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Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:26 am


- 1979: DUFF AND "VAINS"

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:26 am



Axl was born William Bruce Rose, Jr. ("Bill Rose") in Lafayette in Indiana, USA (a "hellhole in the Midwest" as he would later describe it [Hit Parader, April 1987]), on February 6, 1962. Axl's biological parents were Sharon E. and William B. Rose [Kerrang, April 1990]. His parents married early, when Sharon was still in high school [Rolling Stone, April 2, 1992].


Just before Axl's third birthday, Sharon and William Rose divorced [Journal and Courier, January 28, 1965]. About a year later Sharon married L. Stephen Bailey [Journal and Courier, January 27, 1966], resulting in the new couple changing Axl's surname to Bailey, making his new name William Bailey.

It’s like, you know, my name was William Rose. My mom remarried and then my name was changed to Bill Bailey, William Bailey. My dad has told me that he begged my mom to change my first name, cuz he knew I was gonna get crap. I mean, imagine, you're a little kid, you know, and every place you go someone sings “Won’t you come home Bill Bailey.” I wanna cover the song. I like the song (laughs).

Sharon and William had one additional child, Amy [Journal and Courier, January 28, 1965], and Sharon and Stephen got one child, Stuart. This means that Amy was Axl's sister and Stuart his half-brother. Curiously, in Popular 1 from April 1988, Axl would be quoted as saying he has two brothers and two sisters [Popular 1, April 1988], but this is almost certainly a mistake made by the magazine.

Axl and his stepfather Stephen
Unknown copyright

Axl grew up under the belief that Stephen Bailey was his real father and not his stepfather, and would only much later learn the truth about his biological father, William B. Rose [Rolling Stone, November 1989; Rolling Stone, April 2, 1992]. See later chapters about this and how it affected Axl.

A young William Bailey.
By N/A - weheartit, PD-US

Axl would later imply he was beaten by Stephen [Daily Press, August 1986] and he would talk about how he had been at odds with his stepfather and that he later saw "the pain that [his stepfather] has to go through in dealing with the way he raised me" [Rock Scene, October 1989]. In the early 90s Axl would open up and claim that he had suffered abuse from both his biological father (William B. Rose) and his stepfather (Stephen Bailey), as well as neglect from his mother. Axl's claims about childhood abuse is discussed in a later chapter.


The household of Stephen and Sharon Bailey was very religious and as a child Axl was not allowed to listen to the radio:

We went to a country church eight miles outside Lafayette, Ind., and I sang in a trio with my brother and sister. I played piano at church. I helped teach Sunday School. I went to church three times a week: Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday evening. […] This was a holy roller, Pentecostal, hell-raising revival. We had tent sermons. People would speak in tongues, foot washings, the whole bit. […] I was an outcast little nerd, because my parents made me dress weird and forced me to get a bowl haircut. It was really embarrassing.

My parents were holy-roller pentecostals. I wasn't allowed to listen to the radio. But I made sure I won at a contest in school. I always kept it hidden. The things I went through in childhood definitely had an effect on where I'm at now. […] Now I am just sitting here reading my D-cup magazine.

[Talking about the religion of his parents]: Fanatics. Although now they’re very against what they were into at that point. Extremely against it. […] I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere, do anything. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio. It’s, like, one week you’re able to watch TV, the next week all the TVs have been sold, a month later there are TVs again – it was back and forth, you know. They couldn’t decide what was a sin and what wasn’t. Everything was so back and forth in this church.

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

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


As a kid, it was like, I was obnoxious to get attention, but I was very shy and introverted. People didn’t see that side necessarily, but that's what's there. And it's still there.

Axl's fifth grade teacher at Oakland Elementary School, Billy Johnson, would say that Axl was "very intelligent, very personable, always had a smile" and that Axl "was always a step or two ahead of you in class, if you weren't careful, he'd take the class away from you" [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991].

[Before 'Live and Let Die] You know, as a kid, I was in fourth or fifth grade. I climbed up on my desk, teacher wasn't in the room, but I forgot about the back door of the classroom. And I got up on my desk, and I went "My name is Chubby Checker! I did a little thing called the Twist!" Right there, Mr Macintosh grabbed me by the back of the neck. Wham! And I got a paddling. So, that set my attitude for life. [After Live and Let Die] Yep. Good ol' Mr Macintosh. Motherfucker. What is that, something like a 40-something year grudge?

Sue Ristau, who taught art at Jefferson High School, described Axl this way:

I would say he was active. I remember he had the class after lunch. I remember him bouncing into class. He liked art and was good in it. He could miss a lot of school and come back and still pick up and do better than the kids who had been there all the time.

Bill Lane, Axl's ninth grade science teacher would say that Axl "was one of those kids, as they say, has ants in his pants" and that he "was constantly up-down-up-down around the room, like a little ant" [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991].

Axl Rose
Unknown image copyright

When asked about his performance at school, Axl himself would say "on the placement tests in school, I was always in the top three percent" [Rolling Stone, August 1989]. It is claimed that Axl's restlessness and rebellious nature resulted in poor grades at school [Juke Magazine, July 1989], although Axl himself would said he got straight A's [Daily Press, August 1986; Record Mirror, July 11, 1987]:

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

I remember when I was in junior high and they talked about finding a goal. All these people were like, 'Yeah, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do that,' and I'd just look around and go, 'No. I ain't gonna wanna do this, I ain't gonna wanna do that.' It's all just trying to impress the teacher to get a grade. It's like doing something to get paid; if they get a good grade, they get an allowance. I was like, 'No. I wanna be in a band and I wanna do (great things)? So I got an 'F' for thinking grandiose thoughts.
Circus Magazine, January 31, 1989; from unknown 1988 interview

But Axl would also say he "dropped out in the eleventh grade, went back as a senior, then dropped out again" [Rolling Stone, August 1989] because:

I couldn't make school work for me. I was having to read books, sing songs, draw pictures of things that didn't stimulate or excite me. It just didn't do anything for me. So I dropped out and started drawing and painting at home and spending a lot of my time in the library. Basically I started putting myself through Axl's school of subjects that I wanted to learn about.

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

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


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

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


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

[Being asked if it is correct he wanted to become a lawyer at some point]: That was something, it was like my choice of whether I wanted to do music, or do school, and I picked music. My brother just graduated pre-law. Law is something that interests me, cause there's always someone that wants to sue you, so I like to know everything I can about it. So, I'll be learning as much as I can from him and maybe, eventually, one day that's something that I'll turn to, just because it's something that I want to know about.

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

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

Axl would certainly get experienced with the workings of the law and litigation later on in life.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:27 am


Izzy Stradlin was born Jeffrey Dean Isbell on April 8, 1962, and had two brothers [Rockline, January 25, 1992]. His father, Richard Clyde Isbell, an Alcoa plant worker, and his mother, a telephone operator, filed for a marriage license in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, on August 10, 1961 [LA Weekly, October 22, 2016]. They divorced in 1973 [LA Weekly, October 22, 2016]. There are indications that his father at some point moved to Pasco County, Florida [LA Weekly, October 22, 2016].

Izzy got his nickname early on, possibly while in junior high [MTV Documentary, November 1989]:

It was a nickname and it stuck. My last name is Isbell and “Izzy” was the nickname. I think my uncle had been saying “Izzy,” you know, so it was a nickname.

Izzy had his first years in Florida. His father was an engraver, his mother worked for the phone company [Musician, November 1992]. His parents divorced when Izzy was in third grade [Musician, November 1992] and he moved with his mother to Indiana [Guitar World, March 1989], "so far out in Bumfuck I could drive to somebody's house for 10 miles all on dirt road" [Musician, December 1988]. In an interview in 1998, he would interestingly claim to have been born in Lafayette, Indiana [Rock & Folk, April 1998]. He would also say his father was an insurance salesman [Rock & Folk, April 1998], so possibly his father changed professions.

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

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

Fuck you and your magazine. There’ll be no shit about me being from Indiana. It deserves nothing; it was a worthless fucking city – it’s shit. […] The fact that I’m from Indiana has no business being in my career.

Although years later, when he had moved back to Indiana, he would excuse these comments with being drunk during the interview:

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


Izzy's parents split up when he was a teenager and he moved with his mother to the slightly larger city of Lafayette [Musician, December 1988]. Talking about growing up in Lafayette:

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

Izzy Stradlin
Unknown image copyright


According to Musician, Izzy did not enjoy school, he "built a wall of fog around himself with marijuana and managed to graduate in 1979 with a D average" [Musician, November 1992]. Actually, Izzy graduated from high school in 1980, not 1979 [Courier and Journal, May 19].

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


On the autobiographic song 'Train Tracks' off his first record with the Ju Ju Hounds, Izzy would describe hanging out at the trains tracks drinking and smoking weed [Rockline, January 25, 1993].

Talking about other drug experiences:

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


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

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

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

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:27 am


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

My dad left when I was young. He retired from the fire department and then started working for an insurance company investigating fires, and that gave him a lot of free time. He married my mom back in World War II and he'd never gotten to sow his wild oats so he started doing it. I'd come home from school and he'd be in bed with some other lady. So he was gone pretty early.

My mom - and I know everyone says this - but she was a complete saint, and I still look up to all her values. We didn't grow up with a lot of money at all, and to this day I don't live lavishly. To you it might seem so, but I don't have a chef or any of that shit. I'm a dad and we don't have a nanny or anything, so I got a lot of good values from my mom. She gave me a great example to live by in my life.

I was the last of eight kids, and by the time I was 9, my parents had divorced and my mom was pretty much left to fend and provide for our household on her own. This meant that she had no other choice but to leave me with a lot of responsibility, and I just didn't rise to the occasion right away. I wish I could've been a better son in those difficult transition years for my mother. I still kick myself for some of the hell that I surely put her through. I look back now and it is obvious that I was trying to figure out where my place was in this world without a father figure to rely on as a role model at home.

My father, conversely, was trying to figure out what life was about, period. I do not blame him for anything (although I certainly did back then). He was a WWII vet who started having children with my mother when he was 18 and didn't stop until he was 38. He went straight from the war to working for the Seattle Fire Department, desperately trying to provide for what would become eight children. By the time I was in elementary school, I believe that he was simply feeling trapped and wanted to see what else life had in store for him. He never had a chance to be a kid, and in my opinion he wanted to try to get some of his youth back. He should have gone about his whole scheme in another way. My saintly mom was left "holding the bag," and we eight brothers and sisters cherish the memory of this amazing and strong woman. Marie Alice McKagan endured this all with a lion's heart, a scholar's intellect, and lots of patience, of that I am sure.

I've met all the McKagans. There are certainly, there's a whole slew of them, and they are the best family. People would always ask me, "What's Duff like?" He's like anybody you went to high school with. And his family, just fantastic family. I knew the mother, just a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful lady.

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

Well, yeah, it was my nickname from when I was born. Because, you know, my mom would yell “Michael,” any mom would yell “Michael” out of the front door, and you’d see twenty kids come running. […] And “Duff” is a very common Irish nickname.

I hate the name Mike! I love Michael, but I grew up in an Irish family, in an Irish neighbourhood, and ‘Duff” is a pretty common nickname. Like Duff’s tavern, Duffy O’Toole. Also, there were so many kids - six next door and we had eight - that on this block it was ridiculous. The McKagans, the Harveys, the O’Neills, all these Irish catholic families with tons of kids. So if someone yelled out, ‘Michael’ you’d see about five people come running.

In 1991 Duff would say he hated the "Duff" nickname [Circus Magazine, November 1991]. He also had the nickname "Rose":

That was to differentiate myself from all the other Duff McKagans running around!


Duff attended Roosevelt High School but dropped out of tenth grade [Circus Magazine, November 1991]:

After I got into music a bit, the whole attitude came in and it grew more distant every month. It started in junior high. My friend and I played and learned together, and slowly drifted apart from our peer group. By ninth grade, I was totally outcast, big time, from the norm. I quit school in 10th grade, got my GED, pursued music, played clubs and got home at three in the morning. I felt different from everyone. No better, but different in my ambitions.

I'm still a kid as far as my attitude and the way I live. But my childhood—I started real early. With seven older brothers and sisters, they had already gone through the hippie revolution and everything. Pot was around me since the first or second grade. I smoked for the first time in fourth grade and tried acid in sixth grade. No big deal. I went through a huge drug period. I was more mature at 15 than most kids, and by 17, I had gone through all the drugs I would ever want to take. I didn't miss any childhood, I just sped up the process.

I got great grades and was in the gifted program and all that shit and I learned all I needed to learn. So I got my GED and dropped out of tenth grade.

I told my mom, 'I can't go to school. I've learned what I need to learn. I just want to get on the road.' After having seven other kids, she's like, `Okay, whatever you want to do.'

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

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

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

But eventually he became a pastry chef to earn a living:

I worked all through my teens, too. I wasn’t- [...] I didn’t make any money from music, so I did construction, I was a cook and I actually became a pastry chef, because I worked in a bakery for so long that I moved up and became an actual pastry chef. I had cards that had my name and said “pastry chef” and the restaurant’s name. So I could really get a job in any restaurant I wanted to.

Talking about the various jobs he had:

[...] doing construction for a real asshole, dishwashing, and as a cook for five years. The worst jobs are the ones where you work under people who don't realize you're a person. If I was a boss, I'd give leeway to let my employees know they're somebody. My ambition, way down the road, is to be a bartender/owner of a place in New Orleans. [...] will have a special padded table for Slash, cheap beer and good rock 'n' roll! Simple things; nothing fancy. Just a place where people can hang out and drink. With a big guy at the front to beat the crap out of anybody who needs it!

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

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

I'm not saying I'm the world’s greatest skier, but at least I made the team.

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

Another hobby of his was car-theft, and according to Life Magazine he stole a total of 133 cars [Life Magazine, December 1992].

Well, I had the aptitude for [crime]. I was a good criminal in that I never got caught. As teenagers, we’d steal anything. Boats, cars, you name it… I must have stolen over 100 cars. I just liked stealing. I was never into things like arson. That was too creepy for me.

In the daylight hours, I would take the bus anywhere and everywhere that I had to be for band practice or my new job as a dishwasher, etc. When it got dark, though, Abe and I began to hone our craft as burgeoning car thieves.

I remember clearly the first car we, um, borrowed. It was a 1963 VW Bug. It all seemed innocent enough at first. It was 2 a.m., and we were stuck without a ride home at some punk-rock party in deep Ballard. It being Seattle and all, of course it was raining and cold. Abe and I only got about 10 blocks into our seven-mile walk when it dawned on us to try stealing a car and driving ourselves the rest of the way home. We had heard of a simple and easy way to trip an ignition on any and all pre-'64 Bugs, but had never put our knowledge to the test. We soon found our car, and clumsily broke in a wing window with a jackboot. Once we got the car started, we both realized that neither one of us knew how to drive a car, let alone one with a clutch. We found out the hard way that first gear can indeed get you from point A to point B, seven miles away, albeit slowly!

When you are a kid, the lust for being of driving age is nothing short of intoxicating. Abe and I discovered after our first night in the stolen VW that we no longer had to wait until we were 16 years old to have access to a car. We began to sharpen our tactics and skill as car thieves—even studying new ways to hot-wire Peugeots and Audis. Sometimes we even held onto certain cars for a week or more, parking them in rich neighborhoods where the police would be less likely to look for a stolen vehicle.

On top of this, it was at times the things we found INSIDE these cars that would lead us to further criminal activities outside the car-stealing racket. Once we found a large set of keys that had only an address attached to them. This address was a large laundromat, and the keys were to the lock-boxes that held all of that particular day's change intake (hundreds of dollars a day, which to us was a fortune).

Our exploits began to garner attention from older, savvier criminals. The newspaper began to run stories of things we were involved in, and this is when I began to see only a dire ending for myself—jail or worse. It was time to get out. Besides, at this point my music career began to get more serious, and I met a girl. I was done.

Duff started experimenting with drugs at a young age and "smoked pot by Grade 4 and snorted cocaine by Grade 7" [Music West by 3-D, 1997].

I started smoking pot at a REALLY young age: 4th grade, to be exact. I took my first drink at 10 and tasted LSD for the first time at 11. These things were so new in the '70s, and there just wasn't the huge stigma and general warnings about child drug use. We were just experimenting, that's all.

[Being asked his earliest drug memory]: Probably getting too high on mushrooms. In Seattle you can pick mushrooms wild just walking home from school. This one time I ate too many, went to band practice - and saw Mt St Helens explode in front of me! I saw fucking trolls coming out of my heart and shit. I was freaking out. But I had my ticket to this lggy Pop show that night and I wasn't gonna let go of it. So I walked ten miles to the show, and when lggy came on I just focused on lggy and he got me down off that mushroom high!

Later he would claim to have been a junkie:

We lived in a port city and a lot of heroin comes through there and it became an epidemic. My roommate was a junkie, my girlfriend was a junkie and I was.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:28 am



I was "conceived" in France. In fact, my mother took me to England before I was born, but my fetus was born in France!
Hard Force [French], October 8, 1987; translated from French

Slash was born Saul Hudson in Hampstead near Stoke-On-Trent in England on July 23, 1965 [The Independent, July 17, 2011], and has a 5 years younger brother called Ash (born Albion [Let There Be Talk, August 29, 2013]), to parents Anthony and Ola Hudson [Guns N' Roses Interview Disc, June 1988]. He was named after illustrator and cartoonist Saul Steinberg [Zeit Online, March 17, 2019].

I think [Steinberg]'s fantastic. But of course I had no say in my name. Steinberg was one of my father's favorite artists, so I knew his work very well. But for a long time I didn't know that he was the one I was named after. At first it was said that I was named after King Saul. When my father told me about Steinberg, everything suddenly made a lot more sense.

Ola made her living in Los Angeles and the couple travelled back and forth between USA and England, resulting in Slash growing up with his grandparents Sybil and Charles Hudson in Blurton [The Independent, July 17, 2011].

Slash's uncle, Ian Hudson, would talk about Slash in his early years:

He came to Blurton to live with his gran because he needed an education.

You see, I remember Saul – as he was then – as this boisterous little guy who lived with my mum and dad, Cybil and Charles, in Consett Road, Blurton, and went to the local primary school.

Saul was very close to his dad, adored his auntie Mabel and loved drawing. He was a very gentle boy really, and there was certainly nothing to indicate that he would become a hard rock musician or join a band.

He was a very energetic young lad and more than a few times called into the headmistress's office at school. He wore denim trousers and a corduroy jacket and had this thick head of hair, so girls were keen on him and the lads right jealous. But he was a gentle, loving, nice boy.

Slash would reminisce about growing up in England:

[Growing up in England was] great—an entirely different atmosphere, different set of morals as far as things considered important. L.A. has everything. In Northern England, there's a difference in what's held in high regard. It's a lot tougher there; school is different. I fought a lot when I was real young. I'm usually calm now. Moving to L.A.—the transition—when you're young, you take in so much, it's just another experience.

[Recalling his first memory]: My grandmother in England dragging me to church on Sunday mornings in the fall and shuffling through the leaves, knowing I had no choice.

[Talking about his first years in England]: I don’t remember the name of the street that I lived on, but I just have really fond memories of my grandparents and my uncles and aunts. They were just wonderful. The neighborhood that I lived in, everybody lived in the same part of the village, though, and then I had to go to school around the corner, which was, I would get up in the morning and the fog was so thick that you couldn’t see across the street. I walked to school and we had the lollipop guy? (laughs).

I had a good time in England. And then my grandmother was an amazing cook, except for – she actually made, like, the most amazing pies, and my aunt would come over and they would just do that all day. So on the weekends that was, like, a big deal. I’m just shooting from the hip here, you know. And that was basically it. I remember there was... my dad and I used to take these walks across where, you know, the cows – some pasture and stuff, and it was real peaceful. It was a very tight community.

As far as school goes, I just didn’t fit in the school there because I had long hair. [...] I had long hair and I had, you know, basically jeans, and t-shirts, and all that kind of stuff. And I was into drawing. So, like, the regular sort of curriculum for the average boy was- [...] It was out of my way. And I was a little drummer boy for the Christmas play, like, four times in a row.

I have fond memories of Stoke. I remember never being able to see across the street because of the weather. Walking to school was like stumbling around like a blind man. No, it was a very tight community, everyone knew each other. My grandmother made great mince pies, and my dad would take me for long walks in the countryside. I loved it.

I grew up in Stoke-on-Trent. We moved to Los Angeles when I was five years old. My memories of Stoke are cosy: my aunt and grandmother making mince pies and my grandfather being an old-fashioned fire chief. The thing I missed most when I left the UK was that there was no lollipop lady in LA.

I have very vivid memories, it's funny. I had a wonderful childhood in Stoke. I have memories of my family, and taking the train to London with my dad – and going to the museums, and the zoo.

I grew up in - well, I started out in Stoke-on-Trent in England, which is a pretty small, close-knit little town, village. And I was weaned on music in Stoke, I'd say that was where my big introduction to rock and roll came from. My dad - and this was 1965, ‘66, ‘67, my dad and his two brothers, my dad was the middle of two brothers, and they were all hardcore music enthusiasts, like, super rock fans, rock critics… You know, it's hard for me to verbalize that kind of a thing, but they were just really, really passionate about it. And so, from as early on as I can remember, I was listening to The Kinks, and The Yardbirds and The Stones, and a lot - my dad really loved The Who, so that was a big one. And then, you know, there was The Beatles and Gene Vincent and Moody Blues and…  god, I'm probably leaving something out. Donovan, I think, was in there. But anyway, so that's what I was sort of raised on. And, you know, Stoke was great. My dad and I used to take the train into London a lot and sort of hang out in this sort of bohemian ‘60s kind of thing that was going on. My dad was very much an artist and had been going to art school, and all that kind of stuff before I came along. So we had a lot of beatnik friends around London that we used to hang out with. It was very sort of communal. And you could just show up at somebody's doorstep and just crash there. It was pretty cool. Anyway, and then my mom being American, living in Los Angeles, we eventually - I think I went back to L.A. when I was one years old, I don't really remember that. But then I went back to London, or back to Stoke, and went to school and all that.

And also his early music inspirations:

The funny thing about it for me is I was raised in a guitar-laden environment and never knew it. I was turned on to rock ’n’ roll from the very get-go, because my dad and his brothers were all big rock fans and we were all living in England. All I heard was the Who, the Stones, the Kinks, the Yardbirds, and some Moody Blues in there. My dad said, “The most important part of the song is the guitar break.” I was surrounded by that.

I was born in Hampstead, London, and my dad was a huge rock 'n' roll fan. His brothers, too. I was weaned on the Who and the Yardbirds, the Stones and the Beatles, the Moody Blues—everything that was going on over there. My dad and his brothers were very hardcore.

In 2008, Slash would talk about his British family:

My aunt Christine, my dad’s brother's wife, well her daughter - if you're following this - contacted me by e-mail through my fan site. She said, "My name’s Sarah Hudson, I'm a relative..." and I was like, "Wow!" Anyway, she brought me my family tree, all the Hudsons on the English side of my family, going back to about 1790. [...] they were all mill workers and shit. Hardcore working-class people that never left Stoke. It got me thinking about my place in life, about who came before me and who will come after me. Sarah put all these old photographs of Stoke in there, too. It's awesome.

Talking about what he remembers from England:

The fucking weather. Even when I was little, I was thinking, "There's got to be somewhere better." I knew there must be sunshine somewhere.

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

Slash as a child


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

My dad, who actually still lives here in L.A. - his dad was a fireman. His name is Charles – Charles and Sybil, right? Anyway. Out of the three brothers, Ian, David and Tony – Anthony, my dad is Anthony, and he was the one that got into the rock ‘n’ roll thing, him and David did. So got turned onto the Who, the Moody Blues, the Stones, and the Beatles in Stoke. My dad and my grandfather did not get along because my dad was a tearaway; he went to art school instead of becoming a fireman, or becoming a lawyer, or whatever it was that my grandfather wanted him to do. So those guys were constantly at each other’s throats. My mom was an American black lady, right? Which, to actually tell you the truth, they loved her to death - it’s just my dad and my grandfather. Anyway, so my dad got in the art direction business, so I was constantly going back from Stoke to London; and that’s more or less where I was headed anyway. If I’d stayed in England, I’d still would have been involved in the music business, because that’s where my dad was and that’s where my mom was. We ended up in America, because my mom had a clothing store here and she serviced a lot of musicians. And my dad knew that this was the place to come to really be successful at that particular point in time, which was the latter part of the 60s - to be real successful in what was becoming a booming industry, which was rock ‘n’ roll. So he hooked up with Geffen – it wasn’t Geffen Records yet, it was Geffen & Roberts, a management company – and started doing album covers here. So when he left England, it was for two reasons: one to become successful, two to be just a rebel against his grandfather [=father] who was very old traditional type of guy. So I moved to L.A. and I kept commuting back and forth. Then, finally, we stayed permanently and took up a residence in Los Angeles. So, one way or another, if I hadn’t moved to Los Angeles, I’d probably been in London. If I’d stayed in Stoke, I’d probably been a farmer (laughs).

But when we’re talking about my northern England upbringing and so on, when my dad left, we never kept in touch – he sort of made it so that we never communicated with that side of my family the whole time I lived here. You know, my mother might have wanted me to, but he would just never give up the information. He had a very bitter thing against his dad, my dad.

Anthony was a graphic designed who designed album covers, including Joni Mitchell's 'Court and Spark' [Musician, December 1990] and John Lennon [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

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

Ola was a clothing designer who made David Bowie's suits for 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' [Musician, December 1990] as well as outfits for Lennon, Diana Ross, the Pointer Sisters [Rolling Stones, January 1991] and Chaka Khan [Blast! April 16, 1988].

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

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

But my parents, like I was saying, with all the freedom that I was given, as far as certain morals and certain character – you know, a lot of that that was instilled in me, there was a lot of right and wrong that sort of came natural for them to sort of instill in me, which was really great. I think there was sort of a mutual respect thing, almost like treating me on the same level as they were. It was interesting. I mean, I used to call them by their first names.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Slash was 6, the family moved to Los Angeles [The Irish Examiner, August 15, 2014], and his parents split up when he was 10 or 11 [The Irish Examiner, August 15, 2014].

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

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

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

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

I don't remember much of my time in England and I don't think I'm carrying anything typically English. It's not something I'm aware of anyway.

[…] I don’t feel so British. I was really very young when my family moved. We came back a few times to visit the relatives, but it doesn’t mean much to me.


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

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

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

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

My childhood was tumultuous. My parents separated when I was eight, both of them were living pay cheque to pay cheque, and it was an artistic environment with one and then two kids [Slash’s brother Ash was born in 1972]. We never lived in any place more than a year. I went to every school in LA. Plus I was British, I was half black, I had long hair and wore jeans and rock T-shirts . . . where did I fit in?

And then at some point when I was a little older, we moved permanently to Los Angeles, which was pretty much a culture shock for me, because it was way busier, obviously ten times bigger than Stoke, and really, really energetic and electric. I remember that very much.

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

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

My mum started working with David professionally at first. I'm pretty sure that’s how it started. Then it turned into some sort of mysterious romance that went on for a while after that. She did his wardrobe for his whole Thin White Duke period and The Man Who Fell To Earth movie that he did. She did all that and he was around for a while. He was always over – they were always together. I caught them naked once. They had a lot of stuff going on, but my perspective was limited. Looking back on it, I know exactly what was going on. When I look back on that whole combination of people, I can only imagine how freaky it was.

A few days after that latest quote, Slash felt the need to comment upon what he had said:

That was a very casual conversation with somebody on the phone in Australia that I had no idea was gonna get blown up. It became this big headline, and it was very awkward. I'm embarrassed 'cause I'm sure David didn't appreciate it. And my mom — rest in peace — probably wouldn't have dug it either. All it was, was they dated for a while, which is common knowledge, and all I said was there was one occasion where I happened to walk into the bedroom when they weren't fully dressed. That was it. It wasn't anything more lewd to that.

For more on David Bowie and Guns N' Roses, see later chapter.

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

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


Slash did not enjoy school much and did not fit in:

Yeah, it doesn’t seem like anything, but in the general scheme of things, all through school in England and all through school here in the States, I didn’t fit in at all, because my whole upbringing was completely different than the average kid whose parents might have been, like, doctors or... - in L.A. at least, not in England. In England everybody was working class, but in the States they tried to keep me in, like... Not my dad, my dad never really promoted school. He taught me how to read - I didn’t learn from school how to read. I still can’t do fuck all with math, because I never adjusted – and he can’t either (laughs).

So I went to sort of an upper class elementary – a whole bunch of upper class elementary schools. My mom was so persistent about me having a good education (gulps) – I can’t even say the word – a good education, and then she put me in, like, a French private school at one point, you know?

As a child you don't really have anything to compare your own life to. But when I look back, I'm happy to have grown up in such an artistic environment. However, I went to a public school most of the time - I never really fit in because I didn't come from a typical mainstream American family.

Being asked if he wanted to be more like other kids:

That's hard for me to say. I always had long hair and walked around in jeans and T-shirts, never in Lacoste shirts like others. But I also remember that when we moved to the US, I tried really hard to get rid of my English accent.

Talking more about mathematics:

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

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

I was actually in a class for kids who we're a little screwed up (laughs).

Slash in 7th grade

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

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

When I was 12, I sneaked out one night to Hollywood Boulevard. I was standing in front of this hamburger stand, where a crowd had gathered, and this crazy guy on acid or something decided he was gonna beat everybody up. And he went after the wrong guy and he got knifed. He was just laid out on the sidewalk - and I've been here ever since.

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

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

In 1991, Slash's mother would soften the image of Slash more or less living on the streets:

I’ve been shocked at a lot of things I’ve read where it sounds like I left him on somebody’s doorstep in a basket. They make it seem as if he never had a family and grew up on the streets like an urchin, but that’s not true. It’s just part of his image. He’s not all leather and tattoos.

Slash would also comment on this:

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

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


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

I had long hair, and the schools I went to were filled with kids of bankers and real-estate agents. It wasn’t like any of them came from the same background I had.

And it was just like, I just did not fit in. I tried really hard to a certain point, and then, as soon as I started playing guitar, I just sort of, slowly but surely, gave up. I ditched the whole 7th grade, part of the 8th grade, and sort of just got by in the 9th grade. Then I went to high school and left in the 11th grade.

And as I got older, at some point we moved out of Laurel Canyon, started moving into Hollywood. And it was the kind of family where we lived very much paycheck to paycheck. We moved a lot. I went to a lot of different schools. It was very... it was a fun lifestyle, but not stable, you know? So, when work was good, you ate well and when work wasn't good, you know, you're struggling and I remember that a lot. And going to a lot of different fucking schools and never really fitting in at all, because I was sort of pretty much the same as I am now but minus the nose ring and the top hat. So I just did not fit into conventional sort of student curriculum and, you know, I still had the English accent, which I worked very hard to get rid of because that was one of the things that made me extremely different than the average kid in elementary school. So it was, you know, an interesting kind of life in all ways, but still around a lot of music and around a lot of art, and so on. And then I picked up the guitar when I was… I guess the summer that I was 14 years old and turned 15. I remember that pretty well. And then at that point I didn't give a shit about trying to deal with school anymore.

But as he started to play the guitar he went from being a "loner who never had many friends" to become more popular [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

Some of the jobs he had to take to sustain himself was in "theatres, newsstands" and "in a place that made clocks" [Circus Magazine, May 1988; Metal Edge, January 1989], and as a "recording studio assistant" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

[Talking about the newsstand where he had worked]: It was at a place called Centerfold on Fairfax Avenue, near Melrose — the place with all the crazy letters on it. That was my last job. It's the only job I ever got fired from because I was on the phone all the time, try­ing to get band business done because I used to do all the business for the band in those days—the gigs, promotion. So I'd be on the phone all night long. I worked the late shift, so the boss usually wasn't around. But he started to call, and the phone would be busy for like half an hour. So I finally got canned, I moved out of this apartment I was living in with this girl named Alison. She also worked at the newsstand. She was this real cool chick, and she let me stay in her apartment for like $100 a month.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

[Describing what he would have done if he didn't become a musician]: I'd probably be doing something that had to do with art and wouldn't be a nine-to-five thing. I just can't do that mundane sort of every day thing. It would have to be something where I could make my own schedule.

The last job I had was in a music store and I got fired. I worked other jobs too. One job I never even showed up at because I found out Motley Crue was recording in L.A. so I went to hang out outside the studio.

I was trying to stay in school and then I had to get a full-time job to support the- [...] My habit, yeah. Guitar strings and so on. And I got to such a low point in school that I just said, you know, “Fuck it, I don’t want to do it anymore.” So I started working, like, completely full-time to support my guitar habit, and I did that all the way up until... realistically all the way up until Axl and I first met. [...] I had a full-time job even until Guns started. [...] The last one I had was a newsstand. On Fairfax (laughs). That was my last job and the only job I ever got fired from; and the only reason for that was because I was on the phone scamming gigs for Guns when we first started (laughs).

I had a lot of jobs. I started working when I was 11 years old. I had - by anyone's standards - a pretty intense paper round that covered a huge chunk of the LA metropolis. On a bicycle! I worked  in news stands, movie theatres and guitar stores; I used a darkroom, printed up shit and hammered crap. I got fired from my last job for using the phone too much. I was booking all the gigs. This was before call-waiting and my boss couldn't get through. I was paid $4 an hour.

[Laughs] Yeah, that’s where I used to sell tickets… to customers at work. People would come in and I’d sell Troubadour tickets.

I got nabbed [shoplifting] at Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard, which was my parents’ favorite record shop. I was hired at the very same store six years later in the video division, and during every shift for the first six months, I was convinced someone was going to remember that I’d been caught stealing and have me fired.

Describing himself in late 1988:

I'm pretty much shy and quiet. But I am short-tempered. I like to read. I like to draw. That's probably a real contrast to what's been written about me so far.

In October 1987 as GN'R was touring in England, they passed near where Slash's grandparents were living and they hadn't seen him since he was 11. When asked if they'd be shocked to see him, Slash replied, "Probably not, cause the rest of my family is pretty wackos" [Super Channel, October 1987].


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

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


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

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

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:29 am


Steven Adler, birthname Michael Coletti, was born in 1965, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Michael Coletti and Deanna.

Steven's parent divorced when he was three months old:

Divorce is never an easy matter. The adults go on with their lives but what about the children? I don’t feel sorry when someone tells me they’re getting divorced! I just feel bad for the children involved. They are the ones that suffer. I remember when I got divorced from my first husband. I was glad because I was very unhappy with my situation. At the time my oldest son kenny was three years old and Steven was three months old. I can still remember kenny looking up at me with a very sad look on his face and asking me “ when am I going to see my daddy” I told him I don’t know! I wanted him to come see the children but he didn’t want to have anything to do with us. They never saw their father again. Like I say it’s the children that suffer! When Steven was 13 years old we were driving in the car and all of a sudden he said to me I know why you and my real father got divorced. He then went on to tell me it was his fault! I explained to him that it had nothing to do with him, to please not feel like that. So now I find out that for the past 13 years Steven has been blaming himself for my divorce and for his father not coming to see him! Again this is what I mean when I say its the children who suffer the most.
Dianna Adler's blog, May 18, 2012[/url]

He had an older brother, Kenneth/Kent, and a younger brother, Jamie [Metal Edge, January 1989; Circus Magazine, October 1991]. Deanna remarried to Mel Adler, and Michael was renamed Steven Adler.

The family moved to Los Angeles in 1972 [Kerrang! March 1989; Circus Magazine, October 1991].

I’ve been a fan of music since the age of 4 when I heard my first album, which was Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The song was “Working My Way Back to You.” There was something that clicked in my heart and in my soul. The sound of the guitar, and the groove of the drums, and Frankie’s voice. My grandma used to tell me that when we were driving around I would turn the radio up pretty loud and I’d just be dancing and singing in the back seat.

Talking about seeing Kiss in concert:

Holy shit. I was 13 years old, it was so exciting; not only did we get to see Kiss—there were only 2,000 people, it was at [Los Angeles amusement park] Magic Mountain—but we got to go on all the rides for free. It was just a really exciting time for me. It put in my mind and heart what I wanted to do with my life.

But becoming a musician hadn't been his first choice:

At first, I wanted to be a professional football player, but I hurt my foot—I got it caught in the spokes of my brother’s bicycle. So that ruined the football thing. Then I wanted to be a stuntman, but you had to be really good at gymnastics, so you had to go to school to do that. But I didn’t want to go to school [laughs], so that did it for gymnastics. So I went to the Kiss concert and said, “That’s what I want to do.”

Steven as a child
Unknown image copyright

Steven was thrown out of his house when he was eleven:

Like, my parents threw me out of the house when I was 11, and that's a terrible thing, but if they hadn't I wouldn't have met Slash. So there's always that 'but.'

And at 16, Steven was living with a foster family:

In 1981 Steven was 16 years old and was sent to a foster home, [...] that first night the foster mother called me and said “she can’t understand why he was there he was so sweet and kind.” I told her I was glad she thought that and to call me tomorrow morning and let me know how he is doing . The next morning she called and started screaming that she wanted Steven out of her house. Seems he stole some beer out of the refrigerator and started picking fights with her own children. I told her welcome to my world. This was age 16!
Dianna Adler's blog, September 15, 2012[/url]

Talking about his relationship with Slash:

At school there was this three story building, and there was a metal rail around the balcony there, I used to sing this little song, King Tut, it was called, and it went like this, King Tut...God works in mysterious ways, well, me and Slash used to climb out on to that rail, three floors up, and we sang King Tut as loud as we could, we had this really nice young teacher, and when she saw us we hopped down, really laughing, and we ran down the hall and ditched school. After that we'd ditch school nearly every day. Me and Slash would walk up and down Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards, and each day we had this thing where we'd take a different type of alcohol, and we'd walk up and down, and what we'd be talking about was how we'd be living when we were rock and roll stars, it was like this dream that I always knew would come true.

According to Steven, both he and Slash would have sex with women for drugs and alcohol, and Steven would also occasionally prostitute himself to men:

We'd go out and meet chicks- older women- who would take us back to their Beverly Hills homes. They'd give us booze, coke, they'd feed us, really. All we had to do was fuck them. Occasionally a guy would pick me up. In return for a blowjob, I'd get a little dope and maybe 30 or 40 bucks.

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

I just always wanted to do things my way. I bought my first or second drum set for $1,100 when I could have gone to Guitar Center and bought a standard set for $250. I ended up just using three of the eight drums that I bought. It was a Tama drum set, like the one the drummer of Triumph used at Ozzfest. I got it at a music store in Granada Hills, and used my paychecks to pay for [it] from when I was a busboy, 7-Eleven employee, an employee at a computer chip warehouse. Me and my girlfriend Lisa used to sell candy at parades, or popcorn at the Rose Bowl.

Talking about early drumming practising:

I would practice at different parks; there’s a dog park up on Mulholland and Laurel Canyon, I’d go up and set my drums up there. I’d play with anybody, anywhere. I just knew every time I hit that drum, I got that much better. That’s all I cared about. I’m here to show all the underdogs you can survive and you can succeed—you just gotta believe in yourself.

And learning from watching other drummers perform:

When I was 11 or 12, I was hanging out at a club called the Starwood. The staircase went up to the dressing room, and if you stood at the top of the staircase and looked down you’d see right behind the drummer. I learned from watching what they were doing. “Oh, that’s what they did to make that beat.”

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

The first record I remember ever putting on was "Working My Way Back To You, Babe" by The Four Seasons. I love The Four Seasons, man! I met 'em all! I got to meet Frankie Valli in Las Vegas once. Mr. T was there and it was the best! I been into The Four Seasons since I was five years old.

I'm pretty down-to-earth. I really don't care too much about causing problems for other people. I just want to do my own thing and if I can help somebody, I'll do what I can. I'm just a nice guy, I guess. I have no enemies... that I know about. I like to take it easy when I have the chance. I like to relax.

Steven was completely self-taught and his drumming idols were Roger Taylor of Queen, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Keith Moon of The Who and jazz drummers Gene Krups and Buddy Rich [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

I never took a drum lesson in my life. I learned from watching and listening very closely to other drummers. That plus wanting it real bad and believing in myself.

If Steven wasn't a musician he would have loved to become an actor [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

Before the success of GN'R, Steven would have lots of "goofy" jobs: Mopping bowling alley lanes, sweeping floors, washing dishes, waiting on tables, warehouse worker, paperboy [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988]. He would also list "dishwasher, bowling alley janitor, busboy, pizza maker, lawn mower, and warehouse worker" [Metal Edge, January 1989].

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:30 am


As young, Axl quickly became interested in music and found the emotions expressed in music alluring, despite his family's religious limitations on what was regarded as acceptable music.

It wasn't necessarily the words in the songs but the melody and the feelings expressed in songs that somehow became a friend of mine when l was a child. The feeling that came out of the words, or the music, became my friend, my understanding friend, and then I knew that l could feel that way. I was denied feeling any way other than how my stepfather told me l should feel continually, about anything and everything. But in music, I could listen and realize you could feel other ways or new ways; it was O.K., because here were manifestations of those other feelings. […] Anyway, music became my ally. A lot of times it was music in my head, because l wasn't really allowed to listen to the radio. […] l was allowed to listen to the radio on Sunday afternoons sometimes. My dad would put it on, because l think that's when he and Mom had their special time together, and we had to take our naps; they would put on the radio so we wouldn't overhear anything. But rock n' roll was a bad and evil thing. l remember once I was singing a Barry Manilow song, "Mandy," In the back seat of the car. It came on the radio, and I kind of sang with it, and I got smacked in the mouth because that song was "evil."

He found ways around his stepfather, though:

Music was my best friend. It was everything, so I'd find ways to listen to it. I remember once my friend Dave [Lank] called me and played Supertramp over the phone. I just acted like I was talking to him so no one would know.

At the age of five, he started playing piano because his stepfather regretted not having learnt it when he was a child:

I've been playing piano my whole life. I took lessons, but I only really played my lesson on the day of the lesson. All week long, I'd sit down at the piano and just make up stuff.

My dad wanted me to play piano because he felt that he wished he could have and wished he would have taken time as a kid to learn how, because as he was older he knew he had too many things to do and he would never get into it.

Instead of practicing his piano lessons, Axl would get sheet music for Elton John and The Queen and practise their songs without his family realizing it:

I was way influenced by Elton John. I got all his sheet music as a kid and everything, and figured, “Wow, this stuff is pretty technical. I can't play it, but I'll learn how to fake it real good” (laughs). So, it's like, instead of doing, like, you know, five finger things on the left hand I learned how to do octaves killer. That's a lot easier (laughs).

It all started with gospel - I started getting interested in it in the ‘70s - and also with everything I heard on my famous radio. One night I discovered Queen. They had what rock 'n' roll wasn’t supposed to have: technique. They were a perfect combination of technique and rock 'n' roll. I read about them, and their tours, and their great success in Japan. I got piano sheet music of their songs, and, since my parents were clueless, when they forced me to practice, I could play what I wanted, like Queen, the Beatles and the Stones. They thought I was practicing my daily lesson and had a satisfied smile on their face.
Popular 1, April 1988; although interview from October 1987; translated from Spanish

Umm, I can really only play my own songs. And… I really don't have the time to practice a whole lot. I'm hoping to… you know, get a piano and take on the road, and work with more often. Umm… I started playing when I was really little, kind of forced to. Umm, something my father wanted me to do, 'cause he regretted that he hadn't taken piano lessons. But, they didn't really know anything about music, so they couldn't tell if I was doing my lesson, or not. So, I didn't really pay attention to my lessons. I only played my lessons for the teacher. When I went in, basically, I had to sit down at the piano for a half hour to… whatever. Sometimes I'd sit there for a couple of hours and I just make up things. I think I could have… you know, learned how to be a lot better if I had been more dedicated. But there was, you know, so many crazy things going on in my household, that I didn't really need to be doing any extra-work like that. And it was hard to stay dedicated to something. But I did like sitting down and just trying to express the way I felt with the piano there. And it was also kinda like, while I was playing the piano, I wouldn't really be bothered by anything else going on in the family 'cause: "He's working on his piano now". So, I wouldn't be bothered by any of the problems or have to do more work, or be worried about getting yelled at, as long as I was on the piano. But, in the seventies, when I started playing rock n' roll… umm, my dad started getting a little wise when I was playing Led Zeppelin stuff on the piano, and he wasn't very happy with that.

But then my dad would like smack the crap out of me because I'd be on, because I'd be playing the song on the piano, right, but then, like all of a sudden I'd go, "du-du-du-du, du-du-du-du" and then he'd "what?" because he didn't know what I was doing and I'm playing, I'm playing the drums, you know, on the piano on the top of the piano, "what are you doing to the piano?"

That Axl preferred making up his own stuff is corroborated by Gary Branson, Axl's high school choir teacher:

He was an interesting kid who wanted to write new songs on the piano instead of what we were trying to do.

Axl also sang gospel songs while attending church ceremonies:

I started playing the piano when I was five, and I sang, alone or with my siblings, in a church outside the town. I went to church five days a week. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio there. I started listening to Elvis and gospel music, because that was what my dad had in his record collection and what he allowed me to listen to. If he caught me listening to something else, he would beat me up, because he said it was the devil's thing.
Popular 1, April 1988; although interview from October 1987; translated from Spanish

I’ve been singing since I was five years old. I sang in church from the age of five until I was 15. It was a Pentecostal holy roller church, eight miles out in the country. I played the piano in church. I even taught bible school one year. Then I got into The Greatest Gospel Hits of the ’70s, and it was all over.

I’ve been singing since I was five. I sang in church. My brother and sister and I – sometimes just me – we’d get up and sing whatever the latest gospel hit was.

I didn't necessarily sing in a church choir. I had to sing in church as a kid with my brother and sister.

We had the Bailey Trio. Me, my brother and sister. And we worked out three-part harmonies and we get up in front of Church and we'd sing like some gospel hit of the seventies, a little bit more rocked out than the actual hymns, you know, but I was like the bass then, I was like, [singing with a deep voice] "One more time. Jesus [?] burden." It was so much fun, it is really weird to think about that. We looked so geek [laughter].

It was in the country; you'd get up and sing old gospel songs and hymns, and gospel hits of the '70s. I loved to work on harmonies. I was always getting in trouble in choir practice for singing everybody else's parts.

When I was in first grade, I wasn’t allowed to cross the street until I sang two Elvis Presley songs. And then, when I was in third grade, at recess, I would have to get on top of a tree stump, and the teachers would make me sing all the Top-40 and Elvis tunes for the younger kids.

I think I'm actually a second baritone. I used to take choir classes and sit there reading music and seeing if I could get away with fooling the teacher by singing other people's parts. We had this teacher who was pitch-perfect. He had ears like a bat, man. Like radar. So, in order to get away with singing someone else's part, you'd really have to get it down. Or else, he'd know exactly what corner of the room it's coming from. So, I guess I really started working on my different voices back then by trying to mess with my teacher's head! (laughing) He used to wonder how come he's hearing a soprano in the bass section!

Axl was not allowed to own a radio but he won one in fifth grade which he hid from his stepfather:

I wasn't allowed to listen to the radio when I was young because rock was considered evil in our house. But I won a radio when I was in the sixth grade and it quickly became my best friend.

In the fifth grade, I won a radio in a contest, and I remember that I spent the day listening to all the new music that was playing. One day, I heard a Zeppelin song, and when we went to class we started joking about it, but in the afternoon I sat in a corner turning the dial like crazy to hear that song again. Since then, I did the same thing every afternoon. At night, I hid the radio under my pillow, and listened to it thanks to a shaky set of headphones. If they caught me, the big brawl would start. […] The problem was that they wouldn’t just take away the radio if they found out, but they’d also hit me with a belt. One time I was in the car with my father, and  'Oh, Mandy' by Barry Manilow came up on the radio. I started humming it, and my father changed the station and gave me a hard smack.
Popular 1, April 1988; although interview from October 1987; translated from Spanish

[Led Zeppelin's] D'yer Mak'er was the first hard rock song that I ever got into. I had this little radio, went to school, heard it, was making fun of it but by like the first recess I had to hear it again and learn it, coming back from lunch I'm passing out the lyrics to all the other kids. [...] by the next recess I got them all around singing it.

Talking about his influences:

I grew up as a kid listening to Elvis Presley and gospel records, you know, and then when I got older I got into greatest hits in the 70s and all that stuff, and I played piano for years so I was really into anything to do with piano, Elton John and Billy Joel and stuff like that. But then when I started singing, you know, hardcore rock and roll I was really into Dan McCafferty of Nazareth.

I wasn’t allowed to go to concerts, and my chances of escaping were limited, because [my parents] watched me a lot. Until tenth grade, if I wanted to leave I had to ask my parents for money, so they had control over me. It was horrible. But Izzy and I went to a Triumph concert, and then to a Johnny Winter one. I really started going to concerts when I moved to L.A.
Popular 1, April 1988; although interview from October 1987; translated from Spanish

A few years later, Axl decided he wanted to get involved with music:

In about eighth grade I knew I wanted to do something with music, and that took on all kinds of different shapes, and didn't really get a solid shape until probably about eight years ago of exactly what I wanted it to look like, and I think we're achieving that now.

I had a friend in like 7th or 8th grade who sold all the pot but I didn't smoke pot but I'd go to, like, he had this black room and his dad was a guitar teacher and I'd go sit there and he was actually cool about, he didn't, like, where other people would mess with you if you chose to or not do drugs or whatever you know he didn't, but turned me on to Sabbath you know and.... [...] I was just really into Ozzy singing at the time.

I liked the [KISS] hits that were on the radio, I mean the same car he's talking about I would, like, ride around you know and like sneak up on people at the bus stop, because I had a really loud stereo, sneak up on them at the bus stops and start Dr. Love.... Dr. Love has always been one of my favorite songs because they played it on AM radio and if you know Gene and you know Gene's world and you think about Gene's world backstage and where his tongue was going, it just, I can't believe they play that song on AM radio back in the day. [...] (Singing like Gene Simmons) "You're not the only one I ever had". You know?

Axl Rose at choir practise

In 1991, when talking about his three favorite songs, Axl would list 10cc's 'I'm Not In Love', Led Zeppelin's 'D'Ya Maker' and Elton John's 'Bennie and the Jets [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993], the latter song would also make him want to become a performer:

[…] "Benny and the Jets" with the ambience and the sound and the way it’s recorded, made me want the stage. That’s the song that made me want the stage, 'cos it made me think about a concert and being on a stage and the way it would sound in a room. Things miked out and this and that... Plus, it just reminded me of the Glam scene that was going on around America, and the clubs that I would read about in the old Creem magazine and stuff like that.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

I remember listening to "Bennie and the Jets" - that's when l decided l wanted to play for big. I wanted to play a song l was proud of in front of big crowds.

Axl would later exploit his ability to sing in different voices for recording with GN'R, and he would later say that he had been "working on those different voices for a long time" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988]:

I'm like a second baritone, and I just worked on widening my range, to get a high range. And so then I just try to find the way to use it. Use the whole thing rather than limit myself
Headbanger's Ball, May 1988

Despite his fondness for music and choir experience, Axl didn't want to become a singer because, as he would say, "he didn't like his voice" [Spin, May 1988; Hit Parader, June 1989].

[…] I always had a million different ideas of what I wanted to do. Just like any kid really, first I wanted to be a fireman, then a cowboy, and everything else. In about eight grade I knew I wanted to do something with music, and that took on all kinds of different shapes, and didn't really get solid until maybe 10 years ago, of exactly what I wanted to look like.

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

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

Alan Santalesa, who got to know Axl in 1984 when they both worked at Tower Record in Hollywood, would say that Axl told it to him, too:

[...] in '84 I worked at Tower Video with Axl. [...] He became the manager eventually. [...] he hadn't not been promoted yet. He was a clerk like me. [...] And I would work there the evening shift and there was Axl. That's when I got to really know him. Like he told me some stories. We spent two days trying to reconcile empty video boxes with their proper videos, down in the basement, and he was talking about his growing up and his influences. And one day he said, "I really hate my voice, but I have to admit it's starting to get better." That's what we said. It was interesting because, you know, two years later he was gonna be in like the the most popular band in LA, you know.

This insecurity in regards to his singing would stay with Axl for a long time, like when he in December 1988 talked about the challenge of being a frontman:

I am very shy and can be very insecure sometimes, but you have to find a way to communicate your feelings every night on stage. You have to try to win the audience over. It's very challenging . . . like an actor on the screen, in a way. The only difference is that I'm not playing a part. I'm playing myself, but I'm always looking for ways to go beyond the music itself to express what I'm feeling.

Despite not believing in his own voice, Axl wanted to become a musician:

I always wanted to be in a band, but I never thought I'd be a singer — I never thought I had a good voice. But I was ready to do anything to be part of a rock group, and since I really got off on singing I figured I'd give it a shot. I ended up singing in bands out of necessity because I was the only one who could carry a tune. At first, I thought I'd play keyboards, then I shifted to bass, then I finally got to singing. But I guess things have worked out for the best.

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


In 2002 on stage in Pittsburgh, Axl would jokingly refer to his background singing in a church choir:

You know, sometimes I don’t think this is exactly what they planned when they had me sing in front of the church.

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:32 am


Music was an important part of Izzy's family and childhood:

When I was a kid, we used to have parties at our house every week, with kegs of beer and a band and everything. My brothers and I were supposed to be the beer runners, but as the night would go on, the band would take a break, and I’d sit down and start banging on the drums. I was 8 or 9 years old, and I already had this spark going in me.

When I was 11 or 12 I had this friend whose older brothers were like hooligans; they rode bikes, would get drunk and fight all the time, and they'd have these bands play at this big farmhouse, it was like an airplane hangar. So I'd be hanging out there, getting shit-faced, and after a while they'd be so drunk they couldn't even play and they'd go, 'C'mon up here, little kid, and play the drums!' So that was the first adrenaline rush. Other than that my life was completely boring.

When I was 13 I started going to block parties and there would be bands playing. Every once in a while on American Bandstand you'd see a good band. Don Kirshner's shows helped cement the foundation. I started on drums moved to bass and then guitar. I played bass for a year because i found it real easy to get around on. I've only been playing guitar for about five years. I wasn't a frustrated guitarist who chose the bass, I was frustrated drummer.

We used to have Rock 'N' Roll bands come to play at our house when I was a real young kid. My dad used to have these parties and me and my brothers were beer runners. The bands were always downstairs and I always hung out with them. When you're a kid and these guys would show to play stuff on the drums, it was great. They'd play stuff like (Credence Clearwater Revival's) 'Proud Mary'. I was lucky 'cos I got to grow up with that. I've been hooked on that ever since.

I suppose when I was in high school, I thought that it might be cool to be a lead singer. At a few drunken keg parties, I’d sing a couple of Van Halen songs, but I was so drunk I don't remember if we ever finished a song.

I lived in a government housing place and these neighbors were super cool. They had kids and a huge record collection with the Stones, Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd. So I listened to all that ’60s stuff. Then in the late ’70s, I got into all the punk records and really liked the Ramones.

My parents had a record player that I remember vividly. So we listened to a lot of music at home, because they had a huge record collection. I remember being impressed, as a little kid, by the loudness of it. Also, my grandmother was a drummer and an organist. She played in a band, just for fun, with some friends. They must have all been quite old because, after all, she was already my grandmother! (laughs) All the same, she made me want to learn because she played all the time! Our neighbors were also music lovers... I'm talking about the end of the ‘60s (I was born on April 8, 1962) and the beginning of the ‘70s. At that time, music was everywhere in America, everyone bought 45’s. It was the heyday of the slot-in record player, that portable mouth-shaped record player in which you slipped your records, the predecessor of the MiniDisc! (laughs) The radio also played an important part in my musical education. That and TV were the only way to get entertainment in Lafayette, a small town of 30,000 people that was discovered by a Frenchman.

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

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

[Talking about playing live for the first time]: I think it was at a party. Everyone was wasted and so was I. I remember I had to go out, pick up the mic and sing, and it was like: “Wow man!” No, maybe the first time was at another party. There were a lot of old friends too, and the band that played had no drummer, so they told me: “Hey Izzy, you should go out and play the drums.” That was the first time, I think I was about eleven years old.
Popular 1 (Spain), July 2001; translated from Spanish

Anyway, when I was 5 or 6 years old, I started playing drums. I played over the songs I heard on the radio or on TV. In my early teens I gave up drums for guitar. When I was 15 or 16, I bought a Gibson Les Paul copy, Ibanez or Hondo. A friend showed me how to play "Smoke On The Water" and I quickly learned some rock classics. However, two or three years later, I went back to my first love, the drums.

Talking about his musical heroes when he was young:

In the '70s, I lived for Aerosmith, Cheap Trick... I saw them play a show in a theater in Lafayette, which was such a tiny shithole that no band would ever put their amps in. That stuck with me for life! There were so many people without tickets that the doors to the venue blew open from the pressure and the kids were able to rush into the theater. I must say that there was almost no security at that show (he smiles). This was before the Sex Pistols, The Clash and the whole punk explosion. Back then, in the early '70s, if you lived in the area and wanted to see bands, you had to drive an hour to Indianapolis. That's where all the big concerts were. I saw, for example, AC/DC with Rose Tattoo and Golden Earring. When you're a kid, how can you not be amazed, how can you not want to do the same thing? But you're too young and it's impossible for you to leave just like that. So you take it easy, rehearsing in your garage... until the day when.

But back to the original question: I also loved Ted Nugent (who often played around here), then I fell in love with the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones. It didn't matter if it was heavy metal, punk or disco, it was all new and exciting, especially for a kid from Lafayette who always wanted more and was eager to learn. [...] But you have to remember that back in the 70's and 80's, it would take a while for us in Indiana to hear about some of the European artists or listen to their records. Because those artists had to be very popular in Europe before the American record industry decided to pay attention to them. And even when that happened, those bands only toured in big American cities like New York. Sometimes we had to wait more than a year to hear about them in Indiana: by the time we put an album on our turntable, it was likely that the band in question had already released a second one (laughs). But it didn't matter, the main thing was that it was fresh and new to us. The punk phenomenon was a tremendous shift: all of a sudden, we realized that we could make rock music with only three chords. The Pistols brought music within our reach, made us believe in it.

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

[My parents] wanted me to go to college. I didn't give a fuck! I was playing drums, I just wanted to hit my skins. My mother was behind me, but my father was really more skeptical. When I brought my first electric guitar at home, he went: "How much did ya pay for this?" "One hundred dollars" I answered. And him: "Some wasted money!"

My parents split when I was third grade or something at school, but I remember when I was a teenager, I bought an electric guitar and I went over to see my dad. He saw this guitar, he goes, "What the hell did you waste your money on a guitar for? You'll never make a dollar." And this pissed me off so bad as a kid - and I still give him some shit about it when I see him.

And later he would talk about learning how to play:

Self-taught, noodler, just picking around... the Ramones was my favorite, and I highly recommend that to anybody that wants to learn the guitar. First just run a bar chord and play Ramones songs, because it gets your dexterity built up, your left-right, left-right, you know, third fret-fifth fret and back. You don’t even need to learn the notes to start out with that kind of stuff. Then, from there, it’s just... you know, I spent a lot of time just sitting around with a guitar and playing around.

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:32 am


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

I played lead broom for Kiss. I have a lot of influences from mid-70s. I think both me and Paul [Soldier, fellow band members in 10 Minute Warning] are influenced by the New York Dolls, guitar-wise. And anything in between, probably anything else I've heard, has influenced me in some way.

I'm not a metal fanatic or anything, but I like a lot of the sounds coming from some of the metal bands around. I like Motley Crue, old Kiss, Motorhead, Tank. . . but a lot of stuff that's supposed to be heavy metal isn't heavy metal at all, like Def Leppard. They're supposed to be the kings of heavy metal. But they're not really even heavy metal, they're more like a songwriting troupe. Not that they're not a good band, I like them, but...

I was fortunate to be from a large family who were all very musical. I got a lot just from hearing all my brothers and sisters play. Eventually I'd play something I heard on the radio, or something my brothers and sisters were playing, like a Jimi Hendrix record. I could figure out the chords in five minutes, without ever learning a chord in my life. I was gifted with that instinct.

I was the last of 8 kids and we were all musical. We had all kinds of instruments around. I was relegated to play whatever I was told to play for the family jams. I was told to play guitar or drums or whatever.

[…] I just grew up listening to, like, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith... Aerosmith was probably the band that did it - cuz Led Zeppelin was brilliant musically and Jimi Hendrix was from my hometown, so he was real big there, but Aerosmith was the cool looking band, they were like the bad kids on the block. That’s basically how I was; you know, on the wrong side of the tracks, that type of thing. I saw Aerosmith in ’76, I was 12 years old, and I said, “This is what I want to do.”

When I was 12 in Seattle. I saw Led Zeppelin at the Kingdome and I said, 'I want to be up there someday.’ It’s a corny story that’s true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Listing his favorite bands as a kid]: I’d say The Clash. I saw The Clash in ’79 when I was 13, one of the most amazing shows. Iggy Pop I saw in 1980 was a very influential show for me. Prince was probably a big influence. I could go on and on, [but] those were probably the three most influential shows that steered me toward my attitude toward rock ’n’ roll and how I approach songwriting.

I've seven older brothers and sisters, so I grew up with a lot of really cool music like Jimi Hendrix, Zeppelin, The Stones... My oldest brothers 20 years my senior so I also remember him getting married and another brother going off to the Vietnam war.

In my teens I started playing everything because I was the last to be a kid at home, everyone was older than I was. All my older brothers and sisters were older than I was, all of them played or sang. So there was guitars hanging around, there was a bass and drums, so I kind of everything. In my early punk rock bands, in my teens, I played guitar one band, I played drums in another, and I played bass in another.

Believe it or not, I saw the Led Zeppelin in '77 that one, I saw The Clash in Seattle in 1979. That was probably the most amazing gig I saw. I saw Iggy in 1980, all the early concerts I went to were like the best. Iggy when Brian James was in the band, that was fuckin' sick. And Prince, I gotta tell you, 31-21 club in Las Vegas, he did a whole thing, four or five nights a week for about eight months and it was completely inspiring as a musician. As a musician he's probably the most amazing guy to go and see.

I grew up in the last of eight kids. I was born in 64 so by the time I was cognizant of music, it was probably 1969/70. My older brothers and sisters were pretty hip. They were into a lot of Hendrix, Beatles, Zeppelin and Sly and the Family Stone. Really great bands and there were always lots of instruments around the house. I didn’t know at the time, that you would suppose to take a lesson to learn how to play the guitar. I thought there’s a guitar and I would hear a sound on the stereo, so I’ll just do that on the guitar and make that same noise and that’s how it started for me.

At some point I really got interested in medicine too. I set my mind on being a doctor. I was doing really well even at Elementary School. I was getting all A grades and I was really into it. School was always kinda easy for me, but then Punk Rock started to hit, I was about 13 and I said lets go form a band and go play.

It was really something about the primalness of Punk Rock that struck a chord with me, and the first time I heard the Sex Pistols and The Ramones it was like “oh wait this is mine, its not my older brothers or sisters music, its mine”. I started writing songs and performing. I’d play drums in one band, guitar in another and bass in another, and so I was playing in three bands all at once and I was really going for it.


Music I loved it, I ate it up you know and then “Prince” hit and on his first four records he plays everything and there I was, a kid who could play drums and lots of other instruments and so he became the man to me, and he still is even to this day. He’s the most creative musical genius there is, he can sing, play guitar and he’s just amazing and he writes awesome songs as well.

So back to medicine, when I started my first band I was like “oh well me being a doctor, nah, its not gonna happen” but I kept that dream alive of academia and I went to school in my thirties.

There was a record player in the living room. There were records at my disposal and I was not discouraged from playing them. I think that FM radio had just hit, so it was ‘68 or ‘69, those are my first memories of music, being around 5 or 6. The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Sly and The Family Stone are the bands that I really have such great memories of being in the house. There were also guitars around the house. So, for me, I don’t think that there was one ultimate moment, music was just always there and it was a part of growing up. Then of course, I wanted to break apart from my older sisters and brothers music. When I was about 12 or 13 rock hit, at least up in Seattle. It hit in a very small way but, being the last of eight kids, you grow up a little faster. I identified right away with punk being something that could be my own. I heard a Dead Boys record, The Stooges and a Sex Pistols record, all in about the same week! Suddenly, I was completely charmed!

John Conte, a fellow musician who knew Duff back then, would reminisce about Duff:

Duff was the youngest of like eight in a Catholic family where every person is musical. He was the type of guy that you could shut in the room with a new instrument, and within 15 minutes he would’ve learned a song and come out and played it for you. Everywhere you went people would just come up to him because they knew his brothers and sisters, and he always had tons and tons of girls. I mean, just flocking to him, just to be around him.
Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge; September 2011


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

Talking about what made him want to become a musician:

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

Talking about getting into punk:

I am the youngest in a very musical family, so I grew up listening to my older brothers and sisters music, which was great. Because of them I listened to Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and even Motown. It was great to discover all of those different influences. I turned 13 in 1977 and I started to discover these bands like DOA and The Lewd. They were scary. They were dangerous to me. I met some dude who had a Mohawk, who was a couple of years older than me and he started turning me onto all these bands. I also met Kim Warnick, who was the bass player in the Fastbacks, which is one of the first bands I played in. They were one of those bands that never made it. Pearl Jam would take them out with them, and everyone in Seattle loved them, but they never made it as they were just too pop. She became my friend, and my personal mentor. She turned me onto the Ramones, The Vibrators, The Damned, The Germs and The Sex Pistols. All of a sudden, I had music that was my own and didn’t belong to my older brothers and sisters. I saw The Clash in 1979. It was the tour before London Calling and there were only about 200 people there. The same year I also saw Iggy Pop’s band. Brian James, from The Damned was playing guitar and Glen Matlock was playing bass. I remember the whole gig to this day. It really changed my life.

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

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

I played bass in lots of punker bands. It wasn't like it is now where you have to know how to play! (laughs) We had a show in like a week, so I just learned how to play the songs and I actually became a semi-good drummer. It was like a family back then, there were a bunch of bands and we were all friends. It was really cool, the punk rock days.

Learning how to play the bass, guitar and drums:

I had an older brother, Bruce, who's a left-handed player. I write left-handed, so I was originally a left-hander because he had a left-handed bass. He taught me 'Birthday' [by] THE BEATLES, which is the major blues scale, basically. That was all I really [knew], but that's enough to get you through a long time. He left the house, and I bought a Gibson EBO bass when I was 13 with paper-route money from the Seattle Times. $125 bucks. I'm sure it was stolen. I got a guitar sometime after that. I was a drummer also at the time. I played somebody else's drum kit and finally was able to scrape together the money to get a drum kit [of my own] when I was probably about 17. So I had a bass; I had a guitar; I had a drum kit.

But he would not take any lessons or tutoring:

Well music was just in the air, I'm self taught.

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

It was easy to pickup the rudiments of drumming, especially Punk drumming, so I accepted the offer.

Later he would say the first band he played drums in were The Fastbacks:

Basically, Kurt [Bloch] was the drummer then and everybody knew he was like, the greatest guitar player. So there were these drums sitting there and one day he said "we have a show, do you want to learn how to play drums?" and that was that.

at 15 I did my first tour. And by 15, when I did the first tour with a band called the Fastbacks - I was playing drums.

Summarizing his start in music:

Yeah, you would have to really be an early “punkrockophile” to know stuff I did. But it was such a small scene back in ’79, ’80, ‘81 - you know, ‘79 through ‘83 - and all of us knew everybody else. There was little fanzines and there would be compilation records - a band from Seattle, a band from Minneapolis, a band from Dayton, Ohio, a band from L.A. - you know, we would all be on the same record. But I was in a band - I grew up in a musical family, there was instruments around the house. So, by the time I was 6, and 7, and 8, I was pounding on drums to keep in time. Because I had to, you know, for family jam sessions or whatever. And I was hearing great music, my older brothers’ and sisters’ music, which was James Gang, Sly and the Family Stone, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, whatever. Great, great stuff. So I understood what time was. My brother - one of my older brothers - showed me a G chord, an A chord and a D chord, alright? And an E chord. Okay, well, my fingers didn't quite fit on there, but I just kept kind of playing and I thought, “Well, guitar is knack.”  And he showed me how to play the Birthday Song, the Beatles song, on the bass. Now I play it all left-handed because he was left-handed, and I actually write left-handed. So there was left-handed guitars at the house. So that's how I started playing and my fingers just really didn't work too well on the strings. Then I started to grow into it, and by the time I was in eighth grade, I started playing with some other guys at school, just jamming. We played Led Zeppelin songs and whatever. [...] I was playing bass, I was playing guitar, and I was always playing drums.  I didn't really have a direction. I just liked playing all three. Punk rock in Seattle hit… Seattle is a very cultural city. I think punk rock… it was one of the earlier cities, like New York, to get, like, a punk rock record store and a club. So I saw this punk rock guy walking down our street, the street where I lived, this guy with a mohawk - a pink mohawk. And I talked to him. I just said, “Wow, dude. So what do you do?  Where do you…,” you know, “what kind of music should I… what record should I get?” and he took me to this record store.  He showed me, like, “Check this out” and “check this out.” He goes, “What do you play?” and I said, “Well, I play everything,” and he goes, “Let's start a band.” So we started a band. It was called the Veins and we put out a single. Our first gig was opening for an early version of Black Flag. It was an amazing first gig for us and we started playing gigs. That was ‘79 and, I guess, I was about 13 or 14, and it was just great. So I was playing bass in that band. The Fastbacks, which were a band that lasted about 25 years, or 20 years, out of Seattle, I was the first drummer. They asked me to play drums, and the first song I learned to play on drums was Baby Blue by Badfinger. [...] All of a sudden, “Okay, well, I'm a drummer.” They had a drum kit for me, you know, a pretty good pearl drum kit. Then I started playing guitar in another band. So I kind of played… I was playing in three bands at one time, all the time.

When I was 14, a friend of mine who was a drummer and I formed a band with Chris Utting called the Vains—it was my first punk-rock band. My first gig ever was opening up for Black Flag at the Washington Hall in ’79. Later, the Fastbacks asked me to play drums because Kurt Bloch was initially playing the drums and he’s really a guitar player; Kim Warnick became my musical mentor. By ’82, I was playing drums with the Fartz, which was a hardcore band. I was in a million bands and really having fun, starting to tour down the West Coast and play Vancouver all the time. I was writing music with Paul Solger of the Fartz, and these songs were really dirgy and slow and weird and long. We got Greg Gilmore to come in and play drums and we got a different singer, Steve Verwolf, and that was 10 Minute Warning.
Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge; September 2011

Eventually, Duff would play in 29 bands punk rock bands before leaving for Los Angeles, some of which will be detailed in subsequent chapters:

I played in twenty-nine punk rock bands in Seattle - I counted them. I was a drummer, bassist, guitar player, whatever.

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:33 am


Slash was given his nickname by a friend's father, Seymour Cassel:

It came from a father of one of my friends, believe it or not. He just started calling me Slash whenever I came by, and the name stuck. I haven't used or divulged my real name since I was about 13.

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

I got the name “Slash” real simply from a guy named Seymour Cassel. When I was around 13-14 years old, I used to hang out with his son – we went to school together. So I was always, like, hustling something back then, I was always in a big hurry; and he would call me “Slash,” because I was always in and out real quick, you know. That was basically it. Then I got back to England years later and there was like, “You know what a “slash” is?” and I was like, “Yeah.” I hadn’t actually thought of it that way.

Looking back at Cassel:

Seymour was a very colorful fellow. I just talked to [his son] Matt a few days ago, right before Seymour passed and right after. [Back in the day] we had a lot of parties at his house. I met the [Rolling] Stones through Seymour. Actually, the first time I ever drove a car was Seymour’s car — a f*cking great big giant [Pontiac] Bonville, just flying down Sunset Boulevard, almost hitting other cars and all kinds of crazy shit. But he was a lot of fun. He was a nut. He was a definite rock ‘n’ roll rebel guy, but he was a great actor, had a huge heart. He was a fun guy to hang out with — he was a troublemaker, though. But yeah, Seymour was great. And I have a lot of really great memories with him, not all of which I can really share. Like I said, he was a troublemaker and most of the shit he was into was illegal!

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:34 am


Axl and Izzy became friends while living in Lafayette, in 1975 or 1976 when they were about 13-14 years old:

[Axl] was like a serious lunatic when I met him. He was just really fucking bent on fighting and destroying things. Somebody'd look at him wrong, and he'd just, like, start a fight. And you think about Lafayette, man, there's, like, fuck all to do.

The first thing I remember about Axl, this is before I knew him - is the first day of class, eighth or ninth grade, I'm sitting in the class and I hear this noise going on in front, and I see these fucking books flying past, and I hear this yelling, and there's this scuffle and then I see him, Axl, and this teacher bounding off a door jamb. And then he was gone, down the hall, with a whole bunch of teachers running after him. That was the first thing. I'll never forget that.

Well, we’ve been together for 15 years […]. [Izzy] was a skateboarder. We hooked up in about 8th grade and started playing around that time. […]He was a drummer then.

Skateboarding was also starting to explode. All the kids who were skateboarding would gather in one place on the west side of town. That's where I met Axl Rose. He was, like me, a big skate fan.

We were in elementary school together. I was sitting in class, probably daydreaming because I wasn't too motivated, when all of a sudden I heard books hitting the floor and then screams coming from the hallway. Then Axl (real name William Bailey - Ed.) bursts through the door and comes into my classroom, chased by a teacher or the principal. The sight of this guy running after a pupil really made me laugh! Axl had just thrown his books in his face and I thought it was hilarious. Later, one summer, Axl and I met at a driving course. We were in the same traffic rules class. And, as I said earlier, he was a skateboarder, just like me, which brought us even closer together. I quickly realized that this guy was so crazy that he would make a good singer. You have to be a little crazy to be a good frontman (laughs).

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

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

[Being asked why he hook up with Axl]: Fucked if I know [laughing] I keep asking myself that. I remember the first day of school I heard this fucking commotion out in the hallway, books flying everywhere and this guy ran past the door with teachers chasing him. I found out later that was Bill, Axl. I ended up with him in driver’s education class – he’s a fucking horrible driver – but that’s how I remember meeting him. So I figured this guy would probably be a good singer, he doesn’t care, he’s obviously a fucking nut, so he seemed like the perfect singer. We tried some different line-ups back in Indiana, but of course there was nowhere to play.

We rode bikes, smoked pot, got into trouble - it was pretty much like Beavis And Butthead, actually.

I remember, the first day at school there was this big fucking commotion. I heard all these books hit the ground, yelling, and then he went running past. A bunch of fucking teachers chasing him down the hallway…[…] I thought, well, here's a guy who's completely crazy, he'd be a fucking great singer. We had to coax him a bit [and] it didn't go so well in the early days. Sometimes he would just come over and stand around, like he was embarrassed. Or he'd start to sing and then he'd just leave. Walk out and I wouldn't see him again for like three days! Some things didn't change, huh?

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

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:34 am


Already back in England Slash fell in love with horror movies:

Well, one of the things besides the music in England that I got turned on to, there was a great sort of horror movie kind of thing happening in England at the time. And you had these Hammer films. And so you had like Vincent Price, and Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee, and all the sort of classic horror icons, and The House That Dripped Blood, and Dracula, and fucking Quasimodo, and all these cool… So I was a huge horror addict on top of everything else. And then, when I moved to the States, my mom was a confirmed horror and science fiction person, so she turned me on to a bunch of different stuff. And because I sort of was raised in that Freudian sort of philosophy of raising your children where kids were sort of considered equals, my parents took me to all kinds of stuff that was stuff that you wouldn't normally take, you know, a 5, 6, 7, 8 year old kid to. And so, you know, I went and I saw 2001, I saw The Exorcist, I saw Night of the Living Dead, and Forbidden Planet. I saw all this really, really cool shit, which definitely had a big influence on me. So I was always and still to this day, you know, a huge horror buff or horror enthusiast, I suppose.

One of Slash's hobbies were biking.

But the other thing that I got into later, when I was around 12, 13, and 14… I don't know how I got into BMX racing. Someone must have had a bicycle or something and it just turned me on. And so I got into that. And, like, anything that I do, when I set my sights on something, I get very single-minded and focused on that one particular thing. So I started BMXing until I got up to be considered a pro. And then, you know, my aspirations at that point were to become a motocross racer. So that's where I was, and I saw absolutely nothing else. There was just that.

The rapper Tone Loc would remember Slash being somewhat of a bike prodigy:

He grew up not too far from me. We weren't really close buddies but we knew each other. He was a great bicycle rider, he could do anything on a bicycle. Wheelies, jumping up in the air, hopping, all kinds of things, the kid was tough.
New Musical Express, June 24, 1989

I remember he used to be a hell of a bike rider— BMXs, Mongooses, that kinda shit. He was pretty awesome on a bicycle.
Sounds, August 5, 1989


Slash's friend, Marc Canter, would confirm:

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

When I first met him, I noticed he had a talent for drawing. It’s not like something he did, he just knew how to do it. Then we started riding bikes together, and he was doing things that they do now, that are common, but back in the 70s all these tricks weren’t that common. So he was ahead of his time.

He was incredibly talented from the very beginning. I noticed it in his drawings – in elementary school, he could make drawings of dinosaurs and snakes. In about 1978, he was doing BMX stuff on his bike before there was BMX. He would go off jumps. [...] Very, very athletic. I remember I raced him, and Slash was super fast, like super human fast. Even at 13 or 14, he was fastest kid on the block. If you would race him from a starting point to three houses, he would be finished before you crossed the second house. He was the strongest kid on the block, too.

[...] I noticed he had a real talent for drawing.  When it came time for school art projects or that thing he would draw these snakes and dinosaurs and they looked like something a real Disney creator would make.  He just free handed this stuff and these animals had character, they had smiles and all the details were just perfect.  It was clear he was very artistic and able to pick up on things FAST.  Same thing happened when we got into BMX racing, when I met him he didn’t know how to ride a two wheel bike and he became like an overnight BMX star, flying off jumps and having all these moves, moves he would later incorporate into stage moves by the way.  Back in 1978 people didn’t have those kinds of flashy moves and finesse on BMX like everyone does now but Slash was ahead of the curve as he was with everything it seemed.  There was something special or just “good” about him.  He always won.

Talking about why he got into BMX bikes:

You know, maybe I just saw somebody doing it and it just appealed to me. I think I always was into bicycles and then, when I saw what the possibilities were for freestyling and stuff, I just picked up on that.

And the bikes he had:

Um, I had a Cook Bros. At one point I had a Cook Bros, I had a Webco, I had an FMF, a Mongoose… The last one I had was a Redline.

And how successful he was:

I did pretty well. If I kept going, you know, I probably would have… I mean, I was, like, semi-pro - I wasn’t making any money off of it - but I was just getting to that point where I was starting to get recognized as being a half-decent rider.

Well, the tracks were one thing, but we, you know, did all the urban stuff around the neighborhood, which was all street racing, and we were insane. And then, on the weekends, I’d go out to the Valley, in Reseda, and actually race.

I was a pro-BMX racer as a kid, and my main aspiration was to eventually become a moto-cross champion. I was obsessed! But then I inadvertently picked up the guitar and everything switched gears inside of 24 hours [...].

In 2018, he would mention he was still following the sport:

I still follow the BMX stuff, you know? It's evolved so much now. I thought we were pretty crazy back in the day, but those riders have taken it to a level I never even dreamed was possible… I don't know if I would ever have gotten as good as those guys, you know? That sport has changed so much, man. I love watching it, but they do some pretty intense stuff these days.

Slash also "contributed a series of animal illustrations to The Bestiary, an unpublished book of verse written by Joni Mitchell, who was a neighbor" [Rolling Stone, January 1991]. As his mother would recall:

He was drawing from the time he could pick up a pencil.

Before I started playing guitar I was an illustrator. When I started playing guitar, then all the drawing stuff sort of went out of the window […]

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

Being asked what he would have done if he hadn't become a musician:

Probably some sort of illustrator or artist. I did a lot of things before I played guitar, but the one thing I've always done is graphics, cartooning or drawing, like the logos for the band.

Talking about his artistic side:

Well, my whole family is sort of that way. I just did it for – I mean, I just do it when I feel like doing it. You know, it was never a career or anything like that. I just like to do cartoons, and this and that and the other. I draw my own tattoos and shit.

Another hobby of Slash was reading:

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


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

Slash's love of animals and snakes in particular, will be discussed in a separate chapter.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:35 am


Axl had numerous run-ins with the police when living in Lafayette. As Rolling Stone would describe it: "[Axl] was the local juvenile delinquent in Lafayette, Indiana, and was arrested, by his count, "over twenty times," serving as long as three months in jail and representing himself at trials "'cause I didn't trust the public defenders for shit" [Rolling Stone, November 1988]. He would later claim to always having been "in trouble with someone, somewhere. I've totally blackened out the early years of my life" [Hit Parader, March 1992].

Axl Rose, 18, mugshot
Unknown image copyright

[...] you should know that they arrest all the guys with long hair for nothing, and I was their favorite target. At first, I was arrested just because I was drinking alcohol, which is forbidden if you’re under 21; then they would throw me in jail for anything. I may have spent three years in jail [This is likely a mistake made by the journalists; Axl may have said "three months"], all my stays combined.
Hard Force [French], October 1987; translated from French

I was one of the craziest of my friends, but also one of the smartest, so they figured I was the ringleader. They never got me for anything, though.

Me and my friends were always in trouble. We got in trouble for fun. It finally reached a point where I realized I was gonna end up in jail, 'cause I kept fucking with the system. This guy and I got into a fight. We became friends afterwards, and he dropped charges against me, but the state kept on pressing charges. Those charges didn't work, so they tried other ones. I spent three months in jail and finally got out. But once you've pissed off a detective, it's a vengeance rap back there. They tried everything. They busted me illegally in my own back yard for drinking. They tried to get me as a habitual criminal, which can mean a life in prison. My lawyer got the case thrown out of court.

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

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

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

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

Journal and Courier would check Axl's police records in Indiana and found the following:

[Axl] spent some time in the Tippecanoe County Jail, accord­ing to county records. He spent a combined 10 days in jail as an adult over a period from July 1980 to September 1982 on char­ges ranging from public in­toxication to battery. He also was arrested four times as a juvenile.

The most serious misdemeanor was a charge of battery for slapping a neighborhood woman he knew [Indianapolis Daily Star, October 1991]. This would not be the last time Axl got in trouble after an altercation with a neighbor.

Other charges were:

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

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

His grandmother, Anne Lintner, would say Axl was harassed by the police:

That's probably what's bugging him. Any of the accusations against him were all very minor. I've always had a feeling that it would dwindle down [his anger at Indiana]. But...they did pick on him.


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

[...] And then finally, I was accused of doing drugs and drinking and all this stuff that I wasn't doing, and I was kicked out of my house for not cutting my hair. And it was above my ears at the time. And I was 16 and at that point, I just said, "Well, if I'm gonna be accused of all these things, I might as well find out what they're all about."

[...] I got kicked out. […] when I got told to leave. When I got told, "cut your hair," and I said, "no," and they said, "go," and I said, "I'm leaving." You know, but that was like when I was 16 […]

You know I grew up in a place where I got sick of being made fun of by the straights. I had long hair. I got kicked out of my house when I was 16 ‘cause my dad was real strict and I wouldn’t cut my hair anymore. Then I was being called a drug addict. I was running cross country and was completely into health at the time. So, that’s when I left home, got into beer, drugs and went to jail about 20 times. Then I got out of that, but I always kept my hair long. I went back to my old high school where certain people had respect for me, some of the athletes and the student council. All of a sudden, they didn’t. They thought I was a hippie, but I wasn’t really friendly with the hippies ‘cause I liked all kinds of music. If you thought Devo or the Sex Pistols had a good song, all of a sudden you were a punk rocker! If you liked Bowie and the Stones, then you were a fag! So all of a sudden I was a hippy, punk rocker, faggot, you know? All at the same time.

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

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

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 11, 2022 10:51 am


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

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

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

I come from a musical family. We had tons of records throughout the house when I was growing up, and my parents were both in the music business for as long as I can remember. My mom used to make clothes for rock stars, and my dad used to design album covers for artists such as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash. So I was more or less surrounded by music, in every sense of the word.

This predates CDs or even cassettes, but we had something like a thousand records at home, all kinds of stuff. So, by the time I became interested in playing the guitar, I had a pretty acute sense of what I liked and why I liked it. That can be very important.

I grew up in the music business. I grew up pretty heavily in it, so... I always had, from what I can remember, always had a real fascination with it, you know. I loved the environment and I loved the people and I loved the equipment, you know, things to mess around with. Like anytime we'd go to a rehearsal I'd be on the drum set or a guitar. Any of that stuff I've always had an affection for.

I saw these temperamental, wacked-out people who happened to be friends of the family [chuckling], and it was par for the course as far as I was concerned. I grew up as a music fan, and as far as the lifestyle was concerned, I didn't realize it was all that different until I got into public elementary school and I realized I was waaay different from the kids there.

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

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

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

I listened to a lot of stuff. When I was a little kid, I lived in England and my dad was really into rock music; which, I was born in ’65, so it was pretty fresh and exciting right then, at least for the Brits, because there was the Who, and there was the Stones, and there was of course the Beatles and whatnot. [...] But I remember my dad loved the Who, my dad’s brother loved the Moody Blues, so there was a lot of English rock ‘n’ roll going on at the time.  So I remember Zeppelin, I remember the Yardbirds before that, and Eric Clapton and... I could go on and on, and on. There was also a lot of American stuff, there was Bob Dylan, and there was Joni Mitchel, and I don’t know what else; I could go on and on. So then there was a hardcore blues thing underneath all that, which was like Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters was just a big one, Robert Johnson... There was a lot of this stuff going on, because that’s what influenced all the rock bands, you know. Except for the Who; that was more of – at that time, it seemed like it was very much a teenage thing in England. That was... It seemed- [...] They didn’t have that whole bluesy background, regardless if they did personally or not. Their whole thing was reaching out to the youth of their culture and that generation – no pun intended with the song. Anyhow. And then my mom was American, black woman, right? So then I was raised on all this other kind of music, which was a lot of soul, a lot of funk, a lot of sort of, you know, like avant-garde kind of music, and my mom is really into dance... So there’s a lot of different kinds incoming. But what happened was, when I was about 14 I guess - you know, you get to an age where you discover your own music and there’s the bands at that time, which was in the late ‘70s, and for me it was, like, AC/DC, and Aerosmith, and shit like that. Then you just put it all together and... There was one record that I listened to, which was an Aerosmith record that just was this gritty rock ‘n’ roll record which is the Rocks one, the one with Back in the Saddle on. That was, like, the spear that just hit me, you know, and that’s why I decided that’s what I wanted to do. So I took all that music that I loved as a kid – and there’s tons of it – and then added that element to it, and then just went out and started doing it on my own. So there was a lot of influences, a lot of major influences going on, and it’s hard to sit here and name them all.

I didn’t know it at the time, but [England] was where it all started for me. My dad and his brothers were huge rock ’n’ roll junkies – the kind of kids that pulled a record out and felt the texture of the sleeve, put it on the turntable and analysed every song – serious stuff! I was raised in that… and it was like The Kinks, Gene Vincent, the Stones, some Beatles, The Who was the big one, and The Yardbirds and The Moody Blues. That was a very big part of my earliest memories, and then going in to London on the train and hanging out in the whole 60s beatnik scene that my dad was part of, crashing at their flats, doing all that! So rock ’n’ roll guitar for me began in Stoke, and that was just part of my upbringing, so when I picked up a guitar, that was one of the reasons I was never a big 80s-guitar-influenced guy, because what really touched me was Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, Dave Davies… all those different guys.

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s also met you had instant access to varied music:

I mean, LA at that time there was so much stuff going on, like you were saying, that whatever you wanted to get out of whatever was happening, it was all right there. So like you get some of your punk influences from going to see the Germs at the Starwood and you had the metal bands, you know. And so there was all these different things going on and I think it was up close and personal as opposed to being in another country where you were just looking at magazines and reading the album cover, you had all these bands coming through town and so you sort of pick things that you identified with and sort of called them your own. [...] A lot of people moved here, I mean, a lot of people in LA were, you know, like the guys from Poison were from Pennsylvania, whatever, and Izzy was from Indiana.

Recounting his first concert:

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

Coming from a musical family meant his parents were supportive of him later becoming a musician:

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

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

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Post by Soulmonster Sat Mar 12, 2022 10:55 am


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

What I discovered in [Steven], and many others at that time, was that there actually were people who were ready to take chances, that were ready not to go the usual paths in life. And do something else than what you're "expected" to do.

Steven and I knew each other from – I guess I was, like, 13, and we lived in the same neighborhood. I met him falling off a skateboard where I used to ride my bikes – I used to race bikes, right? He came into the school one night, and he took a skateboard, and he just crashed and burned really big time. So I went over to him over to him and said, “Are you all right?” You know? And Steven is such a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. He was banged up pretty bad, but he was like, “Yeah!” Anyway, so we started hanging out and we ditched the whole 7th grade together just walking around Hollywood.

Steven would talk about having met prior to this:

I had my teacher chasing me around the classroom and I ran into [Slash's] classroom and his teacher had his finger in his face telling him he’d be a loser and a bum. So I instantly knew we had something in common.

Slash and Steven would become good friends and they would later recall a story where Slash as underage had managed to get into the Rainbow to party with Steven:

So I went home and I got drunk, and I was like going to go home and figure out some way of getting into the Rainbow, and I was going to hook up with Steven. So, I had this idea, since it was ladies night, that I would go in drag. I would dress up like a chick. I took my mom's car and her clothes and drove back up to the Rainbow, went to Steady, and he just let me in. No ID. I was all good. And it seemed like a novel idea. It seemed like an entertaining idea until as I was in the Rainbow I realized that Steven wasn't there. The joke was since Seven would f--k anything he would pick up on me, and it would be a big joke. But Steven had already picked up some other chick and all of the sudden this black cloud came over me and I realized that I was standing in the middle of the Rainbow Room in girl's clothes. So, I hightailed it out of there.

Me and Slash went there one night, and it was ladies' night and he couldn't get in. For some reason they didn't let him in, but I got in. So he went home and had his mum dress him up like a woman. He put a dress on and he went up there and he got in.

At some time, Slash also ended up in jail after shoplifting a Boston album to give to Steven on his birthday:

Yeah [it is true I ended up in jail]! (laughs). I stole a cassette for Steven Adler on his birthday. It was Boston's first album. Later, sometime in 1984, I started working at a Tower Video store, a record store specializing in videos. I spent almost a year and a half there.

A turning point in Slash' life came when he was visiting Steven and Steven put on a Kiss record, a band that Slash "always hated":

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

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

But he turned the amp all the way up and we'd hit—anything! That sound was so powerful, so intense, we decided to put a band together. I quit riding my bike and started playing guitar.

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

It was really because of Steven Adler, our drummer. We had known each other for years, and I used to go to his house to listen to Kiss records, and he'd play along with his guitar. So when we decided to start a band, even though I didn't know the difference between a bass, lead or rhythm guitar, I figured I'd start taking lessons. Then when we had our first group meeting, one of the guys asked if I preferred bass over guitar. And not knowing the difference, I said I'd take the guitar because it had more strings! Then as I began to learn more about what I was doing, I really got into the instrument.

I had a guitar and a little amp and I invited [Slash] over by my grandmother's bedroom, showed him the one chord and one scale, put my Kiss record on, and I did all my Ace Frehley positions.

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

I lived about 5 or 6 blocks from Santa Monica Blvd, so if I was with Slash, we'd get back to my house first, I had two rooms, a living room, and a bedroom, and I'd always sleep in the living room. In the bedroom, I had this guitar and a little amplifier that I was learning to play, and one day I just showed it to Slash. I knew two chords and two scales and I tried to play along to Kiss Alive- strike all the Ace Frehley positions, man! Well, Slash just fell in love with that guitar. I gave it to him, and within a week he was writing songs. He was just made for the guitar. Made for it. I just wanted to be a rock 'n' roll star, the guitar was too complicated for me. I set up all these pillows and coathangers and got my first drumsticks and played along to Kiss and Boston. Music made me feel special. Rock 'n' roll is in my heart and in my soul and the lifestyle was a huge part of it. It's like, sex and rock 'n' roll, that was the lifestyle I was living, right from then. It was never heavy drugs at that age. The heroin thing didn't come until after we were successful, I was a big pothead, thats what I liked, the three P's man - Pot,Pussy and percussion! We had waaay more fun before we got success than after.

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

But I never had any aspirations to become a musician until I met Steve Adler. He had a guitar. He used to play to KISS records. He didn’t know what he was doing, but he would crank the amp up…

Steven Adler, the original drummer for Guns N' Roses, got me interested in playing although I'd been raised on music. When we were about 15, we used to ditch school together. After his grandmother would leave for work, we would go back to his house and hang out until she got off work, then we'd split and act like we were at school all day! He had some piece of crap guitar and amp. We'd turn on Kiss records really loud and, even though he didn't know how to play, he'd go through the motions. So I thought I'd start playing bass so we could jam together, although I didn't even have an instrument.

Slash and I got together. We were about 11-12 years old, junior high school. I had a guitar, and when I met him in school, he came over and I showed him the guitar – and, literally, the next day he had a guitar.

Another occasion where Slash was mesmerized by music:

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

It just started for me with no real planning. I never looked down the road and said I'm gonna be famous someday. I just got into guitar playing and was real diligent about it, and played with a number of bands.

Alright, it was Aerosmith’s Rocks, and I first heard it when I was about 14 years old. I used to race BMX bikes and the older guys put it on, and it just grabbed me—Fuck, this is bad. I only got to hear it for like a second the first time. The second time I heard it was—there was this girl that used to hang around a certain group of friends, and she was probably the best-looking girl in school and in the neighborhood, and she’d just broken up with her boyfriend. I tried desperately to pick this girl up for the longest time, and finally she invited me up to her house.

I was aspiring to get in this girl’s pants, more or less, so I go up to her room, and she’s got tapestries on the wall and incense and pot, her stereo—a typical teenage-girl’s room at the time. She put on some records; we listened to Zeppelin; we listened to Yes; and then finally she put this record on that I recognized immediately from like the first fuckin’ note.

It was Rocks. I must’ve listened to this record in that girl’s—her name was Lori—bedroom probably a half-dozen times, from front to back, over and over again, and I completely ignored her. The whole purpose of my being there completely went out the window. Finally I think she said, “I think it’s time for you to go.” And I was like, “Okay, see ya.” I got on my bike and I took off and she never spoke to me again.

But that record spoke to me in such a way—it was like it embodied everything that I was about, and I had just never heard it put to music. It was raw, it was nasty, it was really rhythmic, it was very sort of drugged out, fuckin’ all over the place and [there was] this sort of angst in Steve Tyler’s voice. It was the perfect fuckin’ hard rock teenage record… like what punk rock was for everybody else at the time. It was the most aggressive, sleazy, guitar-driven, you know… not angry record, but like pissed-off party music.

I was sold. And not too long after that, I picked up the guitar and off I went.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Fri May 03, 2024 8:36 am; edited 3 times in total
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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 3:52 pm


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

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

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

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

I tried to take lessons, and to give credit where credit's due, there's a guy named Robert Roland. And the first time that I went to take lessons, I was going to play bass and [GN'R drummer] Steven Adler was the guitar player. I was 15, and Robert said, 'What do you want to play?' And I said, "the one that has four strings on it."

I went to a neighborhood music school and thought I'd take lessons. The guitar teacher started playing Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page stuff, and I told him that was really what I wanted to do. So I switched from the idea of playing bass to playing guitar. Then consequently, Steven went from playing guitar to playing drums. So that's pretty much how it started.

I was really into music, but I never aspired to be a musician until, all of a sudden, a particular record, an Aerosmith record, came out; and all of a sudden I dropped everything, and then I became a guitar player. I didn’t even know I was gonna become a guitar player. I didn’t know what I wanted to play; I just had to do something. I just picked a guitar, because the bass had less strings on it (laughs).

So I walked into this local music school and said I wanted to learn how to play bass, and they asked if I had an instrument? I said no so they had some instruments there and I picked up the bass, but something about the bass seemed wrong to me. The teacher had an acoustic guitar and was playing Cream and Jimi Hendrix on it and I said, ‘That's what I want to do.’ But he told me I needed to get an instrument...

I went to a local music school and talked to the teacher and said, 'I want to learn how to play bass.' He asked me a few questions to figure out what I wanted to achieve. While he was talking to me, he was playing Eric Clapton's Cream licks on electric guitar. I said, 'That’s what I want to do,' because I really didn’t know that much about guitars. So that was it — I switched over to guitar.

That guy Robert, he said he's going to teach me guitar lessons, so we started out like, 'I don't know if you ever took piano lessons, scales and whatnot, but if you can learn this lesson by next week, I'll teach you any song you want me to teach you.' So I was like, 'Okay, cool.' I was into the Zeppelin, Sabbath, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick. I really liked The Stones and Beatles, and The Who, there's tons of records I loved. [...] Anyway, I can't remember what the first riff I had him teach me was, but I watched him do it, he put the record on and he had the guitar, and he sat there and listened to it and figured out the notes. So I eventually left there with all due respect to Robert, I learned a lot of cool things, some picking techniques, just up and down picking, pentatonics... So I quit with the lessons and I just started learning. I was learning, you know, Keith and Mick stuff, some of the open chords stuff...

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

It wasn't a real bad guitar or anything, but it did have just one string—the low E string. I was real determined to learn, so just having a guitar was a start. I taught myself a bunch of songs on just that one string. Then, when I finally went for lessons, the teacher just sort of looked at me and asked if I had another guitar. I guess I was kinda naive back then. So, there was a long period before I had a real guitar.

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

It had one string on it. It was in a storage unit or something; my grandmother had it. And I learned how to play UFO songs and Led Zeppelin songs on it. [...] On one string. That’s when I first started.

My grandmother had this Spanish acoustic guitar in the back of her closet with one string on it and that’s where I started. So I went back to the music school... They started me on my way with the basic rudimentary parts. But all I kept thinking was I just want to do the Disraeli Gears stuff, and so my teacher would give me lessons which were like piano lessons and then he would play something that I liked and maybe write me out a chord chart. So I started watching him, learning parts from records that I would bring in until I thought, I could do that, which was much more fun than learning scales.

Then he got a more complete guitar:

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

I didn't really know how to start; I was looking in a book playing scales and didn't know where I was going 'cause that didn't sound anything like 'Cat Scratch Fever,' you know? But my grandmother used to play piano, and she got me my first guitar. She was very patient and supportive, especially because she'd come from a rich black family where, at the time, soul music was considered in bad taste and she wasn't even allowed to listen to it. So when I'd crank up 'Black Dog' she'd gel really upset—she'd been raised to hate stuff like that. And of course, being the punk that I was, I'd crank it up even higher.

Later Slash would mix these stories up:

My grandmother gave [my first guitar] to me. It was a Spanish-style acoustic and it had one string on it. She pulled it out of a garage or something. I learned most of the shit I know now on that one string.

Or say she found it in a closet:

\But the first guitar I ever had my grandmother found in her closet. It was a one-string Spanish-style acoustic guitar. I learned how to play a lot of stuff on that one string!

The guitar he got from his grandmother was an Explorer copy [Guitar Player, December 1991]. His next guitar was a Memphis Les Paul copy, that he "ended up sticking it through a wall neck first" because he "couldn't keep the fucking thing in tune" [Guitar Player, December 1991].

The first electric guitar that I ever got was a Memphis Les Paul copy. That guitar wasn't the best quality and eventually the neck bowed... I ended up sticking it neck first through a wall at a rehearsal studio.

Talking about one of his guitar-playing revelations:

I think for me it was really, you know, I was talking about that, I had this little... the first thing I ever bought having to do with learning how to play guitar, was this little How To Play Rock Guitar book I found in Aaron's Records [?] or something and it was... it had tabs in it and, you know, the tabs are simple enough and it showed some sort of positions and the notes in that position and related that to a couple different sort of rocks standards or whatever, and it was really just putting like four notes together that sounded rock and roll and I was like, "Oh my god!" and it's just, I mean, and that just sent me, you know, running after that. And so it's, I think, always been about, you know, accomplishing whatever it is that you wanted to hear or were hearing in your head, and that's such a turn-on when it happens.

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

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


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

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

I wasn't real good with the lessons, though the guy I did study with, Robert Wolin, was a big help. He was an inspiration, in a way, because he had a band, one of those really good Top 40 bands, the kind that played all the classics, night after night. He was literally the most amazing player I'd ever seen. He turned me on to what the difference was between lead and rhythm, showed me how to recognize and play the different things that I was hearing on records. It was a lot of fun, really, because I'd bring him a record, he'd put it on, and he'd learn it right there, all the leads, everything note-for-note. When you're a teenager, the most amazing thing is seeing someone play 'Stairway to Heaven' right in front of you. So this teacher gave me the basics in just the right way, which enabled me to take things off of records and learn 'em myself, which is what I did for a long time.

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

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

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

I thought I’d take guitar lessons so I showed up at this local music school. I was very ignorant about the difference between a guitar, a violin, a bass. I just knew whatever it was had to be strings. I was ignorant but I knew what I liked to listen to on record. That’s the key ingredient. The stuff I play now is influenced by the stuff I liked when I was a kid. The Stones, The Who, The Beatles. So when I went to take guitar lessons the guy had a guitar and played me the solo to “Sunshine of Your Love,” and I said “That’s what I want to do.”

In 2017, Alan Santalese, who was in Shire together with Izzy, would recount a story about meeting Slash and Steven in 1979, while Slash took guitar lessons:

Previously to that, this is a weird story, my dad has sent me, 1979, to a music school. There was a little tiny shack on Fairfax Ave, Santa Monica, I used to go take guitar lessons once a week and I would see Slash- [...] I saw Slash and Steven Adler were going to the same school, so I asked my teacher, "I can't find anybody to be in a band with, what about those two?" And he goes, "Oh, that's Saul and Steven, you don't want to be with those kids, they're crazy."


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

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

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

Finally, I quit and spent a lot of time teaching myself. I worked full-time to support my guitar habit and stayed up until God-knows-when practicing and learning. My main thing was Jeff Beck at that time. I remember learning "'Cause We've Ended As Lovers" [Blow By Blow] note for note, getting every subtlety. There was Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, and Zeppelin. I sold my soul to the guitar.

Slash grew obsessed with playing and quit school [Guitar World, March 1989]:

I'm real single-minded. so once I got into guitar, that's all I did. It basically replaced school.

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

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

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

I had long hair, and the schools I went to were filled with kids of bankers and real-estate agents. It wasn’t like any of them came from the same background I had.

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

But as he started to play the guitar he went from being a "loner who never had many friends" to become more popular [Rolling Stone, January 1991].

Describing what he would have done if he didn't become a musician:

I'd probably be doing something that had to do with art and wouldn't be a nine-to-five thing. I just can't do that mundane sort of every day thing. It would have to be something where I could make my own schedule.

The last job I had was in a music store and I got fired. I worked other jobs too. One job I never even showed up at because I found out Motley Crue was recording in L.A. so I went to hang out outside the studio.

It was probably through the job in this music store he was able to get good deals on guitar and equipment, and bought his first decent guitars, like "a B.C. Rich, then a real nice '59 Stratocaster and then a '69 Les Paul Black Beauty, which I really liked" [Guitar World, March 1989].

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

I've never told this story in an interview, but my very first guitar was a mahogany, neck-through, B.C. Rich Mockingbird with Bill Lawrence pickups. It was great. I had it for a long time, but I hocked it during my drug trip, and I'll never forgive myself for doing that.

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


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

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

I didn’t know I wanted to do music when I started doing it. I just started doing it, because it’s just something I got into. It was like, Steven got me turned on to playing guitar and I just really got into it. I didn’t have any kind of, like, aspirations or dreams in the beginning, you know, but I worked – I mean, they must have been there somewhere, but they must have been very subconscious, because I was working my ass off to support the habit, and I was working my ass off to get better as a musician, and blah blah blah. But, at the same time, I wasn’t, like, working towards any particular goals like, you know, trying to be a rock star or trying to beat John McLaughlin or anything like that. [...] I’m probably never gonna be any better than my influences, you know what I mean? Because that’s all I ever listened to and that’s the only pinnacle to which, you know, I’ve ever had to try and get to be able to be that good.

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

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

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


Talking about his musical influences when he started out:

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

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

Last edited by Soulmonster on Mon Feb 26, 2024 3:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 3:53 pm


Izzy started a garage band with a neighbour:

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

After having befriended Axl, Axl joined Izzy's garage band [Unknown UK Source, June 1987]. This was around the same time as Slash started playing guitar in Los Angeles.

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

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

We did covers of Angel City, one of the Ramones, and we tried to make covers of Aerosmith, but we never got to do it. […] I was a drummer, for me it was easy, but the guitarist that we had at the time, was more into Led Zeppelin and Rush. Axl and I, we preferred to play Ramones or Angel City stuff, hard rock stuff, but with a different vocal style.

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

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

[Being asked if his parents were supportive]: My mum was 100 per cent supportive - loved music, let Axl (Rose) and I play in our garage back in Indiana.

[Axl and I] started playing together around 1978/79. We were jamming in my mom's garage. One of the craziest guys around had stolen a small PA from a church and was looking for a place to hide it, because the cops were on to it. Sensing the opportunity, I agreed to do him that favor. So Axl started plugging his mic into that PA and we rehearsed. He was really shy at the time. We were making a terrible racket (laughs). That's how it all started. But I always knew (and so did he) that we were going to make it. We had the same vision, we wanted to start a band, a real band. That's what brought us together in the first place. At least it would allow us to see the country and have a good time.

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.

You know, I originally didn’t want to be up here tonight - I don’t mean here in Kansas City, I mean being up singing and shit. You see, when we started years ago, I wanted to play keyboards, but Izzy told me I couldn’t be in the band unless I sang. Nobody else wanted to sing and if I wanted to be in the band I had to be the singer. That’s how I got to go to keggers, that’s how I got free beer… it’s like, because I suck on guitar.

Later Izzy would say that he and Axl started playing together in 1978 or 1979 [TuneCore Podcast, November 12, 2006].
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 3:53 pm


In addition to Izzy [discussed above], Axl had friends in Indiana who would become important to his later life and also to Guns N' Roses. One of them would contribute song writing and play with Guns N' Roses in the future, Paul Huge. The following quotes are likely about Huge.

Then my friend Paul put me in his car, and I went flying over another car, and my friend’s dad came running out of the house from across the street. He was going to shoot my friend because he thought that somebody was out to kill me. It was a really exciting night.

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

In 2018, Raz Cue would talk about Kevin Lawrence from Rapid Fire and suggest that Axl, around 1985, had been talking about Lawrence having the best guitar tone, but it could possibly have been about Huge or other of Axl's friends from Indiana:

You know, he used to refer to being in a band, but I never like asked him. I always assumed... I realize now that was Rapid Fire [...] Axl used to talk about a band he was in and he would talk about the guitar player, which I know now is Kevin. And so, yeah, it's weird. I always assume it was an Indiana band. I just assumed [...] So that was all the bands I heard about, so I just whenever he talked about like that other band, that guitar player dude... Like, he liked Kevin. Like, he really didn't - I'm assuming it was Kevin - he didn't really think like he was the greatest player in the world, but he thought he had the best guitar tone. He just loved that dude's guitar tone. But it might not be Kevin. It could be somebody from Indiana, you know, so.

Other Indiana friends were Mike Staggs, Dave Lank and Roger Miley. These three came up with "AXL" as a possible band name:

My friend Dave Lank wrote down names of bands, him and Mike Staggs and Roger Miley. And we always thought of names of bands and he had this page, like hundreds of names he thought of for names of bands.

At the time when they came up with "AXL" they hadn't started playing music themselves [Mike Staggs, personal communication, February 17, 2020]. When Axl later left for California he would start a band called "AXL" despite his friends' protest [Mike Staggs, personal communication, February 17, 2020; and see later chapter]. Staggs, only 14 at the time, tried protecting the name through a half-written legal document which he still keeps [Mike Staggs, personal communication, February 17, 2020].

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

This is my oldest friend in the world. We grew up together. We’re two halves of the same person. [...] Twin sons out of different mothers.


Mike Staggs would move to California himself and eventually play in the band Dumpster that would open for Guns N' Roses in 1991, at the Warfield and Pantages, as part of the warm-up tour. He spent time with Axl during the recording of Use Your Illusion and The Spaghetti Incident? and recorded guitar for Ain't It Fun at 4am in the morning after partying with Axl and Mike Monroe [Mike Staggs, personal communication, February 17, 2020]. Staggs would also be a neighbour of Axl and spend time with him in Los Angeles [Mike Staggs, personal communication, February 17, 2020]. When Izzy left the band in 1991, Staggs and Axl would discuss having Staggs join the band but eventually Gilby got the part [Mike Staggs, personal communication, February 17, 2020]. Staggs and Axl would lose contact in around 1994 [Mike Staggs, personal communication, February 17, 2020].

Paul Huge would also move to California and play a pivotal role as the Use Your Illusion lineup broke-up and become a member of the band as as Guns N' Roses transitioned to its more modern version in the early 2000s [see later chapter for more information].

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Jan 27, 2024 11:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 3:54 pm



When I was 15 years old I was like in three bands at one time — I'd go to one rehearsal playing drums, another playing maybe drums again and another playing guitar.

[…]I'd been touring in punk bands since I was 15. I started on drums, but I was often times in two bands, where I'd have a gig in San Francisco playing drums and the next morning you'd find me with my thumb out hitchhiking to Portland, to get to my other gig[…].

In my early punk rock bands, in my teens, I played guitar one band, I played drums in another, and I played bass in another.

Duff played in "over 30 bands" [The Seattle Times, July 1991] or "31 bands" [Circus Magazine, November 1991; Kerrang! March 1989], alternating between playing bass, guitar and drums [Circus Magazine, November 1991]. Although a lot of the bands were just party bands that played together only once [Circus Magazine, November 1991].

I counted once and it was over 30 bands!

1979: VAINS

Duff's first band of note was Vains in which he played bass and called himself Nico Teen:

The first single I played on was with a band called the Veins, not to be confused with Vain. It was '79, and I was actually playing bass then.

The Vains [sic] were my very first band, we actually did a single. Let's see... The Fartz, The Silly Killers, 10 Minute Warning, The D.T.'s Cleavage, Our Gang...

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

And yeah, I was the bass player for the Vains and this is probably… ’79? Yeah, ‘79 and I think I was about 14. [...] And I’m Nico Teen - that was my name. That was my punk rock name.

Actually, my first single that I ever did it was in 1979. I played bass and my name was Nico Teen. The band's name was the Veins. And I wrote a song on the single, the B-side. It’s called “The Fake” and, if you hear the chord progression, it's what Jungle… it finally became Jungle, Welcome to the Jungle, fantastic. So I started writing, really quite badly, but-

When I was 14, a friend of mine who was a drummer and I formed a band with Chris Utting called the Vains—it was my first punk-rock band. My first gig ever was opening up for Black Flag at the Washington Hall in ’79.
Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge; September 2011

Talking about the trip to Washington Hall with the Veins:

My first real punk show was when my band, The Vains, opened for Black Flag (Ron Reyes), and The Subhumans in Seattle in 1979 at Washington Hall. Sometime that year I made my first trip to Van to see our heroes, DOA. We’d fake notes from our parents to cross the border. Me and my pals were 15, hence … underage. [...] The [Smilin’] Buddha didn’t check ID. We thought this was the coolest thing in the world! I met Zippy [Pinhead] at this point, and he introduced me to the fine art of drinking Old Stock. We began to be able to crash out at the DOA house off of Georgia [The Plaza]… This was equal to staying in KISS’s mansions or something like that. [Joey] Shithead was super cool to us kids.
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 3:54 pm


In 1980, Izzy received a letter from a guitarist friend who had left for the California earlier, touting the advantages of Californian life together with some sample of Californian pot [The Daily Spectrum, April 11, 1993]. Izzy subsequently left for California that summer [Courier and Journal, May 19, 1980; Rolling Stone, November 1988; Courier and Journal, February 23, 1993] at the age of 18 [Guitar World, March 1989; Journal Courier, February 21, 1993].

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

I never really thought about coming back or not. You know, I'm 18 years old, I never thought too far ahead. I've got enough money for gas and I got all my stuff. I'm going to get in a band and maybe check out the beach and get some sun.

[I left Lafayette] out of pure necessity! In Indiana, Axl and I were rehearsing in my mom's garage. And I knew that there was no place there where we could play, except for one or two bars. The problem was that you had to be at least 21 years old to get into those places. We were only about 18, at most. And even in these bars, young bands could only play covers. So we really wanted to do everything we could to break in, but in Lafayette we were obviously at a dead end. So I wondered where I could go to have a chance to break through, and after two seconds of thinking about it, it became apparent to me that in terms of music everything was happening in New York and Los Angeles. In New York it's super cold. So I chose sunny L.A., thinking that regardless of how it turned out, at least I wouldn't freeze my balls off. And then there was the ocean. A year before me, Steve, a Hungarian-born guitarist friend, and his brother had moved from Indiana to L.A. And then one day, I got a letter in the mail and I found a joint inside! (laughs) I laid down on my bed, lit the joint and read my buddy's letter. Then I wrote him back, sending him a joint, too. A few days later, he calls me: "So, when are you coming to join us?” I figured that at least I knew someone there. So I packed my stuff and drove to the City of Angels in my old Chevy Impala. I only stayed with my friend for five days, because he wanted me to work in the factory. He really flipped out at my response. Then I got a job at a small record store and, like I said, within a week I had found a band. Being the country boy that I was, I was living a pipe dream! The food, the people, the cars, everything was different there! The first couple of years I found it really exciting [...]

According to Musician, December 1988, he first tried his luck in Chicago and Indianapolis, before throwing his drum kit and P.A. ("this little-bitty P.A. system some nutbag had stolen from a church and left in my garage" [Press Kit for 117 Degrees, January 1998]) in the back of an old Chevy Impala and heading for Los Angeles where he settled in Huntington [Los Angeles Daily News, March 20, 1998].

The weather was better and that's where everything was.

I even brought my kit with me to California. At the time, I thought I was a better drummer than guitarist (laughs).
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 3:55 pm


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

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

At some point he worked in a guitar shop [Metal Edge, January 1989]. He and Axl also took a job as cigarette smokers for UCLA:

One day I’m going through the paper and there’s an ad that says ‘Smokers needed, $10 an hour’, so I said, ‘Fuck, this seems like easy work. That’s all we do anyway’. And so we called this place and they said, ‘Yeah, come on down’. Of course, Axl couldn’t even do that, he quit.

He also worked as a carpenter at some point but lost the job after doing magic mushrooms at work:

I remember getting a job at a carpentry shop in Orange County. I was making yacht cabins, mini bars, all the fancy wood equipment you'd find on those kinds of boats. It was an interesting job, you had to be very thorough. I did that for a few months. I was working five days a week and I thought it was pretty cool, because I was rehearsing every night with my band. But then one of my co-workers showed up at work one day with a bag of psychedelic mushrooms. While I was taking a break at lunch time, listening to music in my car, he offered me some. I had never tried mushrooms before, so I grabbed a handful of them and ate them in less time than it just took me to tell you about it (laughs). Back at work a few minutes later, I started laughing at every little thing and feeling really funny. Needless to say, my boss fired me a week later! After that, I went to work for a phone company, etc. The only cool job I got was as a waiter in a pizza house. I really liked it, I love the restaurant business and Italian food.

In the early days he went by "Izzy Bell" [Appetite for Distortion, 2017]. Around 1984-1985 Izzy would call himself "Izzy Stranded" [Newsletter #1, December 1985], because he "had no job, no car, no money", but eventually decided that this name was too depressing [Star Tribune, February 26, 1993] so he changed to "Izzy Stradlin".

Back then he wasn’t calling himself Izzy Stradlin yet. He was Jeff Bell, actually. He got rid of the “Is” [Stradlin was born Jeffrey Isbell] and just called himself Jeff Bell.
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021

While playing with Shire [see later chapter], Izzy met Tracii Guns and would move in with Tracii:

In fact, Izzy ended up moving in with Tracii:

When I was about sixteen, Izzy moved into my mom’s house and lived with us for, like, a year. And we always agreed that we liked Aerosmith and the Stones and the band Accept, but he turned me on to a lot of other stuff, like Hanoi Rocks and Girl with Phil Lewis … this kind of alternative rock scene. And I don’t mean alternative music. I mean just the alternative to mainstream metal.

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

In 1988, Izzy would describe himself this way:

Quiet, articulate and full of shit.

In September 1992, after having quit Guns N' Roses, Izzy would look back at his decision to buy a guitar and not go to college:

The other day, I told [my father]: "Hey, pop, you remember when you shouted at me for that guitar? Well, how much money did I get with this guitar?" He's a real fan now. He's cool my father. He's got a tractor and he mows my lawn! He married a new wife and made two little girls, I told him "Hey, pop, slow down a little bit!" Ah, ah.
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 3:55 pm



Within three days of leaving Lafayette for Los Angeles, Izzy found himself in a band [Popular 1, November 1992], The Naughty Women.

A week later, I was playing in a band. It's crazy when you think about it! I moved from Indiana to Los Angeles which, as everyone knows, is a much bigger city, and it only took me a week to hook up with other musicians. Just a fucking stroke of luck! Then again, that’s what I really wanted to do with my life and I made it happen. It allowed me to meet a lot of musicians, meet a lot of people...

They rehearsed for a week in the bassist's parents' home in Orange County [Musician, November 1992] before playing their first gig in downtown Los Angeles [Musician, November 1992].

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

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

So these guys with no hair turned out to be skinheads, and they hated us. They threw beer bottles and spit. They got onstage and broke the guitar player's finger, trashed the amps, beat the shit out of the singer. That was my first gig. We were called the Naughty Women. At the time I thought they must have it together because they had business cards.

I was in a punk band. I arrived in Los Angeles on a Sunday and by Wednesday I was already in that group. I had just arrived from Indiana, and I had no idea what was going on (laughs); for four nights I rehearsed with them, I had a car, a Chevrolet Impala and that’s why I became the roadie, and in my car, rode all the equipment, drums, instruments, it was a very big car. We arrived at the Troubadour, there was a punk concert; at that time in Los Angeles, people wore Cherokee haircuts, I, on the other hand, had waist-length hair, I came from Indiana (laughs), and the guys from my band came out of the dressing room like women, so I said to them “What is this about!” (laughs) No one told me anything! We could only do six or seven songs, people from the audience got up on stage, hit the singer and broke the guitarist’s hand, they destroyed the equipment and I said, “We’re leaving!” The police arrived. It was quite exciting, it was one of those things that makes you say “Uaauhh, so that is what happened!”
Popular 1, November 1992; translated from Spanish

One of the first bands I was in after I came to California was called the Naughty Women, and I had no idea what they were about. Then we did our first gig, and they walked out on stage in full makeup and Spandex. It was a skinhead crowd, and they just hated us. They were throwing bottles and stuff, and I was in the middle of it all, just this normal-looking guy from Indiana who just didn’t get it. It was a trip.

One night we were talking after a rehearsal, Izzy mentioned a band called Naughty Women. It rang a bell. "I know that band," I said, trying to place the name. "I think I played a gig with them once. wait, wait, wait. Were they...cross-dressers?" "Yep," Izzy said. He paused. "I was the drummer," he said. Cool, I thought., this guy really was a veteran of the punk-rock club scene. He was the real deal.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 58-59

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

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

What a bunch of fucking wankers they were [cackling]. I had no idea these guys came out in drag at the first gig. They didn’t tell me that bit; when I met them and we were rehearsing in Orange County they were all wearing street clothes. Then at the first gig they all came out in pink spandex, fucking Afros and make-up. I was like, ‘Holy shit, what’s this?’ The crowd threw bottles at us and beat the hell out of the singer. So that was my initiation into Los Angeles rock.

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


Izzy's tenure in The Naughty Women only lasted for two months after which he joined the band The Atoms which was "more of a Johnny Thunders/Rolling Stones cast" [Press Kit for 117 Degrees, January 1998]. While in The Atoms, Izzy had parts of his drum kit stolen and thus switched to bass guitar [Press Kit for 117 Degrees, January 1998].

Then I gave up drums again, this time for bass, because it was much more practical to carry around than a drum kit.
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 4:32 pm


One of the more known bands Duff played in while in Seattle was The Fastbacks with Kim Warnick, Kurt Bloch and Lulu Gargiulo. Duff was one of many drummers the band has had.

Then I played drums on a single in a band called the Fastbacks, who are still around. I was about 15, going on 16.

[...] I was the original drummer from the Fastbacks... I was playing bass guitar in other punk bands, and Kurt (Bloch) asked if I wanted to play drums in the Fastbacks because he was playing drums up to that point. And they had a drum kit, so I just kind of came in and learned how to play drums to Fastbacks songs originally. I played drums probably in as many bands as I did anything else back in those days.

Okay, so the Fastbacks were a band called Red and Black before they were called the Fastbacks. Kurt played drums and they played a few gigs, but they wanted a drummer and wanted Kurt to go to his rightful place of playing guitar, so they asked me if I played drums. I hadn't played drums in a band previous to this, but I could play drums, sort of, and I think the first song I learned was Baby Blue by Badfinger and then It's Your Birthday, and onward and onward.

Later, the Fastbacks asked me to play drums because Kurt Bloch was initially playing the drums and he’s really a guitar player; Kim Warnick became my musical mentor.
Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge; September 2011

The Fastbacks recorded a record and were featured on the first Seattle Syndrome LP [Circus Magazine, November 1991].

The band The Fastbacks with Duff at the bottom.
Unknown image copyright

In fact I roadied for [The Fastbacks] after I quit, on a tour where we went down to California, opening for D.O.A. and T.S.O.L. Which, years later, T.S.O.L. opened for us and I had to tell them "remember years ago I roadied for your opening band?" Because back then T.S.O.L. were godlike, I was just happy to get a chance to see them. But The Fastbacks are the coolest band in the world. Still are.

When Guns N' Roses did their 'Hell Tour' in June 1985, playing one show in Seattle, they opened for Fastbacks [see later chapter]. And at some point, likely much later, Duff gave one of his basses to Kim Warnick [Nardwuar CITR Radio Show, October 12, 2007].

I still keep in touch with Kim (Warnick). After 13 years. The Fastbacks finally have a record deal. She’s really pumped.
The Province, March 26, 1993

Kim Warnick is like my… she's my mentor, my rock mentor still to this day.
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 4:33 pm



At the age of 17, Axl travelled extensively. This was likely partly caused by his growing problems with the law in Lafayette, conflict with his family, problems fitting in, and a desire to become something. Axl first travelled to California where he spent two weeks in Huntington Beach before setting out to hicthhike around the States, and then settling in Los Angeles [Hard Magazine (France), February 1988].

I went to L.A. several times before hitchhiking across the States, to Florida, to New York, to San Francisco.
Hard Force [French], October 1987; translated from French

The first time I set foot in L.A., I was on the run from the law. My grandmother was driving me and a friend to the airport. As we were driving along, the cops came around the corner, right behind us. I yelled, "Go, grandma, go!" She didn't know I was in trouble with the cops, of course.

Once this girl picked me up in a car; she was 16 or 17 and her mom reported it stolen. The police tried to get me for grand theft auto, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, statutory rape - and I didn't touch this girl! After they filed the charges I went to her house and we had a party. Then I left town.

[The police] tried to get me as a habitual criminal, which can mean a life in prison. My lawyer got the case thrown out of court. I left and came to California. They told me not to leave, but I left anyway. My lawyer took care of it. I didn't go back for a long time. Now when I go back to see my family, I avoid the police there. I try to avoid all police in general.

You know I grew up in a place where I got sick of being made fun of by the straights. I had long hair. I got kicked out of my house when I was 16 ‘cause my dad was real strict and I wouldn’t cut my hair anymore. Then I was being called a drug addict. I was running cross country and was completely into health at the time. So, that’s when I left home, got into beer, drugs and went to jail about 20 times. Then I got out of that, but I always kept my hair long. I went back to my old high school where certain people had respect for me, some of the athletes and the student council. All of a sudden, they didn’t. They thought I was a hippie, but I wasn’t really friendly with the hippies ‘cause I liked all kinds of music. If you thought Devo or the Sex Pistols had a good song, all of a sudden you were a punk rocker! If you liked Bowie and the Stones, then you were a fag! So all of a sudden I was a hippy, punk rocker, faggot, you know? All at the same time. So, then I came out here [=Los Angeles] ‘cause I’m too far gone for Indiana, and I’m some hick-ass who just got off the boat.

While hitchhiking across the USA, Axl would encounter an unpleasant experience in the St. Louis area:

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

It was likely during these travels, while in New York, that Axl experienced something that would later inspire the lyrics to 'Welcome to the Jungle':

I slept one night in a schoolyard in Queens with a big fence around it. This black guy came up to me and said, 'You know where you are? You in the jungle! You gonna die!' So we put that in a song. Then I was in the [South) Bronx, right off the freeway where the big rock walls are and the buildings are all destroyed. There were all these cops and guys pissing on the street and little kids running around with sticks. We got stranded there on our way to Connecticut, so we climbed up the fuckin' wall and the little kids came up to us with the sticks and started bashing me in the knees, going, 'I'm gonna kick your ass, muthah fuckah!'
Circus Magazine, January 31, 1989; from an unknown 1986 interview

Maybe it was these experiences that resulted in Axl not establishing himself in New York, something he had considered (and would later consider after Guns N' Roses blew up, see later chapters):

I was quite willing to move to New York, but there is more happening here.


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

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

I hit L.A. with a backpack, a piece of steel in one hand and a can of maize in the other. And guys were trying to sell me joints everywhere, and then some black guy turned me on to the bus station. So, I found the bus station. And there'll be a song about the bus station on our EP called "One In A Million". And then I rode all around Fullerton [in Orange County] thinking it was just the smallest city I'd seen and I would find Izzy. I rode the bus for like, two days. Never found Izzy. But, you know, I stayed in Huntington Beach [in Orange County] for a while. I found this empty apartment with the door open and a skateboard in the corner and that was Izzy's. Got lucky. Paid some guys a case of beer to help me find Huntington Beach, 'cause I didn't know where it was.

In the Easter of 1981, Axl found Izzy:

Axl shows up on my front door, soaking wet with a backpack. He'd been looking for me for about a month. He didn't know how big this place was.

At the time Izzy was living in an apartment in Huntington Beach [Popular 1, November 1992]. It is possible Axl spent two weeks living with Izzy in Huntington Beach before setting off to hike around the country.


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

I moved to L.A. first, then Axl moved out a year later. Then Axl went on a hitchhiking tour across the states, then showed up again in LA and we started putting the band together and writing songs.

Then I hitchhiked the whole country for a while, looking for where I wanted to stay and start working on a band. You know, went all the way up to San Francisco, went to Rhode Island, went down to Hollywood, Florida. Back to Indiana for a while to regroup... my brain. And then back to L.A. and moved Hollywood and moved in with Izzy and worked on the band.

By 1981, Axl claims to have moved permanently to Los Angeles:

I've been out here [=Los Angeles] on and off since '80, and then I was in here straight from '81, you know solid.

As seen from the previous discussion, this is likely not entirely correct. Izzy moved to LA in 1980 and Axl hooked up with him there in 1981, at the earliest. In the summer of 1982, he was back in Lafayette and started to date the local girl Gina Siler.

Gina Siler and Axl

According to Siler, Axl had "already bussed or hitchhiked out to LA and back twice" [Spin, September 1991]. Siler would describe Axl this way: "He had on a long trench coat, dark glasses, collar pulled up, and said he was trying to stay away from the police" [Spin, September 1991]. Siler and Axl would do "stupid things" together, like "smash windows along Main Street" [Spin, September 1991]. Siler would recall Axl being hassled by the police one time he was back in Lafayette:

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

Also in the summer of 1982, possible before Axl returned to Lafayette and started to date Siler, Axl was in Hollywood and visited Izzy as he was practising with his band Shire [see later chapter]. Izzy's band mate in Shire, Alan Santalesa, would remember Axl and two friends, one of which was likely Paul Huge, coming to their rehearsal and playing an early version of the song Shadow Of Your Love:

The first time I met Axl had to be the summer of 1982. They showed up.... I mean, it was him, known as Bill at the time, there was a guy named Paul and another guy that came with him, he was not a musician, he was just along for the ride. They came at the rehearsal, the garage, you know, the famous garage in the back of Dave [Jagosz]'s house, his parent's. They watched us play. We were introduced and then they got on our instruments and played a song. And that's when I first met him. That's the first time I heard him sing. I remember, you know, they started the song, this bare bone primitive song, which was the song they eventually recorded on one of their EPs, The Shadows Of Your Love. He put his head down and started wailing this scream, it was like a foghorn, you know, "My God, now he sings loud" and that was Shadows Of Your Love. They did this song, we talked a little bit and and then I didn't see him for a while.

Describing Axl's voice:

You know, it was so different from what I was into, but I was familiar with that style. [...] It was a lot like, I don't know if you're familiar with the Australian band that they ended up covering, Rose Tattoo? They wrote Nice Boys. It was even more primitive than AC/DC. It was just this [humming staccato guitars]. And him screaming. And then when I saw him eventually a lot of the songs were like that. It was not yet that technical, you know, inventive riffing that became Appetite for Destruction, that Aerosmith-like almost funk-like beats, jungle beats, it was none of that, it was just straight ahead wall of sound and him wailing.


On December 19, 1982, after Siler graduated from high school early, they moved to Los Angeles and lived together in Hollywood "on or off until 1985" [Spin, September 1991].

Izzy would confirm this:

[Axl] came out like three times before he stayed. Then, probably at the end of '82, he came back out with his girl and rented an apartment, and that's when he finally stayed.

I never really thought about coming back or not. You know, I'm 18 years old, I never thought too far ahead. I've got enough money for gas and I got all my stuff. I'm going to get in a band and maybe check out the beach and get some sun.

Axl went up to L.A. in 1981, left, and came back in 1982, this time for good.

Axl and Siler's first apartment was, according to Siler, "some shit hole" at 1921 Whitley Avenue in Hollywood, where they lived together for five months before Siler moved out. Later Izzy would move in with Axl in that apartment [Spin, September 1991].

Raz Cue would mention Siler from 1984 when Axl was in LA Guns:

She came in when [Axl] was in LA Guns, she came to stay for about a week or two during the summer. They stayed in my house. She's cool, man, I like her.

Later in life, Axl would have a contentious relationship with his hometown Lafayette and Indiana. Indiana University rock-music professor Glenn Gass would remember having met Axl and Izzy after they performed with Rolling Stones in 1989:

I think people forget how huge that band was. I went to the last night of the Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels tour in December 1989, when Axl and Izzy [Stradlin, GNR guitarist] performed ‘Salt of the Earth’ with the Stones. I snuck into the Trump Club in Atlantic City afterwards, and Axl and Izzy showed up a few minutes later (they were not, apparently, invited to the Stones’ end-of-tour party). I yelled, ‘Axl, Indiana!’ which brought him to our table for a couple of hours of hanging out. He was utterly charming, drank only orange juice, and agreed to come guest-lecture in my rock-history class at IU. He also seemed obsessed with the fact that everybody called Mellencamp ‘the Hoosier Rocker’ — ‘even though I’m a fucking Hoosier rocker, too! NO ONE ever says that!’ He was angry and hurt that his home state had not embraced him. It was actually kind of sad and sweet.

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

Axl would explain what he meant about those comments:

You get a lot of teaching in high school about going after your dreams and being true to yourself, but at the same time (teachers and parents) are trying to beat you down. It was so strict in (our house) that everything you did was wrong. There was so much censorship, you weren't allowed to make any choices. Sex was bad, music was bad. I eventually left, but so many kids stay (in that environment). I wanted to tell them . . . that they can break away too.

Despite this, there would be a few media reports where Lafayette citizens were confronted with Axl's statements resulting in negative comments towards him, like when Axl's high school principal, Dennis Blind, would say, "At this point, we’ll probably have no reason to invite him back and I don’t know whether or not he would even come back" [A Current Affair, November 1991].

And while reflecting on his upbringing:

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

Explaining why he settled for Los Angeles:

I finally stayed in L.A. because it was the best place for me to emerge with a band. There’s so much competition, so many kids and record labels. It’s easier for bands because there’s a lot of clubs, and, if you play regularly, you quickly create a good 'following': all the clubs want to book you because you attract crowds. But you still have to be good to get there.
Hard Force [French], October 1987; translated from French

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 4:33 pm


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


Recounting his first bands:

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

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

And his first gig:

I think the first ever, like, so-called... it was a backyard party. [...] Yeah, and, you know, I was in the garage, I think. And it was horrible (laughs).

Marc Canter talking about hearing Slash play the guitar for the first time in this period:

The first time I ever heard Slash play was right here in this garage in 1981. I was sitting right here, just kicking it and Slash was right here. And he was playing his BC Rich Mockingbird with the Sun amp. It was such a rich, thick sound coming out of it, and the notes that he was choosing to put in the guitar solos were just ripping a hole through my spine. To me it was like seeing Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix or some old blues guitar player, just it didn't fit the 15 year old kid.

[Slash] told me that he was in a band and I should come check it out. So I came to the rehearsal and it was Tidus Sloan at that time. And right away, I saw the same talents I saw from his drawing and his bike riding into his music.

Slash in 1982


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

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

Explaining the name:

I didn't know what the name meant. I had a stoner buddy in high school who was way more advanced on guitar than I was. Philip Davidson—he had a Strat, he had an amp, and he knew how to play Deep Purple. He was like a god to me. His parents were never home, so we had keg parties and trashed the house. At one point, the name Tidus Sloan hit me as a great name for a band, although I can't remember why. I think it had something to do with what Philip said—I must've misheard it.

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

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

I met Ron Schneider and Adam Greenberg and that was probably the third throw-together band I had, but it was the first one that started playing keg parties and, you know, terrorizing people’s houses... [...] It was a cover band that could never find a singer.

[...] Tidus Sloan which was a three piece, no singer.  The first gig was at a friend’s party and is actually pictured in the RECKLESS ROAD book.  They’d rehearse in the drummer’s garage and play parties on the weekends.  Some instrumentals and a few originals but mostly like “Jailbreak” and some Sabbath and a little RUSH.  Musically they stayed with the hard rock stuff and did that classic stuff rather than venture into punk or new wave.  At that point in 82 the punk scene had died for the most part here and the new wave stuff was really taking over and the band wanted no part of that so they really stayed true to the Stones, Zeppelin sort of method.

Around the same time as Tidus Sloan, Marc Canter would offer Slash a job at Canter's:

By the way, did you know Slash worked at Canter’s? [...] Yeah, I gave him a job. By 1982, we were best friends, and I kind of created a job for him, based on what I was kind of doing for the restaurant back then. He would go through all the waitresses’ checks and make sure they were run up properly on the cash register. There were no computers back then. In fact, we still don’t have computers at Canter’s. But it was Slash’s job to go through everything and make sure all the pieces fit together.

Being asked if Slash was a good worker:

(laughs).  Yeah, he was.  The only job he really had at Canter’s was to go over the waitresses papers and it was basically a job I created for him to get him a little pocket cash.  When he stopped doing it,  the job was eliminated but he was always a good worker.  I remember when he worked at Tower Records and he talks in the book about how he was always drinking on the job but I know he really did a good job just like he always did a good job in the band, he always took his job seriously and was never a fuck up.

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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 4:34 pm



I played drums on a few records of a band called the Farts, which were a very popular cult hardcore punk band. If you listen to those records, you can see where a lot of the speed metal comes from now, 'cause we're talking '79/'80, when there was no such term as speed metal.

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

When I was in The Fartz we were a Seattle band, as opposed to being from Bellevue, where the rich kids were from. We had shit places to play and no money. […] In 1982 we were on the cover of The Rocket (a notorious Seattle music scene paper) in a ‘Punk V Metal’ deal. Bellevue people thought that were superior to anyone else. Anyway, we went over there to play, and our Punk following didn’t come to see us, cos they were scared of the metal crowd ‘n’ the lumberjacks and shit. So the five of us played the gig. We got booed and had shit thrown at us, but we were used to that, so it was no big deal! […] The Fartz turned into 10 Minute Warning. When Guns had Soundgarden open for them in Europe, a couple of the guys from the band took me aside one day and told me how 10 Minute Warning had inspired ‘em. They were fans! […] It was a great band. It was like King Crimson hitting a brick wall! I played guitar. We recorded some stuff. I have the tapes and I’m thinking of remixing them and putting the material out. It’s awesome shit - just way out there, man!

The Fartz were this - things started to change into that sort of hardcore thing. You know, back when these gigs, D.O.A. and Fastbacks, hardcore hadn't really come out; it was still just sort of innocent punk rock. About this time, bands started to morph, bands like Battalion Of Saints and Channel 3, and… there's a band called The Fartz with Blaine, who went on to The Accüsed, of course-

By ’82, I was playing drums with the Fartz, which was a hardcore band. I was in a million bands and really having fun, starting to tour down the West Coast and play Vancouver all the time.
Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge; September 2011


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

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

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


I knew Andy Wood [from Mother Love Bone] pretty well. Yeah, yeah, during Malfunkshun days before I moved down to L.A. Yeah, we were good friends and of course Greg [Gilmore] and I were in the same band – we were in the same couple of bands, another band before 10 Minute Warning called The Living.

1982-1984: 10 MINUTE WARNING

I also played in the Living with Gregg [Gillmore, fellow band member of 10 Minute Warning] and that just kind of ended off on a sour note. But it was real groovin' for awhile. And I also made a single with the Veins and made a single and played with the Fastbacks and played in a lot of other wank bands. I went to San Francisco with the Silly Killers. I played with the Silly Killers for awhile. Did a mass West Coast tour with Silly Killers and made 14 dollars playing three gigs. That's not just me; the whole band only made $14.

My old band, Ten Minute Warning, did record some stuff that has been put out. I’ve just been talking to Bruce (Pavitt) from SubPop, about putting the stuff out again, once and for all. Just today, I was talking with my friend Jeff who’s still in a band in Seattle; he’s seen it all happening. He’s been there through the Seattle explosion crap. You know Seattle really had a great scene way back, thought I was too young to see most of it. I got into it in ’79, and I was kind of too late. There were so many heavy fucking bands back then, and now this whole Seattle thing had happened……I hate to say this but I feel maybe a little cheated. A lot of the bands are just copying shit that happened in Seattle 10, 12 years ago. They’re just copying that whole thing and taking credit for it, and that really pisses me off. I mean Guns N’ Roses copy all kinds of shit from the past, but we cop to it ya know?

I was writing music with Paul Solger of the Fartz, and these songs were really dirgy and slow and weird and long. We got Greg Gilmore to come in and play drums and we got a different singer, Steve Verwolf, and that was 10 Minute Warning.
Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge; September 2011

[Prince's 1999] was a changing point in my life. When that record came out, in ’82, I was eighteen. All these punk kids from the suburbs had shaved their heads and started lighting at the shows, doing Nazi salutes and all that crap - just ruining punk rock in America. And there was a lot of heroin coming into Seattle at that time. The band I was in, 10 Minute Warning, got signed by [Dead Kennedys singer] Jello Biafra’s label Alternative Tentacles. It seemed like we were on our way to being the next big thing, and the heroin came in and just ravaged that band. At that point I was drinking again, maybe more than average. But my friends started using heroin. My girlfriend was strung out, my roommate was strung out. It seemed like it was closing in on me. And that was when 1999 became the soundtrack to my life. I loved what Prince did on [1981 album] Controversy. It was really cool, kind of punk rock and kind of Sly & The Family Stone. And with 1999 I was really diving into those songs. It was all the things that music is supposed to be - your solace, your best friend, an escape... And through that record I made the decision to move to LA.

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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 4:34 pm


After The Atoms, Izzy joined the "Scorpions-like" band Shire where he played bass, together with David Anthony (Jagosz; vocals) and Alan Santalese (guitar).

Santalesa would remember that Izzy was found through the Recycler magazine where they had placed an ad looking for a bassist [Appetite for Distortion, October 2, 2017] and that Izzy looked like Nikki Sixx at the time:

[...] and we again to the Recycler. Dave [Anthony, vocalist in Shire] called us that this guy answered then Adam met him and he looks just like Nikki Sixx. I'm, "Cool!" And it was Izzy Bell. He called himself Izzy Bell, a play on his last name Isbell, And it was Izzy. We met him and he worked out great. [...] [Izzy] was a very, at the time, a very enthusiastic and energetic person. [...] And he was really keen to learn. He had just switched from playing drums with this band called The Naughty Women and a band called The Atoms, sold his drum set and bought a bass amp and a nice white Fender Precision. So he had gear. He was into learning so much that he made notes of the songs and taped them in front of him at the rehearsal so he could read them in the beginning.

Izzy wanted to help write songs while in Shire, but wasn't allowed to:

I remember one time [Izzy] said, "I have just written this song on the bus." So he plays it for us and it was kind of some kind of punk humor song that he was known for, right, like, I Used To Love Her But I Had To Kill Her, something weird like that. I don't remember the title. And we're just like, "OK, that's nice, but no way." You know, we were the writers.

To appease Izzy, they would play the Ramons song Commander at live shows:

We, to appease him, we started playing a song by the Ramones. [...] Commander. And I remember, [singing]. I being, because didn't know, you know, punk from nothing. And I played the lead guitar solo in the middle of it and when Axl Rose saw us play somewhere, he was like, "The Ramones with guitar solos?" And I was like, "Yep," you know, "it's weird." But we did that song. We played some covers, you know, and that was one of them.

Izzy on the bass in Shire
Johnny Kreis on the drums

Raz Cue, who would later become a friend of the band and LA Guns' first manager, would mention seeing Izzy for the first time when he was playing in Shire:

Mike [Jagosz]'s brother was in a band called Shire. And then I one day Mike just warmed the band up cuz they had a, like, at the end of that school year they had a show at Providence High School, they were playing like the end of the school year or whatever and Mike was warming the band up so Dave Anthony, the singer for Shire, wouldn't ruin his voice. And this guy Izzy was playing bass, you know, he was older than us, he was probably like in his 20s, 21-22, something like that, we were all like 17. Fucking Izzy was great, man! I became an Izzy fan like the first time I saw him. He was bouncing around being cool, you know, cooler than Fonzie.

In Shire, Izzy would play with Johnny Kreis who would later join Hollywood Rose on drums:

Shire was actually my first real rock band that was based in Hollywood Calif., very active rock scene back in the 80’s when the Sunset Strip was really raging, with clubs like Gazzarri's, The Whisky and The Troubadour, just to mention a few. Izzy played bass with Shire and I was the drummer, the lead singer was David Jagosz and the lead guitarist was Alan St Lesa. Our influences were European metal like The Scorpions, Accept.

According to Hard Magazine from February 1988, the last band Izzy played in before joining up with Axl in Rose, was "The Shadow" [Hard Magazine (France), February 1988]. This is likely a mistake, the band's name was Shire.

Cue would speculate that Izzy only agreed to join Shire playing bass in the hopes that he would eventually be promoted to second guitarist, and that he was only in the band for a short time:

What I heard at the time, after Izzy left, he was theoretically, or supposedly, would never play bass again. He wanted to be a guitar player and I guess he took that gig thinking that, you know, maybe they would add a second guitar player. I don't think he was in Shire that long, I mean, I just saw him that one time and then like two months later I went to a Shire show just to see Izzy play and they had the guy Mitch [?] playing bass, so.

According to Santalesa, Izzy only played 5 or 6 shows with Shire [Appetite for Distortion, October 2, 2017] and had left by 1983 [Press Kit for 117 Degrees, January 1998]. Talking about Izzy leaving Shire:

Dave dealt with that. He just call me one day and said, "Izzy, he's leaving, he's gonna play one last show." And I was really disappointed because I got along with him, I mean, we did stuff together. Like one time we went to, we were going to promote a show, and made flyers and instead of passing out flyers outside of a high school, like everybody normal people do, we went inside the high school and taped them on the walls of the school, till the security guard coming, like, "What do you think you're doing?" "Well, we're promoting our show." And then he asked me, "Where are you from?" And I'm like, "Italy." And he goes, "Is that what people do ion Italy, they go inside a school?" and, "You can get arrested for trespassing." So, "OK," so we took all the flyers and got out. Yeah. And so I guess said he was cool, You know, we liked him a lot, no problems with that guy whatsoever, except that it was obvious that he wanted to do his, you know, start writing songs. You wanna do your own thing. And it was a lot different than what we were doing. So he played this one last show at the Troubadour and then he was gone. I would only see him as an acquaintance in clubs, talk to him a little bit. I talked to Axl more than I did him afterwards. And I would see him and I've seen him in several... not several. I saw him playing with London and then Rose, no, Hollywood Rose, and then Guns N' Roses, of course I saw him do that too.


It was while playing in Shire that Izzy met Tracii Guns for the first time:

[Dave Jagosz] had a band called Shire. They were playing at the Roosevelt Hotel. I remember this. I went there and Izzy was the bass player for that band. And they did like five songs. Immediately after I walked right into Izzy, "Hey man, who are you?" He was like, "Oh, I'm this guy." You know, we're like, "Oh, cool." And then we became friends like right away.

I went to see Shire play at the Roosevelt Hotel, and this guy Izzy was their new bass player. He had on a leather jacket and white cowboy boots, with dyed black hair. I could relate to that right away. I just figured he was a Mötley Crüe fan. So right after they got done playing I walked up and said, “Hey man, I’m Tracii.” He said, “I’m Izzy.” And it’s like, “Okay, cool. We’re buddies now!”

Tracii would mention Izzy talking about Axl:

Izzy would always tell me, “You’ve gotta meet my friend Axl.” Or, you know, “Bill,” at the time. He would say, “You guys are gonna get along great. He can scream that way you like it and he’s into Nazareth.” He kept telling me he was into Nazareth. And I was like, “Yeah! I like Nazareth!”

I first met Axl from Izzy [Stradlin]. Izzy always told me, “Yeah, you know, I have this buddy in Indiana. He can really sing. I’m gonna bring him out here.” Izzy was living at my mom’s house. I was about 16 or 17 and he was about 19 or 20.

Discussing what made Izzy so cool:

What makes most cool guys cool is a certain insecurity. They don't want to be judged, they don't want confrontation so they choose their words carefully and when they finally put out an idea, it's a great idea and well thought-through. And he's certainly one of those guys. Even when we were teenagers Izzy was the coolest guy in town. I got in a fight with him and it was the coolest fight I'd ever been in, you know? [Laughs] He was so methodically about the way he bitch-slapped me, it was awesome. There's certain people that have personality like that and you can equate cool with careful, and I believe Izzy's a very careful person. And he's very well read, he's a smart guy and that's why he's probably always been kind of out of the public eye other than onstage because he knows better.

Rob Gardner, drummer with Tracii in Pyrrhus, would also meet Izzy while he was playing with Shire because David Anthony was the brother of the singer in Pyrrhus, Mike Jagosz, and Rob would later talk about how Izzy was in this period:

Izzy was always real laid back, this cool guy, you know, just into the music and the scene and stuff. And, oh, he's just cool and stuff. A good player, just consistent, you know, definitely, mm-hmm.

Rob most likely met Izzy when Shire was practicing in Jagosz' garage [see later chapter]:

The day I met him, probably in that garage you were talking about, I imagine. Just trying to remember... but yeah, I think it was probably there at one of their rehearsals. One of Shire's rehearsals.

Marcelle Sirkus, and old friend of many musicians in Hollywood, would talk about getting to know Izzy when he played in Shire:

I thought [Izzy] was really cute. He was a lot of fun to hang out with. And he had some great record albums, you know, and sit around listening to New York Dolls or whatever he had going on. And he had this little apartment right above a very popular nightclub off of Sunset called The Coconut Teaser. He had this great little apartment right up the street, right up the road from it. And I think I remember going there kind of after school and hanging out, you know, and... Like I said before, you know, he had this crimping iron and I would go there and crimp my hair, and that was, like, a thing to do. We'd listen to music and sometimes he would come to my house and just hang out. I mean, we were friends.

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 4:35 pm



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

Well, I've been playing guitar my whole life, actually since I was six years old.. that was when I started taking it seriously. As I was living in LA, by the time I was in my early teens I was doing studio work - my family had friends in the rock and roll one really big or anything but I was working really young and you know I have been really fortunate , the LA scene kinda came to me...I was in a band in high school and junior high school...and my high school band eventually turned into LA Guns when I was 16 or 17. I always worked with a lot of people and becoming a part of the LA scene was just a natural progression, because that's where you played. Places like the Troubador, The Roxy and The Whiskey and you meet everybody. It was great and really healthy and everybody was into rock because rock was really progressing, it was turning into..kind of like going from Journey and Aerosmith and Black Sabbath into a more refined heavy kind of melodic rock.

I always liked the kind of dirtier stuff. When I was 12 years old, that's when punk rock started happening. That was when the Sex Pistols started coming out - there was a big Huntington Beach scene here with The Germs and The Weirdos and all of these bands and I really liked Devo as much as I liked Ozzy and the Scorpions, and I kind of liked everything. But what I didn't like was the stuff that was over produced. I didn't like certain REO Speedwagon and Journey that I just felt would have been better off had they left it a little less slick. So when I started having to write songs, and got a record deal when I was 20 with Polygram, I really didn't want to jump on with everyone else...because at the time more than Motley Crue and Ratt..bands like Bon Jovi were starting, again the more melodic stuff was starting to happen again but I really wanted to stay clear of that really big power sound.
All Access Magazine, June 2010

Tracii got his name "Guns" from a girl who used to call him Mr. Guns:

In the beginning Izzy [Stradlin] lived at my house, years ago. And he had Hollywood Rose with Axl [Rose] - that was their band. I never played in Hollywood Rose. And I had my highschool band and I was really looking for a cool name and I loved Hollywood Rose. And I had a girlfriend that had been calling me Mr Guns. One day me and Izzy were sitting in the living room of my house and I said 'L.A. Guns' and I made this Cheap Trick looking logo on a blank album cover, and I show it to Izzy and go 'What do you think of this for a band name?'. And he goes, 'That's great.' So that's been my band name ever since.

So the next step was changing the name of the band from Pyrrhus to L.A. Guns. I loved the name Hollywood Rose, you know? And I had this girlfriend, Dina, who would call me Mr. Guns all the time. And then my friends started calling me Mr. Guns. And so I became Tracii Guns.
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021

Axl would suggest it had been his idea:

Earlier I had gotten Tracii to use the name Guns (as he had mentioned a girl had called him Mr. Guns sometime) so he’d stop calling his band Persian Rose. So I guess we have the girl to thank [for "Guns N' Roses"].


One of Tracii's first bands was Pyrrhus together with the drummer Rob Gardner [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 110]. Rob originally came from New York:

I actually hung out with a pretty cool crowd over there and I grew up with the Dillon's, like Matt Dillon and Kevin Dillon and those guys, which is funny, they grew up in Mamaroneck and that's where I grew up and we're a bunch of tough kids, you know, just on the streets and partying and rock and roll. I mean, it was just really, it was always getting into mischief, you know, this and that. Hence the reason I moved because I was getting in trouble over there and, you know, things were kind of going haywire and stuff, but-

And learned to play the drums:

So in grammar school I had a buddy of mine who... I think his dad was a drum teacher with the marching band affiliated with the school, and I always just thought it was cool, "Hey, I want to do that." So I learned all the snare drums, like all the rudiments and stuff like that, and I marched, you know, all around New York State and stuff and I did, you know, parades, you know, with a marching band and stuff like that. And then probably did that for like two or three years and then I wanted to get further into it. I wanted to get a drum set, and my mom is like, "Well," you know, "if we get you a set," you know, "we get to spend all his money and then he just leave it, you never practice," I'm like, "Oh, don't worry, I'll practice." So every day after school I'd, you know, just go downstairs in the basement and all my friends were out playing and stuff and I was down there practicing all the time, you know- [...] I just stuck to my word and just started getting real good and stuff.

Talking about his influences:

So definitely like Keith Moon, John Bonham, Ginger Baker, [?], you know I was kind of the more the old-school, obviously, back then. You know, but Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, you know. So yeah, those were definitely my big influences, all the old guys back then. And then, you know, I got into Rush, like the early early Rush, you know, like the first couple of albums, I liked, you know, so Neil Peart was a little bit of an influence but not so much as the other guys. I think John Bonham was probably one of my, like, one of my biggest, and Keith Moon and those guys, yeah.

Rob moved to LA and did high school there where he met Mike Jagosz:

I'm from New York. [...] So I was born in Manhattan and then I lived in Long Island when I was we're really young up until about four, I lived in Huntington Long Island. [...] I lived right near St. Anthony's high school in Huntington. [...] And then I moved to Westchester County like [?] that area. [...] it was just time for me to get out of there. Things were getting kind of created, the kids were getting wild and getting in trouble and it was probably better that I, you know, got out of there. And so I did, I came to beautiful sunny California, you know. [...] I actually did high school here [=in Los Angeles], like, I finished high school here, that's when I met everyone. [...] So, anyway, moved in the middle of ninth grade and I went to Fairfax in 10th grade but I finished 9th grade in another school, that's where I met Mike, Mike Jagosz.

At high school Rob would meet Tracii:

I met Tracii in electronics class at Fairfax High soon after I moved to L.A. I grew up in Westchester, New York, and I went to school with Matt Dillon—we lived down the street from his family. Then I was new at Fairfax, but Tracii and I got to talking and then we started playing together.
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021

And then when I moved, when I went to Fairfax, that's when I met Tracii and Slash and Steven and those guys. At the end, Tracii played in a band - we decided to put a band together and then Slash and Steven had a band, had a rival bands, if you will. So then me and Tracii, we're looking for a singer and that's when I suggested Mike [Jagosz], I was like, "Well, Mike's really good." Here's another funny thing, Mike's brother Dave was a singer - and I think John knows about this - of this band called Shire and Izzy played for Shire.

[...] when I met [Tracii] he was more of like a punk rocker, you know, and his hair was short, you know, and it kind of just a little more punky, like skater kind of punky look, you know what I mean? But man, you know, we found out in the hour, you know, that we're both musicians and stuff, "Hey, let's jam some time!" you know. So his dad had a plumbing shop over in Studio City, over by Universal Studios over there, and he had a little room up there, we were able to bring our stuff up there. And then my dad's house, too, my room was like... my dad's got a good sized house and my room was like separate from the house, it was like an old like a butler's quarters or something like that, you know, built over the garage, it was really cool. We were able to jam up there, too. So between the two places, yeah, we'd always just jam after school and, yeah, we came up with all these songs and that's how Pyrrhus got formed.

By then Rob was also good enough to play drums in a band:

And by the time I moved to LA I was good enough to, you know, do a whole band thing and whatever and that's what I did, me and Tracii put together a band.

Dani Tull was recruited to play bass and Jagosz to sing:

The bass player was my friend Dani Tull, who also went to Fairfax, and then we got Mike Jagosz, who somehow Rob Gardner knew, to sing. We would ditch school and go to Mike Jagosz’s house and play Risk and then rehearse and try to not get caught for ditching school.
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021

Tracii’s dad had a plumbing shop over in the Valley, so we used to go over there and play after the shop closed. And then we’d also play at my house. We started writing songs, just me and him, and then we added a bass player.
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021

We used to play in the quad at Fairfax High School, there was like an outdoor amphitheater right in the middle of the school, it was outdoors, and they used to let us play there at lunchtime, it was pretty cool [laughs]. I don't know if I really see that happening these days. I mean, I obviously haven't been in high school for a long time. But it was cool, they were kicked back a bit, like they'd let us skip the period before lunch so we can go, you know, set up and, you know, all that. And then one time we even played at Hollywood High School. They let us go play over there, which was kind of like our rival high school, so we were all over that, like, "Oh, we're really gonna go over and go play?" you know. And we had a good crowd over there, so it was good. It was cool. We got good experience like that, especially in front of all, you know, all the other kids our age and stuff like that and just, you know, what the scene, you know, starting to develop, the Hollywood music scene and stuff like that really coming out and stuff so it was fun.

So, well, with Pyrrhus it was this guy Dani, Dani Tull, and then Mike [Jagosz] was singing and there was me and Tracii. So we just kept it a four-piece.

At some point Tull was replaced with Ole Beich [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 133].

Ole was... he played with Merciful Faith and I guess they were a Danish band, but I had heard of them so before he even joined the band I already knew who they were. And when I, you know, I heard he was gonna be playing with us... I don't know how exactly, I don't remember exactly how he came in. Tracii must have found him or I don't know if we put an ad out or what. Maybe, I think we'd probably put an ad, I don't know if he was referred, but I think we would probably put an ad and he might have answered it and, you know, learned who he played with and then met us and, "He's a cool-looking guy," you know, "he kind of fits the part." You know, he was older than us so that was a little bit of a difference. You know, he was older but that was cool because he was still obviously young enough but he had the experience behind him and that's what was the cool thing, and we got in there and played and, yeah, I mean, he rocked, you know, he rocked it.

Before that, the high school, we had Pyrrhus, they had a guy named Dany Tull, who was another high school classmate of ours. And he like, I don't know, he just quit playing, like, I just heard it at the time that he, you know, did something else, whatever, like giving up music or going to do like meditation or physics or something, I don't know, something other. And then they had a guy named Rick Mars. When Rick Mars came in - he played with Hollywood Rose for a while too. He was a cool looking Rudy Sarzo-dude, that's kind of when they were [?]. That was when like Pyrrhus became like club-worthy. I mean, Dany was great, don't get me wrong. It's just like, Rick Mars, he looked like a rock star, man. He was cool. And Dany, like, I don't know, for some reason I went to the next rehearsal and there was Ole. And Ole was just like a rock god, you know, like night and day. It was just like, "Man, these guys are great now." Now it's still with Mike and then that lasted for about 6 months and then Pyrrhus broke up.

Ole, he came over to LA in about 1982 from Denmark. He's from Denmark, he had played with Mercyful Fate and I think he may have also played with some King Diamond solo stuff. He came over and I met him through a friend. He wanted to be in LA Guns because we were a heavy band at that time. That was when Axl was singing in LA Guns. And Rob Gardner too, the drummer - he's somebody I went to high school with and we basically started LA Guns together [in 1983].

Talking about the writing process:

[...] Tracii's style was really unique back then. We had a close group of friends that would always come to our rehearsals or whatever or you know obviously shows and things like that and just knew us really well, and like Tracii, man, he just plays so differently, it was weird. He had his own thing going on, it was just different like his own thumbprint. And so yeah it was definitely more hard rock, you know, with a hard edge, you know. And a little bit of punk in there because of his punk style, you know. And not everything was super fast, it wasn't like thrash fast or anything like that. But definitely the energy, man, just a lot of energy, riff-y, you know, stuff like that. And then as far as the lyrics and all that, you know, neither of us were lyricist, me or Tracii, so we just named our songs, we just come up with like, you know, an oddball name for that song, so we'd know what song, you know, we were talking about, you know. So we just make up these random names for these things. But when Mike [Jagosz] came in he started actually writing some lyrics, he's a pretty good lyricist, you know. Him and his brother Dave they were really known for their lyrical abilities, you know. Their the lyrical content was really deep, pretty good stuff. And they both had good voices and stuff. I'm just saying Mike being influenced from his brother, Dave was a little bit older, like a year or two. So yeah, Mike came up with, you know, lyrics and stuff like that for Pyrrhus, you know, for that stuff.

And Raz Cue, who was a friend of the band and would later go on to manage the descendant of Pyrrhus, LA Guns, would describe how they sounded:

Mike had that wailing metal voice, you know, that Euro metal. Tracii was kind of into that stuff for a while, you know. And then he got into the whole, you know, more punkish stuff in New York Dolls and that. You know, he liked Aerosmith and, you know, all the Mötley Crüe. Yeah, he was a huge Crue fan.

For more on Cue and his involvement with Guns N' Roses, see a later chapter.

Pyrrhus in 1983
Mike Jagosz, Dani Tull, Rob Gardner, Tracy Ulrich
By N/A - weheartit, PD-US

Pyrrhus ended in the summer of 1983 when Tracii fired Mike Jagosz for refusing to bleach his hair [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 142]. Tracii would claim Jagosz had been fired by Raz Cue:

So anyways, we had a little manager guy at the time and he hated our singer Mike Jagosz, so we fired him.

My manager, this guy Raz, fired our singer Mike Jagosz because he was being a dummy or something.

You know, like after high school was over and Tracii wanted to like be professional and the band was still kind of like, you know, high school band with Mike just wanting to party and not really taking it like serious like business. Like, Tracii's all about business. I think that's why the band broke up. He wanted to grow up, do it right, play the scene, be among the group-

1983: LA GUNS

But out of the embers of Pyrrhus, just two weeks after Mike Jagosz was fired, Tracii's new band, L.A. Guns, formed. This was in the summer of 1983 [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 142-150]. The band included Ole Beich and later Rob Gardner [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 142-150].

And then the LA Guns thing, you know.... We met Raz and the whole LA Guns things started coming around, you know, changing the name from Pyrrhus to LA Guns and we had gone through a number of bass players and then when LA Guns was in full swing - I'm racking my brain here for timelines and stuff like that - but yeah, pretty much Ole [Beich] was the bass player for that, for LA Guns.

But the band did not have a singer...

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 4:35 pm


The garage of Mike and David Anthony Jagosz in the Hollywood Hills would be a focal point for musicians that would become important to the history of Guns N' Roses in the early to mid-1980s. David Anthony Jagosz was the singer in Shire with Izzy (bass) and Johnny Kreis (drums), and Mike Jagosz was the singer of the band Pyrrhus with Tracii Guns (guitar) and Rob Gardner (drums), and they would also meet and practise in Jagosz' garage. Because of Axl's friendship with Izzy, Axl would end up staying in the garage, too.

It was also in this garage that Axl together with two friends would play Shadow of Your Love [see previous chapter].

Mike had a garage that was soundproofed. And his brother, Dave Jagosz, had a band called Shire that would play in there, and then we would play in there, too.
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021

Kreis would talk about how there was a tight knit group of musicians that hang with each other:

The lead singer of Shire, his brother, Michael Jagosz, an awesome rock singer, played in a rival band called Pyruss, I think meaning fire! But his guitarist was Tracii Guns! So back in the days when Shire would rehearse in their garage studio, Tracii, Axl, Izzy [would be there] already in the home garage studio and others would come down and we’d all hang out and chat about stuff. It was a very tight community with all living in a very close proximity in the neighborhood, with an exception of me, driving from the LAX Airport Area.

Kreis would be asked about Axl and his relation to Shire and mention that Axl was at a time living in Jagosz' garage:

That was so long ago, I think it was just for a very very short while until he found a place somewhere In the hills of Hollywood. Axl really minded his own business, though things were cool between Shire and Axl, a lot of joking and the normal hanging out that friends do! A hilarious Axl comment [made] about the singer for Shire that I laughed about was “Is he singing in English?”

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03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Empty Re: 03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES

Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 06, 2023 4:36 pm

03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES Newbor11
A 1986 faux-live outtake from the Live ?!★@ Like A Suicide sessions was included as a B-side on 12" versions of the It's So Easy · Mr. Brownstone single in 1987, and was also included on the 1988 Live From The Jungle EP. A studio recording from the 1986 Sound City session was included as a B-side on some versions of the Live And Let Die single in 1991 (sometimes mislabelled as a live version). The recording from a 1986 Rumbo Recorders session was eventually remixed and released as a single in it's own right in 2018 to promote the deluxe reissue of Appetite For Destruction.

Written by:
Axl and Paul Huge, possibly with Izzy.

Vocals: Axl Rose; lead Guitar: Slash; rhythm guitar: Izzy Stradlin; bass: Duff McKagan; drums: Steven Adler.

Live performances:
This song a song Axl wrote with Paul Huge in 1982 or earlier, before he had settled permanently in Los Angeles. It was brought into Hollywood Rose and then Guns N' Roses. It was played a lot in 1985, a few times in 1986 and once in 1987. After being released as a single again in 2018, it was heavily featured in the setlists. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {SHADOWSONGS} times.
Took my chances carelessly
I said I choked on my own cigarette
You can hand me another bottle of whiskey baby
But you haven't seen the worst yet

Now I'm reckless
Gonna have some fun
I had a woman who had said it was all alright
Now I'm back the only one

And I ain't standing
Never standing in the shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Oh no

Stole my changes helplessly
I said yeah but I got no regrets
Money it was on the table
So I booked with all the bets

Living like your livin'
Ain't so hot
You ain't my idea
of a high-rollin' shot

So I ain't standing
I'm never standing in the shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Oh no

High price calling
Hangin' over your head
I hope you've heard
Baby all I've said
You've gone cold
Or even misread
No use crying
You're as good as dead

Now I'm reckless
Gonna have some fun
I had a woman who had said it as all alright
Now I'm back the only one

And I ain't standing
Never standing in the shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Shadow of your love
Oh no


Alan Santalesa, Izzy's band mate in Shire, would recount hearing Axl and Paul Huge play an early version of the song in the summer of 1982:

The first time I met Axl had to be the summer of 1982. They showed up.... I mean, it was him, known as Bill at the time, there was a guy named Paul and another guy that came with him, he was not a musician, he was just along for the ride. They came at the rehearsal, the garage, you know, the famous garage in the back of Dave [Jagosz]'s house, his parent's. They watched us play. We were introduced and then they got on our instruments and played a song. And that's when I first met him. That's the first time I heard him sing. I remember, you know, they started the song, this bare bone primitive song, which was the song they eventually recorded on one of their EPs, The Shadows Of Your Love. He put his head down and started wailing this scream, it was like a foghorn, you know, "My God, now he sings loud" and that was Shadows Of Your Love. They did this song, we talked a little bit and and then I didn't see him for a while.

Describing Axl's voice:

You know, it was so different from what I was into, but I was familiar with that style. [...] It was a lot like, I don't know if you're familiar with the Australian band that they ended up covering, Rose Tattoo? They wrote Nice Boys. It was even more primitive than AC/DC. It was just this [humming staccato guitars]. And him screaming. And then when I saw him eventually a lot of the songs were like that. It was not yet that technical, you know, inventive riffing that became Appetite for Destruction, that Aerosmith-like almost funk-like beats, jungle beats, it was none of that, it was just straight ahead wall of sound and him wailing.

Axl would talk about the making of the song:

You know, Shadow of your Love was… I wrote the lyrics kinda influenced by Thin Lizzy. And that was one of the songs that I wrote with Paul Huge, who was original guitarist from Indiana with Izzy and I, and now he’s in a band called Mank Rage. And we just wrote that like in 7 minutes, you know, we did it in 7 minutes years ago, and it is something we're really proud of. You know, and it’s my friend Josh’s favorite song. […] Well, I’d pondered the words years before that, and then when the song hit it was just like, “fssst!” It went through the files, the mental Rolodex, "This fits, go!". We had 7 minutes to jam, we didn’t have any equipment so it was like, we didn’t have a choice.

Slash would think he likely heard it when seeing a Hollywood Rose show in February 1984:

Shadow of Your Love was one of these songs that Guns was doing when I first started with those guys. I actually saw Axl and Izzy and Chris Weber play in a version of Hollywood Rose around the time that Axl and Izzy and I first met, like before I didn't know who they were. Steven had talked me into going to the Gazzarri’s - it was, yeah, Gazzarri’s - to go see them play. And I was pretty much sort of a homebody, you know, I hated the scene on Sunset Strip at that time so much that I didn't like to go up there. But Steven loved it and said, “You gotta go check out the singer”. And so I finally went up there with him, and I saw Chris and Axl, and I don't know who was playing bass but Izzy was there. And I think Shadow of Your Love might have been as old as that. There's two songs that I remember playing when I got involved with Axl and Izzy, and it was Shadow of Your Love and a song called Reckless Life.

Steven would later remember playing the song while in Hollywood Rose in 1984, and mistakenly think it was a song written entirely by Izzy:

The first song I played with was a number Izzy wrote called "Shadow of Your Love".
Steven's biography, page 63

It would end up being Steven's favorite GN'R song, and recount playing it in Hollywood Rose:

[Being asked about his favorite Guns N' Roses songs]: I’d have to say Shadow of Your Love, I love the fuckin’ drums on it! It’s the first song that we as a band played.  It was with Izzy and Axl and a guy named DJ on bass. Halfway thru rehearsing, Axl kicks the door in, grabs the microphone and runs up and down the fucking walls screaming for the rest of the song. Never in my life had I seen a person that insane, I was so happy!

And when Duff joined Guns N' Roses in 1985, he would list it as one of the songs Izzy and Axl already had:

Izzy and Axl already had some songs, and the other guys knew them: "Think About You," "Anything Goes," "Move To The City," "Shadow of Your Love," and "Don't Cry." And we did sped-up punk versions of the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel".
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 59

And Slash would remember it being in their first sets:

Anyway, so Shadow was one of those first songs that when Guns came together and I became a part of that. I don't even know who wrote it - maybe Chris Weber might have wrote it, I'm not really sure. But we played it as part of our set pretty early on in 1985. And then it sort of got phased out as we wrote a lot of new material, which was a little bit more complex and a little bit more sort of thought out, maybe, than Shadow of Your Love was.

Another one of the things that was really cool [when putting together Locked N' Loaded] was a song called "Shadow of Your Love" that we used to play in 1985. It was one of the earliest songs that we played together. It was part of the set back then, and as the Appetite lineup started writing those songs, it got phased out of the set and we didn't play it again for a long time.

The song must have been an early favorite of the band, because when they tried our producers for their debut album, Mike Clink got to audition on that song:

We did one session with [Mike Clink] and recorded 'Shadow Of Your Love,' which was the best song in the set the first time I saw Hollywood Rose. Our version of it didn't make the album, but it was eventually released on a Japanese EP.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 166

That particular song was the song that we used to demo Mike Clink. When we were looking for somebody to produce the record, Tom Zutaut introduced us to Ron Nevinson’s engineer, Mike Clink, who had worked on, you know, Heart records and... But the one thing [was that] he engineered UFO records and he did the Strangers in the Night record. So that was my automatic – like, Strangers in the Night was, at least for guitar players, one of the great sort of guitar player standards, you know, for metal guitar playing, Michael Schenker and all that. So, I thought, okay, this guy will be interesting. So we went in the studio with Mike Clink, just to try him out, to see what it would sound like. And we recorded Shadow of Your Love. And the version of that song that we just released is that demo version that we did back in 1986.

We went into the studio with Mike Clink to see what that would sound like, that was the song that we did with him. That was the test track. We didn't put it on Appetite so it floundered all these years. To go in to remix and master that and release it after all this time — for me, it was, "Wow, this is a trip!" It's got a certain energy to it. You definitely get the spirit of the band from way back when.

Despite this, it was not included on Appetite for Destruction, nor on Use Your Illusions:

I can't really say for sure why it didn't make the record in the end. It was just a real simple, good rocking song, but I guess it wasn't as "seasoned" as a lot of the other material. And probably Axl didn't quite see the potential in it.

But for the band's re-release of Appetite for Destruction in 2018, the song would be released as a single and the band would start playing it again:

And then, to do Shadow Of Your Love. That particular recording was what we... that was when we went in to try out Mike Clink before Appetite, when we were going through trying to figure out who was gonna be the right guy to produce us. That was the song that we did, that’s the version of it that we did. And so, it’s just cool, I mean, you know, it’s like one of those things that we never thought it would see the light of the day, just put it out there as one of these songs on this record, with all these, you know, different versions, and live versions, and this and that and the other. And actually we got up and start playing it. I haven’t played that song since 1985. [...] Shadow was one of those things we were doing in 1985. There is a few songs that we were doing back then that we sort of just, I think, evolved out of. We started writing, you know, music that was gonna be on Appetite, and so, some of those songs sort of fell by the wayside, and we sort of grew out of them. But I... you know. So that’s what happened. We used it to the demo with Mike and then that was the last we ever played it.

But it's fun playing it now. It's like, it's amazing in 2018 to be introducing a song that we haven't played since 1985.

The remastering, that was basically easy. It actually does sound really good, which I was skeptical about.

As for why it wasn't included on Appetite for Destruction:

The [first] Guns N' Roses lineup — the 'Appetite For Destruction' lineup — that was one of the first songs that we played, and we played that and a handful of other songs live at our first gigs. As this lineup started writing new material, it sort of slowly but surely got phased out. We didn't play it again for a while, and then when we were looking for producers and met Mike Clink, we wanted to go and record a song with him before we signed on to do a whole album. 'Shadow Of Your Love' was the song that we picked. That version you're hearing now is that demo from back then. I think we just grew out of it, but now, it's a lot of fun. This last European tour we just did, we put it in the set, and it's a blast. There's something really cool about having a song like that that you haven't played in fuckin' thirty years, and then all of a sudden, it's out on the radio, and you get to go back and start playing it. It's got a cool, cool attitude. It's pretty kinetic.

03. 1962-1984 - BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES NeWborder_zpsk3uwcgt1

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Mar 16, 2024 6:38 am; edited 7 times in total
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