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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

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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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:46 am


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

Axl's biological parents were Sharon E. and William B. Rose [Kerrang, April 1990]. Sharon and William married when Sharon was still in high school [Rolling Stone, April 2, 1992].

Just before Axl had his 3rd birthday Sharon and William divorced [Journal and Courier, January 28, 1965]. About a year later Sharon married L. Stephen Bailey [Journal and Courier, January 27, 1966], resulting in the new couple changing the surname of Axl to Bailey, making his new name William Bailey.

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

Sharon and William had one additional child, Amy [Journal and Courier, January 28, 1965], and Sharon and Stephen got one child, Stuart. Curiously, in Popular 1 from April 1988, Axl would be quoted as saying he has two brothers and two sisters [Popular 1, April 1988], but this is likely a mistake made by the magazine.

A young William Bailey.

By N/A - weheartit, PD-US

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

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

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


The household of Stephen and Sharon was very religious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talking about playing Led Zeppelin's Dy'er Mak'er on the piano at home:

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?"

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:47 am


A young Axl quickly became interested in music despite his family's limitations on what was regarded as acceptable music:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

[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.

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 Rose at choir practise

Unknown image copyright

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In 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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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:47 am


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

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

Pyrrhus, 1983; Mike Jagosz, Dani Tull, Rob Schneider, Tracy Ulrich

By N/A - weheartit, PD-US

Raz Cue was a close friend of the guys in Pyrrhus [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 110]. Cue would later get involved in managing both LA Guns and the fledgling Guns N' Roses.

Cue met Izzy Stradlin back when he played bass guitar in the band Shire. Later on Izzy would quit bass and Shire and start playing guitar in the band Rose instead, together with Axl. Raz went to see a Shire gig and Rose was on the same bill, that's when Raz met Axl who was the vocalist for Rose at the time [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 137].

Later, Raz would be introduced to the guitarist Slash through his friend Mike (Jagosz), who was the singer of Pyrrhus, and Mike would later tell him that Slash had beat Tracii in a guitar playing contest at school a few years earlier (while both of them were beaten by another guitarist) [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 140].

Tracii left Pyrrhus to form a new band, L.A. Guns, together with Ole and later Rob [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 142-150]. Cue invested in L.A. Guns and became their manager [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 149-155].

While managing L.A. Guns, Cue would bump into Axl. Cue tried to get Axl to join L.A. Guns as their first singer, but Axl refused. Only a few weeks later when Axl's current band, Hollywood Rose, had broken up, and after some hesitation, did Axl join L.A. Guns, becoming the band's original singer. Part of the reason Axl decided to join LA Guns was that Tracii had told Axl the band would become more blues-based and less metal [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 159].

On Halloween 1984, Axl would be fired from LA Guns, and Tracii would Axl would form Guns N' Roses.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:48 am


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

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

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

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

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 natur resulted in poor grades at school [Juke Magazine, July 1989], although Axl himself would said he got straight A's [Daily Press, August 1986; Record Mirror, July 11, 1987]:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:49 am


Izzy Stradlin was born Jeffrey Dean Isbell on April 8, 1962, and have two brothers [Rockline, January 25, 1992]. Izzy had his first years in Florida. His father was an engraver, his mother worked for the phone company [Musician, November 1992]. His parents divorced when Izzy was in third grade [Musician, November 1992] and he moved with his mother to Indiana [Guitar World, March 1989], "so far out in Bumfuck I could drive to somebody's house for 10 miles all on dirt road" [Musician, December 1988]. In an interview in 1998, he would interestingly claim to have been born in Lafayette, Indiana [Rock & Folk, April 1998]. He would also say his father was an insurance salesman [Rock & Folk, April 1998], so possibly his father changed professions.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[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.

[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

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

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

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

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.

Talking about early bands:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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

The weather was better and that's where everything was.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:49 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.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Aug 15, 2020 7:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:50 am


Axl and Izzy became friends while living i Lafayette:

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.

[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.

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

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

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

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

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

[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].

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

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

I 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.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:50 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 8 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.

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

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

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

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

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


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

I 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 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.

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

Talking about what made him want to become a musician:

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

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

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

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.

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.


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

Duff played in "over 30 bands" [The Seattle Times, July 1991] or "31 bands" [Circus Magazine, November 1991; Kerrang! March 1989], alternating between playing bass, guitar and drums [Circus Magazine, November 1991].

I counted once and it was over 30 bands!

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.

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

The bands included The Fastbacks, Ten Minute Warning, the Veins, On the Rocks, Crisis Party [The Seattle Times, July 1991; Circus Magazine, November 1991], and Silly Killers [Music West in 3-D, 1997] although a lot of them were just party bands that played together only once [Circus Magazine, November 1991]. The Fastbacks recorded a record and were featured on the first Seattle Syndrome LP [Circus Magazine, November 1991]. Duff would put out a single with The Veins [Circus Magazine, November 1991].

The first single I played on was with a band called the Veins, not to be confused with Vain. It was '79, and I was actually playing bass then. Then I played drums on a single in a band called the Fastbacks, who are still around. I was about 15, going on 16. I played drums on a few records of a band called the Farts, which were a very popular cult hardcore punk band. If you listen to those records, you can see where a lot of the speed metal comes from now, 'cause we're talking '79/'80, when there was no such term as speed metal.

The Vains 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...

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.

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

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

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

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

The band The Fastbacks with Duff at the bottom.

Unknown image copyright

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another hobby of his, if we are to believe Life Magazine, was car-theft, and according to this magazine he stole a total of 133 cars [Life Magazine, December 1992]. He also started out early with drugs, "smoked pot by Grade 4 and snorted cocaine by Grade 7" [Music West by 3-D, 1997].

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.

[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.


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

Why did I move out of my nice, safe, Seattle surroundings? Because it was safe and nice and comfortable. I flipped a coin. It was either New York or L.A. and it went heads, so I went to L.A. My car never would have made New Yolk anyway.

I was at the ripe old age of 19. I was gettin' on; I’d gone as far as I could go in Seattle; clubs were closing down; there were no record companies. It was dead. It was gone. Vancouver, too. We're talking 1984.

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

The day before moving he decided to switch from guitar to bass [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].

I was a guitar player before I moved out to LA. But I had heard the stories about LA, where there were millions of guitar players, and really didn't think I was good enough to be one of the top players. I mean, I wasn't ever going to be anything like Slash. So in order to get my foot in the door I decided to get a bass and a bass amp and come on down to LA.
Kerrang! March 1989; Blast, 1987

And I moved to California and I didn't I... I wasn't that good of a guitar player, really, to be like... cuz there's a million guitar players in LA. And then my drum kit was just it was a piece of junk, you know, so I said, "Okay, I'll play bass" just to get my foot in the door and this is the door I've stepped into.

I knew there were a million guitar players, a lot of whom were technically a lot better than I was. So I sold all my stuff up in Seattle and bought a bass and a little combo bass amp, and I was going to play bass, basically, because bassists were hard to find. I used it to get my foot in the door.

When I moved to L.A, I wanted to play guitar. But in LA there were millions of guitar players, millions of Yngwie Malmsteens and shit, and I really wasn't into playing like that at all, I was more into playing like Thunders guitar. The bass was my least serious of the instruments. I was a better drummer than anything else back then, but my drum set was cheap shit, so I got a bass.

Well, I wanted to get my foot in the door in L.A. and I knew there was always a demand for bass players. I just had a cheap drum kit, a little Marshall combo amp and a little Hamer double cutaway Junior guitar. It was a great guitar but that broke, my Marshall got ripped off and my drum set was a piece of shit. So I traded in everything I had left and got a cheap bass and a little amp and moved. […] I thought that once I had got my foot in the door and met people, then I could go back to playing guitar or drums. But I really came to appreciate the bass and use it for more than just a backbone, for the melody and other cool things.

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

Talking about his decision to go to Los Angeles:

I came there, because where I’m from you can get to the top of the music field there, but you’re still nowhere. You know, you can’t really do anything, you can’t really get in a band that’s gonna tour that’s from Seattle. So L.A., yeah. It’s just the opportunity it offers.

I worked a lot of jobs and played in a lot of punk rock bands but I never thought I'd actually make money from playing music. That was the furthest thing from my mind. But there was a lot of heroin in Seattle back in the 80's and I had to get away from that, so I moved to LA. I was really at the top of my game in Seattle and a lot of people told me "If you don't get out of here now you'll never get out." So I left and went to Hollywood and got into a whole new set of troubles.

Round about 1983 there was so much heroin coming into Seattle. It's a port city so there’s just this constant influx of drugs. X [Ecstasy] was around a lot too - but heroin was the problem. My girlfriend got strung out, my roommate got strung out. The guitar player in my band Ten Minute Warning - bear in mind we were the biggest band in Seattle at the time, we'd toured with Dead Kennedys and Black Flag - this guy kept stealing our money to cop dope. I was like, 'Enough. If I'm gonna make my move I gotta make it now.' So I moved to LA.

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


Duff describing himself in late 1988:

Down-to-earth, a lover of music and making music and making love. I love to make people happy and I think I'm basically a good person… despite what you might read about me.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:51 am


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

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.

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

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

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

Other Indiana friends were Mike Staggs, Dave Lank and Roger Miley. 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]. 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 as as Guns N' Roses transitioned to its more modern version in the early 2000s [see later chapter for more information].

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:52 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 Stoke-On-Trent in England on July 23, 1965, and has a younger brother called Ash, to parents Anthony and Ola Hudson [Guns N' Roses Interview Disc, June 1988].

[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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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.

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


He did not enjoy school much and didn't 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?

Talking more about maths:

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

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

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

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.

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).

Describing himself in late 1988:

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

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


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

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


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

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

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:53 am


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

Steven as a child

Unknown image copyright

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.

Talking about getting Slash hooked on the guitar:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:54 am


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

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

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


Slash's friend, Marc Canter, would confirm:

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He never even slept on the floor again!

Another hobby of Slash was reading:

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


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

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:54 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.

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 Sun May 31, 2020 9:55 am


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

One of Axl's first bands in Indiana was called AXL and he would later rename himself after that band:

I was originally in a band called AXL a long time ago. I got the name because peo­ple said you live, breathe, walk, and talk Axl, so why don't you just be Axl.

"AXL" came along as name of band my friend used to write down. My friend Dave Lank wrote down names of bands, him and Mike Staggs and Roger Miley. And we always thought of names of bands and he had this page, like hundreds of names he thought of for names of bands. One day they called me up they said, "We got a name for a band, 'AXL'" and, like, I don't know, the world was coming down on me in my house and it's, like, I answered the phone and I was like, "What do you want?!" "We got a name for a band: AXL. How's your response?" And I was like, "A-X-L" *click* [laughter].

I had a thing that I called AXL. That was a project, you know, and I was writing songs and I had them all in this little book and I was, like, looking for people. Izzy and I were trying to put it together. Axl, eventually, became me out of Izzy’s suggestion. He goes, “Look, you live, breath, walk, talk Axl. Why won’t you just be Axl.” “Okay, I’m Axl.”

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

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

A possible chronology of Axl's name changing may be something like this: First Axl first took back his birthname, Rose, to distance himself from his stepfather, becoming "William Rose". Then, as he considered himself as an uncompromising rebel and artist, the personification of his band at the time, added Axl to his name. Lastly, after coming to grips with the nature of his biological father (or possible early on to avoid the embarrassing name "Bill Bailey"), changed "William" to "W.", becoming "W. Axl Rose".

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

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

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

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

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

As a troubled child Billy Bailey looked at pin-up pictures of silly heavy metal bands and thought they really meant in. So he took that trivial style and infused it with a powerful creative vision. He brought integrity to a shallow genre through his own passionate belief. Billy Bailey was a sad, scared kid who recreated himself as a rock star named W. Axl Rose. And then, against all odds, he found himself again.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:55 am


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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Another occasion where Slash was mesmerized by music:

When I was 14 I was over at this girl's house I'd been trying to pick up for months, and she played Aerosmith's Rocks; I listened to it eight times and forgot all about her.

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

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

Last edited by Soulmonster on Tue Apr 13, 2021 8:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:56 am


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


Within three days of leaving Lafayette for Los Angeles, Izzy found himself in a band [Popular 1, November 1992], The Naughty Women. They rehearsed for a week in the bassist's parents' home in Orange County [Musician, November 1992] before playing their first gig in downtown Los Angeles [Musician, November 1992].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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].


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


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


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


Then Izzy switched to guitar [Guitar World, March 1989]:

It was a natural thing to do, though I really can't explain why. The music I was into and wanted to play lent itself better to the guitar. I was always into hard stuff, the Ramones, the raw power that stuff had, the sound of the chords. So I got this Les Paul, which was real good for barre chords—all I could really play at the time, anyway. Then I got my friend's guitar, a Gibson LG5, I think. I'd play that guitar to Ramones records forever. Soon after that, I got my hands on a Gibson Black Beauty […]

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

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

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


Izzy invited Axl who was still in Indiana to come and join him in Los Angeles [Journal and Courier, February 21, 1993] and the next year, in Easter 1981, Axl found Izzy:

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

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



In about 1984, through his roommate at the time, Izzy started smoking powdered Persian heroin and quickly became addicted [Musician, November 1992].

I had a couple of hits and it felt great. But it was just like they say: You kinda dabble in something and the next thing you know you got a habit.

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

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


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

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

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

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 Sun May 31, 2020 9:56 am


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).

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.

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.

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.”


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..

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:57 am


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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[/i]." Axl would call her in the early morning: "[i]'I’m in jail. You got to get me out.' I skipped school the next day. And they brought him out in cuffs. Took him to court. I had to pay his bail.

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

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.

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].

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

Axl would explain what he meant about those comments:

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

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

And while reflecting on his upbringing:

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

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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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:58 am


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


Recounting his first bands:

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

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

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).


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

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

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

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

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:59 am



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

When [Axl] came out here, he didn’t have money for rent or anything, so he and a group of street nomads would move into some half-finished building when the workmen left.

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

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

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

1982/83 - RAPIDFIRE

One of the first bands Axl played in after coming to Hollywood, was Rapidfire together with the founder Kevin Lawrence. According to Chris Weber, Lawrence would not let Axl sing with a high voice [Rock Scene, October 1989].

Rapidfire, Axl is on top

Unknown image copyright

Kevin Lawrence would later describe Axl in this period:

Dedicated, hard working, talented, on time for rehearsal as well as gigs. I really liked him. We shared the same passionate love of music, and desire to make it big.

1983/1984?: AXL

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

In 1982, Izzy would meet Chris Weber:

Well, Tracii didn't play but he was a friend of mine and he introduced me to Izzy. I met him one night in…fuck I can't even remember… 1983 I think. We met at the Rainbow Bar and Grill. Tracii was in a band and I always told him that if you find any musicians who wants to be in a band, let me know! We'd put together something and play around Hollywood. I had already been going to the club scene by then, dressing up and going to see all the bands like Ratt, Motley Crue and WASP. So he found this guitar player who was Izzy and he introduced me to him one night and right away he said: “Let's put a band together!” and I was like: “Cool!”

Well, I originally met Izzy first. Izzy was introduced to me by Tracii Guns, who was a friend of mine from high school, Fairfax High School. Tracii and I were hanging out and he said, “I’ve got this guy that I met; his name is Izzy – “his name is Jeff.” I think it was Jeff back then, I don’t remember calling him Izzy until, like, much farther down the line. “His name is Jeff and he’s a guitar player and he’s got a great look.” He didn’t even say if he could play, you know, just “he’s got a great look.” So I say, “Well, cool, I’d like to meet him.” So one night at the Rainbow, Tracii introduced me to Izzy, and I was just talking to Izzy and I said, “I’m looking to play in a band” and he said, “Well, I’m looking to form a band.” I said, “Okay, let’s do it” and that’s when Izzy said, “I’ve got this friend that just came in from Indiana.”

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

That friend was Axl Rose.

The next day he said: “I've got this friend that just flew in from Indiana”, and that was Axl, but he said his name was Bill. So we went to Hollywood, some apartment in the middle of Hollywood, and I met him and then we started the band. It was like: “You wanna be the singer?” and he just said: “Yeah, ok!”. It was that easy!

Izzy had been in town for, I don’t know, like a year maybe, most part of a year; and he had known Axl - he had known Bill from Indiana, and he said, “I’ve got this guy.” So we went to where Bill’s house was. Bill was living in an apartment, with his girlfriend, around Whitley in Hollywood. It’s, like, in the... not the dirtiest bit, but it’s sort of - you know, it’s not really the newest part of Hollywood. We went up to the top floor, in this old creaky elevator with a pole gate, and I’m like, “Oh, shit – okay.” And we get to the roof, and we’re looking along - we get off the thing, and I’m looking across this roof and I don’t see anything. And there, in the very corner of this roof, and it was a hot summer day, there was this, like, white, iridescent sort of figure. And, as we walked closer to him, it was Axl in some little shorts or something, something stupid, like... I can’t remember, but it wasn’t anything you would wear in Hollywood - you know, something stupid, whatever. Izzy said, “This is Bill;” and, you know, then we had a singer.

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

Describing Axl:

He was just like the coolest guy that ever walked the planet. He was the epiphany of cool and the style he generated and he had an air about him that almost everybody thought was really charismatic.

Weber and Axl; January 1984

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

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

[We were] slumming it here and there. We started writing songs in this roach-infested pad off Franklin Avenue. We were doing speed like there was no tomorrow, and night after night we would just pump out this fast, upbeat, insane music. Literally slapped together a band, and I'd tell club owners we were playing parties and could easily bring in 500 people. When 20 would show up they'd get really upset and we'd never get paid. But we were slowly getting it together.

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

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

Axl moved out here, and was staying...I think he was staying with Izzy. And Izzy kept telling me about this guy, who was like his best friend back home, and he's really cool. I'm gonna try and make him sing, you know? And so they put Hollywood Rose together, you know -- or Rose ... I think it was called Rose. First it was called A-X-L -- that was the original name of their band, A-X-L ... and whatever that meant. But, anyway, Axl ended up using that as his name. And then they did Rose, and Hollywood Rose, and they had different people in that band.
Spin Magazine, Outtakes for Axl Rose Issue, 1999

The band's first show was at the Orphanage on January 3, 1984 [MetalShrine, November 19, 2004; Chrome Media, August 2, 2005].

I mean, we had some people show up, but it was definitely not what you expected from the beginning stages of a Guns N’ Roses show or whatever, you know. But there we were and we got – I packed my pickup truck full of all of our gear, and we drove down there and did the sound check, and then went off to the other corner of the bar, had a soda and waited for our time to come up. Another band played, then we went up and that was the first show. It was like a professional show for all intents and purposes, except for the fact that nobody showed up. Axl was so... he was developing his image and his persona back then. That was the very beginning of it. I mean, he’s known for a couple of things now; he’s known for that swaying thing that he does. But back then, he was so full of energy that he would shake. He would literally shake, like... it’s hard to describe other than just, like, almost a convulsion happening, but really intense. He would do this and let all this energy out and he would sort of, like, vibrate, like as your pager would do on top of a countertop. It was kind of scary to see somebody that would be evoking all this power, energy and emotion.

Weber would claim that he was the one who encouraged Axl to sing with his high voice [Rock City News, January 1988]. In the first quote below, Weber says it happened about as early as a week or so after meeting Axl:

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

While in the quote below it happened later, around when they cut their first demo with Hollywood Rose:

At that point, Axl had started singing with a very low register, like he did on some songs on Appetite for Destruction. He didn’t used to sing all high, he was singing with this low register. And I remember, on one occasion, he tried – he sang this falsetto, this high thing that he does, that he’s known for, and me and Izzy looked at each other and went, “Jesus Christ, that’s the sound.” You know, “You’ve got to sing like that all the time.” And he was like, “Why? I don’t even sound like that,” because he was a baritone in the choir or something.

Axl, Izzy and Weber
Izzy had spraypainted "AXL Rocks!" on the billboadr behind

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 9:59 am


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

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

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

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

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

Road Crew

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

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

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

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

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

Then Steven all of a sudden showed up one day and said, "Get rid of your drummer, he's not good enough'. Steven had somehow got his hands on a kit and he'd gotten good. So me and Steven carried Road Crew on, which was a great little band. Sorta like what Metallica are now without a singer...

They needed a new bassist, and after placing an ad in the local paper Recycler [Circus Magazine, November 1991], they met with Duff McKagan at Canter's Deli [Kerrang! March 1989]. Duff had just arrived in Los Angeles from Seattle [see previous chapter for information about Duff's life before joining Road Crew] either the same week [Guitar for the Practising Musician in April 1992], a week later [Circus Magazine, November 1991] or just a few weeks before [Kerrang! March, 1989].

The ad said something like: "Guitar player looking for bass player: Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Dolls, Led Zeppelin and Fear. Call Slash" [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992]. They met at Canter's Deli [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].

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

I walked in [at Canter's], looked at the first booth on the left, and saw all this fucking hair. Somehow I had expected these guys to look like Social Distortion. Instead, even though they appeared about my age, the dudes in Road Crew had long hair and rocker chick girlfriends.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 29-30

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

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

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

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

We all went back to Slash's place [after Canter's] - he was living with his mom. It was obvious even on the acoustic guitar he played that first night that Slash was a special player. I was absolutely stunned by the raw, emotive power he so easily tapped. Slash was already in a league of his own and watching him play guitar was a "holy shit" moment.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 30

Slash would later talk about playing with Duff:

Duff was as musically versatile as he was driven (...). I respected him immediately for his devotion: he and I shared a similar work ethic. It established a kinship between us right away that hasn't faltered at all over all these years.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York

But Road Crew was not a success and Duff would quit after just 6 weeks [Kerrang! March 1989]. One of their problems was that they couldn't find a singer [Guitar World, February 1992]. According to Steve Darrow, who played bass in Hollywood Rose for a short while, Duff played in a power-pop band with a guy called Michael McMahon [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007], and this was likely after having played in Roadcrew.

According to Slash, he and Steven had a falling out before Duff left Roadcrew, resulting in Steven quitting:

Then me and Steve had a falling out, and Duff ended up playing with Axl and Izzy in L.A. Guns.

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

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

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

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

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

But through the static din, way in the background, I heard something intriguing, that I believed to be their singer's voice. It was hard to make out and his squeal was so high-pitched that I thought it might be a technical flaw in the tape. It sounded like the squeak that a cassette makes just before the tape snaps - except it was in key.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York

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

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

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

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 10:00 am


1982/83/84 - ROSE

At some point, both Izzy and Axl would move into Weber's family house:

Well, [Axl and Izzy] were living in their own place and as the band went on and we rehearsed all the time it helped to be in one place and my parents had a big house and we moved in.

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

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

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

Axl called the name of the band AXL and then slowly but surely he wanted to take on that name for himself. So he took that name, but I never called him Axl. He was always Bill when I was in the band. Then he reinvented himself. AXL was the original name. After maybe 2 or 3 shows, the name was changed to Rose. Axl Rose (then Bill) had some sort of fall out with Izzy and I and to continue playing as a band, Izzy said we were to change our name to Rose, and we did.

Our first show that we played at the Orphanage was under the name AXL. But shortly after that, we got in a fight or something. Axl got all pissy about something and we sort of like broke up. It was, like, after the first or second gig for, like, a couple of days. He was like, “Fuck you guys, I don’t wanna play with you;” which was funny because we were all living in my parents’ house. Then he said, “You know what, we need to come back, I wanna come back, let’s play” and Izzy’s the one that said, “You know what, if you’re gonna come back, we gotta change the name of the band. We’ll let you get back and play, but we’re gonna change the name of the band to ‘Rose’.” That was Izzy’s idea. He wanted the name of his band called ‘Rose’. So we played under that; that was the name of the band for the next five, six, seven... you know, whatever shows.

Siler would also say that the band Rose was formed while she and Axl lived together in Whitley Avenue [Spin, September 1991], which, if true, must mean that Rose was formed between December 1982 and May 1983. Since Rose (and Hollywood Rose) came after Rapidfire, it must mean that Axl was in Rapidfire some time before December 1982 or May 1983.

Marc Canter, on the other hand, puts the date of Rose to January 1984 [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. This fits with their first show taking place at the Orphanage on January 3, 1984.

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

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

Izzy, Weber, Axl

Talking about who wrote their music:

I would say primarily, looking back on the songs, seventy-five percent of them I came up with the original idea for them and Izzy would put his part over the top and then we'd give it to Axl and he wrote all the lyrics.

And talking about their influences:

Well, the punk element might have come in because Izzy was part of that scene. The bands that I grew up listening to were Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and stuff like that. So you'll notice that the guitar riffs sound a lot like that. I also listened to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. But I was really into Aerosmith and Zeppelin and I think those guitar riffs are the primary starting point. Especially on a song like “Anything goes” off of “Appetite for destruction” (1987)! The guitar riff is like something that I would think would be right off something like “Rocks” (1976) or one of those early Aerosmith records. And then you know, we'd give the music to Axl and he would write lyrics to it and then it'd be a finished song.

And the band's looks:

Nobody wasn't really drinking or doing drugs or anything. It was just about getting into the idea that the music scene was more intoxicating than any drug or alcohol. We spent alot of more time getting ready and know what we looked like. Hair everywhere and make up. It took two hours to do and if you were drunk you couldn't put that together. And then there was a lot of hours working for the band. Putting out flyers and doing promotion at night between two o' clock and three o' clock in the morning when the bars let out. You would stand in front of a bar: “We're playing next week! Blah blah blah…!”


Weber have two explanations for why they then changed the name to Hollywood Rose. In an interview from 1988, he would say that Axl "got mad one day" and they changed the name of the band from Rose to Hollywood Rose, although Weber could not remember why Axl got mad [Rock City News, January 1988]. Most likely Weber is here confused about why they changed the name from "AXL" to "Rose" which came as a result of Axl being pissed and Izzy accepting that they continue playing but under the condition they change the name to "Rose". That they would change their name from "Rose" to "Hollywood Rose" because of Axl's anger begs the question why changing the name would help with Axl's anger.

In other accounts, Weber would state they added 'Hollywood' to differentiate themselves from another band called 'Rose':

The word Hollywood was added when I stumbled upon the name Rose being used by another band. I think they were on the East coast, maybe New York.

Soon after, we found that there was another band called ‘Rose’ somewhere, so we changed. It sounds like Spinal Tap, doesn’t it, but soon we changed the name to ‘Hollywood Rose’ to differentiate ourselves. It was all the same band throughout the whole thing. We just changed the name.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

In Hollywood, you needed to have a tape. You needed a tape to get a club date, you needed a tape to get any interest, and you needed to send your tape into the Music Connection for it to get reviewed. Everybody had needed a tape of some sort, which left the problem that we didn’t have a drummer, because we never thought about it. So we quickly had to find a drummer, and through the Recycler we found this guy, Johnny, who lived in Orange County. Johnny came up and, with him – I think we played him the songs that we had, that we were gonna record the day that we were to record them, and he came up with all the beats right then; he did a great job. We later added a bass player, as we needed to. There were, actually, two bass players. There was Rick, who called himself Rick Mars, which was interesting, because there was Mick Mars from Motley Crue. And then there was a friend of mine by the name of Andre; he played bass, too.

The band would record a demo with five songs, "Shadow of Your Love", "Reckless Life", "Anything Goes", "Killing Time" and "Rocker." These songs would in 2004 be released on the album "The Roots of Guns N' Roses" [see later chapter].

We did all the song writing and put together a whole set before we even looked for anybody else. Then we had an opportunity to go into a studio and record some stuff, because we wanted to find musicians and to find shows around town you needed a tape. The infamous demo tape! My family gave me some money and we booked some time and then we needed to find a drummer, because we had just been working off a drum machine. There's a couple of papers here and one is The Recycler and one is Music Connection. And from one of those two, I think it was The Recycler, we found Johnny Kries. Just a drummer and I don't think he even rehearsed. He basically came in and we told him where the studio was and he showed up that day. We played for twenty minutes and showed him the songs and he put down the tracks. And then me and Izzy just traded off playing bass.

Weber would talk about their live shows and early songs:

I believe [we played] like somewhere between fifteen and twenty shows! Song titles live were: “Killing Time”, “Shadow of your love”, “Hollywood Girls”, “Anything Goes” , “Beat on my Head”, “Back off Bitch”, “International Boys”, “Rocker”, “Cold Hard Cash” and “Rock and Roll Rose”.

Weber, Kreis, Izzy, Axl, Mars
Madam Wong's West

Weber would later summarize the story of Hollywood Rose:

Hollywood Rose started out as a band called AXL. And that was me, Izzy and Axl. Then the drummer and bass player came along afterwards. Then we changed the name of the band to Rose and then it became Hollywood Rose. That band stayed intact with me, Axl and Izzy and then the bass player and drummer. The bass player was never part of the band. He was just part of it when we were playing live, so it was just basically us three. Three leaders and then we had these other guys playing and Johnny [Kreis] was consistently our drummer.

Steve Darrow was one of the guys who played bass Hollywood Rose for a short time, and would be present when Izzy met Duff:

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

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


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

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

[Hearing Axl for the first time from a demo tape]: But through the static din, way in the background, I heard something intriguing, that I believed to be their singer's voice. It was hard to make out and his squeal was so high-pitched that I thought it might be a technical flaw in the tape. It sounded like the squeak that a cassette makes just before the tape snaps - except it was in key.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York

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

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

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

Steven and I went to see Hollywood Rose at Gazzari's and it was the first time that I beheld, hands down, the best singer in Hollywood at the time: W. Axl Rose. Much like the tape, the show was nothing more than an amateur garage band doing their best, but they had an amazing sense of reckless abandon and energy. At least two of them did: apart from Izzy and Axl, the band was pretty nondescript, but those two friends from Lafayette, Indiana, had an ominous presence about them. Izzy kept doing knee slides all over the stage and Axl screamed his fucking heart out-their performance was blistering. Axl's voice drew me in immediately; it was so versatile, and underneath his impossibly high-pitched shrieking, the bluesy natural rhythm he had was riveting.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York

I said to Slash, “If we get that singer and that guitar player, we’ll have a kick-ass band.”

This show likely happened on February 23, 1984 [].

After the show Slash wanted Axl in his own band, Roadcrew [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007], but didn't succeed.

With Izzy and Axl and I didn’t hit it off right away, because these guys had a definite agenda. You know, Izzy moved all the way from Indiana to Los Angeles to become the rock star kind of thing, and he moved to Hollywood. And Axl followed him - Axl turned around and hitchhiked all the way here, and found Izzy.

Instead Slash would end up in Hollywood Rose.

Vicky Hamilton's recollection of when Axl met Slash for the first time differs from Canter's. According to Hamilton, they met later when Slash was playing in The Black Sheep and it was she who introduced them to each other:

After the show I introduced Axl to Slash - who knew that was, like, history in the making. But that was the first time Slash met Axl.

I came to manage Guns N’ Roses just at the tail end of Hollywood Rose. I booked Hollywood Rose to open for a band called Black Sheep at the Music Machine, and that was the band that Slash was currently in. So that night I introduce Slash to Axl, and who knew that was, like, history in the making. Chris Weber had quit the band and Slash wasn’t very happy in Black Sheep. I suggested to him that he try out.

This must be wrong since Slash played in Black Sheep in April-May 1985 and we know Slash played in Hollywood Rose before that.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 10:01 am

MAY 1984

Eventually, Slash's band Road Crew disintegrated:

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

Then Weber and Axl had a fall-out:

We played a show in mid-’84 at a place called the Music Machine – it’s not in Hollywood, but it’s close to Hollywood, in Santa Monica. The show was alright, so it sort of went off without a hitch. The more I think of it the more I recall. What ended up happening is, somewhere during the show I think I hit him in the head with my guitar, the top of my guitar, and he got really embarrassed and upset. We got through the show and then afterward he was just fuming, and he went on this little, um, sulking. I don’t know what I’m thinking of his – he got an attitude and he stormed off, and sort of that was the end. I mean, it wasn’t set up in any way. We weren’t planning on ending it, it was just him walking off.

It is not clear exactly when the show at Music Machine from Weber's quote above took place, but likely not long before June 16, 1984 (when Hollywood Rose played their first show with Slash having replaced Weber). With one guitarist short, Axl and Izzy put out an advertisement looking for a new lead guitar player which caught the attention of Slash. Slash decided to audition:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weber would describe how Slash replaced him after the ill-fated show the Music Machine and suggest that Slash stayed with Hollywood Rose for about a year:

After that show at the Music Machine, Slash, who was a friend of mine as well – I mean, I knew him from high school as well, both him and Tracii; all of us went to Fairfax High. He took over the guitar playing after I left. I have to wrack my brain a little bit, but he did that for a while until the end of the year. And sort of I wasn’t – I think I was hanging out, because we were still all friends, although I had sort of mixed feelings about not playing guitar in it.

Izzy was not impressed by either Slash or Steven:

We went through a lot of line-ups and eventually it's five years later and I'm still living in a box so I said, "We've got to make this work." We ran an ad. Slash and Stevie [Adler] turned up but when we rehearsed it didn't look good. All I had was a Les Paul and a tiny Peavey practice amp and Slash had two Marshalls. I thought, "Rich cunt, I'm living in a box." I wanted to kill Stevie. He'd just dropped acid, couldn't play, and I thought, "What a complete fucking idiot."

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

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

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

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

When you play you pop up and down like pop­corn.

Izzy left the new lineup after only one week to play in the band London [Circus Magazine, May 1988]:

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

According to Darrow, Izzy also had a problem with Steven's double bass drums [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. Marc Canter would provide a third explanation for why Izzy left: disagreements with Axl over whether the riff for the song 'Cold Hard Cash' should be kept or not [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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

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

This lineup of Hollywood Rose, billed as New Hollywood Rose, played their first show on June 16, 1984 at Madame Wong's West [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. This was likely the first show were Slash got paid [, July 2000]. Another show with this lineup took place on July 10, 1984 at the Troubadour. According to Marc Canter, Axl broke a glass against the back wall and was told they would never play the Troubadour again. Fortunately, Darrow knew the booking agent for the band Poison and was able to get Hollywood Rose back on the bill at the Troubadour for a show on August 29 [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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

But Slash and Axl would also get in a fight resulting in them splitting [97.7 HTZ-FM, January 1994], some time after August 1984. Years later, when talking about his hesitation to joining Guns N' Roses, Slash would shed some more light on what had happened between them while in Hollywood Rose:

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

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

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

But Weber wasn't entirely finished in Hollywood Rose:

But closer to the end of the year, they had booked a show for New Year’s Eve or something, and I don’t think Slash could do it; for some reason he couldn’t do it. He knew ahead of time he couldn’t do it, or he didn’t want to do it, or something. So I’d been talking – because we were friends, I’d be talking to Izzy and he said, “Why don’t we just get together again and we’ll all do it.”

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 10:01 am


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slash would later claim he turned the gig down because he didn't want to die his hair and daub his face, and "look like a clown" [Kerrang! July 30, 1988].

I was always playing, and one of the main things that got me from then to now is the fact that I was in bands regardless of whether I could play. Even though I probably wasn’t that good a guitar player, I was doing the best I could, trying to write songs and form bands I was really into. I went through tons of bands and kept doing it and doing it and doing it.

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

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

And we were looking -- he wanted to be in a-- You know, although there's a million different versions of the story, no one-- And he said we like told him he had to say his name onstage, or I don't know what the fuck. It was in a book that said Slash said he couldn't handle it, because he had to say his name onstage -- or some fuckin' bullshit. But it was because he wanted to be in a five-piece band, and we wanted to be four-piece -- and it was really that simple, you know?
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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 10:02 am

MAY 1985

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

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

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

A real odd choice but definitely a good move. We didn't play many gigs—I think we played just once—but we jammed all the time. It really helped getting my feel together, my sense of rhythm and overall approach. I'm really glad I did it. I feel it helped my attitude for when Guns N' Roses really happened.

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

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

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

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

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 10:02 am


With Izzy having left Hollywood Rose to join the band London and Slash looking for a new band, Axl decided to join Tracii Guns in the new band L.A. Guns. The other members of L.A. Guns were Rob Gardner (drums) and Ole Beich (bass). This was after LA Guns' original singer,. Mike Jargos, having been sent to jail:

Mike Jargos was [LA Guns' original singer]; after he went to jail, Axl joined. Mike was a friend of mine from high school; it was Mike who sang on the L.A. Guns’ first EP.

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

Already at L.A. Guns' first show at the Troubadour at October 5, 1984, did they play the songs "Anything Goes," "Back Off Bitch," "Shadow of Your Love" (all songs from Hollywood Rose), "Heartbreak Hotel," and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 165], which would later be released or played by Guns N' Roses. At this gig, LA Guns opened for Izzy's band, London.

But LA Guns would not work out for Axl.

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

[Talking about Axl getting fired from L.A. Guns]: I don’t even remember. It was probably over something ridiculous. We were all teenagers. It was after a gig, and we were all driving home in the same car. And Raz [Cue], our manager, just turned to Axl and said, “You’re fired. You’re not going to be in L.A. Guns anymore.”
Tales From The Stage, February 2013

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

[...] Axl, Ole, Joe [Cue's brother], and me headed for the Rainbow. When we requested the big booth in the corner, Michael [from the Rainbow] tried steering us toward a smaller table more suited to a party of four, but relented because more of our friends were expected. We ended up with the shittiest waitress possible, and even though our booth filled up within minutes, a half hour passed and she had yet to take our order. So when Michael came to force our relocation, Axl refused to budge and told him, "We've been trying to order for twenty fucking minutes." Michael ignored him [...] I was halfway to the smaller table when I heard a commotion behind. I turned to see Axl pinning Michael backward over the table, fist cocked, ready to strike a devastating blow to Michael's left eye. [...] I was beyond pissed [after being thrown out of the Rainbow] and grumbling to myself as I rolled my chair out of the parking lot. When I took a right onto the sidewalk, there stood Axl with the body language of one contemplating handi-homicide. I peered angrily towards him and vented some steam of my own, hollering, "I can't believe you fucking got me kicked out!" Axl reached for a pair of sunglasses atop his head and fired them past my ear to smash against the wall. Then he yelled, "I can't believe you're mad at me after they disrespected us like that." [...] "I quit! Fuck you, and fuck L.A. Guns!"
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 174-176

So according to Cue, Axl quit the band, although it could be that Axl cooled down and that he was then fired by an angry Cue as they were driving home to Cue's apartment.

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

Meanwhile, the other band I was in [LA Guns] got sick of me sitting around saying "Slash would be great for this..." Finally, I got myself kicked out of the band by putting on a pair of ripped up black jeans and a spray-painted pink and black biker jacket, doing my hair, putting full makeup on and running all around the stage and out into the crowd one night. The guitarist [Tracii] freaked out 'cause it was his band and he was used to getting all the attention. So, before I could say "I quit", he kicked me out. I said, "yeeahhh!" It was so great!

While in LA Guns, Axl had quarreled with Tracii over musical direction and was frustrated over Tracii being hard to write songs with [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 208]. Axl would also go on to say that "the rest of the band [= LA Guns] [Tracii] had at the time […] just didn’t seem to have the drive, and it fell apart [Cream, September 1989].

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