing foil for what they do and probably get away with it, but they wanted me to change my shoes, asked me what kind of pants I wore, how I did my hair and all of this stuff, and I was really irked by the whole thing. Anyway, me and C.C. were the two guitar players who ended up being the last two to be picked, and finally, one day, we had a big argument about this thing in the set where they say, 'Hi’ and introduce themselves, and there was no way I was gonna go up and say, 'Hi, I’m Slash’ and do a guitar lick and be real cute about it, so C.C. got the job, which was no big deal. It was just another passing thing, and I went on to do whatever. Now it’s sort of backfiring on me because I got the impression that it looks like I’m bitter because C.C. got the job and I didn’t, which is not the case. I’m not jealous of their band’s success. I’m not jealous of C.C.’s position or any of that stuff.

I drove Slash out to radio City to see Poison. I think Vicky Hamilton was managing them at the time. Matt Smith, the old guitar player was leaving […] And Matt really liked Slash and wanted Slash for the job. Poison was an established LA band that could sell out almost any club they played and were getting ready to sign a record deal.

Slash went to three Poison gigs to check out the scene and the band gave him their demo tape to learn their material. Slash showed up at rehearsal but couldn't bring himself to join. He didn't like the Silly String act at the end of the show, nor could he stomach saying, "Hi, my name is Slash" during the moment of the set when the band would introduce themselves. He hated their image and considered the music lame. C. C. DeVille was hired a few days later.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

It is correct that Hamilton was the manager of Poison at the time, and she wanted Slash in the band:

They wanted to have C.C. in the band and I wanted Slash.

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].

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.

Bret Michaels would say the reason Slash didn't join Poison was that they disagreed on how large the band should be:

[…] a funny story with Stan and Slash -- would stand on the street corner, right, just handing out flyers: I mean, hey -- come see Hollywood Rose; come see Poison. You know, that kinda thing. And then Slash, at one point, when we lost our original guitar player, Slash had auditioned for Poison.

And we were looking -- he wanted to be in a-- You know, although there's a million different versions of the story, no one-- And he said we like told him he had to say his name onstage, or I don't know what the fuck. It was in a book that said Slash said he couldn't handle it, because he had to say his name onstage -- or some fuckin' bullshit. But it was because he wanted to be in a five-piece band, and we wanted to be four-piece -- and it was really that simple, you know?


In May 1985, Slash joined the band Black Sheep, fronted by Willie Basse [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. Basse would remember hiring Slash:

Tracii Guns and C. C. DeVille auditioned for Black Sheep and I said no. I hired Slash. Black Sheep was a musician's band and Slash, even at his young age, could hang with any of the neoclassical guys. He's a serious technical guitar player. We were like Black Sabbath meets Bon Jovi meets Purple neo-classical rock.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Slash would also mention joining a "black funk band" in an interview in 1989:

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.

It is unknown what band this was, but it could have been Black Sheep.

But Slash would not long last in Black Sheep, because already at their gig on May 31, 1985, would Axl, Izzy and Steven show up to convince Slash to join their new band, Guns N' Roses, and a few days later he did [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Looking back and summarizing his pre-GN'R bands:

I played with a band called Black Sheep once. I had a band called Roadcrew, a couple of versions of a band called Roadcrew. Me and Axl had a band called Hollywood Rose, hence the name Guns N’ Roses and L.A. Guns - at the time got together and made Guns N’ Roses. Let’s see, what else was there... I had a band that had a really strange name, called Tidus Sloan, which is, like, T-I-D-U-S S-L-O-A-N. I just thought it looked neat. And, as far as that – there was a lot of them, I can’t really remember. Um, who else did I play with? I don’t know really. Those were, like, the actual working bands. I haven’t been in that many bands.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:42 am


Slash and Marc Canter became friends already back in 1976, in fifth grade,  when they met at school after Slash tried to steal his bike [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Slash: "Marc was always good at taking pictures. He always kept a lot of pictures. As we got older, Marc turned into a big fan of Aerosmith, and he got into collecting their magazine interviews and photos and any kind of rarities he could find. So I guess at one point he started to put a scrapbook together of stuff that I was dong when I started putting bands together. He always had a camera around. Marc has been working on the peripheral forever and I just never really paid much attention to it because he just always kept shots and kept scrapbooks of everything. It's Marc's nature and it's great. I wish I were like that. I would have a clearer memory of my past [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Slash: "Marc's my best friend; and one of the only good friends that is consistent in my life" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Marc's family owned Canter's Deli in Hollywood, one of the most established delis in Los Angeles and a famous landmark.

I met Slash and Steven at Canter's restaurant. It was the firs time I had been to Canter's. I am sure I met Marc that night or within a very short period of time. […] He documented the whole thing, tirelessly. He was a guy, to all of us, who meant stability. He had a life in L.A.; a legitimate life, with a family and a business that had been around forever. Living the nomadic lifestyle, that was our life for a couple years, Marc would always come around and you'd get a little piece of stability from him [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].
Steven and Duff would talk about the importance of the band to have a guy like Marc around:

We didn't have money, but we had good friends like Marc. Nobody has been there long enough, cared for us, believed in us, or got pretty deep with us. The dude was always there. […] Marc was always supportive and really the only one who believed in us. If we were hungry, if we needed anything like stings or sticks, Marc would get them. The first Guns N' Roses banner we had, Marc put together and bought for us. I remember going to Canters and getting knishes and gravy. He is just a great person and a great friend. He was the one most responsible of us and he cared. And his wife used to cut my hair [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].
When Guns N' Roses formed, Marc became like the sixth guy in the band. He was always around and had unlimited access to the band, especially in the early days. He believed in us from the beginning and had a much broader view of what the band was about than even we had. He documented the whole thing, tirelessly [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].
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].
Marc's 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]. The band would acknowledge the importance of Marc in the liner notes of 'Appetite for Destruction': "Marc Canter - without you?".

Fortunately, for every fan of Guns N' Roses and anyone interested in the early history of one of rock's greatest bands, Marc decided to put together a book about Guns N' Roses early period, "Reckless Road", which was published in 2007. It featured lots of information and an impressive collection of quite frankly awesome photos. It is amazing. So is Canter's Restaurant, it is part of GN'R history and even if you don't care for that, it is a great place to eat in Hollywood.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:06 am

JUNE 1985

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'


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.

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.

Up until this point the band had still not decided upon having Steven join as a full-time member. L.A. Weekly would write a story about Nicky Beat possibly joining the band as their drummer [L.A. Weekly, June 14, 1985], and Tracii would much later mention that Beat had indeed auditioned for the band [Riki Rachtman's Cathouse Hollywood Podcast, July 29, 2019], but Steven's eagerness to join the Seattle tour on short notice (they asked him to join the band permanently the day before departure), helped seal the deal [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 210].

It was just a conversation for a few days and then it became a reality -- all of a sudden we were going to Seattle. We did the Troubadour show, packed up an Oldsmobile and a U-Haul and set off. It was Duff, Izzy, Axl, Steven and myself, and we set out to do this Northwest tour of Seattle and Oregon.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

It wasn't just Seattle -- it was a whole west coast tour starting in Seattle and coming down. There was Portland; there was Eugene; there was a Sacramento gig; and there was a San Francisco gig. I had toured in a punk rock band so I knew the clubs and the club owners and I booked this tour. So a few days after our first show at the Troubadour, we were playing our first gig on the west coast "Hell Tour," as it was later dubbed.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Duff had booked us in all the clubs he was familiar with, from playing in the bands he was in like The Fastbacks. So he booked us gigs in Sacramento an a couple gigs in Oregon and a couple gigs in Seattle.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

But they didn't get far before they got into car problems:

We got as far as Fresno and the car broke down.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We were in Danny Birall's car and we had a U-Haul and his car broke down. We were determined and that wasn't going to stop us from doing any shows.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We took the guitars out of the U-Haul, told the crew guys to get the car fixed and meet us up in Seattle. We sort of canned all those other gigs because we knew it was going to take us a while to get up there. So we took the guitars and stood on the side of the road and finally got picked up by a semi-truck.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We were just a few hours outside of L.A., near Bakersfield, when our Oldsmobile broke down. All of our gear was in this U-Haul trailer, and we had to leave it behind with one of our friends while we hitchhiked up north.

Through hitch-hiking slowly northwards, and stealing vegetables from fields around them, they eventually made it to Seattle.

Some crazy trucker gave us a ride, but he was taking speed, which freaked us out. He finally passed out somewhere in Oregon, and we bailed on him while he was sleeping. These chicks gave us a ride the rest of the way.

They only played one show (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.

[...] 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

The club didn't want to pay us, for whatever reason, so we cornered the manager in his own office, bolted the door, and threatened him within an inch of his life. The we got paid.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We opened for the Fastbacks on our first show, and since Duff had played with the band, he talked them into loaning us their instruments so we could play. We didn't make any money at all, but we didn't care, because we were on tour.

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.

The band then returned back to LA:

We got a ride with one of Duff's friends all the way back to Los Angeles.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The band would later look back at the tour as a formative moment, an early obstacle that tested the relationship between the band members:

We had borrowed a car to go up to Seattle in, where the first gig was, and we got about a hundred miles out of LA and the car broke down. We had to hitch rides the rest of the way and... This is an old story, right? But that is when the band really clicked. We all stuck together. We went out and played a shitty first gig; we had no trans­portation back, and we had to bum a lift with this chick who was a junky. It was horrible.

After that we knew, OK, this is for real […]
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

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.

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.

After returning to Los Angeles, the band played one show at the Stardust Ballroom (June 28), on the bottom of the bill with three other bands. On this gig they played 'Mama Kin' for the first time.

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

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:51 pm

JULY 1985

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.

[…] 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.

We were the only five guys in L.A. with this attitude that we have, which is, like, very punk rock, sort of anarchistic 70s kind of thing, and we did whatever we wanted, we drank, we did drugs, we did whatever. And, all of a sudden, there we were, five of us all like that. And so we had different combinations, like: me and Axl; me, Duff and Steven; me, Izzy and Axl. And none of them worked until the five of us got together and it was just (?). And then it was just like, we were sort of a sore thumb on the scene, very sort of violent and when we were around, everybody was like – and people are still scared of us, you know? And we’re still the same. We’re not – the thing is, all of a sudden we sold a lot of records, so...

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, like when we first got together, I wasn't sure about Axl. I was like, he’s good but I don’t know. But that was when we had those other two cats in the band and the band was not working. But when this band clicked, Axl all of a sudden clicked. It took something finally for him to click and it took something for Slash to click, but when it did it really did...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

The band would quickly realize the special chemistry 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.

In July 1985 the band played a gig at Madame Wong's East (July 4). The band went on late and there were very few people there [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

We played Wong’s East one time, and it was just our girlfriends there.

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 punk 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

During their last song, Heartbreak Hotel, the sound man cut the PA system since they were overtime. The band pulled together and finished the song without the PA system [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Then they played another show at the Troubadour (July 20). At this gig they played 'Welcome to the Jungle' for the first time [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

After the July 20 gig the band was asked to play a frat party at UCLA with "very few hours notice" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. So this show was at the UCLA on 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

I remember us playing this frat party. We played for beer and thirty bucks. I don't remember how it came about. IT was just a bizarre gig that we did and ended up having a great time cause there was a lot of beer. We were finding ourselves and finding our songs. Playing them for people under the gun helped the process of writing songs. But, we just wanted to play. We were a band. That's what we were there for.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The band then played a show at the Seance (July 26). The show started at 2:30 am and Slash was wasted, resulting in Axl admonishing Slash from stage by dedicated 'Back Off Bitch' to him and later asking Marc Canter to have a talk about Slash about not being drunk for shows [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:05 pm



In August 1985 the band records 5 songs in Mystic Studios for this lineup's first demo. This is likely the demo the band paid $300 to record [RIP Magazine, May 1987]. Randy Black from the Metro Squad paid up for the recording:

After [the Hell tour] we knew, OK, this is for real, and about two months later we did our first demo. This guy called Black Randy - he was in a band called the Metro Squad, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them - he put the money up for us to do it, and we recorded it at this little punk rock studio. He has since passed away, this guy, but he gave us the money and we did the demo.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

And then Marc Canter he paid $250 to finish the mixing [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007; Marc Canter, personal communication, January 21, 2020]. The demo contained the following songs: 'Welcome to the Jungle', 'Anything Goes', 'Back Off Bitch', 'Think About You' [Marc Canter, personal communication, January 21, 2020]. They also recorded 'Heartbreak Hotel', but it ended up not being mixed [Marc Canter, personal communication, January 22, 2020].

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). Both David Lee Roth and Bret Michaels (from Poison) would come and see this show. Poison had played earlier in the evening and covered the song "American Band", so Guns N' Roses did the same [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. Again the PA system was turned off while the band was playing their last song of the night, "Heartbreak Hotel" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Then the band played the Roxy Theatre (August 31).

The Roxy gigs were legitimate gigs compared to the Troubadour, where you could always manage to get a spot -- maybe not a weekend night, but a Monday or Tuesday.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Because of this the band decided not to play over their scheduled time, so as to not infuriate the club owner [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

On September 9 they again played at the Troubadour where they debuted 'Rocket Queen'. Then they played at the LA Street Scene Festival on September 28 which was an enormous free outdoor festival sponsored by the city of Los Angeles [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. For this show Slash had changed his guitar from his B. C. Richmond to a Les Paul that he had purchased at Guitars R Us [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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 [Hamilton], 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

The was the loogie fest. I stood on the side of the stage where the real fucking loogie army wad for the whole show and we spit on each other.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 89-90

We're playing the Country Club too, so fuckin' save up your saliva you fuck.
Onstage September 28, 1985; Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Their next gig was another show at the Troubadour on October 10 were they sat in for LA Guns who had cancelled the same afternoon [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. On this show they debuted 'Paradise City'.

Then they played at the Country Club on October 18, for which they were paid $200 [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

The next show was at Radio City on October 31, where the band again got in a quarrel with club personnel when they tried to play more songs after the sound guy had cut off their sound [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. The club tried paying them with a video they had recorded of the band's performance, but Slash insisted on getting paid in cash [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

The next planned show was on November 14, 1986 at Lipstick Fixx, an ambulating music concept that on this date was supposed to take place at the Galaxy Stage. This show is known from a photograph shared on social media by Desi Benjamin and from an article in L.A. Weekly where it is mentioned that the show was shut down by the vice police, likely before GN'R started playing [L.A. Weekly, November 22, 1985].

The band then returned to the Troubadour at November 22 for their first sold-out concert [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. 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:

[Introducing the song from the stage]: Alright, this is a new one that we have, that we pinned down at sound check today. This one is called 'Nightrain'.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

[Introducing the song from the stage]: It's about that cheap shit that everybody drinks.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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.

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. 230-231

The band debuted 'My Michelle' for this show [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Talking about progressing from being an unknown band to starting to draw crowds:

Then we just started playing. We did Mondays at the Troubadour; then we were doing Tuesdays. That was like God for us at the time, just opening for bands at the Troubadour. We were all like, wow... this is it! Then all of a sudden they had bands opening for us.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:08 pm


Breaking through among all the other bands in Hollywood in the early 80's required lots of hard work. When the band started out they did everything themselves. Luckily, when it came to their own career and making it as musicians, the band was tenacious and driven.

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.

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.

]I was a pretty restless member of the band when it came to promotion and managerial things, because I never really slept. This thing was twenty-four-seven with me, everyday! And that was a good quality to have.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The band happened top be pretty street smart and we always managed to take care of ourselves and all that crap. At the same time, there was an amount of naivete going into the whole thing. I mean, we were hip tp not getting screwed and all that stuff. We weren't going to be taken advantage of. But at the same time we had no idea where we were headed. Basically, the rule of the game was to make as much money as possible and not get screwed out of percentage. […] the amount of time I put into [guitar playing] was the same amount of time I put into the band. I would put in 12-18 hours a day.

Slash designed most of the band's artwork [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007] and would design the band's first t-shirt [Circus Magazine, May 1988].

I'm very business-oriented when it comes to knowing what all the figures mean and making sure we don't get ripped off.

I was just doing it because we couldn't afford to have somebody else do it. And I thought I could probably do a good job. So I just did it. You know?

He would also claim that he worked as the band's manager in periods when they didn't have one:

I used to do all the promoting for the band and manage the band more or less before we had a manager, you know, like, you know, we'd sit down and come up with ideas and this and that and the other and then I go out at night, I go out and attack it and you know, and go do it. You know what I'm saying?

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.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:11 pm


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].
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].
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].

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:21 pm


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.'

We'd walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard and visit every porno store there is, 'cause they stay open 24 hours.

You drifted around, you stayed in friends' garages, cars, stayed one step ahead of the sheriffs.

One of us might be lucky enough to find a place to crash and the rest of us would hide behind the bushes. When they said yes, we'd come running out and the next thing you know all five of us would be in there and you'd have to put up with us. We did a lot of partying, since we stayed up all night. It wasn't so much about having a roof over our head, just someplace to go and party. There were a lot of girlfriends and you could find some peace and quiet with them for a second and then it was back on the street again.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Izzy was staying with his girlfriend, Desi Craft:

Izzy had it made. I had us a single apartment. The rest of the band members, I can't say exactly what they were doing at night, but certainly it was a struggle. We kept all the gear in our apartment; a big stack of drums, the guitars and everything.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

And another girl friend of the band was Michelle Young, who would later be immortalized in the song 'My Michelle'. She would talk about the role she had in supporting the band, and their habits:

I used to get money and drugs and feed their habits. My dad would always give me money, so I would feed them and take care of them. I would show up and bring them cocaine or Quaaludes or whatever I had. What was mine was theirs. I gave them rides. I took Axl to a lot of shows because he didn't drive. I put them up at my house. I did basically what all the other girls did, except I wasn't a stripper. Our parent's weren't around and our friends became our family. I knew what I was doing. I was supporting a good cause. I was helping support these guys because I believed in their music and I believed in them as individuals.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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

[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.

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.

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.

We were all street kids. We were all, individually, very rebellious, so collectively we were a force to be reckoned with. We had a haphazard way of going about things. The survival of early Gus N' Roses pretty much comprised of a little hustling here and there, a lot of really nice girls, a couple of odd jobs and a drive to survive. It was always about the upcoming gig, so whatever you had to do to stay afloat until the next show, you did. We played as many back-to-back gigs as possible. It was really about just having somewhere to lay your head between shows.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

I worked phone sales for these Hungarian mafia guys. I was scared to quit that job because I was there since the first day that I moved to Hollywood. I stayed until the time we got signed. We were just making a go of it with the best situations we could create for ourselves.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Joseph Brooks:

They slept here, there, and everywhere. Izzy made leather-studded wristbands I sold at my record store. That's what he did for a living.

Colleen Combs:

When we would leave the Rainbow, Izzy would drink the remnants of all the drinks on the table.

At some point, likely before being signed to Geffen, a management company put them up in a house in Hollywood Hills. Steven would mention this place but wrongly claim this was the place them got from Geffen after being signed:

We got a pad in the Hollywood Hills and we never stopped. We had strippers and drug dealers and everybody up there. We were playing and we were living the life.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Slash would also mention the place in the Hills:

There was also a management com­pany one time that was trying to hook up with us, and one of their ways of trying to convince us that they were happening — and that we were stupid — was by putting us in this huge house in the Hollywood Hills. Luckily, we never signed any papers with them or anything because when we fired them, they asked us to pay the bill after they told us it was free.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:24 pm


Strippers were our sustenance for the longest time. We crashed at the stripper's houses and that's where we got extra cash.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The girls were kind of like the nursemaids for these band guys. The guys were like lost puppies that you left at the vet. You wanted to feed them and help them. They were very generous with the band guys because they made a lot of money.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

And I always lived with strippers in the old days before Guns started. They would strip all night and I would go pick up their tips, go to the market, buy the booze and go back and party all night long.

The main girls that hung around with the band in the early days were Desi Craft (Izzy's girlfriend and partner in crime), Adriana Smith, Bambi Conway, Pamela Jackson, Adriana Durgan, and Pamela Manning.

Bambi Conway:

Girls wanted Axl because they could see his butt when he played with his chaps on.

Michelle Young:

Axl used to stay over at my house a lot because he had nowhere else to go. After they got famous, there were better places to stay-and shopping. They would call and say, "I got this. I got that. I got a new car."

Adriana Smith:

We didn't have sugar daddies with big credit cards, and we certainly weren't succumbing to the L.A. lifestyle by getting one who could take care of us. We didn't want that! We didn't want to owe anybody anything. We wanted to make our own existence, and even if we may have been a little sluttish, we weren't whores and we weren't charging money for sex. We were just being ourselves. We were normal girls. And here come these broke-ass giant turkeys, but they were entertaining. We fuckin' loved those guys! It was unfortunate if you developed a crush o one of them, like me with Steven Adler for instance, because he broke my heart over and over again. They were our friends and they were our family.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The strippers would also be part of the band's live shows:

There were a couple of entertaining gimmicks that we came up with to liven up the show a little bit. We had the idea of having some strippers come up on stage and dance to "Rocket Queen" for a few gigs. They had good moves, these girls. Guns N' Roses was a rock n' roll band but it was a bright and lively kind of gig, and we would try to bring in sleazy elements that we felt comfortable with to sort of liven it up even more. So that's what we felt comfortable with and people actually seemed to like that because it was sort of pushing the barriers for your average club band. Pamela was great. She was very enthusiastic and did a great job.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Desi Craft:

I was a choreographer and used to dance on music videos, but I had to become an underage stripper. I had to get false I.D. to keep the band afloat, to keep everything going. It was not really a pleasant experience, but I believed in the band. I believed in what I saw and what I heard. I would always dance to "Jumpin' Jack Flash" from the Rolling Stones, play tambourine and basically go-go dance. I had thigh-high leather boots, fishnet stockings, a little top and go-go girl clothes. When I came out, the crowd would push. I remember once we played this outside fair and the stages were not bolted down. When I got out on stage and took off my long leopard coat, you could feel the stage move, people pushing to get a closer look. It was pretty scary; we were about to be mobbed by 5,000 people. No bands had strippers as part of the act, but it turned out that it brought in flocks of people. People wanted posters of us. Then Axl started getting jealous because he wasn't getting all of the attention. It was quite an experience. We were happy. I could have been a stupid, ignorant young girl but I wasn't. I knew what I wanted and I wanted to make the band succeed and stand by Izzy's side. I was in love with him.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Pamela Jackson:

The guys were good looking and they were fun to be around. The went to the extreme. […] I was just a dancer and we were there to entertain, just like the band. We got real crazy. Axl was a good person to work with. He was just so out there when he sang; the way he could just get so into it. And then the band would just back him and get louder and louder. Then we'd start grooving to the music and before you knew it, the people were hollering, screaming. It was a lot of fun.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Adriana Durgan:

I don't need to close the door on my past, but I need to give it a rose and make it beautiful because it really was. Those were the best, best days of my life. They were like young, innocent, days. I had no responsibility; none of us did. It was a beautiful time. It couldn't have been any better. I have my memories and my experiences from that time and, oh my, how lucky I am that I had those times. It's sad now that we're all separated.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Last edited by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:09 am; edited 11 times in total
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