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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:46 pm

JUNE 1985
'THE HELL TOUR'


Let me tell you about when Guns N' Roses really first... like, the moment of revelation, the moment which began this whole... movement. It was when our car broke down a hundred miles into the fuckin' desert when we were drivin' to our first ever gig. Duff, when he joined -- like we said, 'Hey, wanna jam?' He said, 'Yeah!' -- he got us these gigs in Seattle to play. Duff said, 'Yo! Seattle, it's right on top of America.' We said, 'Hey, cool,' y'know. 'Let's fuckin' go.' It was a complete disaster. So we're stranded in the fuckin' desert, right. Ain't no way we're going back to Hollywood. I mean, these are 300 bucks a night gigs we're talkin' about here… So we hitchhiked. After two fuckin' days in the desert a guy in a semi picked us up. Finally we made it to Seattle. We played. There were ten, maybe twenty people there. We didn't get paid. Finally we had to steal another car to drive back to L.A. again. And from the day we got back to Hollywood, it's been, like, whatever goes down, y'know, we're still united in this conflict against... everything, really. Guns N' Roses' motto from like that day on has been 'Fuck everybody,' y'know. 'Fuck everybody before they fuck with you'

_______________________________________________________________

DUFF HAS A BRIGHT IDEA


In June 1985 the band embarked on their first tour outside of Los Angeles, on what they would later refer to as the "Hell Tour". The idea was originally Duff's:

Axl, Izzy and myself sat down one night and agreed that we should do a West Coast tour. I had done tours up and down the Coast and had the numbers of all the clubs along the way.

After we had done a couple club gigs in LA., I booked us a tour. I said, "I'm going to see if this works." I came into rehearsal one day and I said, "Okay guys, let's tour. I've got all these numbers for all these clubs up and down the West Coast and Canada." Axl and Izzy were like, "Yeah!" We knew this guy with a car, so we knew we could get there.

[Duff]'d been in a punk group who'd toured Canada so he knew how to get gigs. a week later he's like, "I've got us five shows in Seattle."

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

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

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


At that point Duff came in with this idea of doing a Pacific Coast tour and going up to Seattle. He put all the gigs together from his experiences with a punk rock band up there in the Pacific North West and so I said, “Sure, let’s do this.” Rob Gardner chickened out; he didn’t want to take this perilous, fucking road trip with no real exact future in it.



STEVEN HAS NICKY BEATEN


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

So we called Steve Adler and he came down and we rehearsed one night and that was basically it.



CAR PROBLEMS - THE TOUR COLLAPSES


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

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

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

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

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

We broke down two hours out of L.A. next to a red onion field. We were starving so I started biting into the onions but then I started experiencing heroin withdrawal for the first time. I felt pretty funny. We got picked up by this truck driver who'd been up way too long. We got to the mountains in Oregon and he said, "You gotta get out, I need to sleep." It was snowing, we were dressed in L.A. clothes and after two hours we thought we were going to freeze to death. We stopped these girls, God bless them. They were moving from L.A. to Seattle - a little pick-up carrying their life - but they squeezed us in.

We ended up hitchhiking. And, you know, five guys wearing leather jackets and carrying guitars hitchhiking, you’re not gonna get a lot of rides – and if you do, not for very far. We hitchhiked for 1000 miles.

We set off on that tour and our car broke down, fuckin’ 100 miles out of L.A. so we ended up hitchhiking all the way to Seattle. That’s really what cemented the band.


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

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



JUNE 8, 1985 - ROCK THEATRE AT THE GORILLA GARDENS


They only played one show (although Axl, in an interview in June 1987, would curiously claim they played "a few shows" [Unknown UK Source, June 1987]), at the Rock Theatre at the Gorilla Gardens (or possibly Gorilla Room) in Pioneer Square in Seattle [The Seattle Times, April 17, 2005]], on June 8.

The club was called Gorilla Gardens, which was the epitome of a punk-rock shit hole: it was dank and dirty and smelled of stale beer. [...] We just got up and did our set and the crowd was neither hostile nor gracious. [...] That night we were a raw interpretation of what the band was: once the nervous energy subsides, at least for me, we'd reached the end of the set. That said, we had a very small number of train wrecks in the arrangements, and all in all the gig was pretty good.
Slash's autobiography, page 106

Boy, what a road trip for our very first one! But the crowd response was good and that's when we really took off. We were doing a little bit of everything -- Elvis Presley tunes, blues, you name it! We didn't give a damn about anyone or anything. We just wanted to play.

[...] our gear hadn't arrived when we played the show on Wednesday night at Gorilla Garden. We were sloppy on borrowed gear, though on the plus side only about a dozen people were subjected to our set.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 78

[...]and took us to the Gorilla Gardens, the filthy dive bar where we were to do the show that night. When we got there, we walked right onto the stage, and just in the nick of time. We didn't have time to grab a beer, smoke a joint, or put on makeup. Although we were still at the stage where we'd tease our hair up to God and slap on the eye shadow, heavy eyeliner, and lipstick for our stage performances, there just wasn't a moment to spare. [...] Most fortunately, we were able to use the previous band's equipment. We just went on, jacked in, and played our songs. [...] And although we didn't exactly bring down the house, we got decent applause and were all smiles after the show, feeling that for the most part, it went over pretty well.
Steven's autobiography, "Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 80

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

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

See, what happened on that tour is, we left L.A. and it's 1,200 miles to Seattle. Seattle was our first gig and we were supposed to play Seattle, Portland and Eugene, Oregon, Sacramento, San Francisco and then back to L.A. But, on the way out of L.A., our car broke down- [...] So we didn't have our equipment. So, when we – I knew the band we were playing with in Seattle- [...] It was the Fastbacks, yeah. So we borrowed their equipment and played the Seattle gig, and our car with our equipment never caught up to us, so we couldn't play any more gigs, so we just came back to L.A.


Tomie O'Neill (soundman; RKCNDY club co-owner/comanager) and Duff would later reminisce about the show:

There were a bunch of legendary shows there [=at Gorilla Gardens]. Guns N’ Roses played in the small room. That night, we’re also havin’ a great Violent Violent Femmes show—maybe 400 or 500 people in there. And my friends were like, “Dude, you gotta go in the other room, there’s this metal band that’s just fuckin’ outta hand—and Duff ’s in it.” Duff had lived in Seattle and went, “Fuck you guys, I’m movin’ to L.A. and I’m gonna be the hugest fuckin’ rock star!” And I remember walking in the other room and goin’, “Man, these guys are fuckin’ great!"
Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge; September 2011

We were horrible. We had a car with a trailer, which broke down in Bakersfield—that’s a long way from Seattle. So we hitchhiked with our guitars and used the Fastbacks’ gear. But it was great for me coming back to Seattle. That was our first real gig. Well, I think we played a gig the night before we left, at Madame Wong’s East or something, to three people. In Seattle, we played to 12. There’s been thousands that said they were at that gig, but actually there were 12, and four of them were the Fastbacks.
Mark Yarm, Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge; September 2011




Ad for another show on the Hell Tour, June 8



Duff says in his biography that the band was not paid for the show at the Gorilla Gardens because they didn't drew a crowd (only 15 people came [Circus Magazine, November 1991]); but according to other interviews the band was paid $50 instead of the promised $200 or $250 [Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1986; Circus Magazine, November 1991; The Seattle Times, April 17, 2005] and there were 20 in the audience [The Seattle Times, April 17, 2005].

The guy promised us two-hundred and fifty bucks and only gave us fifty. We threatened to burn the place down and he called the cops and we high-tailed it out of there, after stealing more money from him.


Duff would repeat the story about them stealing money in an interview in 2005 [The Seattle Times, April 17, 2005].

According to author Stephen Davies, the other clubs heard about the disastrous show at the Gorilla Gardens and cancelled the remaining shows [A&E Biography, November 29, 2007].

The band then returned back to LA:

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



THE HELL TOUR - A TEAM BUILDING EXPERIENCE


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

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

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

When the band started - it was like the day after Duff or Stevie joined - we had the infamous Seattle trip. We hitchhiked up there for a gig, and it took a long time, but it pretty much solidified the lineup. If everybody could hack it and get along in the back of a semi trailer that's five feet by eight feet, with five guys and no money, well...it was like a test to see if everyone could get along in the long haul.

That Seattle trip was the proving ground. If we could go through that shit, we could go through anything, and we've been through a lot of shit. At one point, we were living in a one room place in Hollywood, where we also rehearsed, and we had no money but we just survived together. If you had something to eat, you had to share it with everyone else.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:47 pm

JUNE 28, 1985
THE STARDUST BALLROOM


After returning to Los Angeles, the band played one show at the Stardust Ballroom (June 28), on the bottom of the bill with The Unforgiven., Joneses, and London.



Ad in L.A. Weekly, June 21, 1985



On this gig they played 'Mama Kin' for the first time.

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


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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:48 pm

05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Newbor11
SONG: MAMA KIN
Album:
Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, 1986, track no. 4.

GN'R Lies, 1988, track no. 4.


Info:
One of the earliest songs in Guns N' Roses set lists, and as typical before the band had written their own songs, this was a cover song. It is not clear who suggested adding it to the set, Slash was a big Aerosmith fan, but it could also have been a suggestion from anyone else in the band. It does not seem like it was played in any of the band members previous bands (including Hollywood Rose, LA Guns and Roadcrew), so possible it was a song that came into the setlists after Guns N' Roses was formed.

When the band decided to release their first EP in 1986, Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, this song was released together with Reckless Life, Move to the City and Nice Boys. The band's second EP, GN'R Lies, contained all four songs off Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide in addition to four more recently recorded acoustic songs.

Written by:
Steven Tyler (Aerosmith).

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

Live performances:
This song, as far as we know, was played for the first time June 28, 1985, at The Stardust Ballroom, Los Angeles, CA, USA. It was mainly played in GN'R's first years. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {MAMAKINSONGS} times.
Lyrics:

It ain't easy, livin' like a
Gypsy
Tell ya, honey, how it feels
I've been dreamin' floatin' down stream
And losin' touch with all that's real
Whole lotta lover, keepin' undercover
Never knowin' where you been
You've been fadin', always out paradin'
Keep the touch with mama kin

You've always got your tail on the wag
Spittin' fire from your mouth just like a dragon
You act like a perpetual drag
You better check it out or someday soon
You're gonna climb back on the wagon

It ain't easy livin' like you wanna
It's so hard to find peace of mind (Yes, it is)
The way I see it
You got to say sheeit
But don't forget to drop me a line
Bald as an egg et eighteen
And workin' for your daddy's just a drag
You still stuff your mouth with those beans
You better check it out or someday soon
You're gonna climb back on the wagon
     
Keep in touch with mama kin
Tell her where you gone and been
Livin' out your fantasy
Sleepin' late and smokin' tea
Keep in touch with mama kin
Tell her where you gone and been
Livin' out your fantasy
Sleepin' late and smokin' tea
Ooh no!

It ain't easy livin' like you wanna
It's so hard to find peace of mind (Yes, it is)
The way I see it
You got to say sheeit
But don't forget to drop me a line
Bald as an egg et eighteen
And workin' for your daddy's just a drag
You still stuff your mouth with those beans
You better check it out or someday soon
You're gonna climb back on the wagon
     
Keep in touch with mama kin
Tell her where you gone and been
Livin' out your fantasy
Sleepin' late and smokin' tea
Keep in touch with mama kin
Tell her where you gone and been
Livin' out your fantasy
Sleepin' late and smokin' tea
Ooh no!


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Steven talking about the recording of 'Mama Kin' for Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide:

In the beginning of 'Mama Kin' we added the sound of firecrackers. If you listen closely, before the song starts, while Axl is saying, "This is a song about your fucking mother!" you can hear the going off.
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010



05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Newbor11


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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:49 pm

MARC CANTER, AN EARLY HELPER OF THE BAND


Slash and Marc Canter became friends already back in 1976, in fifth grade, when they met at 3rd Street Elementary School after Slash tried to steal his bike [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007; Let There Be Rock, August 29, 2013].

Discussing how it happened:

I didn’t actually steal [the bike]; I was checking it out. It was a mini-bike, and it was outside of Kentucky Fried Chicken on Third Street… he was inside and saw this kid suspiciously checking out his bike and decided to intervene before something happened.

They call it a mini-bike but really it’s a motorbike. We went to Third Street School but I didn’t know his name; I just knew his face. So I had this motorbike and was parked at KFC and I’m in there, buying whatever, he was walking home, saw it and was thinking about stealing it. He looked inside to see who it might belong to or if anyone was looking and then he saw me and thought, “Oh, I know him from school.” So he went in and instead of stealing it, asked if he could ride it. We became friends from that point on and pretty much never looked back.

In those days there was a lot of bike stealing. I was one of the thieves, I know. It’s quite possible I was thinking about taking off with it because I used to be like that back then. Anyhow, that’s how we met and we’ve been friends ever since. After Marc and I hooked up in fifth grade, we were friends for a while though junior high school. Then somewhere in junior high school I took off and moved into deeper East Hollywood and I didn’t see him for a while. At some point in high school we reconnected and he’d turned into this mega rock fan, which I had too, but he was really serious. He had his cameras and shit and he would sneak them into concerts… his favorite band was Aerosmith. He used to buy all kind of photos. Aerosmith was one of the major bands that I was a fan of when I started playing guitar and they definitely influenced what direction I went. So we had that new thing in common. I had started playing guitar at that point, and he just started taking pictures of everything because that was his way, you know [laughs].

I met Slash as Saul Hudson in the fifth grade in 1976 when he was trying to steal my mini bike, motor bike actually, in front of the KFC on 3rd and Fuller. He recognized me from school when he was looking to see who’s it might be. I didn’t know him but I knew his face. Rather than try to steal it he figured he’d just make friends with me so he could ride it. Turned out he only lived a block away from my house so we started becoming close friends. Soon after that I noticed he had a really good knack for drawing and his art projects were dinosaurs, snakes, jungles, all kinds of crazy things he’d do, so I knew there was something special there but I didn’t really think much of it.

[Slash] was trying to steal my motorbike. It was parked at the KFC on 3rd and Fuller. I was in there getting some things. He was walking by, saw it, thinking of stealing it, looked inside to see who it is, you know, who's watching. And then he said, "Oh, I recognize that kid," because we went to school together, although I never spoke with him before. So he realized instead of trying to steal it, why not just ask me if you could ride it? And that was... turned out he only lived a block away. And, you know, we started carpooling to school and we became friends instantly.


Canter and Slash started hanging out together, including riding BMX bikes, but then lost touch after Slash changed schools:

Then we were racing BMX motor cross together, when he’d go off a jump flashes would go off, he had a little extra style, he had a little extra than what most people had. Then we lost touch for about a year or two because we went to different schools. We met back up at the start of the tenth grade and by then he had been playing guitar for about a year and he was playing with Ron Schneider and Adam Greenberg and he said, hey, my band is playing a party next week and you should come.

We're just friends. And then BMX came in, like, literally two years later. And then we did that together and, you know, just hanging out. It wasn't really music yet because we went to John Burrough... after 3rd Street we both went to John Burrows Junior High School, but somewhere about the 8th grade he got kicked out for probably bad attendance or something, right, went to Bancroft. So we kind of split for about a year and we just lost touch. And then in that year he started playing guitar. And he started getting interested in Aerosmith and, you know, Zeppelin and AC/DC and all those bands. And I also coincidentally liked exactly the same music. And we each didn't know that we were into exactly the same thing, right? Then we found each other at the end of the 9th grade. The summer of the 9th grade, we both ended up at Beverly Hills High School for the 10th grade, but our mothers both put us for, you know, that summer school, so you get used to the school. And we bumped into each other at summer school and, you know, I had, like, an Aerosmith shirt on and he was like, "Oh, totally," you know, whatever. So we caught up, we did a little catching up and then he said, you know, "I'm playing guitar now. I'm in a band. Titus Sloan, come check us out. We're having rehearsal today". So I immediately knew instinctively that it was going to be good. And I showed up that rehearsal. Of course I was blown away. They didn't have a singer yet. It was just a three piece.


Canter would immediately start supporting Slash's music endeavors including documenting gigs:

Titus Sloan, so I show up at the party, I saved the flyer, and I was smart enough to actually bring a tape recorder to record the gig cause I just knew something was gonna be cool and it worked. I liked it. I started documenting it.

And so I kind of supported him and, you know, helped him out with equipment and whatever, flyers for gigs and just whatever. [...] So I had the means of helping him do that, driving him to rehearsal, you know, buying him food, whatever. Whatever it took to get to the next gig.


And this eventually led to Canter meeting the rest of the guys that would make Guns N' Roses:

About two years later we met Axl and Izzy. Izzy didn’t stay around for long, maybe a week or so, but I noticed the chemistry that Slash had with Axl was something special and Axl had something special on his own. So, I documented that and took pictures and recorded the shows. Then that band sort of fell apart. Axl went into LA Guns with Tracy Guns and asked me if I’d document that, take some pictures cause he liked the pictures I did with Hollywood Rose. So, of course I recorded that gig too and took some pictures for two of those gigs. That band sort of fell apart and about 9 months later Guns N Roses got back together but without Slash for a couple gigs.

[Axl and I] were friends since 1984. Instantly, even before before Guns N' Roses. Because during Hollywood Rose we became friends. That's why he called me to say, "Hey, can you take pictures of L.A. Guns, I'm in L.A. Guns now?" And so I kind of snuck to do it because Slash wouldn't be happy about that because A, they had a falling out and B, Tracii and Slash were always in rival bands in high school. So I'm like helping the enemy kind of a thing. But I liked Axl. I even liked Tracii. So why not? I did it. I didn't tell Slash.


Describing the friendship:

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

I met Slash in the fifth grade and I saw something special in him, with his art work in school. He created a jungle with dinosaurs and snakes that blew me away. By the seventh grade we were racing BMX bikes and he was doing outrageous tricks for that time and he won most of them.

[...]

I lost touch with him for about two years. Mainly, because he went to a different school. When we hooked up again in 1981 he had been playing for about a year.

[...]

When he started to play guitar, it didn't take long before I could see that this was his thing. In 1982, I began to document all his gigs. I would save the poster or flyer, then record the show and shoot a roll of film.

We lost touch for a couple years because he got kicked out of the junior high I was going to and had to go to a different one and I didn’t see him for about a year.  When I finally saw him again it was around 10th grade and he had already begun playing guitar, by that point he had been playing for about a year and we met up at the new school we were attending High School at and I saw him.  He was just about to play his first real gig at a party and he was like “Hey Marc, I’m in a band now” and I found out we both were real into music and liked Zeppelin and Aerosmith and all the same bands.  I knew without ever hearing him actually play that it was probably going to be pretty good based on everything else he had tried and excelled at.



HELPING THE BAND


I used to feed the band. Not three meals a day, not every day, but when they were hungry they knew they could come to me and I could get them a pastrami sandwich or whatever was needed. And why not? They’re my friends. I would drive them places, I had a car, I had gas -- they didn’t. I’d buy them guitar strings, whatever they needed, little things… I was paying for some of the band magazine ads that were coming out. First we started with quarter page ads and they were like $288. It wasn’t a big deal. Then after two of those, we went to full page and it got to be a little bit more expensive. But, at that time, I knew that would work for the record company people, like, “What’s going on here? This band keeps selling out these Troubadour gigs and they’ve got full-page ads. It’s not just some flunky, fly by night band.”

Then they found someone to help them with the demo tape but that person gave out in the middle and didn’t put any more money in, so they needed a couple hundred bucks to get it out of hock. I did what I could. I didn’t do everything but I helped because they’d do the same for me if they were in my situation. I lived at home, I had a good job, I didn’t have any expenses and pretty much, if they did work, they had to support themselves. I always knew Slash would make it as a guitar player, even if he was just a guitar teacher, because there was such a talent there. His playing was very seductive; you’d feel goose bumps when he’d play because he just hit those certain notes.

I was the only one that lived at home and I had a good job so I spent all my money… I had no expenses, my gas was paid for, everything was paid for, so all the money I made was simply my money so it all went into them cause they needed money for advertisement, for guitar strings, for flyers, for some equipment. I pretty much put all my money into the band until they found better backing, which they did after about 8 months. They really didn’t need my help anymore, maybe emotional support, but not financial support anymore. I did what I could do, got them to where people could recognize their ability to sell out a club, and saw that there was money to be made. My work was done but I’m sure they would have done the same for me if they were in my position.

I was getting paid $300 a week in those days, and 80 percent was going to the band – like almost all my money. That wasn’t easy because I had a girlfriend, too, but I definitely saw good things in the band.

I lived at home. I was making 300 bucks a week, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it is a lot in 1985. And when you have no bills to pay at all, nothing. That money starts to add up. And you know, I had a few $1000 soon saved up and I just dumped it all into, you know, them.




Marc Canter with the band


In 2012 and 2013, Canter would talk about how the band had repaid him for his efforts and help:

Well, there were two tabs. I actually kept track of everything. Slash owed me $3,000 or $4,000, and the band owed me $4,300. I never asked for the money back, but then I was getting married a few years later in 1989, so I told Slash, “Hey, I need that money,” and Slash gave me $10,000, but that was actually just supposed to be his tab. I guess he paid me interest! I think at this point, he was worth a few million, but he only had like $600,000 cash, I think, because you know how the music industry works – you get paid like six months later. But to make a long story short, Axl has given me some incredible gifts, too, and I’ve been paid back many times over. He would send me things like DVD players when no one had DVD players, all the latest stuff, and every birthday a big gift would always come – Axl never forgot a birthday or an occasion.

He liked the way my wife would cut his hair, so he would fly us in to places like Cleveland so he could get his hair cut, even though he had other guys that would do that. On “Use Your Illusion,” Guns N’ Roses had a pinball machine, so they sent me one of the pinball machines. I still have it.

Or he would fly us to New York and we would stay at the Ritz for four nights, all paid for.

In 2001, he flew my wife and I out to Rio. I brought along a hard salami from Canter’s because I knew he would appreciate it. We cut it up and made sandwiches in his hotel room. With some rugelach cookies, too.

[Axl] came to my wedding on March 4, 1989 at the Hilton Hotel, and he wore a suit, gave us a $200 gift certificate from Shaper Image and played the piano at the wedding. It’s on my wedding video. He played “November Rain” at my wedding two years before the song came out – I think I actually first heard it in 1985 – which is weird because there’s a wedding scene in the “November Rain” video. The funny thing is, of course we were all wondering if Axl was going to be late to my wedding because you know Axl, he’s always late, but Axl Rose was on time to my wedding. And like I said, he was wearing a suit. Slash showed up, too, but he was wearing a leather jacket. He was dressed as himself! [laughs]

Axl is 100 percent about what he sees in his head as right and wrong. During the riots in 1991, I was on the roof with guns, protecting Canter’s, our property, because they were burning places down, and Axl called my wife and asked how Canter’s was doing. He was said he was on the way, but my wife told him we were OK. He also offered to send the Guns N’ Roses security team to Canter’s to help me.

There was two debts going, Slash owed me money from way before that and personal money like when he'd be like literally in England with GN'R in 1986 and the grandmother would call me and say she can't make her rent, so I'd have to give them 500 bucks so they don't get evicted. [...] They weren't big yet, but they were on tour, they went out to do the three gigs at Marquee, so they didn't have any [?] in their pocket. But so Slash had a debt of like $4,300 in Guns N' Roses and owed me like 3,800 or something like that. And so they made it. They got money. And no, they didn't pay me back. But what happened was in 1989 I was getting married and I was short on money, so I called Slash. I said, "Hey, I need some money to get my wedding so I could pay for the wedding now." So he said, "Well, how much money do I owe you? Forget about the band. That's something different. We'll do that another time. How much do I owe you?" So I told me it was like 4,300. He added a little interest because in those days if you had your money in the bank, you were collecting 8 or 10% interest. So he ended up giving me like 8 or $9,000 for that. [...] For the band, they did nice things for me. They got me a pinball machine, Axl paid out of his own pocket to fly my wife and I out to like Cleveland, put us up at the Ritz Carlton for four nights. And that didn't come out of the band's pocket, that came out of Axl's pocket.



DOCUMENTING THE BAND


In addition to helping the band out in various ways, canter would also meticulously document the band's first gigs:

The history tells the truth because I recorded all those shows, you know, I audio taped them. Some of them videotaped. [...] [jokingly] I hoard them. [...] some day they'll get out when the band's on the same page and want to do a box set or something.


Talking about his recordings:

if you listen back to the show, all of a sudden a new song shows up, or you hear Axl say, "This is a new one, we just wrote it today. This one's for Barbie. This one's called Rocket Queen. It's not much, but it's the best I could do," you know? So you have exactly what they said before they debuted the song, and that's the first time the song turns up. So, you you know, you take photos, you develop them, you saved the flyer from the gig, you saved the Troubadour ticket, so you have all the evidence. Later on, years back, you look back and you piece the puzzle together. And not only that, you can tell by the photos what part of the show it is because of what they're wearing, you know, they come with the leather jacket, then it gets hot after a song, they take it off. Then after another song they take their shirt off, you know, so you can see where they are, in the crowd. I mean, you could see the photos tell pretty much where you are in the set or based on what guitar Slash is using or if he's got a slide on, then you know it's Rocket Queen. You know, there's certain things, you could investigate the photo and figure out what song it is or where they're at. And so that's how I know personally what gigs these songs were debuted at.



CANTER'S DELI AT FAIRFAX


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

It started in 1924 with my grandparents and his brothers in Jersey City, New Jersey and then in 1931 they moved to Los Angeles and around 1948 they separated from the brothers and moved to the Fairfax district and simply called it Canter’s and it’s been here in the same location since 1948 and it’s been a 24 hour Deli since 1953.  The later part of the fifties was when it really started booming with the nightlife and back then we were the only place open so we pretty much had the market cornered and it would be movie stars from the left to the right on a nightly basis.  The Beatles, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe would come in.  In the 60s it became a hippie haven, around 66 or 67 it became ground zero during the night and day for the hippies.  A lot of people didn’t want to serve them in their establishments but we never had any problem with that and we always served them so, word of mouth grew and it wasn’t a stretch to not only have the kids but the bands like The Turtles and The Doors.  According to my dad we would never have any baked goods left in the mornings because everyone would come in high and they all wanted to eat sugar (laughs).  He actually had to put in some lights to illuminate the corners of the place because they would find people smoking pot in the corners and we didn’t wanna get in any trouble for that from the cops.  Frank Zappa would come in and have a table and it would draw a crowd.  Frank would go home and the table would still be hopping and when Zappa would come back a day or so later it was always funny because the table would still be packed but just with totally different people.  There was also a story about how Neil Young was making a dollar taxiing people back and forth from the strip to Canter’s deli (laughs).  We didn’t know about it then but it was crazy, there would be so many people outside just hanging around on the strip and after the Whisky or those places closed there was really nowhere to go but Canter’s.  I bumped into Jeff Beck at the deli and he told me that in the 60s after the Yardbirds would play the Whisky they would always come down because the food was good, we were open and the scene was right.  I started working here in 1982 and I immediately started seeing the same thing, musicians, movie stars and all these people come in, eat, walk up to the register and pay the check and go, they don’t make a fuss or make special demands like “I wanna leave out the back door” or bring bodyguards or any of that.  It’s all very normal.  Honestly, most of the time, the other people eating don’t even notice they were there.  I think they’re kind glad, I mean every once in a while you might do a double take and say “Hey, there’s Bono or Johnny Depp” and its not a big deal.  Johnny used to come in here all the time and hit on our Deli cashier and she’d be like “No, no, no no not another actor or musician, move on” (laughs).  We are also known for a lot of the items on our menu that keep bringing people back, chocolate chip danishes, cheesecakes in the bakery.  We make our own pickles and pastrami and corn beef.  The Matzo ball soup has baseball sized matzo balls, and that will definitely sober you up after a night of clubbing.  We can seat about 400 people and after a big Friday or Saturday night it’s often quite a scene here.  We get offers for reality TV shows and stuff because there’s so much going on that is something you’d only see at Canter’s.


The band members would talk about the restaurant:

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

When Duff and I first met, we met at Canter’s Deli. I used to work there and Marc would always help me out. I always had a job but if I was in between jobs, I would work at Canter’s. He was financially stable and I wasn’t [laughs]… he was just a really good, loyal friend. I still, to this day, don’t have many loyal friends. So when Guns first started, he instantly took the job of marketing and doing all the promotion. We all did it but I was real fanatic about it, I never slept. [Laughs]

A lot of stuff went down at Canter's. Marc was always generous whenever me, Slash and Ronnie Schneider [childhood friend and GNR tech guy] would come in. He'd always give me a meat knish with gravy and a coke. They had this big empty room in the restaurant, and one particular night, me, Marc, Ronnie and some girl went up there, and all three of us got VD from this girl. We're like 14-years-old. So there's a little history about Canter's for you.




Guns N' Roses at the Canter's Deli
June 1985



Marc Canter explaining the story behind the picture above:

That was right after they returned from their infamous, ill-fated tour to Seattle, when their car broke down and they were like starving for two weeks before one of Duff’s friends drove everyone back to Los Angeles. But that tour bonded them, they were like blood brothers after that, and the photo is when they came back and came to Canter’s for a meal. I actually didn’t take that picture, my friend did [=Jack Lue]. But everyone thinks I took it. But the one thing about that photo is it says 1,000 words.

When they first came back from the Hell tour the first place they stopped was Canter’s Deli because a. They were hungry for food, they hadn’t eaten a real meal in like two weeks and b. they needed a photo shoot for some flyers and some gigs they had booked back here in L.A. [...] if you look at that photo, really examine in it, you can see the look on their face that they had when they returned from Hell.  They just knew they had something and that they were on the verge of something great.


Steven and Duff would talk about the importance of the band to have a guy like Marc around:

We didn't have money, but we had good friends like Marc. Nobody has been there long enough, cared for us, believed in us, or got pretty deep with us. The dude was always there. […] Marc was always supportive and really the only one who believed in us. If we were hungry, if we needed anything like stings or sticks, Marc would get them. The first Guns N' Roses banner we had, Marc put together and bought for us. I remember going to Canters and getting knishes and gravy. He is just a great person and a great friend. He was the one most responsible of us and he cared. And his wife used to cut my hair.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

When Guns N' Roses formed, Marc became like the sixth guy in the band. He was always around and had unlimited access to the band, especially in the early days. He believed in us from the beginning and had a much broader view of what the band was about than even we had.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Marc ended up taking pictures of the band at our shows. He was a smart, artistic, compassionate guy. We felt comfortable trusting him to shoot all the behind-the-scenes images of GNR. We knew he wouldn't compromise our trust, wouldn't sell out to some rag-ass tabloid, or let anything out that we didn't approve. Marc and I are still close to this very day.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 73




Canter's Deli



Marc's interest in recording led to him chronicling the start of the band, taping most of the band's first shows. Marc also helped the band out financially, by loaning them money to pay for tickets (rock clubs often required bands to pay for a certain amount of tickets ("Pay-to-Play") which the band then had to re-sell) as well as for stamps they needed to send out the band's newsletters [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 90]. The band would acknowledge the importance of Marc in the liner notes of 'Appetite for Destruction': "Marc Canter - without you?".


"RECKLESS ROAD"


Fortunately, for every fan of Guns N' Roses and anyone interested in the early history of one of rock's greatest bands, Marc decided to put together a book about Guns N' Roses early period, "Reckless Road: Guns N' Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction", which was published in 2008. It featured lots of information and an impressive collection of quite frankly awesome photos. It is amazing. So is Canter's Restaurant, it is part of GN'R history and even if you don't care for that, it is a great place to eat in Hollywood.

More information about Reckless Road in a later chapter.



Reckless Road, by Marc Canter



EPILOGUE


Marc Canter and Slash would remain friends and in 2008 Slash would discuss why they had managed that despite all the chaos of Slash's life:

Well, because the chaos never had anything to do with Marc so our relationship has always been intact. He never really had to deal with the out of control me… he never put himself in that place. He never was judgmental; he was real objective. That always made me feel like he never crossed that line with me and so I’ve always had a respect for him and I would never rub him the wrong way because of that mutual respect. I never did anything to take advantage of him or make him overly uncomfortable or expose him to the darker stuff that was going on behind the scenes. He was never forced to be around that. So we’ve always had that mutual thing for each other. [...]  And to this day, if he calls me, he can ask me for anything. He called me this morning all freaking out trying to get all this stuff done. I said, “Marc, don’t worry about it.” [Laughs]


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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:50 pm

THE RIGHT GUYS


As the new lineup played more and more gigs, and did more and more rehearsal and song writing together, they started to gel. The mix between Duff's punk rock sensibilities, Izzy's low-key rhythm and feel, Slash's loud bluesy and fast leads, and Steven's idiosyncratic groovy drums, turned out to be a potent combination. And on top of that was Axl's intense, strong vocals that were filled with emotions.

And although not every band member always appreciated everyone else in the band, especially since compromises had to be made, the new lineup started to gain more and more popularity in the L.A. music scene.

[…] I can't actually stand my own voice, but everyone else in this band is so scared of doing it that it's always left to me.

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

Duff and I were the keystone; we were the rock that rolled. We were to become the rhythm section for the biggest rock band in the world, and we pushed each other day and night to get there.
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010

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

We had been struggling for five years. But I knew in 1985 that the band had it all: the lineup was Axl on vocals, Slash and I on guitars, Stevie on drums and Duff on bass. As soon as we played our first two shows with that lineup, I knew we had enough potential to tour. That's when "the real thing" was born, the real Guns N' Roses. There was this strange chemistry between us. I can't say we were the best of friends though, there was always tension in the air. But we got along well enough to play shows and play like our lives depended on it. We had this survival instinct; after all, none of us had any money or an apartment. We were really a "street band", so there was a sense of urgency and a desperate energy coming from us: we knew all too well that we couldn't afford to make a mistake. We had to make it work, we had no choice. After five years, we were just beginning to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll say it again, the chemistry of that lineup was pure magic. We didn't realize it at the time, and it's only in retrospect that it's obvious to me.

In my own bands, when I was in high school and before Guns N’ Roses, I was always the only guitar player – and I could never find a singer. Then, when I finally met Axl, Izzy and Axl were part and parcel. So that’s how that happened, so we just... And the way that Izzy and I developed as a two guitar player thing was by not developing at all. He did his thing his way and I did my thing my way, and even though we were playing the same song, we played the parts completely different and it had a great kind of – you know, looking back on it, it had a great kind of sound to it, it made it a little bit more interesting than your typical two guitar band.

[Slash] was always good. He was an old soul blues player in a 19-year-old's body, so he was… Yeah, there's certain guys that are just good. (Chuckles) You know, he found the thing that he was supposed to be doing. And that was playing six-string guitar. He's naturally gifted at it, he works his ass off at it, you know, and so the combination of those two things… he's the real article.

It seemed that the timing for Steven and I to sort of meld as an actual rhythm section was perfect. Listening and playing along with things like Cameo, Prince, and Sly and the Family Stone became our gauge and music school. Hours before the rest of the band would come for rehearsal, Steven and I would be there, mesmerized by what seemed to us at the time a visionary and funky quest. We became close as brothers in that first year of writing and rehearsing and playing shitty little dive-clubs.

That mini-era in L.A. music spawned another really interesting rhythm duo in Jane's Addiction's Eric Avery and Stephen Perkins. I suppose competition makes for a better "product," and Adler and I would go watch them play whenever possible. It made us better. I think we made them better, too. Neither band was too far removed from the influence of Led Zeppelin, and when you are looking at John Paul Jones and John Bonham as a benchmark (no mater how unattainable), you will push yourself as hard and far as you possibly can.

Duff and myself would always go in an hour or two hours before the rest of the guys in the band would come in. And Axl, I can count on two hands out of two years of rehearsals, that he actually went to. So basically we were working on the music and me and Duff, we’d come in an hour or two hours early, and we would work on our parts. And it’s such a rare thing that there are bands like like Queen and Aerosmith where five guys can actually get in one room and all have the same idea and the same wants and the same beliefs and the same goals. There are millions, millions of guitar players, bass players, drummers, but it’s the hardest thing in the world to get three, four or five guys that all could click. That’s why there’s so many bands out there but they’re not big because three, four or five guys in that band just don’t click together.

[...]

When me and Duff first got together, we clicked instantly. But see I grew up playing music with Slash so there wasn’t a bass player. I learned and took all my playing, my bass drum work, and interacted with his guitar playing. And Duff is a guitar player at heart; he started off playing guitar. So his guitar playing shows in his bass playing. So we just clicked perfectly together; that’s all I can say. It’s the hardest thing in the world. That’s why there’s not 50 million huge rock bands; there’s only a few because it’s so hard to get those few people that belong together.


The band would quickly realize the special chemistry they had:

[...]We got we have the lineup that, you know, we're gonna keep unless someone dies and then it's like, "How we're gonna replace that person?" You know. That's gonna take a lot of work because there's nobody we want.


And Marc Canter would explain why it worked in Guns N' Roses compared to earlier bands like Hollywood Rose, Road Crew and LA Guns:

But let me tell you what changed in the music and why it stayed this time, why it worked, two things were different: 1, they took away Steven's double bass drum. They threw one out. They took that speed metal out of it, it became more of rock. And then Izzy was the [?], Izzy and Duff really that changed it and the groove changed. That gig at the Troubadour June 6 was just.... While I'm taking these pictures, I'm thinking, "Fuck, that's good music," you could hear it, the vocals are good, the music it's just got, it's just like you got like chills listening to it. And so things were different. Things were different musically. So I knew that the bond of music would hold them together despite some of their personalities or their power struggles or whatever that go with it. The music was enough to... Where everyone had to eat a little shit to, you know, to make... like in a marriage- [...] Everyone, like a marriage, you don't just get it your way, you gotta give a little and take a little and whatever. So everyone got their way on certain things and everybody ate a little shit up for certain things. So why? Because in the end they knew they all needed each other and they knew they were the perfect fit and they were writing killer material together. They were just the band to be reckoned with.


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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:51 pm

JULY 1985
MADAME WONG'S EAST, THE TROUBADOUR, UCLA, AND THE SEANCE


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

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

The next show was on the Fourth of July at Madame Wong's East, a restaurant in Chinatown that hosted a lot of punk-rock shows at night. Guns played second on a four-band bill that night. Only three people showed up for our set, including Kat [Duff's girlfriend] and West [Arkeen].

The gig at Madame Wong's was like many of our first shows in that we were booked alongside punk bands. Early in our career we played shows with Social Distortion, the Dickies, and Fear. I guess at first we must have been perceived as that - punk.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 87-88



Madame Wong's, July 4, 1985
Copyright: Marc Canter



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

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

The actor Nicolas Cage would remember having attended this show and witnessing the band play Welcome to the Jungle for the first time:

I saw Axl perform live at the Troubadour just before Appetite for Destruction was released. He did Welcome to the Jungle, I was there, it was the first live performance of that and I never forgot it.


After the July 20 gig the band was asked to play a frat party at UCLA with "very few hours notice" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. So this show was at the UCLA on July 21.

[...] the night after we unveiled "Jungle" at the Troubadour, we played a UCLA frat house. We got $35 and free beer for that show. It was one of those spontaneous gigs - it was set up the same day we played. The students at the frat party weren't sure what to make of us and hung back a little. Axl's assless chaps may have had something to do with our tepid reception, too. Still, free beer.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 98-99

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

I don't know how we got that gig. Someone asked us to do it. I think the Joneses might have had something to do with that. And, you know, we just showed up. That was basically the long and the short of it.

[...]

I remember that particular afternoon really well. I remember Izzy was locked in the bathroom with Desi most of the time. You know, it was just one of those kind of crazy little gigs, so we’d just do what we do and throw ourselves into situations where we were in such sharp contrast to everything going on around us. I think that's why we made such a big impression, because we were always us no matter where we were at,  even in the UCLA fucking frat party (laughs).

Axl had big balls. And when I say that I mean of steel. To go out in a crowd like that? I can’t imagine. But Axl did it. And he did it often. He had no issues at that frat party.
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021


Mick Cripps, guitarist for LA Guns would be at this show and comment on Axl's choice of attire:

Nickey Beat told me to go see this band Guns N’ Roses. “They just got their new guitar player, Slash, and they’re playing a frat party at UCLA.” Which was a fucking ridiculous place to play. So I go there and Axl’s walking around with his chaps on, with his ass hangin’ out. I was like, “This is hilarious!” That he had the balls to do that, right?
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021


Cripps also claims Axl played an early version of November Rain at the UCLA show:

I remember there was this grand piano in the frat house. And Axl’s got his chaps on with nothing underneath but, like, a codpiece, and he sits down at the piano and starts playing an early version of “November Rain,” I think it was. You can just imagine all the jocks at this frat party eyeing the guy with murder in their eyes. But Axl didn’t give a fuck. He didn’t suffer fools.
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021


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


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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:55 pm

05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Newbor11
SONG: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Album:
Appetite for Destruction, 1987, track no. 1.



Greatest Hits, 2004, track no. 1.



Info:
One of the first songs the Appetite lineup wrote together and the first song on the band's debut album, Appetite for Destruction. A staple in live shows since 1986, it is the song the band has played the most and one of the band's most well-known songs.

Written by:
Lyrics: Axl Rose.
Music: Slash.

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

Live performances:
'Welcome to the Jungle' was played live for the first time at The Troubadour July 20, 1985. It is the most played GN'R song and has frequently been used as the show opener. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {WELCOMETOTHEJUNGLESONGS} times.
Lyrics:

Welcome to the jungle
We got fun 'n' games
We got everything you want
Honey we know the names
We are the people that can find
Whatever you may need
If you got the money honey
We got your disease

In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your knees, knees
I wanna watch you bleed

Welcome to the jungle
We take it day by day
If you want it you're gonna bleed
But it's the price you pay
And you're a very sexy girl
That's very hard to please
You can taste the bright lights
But you won't get them for free

In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Feel my, my, my serpentine
I, I wanna hear you scream

Welcome to the jungle
It gets worse here everyday
Ya learn ta live like an animal
In the jungle where we play
If you got a hunger for what you see
You'll take it eventually
You can have anything you want
But you better not take it from me

In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your knees, knees
I wanna watch you bleed
 
And when you're high you never
Ever want to come down, YEAH!

You know where you are?
You're in the jungle baby
You're gonna die

In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your knees, knees
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Feel my, my, my serpentine
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your knees, knees
In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your
It's gonna bring you down!
Ha!


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Talking talking about the lyrics:

About six years ago I hitchhiked the country and on part of that trip I ended up kind of stranded in the Bronx, in the jungle in New York, and this old black man came up to me and my friend, we were backpacking, we have no money just enough for a cup of cokes [?] and we were sitting there on the side of the freeway, up on the bridge, and the black guy, "You know were you are? You're gonna die, you're in the jungle, baby!"
Interview after show, November 24, 1987

I wrote the words in Seattle. It's a big city, but at the same time it's still a small city compared to [Los Angeles] and the things that you're gonna learn. It seemed a lot more rural up there. I just wrote how it looked to me. If someone comes to town and they want to find something, they can find whatever they want.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

It's about Hollywood streets; true to life.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

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

I'd hitchhiked the country, and I'd been in New York, and we went to Seattle, and I actually started writing it in Seattle. That was one of the first songs we wrote when Slash joined the band - and it was just when we were getting a firm grip on where we wanted to go with the music and stuff like that. It was originally "Welcome To The City," but then we figured later that we had "Paradise City" and "Move To The City." The line "Welcome to the jungle" is in a Hanoi Rocks song, but it wasn't taken from that as some people have said. It was like all of a sudden we came up with ''jungle" to replace "city" - and then the next day it was like, "Oh, man, there's a Hanoi song that says that,” but then we figured it would be OK. We don't like to rip things, and it definitely wasn't intentional. But, yeah, I kind of wrote the song about L.A., and we were at a point in our lives - here we are, kids on the street or whatever and you just see so many things happening around you that it's like the jungle. If someone  comes to this city looking for a decadent time, they can find it.
Cream, September 1989

Welcome to the Jungle is about Axl getting off the bus, you know, in Hollywood.


Slash would say he provided the riff to lyrics Axl had, and that they came up with the song before it was arranged and modified by the rest of the band in rehearsal:

Welcome to the Jungle was some lyrics that Axl wrote just about moving from Indiana into Hollywood, and it’s like a mid-America white boy meets downtown Hollywood Blvd. I just came up with the guitar part at another time. We did it separately, I had the music and he had the words. Then we sat down together and that’s what happened.

It was actually the first time me and Axl wrote together, too, as Guns N’ Roses. […] it’s basically Axl’s stab at, like, putting into writing and putting into a song: Middle America white boy meets downtown Hollywood kind of thing. That’s about as indicative as that gonna get, you know.

"Welcome to the Jungle" is the first song that me and Axl wrote together. We still write the same way. We write a song in a day, in three hours of rehearsal, but it's not as desperate as it was.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, September 1988

[It] is an introduction to Guns N' Roses. That's the first song where Axl wrote lyrics and helped me to write. I had the riff part of it.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

Welcome to the Jungle was one of those songs that – When we first got together, I’d come up with some riff, right? And Axl had some lyrics sittin’ around. And, so, I said to Axl, “Let’s work on some tunes.” So, he came over at my place and we worked on the song. Then we went to the studio, and, as Duff said, we - the band raped it, and then it came into (?). All our songs are basically the offshoot of someone’s [?].
Musique Plus, August 1987

I was at my house and I had that riff happening and Axl came over and he got those lyrics together, and then the band sort of arranged it. We got an arrangement for the whole band, 'cause that's how we work. Someone comes in with an idea and someone else has input and in that way everyone's happy. That came together really quickly too, that was arranged in one day.
Guns N' Roses: The Hits - 1992

I normally don't think about [the creative process]. I go in and sort of adapt. When I'm practising at home, I like to play a lot of chromatic stuff. I stop in between different notes and come up with different ideas and stuff. I'll play however many notes in succession, and all of a sudden I'll catch four and realise there's something there...and I'll start fucking with that. Rocket Queen is indicative of that approach - basically just sitting around and playing, maybe zoning out, watching TV and playing guitar at the same time. All of a sudden, the ear catches something. Welcome To The Jungle has a lot of that, too. It's more or less the same kind of way I've always written; if I'm just tying notes together, not really paying attention, when you catch onto something you start there and begin working on an actual tune.
Total Guitar, January 1997

[Talking about the period after the 'Hell Tour' to Seattle]: Axl remembered a riff that I'd played him when he was living over at my mom's house, which was ages ago at this point: it was the introduction and the main riff to 'Welcome to the Jungle'. That song, if anything, was the first real tune that the band wrote together. We were sitting around rehearsal looking to write something new when that riff came to Axl's mind. " Hey, what about that riff you played me a while ago?" he asked. "When you were staying with me?" I asked. "Yeah. It was good. Let's hear it." I started playing it and instantly Steve came up with a beat, Duff joined in with a bass line, and away we went. I kept throwing parts out to build on it: the chorus part, the solo, as Axl came up with the lyrics. Duff was the glue on that song - he came up with the breakdown, that wild rumbling bass line, and Izzy provided the texture. In about three hours, the song was complete. The arrangement is virtually the same as it appears on the album. We needed an intro and I came up with one that day using the digital delay on my cheap Boss guitar pedal board. I got my money's worth out of that thing, because as crappy as it was, that pedal provided the tense echo effect that set the mood for that song and eventually the kickoff for our debut album.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York

I wrote that part [the intro with the delay] specifically with the effect in mind. I had one of those old, funky, grey, plastic Boss pedal boards, and one of the settings on it was delay. I turned it on and just started messing around. The line is pretty simple, but it sounded very cool with the echoed notes. What's funny is that there are those few extra notes at the very beginning-that diggita diggita-before the pattern kicks in. That's because whenever we would do that song I'd hit the first note a few times to make sure I was in time with the delay. And it just stuck as part of the intro.
Guitar World, 2007 (?)

'Welcome to the Jungle' started out with the main riff of the song, that descending riff, which I played for Axl at my house one afternoon. I have a vivid memory of that. At some point later on, the band was rehearsing and Duff came up with the breakdown section in the middle and I came up with the intro. That part was written with the delay in mind - I think I had just gotten one of those Boss delay units. It was one of those things were the synergy was such that the song came together in one afternoon. I remember the lyrics being especially poignant because they were written about Axl's experience in the streets and his whole summation of moving to Hollywood.
Guitar Edge Magazine, March 2007

I remember we were at this rehearsal space and Axl asked me about this riff I had, the one that would become "Welcome to the Jungle." I started out with it and I had three parts to it, it and everybody had input into it. It just became a song. It's a really strange arrangement. I don't think there's one orthodox arrangement on that record, and it's because everybody had input. I'd start out with a riff and maybe a verse part, and things would take on a life of their own. It was very spontaneous,
Leslie West interviews Slash, August 2017


But Duff would insist it was he who came up with the riff:

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

We have agreed to disagree on a lot of things. I’ll give Slash credit, and he’ll give me credit, and we’ll take credit other times when the other guy’s like, “Wait—fuck, dude.” So, there’s this song I wrote when I was about 14 and recorded it with my first ever band, the Veins. [It was] the B-side of this single, a song called “The Fake.” If you ever get your hands on it, you’ll hear the “Welcome To The Jungle” riff. I always thought the riff was too good, so in my 19-year-old recollection, I thought I brought that riff in from “The Fake.” I’m pretty sure I did. It’s too late to argue. We split the publishing evenly, so none of us have had to, thank God. That was probably the smartest thing we did. You don’t hear any arguments about who wrote what, or who gives a fuck.
The Onion A.V. Club, May 2011

One of our signature songs [...] had an even longer gestation [than 'My Michelle'] - part of it went back to the very first song I ever wrote. Now in L.A. seven years later, the main riff from that first song came back to me as we were putting together another tune about the hardscrabble lives we lived. As with 'My Michelle,' one of Slash's amazing chiming staccato riffs became the intro, and the main section of the song hurtled along atop the riff from my Vains song 'The Fake,' now played on bass. Axl had some lyrical fragments he'd been working on since the Seattle trip, and we created an extended bridge around those - a dreamlike section echoing the words 'when you're high' devolved into a churning, nightmarish wash of sound of which Axl howled, "Do you know where you are?"
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 97


Introducing the song:

This song is for LA.: This is called 'Welcome to the Jungle'.
Los Angeles Street Scene, September 28, 1985


Talking about recording the song:

It's the perfect introduction to Guns N' Roses. (...) It came across, I think it was, on the third take. We did the whole album that way. Second or third take. That's where spontaneity comes from. If you don't get it by then, you've lost the feel of it.
Hit Parader, March 1988

I also used one [a six string bass] on Appetite; "Welcome to the Jungle"'s got one. You can hear this "brriinnng" in the chords when it goes to the slow parts; that the six-string bass.
Guitar World, February 1992

We started to demo all the songs that we were considering for Appetite, and went through them with Mike [Clink] pretty much as we'd done them before with very few changes. The only creative shift that occurred was one of Alan [Niven]'s suggestions actually. In 'Welcome to the Jungle,' originally we repeated the section where Axl sings "When you're high, you never want to come down." Alan suggested taking one of them out. He was right. It made the song tighter.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York, pp. 167


Talking about the song:

I consider the song to be the most representative of what we're like.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

I guess the most intense one [from Appetite] is "Welcome to the Jungle," which also happens to be sort of our anthem. It deals with life on the streets of Hollywood.

Much as I love New York City, I cringe at the thought of "Welcome to the Jungle" being played to pump up fans at Yankee Stadium. It is then that I am the opposite of pumped, and I always think to myself, "No. That song wasn't written for YOU guys!"
Hometown Songs for Hometown (Sports) Fans, Reverb Column, Seattle Weekly, November 2010

I liked 'Jungle' from the first time I heard it when it just came out.
Teraz Rock Magazine, July 2012



05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Newbor11


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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:56 pm

AUGUST 1985
THE MYSTIC STUDIOS DEMO


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

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


Marc Canter also helped by paying $250 to finish the mixing [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007; Marc Canter, personal communication, January 21, 2020].

The demo contained the following songs:

- Welcome to the Jungle
- Anything Goes
- Back Off Bitch
- Think About You [Marc Canter, personal communication, January 21, 2020]
- Heartbreak Hotel [this song ended up not being mixed [Marc Canter, personal communication, January 22, 2020]]

This demo is probably the one the band gave a copy of during the Country Club gig in October 1985, but then asked to have back to give to a record company executive who was in attendance [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 225].

It is also probably the one that was handed to friends and which resulted in Joseph Brooks playing it on the local radio station KROQ:

You guys played us first. You know that, right? [...] Joseph played Welcome to the Jungle, the demo, before anybody.


And being asked if he could remember that in 2006:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it was like, you know, 21 years ago. Yeah. I loved that. I loved that KROQ played us first.



2018: RELEASE AS PART OF THE "LOCKED N' LOADED" BOX SET


In 2018 copies of the mystic studios cassette tape would be included in the deluxe version of the Appetite for Destruction: Locked N' Loaded box set.


The mystic studios cassette tape


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:57 pm

AUGUST 1985
THE STARDUST BALLROOM AND ROXY THEATRE


In August 1985 the band first played at the Stardust Ballroom (August 30). Both David Lee Roth and Bret Michaels (from Poison) would come and see this show. Poison had played earlier in the evening and covered the song "American Band", so Guns N' Roses did the same [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


Ad in L.A. Weekly, August 30, 1985


Again the PA system was turned off while the band was playing their last song of the night, "Heartbreak Hotel" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Then the band played the Roxy Theatre (August 31) on a bill with Mary Poppinz and St. Valentine.


Ad in L.A. Weekly, August 30, 1985


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


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


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:58 pm

WORKING FOR SUCCESS


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

When I used to work in a newsstand. I’d sit on the phone there and do all the band’s business. I got fired because the owner would call and the phone would always be busy; I was taking ads out for the band and calling promoters.

I worked my ass off to promote the band in the beginning, get us from spot to spot on the club scene. Making flyers and phone calls and screw the right people... I'm pretty level-headed and don't make to many dumb decisions.

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

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


All the band would hang up posters of upcoming gigs, and sometime get into fights over this. Max Asher, drummer of Warrant, would reminisce about hanging their posters over Guns N' Roses':

I wish I still had a little phone message that I got from Duff McKagan on the Warrant Hotline number, which was just our personal phone number. We had gone over some Guns N’ Roses posters because their show was already over and Duff called me and was like, “Hey, you little Warrant fuckers, this is Duff from Guns N’ Roses and we’re going to kick your asses if you go over any more of our shit!”
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021

That sounds right. Warrant, they’d flyered over our stuff. And we’d just flyered the night before. It’s not fucking cool, you know? And I think it happened one too many times.
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021


In March 1993, Slash would look back at the work they had done:

When Guns N' Roses first started, actually trying to get gigs, we'd be lucky if we could get an opening slot on a Sunday night, if I remember correctly. And we persevered. We went from that, and taking all bullshit, you know, no pay and whatever other pitfalls there were. And then going from that to making a Monday night, maybe a middle slot, and working up the week, you know, working up through the week. And a lot of it was, you know, word to mouth. I mean, we worked our asses off, doing flyers, and do whatever promotion that had to be done, scamming like crazy, I mean, pulling all the stops. Just to continue on, without having any sort of prospects the, you know, the distant future of getting to be a big band.

And so we went up the ladder, to me what seems like these tiny, tiny steps, that when we finally did get to a point that we where successful. It didn't seem like that big of a jump to me.



DOING THEIR OWN DESIGNS


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

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, but then what happened was, because we didn’t have any money and we needed, you know, artwork for advertising, and so on and so forth – you know, flyers or t-shirts or the Guns N’ Roses logo with the two guns and the flowers – then I was called upon to do the art […].

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

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


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

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



EARLY MAILING LIST


Another thing the band did was to set up a mailing list with the help of someone called Carrie and Bobbie. The first issue was released in December 1985 [Newsletter #1, December 1985].


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:58 pm

THE GARDNER STUDIO AND OTHER EARLY REHEARSAL PLACES


REHEARSAL PLACE IN SILVERLAKE


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


1985: NICKY BEAT'S PLACE, THE LOVE PALACE


Later they would meet at a rehearsal space in Frogtown (near the corner of Gilroy and Ripple Streets) owned by Nicky Beat a drummer who played with LA Guns[Patch.com, May 27, 2011]. In June 1985 it had been rumoured that Beat considered joining Guns N' Roses [L.A. Weekly, June 14, 1985].

Rehearsals at this place was likely before the Hell tour and before Steven had solidied his standing in the band as its permanent drummer. Beat's rehearsal place was described as being in an "industrial wasteland" out by Dodger Stadium [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 83] and was a "small warehouse known as the Love Palace that doubled as a rehearsal studio" [Patch.com, May 27, 2011].



Nicky Beat's "Love Palace"



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


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

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




THE GARDNER STUDIO


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we got this one studio where all five of us lived. It was as big as this table: All our equipment barely fit in and we had this much space [holds up thumb and index fingers], so we built a loft and slept on top of it. We lived there for months before we got signed.

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

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

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

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

The best place that the band, the GN’R guys had - we all used to live in this [place], I think it was about 12 by 14. I call it “the box”. It literally was a rehearsal studio that we built bunks in. We all lived in this thing. There was no running water or TVs or cable (laughs). There was nothing really, it was just a box, and we lived in this thing for a while. It’s right behind where the Guitar Center is now, on Sunset Strip.

I can’t remember one night that we actually slept quietly there, like, ‘Good night, Axl.’ ‘Good night, Slash.' It was more like that’s where our shit was and that’s where you could pass out.


The studio was cramped and Slash would in his biography from 2007, and in subsequent interviews, mention him and Izzy having sex with the same girl resulting in Izzy cumming on Slash's leg:

I remember being up in the bunk one night after a show with Izzy and some girl. We were taking turns having sex with her, but Izzy wasn’t wearing protection, so when he pulled out, he came on my leg, since I was right there on the other side of her. That definitely stopped me in my tracks. I sat up, looked over at him, and said, ‘Hey! Izzy …man. We’ve got to get a bigger place.’
Slash, 2007

That was a very surreal experience. But you have to understand, we were in a space that was entirely, probably, the size of a twin mattress. You know, it was a loft that was the size of the mattress, and there was nowhere else to go. We were both being with the same girl, and there was nowhere else for him to move to. So, in the heat of the moment, you know, he wasn’t really thinking about where was aiming, and I was right there. [...] A really bonding moment. [...] he didn’t know. You know, he didn’t realize where I was in proximity to where his (?) was.

I was doing Howard Stern a couple of weeks ago, and Izzy was listening and heard that on the radio, and thought it was very funny, because he didn't remember that. And I said, “I'll never forget it.”

The last time I talked to [Izzy], I was doing Howard Stern- [...] And he called me, and he was laughing about one of the incidents that I mentioned (laughs). [...] He was joking about that. It’s good to hear from Izzy whenever I do hear from him. He’s such an awesome guy.


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

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


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

Kim Fowley would describe the Gardner Studio:

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


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

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


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

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


Slash would likely refer to this restaurant in 2005:

We used to shut this place down every f***ing night! We'd keep it open all night and act like fools, but they let us keep coming back. They figured we'd grow out of it or something.


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

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


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

In July 1988, Izzy would reminisce about the Gardner studio:

Just the other day, I went down to our old studio on Sunset Boulevard by The Guitar Center. An old friend of ours lives there now. We were paying $400 a month back then for this 12' x 12' room with no shower. The girl Michelle [immortalized in the song "My Michelle" off Appetite] still has her name and phone number carved into the wall! God, that place was a riot back then! When you consider that, I'd have to say that we're all doing a lot better now than we ever did before.


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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 4:59 pm

SEPTEMBER 1985
THE TROUBADOUR AND THE LA STREET SCENE FESTIVAL


On September 9 they again played at the Troubadour where they debuted 'Rocket Queen'.


At the Troubadour, September 9, 1985
Photo credit: Marc Canter


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



The LA Street Scene stages
GN'R would play on the Rock N' Roll stage



One of the more memorable gigs from the era was an outdoor festival called the Street Scene that took place on six or seven stages in downtown Los Angeles that occupied a circuit of city blocks. It was our first time playing it, and it was 1983 [eh, no], and we were scheduled to open for Fear, the only L.A. punk band that I really cared about. [...] We finally got close enough to the stage to realize there was no stage; Fear's fans had overzealously rioted and torn it down before the band even went on. Our manager, Vicky [Hamilton], and I wandered around this huge mess in an attempt to find us a slot somewhere on the day-long bill. We pushed our way from stage to stage talking to the organizers, looking for an opening until we found one - playing after Social Distortion. It didn't sound like the best idea, following a loyally beloved local punk band, but it actually turned out to be one of the greatest gigs we ever did. The audience was full on punk and still bloodthirsty after just having seen Social Distortion. We got up there and ripped into our set, and within the first thirsty seconds, the show became a spitting contest between us and the first five rows; their fans fucking spit on us, so we just spit on them back. It was hilarious and memorably sickening: I remember going over to Izzy's side of the stage and standing there beside him and spitting back and forth with these people because that's the band we were. [...] By the end of our set, this disgusting war of the wills became fucking fun. We ended up with green phlegm all over us, and considering that it was warm out, not only was I shirtless, but the heat cooked the spit and made it start to smell pretty bad.
Slash's autobiography, page 127-128

Every year in L.A. they held what was called the Street Scene. There were ten or more stages set up, all featuring free shows. Ut took up a few city blocks, and by the time we were asked to participate in 1985, it drew about a hundred thousand people. We were pretty familiar with the festival and felt that the gig could potentially get us some good exposure. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a very fucked-up show. I was on stage setting up my drums, putting the bass drum in place. All of a sudden, this empty Jack Daniel's bottle comes flying past my face and nails my cowbell. It missed my head by an inch! Some dumbass really tried to hurt me. During our set, people were actually spitting at us. It was pretty ugly. I think this was some sick remnant of the masochism and selfabuse of the punk era. It was odd, it was dangerous, but most of all it was sad [...] We didn't stand for shit like that and the band was spitting right back at them. It got so ridiculous it became funny. I remember seeing Duff looking all pissed as he hocked a big loogie into the crowd. It definitely was an unforgettable performance.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 89-90

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

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

September 28, 1985 was also very special because they were opening up for Social Distortion and the whole show was running a few hours late. The punks were getting restless and the last thing they wanted to see was a bunch of guys on stage wearing make up and playing Stones songs. Guns N’ Roses were able to maintain the stage while being spit on and won over the crowd and handled the stage like a stadium band.

I’ve played hostile audiences, yeah. We played with Guns N Roses a gig in the LA Street Scene in 1986 and we were playing with before, erm…Fear were playing, and Social Distortion, and they had to move us over to play with Fear when we were gonna be playing with Social distortion, who were more of the same vein, but Fear were hard, you know, I loved Fear. So we’re opening for Fear, and I’m thinking ‘Awesome!’ And it was hostile…we weren’t scared because we were so full of piss and vinegar, and I was a punk rock guy, and I’m looking at all these skinheads thinking they’re just posh rich kids from the suburbs. They were spiting at us and we were spitting back.


Marc Canter being asked about his favorite GN'R show:

If you talk Guns N' Roses, I mean hard to say, maybe the Street Scene just because I saw them win over 5,000 people- [...] Temple and Broadway. [...] In Downtown. They were opening up for Social Distortion. They were supposed to go on at 5:30. Guns N' Roses took the stage at 8 not because they were late, because the whole the whole thing- [...] So the people that were there, the hardcore punk scene that was there for Social Distortion, they're already three hours in that crowd waiting for their band- [...] And Guns N' Roses come out and they look like the New York Dolls. Pretty much. And they're throwing beer and hamburgers and spitting and, just like, "Fuck, what is going on here?" You know, like, "Another fucking band?" But like after the second song, they won that crowd and that crowd was just swaying the stage and it's just so much energy. [...] They only played five songs, but that was an intense moment for me to see them win that crowd.


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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:00 pm

ROBERT JOHN


In the beginning of 1986, a friend of Izzy's called Robert John started to photograph the band. Robert used to race motorcycles, but an accident cut his future career short, and hence through the urgings of friend Chris Holmes (of W.A.S.P) he pursued his hobby photography as a possible alternative [Rock Scene, October 1989]. John befriended Izzy before Guns N' Roses was formed, and would be introduced to the rest of the band through Izzy.

It was a period when I think Axl and I were writing songs, but we didn’t have a band together. We just had songs. But yeah, it was right around that time. I remember he had a Cadillac and he used to buy me drinks (chuckles). It was cool. I remember just hanging out with him at the Troubadour, really. That’s where I remember first meeting him. I think I remember him say, “Yeah, I’m a photographer, man. I’m gonna do some pictures”.

I knew Izzy Stradlin before he joined Guns N’ Roses. I had become friends with him when he was playing with London from time to time. The first time I saw Axl on stage was when he was singing with LA Guns, who were opening for... London. Then I left Hollywood for seven months and, when I came back, Izzy told me he was playing in a new band called Guns N’ Roses and asked me if I wanted to be the photographer for that band.

The first time I saw Guns was at the Troubadour and I went there with my friend Don Costa (ex-Ozzy Osbourne). He's a guy who is usually very critical, but he was completely impressed by the GN'R show. As for me, I wasn’t less awed. We didn’t exchange a single word during the show, we were so mesmerized by the power of GN'R! There was only about sixty people at that show and all of them were damn thrilled! [...] Especially by this torrent of energy. Total punk attitude! Technically, the band wasn't overwhelming, but their punk energy had incredible persuasiveness.

Their crowd just started building, and building, and building. I just looked at it as a rock band, you know, that had a lot of fans. I mean the music scene back then, there was a lot of bands out there. They were drawing the most.

The next time I ran into Izzy, he told me about Hollywood Rose. So I went to see them at the Troubadour. There were maybe twenty-five or thirty people there. I went backstage and Izzy introduced me to everybody. This must have been when I met Axl. Much later, he told me he was worried that I was one of Izzy’s ‘shoddy’ friends of that time. […] Izzy had a much darker side to him back then, so Axl was kind of right to be wary.
Stephen Davies, Watch You Bleed: The Saga Of Guns N' Roses, 2008


Slash was wary of John at first:

I treated him the same as I treat most outsiders in general. And I couldn’t stand him. I gave him such a fucking hard time at photo shoots. But, you know, that’s how a good solid relationship starts on either end of the spectrum. You can get through that, and finally end up in the middle, and then everything is cool and you can deal with anything. So, if you were to ask Robert, he’d tell you; he hated me, too (laughs).


John particularly formed a strong bond with Axl, and they could talk for hours [Rock Scene, October 1989].

I think I met Robert John at the Troubadour. Izzy wanted him to shoot pictures of us in Rose, a band we had before Guns N’ Roses. Robert was working with WASP at the time and Izzy was going out with the girl that WASP tied to the rack as part of their stage show. She eventually became Robert’s girlfriend. Robert was just starting out, and when WASP got famous they didn’t want to have anything to do with him. They dumped everybody they worked with. Izzy brought Robert around when we were putting Guns N’ Roses together and we just hit it off right away. I took Robert’s work real seriously because I saw his dedication towards it. Somehow, he and I hit it off and we’ve been friends ever since.

[Talking about their relationship with John]: That was pretty intense. So that helped, like, create a certain bond, a bond of loyalty, because he was willing to go for it with his career same way we were […].



Axl and John, February 28, 1986


John had already photographed W.A.S.P and the band liked his pictures [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 104]. "Robert made the guys look like rock gods," as Raz would phrase it [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 229].

When I met him, which was back in the Gardner days, he was a friend of Izzy’s, and we needed someone to take free photos because we had no money. And here came Robert after work, in his construction – he had mud all the way to his chest, you know. But he had a camera, and he had a box with stuff in it, and we were like, “Wow, he must be a pro.” And, you know, he sucked at first, but so did we (laughs). So it was great, and we just learned together. And we were more than glad to be guinea pigs, because we’d take those pictures and slap them on telephone poles and anything all over on Sunset.

Back then we had the flyer wars, where all the bands would go out and flyer every wall they could. But now it’s really – L.A. has kind of cracked down on that, and it’s a little bit harder to do that. But we had flyer wars, meaning that, like, if you got to a wall that didn’t have anything on it or the flyers were old, it was yours. But what would happen is, that then other bands would come up and put their flyers over your brand new flyers, that you spent your hard-earned money on, and it would turn into a war of it. Looking back on it, that was really fun; flyer nights was a lot of fun. But then we started getting bigger, so we hired people to put up flyers for us, and we’d find out that they would spend the money on beer and not put flyers up (laughs).

You know, all the flyers and all the ads and everything, Robert saw it and he did it for free for us, because we were friends and we were an up-and-coming band. That’s just the kind of cat that he is. I remember, like, even helping him develop pictures and stuff in his darkroom (?). So yeah, we go back a long way. That’s kind of seven-eight years ago.


in 2000, John talked about his relationship with the band and especially Slash:

A member ... no. But I am definitely part of the GN'R family. In any case, there’s now a lot of trust between the band members and me. At first, though, it wasn’t obvious, especially because of Slash's extremely suspicious attitude. I remember I didn't like him very much. With Axl, on the other hand, we hit it off right away. Regarding Slash, I think he knew that GN'R was going become a big band and he didn't want strangers poking their noses into Guns’ business. Fortunately, we’re good friends now.

[...] I don't have a written contract and I never had one! It’s a moral contract between us based on trust and friendship. I absolutely don't mind not having a written contract, because I'm a friend of the band and that's what matters the most!


And about the photos he has taken:

[...] I have lots of very intimate photos of the band members but... I don't publish them. Out of respect, above all. I’ve got pictures of some of them with girlfriends, but only because they wanted me to immortalize that. But almost all the private photos related to GN'R stay with me, because the guys are afraid of losing them. At the very least, they know that with me they’re safe and that they will never be revealed to the general public.


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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:00 pm

OCTOBER 1985
THE STONE, THE TROUBADOUR, COUNTRY CLUB, AND RADIO CITY


The first gig in October 1985 took place at the club The Stone in San Francisco on October 5. At this show the band would open up for their good friends in Jetboy.


Poster for the show at The Stone


Jetboy was a band based in San Francisco that often came to Los Angeles. Billy Rowe, guitar in Jetboy, would later discuss the band's friendship with Guns N' Roses:

[...] before Mick [Finn] and Todd [Crew] were in the band, Fernie [Rod] and I would hitch a ride to LA; a friend of ours was a big W.A.S.P. fan....this was in like '83, that was when we met Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, when they were doing Hollywood Rose. Again, we hit it off because they were into the same things...Hanoi Rocks, Lords of the New Church and kind of more of the punk-edged, glam stuff, or whatever you want to call it. Izzy and I were pretty tight and we said hey, when we get our bands up and running we'll start swapping gigs, we'll come up and play with you guys and you come up and play with us.
Full In Bloom Music, January 26, 2007


When the band drove back to Los Angeles after the gig they would start working on Paradise City.

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



Slash at the Troubadour; October 10, 1985




But you know, they debut Paradise City at the Troubadour. Funny thing is, it was L.A. Guns [who was] supposed to play. That show was October 10th. It was a Thursday night, 1985 and they cancelled that afternoon. The Troubadour called, or LA Guns called, Guns N' Roses, said, "Could you fill in for us?" They said, "Sure." They showed up, they didn't take it seriously, there was no flyers for the gig, the tickets said "L.A. Guns". There was, you know, the sign. I'm not even so sure the signs had Guns N' Roses. It might have actually said LA Guns outside. That's how last minute it was. They debuted Paradise City, which wasn't ready, some of the lyrics weren't written, but they were in the midst of working on it, so they thought they give it a shot. But there you go. There's Paradise City.


Then they played at the Country Club on October 18, for which they were paid $200 [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. This show was advertised as an "Ultra Glam Metal Show" [L.A. Weekly, October 18, 1985].



Ad in L.A. Weekly, October 18, 1985



Billy Rowe from Jetboy would talk about playing gigs with Guns N' Roses, including the October 18 show at the Country Club:

Jetboy and Guns n Roses really latched on to one another, we did a lot of shows together. We did Johnny Thunders together, we did shows at the Country Club, where we would play to like bar stools and that was it, you know? Then they would come up here and play with us.
Full In Bloom Music, January 26, 2007


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


Axl and Slash at Radio City, October 31, 1985
Photo Credit: Marc Canter


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:01 pm

05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Newbor11
SONG: PARADISE CITY
Album:
Appetite for Destruction, 1987, track no. 6.



Written by:
Lyrics: Axl Rose and Slash.
Music: Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Slash.

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

Live performances:
The song was played for the first time at The Troubadour on October 10, 1985. All incarnations of Guns N' Roses have played this song live. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {PARADISESONGS} times.
Lyrics:

Just a' urchin livin' under the street
I'm a hard case that's tough to beat
I'm your charity case
So buy me somethin' to eat
I'll pay you at another time
Take it to the end of the line

Ragz to richez or so they say
Ya gotta keep pushin' for the fortune and fame
It's all a gamble
When it's just a game
Ya treat it like a capital crime
Everybody's doin' their time

Take me down
To the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Take me home

Strapped in the chair of the city's gas chamber
Why I'm here I can't quite remember
The surgeon general says it's hazardous to breathe
I'd have another cigarette but I can't see
Tell me who ya gonna believe
     
Take me down
To the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Take me home

So far away
So far away
So far away
So far away

Captain America's been torn apart
Now he's a court jester with a broken heart
He said -
Turn me around and take me back to the start
I must be losin' my mind - "Are you blind?"
I've seen it all a million times
     
Take me down
To the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Take me home


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Talking about writing the song:

During those first rehearsals, the five of us started working up a new song together based on some lyrics I had brought with me in a notebook from Seattle. The song became 'Paradise City,' and it started to gel in those few days before our Troubadour show [June 6, 1985] and he trip to Seattle [The Hell Tour].
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 70

Not all our songs are written about somebody else. 'Paradise City' is more about me and the streets. Duff wrote the first part of the chorus, Izzy wrote the second part, and Slash wrote the melody of the last half of the chorus... See, that's the best, just that the whole band is into it, and everybody puts their two cents in. That's the true Guns N' Roses that we come up with a song we believe in, and that we feel hits the mark.
Hit Parader, March, 1988

Not all our songs are written about somebody else. 'Paradise City' is more about me and the streets. Duff wrote the first part of the chorus, Izzy wrote the second part, and Slash wrote the melody of the last half of the chorus... See, that's the best, just that the whole band is into it, and everybody puts their two cents in. That's the true Guns N' Roses that we come up with a song we believe in, and that we feel hits the mark.
Rock Scene, April 1988

The chords to [Paradise City] I wrote when I first moved to L.A., when I didn't know anybody and was kinda feeling a little down. So that kinda came out, like reaching for something. you know [...]. If one person brings in a song to this band, it always gets raped by the other four people. It always gets changed around to where it its Guns N' Roses.
Hit Parader, March 1988

Listen to "Paradise City," the actual riff is heavy as far as heavy goes. but at the same time I have a major blues thing happening. The stuff I play is bluesy but I play the bluesy stuff heavily or at least that's the way I approach everything.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, September 1988

[...] as we developed songs, we put a lot of emphasis on anything that veered away from the main melody - we all felt that diverging from a good tune was only justifiable if the other part was just as good. That meant we rejected cookie-cutter songwriting that demanded bridges for bridges' sake and strictly delineated between verses and choruses. Instead we only went places we really felt strongly about. There's a reason the codas in songs like 'Rocket Queen,' 'Paradise City,' or 'Patience' sound so distinctive - we didn't feel compelled to add them; we were just so excited about certain ideas that, working together, day after day, we found ways to incorporate them.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 96-97

"Paradise City" we wrote before we were thinking about going in the studio.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, September 1988

The verses are more about being in the jungle; the chorus is like being back in the mid-west or somewhere. It reminds me of when I was a little kid and just looked up at the blue sky and went: "wow, what is all this? It's so big out there." Everything was more innocent. There are parts of the song that have more of a down home feel. And when I started putting the overlays of my vocals (I put five tracks on there), it seemed that it came out like some Irish or Scottish heritage. One of the weird things is I had a feeling that it would go over good in Europe.
Hit Parader, March, 1988

The best songs we do, they're collaborations. The best way to do it is to have the whole band sit there and listen to everybody else's ideas, and put it all together to make something that everybody enjoys playing.
Hit Parader, March, 1988

'Paradise City' is more about me and the streets. Duff wrote the first part of the chorus, Izzy wrote the second part, and Slash wrote the melody of the last half of the chorus....
Rock Scene, April 1988

We were in the van, coming back from San Fransisco to L.A., and we just started playing the basic chords - it was on acoustic at the time. Then we got into this 'Take me down to the paradise city, where the girls are fat and they got big titties' thing. I think initially it started out with 'the grass is green,' and I thought, 'That's lame!' But we ended up keeping the 'grass is green' thing. The 'big titty' thing was just my own problem.
Guitar One, June 2001

We were in our rental van, drinking and playing acoustic guitar, when I came up with the jangly intro to what became 'Paradise City'. Duff and Izzy picked it up and started playing  it while I came up with the chord changes. I started humming a melody and played it over and over. Then Axl chimed in. "Take me down to the Paradise City." I kept playing and tossed off some impromptu lyrics. "Where the grass is green and girls are pretty," I sang. I thought that sounded totally gay. "Take me down to Paradise City," Axl sang again. "Where the girls are fat and they've got big titties!" I shouted. (...) I expanded on the basic structure of the song as everyone improvised lyrics in rounds as if we were on a bus heading off to rock-and-roll summer camp, as the L.A. skyline came into view, I suppose we were. After we got the whole chorus rolling, that's when I slammed into the big heavy riff that anchors the song. And that's the moment that 'Paradise City' became my favorite Guns N' Roses song.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York

We had a manager [Vicky Hamilton] courting us at that time, and she gave us a ride to San Francisco to play a gig with Jetboy. While heading back in the van, we started writing 'Paradise City.' It started off with those basic chords and then the melody, and I remember writing the words. Originally it was 'Take me down to Paradise City where the girls are fat and they got big titties' [laughs], which we changed into 'where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.'
Guitar Edge Magazine, March 2007


Introducing the song:

This next song is a brand new one, 'Take Me Home to the Paradise City'.
The Troubadour, October 10, 1985

We just wrote this one today so, hey hey.
The Troubadour, October 10, 1985

This song is about a half an hour old.
The Troubadour, October 10, 1985


Talking about recording the song:

Most of the harmonies and stuff I came up with, like in 'It's So Easy' and 'Paradise City', I came up with the night I was recording those parts, 'cause I never had the opportunity to work on it before.
Interview with Axl by Steve Harris, December 1987

[The mixing on] 'Paradise City' could have been a little clearer.
Interview with Axl by Steve Harris, December 1987

There's a long lead on the end of "Paradise City," which was basically improvised.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, September 1988

[...] it’s the only place on the album where I got to do an extended guitar solo. Everything is usually contained within a certain amount of bars.

There were only two things that I found difficult while recording my overdubs for Appetite. The first was the solo at the end of 'Paradise City,' which was always easy live but wasn't in the studio. In concert, it could last anywhere from one to two minutes, but on the album version of the song, it was designed to be exactly thirty seconds. Si it wasn't easy for me to focus the same narrative and emotion into thirty seconds, and when the red light came on, it threw me for a loop - I actually got gun-shy. I remember going at it a few times and getting so frustrated that I just left the studio completely disappointed; the next day, though, I came in fresh and nailed it.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York, pp 176

[Being asked about standout moments while recording Appetite]: And when we were playing “Paradise City,” at the very end of it the double-time part? I was looking at Slash and going, “Goddammit, c’mon, let’s end this already. C’mon. Dammit. You’re killin’ me over here. Let’s go!” While I’m playin’ the song, you can see my lips moving and I’m yellin’ at ‘em, “Dammit, let’s end this already.”


About the keyboard, Steven saying it was Clink's idea, Slash saying it was Axl's:

[Mike Clink] had the idea to add a vintage Moog synthesizer to the beginning of 'Paradise City' and again, that ended up sounding great. (...) 'Paradise City' came on [the band hearing the album for the first time], and at the end of it, where it's got my drum fill that sounds like a double bass, I noticed something different. I know I did that fill only once in the studio. But Slash had the idea to repeat it somehow. I asked him right then and there, and he admitted the idea came to him in the studio. The second fill is actually the first fill played backwards. (...) I had always played it, live onstage, with just one fill. But it worked and it was completely all right with me because I respected Slash's call.
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010

Axl had introduced a screaming synth line in 'Paradise City,' back in the Appetite days. That was the start of [adding synths and keyboard to GN'R songs], I suppose, and I was opposed to that, too.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York, pp 176

[The synth] didn't come on until Axl was putting his vocals down on the record, so I had no idea about that until we got to the mixing stage. All of a sudden there was that part. Being the guitar purists that we were, Izzy and I were like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" But Axl won that battle, so it stayed on there. All things considered, it was never that big a deal, but it introduced a certain electronic thing that didn't fit well. Axl had a tendency to do that from time to time - to bring it in on the back end.
Guitar Edge Magazine, March 2007


Talking about the song:

I dig the groove. Always have.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, September 1988

I should say 'Paradise City' [is the song I feel closest to]. It's an ironic title inspired by the many nights I had to sleep in a pick-up truck of a friend of mine because I had no place to go. Well, at least it was parked in a parking lot! [Laughs.]

'Paradise City' is still my favorite. We wrote that as a band, all five of us together in a van, on our way back to L.A. after a gig in San Francisco. There's a lot of spirit and energy there, it just encapsulates a lot about that time period for me.
Classic Rock Magazine, July 2007

You can't help getting into watching people go bonkers for "Paradise City [at live shows]," that's always a kick in the pants.
LA Weekly Blog, December 2011



05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Newbor11


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:01 pm

LIVING ON THE STREETS


The band used various places to both rehearse, record and live - often the very same place. Some of them had their own apartments, at times, others would just drift around and sleep wherever they could.

Up until we got signed, I lived on the streets for five years. I never lived in one place for more than two months, always crashing at people's houses. My parents would say, 'Come back home and go to college and we'll pay for it' but I would reply, 'No, I have to do this now.'

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

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

We lived on the streets for five fucking years. Literally, I'd stay up two nights before each show sleeping on a bus bench outside somebody's apartment.

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

We stopped at a red light. A homeless person was asleep on a bus stop bench. ‘Oh look,’ Izzy said, just kinda matter-of-factly, ‘there’s Bill.’
Stephen Davies, Watch You Bleed: The Saga Of Guns N' Roses, 2008

There was this place, the café, L.A. café, café L.A. on Sunset, and I would take my… I had a job at Tower Video as well as Axl, and I would go there and sit down and look at the menu, and they'd bring you these garlic balls, you know, as an appetizer for free, and I'd sit there and eat all those and keep looking at the menu, and then put the menu down and take off.


Living on the streets would inspire the lyrics for 'Paradise City':

It's an ironic title inspired by the many nights I had to sleep in a pick-up truck of a friend of mine because I had no place to go. Well, at least it was parked in a parking lot! [Laughs.]


Izzy was staying with his girlfriend, Desi Craft:

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


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

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


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

[On how they managed before they got signed]: Sold drugs, sold girls, sold… we just got it. We managed. In the beginning we’d throw parties and ransack a girl’s purse while one of the guys was with her.

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

A lot of times you would go to a club and get drunk, or whatever, and either wake up in the alley or at some girl’s house. We lived off everybody who was stupid enough to get involved with us at the time. We took advantage of everything and everybody we could until we got a studio.

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

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


Joseph Brooks:

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


Colleen Combs:

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


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

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


Slash would also mention the place in the Hills:

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


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:02 pm

NOVEMBER 14 AND 22, 1985
LIPSTICK FIXX AND THE TROUBADOUR


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



Poster for the show at Lipstick Fixx



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


Ad in L.A. Weekly, November 22, 1985


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Post by Soulmonster Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:19 pm

THE GIRLS


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

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

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

Strippers were our main source of income. They’d pay for booze, sometimes you could eat, shit like that. Really a great bohemian, gypsy lifestyle. I have great memories of those renegade strippers that took their chances with us.

Thank God we had strippers! Because strippers make great money, and if you’ve seven or eight of them on your side, that’s a lot of money. They wanted to take care of us rockers…


The main girls that hung around with the band in the early days were Desi Craft (Izzy's girlfriend and partner in crime), Adriana Smith (to be featured on Rocket Queen), Bambi Conway, Lisa Abbate (later to marry Dizzy Reed), Pamela Jackson, Julianna Sedbrook (to be featured in the music video for Welcome to the Jungle), Adriana Durgan, and Pamela Manning.



Lisa Abbate, Adriana Smith, Julianna Sedbrook



Smith would later discuss how she initially got in contact with the guys in Guns N' Roses:

I had a friend named Adriana Barbour who worked at The Seventh Veil, which is a strip club, and another friend named Gaby Mozeris who worked there also and they were my best friends. Gabby, Adriana Barbour and I used to walk up and down the Sunset Strip looking for Duff (McKagan) because Adriana had a crush on him.
Live Metal, December 15, 2008


Bambi Conway:

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


Adriana Smith:

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

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


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

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


Desi Craft:

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


Pamela Jackson:

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



EPILOGUE


In 2008, Adriana Smith would be trying to reconnect with Axl, even trying through a song she wrote, "Come Find Me", that she released with her band:

I have been trying to reach Axl directly for a really long time. He's got his own agenda and a lot of stuff going on in his life right now, especially the last 13 years with Chinese Democracy. With old friends coming in and out of the scene, I just don't know who to trust and who is passing my message along or not. The bottom line is that I have some amends to make to him and I wanted him to know that I still care about him and that my friendship hasn't faltered just because we haven't seen each other in years. He is still a really strong figure and a really important, inspiring person to me. I wrote that song so that perhaps it would reach him. With the internet and everything else today, your message goes farther, easier and perhaps he would stumble upon it. That is really why I wrote it. I have tried for years to get a message through and this is just another medium to do that.
Live Metal, December 15, 2008


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Post by Soulmonster Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:20 pm

DECEMBER 20, 1985
MUSIC MACHINE


The only known Guns N' Roses show in December 1985 took place at Music Machine on December 20.



Ad in Los Angeles Times
December 15, 1985



At the soundcheck to this last gig they allegedly came up with 'Nightrain' which they would play during the show:

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

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

While Tex's band sound-checked, Axl, Joe [Raz' brother], and I headed out to the back alley to do some drinking exercises. The guys had recently gotten into cheap wine, Night Train Express, and when Joe returned from a nearby liquor store with two bottles of that crap, Axl cracked open a bottle, took a big swig, smiled like a spectacular sunset over the glimmering ocean, and said, "This stuff is the best. We should do a song about it."

He whipped out his harmonica and tooted, "dant da na-na dant-dah," then proceeded to scribble into his notebook at warp speed. A few minutes later, he sang us his latest musing. I really thought he was kidding around, but no one should ever underestimate the power of cheap wine consumed in an alley. Within the hour, Guns N' Roses was working the song out during their sound check. "Night Rain" made it into the set that very evening, and for a period of time seemed to be their unofficial song.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 230-231




Axl and Slash at the Music Machine
Photo credit: Marc Canter



The band would later lament how hard it was for outsiders (none of the band members were originally from Los Angeles, although Slash and Steven had lived there since they were kids) to gain popularity in the insular LA music scene:

It seems like when you come to this town unless you are part of the mommy's-boy-daddy's-money poseur rock scene they try to puke you right out. You fight for your place. I remember two years of standing at the Troubadour and talking to no one, not knowing what to do, and everybody thinking they're so cool. Eventually we did our own thing, made new friends, and brought a new crowd to the Troubadour.


And Duff would talk about how they were trying to figure out how the fit into the scene:

Guns N’ Roses’ first gigs, we were playing with bands like Social Distortion and Tex and the Horseheads and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We were just trying to figure out, “Where the fuck do we fit into this whole thing?”
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion, 2021


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Post by Soulmonster Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:22 pm

05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Newbor11
SONG: NIGHTRAIN
Album:
Appetite for Destruction, 1987, track no. 3.



Written by:
Lyrics: Axl Rose.
Music: Slash and Izzy Stradlin.

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

Live performances:
The song was played live for the first time on December 20, 1985, at The Music Machine, Hollywood, USA. All incarnations of Guns N' Roses have played this song live. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {NIGHTRAINSONGS} times.
Lyrics:

Loaded like a freight train
Flyin' like an aeroplane
Feelin' like a space brain
One more time tonight

Well I'm a west coast struttin'
One bad mother
Got a rattlesnake suitcase
Under my arm
Said I'm a mean machine
Been drinkin' gasoline
And honey you can make my motor hum

I got one chance left
In a nine live cat
I got a dog eat dog sly smile
I got a Molotov cocktail with a match to go
I smoke my cigarette with style
And I can tell you honey
You can make my money tonight

Wake up late honey put on your clothes
Take your credit card to the liquor store
That's one for you and two for me by tonight
I'll be
       
Loaded like a freight train
Flyin' like an aeroplane
Feelin' like a space brain
One more tonight

I'm on the nightrain
Bottoms up
I'm on the nightrain
Fill my cup
I'm on the nightrain
Ready to crash and burn
I never learn
I'm on the nightrain
I love that stuff
I'm on the nightrain
I can never get enough
I'm on the nightrain
Never to return - no!

Loaded like a freight train
Flyin' like an aeroplane
Feelin' like a space brain
One more tonight

I'm on the nightrain
An I'm lookin' for some
I'm on the nightrain
So's I can leave this slum
I'm on the nightrain
And I'm ready to crash an' burn
I'm on the nightrain
Bottoms up
I'm on the nightrain
Fill my cup
I'm on the nightrain
Whoa yeah
I'm on the nightrain
Love that stuff
I'm on the nightrain
An I can never get enough
Ridin' the nightrain
I guess I
I guess, I guess, I guess I never learn
On the nightrain
Float me home
Ooh I'm on the nightrain
Ridin' the nightrain
Never to return
Nightrain


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Talking about writing the song:

Well, when we were, like, on the skids and really down and out living in L.A., we had no money, no jobs, so we could barely afford to live in the little studio that we were playing in. So, you know, since you couldn’t afford to go out and buy a case of beer or a bottle of Jack, because that was just like way out of our reach, you could get a bottle of Nightrain for, like, $1.75 and you’d get way fucked up on it - or drunk (laughs). We used to buy tons of this stuff. And one night, when we were really screwed up - we were, like, floored one night and we started singing it, and it just came together.

We made cool [concert] flyers and, in addition to sending them ti people on our list, we posted them all over the city. We always posted flyers as a band, at night. The first time I discovered Night Train wine was one one of these epic nocturnal flyerings campaigns - which were best accomplished while drinking from a brown paper bag. Afterward I was happy to find that the liquor store around the corner from our storage space also stocked it. At $1.29 a bottle, Night Rain instantly became a band staple; we started piecing together the song 'Nightrain' a week later while rehearsing before another flyer-posting outing.
Duff' autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 90

We wrote Nightrain walking on Sunset Boulevard, from the Rainbow and the Roxy, passing out flyers on our way to The Troubadour, drinking it. We were all on the Nightrain. It was a dollar and nine cents for the bottle. It was all we could afford.
Marc Canter: Reckless Road

'Nightrain' is just like 'Welcome to the Jungle'; it's very indicative of what the band's all about. I remember when it first came together, we'd hitchhiked to the Rainbow and were walking down to the Troubadour and we just started yelling "Nightrain", because we were drinking it.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

Nightrain was very much a two-guitar thing, and when I worked on that with Izzy that was one of the only times that we actually sat down. He had his single-note thing and I beefed it up with something heavier.
Total Guitar Magazine, December 2004

'Night Train' was pieced together from a few different moments. I remember first working on the main riff of that song with Izzy [/i](...). We didn't know where the song was going  and we didn't have any kind of subject in mind, but the groove was so right and we locked in and felt it out (...). [i]Izzy played Duff what we'd done and Duff worked on it, filling out  the groove and making our riffs into a proper instrumental. None of us had any words in mind for this piece , but we were very inspired by it and it floated around in the band's consciousness until it found the appropriate vessel, which happened to be a celebration of our favorite drink, Night Train.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. pp. 119

'Nightrain' is a funny story. We wrote the chorus when Izzy, Axl and I were walking around Hollywood drinking Night Rain. At the time, it was just sort of a day in the life. Then Izzy and I were hanging out at this little studio apartment we used to live in and we got the basic arrangement down. Then I got the flu or strep or something, and Duff, Axl, Izzy and Steve managed to get more of the arrangement down without me. I remember being completely pissed because I couldn't be there. I hated missing anything. [...] if I were to play that [end] solo now, it would be way more fluid. But part of the beauty about that solo is that I wasn't technically capable of playing as fast as the song was going, so the solo has a little bit more of a rocky feel to it, which is cool.
Guitar Edge Magazine, March 2007

I moved into this apartment building and my next-door neighbor was West Arkeen, this crazy little guitar-player guy, this little freak. He went to the Guitar Institute a couple blocks from our house, and he came out of the Institute, and there was some guy selling an Alesis drum machine and a four-track cassette recorder. It was apparently Sheila E.’s bus driver. Somehow he got stiffed and he’s like, “Fuck it, I’m selling this shit.” So West comes home with this drum machine, [and] we figured out how to use the stuff. The demo of “It’s So Easy” was pretty great. West at this exact same time had taught me how to tune the guitar to open E. We used like, every feature on the drum machine: cowbell, woodblock, and everything on this demo. I sang it, tuned the guitars, put the drum track on, and it was just this cool little lazy summertime hit. West and I would recall all these “summertime hits,” we’d call them. I had an apartment and West had an apartment before we had a rehearsal space, and it became an encampment for about two months for the band. “It’s So Easy,” “Yesterdays,” and I think “14 Years,” a lot of songs were recorded on West’s four-track. I think “You’re Crazy” came out on the West four-track. Sitting in an apartment, we’d play a lot of acoustic guitars, so I think “Easy” was recorded on acoustic guitar. Thing about our songs, we played ’em all on acoustic guitar. “Night Train,” we wrote on acoustic guitar. Because we’d write them in little cramped apartments.
The Onion A.V. Club, May 2011

While Tex's band sound-checked, Axl, Joe [Raz' brother], and I headed out to the back alley to do some drinking exercises. The guys had recently gotten into cheap wine, Night Train Express, and when Joe returned from a nearby liquor store with two bottles of that crap, Axl cracked open a bottle, took a big swig, smiled like a spectacular sunset over the glimmering ocean, and said, "This stuff is the best. We should do a song about it."

He whipped out his harmonica and tooted, "dant da na-na dant-dah," then proceeded to scribble into his notebook at warp speed. A few minutes later, he sang us his latest musing. I really thought he was kidding around, but no one should ever underestimate the power of cheap wine consumed in an alley. Within the hour, Guns N' Roses was working the song out during their sound check. "Night Rain" made it into the set that very evening, and for a period of time seemed to be their unofficial song.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 230-231


Introducing the song:

Alright, this is a new one that we have, that we pinned at sound check today. This one is called 'Nightrain'.
Music Machine, December 20, 1985

Alright, this next one is brand new. It's dedicated to alcoholics anonymous. You buy it in your fuckin' liqour stores. It is nineteen percent alcohol and it's called 'Nightrain'.
The Troubadour, January 4, 1986


Talking about the song:

It's a dollar a bottle, nineteen percent alcohol. Drink a quart of it and you'll blackout.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

Great rhythm. "Nightrain" just rocks. Personally, I like the guitar solo in it. I like that part of the song because me and Duff are rockin'. Has more feel to it than just a machine.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

We were living in the Gardner Street studio, this place where we had one little box of a room. We had no money, but we could dig up a buck to go down to this liquor store where they sold this great wine called "Night Rain" that would fuck you up for a dollar. Five dollars and you'd be gone. We lived off this stuff.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

Nightrain was the commercially available, tangible product that we could afford at our expense. The other stuff was a little more complicated, but Nightrain was just a simple beverage that we could get with very little money and in great quantity and live on. I think at the time, since we couldn't afford booze and food, it had enough supplements that we could survive on it alone.
Marc Canter: Reckless Road

That song has a rhythm to it in the verses that from the start always made me go crazy. The first time we played it, even, I started jumping up and down - I couldn't help it. When we had our huge stage later on, I'd run the length of it, jump off the amplifiers, and lose it just about every single time we played it. I'm not sure why, but no other song we've ever played live made me move like that.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. pp. 119

Nightrain just works. There is no other song that drives like Nightrain.


05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Newbor11


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Post by Soulmonster Mon Feb 07, 2022 9:48 am

PAY-TO-PLAY


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

It was pay-to-play and obviously the club promoter wanted the band that had the biggest draw and, "the sexiest chicks at their shows," as Bill Gazzari once said.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Guns N' Roses went through a period of pay-to-play for a while in the beginning. I used to work at a newsstand up on Fairfax and Melrose and when I got the tickets, I gave them out to as many people as I could. We never paid for a gig ourselves, but we pandered them to everybody. I was really good at it because I was working a job where I came into contact with so many customers every day. I was a pretty restless member of the band when it came to promotion and managerial things, because I never really slept. This thing was twenty-four-seven with me, everyday! And that was a good quality to have.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We did that until we were such a huge draw that we didn't need to do that anymore. Then, those people that we used to give tickets out to expected to be on the guest list. Se we ended up having a huge guest list for a gig at the Roxy, but we did make the promoters money.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


In his biography, Steven would argue that Guns N' Roses would never go along with the pay-to-play policies [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 92].

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

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


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Post by Soulmonster Thu Feb 10, 2022 8:09 am

THE BAND LOGO


I [designed the logo]. [...] The cross logo is somebody else’s. [...] When the band first got together, I was trying to put together a logo and I saw this gun, which was, like, the most powerful magnum handgun, right? It was on the cover of this magazine. So what I did was that I found a profile view of it in a magazine and just came up with the idea of having the two going in the opposite directions with the roses, and all that stuff.




New version of the band's original logo


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Post by Soulmonster Thu Feb 10, 2022 1:02 pm

THEIR NAMES


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

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


"Izzy" likely originated from the first part of his surname "Isbell" and was a nickname that started already back and in junior high. In the early days of Hollywood Rose he went by "Izzy Bell" [Johnny Kreis Website, 2002]. Izzy then played around with variations to the last name of his pseudonym (calling himself "Izzy Stranded" for a while), before settling on "Stradlin'" and later "Stradlin".

Izzy was Izzy since junior high. You know, Isbell. I remember we had a sheet behind his drums, "IZZY"! You know, it was great. And everybody knew him as Izzy.


Just before signing to Geffen, Axl started the process of legally changing his name from Bill Bailey to W Axl Rose. He had been calling himself Rose since finding out about his biological father when 17, and added the Axl after having played in the band AXL, and now made it official [Kerrang! March 1989].

In the start Axl would introduce Steven as "Indigo Buds" but later change to "Popcorn":

Oh man, every night when Axl would introduce the band he would always introduce me as Steven "Indigo Buds" Adler 'cause I was always sayin' I just live for the "Three P's - Pot, Pussy and Percussion." And one night, just because we were on MTV, at the Ritz, because he was so pissed, he was threatening not to go on until he found his scarf. So I think he was really trying to fuck with me, instead of calling me Steven "Indigo Buds" Adler,  and he said later that it was because of the way I play, I jump up and down with my hair bouncing so he called me "Popcorn." It's cool. Funny and cool.


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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 11, 2022 9:16 am

EARLY LOOKS AND STYLING


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

The image is a non-image.


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

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


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

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


And Nikki Sixx:

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


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

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


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

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


Later, Alan Niven would claim Duff didn't like Axl's glam look:

Axl's hair in the early days, I mean, every time there was a, you know, say a Troub gig or or a Roxy gig and Axl came in and bouffant his hair, Duff would walk in and fix him with a cold and beady stare and go, "Nice hair, dude."




Guns N' Roses in 1985/1986



EARLY GLAM PERIOD


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



Guns N' Roses in their glam period



Following the establish trends definitely helped with the opposite sex:

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




Getting ready for the show.



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

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


In hindsight, Duff felt almost embarrassed by their looks:

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

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

I let my girlfriend at the time, a long time ago, dress me up. I was really into Johnny Thunders – I still am, but especially was when Guns first started and when I came down to L.A. from Seattle. My girlfriend was Hungarian and she dressed me, you know, for this photo shoot. She, like- [...] You know what I’m talking about? That fucking tie- [...] And she’s telling me, “God, you look great. This is just the fucking best look.” So I’m thinking, “I’m not feeling it, but, you know, if you say I look this good, that’s great.” We did those photos and those fucking photos have lasted the test of time, they’re on that Live Era thing. I’m wearing this tie and, like, some stupid shirt, and my hair is all teased out, that fucking thing, and it’s my worst fucking-




Duff



Axl would explain their dress style:

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


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

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

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


Paul Elliott, writing for Sounds magazine would attend the March 16, 1987, show at The Whisky, and would much later describe what he saw:

From the outset, Guns N’ Roses were keen to distance themselves from the hair metal scene. They felt an affinity with Metallica, who had relocated from LA to San Francisco five years earlier because LA was full of bands that looked – and played – like girls. As Slash, a Metallica fan himself, put it: “LA is considered a pretty gay place, and we got a lotta flak from people thinking we’re posers.”

I knew Slash was right, because I’d been one of those people. When I walked into the Whisky the previous night, I saw cliché upon cliché. Girls in micro-skirts, spike heels and skimpy tops, some wearing little more than lingerie, their hair fluffed up like extras from Dynasty. The guys’ coiffures were just as big, and some of these dudes – ‘chicks with dicks,’ as they were called – were wearing more make-up than the girls. This was LA’s in-crowd, posers all, and Guns N’ Roses were their new darlings.


In 2007, Slash would talk about their image back in the beginning:

You know, I don’t recall sitting around with the guys and strategizing the look and all that shit. It all just came from a pure, guttural place. I will say that, in the early days, there was definitely a heavy New York Dolls and Hanoi Rocks vibe to what Guns were doing. And I guess in some way all the glam bands at that time sort of came from that world, but I just think we approached it with a little more depth. A lot of the others just skimmed off the top without really getting into the nuts and bolts of the sound. The one exception was Motley Crüe—Nikki [Sixx]’s roots were similar to ours, and he knew exactly where he wanted to go with his band, how he wanted it to look and how he wanted it to sound. But most of the other guys in the scene just didn’t do their homework.


And he would be asked if the Simpson's Otto character was based on him:

No, no. I wouldn't want to consider myself that guy. I don't come from the "Hey dude!" stoner school. That's usually just a lot of my friends and associates.


Marc Canter would discuss the evolution of their image:

They were experimenting with different looks for a while. Hanoi Rocks was a glam band that was one of Izzy and Axl’s influences. Guns N’ Roses sound was rock n’ roll all the way and the image they gave off on stage was all raw power in the way they moved on stage. They may have put on some make up and shit but the real image that came from those shows was not glam.


And Duff would talk about how they image hadn't been contrived:

Whether we like it or not, we’re going to get heaped in with all that but what puts us on top is that we’re a real band. We didn’t contrive anything. We literally stumbled into each other on the streets of Hollywood, wrote songs about stuff we had been through and played ‘em, We weren’t trying to get signed, we weren’t trying to have a certain stage act, we weren’t trying to wear certain clothes or nothing. We see some of the bands coming on the scene and it’s kind of funny to look at them but we don’t think about it as any kind of competition.



AXL'S STAGE MANNERISM


Richard Black, singer of Shark Island in the mid-80s, would claim Axl meticulously copied his stage mannerisms:

You know I have always tried to avoid this topic because I never wanted to sound like a sniveling bitter victim, and I largely kept my mouth shut. But every so often however, the topic continues to rear its ugly head. But then again avoiding the subject never did any good.

Let me tell you a story; in the early days I was influenced by the pioneers of this music, but I was getting it together. I soon learned if I continued to copy them, people wouldn't take me seriously. I evolved and became my unique self. I have never systematically copied a single artist except jokingly or on Halloween.

What happened in my instance however, was quite a different story. I was being copied all right… sometimes by down right impersonators, it was creepy. I could see their point, they figured it was working for us, so why not them. Regardless of how you felt about the band it was hard to ignore us. I suppose wearing nothing but an American flag or a paper jumpsuit with duct tape hasn't caught on yet, but was pretty original… a little too ahead of its time I guess. I would wear pajamas on stage just for fun… soon there after I'd see some our friends and followers wearing pajamas. I use to have these bike shorts that I decided to wear onstage, then it seemed bike shorts were the rage in L.A. I don't think it was a coincidence. What I'm talking about is copying someone' essence. When art is involved, that is not cool; it's a form of plagiarism. And I give a horse' ass about 'imitation is the best form of flattery'. I don't need to be flattered.

Many popular bands and personalities came to see Shark Island, that's a fact, and many took elements home with them for their stage show or album covers, or wardrobe… oh well, I'm flattered… nothing that could have altered the path of my career.

But that good-for-nothing Axl Rose, he' really a piece of work for the dregs. As far as I'm concerned he's never done anything original in his life. Him and his cronies would come every week and watch the show. One day before GnR's debut, I went to his place…as I walked in I saw a video of me playing on his TV and on top was a stack of VHS tapes all labeled Shark Island with dates and times. I remember being mortified, it was obvious he was studying my shtick, and I knew there was nothing I could do, being their album was about to be released, and he'd cap on the press get the credit. My many years of developing, and refining my craft and years of modern dance were up for grabs by this fool and a video camcorder. I remember some people telling me about him acting like me, but I never worried much on a count that we were all in the same boat.

Then came Welcome To The Jungle, I though I was looking in the mirror, or the videos on Axl's TV. You said 'borrowed' earlier well that implies a payback. What burns me up even more is in his heyday he never so much as mentioned Shark Island or Richard Black in all his press. Which, by the way, could have helped us at no cost to him; he never even threw us a bone. Now, truth be told, I couldn't possibly care less. That's all old crap and it does me no good now, besides, I am nothing like I was back then, and I'd look like a fool to try.
Melodic Rock, February 2, 2006


Marc Canter would later comment on this:

First off that Video with Axl and Tracii was from April 26th 1986 and I shot it. The reason I was there is because I knew Axl was going to be going up on stage with them and I was filming everything Axl did because I knew it was important to have it. Since I was there I shot the whole show. I gave Axl a copy of it and thats why it ended up in Axl's apartment. Axl had plenty of moves before he had even heard of Shark Island. Axl liked Richard and thought the band was very professional because they used to play 200 gigs a year. The Snake move was something that Richard did do and Axl must have been a bit influenced by it and picked up on it and at some point worked it in with all his other moves. It doesn't mean that Axl ripped him off. Lots of Rock Stars get influenced by something they see and use it somehow. Mick Jagger got a lot of them from Tina Turner. Axl is very natural and is mostly one of a kind in everything he does but I'm sure some of what he does came from something he saw somewhere and just starting doing something like it because it felt right. Joe Perry took a lot from Jeff Beck, Slash took a lot from Joe Perry that's Rock N' Roll and there are kids out there that took something from Slash. No big deal.
mygnrforum, July 23, 2012

There's one move that [Axl] obviously took, but he didn't steal it. He was influenced by it, right? But he had a lot of respect for Richard. What's the name? [Richard Black] He loved Shark Island. Shark Island was doing like 300 gigs a year and Axl was just blown away that how professional a band could function to make a living. That was their living. They never made it, but they were able to make a living and pay their rent with that band. And Axl just loved how professional they were. [...] But so, we went to a gig, actually, that a Shark Island gig, and Axl and Tracii Guns got up and played- [...] They played Rock And Roll. [...] Anyways, yeah, Richard had that kind of snake thing that he did. And I think more subconsciously, Axl just picked it up. And, you know, you do what you do. If you look at Slash and the way he's leaning, you're going to see Joe Perry. You look at Joe Perry and see the way he's leaning, you're going to see Jeff Beck. You know, and where did Jeff Beck get it from? Maybe he invented it or maybe he saw something in someone else? So it doesn't necessarily mean you've ripped him off. It just means you were influenced by it and you admired it and it comes out. It just comes out. I don't think Axl stood in the mirror and played some music and said, "Well, let me see if I can get that down." It was just something that just, you know, he just felt and did. And Axl has probably at least ten moves that he made- [...] And that would just be one of them.




Axl and Richard Black, April 26, 1986
Credit Marc Canter



Robert John would admit Axl was inspired by Black and even considered somehow crediting him:

In Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns, Axl jumped straight up and down, holding onto the mike stand for balance. Axl later admitted that he got that whole snake move, that S-curve, from Richard. He once told me that he even wanted Richard to somehow get credit for this. Most of Axl’s moves, that’s all Richard Black.
Stephen Davis, Watch You Bleed; The Saga Of Guns N' Roses, 2008
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