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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:30 pm



One of the first places the band rehearsed was a space in Silverlake which they rented for $6 per hour [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 69].


Later they would meet at a rehearsal space owner by Nicky Beat a drummer who played with LA Guns. In June 1985 it had been rumoured that Beat considered joining Guns N' Roses [L.A. Weekly, June 14, 1985]. This was likely before the Hell tour and before Steven had solidied his standing in the band as its permanent drummer. Beat's rehearsal place was described as being in an "industrial wasteland" out by Dodger Stadium [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 83].

We started rehearsing at this guy Nicky B's place. His house was by the L.A. zoo. It was a dumpy dwelling in an industrial area literally plopped in the middle of nowhere. [...] That was our rehearsal spot for a while. Then Nicky B joined Tracii Guns in his new band, L.A. Guns, and we had to find another place to jam.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 82

This is also possible the place Slash would later refer to:

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


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

For a while there, we had the band and four other women living in a 12-by-12 loft behind the Sunset Grill.

Nine people living in this one room with a bathroom destroyed by people throwing up! I used to shit in a box and throw it in the trash because the bathroom was so disgusting.

So to compensate for space, we built this loft out of stolen stuff.

People would show up at all hours, and we’d talk everybody into climbing into the loft, and someone would hit the light and go, 'Alright! Everybody in the loft! Let’s get naked or leave!' This one girl fucked almost the whole band, friends of the band, the band next door and two days later she goes, 'Axl, I’m having your child.'

No showers, no food, nothing. A very uncomfortable prison cell. But God, did we sound good in there! We're a really loud band and we don't compromise the volume for anything! We'd bash away with a couple of Marshalls in this tiny room, and it was cool because all the losers from Sunset and all the bands would come over and hang out there every night. We used to rehearse in there and sleep in there. It got hectic. But at least we didn't get fat and lazy.

Basically, it's just down to a poverty thing, that's where that kind of 'f**k you' attitude comes from, because you're not showering, you're not getting food or nothing, you do what you have to survive.

We lived in this one-room studio that was literally about 20 feet long and — at the most — ten feet wide. The whole band. All five of us. We built a bunk in there. That was like the most deca­dent thing in Hollywood at the time. Guns N' Roses' f**king studio. We had all the equipment under the bunk, which probably would have fallen down if we'd have stayed there any longer. We stole wood from this construction site to build the bunk. Actually, Steven and Izzy are the two guys that built the bunk, and that's where we all lived. We had a telephone that you couldn't call out on. You could only get incoming calls. I lived most of the time at Den­ny's (restaurant) because you could get grits and a cup of coffee for a lit­tle over a dollar, which I'd always bum from somebody. It was really bad. The f**king bathroom was across the parking lot, and we had to go over to people's houses to take a f**king bath. And every time we played, everybody in Hollywood knew where we lived, so it would end up being these huge f**king parties in the parking lot. I mean, it was f**king insane. Day in and day out, it was f**king madness. It was amazing! We're lucky we all survived it!
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1988; interview from mid-1988

I couldn’t pay the rent, so all five of us moved into this cheap studio that was about 15 feet long by about 9 feet high by about 8 feet wide. We rehearsed there and built a bunk above the equipment. It was the one bed we had, and I think that was probably the most decadent thing happening in Hollywood at the time.

We used to live and rehearse in the same place. It didn’t have a shower or a kitchen, only a small sink. We played our asses off there. It wasn’t in a residential area (it was more like in the industrial part of the city), so we could play as loud as we wanted. We’d always drink a cheap wine called "Nightrain,” to which we dedicated a song. For a dollar a bottle, you put yourself in the mood.
Popular 1, January 1994; translated from Spanish

The rehearsal space we lived in on Sunset and Gardner was disgusting. No toilet, no nothing, but who cared? We didn't have jobs. We lived off girls-off strippers. We were doing what we wanted to do. We had women, and we were playing rock'n'roll.

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

I knew, out in the parking lot one day, we didn't have a PA so the band would practice and I would be out in the parking lot listening, so I could, like, hear all the parts, if I sat there in the room with them it was too loud to what was going on, but I knew that we hit the kind of songs that I've been looking for.

Axl would mention this event again around the same time in an interview with Steve Harris, and also add that Izzy now finally understood what Axl had been "talking about for the last three years" [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]. When Harris mentioned this to Steven and Duff a year later, they would mock Axl [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].

Kim Fowley would describe the Gardner Studio:

You have to give them credit for cranking out all those songs in the middle of hell. I saw where they lived-it was horrible. It looked like Auschwitz.

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

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

Near the Gardner place there was a Mexican restaurant the band used to go to:

Me and the band used to rehearse in a garage down the street from here when we first started out, and we used to come here all the time. We always used to sit here in the corner, right where we are now, because it’s the best spot to get a blow-job under the table without anybody else in the room knowing. We used to bring chicks here all the time and get ’em to do that. Or take ’em in the toilets out back.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

Despite hanging out in a rehearsal space, Axl rarely rehearsed with the band. According to Steven, the band "could count on one hand the number of rehearsals Axl had been to". As mentioned above, this was due to him not having a PA system back then:

Sometimes, he would sit just outside the studio door and sing along, but usually we would just give him a tape of our rehearsals and he would go off with it somewhere.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 83

In February 1986, the band fled the Gardner studio when Axl had a rape charge against him, and moved in with Vicky in her apartment.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:52 pm


Marc Canter: "This was the heyday of the pay-to-play bullshit when Los Angeles promoters would have the bands themselves shoulder the financial risk of their gig, by either taking on the burden of selling a certain number of tickets themselves or simply forking over the required amount out of their own pocket. They would essentially force the musicians to take on the risks that had generally been considered the reason for club promoters in the first place" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

It was pay-to-play and obviously the club promoter wanted the band that had the biggest draw and, "the sexiest chicks at their shows," as Bill Gazzari once said [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].
Guns N' Roses went through a period of pay-to-play for a while in the beginning. I used to work at a newsstand up on Fairfax and Melrose and when I got the tickets, I gave them out to as many people as I could. We never paid for a gig ourselves, but we pandered them to everybody. I was really good at it because I was working a job where I came into contact with so many customers every day. 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].
We did that until we were such a huge draw that we didn't need to do that anymore. Then, those people that we used to give tickets out to expected to be on the guest list. Se we ended up having a huge guest list for a gig at the Roxy, but we did make the promoters money [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].
In his biography, Steven would argue that Guns N' Roses would never go along with the pay-to-play policies [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 92].

Later on Dizzy would comment on the pay-to-play system and the effect it had on the music scene of Hollywood:

Hollywood right now? I think it's pretty much reached a… pretty much a dull point. You know, for a while, after… after Guns… you know, made it… got as successful as they did, umm, there was a lot of true bands out there, that had a lot… you know, good songs and something to say. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, mainly due to the club promotion, you know, you got this pay-to-play thing, which is ridiculous. A lot of the bands… they were terrible, but they… they had more money than the other band. And so pretty soon it got to a point where Holly… Now it's back to like: "How outrageous can we look?" And you know: "Can we play our guitars? No, but we look cool and our mum and dad are paying for our tickets. So, we're the most popular band in Hollywood." It ruined it. […] [Pay-to-play] wasted the scene. It's… It's the most ridiculous thing that… umm, I've ever heard of. I mean, I remember at one point, walking into a club. It was a jam night and we were playing. And it's like, you know… they have like, equipment there for the bands, and each band comes up and does like, you know, three or four songs. And we showed up with our guitars and the guy is like, going: "Ten bucks". I'm like, "No, no, no. We're playing tonight. You don't understand, we're playing. Remember? Got soundcheck here today." And he's: "Ten bucks". I'm like, "You're telling me that we have to buy a ticket for our own show? Like, see ya!". He's like, "Ok, you can go in." I'm like: "Cool, buy us some pizza, dude" [Los Angeles Times, July 21, 1991].

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:50 pm


Raz Cue would speculate on why the band was so creative during their first months together, writing 'Welcome to the Jungle,' 'My Michelle,' and 'Paradise City,' among others:

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

Cue would mention an example:

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 […].
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 228

The first song the band wrote together was 'Welcome to the Jungle':

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

This would be typical for how many of the new songs would be created: as a collaborative effort by five guys who lived together.

The band would later describe the magic of Guns N' Roses song writing:

And as far as the music goes, there’s someone who comes up with the basis, you know, like a riff. Like, in Welcome to the Jungle, I come up with the riff and it’s that, you know, drop-down that’s got. And then, the reason we work so well as a band and why we really click on stage is that everybody has input and it makes it exciting for everybody to play it, you know?

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

If you tore apart the songs on "Appetite" and asked who wrote what, I think you might get five different stories. You absolutely hear Izzy's influence, you hear Slash's guitar style, you hear the rhythm sections, and Axl coming in on the top of it all that with his sort of fuck'em-all mentality. Everybody had their thing that they brought to the song. The writing process wasn't arduous or like pulling teeth, it was just something that happened. It was an extension of the five of us as a collective. […] Izzy was right in the middle between Slash and I. Musically he helped set the balance between punk and hard rock.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2017

The song writing process was a little bit more complex than I explain. I might write something with Duff, or I might write something with Axl. There was no set pattern to it. There was never any conscious conversation about song writing or ranging or anything about bridges or the middle-T as they call it or any of that crap! I always had a guitar with me, so I'd write riffs all the time and something would catch Axl's ear. Izzy had a song and he'd have some lyric that went with it. Izzy was a great songwriter and he would get us started. There were so many different ways things came about. If something sounded good, then we embraced it and started to build on it; here's a riff, somebody else came with their part, someone else had another idea and -- bam -- that was the song. Whenever I got to the bridge section or the lead section, I heard the same thing I heard the first time we wrote the song, and I pretty much played whatever I felt. If I heard something different I might change it at the next gig; maybe a note here or something, or add something altogether that wasn't there when it first got written. But the structure and the melodies were all there from the get-go and that's been the mantra. Guns N' Roses' songs came together as a pretty spontaneous band. […] We just started writing because we were living together in this haphazard kind of existence, all five of us. So over time, everyday, there was a new idea of some sort and we'd just start working on it right away. And we'd throw the songs together quickly too. "Paradise City" took all of a couple of hours to put together sitting in the back of a van. So everything came together fast, so that in time we had a lot of material as a result of that.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2017

Izzy answering the question where he "found that science of the riffs you were using since the very beginning of Guns":

]From the Ramones (laughs)! I've stolen it all from Johnny Ramones! Actually, at the beginning, from them and Motorhead. Then you discover the blues, you slow down, and you find out about the Great Chuck Berry...

And Axl would shed light on the process of writing lyrics:

I mean you could be writing about something that's a very hard subject for you to face and that's not easy. Other times you're so emotionally upset about something the song just pours right out of you.

Slash would also discuss Axl's lyrics:

He’s the kind of guy that – well, basically, I’m just a guitar player, I don’t exercise vocal or, I don’t know, lyrics stuff. I just don’t even bother with it, because I know that’s Axl’s department, and I know I can trust him to do the best possible job, there’s no reason we have to worry about it. And I’m not inspired to sit down and write. That sort of threw me off (laughs).

Furthermore, Axl would also say he "all the time" would wake up at night with lyrics [Metal Edge, June 1988].

And about having to write lyrics that would fit the band's music:

'Paradise City' came from being sick, starving on the streets, freezing in the cold with no place to sleep. That got really frustrating, but I was glad I went through it 'cause I got some great lyrics I'm really happy with. I'm not a fictional writer, only now and then. It has to be fictional in an abstract way. And everything has to fit together. You can't have a bitchin' song with hokey lyrics. Slash writes some really killer guitar parts. I'm not gonna slap any words on it. I need words that'll shine just as much as his guitar part. Not more, not less. If the words shine more, we go back and work on the guitar part again.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:51 pm


I want to dedicate this song to the band Poison. This is called "Nice Boys Don't Play Rock N' Roll."
The Troubadour, September 20, 1985; retold in Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


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

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

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

We had Izzy's little tape deck, and this girl named Laura came by and she turned us onto Hanoi Rocks and we really got into them. We were the first band to really revive glam in Los Angeles because back then heavy metal and leather and studs were in. It was really big to wear black, spandex, and studs, and we started wearing bright colors and makeup. We were the first band to do that since the '70's, when the last glam bands died out, right before punk. We wanted to revamp it in Los Angeles. In the beginning, we got a lot of flack for it, with our big hair, a million different ways. My hair was white and Izzy's was blue/black, and we had these rhinestone earrings, scarves, pink leather jackets and high-heeled boots. We got a lot of shit, but we were really proud. We went up there and played a lot of hard rocking stuff, a little heavier than Guns N' Roses is now. So we had that glam thing going, and people started catching on to it. We were friends with Poison and they were kinda dressing like that too.

Slash would talk about how important the image was to the early Guns N' Roses:

It’s 75 percent music and 75 percent image. No matter what the music is, the kids need to have something visual to relate to. They need to look up and see someone who’s definitely ... having a good time. They need to feel a relationship with your attitude, something they can stand behind so they don’t feel alienated.

But in contrast to Poison, Guns N' Roses was dead serious in their music and used the music as a vehicle to describe the nitty gritty reality of the streets on which they lived. The band would also soon drop the glam outfits and instead go for a more punk and hard rock style. In subsequent interviews they would emphasize the differences between them and bands like Poison who they considered to be posers first and musicians second.

In LA there’s a million people who think they’re musicians and only a few who are.

[Talking about dressing up before shows]: Like Poison, sure. I just can't do that, it's so fake and it's really asinine to me, you know. There's no real rock and roll attitude in a lot of things I see today, and I'm not trying to say we're better and this and that, just I know we have the right attitude.

The animosity between GN'R and Poison would go back to when the bands used to open up for each other in the bands early days. Slash would recount being pissed at poison guitarist CC DeVille (the man who competed with Slash for the Poison lead guitar spot before Slash joined Guns N' Roses) because he allegedly had started to copy Slash's gimmick of wearing a top hat:

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

Duff would confirm that Poison "fucked [them] over on the LA scene" in the band's early days [Hit Parader, October 1988].

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

We don't want to associate ourselves with glam and the main reason, is because that's what Poison associates themselves with. I've told those guys personally that they can lock me in a room with all of them and I'll be the only one who walks out! They used to come to our shows before they ever played a gig. Everybody copying them? Sorry I don't see it. Poison came out in an article saying they started glam - I don't know where they were in the '70s [laughs]. The only reason I put my hair up is because Izzy had these pictures of Hanoi Rocks and they were cool, and because we hung out with this guy who studied Vogue magazine hairstyles and was really into doing hair....

[…] we're not filling anybody's shoes, so to speak. We're not trying to get live radio play, we're not trying to… to… We're not trying to be like Poison, you know. We're not trying to sacrifice ourselves to the media or anything.

Axl would be dismayed by the influence Poison had on the LA music scene:

Poison fucked it up for all of us. They said that everyone in LA was following their trend.

In particular the animosity between Slash and DeVille would be strong:

CC from Poison came up to me the other day like he was like my last best friend in the whole world, and came to me shake my hand I told him to get the hell out of my face [laughs].

The sniping back and forth between the bands would eventually escalate to two members of Poison pouring alcohol (champagne, according to BAM Magazine), on Geffen publicist Bryn Bridenthal [BAM Magazine, November 1987; Rolling Stone, November 11, 1988], allegedly because they felt she was showing favoritism to GN'R [Juke Magazine, July 15, 1989]. According to Bridenthal, she would then have to plea with Slash and Axl to not fight the Poison members [Juke Magazine, July 15, 1989]. This incident led to a civil lawsuit between either Geffen, Bridenthal or GN'R and Poison [BAM Magazine, November 1987; Rolling Stone, November 11, 1988] which would be settled out of court [RAW, March 7, 1989].

Well, I won't slag [Poison], though I'd like to. [...] The epitome of Los Angeles is Poison, and what's wrong with Los Angeles. Okay? Enough said.

By early 1988 it seems the squabbling between the two bands were over:

Let me tell you, the feud between us and Poison isn’t even a feud. It’s just a situation that happened between me and one of their band members, and it was nothing so serious that had to turn into this full-blown type of ordeal. It held no bearing on the rest of the guys in the band.

I don’t have anything against the entire band enough for them to go and cause a major problem with the lady from our record company, and I haven’t said anything else in the press about it. It’s not been such a major concern that it’s on my mind, and if they want to take it that far, they can, but the only thing I have to say is that I thought it was in really bad taste.

If they really wanted to make a point about it, they could have come to me, or they could have come to the rest of the band, who, in turn, would have talked to me about it. I don’t want to start a fight with them. I don’t want to try to beat them up. I don’t want to do anything like that. All I can say is that something was blown way out of proportion by a member of the so-called press, and it was nowhere near as big a statement as it was made out in print to be, so I can understand the misunderstanding there, but at the same time, regardless, I don’t think the whole thing is answered by that kind of action. I’ll stand behind what I did say, but I won’t stand behind what the press said, and, you know, basically, you’re on your own!

What Slash is referring to here is a comment towards DeVille that was published in Hit Parader [Metal Edge, January 1989]. This interview is now lost.

According to Axl, the feud between GN'R and Poison would finally be settled some time in May or June 1988 when Axl had a talk with Brett Michaels:

We had some really heavy differences. Poison's comments were retaliations against comments we made. We talked about it that night. I said, 'We've got our differences from when we were rival bands on the street. We still have those, but I don't have time for 'em, you don't have time for 'em. You're doing what you're doing, I'm doing what I'm doing, let's just fuckin' right now put 'em aside.

Although in October 1988, Slash would still throw insults towards Poison:

I can’t deal with that rock star bullshit, which just permeates this whole fuckin’ business. Even in the new bands, who have no business acting like that. You know, like, “We’ve got our three chords, ’cos some of the guys in Poison taught ’em to us... I just don’t care any more, I really don’t care. Somebody made a T-shirt for me with POISON SUCKS written on it... […] Axl wore it on stage. ’Cos I’d just gotten it, this was with Aerosmith, and I was like, shall I wear this? Then I thought, naw, and Axl was like, “I’ll wear it!” And off he went...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

We really hate Poison —they totally emphasize everything we hate in a band! They're like the type of guys who got turned onto rock 'n' roll by Circus magazine, you know? They saw pictures and said 'Oh yeah, this looks cool, we can get girls!' They probably went shopping and picked all their clothes and stuff and then went and bought their instruments. They pick up a guitar and learn how to play three chords and go out onstage.

When asked if this squabbling wasn't getting a bit petty:

Yeah, but there’s never gonna be a relationship there ’cos it’s like, even if they come up and say hi and this and that I still have a fuckin’ deep hatred for what they’re all about.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

And then recounted a story about meeting Bret Michaels at the Rainbow in Hollywood:

Izzy was the one who grabbed him. That was so funny. I was drunk, there was a whole table of us, and I was sitting at the head. The next thing you know Izzy’s got Bret Michaels to sit down. So there’s Bret in between the two of us... […] [He was scared] shitless. I was so fucked up and it was like, me and Izzy sitting either side of him, so he’s getting it from both ends. In stereo! I mean, I wouldn’t like to sit next to a couple of Poison guys like that.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

Then finding Bobby Dall in his apartment:

Another time I had Bobby [Dall] in my apartment. I was staying at the Franklin Plaza and Steven brought him over. I was in the bedroom dealing with some other shit and Steven had just gone back to his apartment for a second and was coming back, but I didn’t know. So I came out into the living room and I looked and Bobby was on the couch. I was, like, what is this fucking guy doing in my apartment?

He was tripping over himself just trying to make amends. That’s when I first decided, OK, fine, we’ll leave it. Then they came out with their next video and it’s awful! It’s an insult to my intelli­gence for them to do what they’re doing. What we’re doing has nothing to do with that. Like, I can say hi and hello, I don’t have anything against them as people. I just hate what they play.

I guess there’s a place for it and it works...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

Then, likely not longer thereafter, Slash would have a talk to CC DeVille and would square up like Axl had done:

That whole situation got to be a real mess. I thought I was just making some honest comments, and then all hell broke loose. But after the dust settled I got together with C.C. and we've worked everything out. Actually, he's pretty cool. I really never had anything against him personally, but maybe when all that shit began to happen I wasn't in the right frame of mind to accept his success. There's room for everyone in this industry; we're not out to make any enemies.

I tried to bury the hatchet. I have nothing against those guys—I don’t have a vendetta against them

Axl's quote about being locked up with Poison but only he coming out of the room [see above], would be attributed to Slash and when asked to comment on it, Slash would say:

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

In March 1989, Poison's Rikki Rocket would be asked about the feud with GN'R and answer:

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

And Bret Michaels would discuss it later:

There was a verbal feud created, first and foremost, by the press. In other words, it was a-- You know, there was the cover of Hit Parader with Brett Michaels vs. Axl Rose -- which immediately says to any fan: Hey, these guys must be feuding. Well, then, the next thing was -- you know, which was really surprising to me in that whole thing -- is Axl came out with a pair of chaps that says GLAM SUCKS -- right? Obviously taking a swipe at us, right? And I'm like: Well, fuck -- this guy was more glam than any of us. (Laughs) Which was really odd to me. I'm like going: Now, this guy's the guy that was like, you know, was one of the inventors of that sorta -- I call it "gypsy glam," or whatever you want to call it.


I mean, yeah -- it definitely got violent. I mean, it got, you know, the fuck you's. You know, everything was exchanged except for the final blow ... if you know what I'm getting at. You know how all the words come out, and all the shit -- and then, finally, Bobby and Slash and me just sorta said: What the fuck are we all --? You know, here we are -- we're struggling to make it, you're struggling to make it. You know, and at this point our second record had come out, and this is just as their first one was coming. And our second record, for whatever reason, just came out, and we opened up, and it started out -- it came out of the box at like a million and a half or two million copies. And I just think it was one of those things that Guns N' Roses was just coming out -- and then look what happened with their career. These fuckers made one of the best records in history.


I mean, I consider "Appetite for Destruction" to be up there with "Highway to Hell" -- which, to me, is one of the all-time-- You know, I consider "Appetite for Destruction" -- not just the songs, but the actual sound of the record. I mean, I can put that record on at any time and say: That's a great-sounding record.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:05 pm


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


Every one of the five band members dabbled in various substances in the band's earliest days. As the band started to live and party together, drugs were intrinsically connected to their lifestyle, and to some it became increasingly important. Axl would later look back at the time and comment that they "believed that substance abuse was a way to God" ["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 19, 1994] and that "drugs were a major part of the early thing" [Melody Maker, July 18, 1987].

The lyrics of their early songs reflect this wild lifestyle, with numerous references to partying, drinking and drugs. Often other musicians, strippers and drug dealers would hang out with the band, bringing with them quaaludes, Valium, coke and booze [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011].

The problems seemed to have increased after Geffen forbade them to play any live shows after they were signed in March 1986:

We got really bored, because we couldn't do any gigs. That's when all the problems with drugs started happening. We developed some had habits because everyone wanted to be our friends and were always coming around to party with us.

In this period, according to Duff, Steven and Izzy were in a constant cycle of sobering up and returning to drugs [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 117].

[Talking about 1986/1987]: A very heavy drug period for the band. A lot of the music is a reflection of that. There's always a lot of abuse going on in Hollywood, but at that time it was like we were in the middle of a pinwheel.

Although Slash would also indicate the drug problems started before they were signed:

Before anybody knew who we were, and Geffen signed us, we were all f***ed up.

Axl would say that the whole band had "dabbled" with heroin while Slash and Izzy were addicts around the end of 1986 [Bam, November 1987]; although in testimony in August 1993, he would say it had only been himself, Slash, Izzy and Steven [Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit; August 23, 1993]. As confirmed by a "Geffen spokesman", before 'Appetite' was recorded, Izzy, Slash and Axl had all suffered heroin overdoses [New York Times, December 8, 1991].

The drug use of the band and their friends caused problems with their first manager, Raz Cue:

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

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

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


In an interview with Musician in December 1988, he would describe how Axl and he would be doing speed "like there was no tomorrow" back in the early 80s when they were in Hollywood Rose together [Musician, December 1988]. He would also mention them tripping on acid:

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. Straight after that I split for L.A.; Axl joined me one year later.

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

Chris Weber, Izzy's co-guitarist in Hollywood Rose, had to go to rehab in 1984 and moved to New York City not long after [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", page 127]. Yet despite having had to go to rehab, Weber would in an interview in 1989 deny that they had been using hard drugs, but "just a little bit of pot smoking" [Rock Scene, October 1989]. It is hard to find that credible with all the other sources telling that Izzy was a heroin addict already before Guns N' Roses was formed.

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

Additionally, Duff knew Izzy was "pretty much strung out all the time" before Guns N' Roses, and he would later come to know that Izzy sold heroin out the back window of his apartment [Duff's Biography]. This apartment was likely Desi Craft's at Orchid, Izzy's girlfriend at the time. 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].

Desi Craft: "We were selling drugs to help support the band" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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

No, I never sold drugs, yes, I did take drugs for a long time, but I never sold drugs. What I did was sell things that belonged to me to get drugs.

Although this is somewhat contradicted by a quote from Izzy from April 1987 when he talk about how the band got by before them became popular:

Sold drugs, sold girls, sold… we just got it. We managed.

Despite his addiction, Izzy was able to function and only took enough to stave off withdrawal. Duff accepted that Izzy would "do whatever it took, heroin habit or not".

[Izzy] was into heroin, just like Ron Wood and Keith Richards, his heroes [...].
Steven's biography, page 61-62

At some point Izzy managed to clean up after having been "busted" and "cheated by a lawyer" [Musician, November 1992]. Axl would likely refer to this incident at court in August 1993, when he mentioned that Izzy had been arrested for his heroin use at one time, and that he believed it had happened before the band started touring in 1987 [Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit; August 23, 1993].

Axl would later likely refer to Izzy cleaning up in the quote below and indicate that Izzy had left Los Angeles to accomplish it, quite possibly back home to Indiana:

A lot of people just could not break their heroin habits, and a lot of them had to leave California altogether to break their drug habits.

By the time the band was signed to Geffen in March 1986 Izzy was using again [Musician, November 1992].

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

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


Duff was no virgin as far as drugs went. Back in Seattle he had experimented with speed, cocaine, LSD in sixth grade and mushrooms, but quit due to increasing panic attacks which he feared might be drug-induced [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011]. He had also "smoked pot by Grade 4 and snorted cocaine by Grade 7" [Music West by 3-D, 1997].

But alcohol quickly became Duff's demon.

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

[Duff] can’t survive without a drink first thing in the morning.

According to himself, not long after being signed to Geffen Records in March 1986, Duff was an alcoholic and Axl renamed him "Duff, the King of Beers McKagan [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 116].

Duff tried crack cocaine for the first time in February 1986 when he and Slash were with Robert John to go through photographs [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 108].


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

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

I had inhaled crack and exhaled my soon-to-be shattered soul. It was the first time I smoked the shit. As I sat there, an incredibly powerful urge came over me. I have never experienced such a dire need to get high again. Right away. Now. And this was only about ten seconds after that first incredible high. All I knew, all I cared about, was that I wanted the feeling to last longer. So I continued to hit the pipe. I didn't know it then, but at that very moment I had tasted the beginning of the end.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 67

Later on [sometime in 1986?] Steven would walk in on Izzy and Slash shooting heroin in Izzy's apartment behind Grauman's Chinese Theater in the heart of Hollywood. Steven did not want to use needles, and instead smoked heroin like he had done at Welch's house, and got sick again [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 97].

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

Duff recalls that Steven at one time said to him, "You know, all I want in life is to make enough money one day so I can have a bag of good weed and a big ball of crack around-all the time" [source?].

I think Stevie was willing to try anything that might dull the memories of his nightmarish childhood. Poor fucker.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 116


Slash's father was an alcoholic [Musician, December 1988] and Slash picked up the habit, too and he would later agree to having an addictive personality [Melody Maker, August 10, 1991]. In an iterview in 1995, he would talk about selling quaaludes when he was 14 [Musician Magazine, March 1995]. In a later interview he would talk about selling quaaludes outside at The Fear shows in Los Angeles [Kerrang! 1996].

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

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

Slash started using heroin soon after Guns N' Roses was formed [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 95]. Raz Cue would note that Slash used heroin not long after the band had signed with Geffen in March 1986 [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 238]. Slash himself would confirm that he started soon after joining GN'R:

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

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

There was a point where I fuckin' stopped playing guitar and didn't even talk to my band except for Izzy, 'cause we were both doing it. I didn't come out of the apartment for three months, except to go to the market. The one thing that really stopped me was a phone call from Duff saying, 'You've alienated yourself from everybody.' Since they're the only people I'm really close to, that really affected me, and I finally quit.

The band's song 'Mr. Brownstone' was written by Izzy and Slash while high on heroin, in fact right after Slash had suffered an overdose. Desi Craft would describe how it happened:

One time, Slash came to our place on Orchid with a lump of Mexican tar heroin and he wanted to cook it all up. Izzy and I told him to just do a little bit because there was this death tar going around. He said it was okay and shot up. Well, he pretty much went rigor mortis in the chair and we got him on the floor. I gave him mouth-to-mouth and I remember him going "Is this death or is this an angel I'm seeing?", because he was so out of it. Right after that we wrote "Mr. Brownstone."
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

When the band started playing 'Mr. Brownstone' in August 1986, Axl would warn about the dangers of heroin. On August 23, at the Whisky, he said, "I think you should stay the fuck away from that bad shit" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. At the time, both Slash and Izzy had a heroin dependency that affected the band. On this very gig Axl had acquired his signature top hat and would refer to being really high at the show but that the top hat helped his balance [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. It is likely Axl was frustrated by their addiction and that he indirectly stated this from the stage.

As mentioned above, Slash's problems got so bad he decided to sober up, and this happened before they released 'Appetite' and went on tour:

And the drug thing is like, we’re not stupid, you know? I’ve never let anything get in the way of my career as far as playing goes. So when I did have my serious bout with drugs, I quit before it really screwed me up. And, well, I’m lucky I did it at a time when we were, like, sort of dormant, you know, after having the record deal and going through producers. There was a lot of time that I just sat around and indulged in, you know, whatever. […] [Quitting drugs] was hard, you know. It was hard, but... you know.

Being an impatient sort of workaholic type, before the band went on the road and before the record came out, we had our problems. Then I cleaned up […].

Axl likely refer to Slash cleaning up in the quote below and indicate that Slash left Los Angeles to accomplish it:

A lot of people just could not break their heroin habits, and a lot of them had to leave California altogether to break their drug habits.


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

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

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

An old girlfriend in Lafayette, Gina Siler, from the period Axl was transitioning to Hollywood, would claim that the two of them, in the summer of 1982, did "a lot of hallucinogenics", yet, in 1983 through 1985, when they lived in Hollywood and had an on and off relationship, they "didn’t do drugs" [Spin, September 1991].

This might be slightly contradicted by Raz Cue who would recount that back in 1985, Axl had warmed up to intoxication:

Axl wasn't the biggest fan of weed, but that rarely stopped him. Similar to my brother and me - with a tip of the hat to Alice in Chains - his drug of choice was whatever you got.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 205

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

Robert John would mention in an interview in 1989 that Axl tried shooting heroin "like a couple times and that was a few years ago" [Rock Scene, October 1989]. This is likely the same incident that Axl would refer to in an interview with RIP in April 1989 and which he in Rolling Stone in August 1989 would say happened "over two years ago":

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

That Axl was able to shrug it off would be confirmed by Steven:

Of all of us, Axl seemed to be the most straitlaced. He'd drink and smoke, but I never saw him get out of control with any hard drugs.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 98

When discussing drug use, Axl would also indicate that his consciousness was preventing him from taking it too far:

Sometimes if I do something bad and I look like I’m having fun, I then find it plays on my conscience for a long time.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:06 pm


We got hired to be the bad boys.

I don't care if people think we've got a bad attitude. We're the only band to come out of LA that's real. And the kids know it.

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



Slash knew he was going to be a rocker already at the age of 14, and dressed correspondingly:

I was 14 the first time I wore a pair [of leather pants]. Even then, everyone knew I was going to be a rocker, so they just seemed to fit. I found my first pair by the trash chute in my family's building. I was psyched. I didn't wash them or anything. I just put them on. I think they might have been Rod Stewart's drummer's - he lived in our building - but I didn't want to ask. I was just happy to have a pair.

Michelle Young would describe Axl when he had just come to Los Angeles:

I went to high school in Los Angeles with Steven Adler and Slash-I met Axl through them. Axl was always like, "I'm from Indiana." He would wear blue-and-white-striped Dolphin shorts, cowboy boots, and a cropped T-shirt. I'd say, "I'm not going down Melrose with you dressed like that!" He was very insecure, very naive, but he knew he had something.

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

No. I would say, when we were looking for a band, the image played a big part in it, ‘cause we were looking for people who tried to be somewhat fashionable in their own terms and fit in.

What we were looking for really, was personality. If they had the personality, then that came through in what they wore.

This band is not image-oriented, it’s music-oriented.

The image is a non-image.

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

It’s 75 percent music and 75 percent image. No matter what the music is, the kids need to have some­thing visual to relate to. They need to look up and see some­one who’s definitely ... having a good time. They need to feel a relationship with your atti­tude, something they can stand behind so they don’t feel alienated.

Joseph Brooks, DJ and owner of Vinyl Fetish would describe Izzy:

Chris Trent and Izzy were like brothers, they were interchangeable. They had the same look and style, but there were several of them.  I can just think of those two off the top of my head side by side, they were like, okay, interchangeable. Right. That it was basically that Johnny Thunders/Keith Richards kind of thing, then it would be an updated Hanoi Rocks.
Desi Benjamin, Scenesters: Music, Mayhem & Melrose Ave. 1985-1990; 2018

And Nikki Sixx:

They started off more glammy you know, in more of the ratty way though, kind of like a dollsy way, mmm maybe not even dollsy, just kind of ratty. I thought they had a great vibe. It takes a band a while to find it is they are. It's like you settle, and they settled into something by the time they got really into Appetite really blowing up and taking off. And I thought it was very appropriate evolution.

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

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

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

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


Part of their image was also their names. Slash refused to reveal his real name in interviews in the first years, referring to his real name as being "irrelevant" [Guns N' Roses Interview Disc, June 1988].

It’s not that I’m against it, it’s just that I don’t use it. I haven’t used it since I was about 13.

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


In the beginning, the band was often mixed up with the glam bands that frequented the Los Angeles clubs [Concert Shots, May 1986] and the band members would themselves experience with make-up and teased hair at some early shows.

Following the establish trends definitely helped with the opposite sex:

Before Guns N’ Roses was big, I would go to the Rainbow, like, for the whole week, hair down, looking just normal. And then, like, on Saturday night, I’d do it way up, the full makeup, perfect everything and the right clothes. And all of a sudden I’d be swarmed, you know, by all the girls and stuff, “I didn’t realize that you could look like this” and “Oh my god, you’re a different person” and dah dah dah. You know, it kinda made you want to do it. It had nothing to do with being, like, feminine or anything like that. You got more people into you, you got the girls you wanted, you know, and you had fun being wild and stuff. It was a fun thing.

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

Back in the old days, we were styling like Hanoi Rocks and shit, you know? Crimped hair! Well, we needed to get girls so we could get something to eat. [laughing] There was a reason, you know? Like, 'Hey, can I borrow that?'

In hindsight, Duff felt almost embarrassed by their looks:

[Looking at old photos in Robert John's book]: Well, you gotta understand, this is 1985, and I even looked goofier than this [an old photo is being displayed]. But, back then, like here [shows a photo from Robert John’s book], I let this goofy girlfriend dress me up, but this was one of the first photo shoots we ever did.

[Looking at old photos in Robert John's book]: Those shots, I remember we did it when the cops broke into the Gardner studio, when we got those rape charges. We were over around the corner at Monica’s house, Steven’s girlfriend – that’s a porno chick – and we did the photos there, and we were, you know, just fucking around. I don’t think – I mean, Axl probably looked good being sort of glammed out. Of course, Hanoi Rocks was around at the time, and I think Izzy and Axl were pretty influenced by Hanoi Rocks; whereas, when I came in, I pretty much looked the same way, just the same way. That whole photo session was a joke. I’m gonna kill Robert for putting it in the book (laughs). As for kids who look at that and go, “Wow, that’s how they used to dress,” it was one day (laughs).

Axl would explain their dress style:

[…] at that time it was either heavy metal, meaning that heavy metal was the studs all over up the arm; that, and black, and upside down crosses, and what-have-you; and some of the bands were really cheesy at it. Or there were all the glam bands - I mean, this is before Poison – and, you know, David Bowie was like God, and Hanoi Rocks was the coolest band in the world, and The New York Dolls ruled. It was either that or total heavy metal in the club scenes for the most part. So we did our thing for a while and got into it, and then we did other things. You know, it was just having some fun. It was a quite exhilarating experience (laughs).

In 1987 as the band started to become popular and they cemented on their own looks more, the band would then start trying to fight being pigeonholed as a glam band:

I’ll do my best to make a point for what it’s worth. We’ve got a lot of people, a lot of magazines and a lot of things going, “It’s a glam band,” “It’s a metal band,” “It’s a glam metal band,” “It’s a hard rock band,” “It’s a thrash band,” “It’s a...”. Fuck it! It doesn’t make a good god damn whether my hair is up, my hair is down, or I’m fucking bald. It’s all fucking rock ‘n’ roll to me.

When we first appeared, Axl was still styling his hair and using make-up, but we have now completely gone away from such things. They still want to make us a glam band, but I don't give a shit because we are not!
Crash (Germany), September 1987; translated from German


One fixed feature of Slash became his top hat:

I bought [the top hat] on Melrose. I was walking around on Melrose and went into this shop, which isn't there anymore, and I saw a top hat. I tried it on and I bought a concho belt and I was sitting around with Axl, and I put the concho belt on the hat, took it apart and put it on the hat. And then we had a gig that night at the Whisky. There's a picture of it on the innersleeve of "Appetite For Destruction". There's a picture with me with no shirt on, playing a BC Rich and that's at the Whisky. Stoned out of my mind [laughs]. In those days, right. And wearing a top hat. And that's the first time I ever wore one. It was just like, cool looking, and at this point I can't wear it on the street anymore.


What set them apart from most of the other contemporary bands was a feeling of realness and genuineness in their music.

What I think is wrong with the whole L.A. scene is that so much of it is just a front, and there’s so much falseness in the way all these bands take on a certain style that’s in. All the basic stuff that’s real important, they miss, and they spend more time getting the whole image down. So, I have to say, the glam scene’s cool, and there are bands that we like, but at the same time as a whole, it’s pretty false.

[…] there is a general L.A. sound that Van Halen and Motley Crue sort of prompted, you know? And it hasn’t really got expanded that much since then. It’s always been, you know, the guitar with the whammy bar, the L.A. drum sound and the guy who can’t sing. And it’s been like that way for a long time. We were one of the few bands that came out of L.A. that I felt actually did have some roots to it, and that we had some real rock ‘n’ roll values and stuff.

The extent to which Geffen directed the creation of the band's "bad boy" image, would be discussed in the media. The band would claim the image came naturally to them:

The guys in the band, myself included, are what we are and we aren’t going to try and hide that so we can sell more records or become popular and accepted. […] The more they yell and scream, the more we will do it. It’s like being the bad kid in school. The more attention they give you the worse you get.

Nothing was calculated for image reasons. Nothing. When we got together with all the right pieces, we realized, wow, the way we are is gonna go over great, so, we won't hide anything. We realized all we had to do was expose the way we really were and it'll work. We wouldn't have to make anything up. A lot of the things we exposed about ourselves, other people might think would hurt their image… but we were supposed to be this hard ass rock 'n' roll band that does nothin' but play music and get in trouble. It helped us. And, we also exposed the lighter sides and other types of music we like and that helps broaden our base and pulls in more fans. If I say I like Frank Sinatra, I'm not making it up.

[...] I mean, a lot of bands probably don’t believe in what I’m saying. They go and get their make up together, and get their hair together, and get their clothes together; then they come in, they put a little act and all that crap. But, I mean, for us it’s just like, if we’re gonna have to do an interview or something, we just go in as us. […] Before we got signed to a record label, before we got signed to Geffen and all that, we basically were doing what we are doing now. And then, when the record labels got interested, we said, “Well, we weren’t looking for a record deal, so we’re not gonna change anything around as far as you’re concerned.” So, we just went in and signed to the label that was gonna accept us as is. We didn’t change anything.

We didn't feel like we were posers.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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

That doesn't hold up because for a year we were banned from the radio and MTV just because of that image and the words of our songs. That was hardly what the record company were after.

I’ve heard some rumours that we were like this thing that the record company made up to make some money and shit. If anybody believes that, man, then they’re fucked...

[…] Jesus, I wouldn't be in the band if they had. That’s why the kids like us. Kids need a band like us. I wish there was more cool bands that sang honestly, from the heart, you know? There’s too many fuckin’ Poisons, too many Warrants... There’s just too many MTV bands that just do this thing, you know, with the costumes... So they fuckin’ do their trip, and I guess that’s cool. Maybe the world needs a band like Warrant, I don’t know.

But for us, we can’t do that. We just can’t... If we die, if the band itself dies, then at least we did what the fuck we wanted to do and that’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about to this band. I’ve been playing rock 'n’ roll since I was fourteen years old, and I never fuckin’ once looked at the possibility of being in a commercial band. I had chances, and I said, fuck you, fuck you and fuck that...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

Yet later, Duff would admit that the label did whatever they could to establish the rumour:

When the band first started, the image that (Geffen) had of us was drunken, fucked-up rabble-rousers and they would do anything to make that image keep going.


The band was probably aware of the importance of branding, at least later on in their career, and would occasionally be overly outrageous and brazen in interviews, embracing the image of reckless bad boys:

When we see some fucking punk faggot from Beverly Hills walk into the Troubadour with spikes in his hair, we just want to smash his fucking face. We’ve been playing rock ‘n’ roll for too many years for people to call us posers.

I mean, we have done some crazy things, but never really bad things to hurt anybody or screw anybody up. We're not into that. We're into having fun. As long as we don't hurt anybody or rip anybody off, there's nothing wrong with having a good time. […] So we broke some stuff. So we had a few too many drinks. So what of it? I personally have thrown everything out of my hotel window. I got twisted, man! It's like the golden rule of rock: if you get this far in the business, you have to do these things. You have to break things. You have to go to jail. You have to throw everything out of your hotel window. It's just one of those things. You have to do it. We never hurt anybody. I went to jail in Chicago once. We got into this big fight, a major fight in the bar of a hotel. But I better not say anything else about that.

Although they would also distance themselves from the image yet admit to take advantage of it:

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

Slash would echo this sentiment in 1989, admitting to seeing the positive effect of being the bad boys of rock 'n' roll:

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

And the positive effect of simply having a reputation:

At least we’ve got a reputation. It’s better than being unknown […]

The band would further suggest the label capitalized on the image:

It’s kind of weird, because we are just being ourselves, but at the same time, these ‘bad boy’ images tend to sell. So it’s being capitalised on, and I think the industry may not know how to deal with it because they’ve been dealing with bands as a package for years.

And also that they encouraged profanity in the band's lyrics:

Encouraged it, yeah. I think the record company was just jazz, because we were so brash. And like, you know, Tom Zutaut, when he saw us at the Troubadour, it was like, we were the loudest thing he’d seen since, like, AC/DC somewhere God knows when. We were loud and we were real tough, you know, and real brash and real right in your face, and it was a heavy show. […] And it made a real impact on him just, you know, that there hasn’t been a band like us really to come out of L.A. in the last 10 years, you know? So he wanted to keep our attitude intact, basically that is all it was. […] [A song originally without profanity] was You’re Crazy, I think it was the song – no, Out Ta Get Me. And Axl, (?) when we were recording the vocals, had decided not to say one of the words in it, and Tom said, “No, go ahead, it’s okay.”

As RIP Magazine would state it: "Watch out for Guns N’ Roses. They are your new role models. Boys want to be like them, girls want them and everybody’s going to hear from them." [RIP Magazine, May 1987].


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

We were partially signed for being a bad-boy band, but then they (the powers-that-be) say ‘get it under control.’ It’s contradiction.

[…] half the time Geffen are thrilled with their acquisition, and half the time they’re scared shitless.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:10 pm



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

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

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


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


According to Marc Canter, the band was very briefly managed by a person called Bridgette who was also managing Jet Boy at the time, but "she wasn't accomplishing much on their behalf and Guns N' Roses ended the relationship" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


After quitting as manager of Guns N' Roses, Cue suggested to Vicky Hamilton, the manager of Poison, that she should manage Guns N' Roses, but she had just scoffed of the idea [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 217-218]. Hamilton had a great track record and been involved with bands like Motley Crue, Poison and Stryper [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. According to Hamilton's biography, she helped manage the band already from when the band was first started, before the Hell Tour. Cue and Canter denies this.

Regardless of when she was involved with helping the band, Hamilton had met Axl and Izzy already back in early 1984 when they played in Hollywood Rose:

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

Hamilton would then claim she booked shows for Hollywood Rose.

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

As 1985 neared its end, artist managers were in a constant swarm around the Gardner Studios, all seeking to ink G N' R to a management deal. They would schmooze, bring booze and grub, then pitch the band as to why they should sign with a particular company. Vicky Hamilton was one of many who wanted those guys bad. She promised to land them a record deal, all the while offering to promote G N' R shows with good guaranteed paydays, plus pay for full-page ads, posters, and flyers.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 231

According to Marc Canter, Hamilton attended the band's show at the Troubadour on November 22, 1985, and "was so impressed at their performance and their great appeal to the club […] that she offered her services as their manager", and after a meeting, the band decided to hire her [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

It was no secret that we were becoming a major draw on the Strip, and Vicki was determined to capitalize on our popularity. Over the course of a couple of weeks, she approached each one of us, either before or after our shows. She took the time to answer our questions and impressed us with the fact that she knew the business inside out and had no ego. I took an instant liking to her. She looked you right in the eye and didn't brag, blow smoke, or over-promise. She basically said her actions would do the talking and told us she had already booked us a show.

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

It seemed like managing Guns N' Roses was a natural progression to what I was doing. I had just gone through something pretty gnarly with Poison, so I had to think about getting involved at that level again with a band.

I was very much in the mix with the A&R people at the time. I shopped Poison, I worked with Motley Crue and Stryper, so I was very familiar with te A&R people that were signing those types of bands. I booked some shows for Guns N' Roses at the Roxy and the Stardust Ballroom and I helped them facilitate the Troubadour shows. I kind of brought a higher quality of gig to the band. Guns N' Roses was unique to that time period and vey exciting to me.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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


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

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

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

In the words of Axl Rose:

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

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

The band moved into Hamilton's one-bedroom apartment at Clark Street (when Axl and Slash got rape charges against them), which she shared with a girlfriend, Jennifer Perry [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 100].

The police were after Axl and Slash. We returned from the studio to a kind of house without neighbors. We lived in the hallway together with two or three other bands. The police had told us that they were going to beat the shit out of us when they got ahold of us. So, we went home, it didn’t have a door, and we told a friend of ours, Robert John, photographer, that had a big Cadillac, “Robert, you’re our roadie now” (laughs). We loaded the equipment in the car and we left that place in an hour. And Vicky Hamilton offered to help us.

Slash called me and said, "Do you mind if Axl sleeps on your couch for a couple of nights because something happened and the police are looking for him?" And I had just gotten a new apartment on Clark Street and I was a little bit hesitant to let him come stay, but I let him come and what was supposed to be a couple of days ended up being several months. Living with Guns N' Roses was probably the best time of my life and definitely the worst time of my life. The funniest part of living with them was the fact that "Welcome to the Jungle" was on the answering machine and it played the part where Axl screams, "Welcome to the Jungle, you're going to die," and it just went off constantly, twenty four-seven. Even to this day when I hear that part of the song it makes me cringe. The police broke in my door a couple of times, shining flashlights into the bedroom to see what was going on. There were always a slew of groupies and people partying in my living room. I would barricade myself into one of the bedrooms in the apartment to get away from it.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

At this point, Slash would allegedly agree that Hamilton was their manager [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 134].

[We] destroyed her apartment. It was like five bags of garbage - all of us in one room and the girls coming over. There was eight people living there, and dog. It got really crazy, really crazy, It got really rude. These two girls were like guy-crazy and bandcrazy and there was no way any guy in any band was going to be caught dead with either of them, especially us. So Slash would milk that for everything it was worth - free drinks, free food, everything without ever having to do anything. Which eventually caused big problems!

Vicky was very sweet, very motherly. We were pretty much living in her house, having sex with strippers on the roof. We destroyed it.

The girls took the bedroom, and we crammed into the living room with all our equipment. We had free rein in the place, and we would have chicks over and party all night. The phone rang nonstop, and there was something going on there 24/7.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 100

Axl and I got into a fight the day we moved out from Vicky's and destroyed her apartment, her furniture and the hallway. Axl threw me against this glass coffee table and a fire extinguisher and destroyed the apartment.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

In early February 1986, a week after moving in with Hamilton, she and Cue met at a show:

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

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

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

Some point after being signed to Geffen, the band was managed by Arnold Stiefel from Stiefel Entertainment [New York Times, December 8, 1991].

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:10 pm


There’s no such thing as a cool cop.


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

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

The police would also occasionally raid their rehearsal space at Gardner:

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


In his biography Duff would also be more detailed about these "supposed complaints from girls" and describe an incident when the police came looking for Axl:

They wanted him to answer what turned out to be a bogus rape charge.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011

Incidents like this would inspire 'Out Ta Get Me', a song that was debuted on February 28, 1986:

This is a brand new one. I wanna dedicate this to the LAPD and any young girls who like to fuck around.

In an interview in 1986, Axl would describe one such incident:

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

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

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

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

The night that happened, I only heard reports from my brother, who was GNR’s stage manager and piss boy. He came in the house and straight off told me, “Axl’s such an idiot, he banged that chick Michelle, then she wouldn’t leave.” So he tossed her out naked and threw her clothes at her and locked the door. I heard this CYA story the night it happened because my brother lived at my house., July 2, 2019

So, according to Cue’s brother, Axl had sex with Michelle who was subsequently - similarly to the above quote from Axl - thrown out of the studio without her clothes. Cue would also repeat, as in his biography, that Dizzy was mistakenly taken away by the police instead of Axl, but imply that his arrest had to do with the second incident involving “Michelle”, which was the one that had led to a rape charge against Axl [, July 2, 2019].

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

There was a girl over there [at the Gardner place] one night, and she wouldn't leave Axl alone and he got pissed, so he ripped off her clothes, threw her out and locked the door. So she went to the cops and said he raped her.

In her 2016 biography, Vicky says she got this story from Slash, who had said that Axl had consensual sex with a girl, got angry at her, and kicked her out to which she responded by going to the cops and saying he raped her [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2016, p. 132]. The addition that Axl had sex with the girl, makes the story similar to the one Raz Cue had heard from his brother.

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

In another 1986 band interview, published just a few days after the one in L.A. Weekly, it was mentioned that two rape charges were filed (and subsequently dropped), against both Axl and Slash [Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1986].

Everyone was trying to hide it from the record company. 'Rape charge? What rape charge?' The charges were dropped eventually, but for a while we had to go into hiding. We had undercover cops and the vice squad looking for us. They were talking a mandatory five years. It kind of settled my hormones for a while.

Slash talked further about the rape charges that were filed against both Axl and him, saying that the incident that had led to the charges involved two girls:

That was no big deal. What happened is Axl and me were with these two girls, and they got in a sexual situation and they decided to file rape charges. Me and Axl had to borrow suits one day to go down to the police station and turn ourselves in over this crap – and when it came down to the wire, they dropped the charges because it was all bogus. We didn’t fucking do anything to them.

Well, there were these girls who wanted to get laid, that were very severely frustrated because they weren't getting any. We gave one of them to a bunch of friends of ours, the other I took up to the bungalow to meet Axl one night, but I said, 'I'm drunk, I'll let Axl fuck you and I'll watch; then her boyfriend walked in, and they claimed it was rape. Me and Axl had to hide out from the cops for weeks and shit, and then we had to go to all these lawyers and go 'what the fuck do we do?' But it was a big mistake, because in reality it wasn't true, so when it came down to the wire and were down at the police station' getting questioned and I was getting my arms fucking checked for tracks and getting completely humiliated by the cops, when it came down to the end of it, when they had to testify and make something up, they didn't have the balls for it.

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

It turned out that our drummer had fucked one of their mothers, so it was a complicated story.

In 1989, Axl was quoted referring to the rape charge like this (likely it was an older quote reprinted in Hit Parader):

I mentioned to one person about some trumped-up rape charges that we had, and that started appearing everywhere. It really wasn't that big a deal - just some old girlfriend trying to get back at us. People seem to want to believe we're really bad guys. Yeah, we've had some run-in's with the cops and we've done some strange things in our lives, but I think people are just making too much out of 'em.

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

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

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

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

[...] The truth was, Axl had definitely had sex with the girl, but it had been consensual and no one had raped her. For my part I hadn’t even touched her!
Slash’s autobiography, 2007


According to Vicky Hamilton, Axl hid in her apartment to escape the police, and when the Gardner place was raided, the rest of the band moved in there, too [Musician, December 1988; Marc Canter, “Reckless Road”, 2008; Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2016].

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

The police were after Axl and Slash. We returned from the studio to a kind of house without neighbors. We lived in the hallway together with two or three other bands. The police had told us that they were going to beat the shit out of us when they got ahold of us. So, we went home, it didn’t have a door, and we told a friend of ours, Robert John, photographer, that had a big Cadillac, “Robert, you’re our roadie now” (laughs). We loaded the equipment in the car and we left that place in an hour. And Vicky Hamilton offered to help us.

The thing that I remember most about Robert John, is when we all lived in that studio, and then we came back to the studio one night after doing a photo shoot with Robert John, and our door was kicked down in the studio; and the guys next door were all freaked out and scared, you know, and they said, “Man, you guys better get out of here, cuz the police were here, and they kicked in your door, and they said they were gonna kick your asses when they catch you.” And of course Robert had the Cadillac, so we moved everything out that night and moved down Sunset Strip to another apartment, to somebody else’s place. And that’s what I remember the most about Robert John, because he was, like, photographer and...[Del James suggesting] Getaway driver! That’s it (laughs)

Axl and I were being sought by the police for something that we didn't really do, so I asked Vicky if we could crash at her place. It was Vicky and Jennifer Perry in a one-bedroom apartment off of Sunset Boulevard and that's where Axl and I lived for a while. We were right across the street from the Whisky. Izzy, Duff and Steve were with their assorted girlfriends. Vicky was great; she was sort of like the big den mother.
Marc Canter, “Reckless Road”, 2008


Vicky additionally hired a lawyer to assist with the rape charges [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2016, p. 138], which, as has already been mentioned, were eventually dropped.

The girl’s parents had contacts in the LAPD, and intended to press charges to the fullest. Axl took off to Orange County and hid out at some girl’s place for a few weeks, while I stayed with Steven and Monica. For fear of arrest, we didn’t book gigs and maintained a low profile. When we got our wits about us after a few weeks, we dealt with the situation through the proper channels. [...]

Axl returned to L.A. and the two of us moved in with Vicky Hamilton and her roommate, Jennifer Perry, and Vicky hired a lawyer to handle our case. [...] The case went to court, but somewhere along the line, the charges against me were dropped. Axl, however, did have to get himself a suit and face the judge, but once the testimony was given, the charges were dropped and that was it.
Slash’s autobiography, 2007

The lawyer hired by Hamilton was, most likely, the same one whose name was included in the “Thank You” notes on the Appetite for Destruction album: “GUNS N’ ROSES WOULD LIKE TO THANK: [...] Richard Caballero (for keeping Axl and Slash outta jail)”

[By April 5, 1986] Most of the band members were staying at [Vicky's] place because Axl was hiding from the vice squad. A young woman had accused Axl and Slash of attempted rape, and because of his previous run-ins with the cops he was convinced they wouldn't believe he was innocent. The charges were eventually dropped. The band meanwhile had to leave their live-in studio behind the Guitar Center by Gardner Street and Sunset Boulevard where they lived the gritty Hollywood life chronicled in their songs.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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

Based on these quotes it seems most likely that it was (at least) two incidents, one involving a "hippie girl" that wasn't able to recognize Axl (and may not have led to a rape charge), and one involving two girls where one was an old girlfriend of Axl or someone one of the band members was briefly involved with (and led to both Slash and Axl being charged with rape). In addition, we have the "Michelle" girl who Cue tells about and who claims she was raped by Axl, but does not mention a second girl nor that Slash was involved.

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

This is for the last two weeks worth of partying at the studio, and all those sweet girls that we asked to see their tits!


An interview from April 1987 describes how police cars would drive up to The Hellhouse to check on the band [Sounds Magazine, April 4, 1987].

The West Hollywood sheriffs have got to be the biggest fucking pigfaces I’ve ever known. They know our name, too, because of all the things that have happened.

LAPD are really fucked up. I mean, everywhere else you go, the cops are really, really, really relaxed and cool. In LA, especially in the area that we're in [...] They're like the fuckin' nazis. [...] Or like the Gestapo. You know, they're really bad. And they know… [...] I got hassled on my way just walking down the street. I was only like, say a hundred… not even a hundred yards from the apartment where I'm staying. I was walking by a club called the Whiskey. I was walking down the street and there was cops down at the end of the street, and the only thing that was wrong with me, I wasn't wearing any fuckin' shirt. And I got thrown over the top over the top of the car and whole bit. And, you know, it's just like that. You can't walk out of a fuckin' club without seeing a cop and wondering if you're gonna get…

We jaywalked, it was me and [Steven], and Todd [Crew]. It was you too, right? And a couple of guys. We didn't even jaywalk. It was a thing… The cops were standing across the street, they could see the fuckin' thing. It's red, we walked. We're not gonna jaywalk in front of cops. You just don't do that in West Hollywood. You don't do it anywhere. And we get across the street and they fuckin'… come up to us. We're going: "What the fuck?" We're up against the wall, got our hands behind our back. And it hurts. This is a nice little trick they got. They lace your fingers behind your back and they grab… Here, just feel it. Lace your fingers, I won't do this. And you know, they do this. Really hard, you know. [...] I just got a ticket the other day, or about three weeks ago, for conversing with a female motorist. I was walking to my apartment, a friend of mine came up, I was on the sidewalk, said: "Hi, how's it going? Blablablablabla". She took off, cop pulls in the alley in front of me, up against the car, the whole fuckin' thing again, you know. Got a ticket for conversing… It says right on the ticket, "conversing with a female motorist."

At some point in 1987, Slash and Duff travelled back to Seattle  and allegedly tried to burn down a bar (possibly The Gorilla Gardens where they played at the Hell Tour?):

Slash and I almost got arrested in Seattle. We went back there for a little vacation, we were going to burn some bar down. Then on the way back to L.A., we were drunker than shit, and we sat next to this kindergarten teacher on the plane. First she told us to calm down. Then she pulled out this book she wrote called From A to Z, and she read it to us, and drew pictures for us. By the end of the flight we were so tranquil, we went right to sleep.

When travelling to Canada for their first concert on the tour with the Cult, Axl was arrested for trying to bring in a stun gun [Spin, January 1988].

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

I was cruising around with Danny one night looking for dope and we managed to cop some shit, but it was very little; it was just a taste. [...] We were coming up La Cienega when the blue and red lights went on behind us. [...] We had nothing on us, but Danny had forgotten the needle he had in the breast pocket of his shirt, which gave the cops carte blanche to do whatever they wanted. [...]

They impounded Danny’s car and arrested him for possession of paraphernalia. They cuffed me, too, but wouldn’t tell me on what charges.  [...]

After Danny had sat around long enough, they let him go [...]. He was booked for having the needle and was given a court date, and all of that. I was the only one left, and since I thought that I hadn’t done anything, I figured that I’d get out any minute now. [...] I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the guards’ attention to ask why I was still being held.

The only answer I got was being shuffled from the small cell of the night before to a larger cell with [...] a lot of inmates [...] After a while we were loaded onto one of those horrible black-and-white transformed school buses with gates on the windows. I was shackled at the ankles and wrists and chained to the guy in front of me. I still had no idea why I was there, but I realized that I was going to the county jail, so I immediately started chewing off my black nail polish. There was no way in hell that I was going to county with fingernail polish on. [...]

It was the most tedious bureaucracy I’ve ever seen in my life, and it didn’t help that I was genuinely dope sick during it all. [...] I was housed in one of those big old-fashioned rooms with a few rows of cots, where I sweated it out, nauseous, sick, and exhausted. [...]

Then all of a sudden they let me out, again with no explanation, and I had to go through the whole fucking entrance process in reverse.  [...] When they handed me my clothes and belongings, I was finally informed why I was there: I’d been hauled in for a six-year-old jaywalking ticket. There had been a warrant out for me after I’d not shown up in court or paid the fine. Of all the things I’ve done, I got busted for jaywalking. Well, at least I did my time and paid my debt to society. [...]

When I found out later that Axl was the one who scraped together the bail money, I was touched. That was pretty cool of him.
Slash's autobiography, "Slash", 2007

According to the close friend of the band Marc Canter, the above incident took place some time in mid-1986, during the sessions at Pasha studios [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2008]. Referring to the event, Marc would also mention that the officers in the County jail were suspicious of Axl when he went there to bail out Slash:  

[Slash] had been a passenger in a car that was pulled over by the Sheriff’s department for a broken taillight. Danny Biral, a roadie for the band, was driving. The sheriff’s deputies found a hypodermic needle in the car, and somehow Slash ended up getting arrested. This wasn’t the first time the band had been in trouble with the Sheriff’s Department, and it wouldn’t be the last.

Axl and I went down to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department to bail Slash out. By the time we arrived, Slash had already been shipped off to the L.A. County jail. [...]  When we arrived at the jail to post Slash’s $178 bail, one of the officers noticed the medallion in the shape of a tiny gun hanging around Axl’s neck. Evidently alarmed at the threat posed by Axl’s necklace, the officer threw him up against the wall and frisked him. Finding no additional threatening objects, he let Axl go, and we went back to my car and waited about five hours for Slash to be released..
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2008


Thanks to @Blackstar for massively rewriting this chapter![/i]

Last edited by Soulmonster on Mon Feb 24, 2020 3:08 pm; edited 16 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:11 pm



A challenge to the band was getting labels interested. The band would get help from Joseph Brooks and Henry Pecks, friends who were well connected:

There are these two guys, Joseph and Henry, and they run a lot of the after hours clubs. They knew Izzy and they liked our band […].

Well, what we did is we shopped the tape around and some other people were doing it for us and they got it to Elektra and we thought, "Wait," and there was such an interest we thought, "Wait a minute, well, if they got an interest maybe someone else have some interest, too?". And we started getting around and there's a guy in L.A., there's two of them, Joseph and Henry, they're DJs and they run all these after-hours clubs and stuff and all the best dance clubs, they're the DJs at all these clubs. And they have a record store called Vinyl Fetish which handles all the imports, especially from London, and the rest of the world […].

Joseph Brooks would confirm the story:

I dragged A&R people to their gigs and played the "Welcome to the Jungle" demo on my show on [L.A. radio station] KROQ.

Izzy said to me, “Oh, we've formed a band.”  I'm like, "Congratulations. What's it called?" He said, "Guns N' Roses.”  I said, "When are you playing?  Of course I want to come." [...] Guns N' Roses had just started, and I went and saw their first few shows, and I thought they were amazing. I said, "Give me a tape because I want to play it on the radio," and they were like, "Oh my God that's so great." I played it on KROQ, and then I took that tape, and I shopped it around to different record labels. […] I gave a Guns N' Roses tape to Tom Zutaut at Geffen Records.  I asked him to come see the show they were playing at the Troubadour.  I think they were the opening band at the Troubadour that night.
Desi Benjamin, Scenesters: Music, Mayhem & Melrose Ave. 1985-1990; 2018

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

And Joseph was the guy who... You know, Don’t Cry was his favorite song. He’s a DJ out here in Hollywood that keeps a lot of bands alive, and keeps people listening to them - you know, a bit alternative and a bit hard rock - and he works in all the hard rock clubs. And he’d got our song, Don’t Cry, to the record company in the beginning, and I didn’t feel that anybody that he had helped had really thanked him enough. And I knew if I put it on there, it would be permanent, and if I didn’t put his last name – his name is Joseph Brooks – people would be like, “Oh, who is Joseph?”

Brooks involvement would also be explained in the band's March 1992 issue of their official fan club newsletter:

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


Brooks the handed the band's demo tape to Tom Zutaut at Geffen Records:

I brought Tom Zutaut to see Guns N' Roses and he loved them.

I gave a Guns N' Roses tape to Tom Zutaut at Geffen Records.  I asked him to come see the show they were playing at the Troubadour.  I think they were the opening band at the Troubadour that night.
Desi Benjamin, Scenesters: Music, Mayhem & Melrose Ave. 1985-1990; 2018

[…] and [Brooks and Peck] introduced our tape to Tom Zutaut of Geffen Records who signed Mötley Crüe and Dokken when he was at Elektra, and he signed Tesla at Geffen. And they introduced our tape to him […].

[…] so [Brooks and Peck] told Tom Zutaut from Geffen about us.

Zutaut was a young A&R guy (26 year old in 1986) who had been hand-picked by David Geffen from Geffen Records [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. Zutaut had previously brought Motley Crue and Metallica to Elektra Records [New York Times, December 8, 1991].

Joe at Vinyl Fetish was like, "There's this new band called Guns N' Roses-you should check them out."

Four or five years after I signed the Crue I would go in there [to the record store Fetish Vinyl] every couple of weeks and stock up on British imports and underground punk records and stuff. One of the people that worked there said to me, "Hey, there's this new band in L.A. that are better than Motley Crue. You'll love 'em. You need to see 'em." And I said, "What are they called?" and they said, "Guns N' Roses." The name rang to me. I loved the name. There was something about Guns N' Roses together that sounded interesting.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

According to Brooks, he put Zutaut on the guest list for the band's next show at the Troubadour [likely on January 4, 1986], but Zutaut refused to enter when he had to pay for two drinks minimum:

I put him on the list and [Zutaut] didn't show up. The next day I said, "What happened?"  He said, "Oh, I went to the door and my name was on the list, but there was a two drink minimum, so I wasn't going to come in."  This really happened.  He says, "Let me know when they play again where there's no drink minimum.
Desi Benjamin, Scenesters: Music, Mayhem & Melrose Ave. 1985-1990; 2018


According to Zutaut, after having heard about the band at Vinyl Fetish, he came across one of the band's posters:

So I was driving down Sunset Boulevard, and I saw one of Slash's hand drawn posters with the pistols and the roses and I thought to myself, "That's fuckin' cool, that is really cool." I stopped my jeep, I got out, and I ripped the poster down -- which probably wasn't good for their press campaign, but what the heck. I took the poster to my office and I looked at my assistant and I said, "You gotta find out when this band is playing and remind me. I really want to see them because the guys at Vinyl Fetish have been telling me about this band and now there's this really cool poster with a great drawing on it and it just feels like something is going to happen.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

So, the next time they played they played at the Roxy and L.A. Guns were on the bill, too, and I said, "Come to this show.” So he came to the show […].
Desi Benjamin, Scenesters: Music, Mayhem & Melrose Ave. 1985-1990; 2018

In Geffen's own press release regarding release of 'Appetite' it is said that it was Brooks from Vinyl Fetish who got Zutaut on the guest list, and likely also told them about the show at the Roxy:

Imagine our excitement when we received a phone call from Joseph Brooks of local record emporium Vinyl Fetish, informing us of a headlining club date they would soon be doing and of the fact that he had put us on the guest list.

Duff would claim this was the first gig where the band sold out, although Marc Canter would claim this happened for the November 22 gig at the Troubadour the year before [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

On January 18, 1986, before our show at the Roxy, a friend ducked his head into the backstage area. "This fucking gig is sold out!" When we looked into the crowd, we still saw the same faces. We knew most of the people in the audience, even after we started selling out venues like this. Del, West Arkeen, Marc Canter, and assorted girlfriends assembled backstage as usual. The big difference? One of my nephews stood in front of the backstage area as "security".
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 104

In mid-January, Vicky Hamilton promoted her first G N' R show. I was able to get L.A. Guns onto the Roxy Theatre bill that also included Plain Jane, featuring a pre-warrant Jani Lane. [...] The show was well promoted, with ads and cool pro-style posters plastered throughout Hollywood. Word had it several A & R reps would attend, so G N' R decided to play earlier than scheduled. It was their show and so at sound check, when they told L.A. Guns to swap time slots, that's what happened. I had never seen G N' R play longer than forty minutes-ish, but the band rocked on for almost two hours, kicking ass and leaving the audience sweaty, drained, and semi-satiated.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 233

The Roxy show would also be mentioned in the band's third newsletter:

That Roxy show last month was a smash! We oversold the place by two-hundred and eighty people thanx to each and every one of you! Plus we got the whole show on video tape and you were fuckin’ dynamite!

And get a review in L.A. Weekly where the sold-out show was said to be a testimony that L.A. Guns and Guns and Roses were "the latest godheads among the drugstore glam-boy" [L.A. Weekly, January 30, 1986].

But swapping to an earlier slot meant that Zutaut missed seeing them live:

My assistant] told me later about a ten o'clock gig at the Roxy. I went to the Roxy at 9:30pm and all of a sudden they won't let me in. I was on the Guns N' Roses list, but Guns N' Roses had already played.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

So [Zutaut] came to the show; he loved them. He said, "Bring me backstage, I want to meet them."  I brought him backstage introduced him to the band and he ended up signing them.
Desi Benjamin, Scenesters: Music, Mayhem & Melrose Ave. 1985-1990; 2018

And I was like, "what do you mean they already played? They're going on at 10!" It turned out that they had traded with the band that was supposed to open for them, so Guns N' Roses went on first. I had to buy my way in and I went backstage to look for Axl. I didn't see him, but I heard he was there somewhere. I found him in a corner and he was sitting by himself. Everyone was afraid to go near him. Here's this mysterious guy and people are afraid of him. So, I went back downstairs and watched this other band get onstage and play.

Then, Axl gets onstage and sings a song with L.A. Guns. After that show he looked a bit more approachable. So I went up to him and I said, "Hey! I came to see you guys play, but I missed the show and I didn't know you were going on at 8:00pm." He explained to me that they had traded and I asked him when they were playing their next show. And he said, "We're playing the Troubadour in a couple of weeks." So that was my introduction to Guns N' Roses.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Axl would later say that Zutaut had met the band and that he liked them, but this could have been another later show:

[Zutaut] met us and he liked us.


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

One night [Vicky] introduced us to Tom Zutaut and Theresa Ensenat of Geffen Records. We could sense these people were the big guns by the way they conducted themselves. They took us to dinner. I think it was Wolfgang Puck's on Sunset. It was very unusual for all of us to be in agreement but somehow this pair won over the entire band.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 102

According to Rolling Stone Magazine, Ensenat and Zutaut had spent "months" trying to get in contact with the band who didn't own a phone [Rolling Stone, November 1988] and Hamilton made sure ads and flyers contained her name and telephone address, allowing media and labels to get in contact. This is likely not correct. It is not known when Zutaut first heard of the band from Joseph Brooks at Vinyl Fetish nor started to get in contact with the band and when he met Axl at Roxy, but it was likely not many weeks.

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

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

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:12 pm

FEBRUARY 28, 1986


Tom Zutaut from Geffen was not the only or first A&R representative who was interested in Guns N' Roses.

The first label interest came from Greenworld Records and Distribution and their subdivision Restless. Jenny Price recalls:

Little known fact...I was responsible for getting Guns N’ Roses their first offer for a record deal, months before any other labels were interested.  Axl and Duff were friends of mine and I worked for Greenworld Records and Distribution in Torrance for a short time when I was about 18 years old. […] Greenworld was a distributor who had a small label which initially put out the first Mötley Crüe and Great White records, before they were picked up by the majors.  I coordinated a meeting between Guns and the owner Steve Boudreau, and label managers Peter Heur and Dean Naleway (both Peter and Dean eventually left Greenworld to start Triple X Records and manage Jane’s Addiction). Axl and Duff came to the Torrance offices for the meeting. They did not end up accepting the deal because Boudreau was only offering a pressing and distribution deal of their recordings (their demo which included “Welcome to the Jungle”) and would not pay to re-record their material. It was the worst business decision of his life. Greenworld went out of business a year later.
Desi Benjamin, Scenesters: Music, Mayhem & Melrose Ave. 1985-1990; 2018

According to Duff, this interest from Greenworld/Restless came by the end of 1985, and to prepare for their meeting, Izzy bought a book about the music industry. Duff confirm that Restless only offered them a 'pressing and distribution deal', plus about $ 30,000 towards recording costs. As Price said, the band decided to not sign but instead wait for better opportunities [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 102].

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

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

After the band's sold out show at the Roxy on January 18, 1986 [see earlier chapter], A&R staff from major labels started to attend gigs. In the weeks after the January 18 gig, the record-label frenzy to sign the band peaked [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 106].

What happened was, we were just plodding along as a band. We weren’t thinking about record deals. […] All of a sudden there was this nationwide buzz about us amongst record executives. And, since a lot of them lost their metal acts, all of a sudden we became talked about and sought after. Then we found out that all the people at different record labels knew each other, and if one guy wanted us, they all did. All of a sudden they were all fighting between themselves. We ended up having the A&R guys come to our Roxy show, and we were gonna have a bidding war in the back, ‘cause we wanted to get the most money possible. Then we decided to interview some of these people to decide where to get the most to make our band happen, and get the most support, rather than the most money.

We just kept playing and we made so much noise in the city, there were so many things happening around us, that the labels started to come to us. They came to us! They would come over to the studio and come in the alley and see drunks - there was this drunk with a bottle of Thunderbird on top of his head - and next thing you know we're going to their office! We made them take us all out for dinner for like a week or two and we started eating good! We'd order all this food and drink and say, 'OK, talk!

We were wined and dined from that moment on by every record company in town. The tables completely turned in a way that the people we used to turn off and who wouldn't let us in anywhere were now trying to get into our gigs. We used it to our advantage, especially with all of these industry people who we didn't really give a shit about. The band was very opportunistic.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

I loved being wined and dined. We were told that we're going to be the biggest thing and that they were going to give us this and that. But, nobody was honest. Most of the people wanted to turn us into something different than we really were. They wanted us to change our image and our songs. We knew that wasn't going to happen.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We knew right away that Geffen was a company we wanted to work with because it was small. We felt they got the band, but that didn't stop us from meeting with pretty much every other record company. The great thing about that was getting free dinners and free drinks. We milked that as long as we could. I think they got wise to us. It was pretty cool to be sought after by the major league labels.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We liked Tom a lot, just as a person. We liked what he was about. We knew we were going to sign with Geffen, but we stretched it out for a long time.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We'd take advantage of anyone who was dumb enough to let us. We didn't give a shit. All these suits would take us out to dinner. and we'd run up the bill by ordering as much as we could drink. They'd get pissed off at us, and we'd just laugh because we didn't want to do business with people like that. They didn't understand the band at all.

We decided, when the bidding war started, that we would just lead everybody on; we would just keep getting free lunch every day.

And to us it was great. It’s like, free lunch. We were poor, man! We were dirt poor.

You know, a couple of us had, like, this sort of little drug dependency things, so we had, like, free petty cash when we could get it - ten companies thinking that we were gonna sign with them, when we were already set with one.

According to Steven's biography, Vicky Hamilton orchestrated some of the early label interest:

Whether at her apartment or at the clubs, Vicky worked her ass off for us. The first representative of a record company she brought in to see us was someone from Elektra Records. It didn't go well because we insisted on maintaining total artistic control over our music, and that was just unheard of at the time. But regardless, after word got out that Elektra had sat down with us, all the record companies became interested. Vicky set up meeting with the record people and she would screen each one of them, knowing what they wanted. If she felt that a label was genuinely promising, then she would have us meet them.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 101

Around this time Hamilton received a call from Karen Burch from Music Connection magazine. They wanted an interview with the band. Hamilton thought this was a good idea to drive the bidding war between labels higher. Burch insisted that the interview should be done in Hamilton's apartment, their "true environment" [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 144]. The interview The interview was aired in early April 1986, after the band had actually signed with Geffen.


Zutaut, who had missed seeing the band on their previous show when they played earlier than scheduled, was anxious to see them play their next show. This came on February 28, at the Troubadour. For this show the band debuted 'Out Ta Get Me' [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

I went to see them at the Troubadour and there were a lot of A&R people. So I left after two songs-I didn't need to see any more to know they were going to be the biggest band in the world. On my way out I said [to one of the other A&R people], "They suck-I'm going home," knowing full well I was going to sign them to Geffen come hell or high water..

I told my secretary, "Look on this day, there is nothing more important than getting to the Troubadour an hour-and-a-half before the show, because I want to talk to the guys before the show." I went to the Troubadour, I went backstage to see Axl and Slash and the guys. I said, "Look, you won't see me after the concert because I won't be here after the show. There are a lot of people here and it's kind of crazy and you have to understand that when I go to a concert like this, lots of people like to watch and see if I like it or not. It gets really crazy. If you see me leave early, that's a good sign. If I hang out for the whole show, then that's probably a bad sign. So you won't see me after the show, but I'll call you.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

So with Guns N' Roses, I felt there was something vibing and I hadn't even seen them play. But I saw Axl backstage; he had some kind of star charisma going on and he was unbelievable when he got onstage. I thought this guy could be a huge star, like a Jim Morrison kind of character. I had already felt that from seeing him backstage and then seeing him onstage for one song [at the Roxy on January 18th]. I had a feeling about it. So rather than create some crazy situation where ten labels were after the band, I figured my best bet was to go in, make sure the rest of the band was good as he is and then split. But I wanted the band to understand that, so they didn't feel disrespected.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

[...] when we arrived at the Troubadour for the show, I counted sixteen A&R people - at least sixteen that I knew of. The band put on a killer, yet very loud show. They built train track crossing signs that blinked on and off with the tempo of their song "Night Train," which was super cool. Even though the song was about a cheap wine, the band liked the idea of representing a real train on stage.
Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 146

I'll never forget it. There were five or six A&R people lined up in the same spot. The band starts the set and people are looking for cotton and cigarette butts. It was literally the loudest show I had ever seen in a L.A. club. It was unbelievably loud. It was ear splitting. I was definitely feeling some pain in my ears, but I wasn't going to be a wimp and put cigarette butts in my ears or tissue paper or whatever, which a lot of people did.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

By the second song, I was completely blown away. I'd been to really loud shows, and nothing had ever been too loud for my ears. But this was the loudest, rawest sound I'd ever experienced. It was actually painful. […] Everyone had talked about finding the next Jim Morrison. I'd heard these stories for years. But in my mind, this was as close as anyone had come. Axl Rose was the most charismatic performer I'd ever seen. The musicians were amazing. Slash was the best guitar player I'd seen. The two of them were like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Everything about the band was right.

A few songs into the set, I looked over my shoulder and noticed that a lot of the A&R people were leaving.
Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 146

After about two songs, a bunch of people walked out. They didn't leave, they just were in pain because it was so loud. There were a bunch of A&R people standing by the door sort of half watching and half just being outside so they could spare their ears the decibels.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

I walked outside to see where they were going. To my horror, I saw most of them standing outside talking to each other. Peter Philbin [from Elektra Records] introduced me to Tom Zutaut out on the curb in front of the Troubadour. Tom said he would like to talk with me, so I walked away from the front door where the music was blaring so that I could hear him better.
Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 146

I said, "What did you think of the band?" Tom said, "I really liked them, but it was so loud I couldn't really tell if the singer could sing. Can he sing?" He looks at me with his piercing blue eyes. "Oh yeah, he can really sing," I said, handing Tom the demo tape. Tom thanks me, saying, "I'll call you tomorrow after I listen to the tape. If he can really sing, I'll sign them."
Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 146

During the show, I remember whipping out the demo and giving it to Tom Zutaut. It was a cassette tape. Tom said, "If they're as good as I think they are, I want to sign them." I gave him the tape and said, "trust me they are, and better." And the next day he was in pursuit of the band. But there were like 13 labels at that show.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

And a guy that worked at Elektra Records at the time, which was my former label […], was standing there. He replaced me so it was sort of ironic. As I was leaving, he looked at me and he said, "Tom, you're leaving early!" And I said, "Yeah. It's so friggin' loud in there and they're not that good," and I walked out. I thought that was pretty funny and I think he actually believed me. Although after I made a offer to the band he came in with a competing offer.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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

The band members would recall Zutaut attending the show:

Then he came to another show and he liked it a lot. He had signed Motley Crue and Dokken to Electra, and he said that he hadn’t seen that kind of excitement for a long time. And he also thought that we were the loudest band since he’d seen AC/DC at the Whiskey. We’ve been the loudest band in Hollywood. Last time we played the Troubadour, we were over 130 decibels. That’s equivalent of a 747 on the runway!

[…] Tom Zutaut, when he saw us at the Troubadour, it was like, we were the loudest thing he’d seen since, like, AC/DC somewhere God knows when. We were loud and we were real tough, you know, and real brash and real right in your face, and it was a heavy show. It was, like, a sold-out Troubadour show; 700 people, 800 people packed in the Troubadour. And it made a real impact on him just, you know, that there hasn’t been a band like us really to come out of L.A. in the last 10 years, you know?

Soon after, all the big labels were after us; they wanted to see that band everyone was talking about. All the label reps came to that same show, and the devious David Geffen discouraged them by saying that we weren’t as good as we thought. So everyone else lost interest, and the next morning he offered us a contract with Geffen.
Popular 1, January 1994; translated from Spanish

Later, in Marc Canter's book, Zutaut would claim he wasn't able to get in contact with Axl and instead sent a letter to Hamilton:

After the show, I had trouble getting in touch with the band. I had a phone number for Axl, but he never answered it. So, I wrote a letter to Vicky Hamilton.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The letter was dated March 5, and from its content it is implied that Zutaut had a meeting with the band on this day and likely discussed a record deal with them:

[Letter to Vicky Hamilton]: It was a pleasure meeting you and the members of Guns N' Roses today. After seeing the performance last Friday night at the Troubadour I was quite anxious to meet with you.

I look forward to meeting and working with you in the future. I'll be back in town at the end of March and will be in touch.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

That next day I went straight to David Geffen and told him that I'd seen the future of rock n' roll and was going to sign the biggest band on his label, probably the biggest band since the Rolling Stones or Zeppelin, and even The Who. And he looked at me like I was crazy, but fortunately he asked, "You believe in that much?" An I said, "yeah".
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:45 am


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

I hear a lot of stuff now about Axl being moody, but when I knew him he was just a nice, pleasant, and caring guy, who would talk and listen to me, and I would listen to his problems. He was real mellow. He took his time on things, and was very meticulous. [...] He never really was that moody, just introspective. Maybe if they understood him more, the times they think he's being moody he's probably just thinking. Or maybe he's upset inside. That's just the way he is, and the way I grew to know him. Don't push him, that's all.

But this mellow side to him seems to have received competition from a more impulsive and volatile personality. Tracii would later blame him quitting Guns N' Roses on Axl's increasingly large persona.

Our friend Michelle was getting ecstasy long before it became a popular drug. Axl is bipolar and he was doing it, it made him mean. The guy I was living with for the past two years was now crazy.
Glitzine, November 2005

Slash would also quickly experience Axl's mood swings and difficult nature:

[Recounting a confrontation with Axl from the early days while in a driving car]: I hadn't known Axl long, but I already knew him well enough to understand that he was a sensitive, introspective person who endured serious mood swings, so I chose my words carefully and presented the issue in a very nonjudgemental, objective tone. Axl stared out the window as I spoke, then he started rocking back and forth in the passenger seat. […] when suddenly, he opened the car door and jumped out without a word. He stumbled, kind of hopped, and made it onto the sidewalk without falling […]. It was pretty clear to me from that point forward that Axl had a few personality traits that set him very far apart from every other person I'd ever known.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York

As the band started to live together, they all became familiar with his peculiarities:

Axl had intense emotional swings marked by periods of incredible energy followed by days on end when he would be overtaken by black moods and disappear-and miss rehearsals.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 58

[Axl is] the most temperamental fucking meanest little fuck in the world.

[Talking about meeting and opening for Johnny Thunders at Fender's Ballroom in December 1986]: ...Unfortunately, one of the first things that happened when we got down to Fender's for the show was that Johnny started to chat up Axl's girlfriend Erin while we were onstage doing sound check. [...] Axl flipped out when he got wind that Johnny had hit on Erin, and began a tirade back-stage. Axl could be intimidating when he started yelling and carrying on. Johnny spent the rest of the night hiding in his dressing room, jonesing for a fix.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 58

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

We walked right across the stage while the band was playing and started running sound. [The club owner tried to calm Axl down by buying him a drink, but Slash] drank it while I wasn't looking. I got mad, and the next thing I remember was lyin’ on my back with a crowd of people tryin’ to punch me while I was kick-in' 'em in the face.

The Chronicle would also claim Axl "was alleged to have pulled the band off stage, hurled insults at several Marines and ripped the dress off a porno kingpin's daughter" but that he "says he can't remember the incidents" [The San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 1987]. The last incident could be the same as described in a previous chapter where Axl was accused of having undressed a girl and thrown her out of the Gardner place [see previous chapter].

Axl allegedly also challenged a skinhead called Animal who had, for unknown reasons, "sworn to kill [Axl]" [The San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 1987]. This must be the same Animal that Mick Wall describes as a "psychopathic skinhead stalker" in Hollywood and who Slash and Duff had been afraid of [Mick Wall, Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses, 1991]. Time Out Magazine in June 1987 would also mention that the band was afraid of a skinhead nicknamed Animal [Time Out Magazine, June 3, 1987], and this is likely the original source for this story.

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

We've had guys come to the shows standing outside the doors with 9mm Lugers waiting to blow me offstage. I told one of them that if he was going to do something he'd better make it good, 'cos if he didn't I'd be back to get him.

In Match 1987, Slash would describe Axl as being "violent" and "moody" [Metal Edge, March 1987] and in a later interview Axl would be confronted with this and asked if it is true:

At times. I'm very hard on everybody. It's what I want out of them. If I feel someone's not giving 100% I get real adamant about it. I don't want to compromise.

Axl's mood swings and erratic behaviour seems to have increased further as the band gained popularity, and it would become a large problem later on in the band's history. Duff, who struggled with his own panic attacks, related to Axl and would be one of the band member's to best cope with his bandmate's emotional struggles.

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

According to Steven in his biography, there seems to have been an animosity between Steven and Axl, occasionally resulting in violence. This is not as clear from contemporary interviews, including quotes from band mates, and although the two were obviously rarely hanging out together, that in itself is no evidence for there being lots of violent fighting between the two. It could simply be that when Steven wrote his biography he felt had an axe to grind against Axl and exaggerated stories. This being said, there does seem to be suggestions that they were not the best of friends.

Steven would himself point out that he and Axl didn't hang out much:

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

But it would turn into ugly incidents:

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

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

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

Vicky Hamilton would recall another episode that happened on February 28, 1986, the same day as the band had a Troubadour gig, when Axl was staying at her apartment. Steven helped her clean up mess in the apartment while Axl was sleeping on her couch. Axl woke up and repeatedly asked Steven to stop. When Steven refused, Axl jumped at him and a fight broke out [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 145-146]. This could also be explained by Axl being stressed about the show to happen later that day.

Steven would talk more about their relationship:

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

I became more frustrated with Axl's actions over the next year [1986]. Axl's behavior became seriously unpredictable. He was getting into fights, often starting shit at the Hell House with random people who came to party, so they just learned to give him lots of room. Some of the uglier incidents were just hushed up, because, well, it was Axl. Axl had one rule for himself: there are no rules.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 86

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

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

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

In his biography Steven would also imply that the fact that he didn't cozy up to Axl was part of the reason Steven was later fired from the band:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:12 pm


Critics don't like this kind of music. But they're going to sell millions and millions of records.


So Tom Zutaut had made a good impression on the band after having seen them on the Troubadour on February 28, but other labels were now also interested in signing the band. Still, in the end, the band settled on Zutaut and Geffen.

We were out there just gigging and gigging and gigging and gigging, and we managed to get a pretty big following. And so all the record companies at one time all of a sudden decided to see who this band was. And we had pretty much every major record company down there […].

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

I've known David Geffen since I was a little kid. So it hasn't hurt any (laughs). I can actu­ally call him and say, "Hello, David, this is Slash. Can you help me out?" if it ever comes to that.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

Explaining their decision to go with Zutaut and Geffen Records:

[…] Geffen was the only one that had Tom Zutaut in it, which is the guy that actually signed us, who was cool enough for us to actually relate to. Everyone else was like, signing the band because we had a crowd, and people were interested.

[...] Tom was cool. There's a perfect example of like, the record business nowadays, where Tom went up and saw us at the Troubadour in LA. And then came back to the front of the club after the show was over, and all the other record company guys said: "What'd u think?" you know. And he said: "Oh, they're terrible". [...]But he calls us the next day and said we're great.

And we also talked with, you know, every other label there was and we had all these other labels and we had everybody offering us this and that, but Tom knew what to do with us and wanted a rock and roll band. And none of the other labels, they liked it but they didn't know what to do with it, and we went where we felt we were in the best hands and we got everything we wanted, you know, money-wise, anyway, so someone else could have came up with more money but, you know, what good is it to get a half a million dollars when they're gonna just blow it, and they don't know to spend it right.

When we got picked up by Geffen, there was an instant good vibe. […] So we went with Geffen, because they had a better idea [than other record companies]. David (Geffen) liked us because we were louder than AC/DC and shit like that. He came and saw us at the Troubadour. That's why we went with them. And it's a cool company because I know everybody there. You can say "Hello," and actually know the person's name you're talk­ing to.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

So there was this little label war, everybody trying to get us to sign - we had a lot of great lunches, I tell ya! Finally we went with the record company that really wanted to put something into us and believe in us. And it worked. Everybody was into the kind of record we were making, and everyone dug in and did a good job.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

Tom [Zutaut] was a very cool guy. He was all about giving us major freedom. It wasn't like "We'll only change this" or "Do it like this and you're in." That's why we liked him. Other labels pretended to go along with us but always tried to tack on some bullshit clause at the end. They wanted to control us and just make us some puppet band.

So we kind of knew we were going to go with Geffen early on, but-and this shows our playful mind-set at the time-there were still a few labels that hadn't taken us out to dinner yet. So we told Tom we needed a little time to think about it.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 102-103

Eventually we got all the labels to wine and dine us: Sony, Elektra, and Warner. At one point, Megaforce was interested, and rick Rubin wanted us too, but our minds were made up.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 102-103

Tom Zutaut and Teresa Ensenat encouraged us to be ourselves and that we didn't have to change anything. We went with Geffen because they let us do what we wanted.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

When Tom told us that he thought we were the best band he had seen since AC/DC, that pretty much closed the deal. All these suits we talked to knew nothing about rock. They had no idea who Aerosmith was. We trusted Tom because he understood what type of band we were, and he wasn't going to try to change us.

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:07 am


While the band was courting record company suitors, they had a show at the Fender's Ballroom on March 21, opening for legendary Johnny Thunders.

When my boyhood rock idol Johnny Thunders came to town in late March 1986, the promoters asked us to open both his shows. For me, this was a huge deal. Probably for Izzy, too. [...] I was really looking forward to that first show at Fender's Ballroom. Unfortunately, one of the first things that happened when we got down to fender's for the show was that Johnny started to chat up Axl's girlfriend Erin while we were onstage doing our sound check. Johnny also wanted to know where he could score some dope. Axl flipped out when he got wind that Johnny had hit on Erin, and began a tirade backstage. Axl could be intimidating when he started yelling and carrying on. Johnny spent the rest of the night in hiding in his dressing room, jonesing for a fix [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 105-106].
In Marc Canter's book Duff is more vague about what happened and concludes that he was sure Axl was "right in what he was doing":

Johnny Thunders was an icon to Izzy and I. He was the godfather of the type of rock n' roll music we all dug, which was  more sleazy and in your face. Johnny Thunders was a real hero. I think Axl got into it with him that night, which kind of bummed me out. But the guy was a sloppy heroine addict, so I am sure Axl was right in what he was doing [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 105-106].
Izzy would recount the episode between Axl and Thunders differently:

We opened for [Thunders] once in Long Beach during the early days. This was back when Axl used to wear those chaps with his ass hanging out and no underwear. I remember it was backstage, and Johnny Thunders said, `What are you, some kind of biker fag?' Axl goes, `I'll fuckin' kill you.' Really wanted to kick his ass. And Johnny just sat there smoking his joints and drinking his Budweisers. Great first impression [Musician, November 1992].

Just a couple of days later, on March 23, the band supposedly played a charity gig at the Music Machine. This show is not mentioned by Marc Canter in "Reckless Road" but known to have been planned from contemporary ads. The charity organization was El Rescate, an organization that "provides legal aid and emergency food and shelter to refugees and those who have been arrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Service" [L.A. Weekly, March 21, 1986]. The bill included the bands Jet Boy, Damn Yankees, Darius and the Magnets, among others [Los Angeles Times, March 23, 1986].

For their 1993 'The Spaghetti Incident?' record GN'R would cover 'You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory' by Johnny Thunders. Slash would then mention he didn't play on the song because he hated Thunders and refer to episodes one of which was likely the one mentioned above:

I didn't even play on the Johnny Thunders song cos I hated that little f**ker! So I really wasn't all that concerned when he died. We worked with him a couple times, and I didn't like him at all. No disrespect for the deceased, but he's not one of my heroes, let's put it that way! [Kerrang! March 12, 1994].

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:12 am

MARCH 26, 1986


In late March the band had a meeting with Zutaut.

Axl called me and we had a meeting scheduled. The whole band was on time, but Axl wasn't. I was entertaining the rest of the band, waiting for him to show up, because I really didn't want to get into any serious conversation until the whole band was there. Finally he turned up. I looked at them and said, "look, you guys are the best rock n' roll band I've seen in my fucking life […]
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The band agreed to sign with Geffen.

Axl didn't strike me as being particularly savvy or into his career. He was more like a wild animal from the African jungle. I remember Axl saying to me the Monday after the show, "Well, if you can get me a check for $75,000 by Friday, we'll sign with you." It was unheard of.

So they are sitting in my office and we had a great meeting. Axl looked at me and said, "Ok, here's the deal, we'll sign with you but we need $75,000 in cash by Friday," and this on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The $75,000 advance payment is confirmed by other sources [Musician, December 1988; Duff's biography].

Despite problems, Zutaut managed to secure the cash in the form of a cashier's check payable at Bank of America [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


While Zutaut was struggling to rally the required money to sign the agreement, the band met with competitor label Chrysalis. Chrysalis offered a bigger advance payment, about $400,000 according to Duff's biography[Duff's biography], but the band was not impressed by Chrysalis and Axl said to Susan Collins, the A&R executive from Chrysalis, that they would sign with them if she would run naked down Sunset Boulevard [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 144].

Slash would recall the meeting with Chrysalis:

The buzz got out and we kept getting invited down to see these idiots. One label - I swear - we were talking to, I was saying, 'It kind of sounds like Steven Tyler'; and the chick said, `Steven who?' And all of us just looked at each other and said, 'Can we have another one of those drinks?' And we started eating good and none of our clothes would fit us any more!

When we got picked up by Geffen, there was an instant good vibe. But, for instance, we got an offer from another record company — which I won't name to keep my ass out of trouble — and they were offering us everything to do it. Because they needed someone like us because they didn't have anything like Guns N' Roses. And we get talking to them, and they didn't know who Steve Tyler was! You know what I mean? So we went with Geffen, because they had a better idea.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

Also, the record labels started coming down [to our shows]. And again, we were like, wow. But we never... Like, you know, the Chrysalis fuckin’ brains came along and said we’ll give you guys $750,000, and we just said, yeah, but have you ever heard us play? And they were like, No, but... So we were like, See ya!
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

But Axl wouldn't let Zutaut know they had already decided on Geffen and also told him about an outrageous offer he had made to Chrysalis representative Susan Collins:

Then on Wednesday, [Axl] called me and said, "Look, man, we told the A&R person at Chrysalis that if she walked naked down Sunset Boulevard from her office to Tower Records, we'd sign with her." He was dead serious. And I remember thinking, "My office is on Sunset-I'm going to have to watch until Friday at 6 o'clock, because if she does the nude walk, I'm going to lose the band.

Axl calls me back later that day and he says, "Tom, I'm really sorry, but we may have to sign to Chrysalis." I said, "What?" And he said, "We had this meeting at Chrysalis and there was this really cool British chick and she liked us, but her boss was an idiot." And I said, "well, why would you want to sign there?" And he said, "we thought this chick was really cool and it was really funny that her boss didn't know who Steven Tyler was. After the meeting we told her that her boss was an idiot, but if she walked naked from her office, down to Tower Records on Sunset, we'd sign her."
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Collins refused [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 144] and the band was to meet with Geffen at 18:00 on the following Friday to sign the agreement [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road". 2007].

Some sources claim the band was signed on March 26 [Duff's biography; Goldmine Magazine, May 1989], but this date was a Wednesday and that doesn't align with Zutaut's account that the band got signed on a Friday. It could be that the meeting where the band said they were going to sign if they would be paid the $75,000, was on Wednesday March 26, if so, the signing actually happened on March 28. This does not fit with Marc Canter's book though, where he makes a point out of the band having lots of new equipment for their two shows on march 28, equipment they had bough with the advance money [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. According to Steven, the band was signed on March 25 [Steven Adler's biography, page 104]. Most likely, Zutaut remembers it wrong, and that the signing happened on a different weekday, either Tuesday (March 25) or Wedneday (March 26), according to Steven or Duff, respectively.

Regardless of the date, when the band was supposed to sign the contracts, Axl was again late:

It's Friday at 6:00pm and this attorney from Warner Brothers is there and he got the certified check and once the band puts their signatures on this deal memo they get the check and they're signed. Now, it's like 8:00pm and [Axl] still hasn't shown up. The rest of the band were there and they're starting to get drunk, and were waiting.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]

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

We were at the apartment and we were supposed to meet everyone at Geffen at 6:00pm. Axl couldn't find his contact lenses. So he got very upset, and he says "I'm not going down there until I find my contacts," and he went storming out of the house. So Slash and I were standing there thinking, "Ok, what do we do now? We're supposed to be down there right now." So we started going through Axl's clothes and we found the contact lenses inside a pair of pants that he'd had on a couple days prior. By then, we couldn't find Axl. Meanwhile, time is elapsing, we're supposed to be there and I think it was Steven that grabbed me and was said, "Oh my God, come look." And I went outside and looked and there was Axl sitting yogic on top of the Whisky A-Go-Go.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The stories doesn't entirely line up, if Slash and Steven was looking for Axl's contact lenses, and Axl himself, after 6:00pm, the entire band sans Axl couldn't have been present at the meeting on 6:00pm. Maybe Slash and Steven wasn't there from the start of the meeting, but showed up before Axl. It is still doesn't explain why it would take a lot of time from Axl and his lenses was fund until he showed up at Geffen.

So we got Axl to come down and then we went down to Geffen to sign the contracts. We were like two hours late and all the executives were just sitting there waiting.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Finally, at 8:45pm, Axl rolls in, he says, "you got the money?" And I said, "yeah I got it." And he's like, "ok." The band signs the contract, done deal.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

David (Geffen) liked us because we were louder than AC/DC and shit like that. He came and saw us at the Troubadour. That's why we went with them. And it's a cool company because I know everybody there. You can say "Hello," and actually know the person's name you're talk­ing to.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

Robert John would later claim the band got signed at Hamburger Hamlet, which definitely wasn't the place where they actually signed the contracts. But it could have been where the band had the meeting a few days prior and where they agreed to sign with Geffen. This makes since John says they got the advance money later, which corresponds with the meeting at Geffen where they really signed:

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

This was a so-called "memo deal" and later (August 1986?) they signed a 62 page re-draft that released the rest of the advance money [L.A. Rocks, August 1986].

According to Goldmine Magazine, the agreement was a seven-record deal [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989]; according to Rock Scene who interviewed Axl, it was a six-record deal with "two albums firm" [Rock Scene, September 1987]. The total contract worth was $350,000 according to the New York Times in 1991 [New York Times, December 8, 1991] or $2,500,000 according to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1987 [San Francisco Chronicle, May 30, 1987].

Half of the advance ($75,000) was immediately divided up between the members ($15,000 each) and half of that ($7,500) was handed out to each member while the rest was saved for later [Duff's biography]. Axl couldn't deposit the money in the band since he hasn't formally changed his name to "Axl Rose" yet, and decided to tuck it into his boots [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Kim Fowley would reminisce:

The day they got their check from Geffen, Axl came into The Rainbow with a Xerox of a check for $37,500 made out to Guns N' Roses. It was half of their advance, so they must have gotten 75 grand. He said, "Look, we got our deal." I said, "Congratulations," and he said, "Buy me a drink-I don't have any money."


The other thing is, trying to deal or have any kind of dealings with the record executives is f**king hell. They've got to make a dollar, they've got to do the smart thing, they're pressured by whoever's above them in the company. They've got to make that person happy or otherwise it's their ass. And so you walk into one of these f**king kind of deals — it's like we just went to an Iron Maiden party, for their record release, and the record executives are all over the f**king place. They're there in their three-piece suits, and they all look so phony. They're trying to make small talk, but it's like you know it doesn't really concern them — this whole rock 'n' roll thing — but they have to be there. And it's just bullshit because they're such leeches and shit. Especially the guys from the big­ger companies. Fortunately for us, Geffen is cool because it's a smaller company and it's financed by Warner Brothers. So it's cool because the company itself is small and real per­sonable. There's a real home type feeling. But if you were to get signed to Warner Brothers itself, you have to cross your fingers and hope they f**king do something for you.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

We didn't go out and look for a record contract. It came around to us. We signed with Geffen because they were the coolest company.

We felt like we conquered a nation, because that was one of those things that we had no idea what we were doing (laughs). But we were pretty smart about it, and we ended up getting a really great deal for a new band.

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:12 am


With new-found wealth coming from the $75,000 advance payment the band received from Geffen, the band could afford a more luxurious life-style, or at least not live in abject poverty like homeless people. They could also afford new tattoos, better equipment, and more drugs and booze. According to Raz, the band also rented a "luxury apartment" on the corner of La Cienega and Fountain [Raz' biography, page 238]. Zutaut would claim the apartment was on Fountain and Crescent Heights. This meant that the band moved out of Vicky Hamilton's apartment for good.

The only time I ever had what might be termed a permanent residence was when Guns N' Roses got signed—and we all got an apartment.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

Talking about the money they received:

I carried the advance money in my boot ‘cause the bank had lost my records. […] with our advance, I bought equipment, and clothes. We also rented this house, and we partied for a while. Steve ate breakfast at Hamburger Haven for a week. We took cabs. I also took people out to the raddest restaurants I could find. I felt I owed some people things.

And, you know, the first thing we did, really, is go out and get equipment. The first second that we had the money, we went to the music store and we got all new equipment, stuff that we could use. I mean, we were all playing on trash equipment, alright? Trash. So we were like, the first thing we got was equipment. Of course, you’re getting a lot of money, you’re playing in a band - you never get any money when you’re in a band – you’re gonna go out and get stuff you’ve never had before. You’re gonna take a taxi to the liquor store, okay, that’s only two blocks away. […] You know, so you’re gonna get into that, because you never had money before, you’re 19-20 years old. Manage money? That doesn’t come into your brain. The thing I really wanna, you know, get down on it, is that we did, the first thing is buy equipment; and spent a lot of money on stuff we wanted. And the rest after that was party money, but....

Well, what happened is, we got restless. We get signed, they give us a bunch of money, put us in an apartment, we can’t go out and do any gigs [Geffen would prohibit the and from doing GN'R shows; more on that later] – so we fucking got bored, and started doing a lot of drugs, drinking a lot, tearing up houses. We had $7,500 apiece – which was unheard of for us. [...] We used to have to look for drugs, now people force them on us.

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:35 pm


In early 1986, Axl met Erin Invicta Everly at a party [People Magazine, July 18, 1994]. Erin was the daughter of Don Everly from the famous Everly Brothers duo and Venetia Stevenson. Don Everly and Stevenson had separated and Everly did not pay child support resulting in Erin and her two siblings growing up in modest circumstances [People Magazine, July 18, 1994]. She was described as a slow learner with dyslexia who "enjoyed being home and playing with her dolls and baby brother and, as she got older, offering emotional support to her mother" [People Magazine, July 18, 1994].

At 16, Erin moved to New York City model but was back in LA in early 1986 [People Magazine, July 18, 1994]. Erin was 19-years-old at the time when she met Axl at the party [People Magazine, July 18, 1994].

Erin: "It was the first relationship I had had—I felt like we were two people who didn’t have much but who had found each other. I was looking for someone who wanted to get married, have a bunch of children and a station wagon" [People Magazine, July 18, 1994].

Axl would later write the lyrics to 'Sweet Child O' Mine' to Erin [Circus Magazine, November 1988].

Axl would also name Erin as his favorite actress [Superstar Facts & Pix, 1988].

But Erin and Axl's relationship was tumultuous from the beginning and in March 1987, Axl would call out Erin from stage:

Axl: "I wanna dedicate this song to my ex-girlfriend, this is to Erin, this is called "You're Fucking Crazy" [Onstage at the Whisky, March 16, 1987].

In September 1988, it would reported that Axl had recently broken up [L.A. Weekly, September 16, 1988]. Despite this, they would soon get back together.

Desi Craft, who Izzy had been dating and living with for quite a time, was booted out by Geffen Record:

Desi Craft: "The thing that sucked was when they got signed, Geffen Records warned Izzy that I wasn't of age and that it wouldn't be profitable for him to continue seeing me. They warned against him that my mother could press charges. We worked really, really hard to get the band in this position, but it was his time, so I had to accept it and let it go" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:39 pm


The signing with Geffen was celebrated at the two following shows on March 28, 1986, at the Roxy (and early and a late show the same day). These two shows would be advertised in the band's fourth newsletter:

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

We played a celebratory gig at the Roxy [after being signed to Geffen], or rather two - an early show and a late show - on March 28, 1986. To be honest, the shows had been booked prior to our signing with Geffen. They were supposed to be label showcases. Events overtook our plan, however, so we took out full-page ads in the local music papers to announce the gigs: Geffen recording artists Guns N' Roses, live at the Roxy. [...]. We all had fresh tattoos at the Roxy shows, and people wanted to touch them. We felt like we ran the city that night [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 114].
During both shows Axl would dedicate "My Michelle" to "Tommy Zutaut," the "man of the hour" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. Axl would also dedicate "Mama Kin" to Hamilton, saying, "This song I wanna dedicate to Vicky Hamilton, for putting up with me being a really weird fuck. I am just a pain in the ass" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

On April 5 they played at the re-opened Whisky A Go Go and the poster said, "When was the last time you saw a real rock n' roll band at the Whisky A Go Go? This could be your last chance". This show would also be advertised in the band's fourth newsletter:

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

For this show, Axl's parents flew in from Indiana to see the band [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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

Again would Axl thank Zutaut from stage [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

The shows were getting crazy and this anecdote from Axl is from the day of the April 5 gig:

I'm scared of thrashing an asshole and going to jail for it. For some reason I can walk into a room and someone will pick a fight. That's always happening with me. Like, I went into a store once to buy a stun gun. We were headlining the Whiskey and things were getting out of hand, so I figured, 'I'll buy stun guns. We won't have to break their jaw; we'll just zap 'em and carry them out.' So my brother and I walked into the store and I said, 'Excuse me, sir, can I see this stun gun, please?' Being very polite. And the guy goes, 'Listen, son, I don't need your bullshit!' And my brother says, 'Listen, he just got signed, he can buy 10 of these,' and the guy says, 'I don't care, I'll sell them to you but not to him.' [Musician, December 1988].
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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:40 pm


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

Hamilton would claim to have borrowed $25,000 to help finance the band [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 147].

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

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

My feelings were hurt, but I said, "What if I got a big time management partner?" Axl said, "Maybe... Who would you go to?" "What about Doug Thaler and Doc McGhee?" McGhee Entertainment already had Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and the Scorpions. "That might work," Axl said.
Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 148

According to Hamilton, she then set up a meeting with McGhee and Thaler, but the band was strung out and tired after partying the night before, even to the extent of falling asleep during the meeting, and McGhee and Thaler declined to co-manage them [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 149].

So Hamilton was negotiating a management deal with the band while they were negotiating a record deal with Geffen Records.

Tom Zutaut from Geffen Records eventually contacted Hamilton and said he would give her a scout job at Geffen if she would help him get the band signed to them. Zutaut would then get the band a big-time manager [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 149-150]. This ended Hamilton's attempts at becoming the band's future manager. Exactly when this happened is not entirely clear, but it is known the band still lived in Hamilton's apartment by April 5, 1986, suggesting she was still managing them then [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

On April 1, which was my birthday, Axl and Robert John had brought me a glass pipe and got me some strong pot. Beyond the offer to pay for a tattoo, which I declined, the pot was about all I got from GN'R for all the work I had done for them - and I still owed Howie twenty-five thousand dollars.
Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite For Dysfunction", 2014, p. 151

The band would later insist they didn't have a manager in this part of 1986, and that they negotiated the deal with Geffen Records themselves [RIP Magazine, May 1987].

We didn't have a manager at the beginning, we did everything - we got a lawyer and we got our deal. We didn't trust anybody, and rightfully so.

This was made abundantly clear in Axl's response to the Music Connection interview from April 1986, which is believed to have been published in August 1986:

Vicki Hamilton is a kind, good-hearted person. There is a sizeable list of tasks performed and duties completed by Vicki, none of which have been unappreciated. Vicki is exceptional in booking, promoting and as she says herself, babysitting a band. Without her the road would have been considerably rougher. Vicki, however, did not negotiate our record deal, plan or design band direction, or choose personnel in the Guns N' Roses organization.

It is true they didn't have an official manager, no management contract was signed, but it is undeniable that Hamilton helped them out a lot. This is clear from Steven's biography where he states that Hamilton was managing the band at the time and that she had a lawyer look over the paperwork [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 105], and also from Marc Canter's book [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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

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

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

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

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

The guys chewed on that info for a few minutes and ultimately decided their interests would be better served if they sought legal advice before signing any contracts.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 231

Hamilton was out of the picture as per her agreement with Zutaut, something that was unknown to Steven:

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

I guess the band as a whole felt she was not established enough, and in fact, a general feeling surfaced that a man would have more power. This was particularly true for Axl, who believed a woman would not get the same kind of respect as a man. Alan [Niven; future manager for the band] was a cool guy and never uttered a negative word about Vicki. [...] I kind of made a mental note to find out the details of Vicki's departure, but in the swirl of getting the live record out, I never really followed up on it.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 110


In April, 1987, it is hinted that the band was in "legal wrangles with former managers" [Sounds Magazine, 1987.04.04], and in May 1987 it is said that the band had gone through "ump­teen different managers" [RIP Magazine, May 1987]. By August 1988, it is reported that Hamilton had sued the band [Screamer Magazine, August 1988] for $10,000 [Musician, December 1988], so it is reasonable to think this explains some of the "legal wrangles" mentioned in April 1987. By November 1988, it is reported that the suit was settled out of court [Rolling Stone, November 1988]. In 1989, Axl would also mention that they've had to pay some "out-of-court settlements" [RIP, April 1989], the settlement with Hamilton is likely one of them.

In December 1988 Musician Magazine published an interview with Hamilton where she said the following:

Axl won't talk to me. Why? Maybe because I sued them, but I gave up trying to figure him out years ago. There are times when he's the sweetest boy you could know, but when he gets mad, he's like a top spinning off. He's not consistently evil. And he's not consistently nice either. It's two personalities. That's what's so scary. But you're talking about street creatures. They had never had any money before and suddenly it was like, 'Life's a party now.' The day they signed I was crying because I knew what was lying ahead.
Musician, December 1988

In her biography she would discuss that interview and Axl's reaction to it:

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

It is likely that Axl's anger at Hamilton stemmed not only from what she said in this interview, but also from the fact that she had sued the band. In her biography Hamilton implies to have sued the band in early 1986, when the three-year statue of limitation was about to close, but as demonstrated by the above quotes, this can't be true. She also states that she sued them for $1,000,000 but settled and received $35,000.

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

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

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

Izzy would also look back at the period with Hamilton:

We never signed any contract, she got places to hire us to perform, in the Roxy and other places like that. She was doing things for us and we were going to work for her. Some of the things she said she would do never happened, so we just stopped working for her. She ended up suing us. […] She took thirty or forty grand, I don’t remember. I remember the moment she sued us, I asked myself “Why are you suing us?” I couldn’t believe it. America is like that, lots of people sue each other, it’s horrible, man. In Amsterdam, the other day, I saw how a boy on a bike was hit by a motorcyclist, the cyclist got up and when the biker asked how he was doing, the boy told him that he was fine and not to worry. End of story. In America, the biker would’ve began to rant: “Man, I’m going to notify my lawyer, oh! I can’t walk, fuck, my neck hurts, fuck, shit.”

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:46 pm

APRIL 1986

One of the first things Zutaut did after the band was signed was move them into an apartment with all-expenses-paid. The idea was to get them away from the crazy lives they were living, take care of the expenses, and stimulate the band into writing more songs to finish the material they needed for their debut record.

The hardest part was finding a place for them to live, because we put them in this apartment on Fountain and Crescent Heights and they burned through that $75,000 pretty damn fast. All of a sudden they don't have any money and they don't have a place to live and I knew I needed to sort it out. So I told them, "We're not going to give you any more cash, but we will cover the rent." We gave them a monthly subsidy for food, a place to live and a rehearsal space so they could write songs and create.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

What Tom [Zutaut] didn't consider was the inherent nature of Guns N' Roses. They were animals on the hunt, not creatures of comfort and he took away the only two things that kept the band sane: performing on stage and hard living. Tom's strategy was disastrous.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

One of the issues was that the band, according to Zutaut, didn't have enough good songs at the time, yet the band would pressure Geffen to record a record soon after being signed [New York Times, December 8, 1991].

Every time I would go to rehearsal and they would play through their songs, I would say, "You know, you're still two-thirds songs short." They would rebel and make trouble.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

They were broke and frustrated, but I didn't feel like they were ready yet. Until I felt 100 percent sure that they had enough material to make a great debut record, I wasn't prepared to line up a producer and set up a start date.

The record company was freaking out because it didn't look like anything was going to happen and, unbeknownst to us, we were looking at being dropped from the label if we didn't get something happening. I remember one or two meetings with Tom where he sat us all down and said, "look, man, you guys look like shit. I keep hearing stories about what you are doing out there, and you really need to get your shit together. We have a record to do." A couple of us were in really bad shape. We'd come walking in to a meeting at the office and you'd think they just pulled us out of the gutter on Hollywood Boulevard. It was hard living.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Izzy would later confirm the label had considered dropping them:

Yeah, because we took a long time getting produced and all that. There were some complications involved […]. They did get rather nervous for a while, and wondered if we were really going to make an album.
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 5, 1988

In another interview Izzy would say the label had almost dropped them about a years after signing [Spin, May 1988].

Zutaut's insistence that they still needed to work on writing new songs made the band frustrated leading to fights between the band and Zutaut [New York Times, December 8, 1991]. The band would also use it's manager at the time, Arnold Stiefel, to try to overrule Zutaut's decision by going directly to Rosenblatt who was a close friend of Stiefel's. This caused further friction between the band and Zutaut [New York Times, December 8, 1991]. Rosenblatt, on the other had, trusted Zutaut's conclusion [New York Times, December 8, 1991].

At one point, they tried to fire me as their A&R guy because I wouldn't let them record, but we patched it up.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

I was so upset that they had tried to go around me, that I was ready to drop them.

There was one particular night where I was almost ready to throw in the towel. They burnt through the first money and they burnt through another $100,000 in monthly expenses. I know the money didn't go in their pocket because they weren't actually getting any cash from us, they were just getting living support. I don't know where they got the drug money unless it was their stripper friends.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Slash would conform that the band was frustrated:

We didn't know why it was taking so long to get in the studio. But Tom kept pushing us to keep playing and rehearsing. It was hard to get us to buckle down.

As time progressed with no record, Geffen president, Ed Rosenblatt, was growing increasingly impatient:

Signing the group was a crapshoot. I wondered many times if this was going to be one of those super-disasters -- the $100,000 down a rat hole. Tom [Zutaut] was just a young guy with a hot track record. But A&R people are the most important people at a record company. He believed in this band so strongly, and it was his confidence in the band that sold us.

Yet, when asking Zutaut when the band would have a record out, Zutaut could only reply:

They're not ready yet. I don't know when they're going to make a record. But you've got to trust me. This is going to be the biggest band on the label.

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 16, 2019 6:46 pm


Zutaut also decided that the band should stop playing shows:

I said, "Ok, it's time to stop playing." I felt like they needed to let the mystery build. There was this big buzz on the band and I've always subscribed to the theory that less is more. […] To me, what's the point of thrashing out the same old songs a dozen or a hundred more times? On one hand, I felt that it was good to build up the mystique, but on the other it was, "guys, we need to write new songs and get enough material to make a debut album that just blows everybody away. […] So it was a combination of building mystique and getting them to focus on writing new material [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].
After we were signed, our label didn't want us playing locally. They said, "We want you to lay low, we're going to get you a manager." Time off meant trouble. I had $7,500 and that was exciting. Unfortunately, that was eaten up by a drug habit that I had at the time. That's what we did -- not everyone -- but a couple of us just spent the rest of that time in and out of trouble [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].
And then [Geffen] gave us some allowance money and stuck us in an apartment and said 'Don't play anywhere. Don't do any thing until...', and that lasted for almost a year, before we ever did anything [VOX, January 1991].
Despite this playing ban, the band did an acoustic show on May 1 at the Central, playing 'Move to the City', 'Don't Cry' and 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'. According to Marc Canter, they had been asked to do this show "at the last minute" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

But the band wanted to play, so to get around Geffen's playing ban, the band started doing shows under the name 'Fargin Bastydges'. The setlist and everything else was just as with a normal Guns N' Roses show.

Just after we got signed, we booked a show at Gazzarri's as the Fargin' Bastarges. We got that name from the movie Johnny Dangerously starring Michael Keaton. The band guys in the movie always talked like that, mangling expressions: "You friggin' iceholes. You fargin' bastage. You cork soaker!" [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 100]
[...] Geffen asked us to stop playing live. [...] The rationale? We had to build mystique by dropping out of sight, putting a premium on our performances. To say we didn't meet eye to eye with this decision is an understatement. We acquiesced at first, though we had some gigs already booked that we honored. Soon, though, we had to figure out ways to play - we just functioned best when we could get onstage regularly. And we got bored. So we began to play a bunch of shows as the Fargin Bastydges to get around the label's injunction. We took the name from a scene in the movie Johnny Dangerously. It was an alias, not an alter ego: the set list and everything else was exactly the same as our normal Guns shows; it just allowed us to avoid fighting with Geffen. One of the shows we played was at Gazzarri's, a venerable Hollywood dive we had always sort of wanted to play - just to say we had - but not the sort of place a band signed to a major label was supposed to play [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 118-119]
The first of these shows took place at Raji's on May 13.

Raji's was a total dive, probably a twenty-by-twenty foot room that reeked of beer and piss with a PA that sounded like an outdated console permanently in the red. The stage was a foot high, packed against the farthest wall from the door; the bathrooms were more disgusting than CBGB's [...] That show was fucking amazing: it was dirty, muddy, shoddy, and teetering on chaos as Guns ever was in my mind. It was as honest and true as Guns N' Roses ever got, because I did a big hit of smack before we went on, which, mixed with the liquor I had already been drinking, made my stomach so rotten that I'd turn around and blow chunks over the back of my amps every five minutes. I had a new guitar tech, Jason, who had to keep jumping out of the way to avoid getting coated. The overwhelming heat in there didn't help the situation much. That show was so rambunctious, the audience so full of unruly diehards, that Axl ended up getting into a fight with some guy in the front row - he might have smashed him in the head with the base of his mike stand. The whole show was a fucking riot; there was so much energy packed into that tiny little overheated box of a room. It was fucking awesome. There's a picture of that gig on the inside sleeve of Appetite for Destruction [Slash's autobiography, p 144-145].
The original way 'You're Crazy' was written was without the curse words. THEY didn't come in until it came on full electric, in front of a crowd with some girl trying to hit me with a beer bottle, and I started directing the words directly at her. That's where the curses happened. I stamped her head with the bottom of my mic stand, and she kept coming at me! I didn't even know her -- nobody in the band knew her. She hit Duff with a beer bottle.

It was at Raji's, Paul Stanley was there as well as the Geffen people. The stage is only like six inches off the ground and the crowd stands right up against you. You only have like eight inches to breathe
[Rock Scene, April 1988].
According to Marc Canter, during the show a girl in the audience would be spraying beer in Axl's face causing him to be repeatedly shocked by the electrical equipment, and near the end of the first song she threw a bottle at him, resulting in Axl pushing her away with his microphone stand [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Axl would be a bit more blunt about him hitting her with the microphone stand:

This girl is trying to kill me and I didn't even know who she was. Her boyfriend was in another band and he thought I was God, she thought I was God, she was just on bad drugs or something.

It was really weird cause her boyfriend was shaking my hand backstage going, 'man, you're the greatest,' and I was trying to be nice but I could never shake this guy. He was there when I first came in, he was there at the side of the stage, but he must not have been looking when I hit his girlfriend with the mic stand
[Rock Scene, April 1988].
Marc Canter: "Immediately after the show a girl from the audience approached Axl to say that the girl he had hit with the mic stand wanted to apologize to him. Axl said, "not right now." She persisted and Axl repeated, "not right now - please let go of my fuckin' arm." About twenty minutes later the boyfriend of the girl who had been hit showed up. He was Bob Forrest, the lead singer from the band Thelonius Monster" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

All of a sudden he goes, 'Wait, you hit my girlfriend? I'm gonna kill you!' And that was it, I started tearing him to shreds. Robert, our photographer, jumped in the way, fell down, I went to kick the guy and kicked Robert instead. Then the guy got loose, he came at me, Robert jumped in the way again and got kicked in the nuts! He wasn't having a very good time. The guy had grabbed one of Steven's drum stands by then, and the security guard had grabbed me. I had this security guy pinned against the wall, and my hands were filled with the other guy's hair. It was a huge mess [Rock Scene, April 1988].

Marc Canter: "A serious fight ensued immediately; even the security personnel couldn't break it up. During the fight, Forrest picked up a heavy drum stand, swinging it furiously at Axl's head. His eyes were bulging out of his head and he appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Axl charged, knocking him down and kicking the side of his body with his boot for about thirty seconds. Then friends of both parties stepped in and managed to separate them. On the way out, Forrest uttered threatening words to Axl. Axl threw his hands up and made a face as if to say, "You started it""[Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

We like a lot of local bands, like Jet Boy and Redd Kross. But at the same time we’ll go and get in a fight. I got in a fight with Bob Forrest from Thelonious Monster at Raji’s. They were intoxicated, and I was completely straight and playing, and they were throwing beer bottles at the band. If somebody does that I hit them with the mike stand. I don’t care if my mother came up and started punching me, I’d hit her with the mike stand [Rock Scene, April 1988].

Marc Canter: "Fierce as this encounter had been, later relations between the two were okay, and their bands played on the same bill together quite amicably [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

The band then played a show at Gazzarri's on May 31.

Basically, Tom [Zutaut] arranged it because we needed to play a gig, so it was this industry-only, invite-only "concert". It took place at Gazzarri's (today it's the Key Club) [According to Duff's autobiography this actually happened at Raji's on May 13], which was a venue that we'd never, ever played on the circuit because it was totally against everything we stood for. It was so glam and gay that there were radio ads for it where the owner, Bill Gazzarri, proclaimed in his thick East Coast accent, "All my bands got foxy guys in 'em! If they don't got foxy guys, they don't play on my stage." Gazzarri's was where the really plastic glam metal could be found. And we definitely weren't trying to be foxy. [...] Anyway, Paul Stanley attended that show, and he actually bullied the sound engineer into allowing him to man the soundboard and control the mix. We didn't find out until later, but when we did, I cringed at the thought: Paul Stanley had mixed Guns N' Roses - at Gazzarri's [Slash's autobiography, p 143-144].

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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:03 pm

MAY 1986


Paul Stanley from Kiss was considered as a possible the producer of the band's debut record [L.A. Weekly, May 31, 1986], and Zutaut set up a meeting between the band and Stanley [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. The meeting took place before the band's show at Raji's on May 13, 1986.

Stanley would describe the first meeting:

Izzy was unconscious, with drool coming out of the side of his mouth. It wasn’t clear whether he was sleeping or dead—that’s how rough he looked. Duff and Steven were very nice, and Steven was just flowing about what a big KISS fan he was. I didn’t realize that the half-comatose, curly-headed lead guitar player who called himself Slash was what had become of the sweet kid I’d spoken to during the interviews before the recording of Creatures a few years earlier. Then Axl chatted with me and played a few songs on a crappy cassette player they had lying around. […] When he played ‘Nightrain’ I thought it was really good, but I told him that maybe the chorus could be used a pre-chorus instead, and there could be another chorus added afterwards. That was the last time he ever spoke to me. Ever. […] Slash roused himself, and he and I started talking about the Stones. I show him Keith’s five-string open-G tuning, which was the set-up Keith used to write all his stuff. I took a string off and retuned a guitar, and he thought it was very cool. I also offered to help Slash get in touch with people who could hook him up with some free guitars—we were sponsored by all sorts of instrument companies, and I figured a young guy like him could use some help getting equipment to record with.
Paul Stanley's biography

The band would also describe the meeting:

Paul Stanley of Kiss saw one of our shows and became very interested in producing us. He contacted Zutaut, and Tom arranged for us to meet him. I was so stoked, I couldn't sleep. [...] Paul came to the apartment and sadly, almost immediately, the guys hated him. [...] To be fair, I am sure Paul felt he had to strut in with an authoritative manner to show us he could be in charge, but nothing, I mean nothing, he said resonated with us.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 107-111

[...] Paul came to us because he was interested in producing. Slash had him come over and I sat down and talked production with him and played him the demo. He wanted to rewrite two of our very favorite songs, so it was over right then and there.

]We kept meeting all these schmuckos, for example this famous rock star, I won't name any names, he just wanted to change the music. Like, "Don't Cry," they wanted to change the chorus and everything... we were just saying 'fuck off.'

We talked with Paul Stanley for about five minutes and he wanted to rewrite 'Jungle' and something else so that was the end of the conversation, and now he's going round saying he was going to produce the record "but these guys were too crazy," this and that. No, there was no chance of him producing the record. We talked to him once, that was it.

Yes, [Stanley] wanted to rewrite “Paradise City” or “Jungle”. We were driving back from Tijuana, and we brought back three or four bottles of Tequila, I don’t remember. We met him and he told us that he wanted to rewrite some songs, so we started to drink tequila and burp in front of him. Slash got to say something to the press. We didn’t let him produce anything (laughs).

Paul Stanley wanted to produce us. and Axl and I talked to him only as a favor for Steven. But Paul tried to rewrite our songs, including 'Welcome to the Jungle,' so we told him to go to hell.

According to Duff, Stanley was dismissed when he wanted to add double kick drums to Steven's kit [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 118]. Other band members were altogether not impressed with Stanley:

And Stevie's claim to fame at the time was that he had no tom toms, except for a floor tom tom, he had the simplest kit in town...snare drum, floor tom tom...kinda like the Cramps set, you know. The first thing this guy says, this famous rock star, he goes "You need tom toms, you need this, etc..."

Axl and Paul Stanley in 1986

MAY 13, 1986: THE RAJI'S

Despite the band claiming that they dismissed Stanley already at their first meeting, Stanley would go and see the show at the Raji's:

That night, I went to see their gig at Raji’s, a little dive in Hollywood. I thought the song they had played for me were good, but they didn’t prepare me for seeing their band live. Guns N’ Roses were stupendous. I was shocked, given the collection of wastoids I’d seen earlier that afternoon, and I immediately realized I was witnessing true greatness.
Paul Stanley's biography

Slash recollects:

Paul Stanley came down to one of our shows and hung out where we hang out. I'm looking at this guy watching what we do. He's a nice guy, but he didn't have a clue as to what we were doing. Everyone gets the basic idea: They're a rock 'n' roll band. But they don't get the formula.

MAY 31, 1985: GAZZARRI'S

Stanley would also attend the band's next show, at Gazzarri's on May 31.

We saw [Paul Stanley] again not long afterward [...] Anyway, Paul Stanley attended that show, and he actually bullied the sound engineer into allowing him to man the soundboard and control the mix. We didn't find out until later, but when we did, I cringed at the thought: Paul Stanley had mixed Guns N' Roses - at Gazzarri's.
Slash's autobiography, p 143-144

Paul Stanley's recollection differs:

I went to see them perform again at another club, called Gazzarri’s—it later became the Key Club. They weren’t happy with the guy mixing their sound, and Slash asked me out of the blue to help out. Decades later, Slash’s recollections of the night would be faulty at best. He liked to pretend I had dared to meddle with their sound. God forbid this guy from KISS would have anything to do with Guns—I mean, what could be worse than a guy from KISS, of all things? He also recalled that I had a blond trophy wife with me. But I wasn’t married and was in fact there with a short brunette named Holly Knight, who was a songwriter famous for ‘Love Is a Battlefield,” among other hits. There is obviously a reason why defense attorneys never want to put alcoholics or drug addicts on the witness stand.
Paul Stanley's biography

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:42 am

JUNE 1986

One of the things that Axl responded pretty positively to was that he and I were both huge Nazareth fans. Manny Charlton, who was the guitar player for Nazareth, produced some of the records and his name came up. Axl said, "yeah, let's do a session with him." So I flew to Scotland, found this guy in the middle of nowhere in Edinburgh and played him the demos. We talked about the band and then Manny said, "yeah, I'll come to L.A. and do a session with them.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Tom Zutaut came over to Scotland and asked me if I was interested in producing the band. […] He asked me t come to L.A. and meet the band anyway. The board mixes that Tom brought with him weren't any good. I couldn't hear the vocals properly. I said to Tom, "let's get to the bottom of this. Let's go into the studio, cut their set live, straight to two-track and then I can listen to the songs and get a handle on this.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

So Charlton was flown in from Scotland.

When I arrived in Los Angeles, I was supposed to see them the next day for rehearsals. Tom picked me up to go to the rehearsal space and there was nobody there. None of them showed up. We hung around for a while ad I looked at him and asked, "Are you sure you know what you're doing here?" To me, that was not very professional to have a guy travel 6,000 miles to see a rehearsal and none of them even showed up.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The band worked with him for three days, according to Izzy [Guitar, September 1988], resulting in the famous Sound City Sessions bootlegs that were comprised of at least 27 tracks.

We spent time with Manny Charlton from Nazareth. He came over because we were thinking bout having him produce the record. We were in the studio for two and a half days and we did everything live. We recorded 25 or 30 tunes.

Back then we wasted a lot of money flying people from Scotland to LA. Axl said that the guy (Manny Charlton - guitar) had a hell of a lot of credits as a producer on some Nazareth albums, and Axl wasn't that wrong. As I said, we let Manny fly over and Slash and I drove him through some valley. What did he say? Boys, the last inspection of this car was a long time ago, wasn't it? Cars are not inspected in America, so you can buy a part for $ 100. I loved him, but firstly he was too scared and secondly he did a bad job. We lived in this studio for 72 hours, doing nothing but recording. You can find many of the things on bootlegs now. In that sense: The session brought us NOTHING!”

We went into the studio for three days and we got on pretty good. I remember going into the studio and seeing racks of new Les Pauls and Mesa Boogie amps, so I knew Tom was taking care of them. I asked them to cut their set; everything that they were doing at the time. We just cut it live off the floor of the studio. Axl was stuck between two studio doors, with a little window watching the band and he gave it his all. He didn't bitch about it, there were no tantrums about not being able to perform. He just got on with it. The band set up and they played. That went straight to down to two-track because there were no multiple-tracks involved. There was no overdubbing either. I just set them up and got a really good balance and they played their asses off. They worked well together and they had their arrangements down. It was really good stuff.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

It was mixed down to two-track tape -- there were never multi-tracks at that time. It went really, really well. Bootlegs are probably still floating around out there.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

They weren't just some bar band. They were a band with a capital "B". An important band is always greater than the sum of their parts. You take one part away and the chemistry is shot and it's never the same. The five guys worked together and produced something that was great as a whole. The word is chemistry. That's what they had. They had great chemistry and they were a great band. As soon as you took one cog out of the wheel, one link out of the chain, that was it. I thought the stand-out songs were "Welcome to the Jungle" and "November Rain." Axl was playing the piano and Izzy was doing a little bit of background vocals and it was fantastic. That's when I went, "wow, there's proper songwriting skills here," and I thought that I would really like to produce them.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

But for whatever reason, after Manny did those two days, he thought it was a little crazy. Then there was some dissension in te band about whether or not Manny would be the right guy. So we did the session with him and he disappeared. It was back to the drawing board.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

I didn't disappear; I went home. I told Tom about my commitments with Nazareth. What happened was I never heard a thing from them after our sessions and then 'Appetite' came out. If there was dissent from within the band, I knew nothing about it. I got the feeling that Slash wasn't particularly impressed. I dont think he was as big a Nazareth fan as Axl was. Maybe he wasn't impressed with me as a guitar player. The only positive thing I heard was from Izzy. He said, "Manny's really cool." I wasn't socially integrated with them. I didn't get a chance to get to know them, personally. I wasn't in L.A., I was in Scotland and I had never heard of them before. So I was at a little bit of a disadvantage. I didn't know anything about the L.A. scene with all the other bands that were going on at the time. I guess they must have looked at me like I was some kind of alien with my Scottish accent and being a father, but they respected me for what I had done with Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog." But there wasn't really a chance for us to hit it off.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Axl would state it, "it just didn't feel right" [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].

Despite not choosing to continue working with Charlton, the sessions resulted in many songs on tape and the band was thinking about what to do with them:

We never did anything with that album but we have the masters to it. It's something where we'll go back and pick through it. A lot of the stuff that comes out when your just jamming as a band is the best.


In 1997, the press would report that Charlton still had his copies of the demo tapes in his garage in Scotland:

The tapes are in my garage. I worked with the band on the pre-production for about a dozen songs, some of which ended up on Appetite For Destruction and Use Your Illusion.


Geffen planned to "release [the Charlton tracks] as a kind of legal bootleg" [L.A. Weekly, June 1986] or "release some of the demo material as an 'authorized bootleg' " [Sound Connection, July 1986]. This first happened 32 years later when Appetite for Destruction was re-released in 2018.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:46 am



Their next show took place at the Troubadour on July 11. They were now back to playing as "Guns N' Roses" again, as mentioned in the band's fifth newsletter:

Friday July 11th 1986, at 10:00pm, GUNS N’ ROSES will play the Troubadour, (under our own name, by the way) with brand new songs, cool – props, lots’ a girls, and the rest as a tribute to HOLLYWOOD prior to the production of our debute-album on GEFFEN RECORDS!!!


For your personal information, we have been playing around town under psuedonymn “FARGIN BASTIGES”, for promotional reasons, butt finally ... what you’ve been waiting for, a full fuckin’ fledged, teeth grinding, butt slammin’, foot stompin’ stylin’ “GUNS N’ ROSES” show; it will be hot, so be cool and get there early!!!

For this show the band would be paid $2,500 and they played for ninety minutes, a new band record [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


Then followed a show at Bogart's on July 21 where both Slash and Izzy arrived late [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


Their next show was at the Club Lingerie gig on July 24. According to Marc Canter, Axl quit the band the afternoon on the day of the show, and was fired, too, "for good measure," but by show time the band was together [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Brendan Mullen, who owned the club the Masque, would claim Axl arrived very late for this show:

I booked GN'R at Club Lingerie. It was a chance-of-a-lifetime gig. The band set up and did a sound-check. No Axl. The band was freaking. Then, ten minutes before set time, he strolled in. They signed with Geffen immediately after..

Already in L.A. Rocks the next month, the band would discuss the fight they had gone through:

[…] we didn’t break up, we just had a long talk; sorted out a lot of shit.

There was a conflict of a lot of things and a lot of disagreements at the time of that show. I thought it was one of the worst shows we ever played. But the next day, we had to have it out. A lot of things went to our heads because this is all new to us. If we did break up, who else are we going to play with that we really value as much as we value each other. […]  After the Lingerie show, it was like starting over again. Most of us have worked together off and on. For over 3 years, we’ve exploded on each other many times, and we always come back.

Slash would later reveal that the fight had been between him and Axl and that it had been serious:

Axl and I had a fight and we were just about to break up and the only reason we did this show was because Tom Zutaut managed to get us all on stage. I stood facing my amp the whole time. I don't know how Tom managed to coral us back together to do this gig.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

During the show Axl would again thank Tom Zutaut, and now mention that he had been "helping [Axl] get through the fucking day" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007], likely referring to the band problems and Zutaut calming the waters .

At the show, Axl would also send a shout out to Dizzy Reed who had just suffered injuries in a car wreck [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


But then, just a week later, at Timber's Ballroom in July 31 (Duff claims this happened at a Fender's Ballroom gig on March 31.), it was Axl who turned up so late the band had to start without him. The band had been threatened that if they didn't start playing they wouldn't get paid [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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

In hindsight, we might have seen the seeds of later trouble being sown at this show: Axl turned up so late we had to start without him.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 119

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:19 am


In the summer of 1986 the band was struggling to find a producer for their upcoming debut album [see separate sections] [L.A. Rocks, August 1986]. To do something the band and label decided to release a limited edition "bootleg" album. This served a two-fold purpose, it kept the band occupied while they could write and rehearse, and it would help create an underground following. The work on this record started in the late summer of 1986.

The band's newsletter from July 1986 would describe this as an "independently released" limited album with the title "Guns N' Roses Bootleg Album", and that it would be released within the month [Guns N' Roses Newsletter No. 5, July 1986]. This did not happen.

Axl would also mention the upcoming release from the stage on July 11:

I wanna take a minute to tell you about something we're doing. We wanna tell you about this Geffen thing. We wanna thank you for making that happen. But, it's gonna be a long time before we are able to put this album out. We haven't been able to really give anybody here a god damn thing, so we're putting out our own album before the Geffen Album. It's gonna be on our own label, Uzi Suicide records. It's gonna have a few originals and a lot of the covers that we do, since they might not be on a later project. So some of you could get your hands on it. It's gonna be a limited edition, but I thought you might like to know that.

In August it would be described as a limited edition "bootleg" titled 'Live! Like a Suicide" [L.A. Rocks, August 1986].

The band would use recordings from the Spencer Proffer sessions for the upcoming release, and on October 31 Axl would mention that the EP was mastered:

But I'd like to tell you guys that this fucking thing that we keep promising you guys, this EP, we just had it mastered today. The artwork is done. We got to print it and package it. It will be out in a couple of weeks.
The Troubadour, July 11, 1986; from Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:45 am


The next two shows for the band were at The Scream on August 15 and at the Whisky A Go Go on August 23. They had been scheduled to play a show in Orange County on August 16, too, but "cancelled at the last minute because the gig was so far away" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

For the August 23 show at the Whisky, the band debuted 'Sweet Child O' Mine', "Mr. Brownstone' and 'Ain't Going Down' [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. This was also the first show where Slash wore his famous top hat:

This is the show where I first wore a top hat and I'll never forget it. I got the top hat that day. I was really high and the hat was great because it could help me balance.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Before playing 'Mr. Brownstone,' Axl would warn about the dangers of heroin, saying, "I think you should stay the fuck away from that bad shit" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. At the time, both Slash and Izzy had a heroin dependency that affected the band.

The band was gaining in popularity and played increasingly high-status gigs, the first was with Ted Nugent on the Santa Monica Civic Center on August 30. Before this show, Slash and Izzy had accompanied the band Jetboy to San Francisco and when they returned to Los Angeles they were late to the gig because they needed to score dope:

We came back from a trip to San Francisco, got back to our apartment and we couldn't get any dope. Danny Biral stole all my smack, but he didn't tell us and so we searched the house. We tore it to pieces looking for it, then we got really sick and our dealer wouldn't call us back. We were freaking out. So, we're getting sicker and sicker and finally one of Desi's girlfriends found some smack. She drove us down to Izzy's old apartment where this girl was staying, and we waited around until the smack showed up. We do it really quick, jump in this car and fly across town. We get to the gig and my zipper broke as we were jumping over the fence to get into the auditorium. We got there five seconds before we were supposed to walk on. Not making it would have been the worst thing because it was the biggest gig we ever did. That was a scary moment.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The show was a big success with Axl claiming that Ted Nugent tried to turn their sound down because they were rocking so hard, and also that he hit on Erin [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. L.A. Weekly said of the band, "These bangers have the chops; now, if they can only ditch some of the bombas and hollow histrionics that reduced a potentially great set to only marginal acceptability" [L.A. Weekly, September 12, 1986].

After the St. Louis riot in 1991, when Axl had attacked a fan that took photographs of him during the concert, Nugent would slam Axl, possibly in retaliation:

If I was as ugly as Axl Rose, I’d be pissed off about cameras going off in my face. But seeing as I’m handsome to the point of embarrassment, you better bring your cameras while you can! The Damn Yankees are damn photogenic! Not only that, you’re not supposed to take photos of an axle, you're supposed to grease it.

On September 5, Axl and Zutaut attended the MTV Music Awards show [L.A. Weekly, September 12, 1986].

The next couple of shows were at the Music Machine on September 13 before the band returned to the LA Street Scene Festival on September 20:

LA Street Scene was a blast.

After a long day of other bands playing, we got onstage and started playing, and the kids took that as the signal to just lose it. It was cool, we had all these skinheads throwing oil barrels and playing catch with them, tossing them across the crowd. They were tearing the stage from underneath and all kinds of stuff. After the fourth song, we had so many people onstage we didn't know who was the band or what. Well, the fire marshal shut us down, that was it. The fans, or whoever they were, were really cool. I go in for that shit. That's my big kick - the more hardcore, the more I get off on it.

We were scheduled to open for Poison, who were headlining one of the bigger stages. It was going to be our biggest high-profile gig to date, and we were ready to blow Poison off the stage. In the end we didn't even have to: we got up there and played, and everybody went nuts, climbing the scaffolding and pushing the stage to and fro in excitement. By the time we were done, the fire marshals decided to close the place down. I remember seeing Poison roll up in all their glitter, ready to go on but unable to. I was quite pleased to see them all dressed up with no stage to play.
Slash's autobiography, page 128-129

We played the Los Angeles “Street Scene” concert for 5,000 people in downtown L.A. We only got to do 4 songs before the crowd went crazy on us. […] We did a song called They’re Out To Get Me and the kids started throwing 60-gallon oil drums at the cops. The crowd went fuckin’ bananas. All these kids – punk rockers, heavy metal kids, everyone – just going nuts. If I could have said, “Tear up downtown!” all of downtown L.A. would have been rubble! But the fire marshals made us stop playing ‘cause all those oil drums were spilling liquid into the electrical system and we were gonna get fried if we stayed onstage. That would have been really heavy!

They knocked the place down and they were climbing up onstage.


Move to later section:

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

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:56 am


[Talking about the period after signing with Geffen]: And just about every single manager that we met was scared shitless of us.


While the band was trying to write new songs to fill out their LP, and planning an EP to be released before, they still needed to decide on the producer. The band had clear ideas about what they wanted in regards to producers. According to Vicky Hamilton, at the day of signing the handed a list of possible producers to Zutaut [Vicky Hamilton, "Appetite for Dysfunction", page 7].

But finding the right one was difficult. As Duff said, "Everybody wanted to take the edge off our music or to transform it into something they already understood".

One example of this was Paul Stanley who had met with the band in May but made a disastrously bad impression [see previous chapter], and Manny Charlton that resulted in 27 tracks but wasn't exactly what the band was after [see previous chapter].

The original idea had been to travel to Britain to record their debut record [Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly, June 1986; Sound Connection, July 1986] with Bill Price (Sex Pistols, Pretenders) as the producer [L.A. Rocks, August 1986], but that didn't work out, so the band continued to look for a producer in the US. Bill Price would later mix the 'Use Your Illusion' records.

At some point, Zutaut invited Tim Collins, Aerosmith's manager, to see the band play. When the band members came back to his hotel room, Collins checked into a second room to get some rest. In the morning, he learned that they had ordered $450 worth of drinks and food on his bill. He decided not to manage them [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

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

Slash wanted Jack Douglas:

As a matter of fact, at the time when we recorded Appetite for destruction, I wanted [Jack Douglas] to be our producer, but every Gunner had his say on the matter and it didn’t happen.
Hard Rock (France), October 2000; translated from French

Mutt Lange, the producer behind AC/DC's 'Back in Black' was another possibility, but he demanded $400,000 just to walk into the room (one million according to Axl in December 1987 [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]) plus a share of future earnings from the record. It was too expensive for the band. Could it be Lange that Axl was referring to in June, 1986, when he said the following: "We've been very busy with a lot of new pressures we've never experienced before. We've got to go have a meeting with some guy that's a millionaire. I don't have a cent in my pocket and I have to act like I'm more in charge than he is. That's really strange."

In this period, Axl also wanted Thomas Ray Barker as the producer [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]. Thomas Ray Barker would later be involved in the making of Chinese Democracy [see later chapter].

It was also reported that the band met with Rick Rubin, probably in early 1987, allegedly because he wanted the band to make a song for a movie [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987]. Rick Rubin would also later be rumoured to be considered as the producer for Chinese Democracy [see later chapter].

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

We recorded a couple of test tracks with different producers and [Geffen] decided it was "too radio". That was really nice to hear.

It was very hard to find someone to produce the record because some of the main producers of our favorite material from the seventies have changed their styles, their approach, or burned out, you know, or people that the record industry won't work with any more, just because they don't know what they are doing because they are too into drugs or something.

When we wrote the songs ad put the songs together we were never allowed any outside influences. It seemed like we had to make compromises or sacrifices to work with a producer that we didn't want to work with. Every manager or producer that they tried to hook us up with either couldn't deal with us or we didn't like them.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

All the other records companies and producers wanted to change us. And we're like, "fuck that! We're not going to change." Either you liked it or you didn't.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

I would play the demo for producers, who would listen and be intrigued. Then they would sort of back off and say no. Axl was very picky and this made it difficult to find a producer, because when talked to him about a bunch of different producers, he would say, "Yeah, but he made this record," or "That record was crap and I don't think I can work with him because I don't respect the fact that he made that record." You know Axl had a definite opinion on almost anyone that I brought up.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

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Post by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:38 am


After the summer, Geffen hired Spencer Proffer to help produce the next record [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108], or at least to record a demo as a test to see if the band wanted his as their producer for the record [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road, 2007]. Proffer had a talent for "fashioning a great sound" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Proffer: "I was the only guy that actually got further than the audition phase to where we actually had a contract and I made a deal to produce the whole album. […] I thought the music was cool. It had great attitude, it had great spirit, it had great energy and I smelled that it would make a major socio-cultural impact based on the fresh approach of taking the metal genre and infusing it with a lot of unique lyrical and musical elements. They had the shit that makes great rock n' roll. Axl is a great performer. Slash is a first-rate guitar player" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

They worked with Proffer at his own studio, Pasha Studios [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108], right next to Paramount Studios near Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Before starting, the band made a mix-tape of their influences which was handed over to Proffer. The tape was called "Spencer's Easy Listening" and was meant to help him in creating the sound the band was looking for [RAW Magazine, May 1989]. The work with Proffer took no more than "two or three days" [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 109].

According to Proffer, they worked together for a month:

Proffer: "We went into Pasha Studios, worked on pre-production for about a month and we started making the record. We zeroed in on four or five songs that we started arranging. I worked with them in a rehearsal studio on constructing the arrangements, the breakdowns and the vocal approaches" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Marc Canter: "[…] Spencer adjusted to their idiosyncrasies when it came to showing up late for call times or intoxicated recording sessions" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

In May 1987, it was said in an interview that they had argued "profusely" with Proffer, and "forcing him to leave the project"[RIP Magazine, May 1987], which suggests why Proffer was not used as the producer for Appetite for Destruction.

Proffer would shed some light on what happened:

Proffer: "About the time we were in the studio doing overdubs on the tracks, after we had the arrangements laid out, my wife at the time was expecting our first child. The baby was late and we set up a Caesarean section on a specific day. The band would come to the studio everyday late, drunk, stoned or somehow fucked up, one way or another. I called a band meeting a couple of days early, knowing that there would be a Caesarean and that I wanted to be at the hospital spending them time with my family. I didn't want to abrogate my responsibility to work with the band, so I said to them, "would you, on the day of the birth, show up on time? Come to the studio at noon and I'll work with you for five hours, then I'm leaving to go to the hospital to spend the evening with my newborn son. " They, of course, swore that they would. On that day, the hours passed and they didn't show. Close to five o'clock, they show up collectively. Slash came in and he couldn't wait to get to the bathroom, so he took his stick out and pissed on the wall of the studio. Axl went into the control room and he threw up on the control board and asked if I wanted to go party with him. When I refused, he told me to get fucked, forget fatherhood, and that if I left, I was an asshole. He said either work with Guns N' Roses and rock, or be a dad, but I couldn't do both. I told him to get fucked. I told them to never show up at my studio again, I walked out and called the Geffen people the next morning and told them I as out" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

This is a strong accusation from Proffer and Slash would imply that it didn't happen like this:

Slash: "I can't recall any of that. […] The songs didn't sound better than demo quality, so we didn't achieve record quality yet. We were trying to check him out and get a certain sound out of him and we moved on because we thought he didn't capture it. We didn't think that the stuff we recorded was album quality. If he thinks he fired us, I think that's bullshit. Or else, I didn't know abut it and Tom didn't tell us. That's a possibility" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Canter would confirm there had been a fight between Axl and Proffer, but not go in details, and confirm that regardless of Proffer's problems with the band, the band was not happy with the results of the collaboration:

Marc Canter: "Spencer attributes their sudden end to a confrontational moment with Axl, but for the band, Spencer's treatment of their material wasn't to their liking. They completed the Pasha demos and Tom [Zutaut] was again on the hunt for a new producer" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Despite this, Steven would later claim he loved working with Proffer [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108-109].

Although the songs were considered good enough for their debut LP, songs from the sessions with Proffer would end up on the band's forthcoming EP.
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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:25 pm


The band ended their management relationship with Arnold Stiefel from Stiefel Entertainment in June 1986 [Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1986]. Then, according to Spencer Proffer in Marc Canter's book "Reckless Road", they were managed by Randy Philips and Arthur Stevac for a while [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

In October, Alan Niven was brought in by Tom Zutaut [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007] to handle the unruly band. According to an interview from 1997, Niven was contacted already in "the summer of 1986":

[Retelling what Zutaut told him]: 'The group is so out of control that there are serious mumblings within the company that maybe it would be cheaper to drop them now before we try and make a record.' So I said at that point, 'If you need help badly, I will do what I can.'

Alan was originally meant to just help out with getting the EP Live! Like A Suicide out [KNAC, December 1986]. Niven proved to be the perfect guy:

[…] Tom [Zutaut] hired his long time associate Alan Niven to manage - i.e. control -- the day-to-day details of the band while they searched for a new producer. Like a chameleon; Alan could hang with the guys, then shape-shift into a straight-laced rep for the press or get the band out of any trouble. He kept the band away from bad influences, organized their schedules and managed the growing concerns of the record company. Although his role was more toward management, he was in tune with the sound and feel Guns N' Roses wanted to accomplish on the album and wasn't afraid to voice his opinion. The band trusted him.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Alan Niven was part of Stravinski Brothers Management, together with Doug Goldstein [Kerrang! March 1989]. Niven became their manager and Goldstein would later become their tour manager.

Geffen assigned a personal manager for us, Alan Niven. He was a big, shit-talking tough guy with a British accent. He was also currently managing the established L.A. band Great White. I know the guys were hoping for Doug Taylor or Doc McGee to manage us, because they managed huge acts like Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. But Alan was raw and hungry and we would be there for us. We all liked him. He was uncompromising and brutally driven [...] and he was gonna bust ass, get us busy, and get us to the top.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 109-110

Alan Niven was the first guy that could deal with us at face value as we presented ourselves. Without getting squeamish or bullshitting us, he could deal with Izzy and I being strung out. He could deal with Steven being Steven. Duff was always on the even-keep and then there were Axl's idiosyncrasies. […] Alan handled all of that with a shrug of the shoulders. […] And he had good ideas and we looked  at where he was coming from and how it related to the band and how it all worked. All things considered, he was just the right guy at the right time.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The band was initially very happy with Alan as their manager:

Alan does more work in one day than any of these so-called professional big-time people that we have worked with. We've got a lot of work to do, and we need work done, too. [...] we need someone doing the job.

The band would remark that one of the reasons they like him is that when “he took us out for drinks [at Barney’s Beanery], he showed us he could drink as much or more than we do" [Rock Scene, September 1987].

Although later, after having been fired as the manager by Axl, Niven would claim that he immediately got in problems with Axl:

From the very beginning my relationship with Axl was often strained. He couldn't stand the fact that I managed other acts apart from him and the group. His failure to show for the very first gig after signing a management contract rather set the tone.

The very first show with Niven as their manager was the infamous Santa Barbara gig opening for Alice Cooper [see next chapter], where Axl failed to show up on time resulting in the band having to do the show without him. This would be an ominous start to Axl and Niven's relationship.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:28 pm

OCTOBER 23, 1986

In October 1986 they were invited to open for Alice Cooper in Santa Barbara. This was the first show of Cooper's "The Nightmare Returns" tour that would continue into March 1987.

For this gig, Axl again turned up late and was unable to enter the venue. The band had to do without their singer, with Izzy and Duff trading vocals.

What happened was he, Axl, showed up later than everyone else and didn't get a backstage pass, and they wouldn't let him in. Meanwhile, we were onstage already, playing. We played the whole set without Axl, and I ended up getting really drunk and insulting the crowd. They were wondering what the hell was going on. They probably thought we were just some circus act or some-thing...

[Looking at photos in Robert John's book]: Some of the photos were really candid; and, I don’t know, it just takes me back, like when we opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers - at UCLA, I think it was – after doing that Alice Cooper gig in Santa Barbara, where Axl showed up and couldn’t get in, and we went out and played without him, and we were drinking vodka on stage and everybody threw things at us...[…] And we started threatening the crowd: “Come on, you fuckers, get up here!”

When we did that show, we were supposed to do the hour-long ride out there together, but Axl insisted on driving with his girlfriend Erin at the very last minute. We were all against it, as was Alan [Niven; manager], but Axl convinced him that there was nothing to worry about. We got to the gig; Axl was nowhere to be found, but was apparently on his way. It came time to take the stage - no Axl - so Izzy and Duff and Stave and I got out there and started playing without him. Izzy and Duff sang "Whole Lotta Rosie" by AC/DC and a few other covers. We were opening for Alice Cooper but basically that set was a drunken jam fit for a bar - except we were in an arena. It got so bad that at one point we asked the audience to sing lead and then asked if there was a lead singer in the house. We were friends with the crowd for a minute, but that quickly changed; we ended up insulting them and throwing things at them. It was ridiculous. We stayed up there for the allotted amount of time and then retreated from a totally embarrassing disaster.
Slash's autobiography, p 216-217

The night of the Alice Cooper gig, Axl showed up late again and then was unable to get into the venue. Izzy and I sang. At the time it was almost funny - though we were definitely pissed, too […].
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 119-120

In May [Steven's got the date wrong], we were given a great opportunity to do a single show with Alice Cooper in Santa Barbara. [...] On the day of the show, we all piled into our new white van (we got another one after Slash totaled the first), while Axl was just standing there, outside. We were yelling to him,"C'mon, Axl." He was all like, "Naw, I'll meet you there; some chick is gonna take me." [...] We were ready to go [on stage], but sure enough, someone was still missing. Next thing you know, we're supposed to be on in five minutes and everyone is screaming, "Where's Axl?" We stalled as long as we could, but we really had to get out there out of respect for Alice. At eight o'clock we hit the stage as scheduled. Without Axl, we just did our best and improvised. We did 'It's So Easy' and Duff sang. After that, we just performed blues jams. We would always include a blazing blues jam in our sets, so we still managed to rock out for the audience, and I don't think they felt incredibly cheated. Izzy and Duff screamed a few words here and there. Duff's tech, Mike "McBob" Mayhue, may have sung something, too. Bottom line was, without Axl present, we didn't deliver the true Guns N' Roses as promised. We just played, packed up our shit, and got out of there. Because of my worship for Alice, and my feeling about what Guns N' Roses was about, it was one of the most humiliating nights of my life.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 122-123

After the show the band thrashed their dressing room in anger:

[…] we absolutely trashed the dressing room.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 119-120

After the show the band trashed the dressing room and broke all the mirrors.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Duff would indicate that as far as Axl goes, they just vented their frustration with him and it was back to normal:

We traded some words with Axl when we found him in the parking lot afterward, but at the end of the day the situation lacked much in the way of consequences.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 119

Later on in the parking lot the band bumped into Axl. Axl asked Slash, "How much did we make?" Slash answered "the band made $500. You didn't make anything." Axl grinned and said, "That's cool."
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

But Slash and Steven would say they had indeed considered firing Axl and look for a new singer:

We got out of there immediately and drove back to Hollywood, so pissed that we talked about kicking Axl out of the band that night and looking for a new singer.
Slash's autobiography, p 216-217

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

This inability or unwillingness to solve problems within the band, especially with a band member who increasingly got the band in trouble, would remain a fixture of this lineup and would eventually cause such rife conflicts that band members would leave.


On their show on October 31, Axl would apologize for the incident:

I'd like to apologize if there is anybody here that heard the shit with the Alice Cooper show. We just fucked up. That's what happened.; as retold by Marc Canter in "Reckless Road"

Marc Canter believes it was the trashing of the dressing room and what effect it might have on Geffen Records that was the cause of apology, and not Axl missing the show [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. This is supported by Axl saying that "we fucked up".


Alice Cooper would later look back at this show, but he might be mixing up this show with some of the later shows the band did with him in 1987:

Guns N' Roses was the last great hard rock band in America. The first time I ever saw them, it was when 'Alice' was coming out of the hospital and going onstage sober for the first time. It was 1986. We were doing the Constrictor tour. This is the first time in my career that I'm gonna go onstage sober, as Alice Cooper. I'm sitting there worrying my head off. I knew that this band was going on before us. They were a local bar band at the time. They opened and they just killed the audience. So we just went on and killed the audience too. It didn't bother me that they weren't (sober). The first thing I did when I got out of the hospital was I went to a bar and had a Diet Coke 'cause I knew I'd be around people who are drinking the rest of my life. They went out with Aerosmith after that.

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Post by Soulmonster on Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:54 pm


The next show was on Halloween, October 31, at Ackermann Hall in Los Angeles together with the bands Thelonious Monster, Dickies and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Axl had previously got in a fight with Bob Forrest, the singer of Thelonius Monster, but according to Marc Canter, there were no sings of bad blood between the bands or singers [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Probably the most memorable show of this sort took place on Halloween, 1986. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were just starting their rise as a national act, and the Dickies were headlining a show at Ackerman Hall at UCLA, and we opened. We still had yet to enter the studio. We were feuding with Geffen about whether we had enough songs to warrant recording, and we still hadn't found a producer we liked. We reached a compromise with the label to put out a limited edition "bootleg" EP, Live! Like a Suicide, and we had finished it just before this show. That night we felt like we were finally making some forward motion. [...] For me, the cool thing about this show was that Black Flag's Henry Rollins watched our entire set from the wings of the stage and came up to us afterward and told us how much he liked our and. I considered him the most credible guy in rock, and he had a reputation as a guy who didn't mince words. He definitely wouldn't fawn over a band just for the sake of doing so. And we got the thumbs up. Kick ass! [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 119]
Henry Rollins attended this gig but had little positive to say about any of the bands except Guns N' Roses:

"I went to a show last night. I went to help the soundman set up his system. What shitty bands. What a poor excuse for music. I looked at the crowd all night. There was nowhere else to go. [...] The show was at a university. Those kind of shows are always a joke. There’s something about colleges that really sets me off. [...]The music, what a mess. All of it was so hollow. The opening band was called Guns n’ Roses, and they blew the headliners off so hard it was pathetic " [The Portable Henry Rollins, 1998].

"By 10-07-86, I was in Leeds, England, making my first solo album. Weeks later, I was back in Los Angeles.
Paying for my own record set me back quite a bit. Later that month, Rat Sound, who built Black Flag's PA system, called me and Black Flag roadie/friend Joe Cole, asking if we wanted to make 50 bucks each setting up the system for a show on Halloween night at UCLA. The next day, there we were, loading the same gear out of the same truck from Black Flag's last show.
Four bands on the bill that night. Chili Peppers headlining. The last band to load in was the opener. They were skinny and their gear was ragged. They had a lot of attitude. Joe Cole asked me, "Should we beat some of these hippies up?" I reminded him that we were working for them.

The doors opened, some people straggled in. The longhairs with the attitude hit the stage and their fans, all 50 of them, were up front. The singer said their first record would be out soon and started playing. Joe and I stood with the crowd and watched what sounded like the Sex Pistols incinerating Aerosmith. It was pretty damn good -- great, actually.

Joe asked me what I thought. I said they were going to be big, judging from the A&R men fluttering around the soundboard. The band was called Guns N' Roses.

It was a very memorable Halloween night
" [Los Angeles Weekly, 2013].

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