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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

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Post by Soulmonster on 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."



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].

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



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.


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 12 (?), 1985 - 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 Gorilla Garden (or possibly Gorilla Room) in Seattle, likely on on June 12.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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 because they didn't drew a crowd (only 15 people came [Circus Magazine, November 1991]); but according to other interviews the band was paid $50 instead of the promised $200 or $250 [Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1986; Circus Magazine, November 1991].

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


The band then returned back to LA:

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



THE 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 on 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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Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 4:48 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 school after Slash tried to steal his bike [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

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

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



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.

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


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

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

When Guns N' Roses formed, Marc became like the sixth guy in the band. He was always around and had unlimited access to the band, especially in the early days. He believed in us from the beginning and had a much broader view of what the band was about than even we had.
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", which was published in 2007. It featured lots of information and an impressive collection of quite frankly awesome photos. It is amazing. So is Canter's Restaurant, it is part of GN'R history and even if you don't care for that, it is a great place to eat in Hollywood.


Reckless Road, by Marc Canter


Last edited by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 4:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 4:49 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


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.
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 4:50 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].

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

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

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


The band then played a show at the Seance (July 26). The show started at 2:30 am and Slash was wasted, resulting in Axl admonishing Slash from stage by dedicated 'Back Off Bitch' to him and later asking Marc Canter to have a talk about Slash about not being drunk for shows [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 4:51 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].


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 on Sun May 31, 2020 4:55 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 on Sun May 31, 2020 4:56 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.


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

Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 4:57 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.

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Kim Fowley would describe the Gardner Studio:

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


In February 1986, the band fled the Gardner studio when Axl had a rape charge against him, and moved in with Vicky in her apartment.
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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 4:58 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
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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 4:58 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”.


Slash was wary of John:

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


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

Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 4:59 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 The Jetboys. When the band drove back to Los Angeles after the gig they would start working on Paradise City.


Poster for the show at The Stone


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


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


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


Last edited by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 5:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME Empty Re: 05. JUNE-DECEMBER 1985: LOCAL FAME

Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 5:00 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.

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


Izzy was staying with his girlfriend, Desi Craft:

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Joseph Brooks:

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


Colleen Combs:

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


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

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


Slash would also mention the place in the Hills:

There was also a management com­pany one time that was trying to hook up with us, and one of their ways of trying to convince us that they were happening — and that we were stupid — was by putting us in this huge house in the Hollywood Hills. Luckily, we never signed any papers with them or anything because when we fired them, they asked us to pay the bill after they told us it was free.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun May 31, 2020 5:00 pm

NOVEMBER 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 on Sun May 31, 2020 5:01 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.


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

Bambi Conway:

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


Michelle Young:

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


Adriana Smith:

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

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

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

DECEMBER 1985
MUSIC MACHINE


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


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

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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