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

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

Registering is free and easy.



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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:02 am



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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:05 am


In September 1987 it was indicated the band has "lawsuits slapped on them" and Duff would say that "all the lawsuits that have come about are totally unfounded” [Rock Scene, September 1987]. Izzy would embellish:

We have quite a few of them [=lawsuits] already, but our attorney says you’re not a real band until you have at least a dozen lawsuits, so we have about eight or more to go.

Axl and Slash would refer to the lawsuits in 1988:

Law is something that interests me, cause there's always someone that wants to sue you, so I like to know everything I can about it. So, I'll be learning as much as I can from him and maybe, eventually, one day that's something that I'll turn to, just because it's something that I want to know about.

If I'd gone on through school, I'd probably be a lawyer. Then I could take half the people who screw with me to court.

Right now it’s not too bad. I don’t think we’re in the middle of any suits at the moment. We’ve managed to either settle or whatever, you know. Right now we’re doing okay. We’re very hard to pin down, too. We’re not that stupid and it’s very hard for us to get in a position where we’re stupid enough to be sued. Well, till we get sued tomorrow and I’ll stick my foot in my mouth.

In 1989, Axl would mention that they have had "some out-of-court settlements," one obviously being the Hamilton case [RIP, April 1989].

Slash would also comment on the lawsuits in 1989:

We've got lots of lawsuits pending, but I don't think it would be wise of me to state any names, or someone will hold it against me somehow. They're richer and more influential than we are, on the average.

In early 1990, Duff would say they had "people wanting to fucking sue you all the time" [Kerrang! March 1990].

1990: K MART CORP.

Yet, in October 1990, it would be reported that the band was suing someone else, K Mart Corporation [Associated Press, October 26, 1990]. The band sued for $2 million for alleged "unauthorized use of the rock band’s picture and name in an advertisement for a toy drum set" [Associated Press, October 26, 1990]. According to the suit, the band members "suffered damage to their reputation, loss of good will, mental anguish resulting from the use of the advertisement without their consent" [Associated Press, October 26, 1990].


In September 1990, it was reported that a photographer hired by MTV, Jeff Kravitz, sued the band when a bodyguard for the band had pushed him during the MTV Video Music Awards on September 6, 1989. According to the suit, Kravitz had lost his footing resulting in a "sprained or strained back", causing “severe neck pain” and “massive headaches” and also "aggravated a previous injury to his elbow" [The Dispatch, September 1990]. The bodyguard was actually Axl's brother Stewart [Jeff Kravitz' instagram, February 7, 2020]. The case was settled out of court [Jeff Kravitz' instagram, February 7, 2020].

Some of the lawsuits would be frivolous i nature, an example being an artist suing the band over 'Don't Cry', claiming it was based on his own song [Evansville Courier & Press/MTV, July 19, 2000].

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:07 am


This album is the album I’ve always been waitin’ on. Our second album is the album I’ve been waitin’ on since before we got signed. I mean, we were planning out the second album before we started work on the first one, you know?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993


After trying to record throughout 1989, the band came to a showdown at the Rolling Stones shows in October 1989. After this, Slash went away for a month (likely to rehab) and when he returned in late November 1989 they were supposed to start working on the record, but Steven was in a very bad state:

[…] so we played the Rolling Stones gigs to whip it out and actually play. And that brought us hack together. […] Then I took oft for a month and when I came back Steven wasn't ready. I booked this studio out here in Canoga Park and Steven wasn't ready for it, so it turned out to be a waste of money. At this point I'm very aware of what our financial situation is. You have to be. You're forced to be. So I cancelled the time in the studio.

Duff was interviewer on January 2, 1990, and would indicate that they planned to hit the studio later in the month:

We’re going into the studio on the 15th of this month... […] The basic tracks could take about three weeks. Stevie and I are really fast, we work real hard together. Then Slash could do his guitars in another three weeks. Axl... it’s hard to say how his voice holds up, and he’s bound to come up with new ideas. So that’s already six weeks. It’ll take a few months, but if we can start touring again by the end of the summer, it’ll be great...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

In fact, the studio had "already been open for [them] for about a year" and the agreement with the studio was "open-ended" [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990].

They would also be using Mike Clink as the producer again:

Yeah, as far as the basic tracks go. I talked to Axl about this, and he agrees, and so does Slash: the drums and bass on the last record are just so awesome. I loved Steven's drum sound, I loved my bass sound - it's so round and in your face! So I mean, why change? I'm even using the same old amps and shit I always use. […] because they still sound so great. They’re not old, anyway, they're good amps. It’s this whole cabinet I put together.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

And that it would likely result in a double album:

OK, here's what it is. It will be a double album - if we can make a double album. If we burn out after, like, fourteen songs then why go on just to make a double album?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

And about the title:

I think Girth or Heinous would be a great name for the record. Girth… We could have special promos of, like, a big dick...  I don't know, we joke about it but we have actually got this song called "Girth"... Well, it's not going to be called "Girth" on the album, it'll get changed, but it's such a heavy song we call it "Girth" for now. It’s named after this guy Wes [Arkeen], who writes with us sometimes. He’s a real little fucker, right? But his dick, it’s only about this long but it’s like this wide, man! So he's got the girth, right? So we call this song "Girth"...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

And on whether Arkeen had helped write other songs for the album:

Yeah, we got a song called “Yesterdays” - a great fucking song. And, er, ‘Just Another Sunday”. Both great tunes that we wrote aeons ago... Like, “It’s So Easy" Wes and I wrote together, that’s what we did for the last record. Axl put about a quarter of the lyrics into that. But this time these songs are almost fully his, I guess, if I remember right... Maybe I wrote part of them with Wes and Axl, yeah, whatever. But, yeah, Wes is gonna be with us on this one.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

According to other sources [list them], the band had entered the studio already in December 1989 for pre-production, and the studio ended up being Mates Studio Rehearsals and not a studio in Canoga Park. When the actual recording did start in 1990, though, it was Rumbo Studio in Canoga Park that was used. It could be that it is the recordings in Rumbo Duff is talking about, and that they had indeed at the time of his interview in early January finished pre-production at Mates.

When Duff was asked why it had taken so long to get to the point of recording he would prevaricate:

OK, here’s the deal. We’ve always had enough songs, right? But we went to Chicago - Slash and myself and Steven went there - to try and make a start on the songs. And we waited for Axl and Izzy, but Axl had some reasons for not coming out - he was just waiting for us to do our trip as musicians - and Izzy... Izzy was having a hard time with life at that point and was just travelling the world. So we sat in Chicago for three months, the three of us, and kinda got suicidal. But at that point we also got a lot of shit done. So if people are gonna ask, have these guys lost their fuckin’ edge, I’d have to say no, we’ve gained a lot more edge.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

We'll get it done. Things fall into place – or they don't - for a reason. If we’re not doing the record till now then there’s got to be a good reason. I always believe in that shit. It's not that I'm one of those fuckin’ weirdos, it’s just that so much shit has happened to me that there’s got to be a reason. And even if there's not, it’ll work anyhow. It’ll work anyhow, fuck it...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

In an interview after the American Music Awards in January 1990, Slash would say they had 35 songs but are doing 24 and that it would become a double album [Interview after AMA, January 1990]. The band would not disclose the title of the albums at this time, nor say they had decided upon them. In the end, the two 'Use Your Illusion' albums would contain 30 tracks, including 'My World' and two versions of 'Don't Cry'.

Steven was briefly interview in January and would be very positive about the progress:

The sound is great, the songs are coming together and we’re just really looking forward to get it out. […] But it’s coming on really well. We’re very pleased.

In the same month Duff would confirm they had 35 songs:

Well, there’s so many of them for a start. We have songs for days... We have thirty-five fuckin’ songs written for this next fuckin’ album! It may be a double-album, I don’t know. None of us knows yet. […] we have thirty-five songs that we are proud of. And I tell you what, man, not to brag, but my bass playing has gotten so much better. Slash’s guitar playing has gotten immense! And fuckin’ Axl’s voice has gone from... The vocals on the Appetite album were great, but he was still a kid back then learning how to use his voice. Now he’s like [smacking hand into palm] he’s got it nailed, man.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

And talk about some of the songs:

It's a song l wrote about the press. It's called "Why Do You Look at Me When You Hate Me?". It means like, why do you keep writing about us when you already hate us? Why? Why don't they do their job and write about something they think is fuckin’ cool instead? I don’t mind if people hate us after they’ve seen the gig. But if they hate us before they even come to the gig, why the fuck are they there? So I wrote a song about that...

Slash has got some really fuckin’ cool tunes too, which Axl has put some words to. And Izzy’s got some really great tunes as well. There’s one Izzy's got called "Pretty Tied Up”. It’s actually a factual story about this chick down on Melrose we know, she’s like a dominatrix chick, you know? You pay her and you’re pretty tied up. It’s a great song...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

As far as name of the record, Duff suggested "Girth" or Heinous" mentioning that they already had a song called "Girth" [Kerrang! March 1990]. "Girth" would later end up being renamed "Coma". In the beginning of 1990, Axl would mention "GN'R Sucks" and "BUY-product" as possible names [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993].

In January 1990, Axl was asked if his "Mr. Brownstone" speech at the first show with Rolling Stones in October the previous year had amounted to anything and was the reason for the apparent band activity:

It way worked, man! ’Cos Slash is fuckin’ on like a motherfucker right now. And the songs are coming together, they’re coming together real heavy.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

When Axl was asked if the reason they had spent so much time, with the whole of 1989 not amounting to much, was only due to drug issues, he would answer:

Partly. But another reason things have been so hard in a way is this. The first album was basically written off Axl coming up with maybe one line and maybe a melody for that line or how I want to present that line, how I’m gonna say it or yell it or whatever, OK? And then we’d build a song around it. Or someone came up with one line, OK? On this, Izzy’s brought in eight songs - at least. Slash has brought in an album, I’ve brought in an album.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

And when asked to comment on the peculiarities of 1989:

Yeah, but if you look at it, it’s not peculiar at all. Because number one, we had to find a whole new way of working together, because everybody got successful. OK? And everybody’s had a dream that when they got successful they could do what they want. And so that ends up with Slash bringing in eight songs. It’s never been done before, Slash bringing in a song first and me writing words to it. I’ve done it twice with him before and we didn’t use either of those songs. Out of Slash’s choice. Now he’s got eight of them that I gotta write words to and they’re bad-assed songs! Meantime, I was working on, like, writing these ballads that I feel have really rich tapestries and stuff, and making sure each note in effect is right. […] ’Cos I also write with a lot of... whether I’m using a lot of instrumentation and stuff, I’ll still write with minimalism, right? But it has to be the right note and it has to be held in the right way and it has to have the right effect, you know?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

It’s taken a lot of time to put together the ideas for this album. And... in certain ways nobody’s done what we’ve done. Come out with a record that captured, like, an essence of the Sex Pistols’ spirit, and stuff like that. And then got taken all the way... And no one’s followed it up. Well, we’re not gonna put out a fuckin’ record until we can, you know? That’s all. So we’ve been trying to build it up. And now it’s like, I’m writing the right words. And that’s just really started happening in the last month. And now, as of last week, I’m on a roll with the right words for Slash’s stuff. So it’s taken that long time to find ’em. And, you know, I hope the people are into it. I think that the audience has grown enough. Has grown with us. It’s been three years, they’ve gone through three years of shit too. So hopefully they'll relate to some new things.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

Slash would also be in high spirits in an interview published in February and indicate that the troubles they had endured in 1989 was now indeed behind them:

Me and Axl are on a roll right now. Last night we were listening to one of the new songs, trying to put lyrics to it. I went upstairs to get my hat, and he was singing. I got chills, thinking, F?!k, man, this album is gonna be a killer. I'm really excited about it now. The distractions, the problems, the bullshit are truly behind us now.

So band members were claiming that the recording was coming along nicely in the very beginning of 1990, in fact, Axl would say that the record would "hopefully be out by the summer" [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993].

Slash would also repeat that it would be a double album:

Well, first off, it's gonna be a double album, because we've got too many songs, and we wanna do the best album we possibly can. Our attitude is not like, "Save it for the next record.” Hell, there might not be a next record. Right now all that lies in the future for Guns N’ Roses is the next LP.

But at the end of February, a double album would be denied by the label [Entertainment Weekly, February 23, 1990]. As for when the album would be released, a spokesman cautiously suggested "sometime this year" [Entertainment Weekly, February 23, 1990].

Slash would also list some of the songs:

Let's see, there’s "Ain’t Goin’ Down," "Don't Cry,” “You Could Be Mine,” "Perfect Crime,” another one called “Night Crawler" and one called “Back Off Bitch.” I have a song, too, that I wrote. It’s really personal, about how estranged I felt from everybody else in the band—and from society, friends and stuff—during the bad period. It’s about how cold and materialistic people really are. It was just one of those sitting on the edge of the bed, being a little depressed and playing a slow song things. Most of the lyrics will be written by Axl, but they’ll reflect the thoughts, pain and feelings of the individuals in the band, 'cause we all go through it together.

Duff would talk more about the choice of studio and using Mike Clink again as the producer:

Yeah, just because we’re familiar with it. We could have chosen any studio we wanted, but it’s not that expensive, and we’re even using the smaller studio here, not the big one. We use the same room, the same producer [Mike Clink]. It’s like the ‘If the dog doesn’t bite you, why kick it in its ass’ theory.

The magic about Mike [Clink] is, he gets on tape exactly what's being played. This is what rock 'n' roll recording is all about. It's simple, dry; that's it. Don't mess with it. Don't trigger any samples on it. I would never allow that to be done. Just record the band, live. We're not a studio band. He saw that, and we knew that, so you just press play and record. He got all our sounds perfectly.

In an interview published in April 1990, Slash would again confirm they were going for a double album and that they by now had 13 songs recorded with 16 or so more songs to record [Raw Magazine, April 1990].

Out of the 13 songs we’ve done, there’s about five old ones. If that. ‘Back Off Bitch’, ‘Don’t Cry’, ‘Ain’t Going Down’. These were songs which could have surfaced on the first album, but we weren’t really working on them at the time. We were concentrating on the songs that came on that first album, so we saved them for later. Some of the new ones are ‘Coma’, ‘So Fine’, ‘Dead Horse’ and ‘Civil War’.

Axl would also mention that he wanted Jeff Lynne to collaborate on string arrangements for November Rain and "three of four possible other songs" [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993]. In July, later that year, Axl would mention to Howard Stern that he had then actually been in talks with Lynne about the "string arrangement for [November Rain]" but that "we got it right" [The Howard Stern Show, July 1990].

There’s, like, thirty-seven songs, and I know by the end of the record there’ll be forty-two to forty-five and I want thirty of them down. […] Well, a double record but a single 76-minute CD. OK? Then I want five B-sides – people never listen to B-sides that much – and that will be the backside of another EP. You know, we’ll say it’s B-sides. Plus, there should be four extra songs for an EP, if we pull this off, OK? So that’s the next record. And then there’s the live record from the tour... If we can pull this thing off, if we do this right, it’ll be five years before we have to make another album. […] And we can have five years to... It’s not so much like five years to sit on our asses. It’s like, five years to figure out what we’re gonna say next, you know? After the crowd and the people figure out how they’re gonna react to this album, and then the mental changes we will go through... […] This record will have seen us grown a lot. There’ll be some childish, you know, arrogant, male, false bravado crap on there, too. But there’ll also be some really heavy, serious stuff.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

In 2011, Slash would mention an acoustic two-night writing sessions that included Duff, Axl and Izzy which really helped the new album come along [Total Guitar, July 2011]. It is not clear exactly when this happened, but it happened after Slash had sobered up and likely before Matt was included, so likely in late '89 or early '90.

As planned from 1988 and 1989, the album was turning out to be more diverse than 'Appetite':

The new album is so diverse, and it goes to extremes that we haven’t really communicated to the people who listen to us. Maybe in concert, we’ve come close to it. It’s a lot heavier in concert than the ‘Appetite‘ album. We seem to be extreme in two ways. It’s really heavy or really mellow. There’s acoustics and horns and shit like that. […] But it’s going to be different. The songs are longer, and the lyrics are very serious. Very defined and very direct at certain issues. Very harsh. […] When we did ‘Appetite...’, I didn’t think it was going to be commercial, but it was. So I don’t know what this will do in that sense. It doesn’t sound like a commercial album to me.

Yeah, there’ll be, um, there’ll be a few acoustic things. There'll be some songs that are acoustic going into electric back to acoustic, and stuff like that. I actually play guitar on a couple songs for the first time (laughs). I only play two strings but it's some pretty cool punk rock type stuff (chuckles).

In March/April 1990, Arlett Vereecke, GN'R's publisher and friend of the band, would describe the status of the work:

The fact is, Axl and Slash have been working very closely on their next project, with Axl again writing the lyrics while Slash churns out the cool guitar licks. Duff McKagan, Steven Adler and Slash have been rehearsing for months and are just rolling along in the studio. A double album can be expected hopefully before summer, followed by their first headlining world tour.

The actual fact is that things were not progressing this smoothly anymore, and especially Steven was in trouble...


In 2013, Alan Niven would claim Slash was frustrated with the direction of the music they were creating but that he was willing to compromise with Axl to ensure being paid:

I went out with Slash one night and one night turned into a whole weekend. And the main part of that conversational thread through that weekend was that Slash was getting really, really frustrated with the material that became Use Your Illusion. And he felt that the rock and roll drive of the band was being compromised by the kind of material that Axl was writing. And I looked at him and I said, "Look, if you really, genuinely feel this way, you've got to articulate this to Axe, and you've got to work it out with him." And he looked at me and he said, "I'll make any compromise I have to do to make sure the check comes in."

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:07 am

JANUARY 22, 1990

After a troubling 1989, 1990 started well with the band winning two awards at the American Music Awards, the first was for favorite heavy-metal group the other for best heavy-metal album, "Appetite for Destruction."

To accept the award, Duff and Slash would attend the ceremony. Axl was at the time vacationing in Paris, Izzy didn't want to go, and Steven "had to stay home" "per orders from his manager" and wasn't allowed to attend [Blast! May 1990].

Slash and Duff, obviously under the influence, delivered acceptance speeches and Slash uttered the word "fuck" twice and the broadcast was cut. ABC had to apologize:

"We regret that last night's live telecast of the American Music Awards contained some offensive language. This has not happened before in the 17 years this awards show has been on the air. We will take precautionary measures to see that it does not happen in future telecasts" [Los Angeles Times, January 1990].

Slash and Duff at the AMA
January 22, 1990

I said 'Ooops'... I know that things like this add to our image. I understand that now, but still - who cares? […] We don’t calculate this shit. We’re not creating a hype. I can’t figure us out, so why analyze it? I reckon it’s just that our lives are a whole lot deeper than the press can print on a fucking page.

It's not that big a deal. If people were offended by a few swear words that everybody says every day, well, in the whole scheme of things, who cares? At least we didn't have some contrived (bleeping) speech. It was real and that's what the band is about.

Slash would later recall what happened:

The fucking music awards…What happened was I got this phone call the day of the show asking if I wanted to go. We were nominated for two awards, and someone from the band needed to accept if we won. So me and Duff and our girlfriends all got drunk and flipped on down there after a stop at Carl Jrs. When we arrived, it was mass confusion, the whole paparazzi thing. I really didn’t give a shit; I just wanted to hang out and have a good time. Anyway, we had third-row seats, and the show was real cheesy and boring. We were smoking and drinking wine, and all of a sudden we won this award. We weren’t ready for it. I don’t know what I said onstage, but it was short and sweet. I don’t think there were too many “fucks” in it. Then we went backstage. I met Lenny Kravitz, which was cool, but Prince blew us off. He and his entourage just ignored us when we walked by. He didn’t say anything, and he probably didn’t know who we were. I don’t think we’re what he’d call good company, and I really didn’t care. He looked like a fag that night anyway. Afterward, we went back to our seats, and when the second award came, it was totally unexpected. I got up to the microphone and started to thank the people who helped us out over the years. I said “fucking” again, and I knew it was live television, so I said, “Oops.” But it just slipped out again and again and again. Once I started, that was it. It was just like using an adjective. […] I wasn’t really drunk. All I had was wine. I had, like, two glasses of wine during the show, and I wasn’t that fucked up. That’s just me — really, you have to know how I am, especially when I’m in a crowd of people. All this attention is focused on you, and I get very shy. I don’t know why, but I can’t approach a public situation like that without loosening up. That night, I didn’t wear my hat, I didn’t have a guitar to hide behind, and I wasn’t performing. You walk into one of these places, and you feel almost like you’re being X-rayed. Besides, I sort of wanted us to be the fuckups there, because everybody else was so polite and stiff and unnatural. We were trying to have a good time, and I think out of all the people there, we were the only ones who weren’t putting on a façade.

The media would claim that Axl had been pissed off at Slash's drunkenness (this was just a couple of months after the infamous Mr. Brownstone speech), but according to publicist, Arlett Vereecke, writing for Blast!, a "little drinking doesn’t bother" Axl [Blast! May 1990].

The swearing on national TV made some radio stations boycott the band's music [Detroit Free Press, May 1991], yet Slash was not apologetic:

I think it was the funniest thing that happened during the whole show. It was a really stiff awards show. It was really a bore. I tried to make it a good time. It slipped out. I was a little nervous. They called me up and asked me to do the awards again this year.

For the 1992 awards Slash's appearance would be pre-taped due to him being on tour [Star Tribune, January 21, 1992].

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:08 am


As his band mates Slash and Duff were cursing at the VMA back in the US in January 1990; Axl and Erin were on vacation in France where Axl got in problem; Arlett Vereecke would recount what happened:

As I mentioned before, Axl and his girlfriend vacationed in Paris for 10 days, and were actually attacked by some seven or eight French loonies, whose only reason for hating them was the fact that they were Americans! They never even heard of GnR, and that happened on the posh Champs Elysees. Axl and Erin counter-attacked, and the total damage was a shiner of a black eye to decorate Erin’s beautiful face and two broken fingers for Axl.

A few months later he would recount this episode to Howard Stern, saying they fought twelve guys and that he still had one broken finger as the result of smacking one of them in the head [The Howard Stern Show, July 1990].

Izzy would also comment on this:

After this tour's finished, I'd like to go hang out in Europe, preferably somewhere near the ocean, and just keep writing songs. I think Axl will probably end up living over there at the end of this tour too. He's talking about getting a place in Europe, in Paris or Spain maybe, 'cos he really liked it over there, even though a bunch of French guys ended up macing him. He phoned me up straight afterwards: 'Izzy, man, I just got into a gnarly fight'. He said these guys were talking shit - though I don't know how he'd know 'cos he doesn't know any French. Maybe they were looking at him funny.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:08 am


In January 1990, it was reported that Duff's marriage with Mandy Brix from 1987 was falling apart and that they were about to divorce [L.A. Weekly, January 19, 1990; Kerrang! March 1990]. The decision had been made that Christmas, "the worst Christmas" and "one shit fuckin Christmas" as Duff would describe it [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990].

She told me she hated me and I told her to get out and she did. It was the shittiest fuckin' Christmas I ever had.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

I will say, though, that I’m happy now about the way things turned out. The marriage wasn’t going anywhere. We hadn’t been happy for a long time... We tried, it didn't work, end of story. All I’m thinking about now is going back in the studio and starting work on the new album. And then getting back on the road. There’s a reason for everything, I think. Good or bad. And what with everything coming up that the band has to do maybe it's better that I’m on my own right now... I certainly feel better already.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

Years later Duff would look back at the marriage to Brix:

The personal issues had affected Duff's beliefs in his ability make another record with Guns N' Roses:

In the last eight months or so I just wasn't sure if I, or if we, were mentally capable of making the next record. When we made the first record, man, I had one foot like this and one foot like this… In those days, man, there was two-inch deep marks where I was dug-in to do this. I wasn’t sure that I could do that again - just dig in and do it. But I’ve just gone through a bunch of shit in my personal life and now I hope I’m dug in again. I’ve been hanging with Slash, we’ve been playing together, and I’m ready again...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

In October 1990, Duff was dating model/actress Kim Anderson [L.A. Weekly, October 19, 1990].


In his autobiography from 2011, Duff would allude to the divorce with Brix affected his alcohol and drug abuse negatively, and he would again in 2018 mention one personal thing that had a big effect on this, likely referring to the divorce:

[...] I wasn't really that bad through Appetite and all that stuff at all. My shit really happened in Illusion. Something personally happened that just took me down a different road and I started really up in my whole jam. And then once you're up your jam, it's hard to bring it back down. So you just kind of stay. [...] I won't tell you [what it was]. Kind of wrote up around it in my book. I've said it once and you know, I'm good with that. I got it out of my system. Did it without blaming somebody else really, because I'm the one who took the bow by the horns and went down that road. I'm sure plenty of other avenues I could have gone.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:09 am


By now Geffen Records would be well used to the band moving slowly. Appetite for Destruction had taken longer than planned, partly resulting in the release of the EP Live? Like A Suicide. And now the follow-up to Appetite was taking much longer than what the label wanted. The label saw the need to release quickly while the band enjoyed immense success from Appetite, but writing and recording was a very slow process and again the label had decided to release an EP, GN'R Lies. Still, the band was far from having the follow-up ready and they started re-releasing singles.

Well, you can took at it from the point of view that ‘AFD’ is two years old, but it you recall the LP only really began to take off about a year ago, so in those terms it’s not that old. One thing all of the band are pissed off with, though, is the fact that Geffen Records have seen fit to re-release ‘Sweet Child...’ again in the UK. Why? We certainly weren’t consulted on this state of affairs and whilst I know that the label don’t need our permission to put out anything as a single from our LPs, nonetheless it seems to us that they’re milking the fans. And I just hope that we don’t get the blame.

In 2018, Alan Niven would mention an anecdote from before Geffen Records was sold, so pre-March 1990, where David Geffen was growing impatient because he intended to sell Geffen Records and wanted the windfall from a new Guns N' Roses record first:

But the other thing is, you know, I was dealing with a guy called David Geffen and it's fair to say that people were terrified of David. I have to say that he always kept his promises to me and he never lied to me, but he could be in your face. I mean, I remember walking into his building one day and he's coming down the stairs to the front door and as we passed each other he pushes me up against the wall and literally gets his face about three inches away from mine and with a certain amount of vehemence says, "When am I going to get my fucking record?" You know, because he wanted to sell Geffen. he also wanted to put out Use Your Illusions before he sold Geffen because we estimated that within the first two weeks of the release that we were looking at about a hundred million dollars in retail activity around the world. So you think he's motivated to get his record? And he's in my face and he has no problem undermining other people, but what was the only thing I could say back to him? "When it's fucking ready, David, you'll get your fucking record!" And he just stands there and looks at me and then turns around and walks away. That was good enough for him. I mean, you had to stand your ground. [...] In that particular instance, you know, I walked out as a building and went, you know, "If David thinks I'm not going to deliver in time I don't think he'll have any problem with sticking a knife in between my shoulder blades." And as I was driving home I went, "You know what? I think this is where David's head's at." We got Appetite for Destruction out of the band when Eddie Rosenblatt wanted to drop them before they even did any recording, and I think David looked at me and said, "Hey, well, he delivered for me before then I'll trust him to deliver again."

In June 1991, Axl would indicate that the label had suggested release dates:

But we had people at the record company come up with deadlines on when they wanted the record out and we'd go, 'OK, we'll do our best (to meet the deadline),' and we tried. But we were not going to give anybody the record until we felt it was done.

In November:

But, you know, there’s a business and they might not necessarily understand where the artist is coming from. And, you know, they want to do their job and get a record out; and if they’re excited about something, you know, they just might get like, I don’t know, too excited and and try to make it happen too fast. And it was like, there was no way for us to actually put a deadline on trying to achieve a certain feeling with our album. And so sometimes things got a little bit messy.

Talking about going on tour in 1991 before the recoding was complete:

It broke the record company's stride! It didn't break ours. We were happy. They kept saying, "When are we gonna see that record, guys?" Our attitude was, "We don't know. When it's done, it's done."


In March 1990, Los Angeles Times reported that Geffen Records had been sold to MCA Inc. The sole owner of Geffen Record, David Geffen, received stock options in MCA worth about $550 million [Los Angeles Times, March 1990].

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:09 am


At some point, probably in March of 1990, the band convened after a period away from each other. Friend of the band, Howard Teman would discuss how he had worked with Duff on the song So Fine while the band was on hiatus and describe the band catching up with each other:

But yeah, then Duff asked me to come in and help him write the song... not write it, just help him put together the, you know, the pre-recording for, what's the song? So Fine on Use Your Illusion II. And I went down the studio with him and I played drums while he, you, know he played all the other instruments, guitar and bass and guitar, I did the guitar solo. We did the pre-production, we did So Fine before it was put together, before the band even heard it. And I played piano and drums on it. And then they asked me to come down to the studio and I went down the studio and the whole band was there and they had just gotten back from their hiatus. And that was the hiatus where they hadn't even seen each other for like two or three months. That's the one where Axl got in a fight in Paris and all that stuff. So I walk in and they're all telling stories about what they've been doing for the last three months and everything, and everybody's laughing.

But despite the apparent good mood in the band, Steven was struggling...

In the May issue of Blast Magazine, GN'R's publisher and friend of the band, Arlett Vereecke, would describe the status of the work on the next record:

The fact is, Axl and Slash have been working very closely on their next project, with Axl again writing the lyrics while Slash churns out the cool guitar licks. Duff McKagan, Steven Adler and Slash have been rehearsing for months and are just rolling along in the studio. A double album can be expected hopefully before summer, followed by their first headlining world tour.

The actual fact is that things were not progressing this smoothly anymore, and especially Steven was in trouble... Despite Slash and Duff now allegedly working efficiently on writing new songs and rehearsing, they were, as mentioned before, having problems with Steven whose drug addiction meant he had trouble keeping his time in the studio [VOX, January 1991]. Problems were so bad the band was considering having Steven replaced to be able to record the drum tracks and eventually fired him [see next chapters].

During 1989 and early 1990, Steven's increasing heroin and crack use made him unreliable and this affected the band's work on the Use Your Illusion albums.

Steven Adler would show up at the recording studio completely high. Recording sessions would abort for several days when he couldn't put it together.

Steven [...] was beginning to get erratic. His participation in rehearsals and writing and recording sessions became less frequent, and his ability to perform suffered big-time.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 162

It's been over the course of years where we just had little problems here and there and then it got to be major and it held the band back for a while. Finally it came down to `it's either going to f*** up the whole band's career and everybody as an individual or we're going to have to make a decision about this.

I didn't want to go into the studio because his playing was so far off. He'll argue with me even now and say, "I played great." But he didn't—he couldn't. The guy was nodding out all over the place. That went on for a couple of months, and then I cancelled the studio time because it was a waste of money. So the only song on the album that Steven played on is "Civil War." He thought he was great, but we had to edit the drum track like mad just so we could play along with it. Even then, I had to remember where the drum mistakes were to keep the guitar in time with them.

We went into the studio to start working on some of the songs on the ‘...Illusion’ albums, and it was a waste of time and money. We had to drop out, which was about 100,000 dollars later.

We had recorded like 18 tracks for the Use Your Illusion I record with Steven and it just wasn’t happening. […] We put him through rehab like three times. I even went to his drug dealer’s house and threatened him with a gun and said, ‘Dude, if you ever...’

We all managed to sort of straighten out, with the exception of Steven. Steven was so locked up that he just couldn’t get it together.

This last reference Duff makes to threatening his dealer with gun, may be what a story in NME in December 1999 was based on. In this story, Steven was held captive by his drug sellers and Duff decided to try to release him [NME, December 25, 1999]. Duff, armed with a shotgun, got a friend to drive him to a residential area in the Valley where Duff twice entered the wrong house in search of Steven, scaring the people living there [NME, December 25, 1999]. This could of course be a second incident, or just a myth.

We were saying to him, 'Steven, you're fucked up." We said: 'Me and Slash, we're fucked up, but you're really fucked up'. I remember saying to him: 'If me and Slash think you're fucked up, think about who's saying that...'

To help Steven sober up, the band hired a sober coach, Bob Timmons, but nothing changed [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 172].

Later, Doug Goldstein would describe the problems they had with Steven:

Beginning with the termination of Steven Adler in 1990, the band had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to record basic tracks (trying to get the drums and bass recorded). Steven had a number of drug issues that I personally was trying to help him with.

Yet despite this, Steven would also claim that the demo tapes they made in Rumbo Recorders were fine and that he had "kicked ass":

I kicked ass on those tapes. If I could find them [Adler claims they were stolen by "some jerkoff"], I'd go on any radio station and play them. […] Slash told me that I suck, that I can't play anymore and it was the biggest waste of time.

Slash would disagree:

At Rumbo, Steven would nod out to the point where he would be on a stool, but his head would be touching the floor. He'd say, 'I'm tired. I'm sleepy,' and he couldn't play. That was basically it. We gave him so many chances to turn around. We took him to Indiana, to play Farm Aid, and he jumps on the drum riser and almost breaks his f?!king neck. Look, Steven was a part of what made Guns N' Roses happen. He had a great energy. He wasn't an insanely great drummer, but he had tons of attitude. When the sex and drugs and the whole bit started to get out of hand, he went right along with it. But there's a certain time when you really have to control your life. I'm not preaching - I'm in no position to preach - but you must be aware of your own existence and take care of your own business. You just can't be loaded all the time and expect everything to be okay. Trust me, I know. As far as the rest of us, we bounced back, we straightened up. Steven never did. We always told each other when it was getting real bad. Everybody was there for the individual who needed help. That's how we're survived as a band. But Steven would never cop to anything, as far as telling us how bad it was.


According to Slash, Steven was also lying and deceiving the band:

And he was lying to us on a daily basis.

See, [Steven] never quite made it to that growing-up period that the rest of us went through. It was always just a big game for him—fun all the time. That's a rock and roll attitude, which I've always appreciated, but Steven was just out there [on drugs], and I had just come back from that. So he couldn't lie to me about it. But he still kept trying to lie.

He couldn’t play. He would lie to us, and we’d go over to his place and find [bleep] behind the toilet and find stuff underneath the sink...

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:10 am

MARCH 1990

At some point in March 1990, or earlier, Steven was out of the band.

According to Jamie Adler, Steven's brother, Steven was fired in the middle of February 1990 by telephone:

My brother’s face just dropped. He said, ‘I just got fired,’ then he locked himself in the bathroom and didn’t come back out. We had a stretch limo outside, and we were supposed to be going to see Motley Crue with the “Dr. Feelgood” tour at the Forum. Our mom eventually had to come and pick me up.

If this is true, then Steven would later be back in the band and put on probation [see later chapter], or perhaps Jamie remembers it wrong and Steven wasn't actually fired already back in mid-February, but informed he would be fired if he didn't clean up.

Regardless, in the following month, March of 1990, the band tested out the drummers Adam Maples [from Sea Hags] and Martin Chambers [from The Pretenders] as replacements for Steven, and this was reported in the media, including in L.A. Weekly in March [L.A. Weekly, March 30, 1990].

When we went to try out drummers, I got really depressed, because it's hard, especially for me, as I used to play drums. I know what goes through a drummer's head, and I know how it should be. It was really scary, 'cause Steven was the drummer since the beginning of the band. We're used to our style. […] [The drummers] tried out with Slash and I. Since our albums weren't out, we'd usually have them learn "Jungle," "Brownstone," maybe "Paradise City"-things that they might be familiar with.

Talking about the auditions in 2018:

We did [audition drummer], we were at Mates. And we went through, there was a guy, Adam Maples. [...] Really good. There was a bunch of guys. [...] Martin Chambers from the Pretenders. [...] -one day, just his style and the way we played. You know, it just doesn't match up. He's an amazing drummer. Sometimes it's gotta gel.

Howard Teman would be asked if he never thought about trying to get the job:

You know, they had everybody... You know, at that same time when Steve, when I played that one show at the Whisky, they played a show, like three shows at the Perkins Palace, what's his name? Cinderella guy? Fred Coury. [...] he played and he's an amazing drummer. They had every drummer in the world available to play that, wanted that gig, they're not going to get an unknown and pretty crazed out drunken drug addict at that time, you know. They could get anybody they want and they got the drummer from The Cult, you know. If it ever passed through their mind I'm sure it was like a second and then they moved on to the next, the next spot.

According to Duff, part of the reason they tried out other drummers was to force Steven to clean up:

We got a new drummer in to shock Steven into cleaning up so he could come back, but that didn’t work.

Rumors about Steven being about to leave Guns N' Roses were widely reported [L.A. Weekly, March 30, 1990] and the band addressed this in their May issue of the fan club newsletter by saying Steven is "definitely a band member" and that he was "winning his battle with hard drugs" [Conspiracy Incorporated, May 1990].

This could indicate that the firing of Steven in February, or whatever it was, worked and that he was put back in the back but on probation [see later chapter].

Slash would comment on the possibility of Maples replacing Steven:

The guy from the Sea Hags was a really cool guy, and we got along, but he just didn’t have the right vibe.

And later Slash and Duff would say that none of these replacements were good enough:

And we went through a few people and it just wasn’t clicking and it was getting really frustrating.

We tried Martin Chambers from the Pretenders and that wasn’t happening, and a few other people. Drummers are the hardest part of the band to find. Especially with this band because it’s like totally a family, so we had to find somebody that’s like a bro.

The quote also suggests the band considered using Adam Maples and Martin Chambers to both get the record finished and to replace Steven for the upcoming touring. Maples would do the recording and Chambers the touring [Hot Metal, May 1990].

Axl would admit the issues with Steven meant they had to end the recording process and that studio time was now delayed until May 1, 1990:

Ah... we don’t start recording till May 1st. We pulled out of the studio and went back and rewrote some of the songs, and because of the Steven situation. But what was cool about the Steven situation is that it made the four of us realise that we’d got to get our shit together. Because if we bring in Martin Chambers then we better have the songs down. You know, so then we worked out eleven songs in a week, that we really had down. And so we worked those out and got those tight. And then worked on a bunch of things in rehearsal, you know, with other drummers, and got all of our weak areas pretty tight.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from April 1990

According to RIP in June 1991 the problems with Steven lasted for "almost 18 months" [RIP, June 1991]. This would mean that the problems started in about the beginning of 1989, and if so it would imply that a big reason why the band got little done in the whole of 1989 was due to Steven's issues. This is likely not entirely true, it is clear from quotes in previous chapters that the band also struggled with other member's addictions, with adjusting to fame and wealth, and with Axl's numerous issues.

Slash would also emphasize the problems they had with Steven:

We had recorded all these songs but a lot of situations went on with Steven not being altogether there in the studio. We tried helping him out, we stuck it out with him for like a year, and then it was like `Well, something's got to happen'.

I don't want to say anything against Steven, but we went through so much miscellaneous bullshit. I mean, for years all the other distractions, and with Steven for more than a year alone. Then, all of a sudden, Matt enters the picture. We rehearse 36 songs in a month and record the whole LP, all the basics, in five weeks - I mean all the guitars, bass and acoustical stuff; the vocals took a little longer. When Matt came in, we just went into the studio and did it. Just like that! We were entangled in the biggest procrastination situation you ever heard of.

Here Slash is indicating that Steven held up the production for "more than a year". Although it is likely that Steven did cause significant delays to the process, it is not fair to put the blame entirely on him as discussed above.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:11 am

MARCH 28, 1990

To try to get Steven into sobering up, the band then presented Steven with a probation agreement in which Steven would refrain from drugs. This agreement also reduced his position in the band from "partner" to "employee" and the contract would end after 30 days, basically implying that Steven would have to be re-hired after this period, and put on another employee contract, to continue his job in Guns N' Roses, or, as Axl implies, get his partnership back:

You know, we worked out a contract with [Steven]. He’s going to do the album and, if he doesn’t blow it, then he’s going to do the tour. Then if he doesn’t blow that he’s fully reinstated.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

So then we had a contract made up saying he was no longer a partner if he didn’t get his situation straight. He just kept lying to us, and from my point of view and the other guys, lying to us is a heavy thing.

All I remember, there’s colored paper clips. Doug was saying, “Just sign all the colored paper clips.” All handed on, you know, “Just sign it on.” And I had no idea what I was doing.

According to Steven, the probation agreement was signed a week before their Farm Aid concert [Circus Magazine, October 1991], which would have made it in early April 1990. But from the contract itself, and other sources, we know the date was March 28, 1990 [Associated Press/Vidette Messenger, July 21, 1991; Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit, August 23, 1993].

Putting Steven on probation seems to have worked, at least initially:

No. He is back in the band. […] He was definitely out of the band. He wasn’t necessarily fired. We worked with [former Sea Hags drummer] Adam Maples, we worked with [former Pretenders drummer] Martin Chambers. Then Steven did the Guns N’ Roses thing and got his shit together. And it worked. He did it. And Steven plays the songs better than any of ’em. He’s just bad-assed and he’s GN’R. And so, if he doesn’t blow it, we’re gonna try the album with him... and the tour. […] You know, we worked out a contract with him. He’s going to do the album and, if he doesn’t blow it, then he’s going to do the tour. Then if he doesn’t blow that he’s fully reinstated.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from April 1990

Being asked if they told him to quit drugs or else he'd be fired:

Yeah, exactly. But like, you know, it’s worked out. You know, it's finally back on and we're just hoping that it continues. It's only been a few days. What's today? Saturday? It's only been since Tuesday it was on and he's doing great.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from April 1990

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:11 am

APRIL 7, 1990

The band only played one show in 1990, at the Farm Aid charity festival at Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, on April 7. The band played two songs, debuting Civil War and a cover, Down On The Farm originally by the UK Subs.

Farm Aid IV Poster

When we had played a couple songs to a huge crowd at Farm Aid in April, [Steven] was a mess onstage
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 171

Well, I’ll never forget that moment - it could have been the most embarrassing moment of my life - except for, I don’t really get embarrassed anymore! I mean, I’ve been naked in front of 10,000 people in New Orleans, and that’s got to be the most embarrassing thing that could actually happen to a human being, I mean think about it, and...I thought it was cool and fun, so....but when I tripped on that cymbal, when I jumped up there, if you watch you can see, it fuckin’ woke my ass up! I needed that to happen, if it didn’t that show might have sucked! Obviously I went out there, and we hadn’t played as a band, even in rehearsal, well maybe we did some recording, but we hadn’t rehearsed in a month before that show! And I never played that song, “Down on the Farm” I never even heard it in my life, and we played it, and it came out fucking great, and “Civil War” came out amazing! So it woke me up, and I think it even woke the other guys up. My friend Brooke gave me these bootleg shows, and I watched Farm Aid, and I was smiling when I was up there, I was fuckin’ so happy, ‘cause playin’ is the greatest thing in the world I can’t help but smile when  I play, it’s not even something I think about, my body is happy, my eyes are happy, my mind is happy, and I’m just smilin’!

The last show I ever played with them was over at Farm Aid. And to this day, I never heard the original version of “Down on the farm.” I guess some punk band ( UK Subs) did it, and we’re on stage and all of a sudden Axl goes; “This is a song ‘down on a farm.” And I yelled at Duff: “I go, Duff, Duff, what the fuck is this, how does this go?” And he just clapped his hands and just says; “just do this (clapping hands) boom, boom, boom.” And that song came out so kick ass, because I knew what Duff was gonna play before he played it.  Yeah, each of us knew what we were gonna do before, we were, each of us were gonna do it. And I mean, if somebody was gonna hit a wrong note, which rarely happened, or something, (pauses) we knew it was gonna happen before. It just was so tight.

I was drinking a little bit, but when I fell down, it woke me right up. [...] I’d never heard that song [=Down on the Farm] in my life!

The last show I ever did with them was Live Aid 1990. If you watch that video, I eat shit as I walk up to my drum kit, I was so out of it, though that fall woke me up, I guess that was good, cos we did a great job. The last song I ever played with Guns N Roses was Down on the Farm (UK. Subs) I improvised that whole song.

After Farm Aid, Izzy would have "one of the best rides" of his life when he rode his Harley motorbike back to Los Angeles, through Memphis, New Orleans and Texas [Conspiracy Incorporated, May 1990].

Slash and Axl
April 7, 1990

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:11 am

Use Your Illusion II, 1991, track no. 1.

Written by:
Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan.

Drums: Steven Adler
Bass: Duff
Lead and Rhythm Guitars / Acoustic Guitar: Slash
Vocals: Axl
Piano: Dizzy Reed
Background Vocals: Duff, Dizzy

Live performances:
'Civil War' was played for the first time at Farm Aid (Hoosier Dome), USA, on April 7, 1990. It was played a lot in '91, '92 and '93, but has not been played since then. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, been played {CIVILSONGS} times.

"What we've got here is failure to communicate.
Some men you just can't reach...
So, you get what we had here last week,
which is the way he wants it!
Well, he gets it!
N' I don't like it any more than you men."

Look at your young men fighting
Look at your women crying
Look at your young men dying
The way they've always done before

Look at the hate we're breeding
Look at the fear we're feeding
Look at the lives we're leading
The way we've always done before

My hands are tied
The billions shift from side to side
And the wars go on with brainwashed pride
For the love of God and our human rights
And all these things are swept aside
By bloody hands time can't deny
And are washed away by your genocide
And history hides the lies of our civil wars

D'you wear a black armband
When they shot the man
Who said "Peace could last forever"
And in my first memories
They shot Kennedy
I went numb when I learned to see
So I never fell for Vietnam
We got the wall of D.C. to remind us all
That you can't trust freedom
When it's not in your hands
When everybody's fightin'
For their promised land

I don't need your civil war
It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
Your power hungry sellin' soldiers
In a human grocery store
Ain't that fresh
I don't need your civil war

Look at the shoes your filling
Look at the blood we're spilling
Look at the world we're killing
The way we've always done before

Look in the doubt we've wallowed
Look at the leaders we've followed
Look at the lies we've swallowed
And I don't want to hear no more

My hands are tied
For all I've seen has changed my mind
But still the wars go on as the years go by
With no love of God or human rights
'Cause all these dreams are swept aside
By bloody hands of the hypnotized
Who carry the cross of homicide
And history bears the scars of our civil wars

"We practice selective annihilation of mayors
And government officials
For example to create a vacuum
Then we fill that vacuum
As popular war advances
Peace is closer"

I don't need your civil war
It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
Your power hungry sellin' soldiers
In a human grocery store
Ain't that fresh
And I don't need your civil war
I don't need your civil war
I don't need your civil war
Your power hungry sellin' soldiers
In a human grocery store
Ain't that fresh
I don't need your civil war
I don't need one more war
I don't need one more war
Whaz so civil 'bout war anyway

Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Talking about writing the song:

Basically it was a riff that we would do at soundchecks. Axl came up with a couple of lines at the beginning. And... I went in a peace march, when I was a little kid, with my mom. I was like four years old. For Martin Luther King. And that's when: "Did you wear the black arm band when they shot the man who said: "Peace could last forever"". It's just true-life experiences, really.
Rockline, September 27, 1993

We did manage to get the most of and did some good writing while we were [in Australia in December, 1988]. 'Civil War' was an instrumental that I had written just before we took off for Japan. Axl started writing lyrics to it and we worked it up into a proper song at sound check in Melbourne, first the beginning part then the heavy section. That song came together very quickly.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 259

[...] in toying with riffs and ideas at sound checks in late 1988, we had created a skeletal version of 'Civil War' and now [in 1989, off tour] Axl and I were writing lyrics for it. Memories of marching with my mother as a child provided he inspiration for one section: "Did you wear the black armband / When they shot the man / Who said peace could last forever?"
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 148-149

[Talking about working on songs in Chicago in 1989 without Axl and Izzy]: We did get some work done. We finished 'Civil War' and wrote 'Get In The Ring' and 'Pretty Tied Up,' to name a few.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 151

We'd had the rough framework for 'Civil War' kicking around since that first tour of Australia; I wrote the instrumentals, and Axl had written and revised the lyrics for it several times, but everything fell into place when we brought it out again.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 298-299

When we returned to L.A. [in 1989 for practising for Use Your Illusion], we continued rehearsing exclusively at Bob Mates Studios in North Hollywood. It was during this time that we wrote a song we would eventually title 'Civil War.' It's amazing it was ever completed because on most days, when I would come to rehearsal, Slash and Duff would show up drunk. I would get pissed as hell at the guys. I understood that partying went with rock 'n' roll, but we had a record to do.
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p192

That was actually one of the first songs Axl and I wrote after Appetite. The tour wasn't even finished, Axl heard me playing this acoustic thing and we started rehearsing it with the band in Australia. It was also the first song where we went in the studio with Steven and realised that he wasn't really playing up to par.
Music Radar, September 2011

[Hearing Duff sing on GN'R songs] was a fun thing about some of these shows. Because there's also things like that little line in "Civil War" "Peace could last forever." Duff wrote that line, and he sings it.
Revolver Magazine, May 2014

That was something I just came up with on acoustic and an idea that Axl had, and the two just came together.

Recording the song:

We did 'Civil War' with Steven Adler [...]. And before I could put my guitars on, we had to edit the drums because he was so out of time. He couldn't keep his meter going.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, April 1992

One of the banes of my existence as a keyboard player has always been the fact that bands like to tune down the guitars a half a step. Which I was unaware of when I first went in to work up a song called “Civil War,” which was recorded by the original [Guns N’ Roses] lineup. They asked me to come in and do that. They had an old Yamaha CP80 electric piano that they tuned down a half step. I don’t have perfect pitch, so I didn’t know that we were playing in E flat and they had tuned the whole piano a half step down rather than transposing as some of us do. So after these rehearsals, they called me one night to come in to lay down the track. There was a big Steinway piano set up and the track’s almost done. It’s about two in the morning and I sat down to play it, and Slash, Duff and Axl are all in the control room. Went to play it, and it was all a half step off. Suddenly it all became clear—that they had tuned down the rehearsal piano—or they were playing it in standard [tuning] just to mess with me. So I figured out really quick how to play that song on the black keys.

So Slash comes out with his his guitar and says, ‘Okay, here’s how the song goes.’ And I say, “No, I know the song bro, I’m just trying to figure out how to play it in the right key.’ So he says, ‘What do you need?’ And I say, ‘You know what? A bottle of 151 rum.’ And never having been part of a major recording session, I didn’t realize the turnaround on a request like that. Literally within five minutes there was a bottle of 151 rum sitting on the piano. I took a couple of swigs off that, which is like drinking gasoline, and away we went, and the rest is history.
The HUB, September 2014

A couple years later, Axl would reference Dizzy's story:

And on the keyboards, the man who never knew you could tune a piano down half a step, Mr. Dizzy Fucking Reed!...As he put it, 'The bane of his existence
Buffalo, USA, August 16, 2017

Playing it for the first time at Farm Aid in 1990:

I assumed we'd be playing a couple of our hits, like 'Paradise City' or 'Welcome to the Jungle.' Axl announced, "This is something new we got, called 'Civil War.'". Huh? Although I knew the song, I didn't know that would be the title. So I looked at Duff and I was like, "Dude. What's goin' on?" (...) Although we didn't even have that song completely down and had never rehearsed it with Axl, it played pretty well.
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p.201-202

Comparing the version of Nobody's Child with the version of Use Your Illusion II:

It's the same version, just mixed better. It was ironic in the timing when it came out. When we recorded that, it wasn't in our normal studio. I didn't have a normal amp. It was one of those things where we had to do it because we were doing it for a benefit album, and it was a rush thing. The song was great, but Steven couldn't play. It took two days just to get the drums. That's out of the norm for us. I had to use a rented amp, and I wasn't particularly happy with the sound. Then Clink tried to mix it in a couple of different studios. I wasn't happy with the mix, and we usually don't use Clink to mix. We sat in on the mix, but I couldn't get it right. I don't like the studio. When it came time to use it for our album, we had it mixed by Bill Price, who is awesome.
Guitar, April 1992

[Being asked how 'Civil War' ended up on the benefit album, 'Nobody's Child']: It ended up on the benefit album 'cause Tom Petty called me and asked me, which was really weird, asked me if George Harrison could call me. And then George Harrison called me and we we're talking, and all of a sudden he started talking about his wife flying to Bangladesh… It just… All of a sudden my mind was like, boom… hyper-space, I'm talking to a Beatle. And he was very Beatle-esque talking about Bangladesh [laughs]. It was pretty wild. They asked for the song and the inspiration was… A friend asked me to write a song about just how crazy the world is and certain things and… I just thought it was an interesting subject and just… Slash had this music and it exactly fit what I'd written.
Rockline 1994

Talking about the song:

Riad is the name my one time momentary brother-in-law of Erin Everly went by when I knew him. Of part Lebanese descent and a former student of Pepperdine University he claims to be an international arms dealer, billionaire with ambitions of being "King of the World". He claims to fund several medical organizations and underground Nazi organizations around the world who says his heroes are Napoleon and Adolph Hitler. He claims his most prized asset is his anonymity. He also claims to be an expert in military strategy and was the inspiration for the Guns song Civil War which was written per his request for a song how "people were stupid and he could and he could sell them anything because people love to kill each other." He also claims to be an expert in global finance and money laundering living tax free in Belair last I was aware and claiming to launder monies for wealthy individuals in several countries predominantly Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, with ties to the Bush/Reagan administrations and wherever there's a war in the world at any given moment.
Excerpts from the Chinese Democracy CD liner notes

And the song Civil War is another one [that I enjoy performing the most], too. It’s the first song I ever tracked with Guns N’ Roses [in the studio] and it’s the first time I heard myself on the radio, so I enjoy playing that.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:12 am

The Spaghetti Incident?, 1993, track no. 3.

Written by:
Alvin Gibbs, Charlie Harper and  Nicholas Garrett (U.K. Subs).

Vocals: W. Axl Rose
Lead & Rhythm Guitars: Slash
Rhythm Guitar: Gilby Clarke
Bass: Duff McKagan
Drums: Matt Sorum

Live performances:
'Down On The Farm' was played live for the first time at Farm Aid, on April 7, 1990. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {DOTFSONGS} times.

All I need is some inspiration
Before I do somebody some harm
I feel just like a vegetable
Down here on the farm

Nobody comes to see me
Nobody here to turn me on
I ain't even got a lover
Down here on the farm

They told me to get healthy
They told me to get some sun
But boredom eats me like cancer
Down here on the farm

Drinking lemonade shanty
Ain't nobody here to do me harm
But I'm like a fish out of water
Down here on the farm

I wrote a thousand letters
'til my fingers all gone numb
But I never see no postman
Down here on the farm

I call my baby on the telephone
I say, come down and have some fun
But she knows what the score is
Down here on the farm

I can't fall in love with a wheat field
I can't fall in love with a barn
When everything smells like horseshit
Down here on the farm

Blue skies and swimming pools
Add so much charm
But I'd rather be back in Soho
Than down here on the farm

On the fucking farm!

Are you born in a fucking barn or what?


Hold still

Quotes regarding the song

I would imagine that when we did 'Down On The Farm' we were just doing it for the fun of it. And it was sounding good so we recorded it. And then we went and played it at Farm Aid.
Q, March, 1994

I like "Down On The Farm", it's a good song, with attitude.

My favorite track off “The Spaghetti Incident?” was “Down on the Farm”.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:12 am

APRIL 1990

After the appearance at Farm Aid, the band decided to record the song Civil War to be used on a compilation album [see later chapter]. It is likely the recording of Civil War came abruptly on the band because Axl had previously stated they would not start recording for the new albums before May and had cancelled their previously booked studio (due to Steven's drug issues) [Mick Wall, April 1990] and Slash would later say they didn't use their normal studio:

It's the same version, just mixed better. It was ironic in the timing when it came out. When we recorded that, it wasn't in our normal studio. I didn't have a normal amp. It was one of those things where we had to do it because we were doing it for a benefit album, and it was a rush thing. The song was great, but Steven couldn't play. It took two days just to get the drums. That's out of the norm for us. I had to use a rented amp, and I wasn't particularly happy with the sound. Then Clink tried to mix it in a couple of different studios. I wasn't happy with the mix, and we usually don't use Clink to mix. We sat in on the mix, but I couldn't get it right. I don't like the studio. When it came time to use it for our album, we had it mixed by Bill Price, who is awesome.
Guitar, April 1992

When we recorded [Civil War], it wasn't in our normal studio. I didn't have a normal amp. It was one of those things where we had to do it because we were doing it for a benefit album, and it was a rush thing.

By April 25, it seems the band was working on completing the song for the compilation:

After delivering the funds to Romania, Harrison realized much more was needed and enlisted her husband, who in turn enlisted fellow Traveling Wilburys Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. They recorded a song, "Nobody's Child" (it will be out in a few weeks), and that in turn has led to an all-star charity album to be released by Warner Bros. So far Ringo Starr, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Edie Brickell, Van Morrison, Dave Stewart and Mike + the Mechanics have donated tracks, and there are plans for songs from Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Guns N' Roses.
The Washington Post, April 25, 1990

The band wanted top include movie quotes and Howard Teman would later explain how his VCR was used to get the Cool Hand Luke quotes onto the recording:

Do you know the beginning of... I don't know the saying, "Well, it looks here like we got a failure to communicate." [...] I was sitting in my little apartment, the one you were talking about on Orange above... behind the Chinese Theatre, and I get a call and it's Axl. And Axl goes, "Hey Howard, you got a VCR?" and I said, "Sure," it was, "Bring it down to Rumble Studios," no, no, this is at the Record Plant, and, "Can you bring it down?" "Fuck yeah." So I brought down my $200 Foster VCR that i bought on Hollywood Boulevard and they plugged it all in and they put in Cool Hand Luke and recorded that off of my little VCR. How's that for a little stupid useless trivia?

And talking about getting food while being with the band at the Record Plant:

The one thing i totally remember about that day is that, you know, besides hearing that song [=Civil war], you know, I heard it the day that it was being recorded, and, you know, with the big studio speakers and it just sounds bigger, everyone's like, "Wow! This is a fucking badass song!" But the thing that impressed me more than that is they said, "Are you guys hungry?" and I said, "Yeah." Axl got on the phone and the biggest tray of sushi I ever saw in my life came, with everything on it, and i'm going, "God, these guys are huge rockstars." I couldn't believe it. I know it sounds stupid but it was like, "Wow!" It was probably like $300 worth of sushi and at that time...

Duff would later talk about pangs of nervousness knowing this would be the first new song the audiences would hear from the band after the massive success of Appetite:

There was a couple of times [we felt the pressure], like, you know, you can't let your head get into the music. And there's definitely a... it's easier said than done. But there was a couple of times I think when we were recording early on in those Illusion sessions. So Civil War recorded with Steven. I was like, because we'd sold so many records on Appetite, I'm like, "A million people are gonna hear this one bass pluck. And the next one after that." So you're getting into your head and you have to not allow that to happen at all.

For the recording of Civil War, Dizzy from the band The Wild would be invited to add keyboards. When Dizzy first started working with Guns N' Roses he still went with his artist name Dizzy Zin [Kerrang! May 1990], but would soon drop the Zin for his real last name, Reed. Dizzy would later explain how he had been contacted by Axl at a time when he was about to be vacated from his apartment since he couldn't pay the rent:

Having a keyboard player in the band was something they talked to me about a long time ago. I never really thought it would happen. I go "Dude I'm starving. As of tomorrow I'll have no phone, no apartment, no food, no nothing and if you guys need to know where to get a hold of me I can't tell you where I'm gonna be.

I explained to [Axl], I don’t live anywhere. I don’t have a phone. I’m living on people’s couches, just like you used to.

Well, financial hardships doesn't begin to describe it. We were on Skid Row. I think I was way past the point of caring at that time. I mean, we were pretty deep into it and I just, you know, I wasn't gonna give up. I wasn't gonna turn around. I wasn't gonna... So yeah, I would have stuck it out no matter what. But yeah, I was at my ex wife's place. And she had just moved into this new place. And I got a call. Somehow they tracked me down. They needed to be in the studio to record Civil War. I hadn't really talked to them, you know, in a few months at that point. But I kind of got this, "Where where are you? I can't get ahold of you." And that's when I said, "I don't live anywhere. I'm living on people's couches," that mean that, just like, you know, we all used to do. And I think that kind of put some sort of awareness into my situation. Anyway, I did go down to the studio. I did record it and I guess it was about a week later I got a call. I ended up moving into this other apartment where this girl moved out. There's a month left on the lease. I was just going to, you know, squat there. And I ended up getting a phone call from Del James, actually, saying, "Congratulations, you're in Guns N' Roses!" And yeah, that was pretty cool. And I read it in the LA Weekly later that week. It said, the girl said, it was like a little blurb, you know, and it said, "Dizzy, Izzy and Slash in the same band." And she liked that.

In 2018, when asked what his favorite moment in GN'R had been, Dizzy would mention the recording of Civil War:

I’d say Civil War, because that was the first song I played with the band and the first time I heard myself on the radio. But I had the triumvirate from hell in the control room – which was Slash, Duff and Axl – telling me what I should do, all at once. But I made it through.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:13 am

APRIL 1990

But Steven was worse for wear despite being on probation:

We did 'Civil War' with Steven Adler [...]. And before I could put my guitars on, we had to edit the drums because he was so out of time. He couldn't keep his meter going.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, April 1992

The first thing we wanted was a fluid drum take. Bass and drums always got done quickly in the early days. I hardly ever had to do bass fixes because Steven and I were so solid as a rhythm section. But when we had tried to lay down the basic tracks for 'Civil War,' producer Mike Clink and I had to patch together the drum tracks from dozens of inadequate takes-by hand, as this was before editing made that sort of thing much easier.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 163

The problems with recording the drum tracks for 'Civil War' would be mentioned by Slash and Duff in more interviews [Guitar for the Practising Musician, April 1992].  As Slash would say it, "[Steven's] chops were all over the place" [Musician, December 1990]. And Axl would allegedly claim Steven had been falling from his drums while recording and that the drums on 'Civil War' had been remixed 90 different times [O Globo, January 16, 2001].


Steven would later claim he he struggles in the studio was due to him suffering from the side-effects of opiate blockers he had taken two weeks earlier:

I asked the guys, 'Please, can we wait until next week-end when I wouldn't be so sick?' […] They gave me such a hard time. They kept accusing me—saying I'm high—and they knew I was sick from medicine I got from a doctor.

[...] Doug Goldstein (band manager) took me to this doctor, the doc gave me this thing called an opiate blocker, and it works by making you violently sick if you take any opiates. You can absolutely not take it if you have any trace of heroin in your system, because you can die. Now I did have, they put this injection in my buttocks and I have never felt pain like that, I can still remember it now, I was so sick, I will never forget that needle in my ass. I was sick for 6 weeks, and during that time, Slash called up and said that they were in the studio recording Civil War, and I had to get down there. I said shit, man, I can't, he said, but we can't waste the money, so I got up and went and I was so weak and sick that I had to play the song 25 times if not more, Slash and Duff got fucked up, I was not, but I was so sick. I never said nothing bad, I love those guys, Guns n' Roses was always the five of us. This was something that Axl wanted, there was a whole plan to get rid of me. Then Izzy cleaned up and couldn't stay with them because of the drugs, it hurts me so bad that I didn't play on the Use Your Illusions, if you listen to Civil War it sounds like a totally different band to the rest.

As for 'Civil War', I had to play it like 25 times until it was useable. My timing was so up and down because I was so weak. The whole time I kept telling the guys, 'I don't feel good, I'm really down,' and they kept saying, 'You're just fucked up', 'I'm not fucked up,' I was sick from an opiate blocker I got from a doctor that [manager] Doug Goldstein took me to. I think he knew what effect it would have on me...I wanted to wait another week or so before we went in to the studio to record. Slash says that we couldn't waste the money, and we had to do it that day. They all knew I was sick... It's a great song, it came out great, but I'm sure had I not been in the position that they put me in I would have nailed it in one take. Slash called me on a Thursday, knowing that I was sick, and said, 'We're going in the studio this weekend.' I said, 'Dude, you know I can't go, I'm sick from this bullshit medication.' He said, 'We can't waste the money,' and I said, 'Don't even tell me about wasting money, we know somebody who wasted plenty of fucking money!' If one of them was sick, it would have been postponed! We just weren't a team anymore.

[…] the bottom line was Slash calls me up he says, "We're going in the studio and record Civil War". And a week before then, I said, "Okay", you know they're giving me crap about the drugs, it's okay, manager took me to the doctor, he gave me this opiate blocker but you're not supposed to take an opiate blocker when you have opiates in your body, right? The doctor didn't tell me. He gives me an opiate blocker. I'm sick for six weeks. If I had to go to bathroom I had to crawl. It was that bad. And he calls me, Slash, "We got to go in but you're just messed up," and....[…]  I got to the studio. I just was so sick I had.... I couldn't... I had no timing cuz I was so weak and dizzy. […] but Slash is all, "We can't waste the money" and I'm "Don't even go there with 'waste money' cuz there is one other person we know who is very good at that."
Steven's biography

I heard them say that I was very weak and it took, like, about 25-30 times to play the song, and they are really, really frustrated with me.

When I got to the top, my best friend Slash kicked me in the head and I was like, “what the hell am I going to do now?” They were like, “you’re getting too fucked up”, and at that time, I wasn’t fucked up from the drugs. It was from a drug the doctor gave me. The manager took me to the doctor and I was on an opiate blocker. If you do heroin, you don’t get high, but you can’t take the heroin if you take the blocker in your system. So, he gives me this and I couldn’t even get out of bed or eat. If I had to go to the bathroom I had to crawl. Slash calls me and says “we are going into the studio to finish Civil War” and said we could not waste the money. I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Slash and I both lived in Laurel Canyon. We'd call each other up and ask if the other had any money. For a month I’d get out $300 a day, then give Slash $200 of it. He’d give me a piece of heroin that was the size of a little pebble. He’d have a piece the size of a [significantly larger] 50-cent piece - I was so naive. After about a month, this one day came along when I didn’t do heroin and I was sick as a dog. I couldn’t understand it, so I called the manager [Doug Goldstein], who took me to a doctor that gave me an opiate blocker. I didn’t know that you couldn’t take opiate blockers with opiates in your system. It only made me worse. I literally had to crawl to the bathroom. [...] Slash called me to say we had to go into the studio to record Civil War. I was so sick, I just couldn’t do it. He said it was booked and we couldn’t afford to waste the money. I told him we both knew of somebody who’d wasted way more cash than one day in the studio. Anyway, I went in there and tried to play the song 20, maybe 30 times. But I was so weak, my timing was like a rollercoaster. Every time we played it back they’d all shout at me, ‘You’re fucked up’. Then every two seconds they would go off to the bathroom and do coke.

One day I just went, 'This isn't cool. I don't wanna do this anymore.' And I didn't realize that if you're doing heroin and then you stop doing it, you get violently sick — violently sick. Like, the inside of your bones ache — the inside of your every bone, it aches so bad and you just wanna die. And I called my manager and I said, 'Dude, I'm so fucking sick. I don't understand what's going on.' So he came and picked me up, he took me to this doctor, and the doctor gave me an opiate blocker. Well, you're not supposed to take an opiate blocker while you have opiates in your system or you get even more violently sick.

Three days go by, and I'm calling a doctor and I'm going, 'What the fuck did you do to me?' And, like, four days go by, and Slash called and said, 'Well, we're going in the studio to record 'Civil War'.' And I said, 'Dude, I'm so sick. Please, can we just wait one more week? I'm so sick.' And he said, 'We can't waste the money. We've gotta do this song.' So I go in at A&M Records to record, and I'm so weak and sick. And I did my best, but I had to play, like, 25 times. So they were getting frustrated. And I kept telling them, 'I'm sick.' And they kept saying, 'No, you're not. You're just fucked up.' And I said, 'I'm not fucked up. I'm sick.' And I got kicked out.

According to the quote below, Steven had just started heroin, yet still wanted to get off it, and wasn't aware how sick he would get:

I wanted to get off heroin and, because I just started doing it with the guys. And I didn’t know you got sick. The first day I got sick I called up my manager and I said; “dude, I don’t what the fuck is going on, but I feel sick.” And (pauses) he took me to this doctor and this doctor gave me an opiate blocker. But you can’t take an opiate blocker when you’re on heroin. And then if you did do heroin, nothing would happen. But you can’t take it until you’re completely off the heroin. And I got completely, so sick, and they wanted to go in and record “Civil War.” I said: “Slash dude, I’m so sick I can’t do it right now.” And he said; “We can’t waste the money, we got to do it now!” I said dude; “Don’t even tell me about wasting money, we know one other person who is wasting SO much fucking money, we can wait another week.”

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:13 am

APRIL 1990

It didn’t hit me until I read something in LA Weekly that said ‘Izzy, Dizzy, and Slash in the same band.' Well, that didn’t last long!

As discussed previously, Dizzy Reed from the Wild had been invited to contribute with keyboards on the band's recording of Civil War in April 1990. A few days after the recording Dizzy was contacted and told him he was in the band:

Basically, they fuckin' saved my life.

I was doing this thing called “the couch tour” and it was like getting (?), I was, like, squatting in this apartment. And I had, like, one day left, and the phone was getting turned off, and they’re gonna make sure that, you know, we always have your number. And I was just like, I had no money, no food, nothing to drink; like, there’s no furniture in this joint, right? Finally, I got ahold of Axl and go, “Dude, man, it’s like, tomorrow there’s not gonna be a place to get ahold of me.” Quite frankly, man, I was starting to give up hope, you know, on the L.A. scene and the L.A. life. It’s just like it’d be really tough. […] The next day I got a call, and he said, “Dude, congratulations, you’re in the band.” […] I said, “Let me sleep on that." (laughs). […] I think that all it has to do is just a hope. You can’t give up hope, and you can’t give up your dreams. […] Giving up is too easy, you know. It’s something I always wanted. I never actually thought that I would be in the band, you know. But, I mean, six years later, here I am.

He gave me an opportunity when he didn't have to, and he stuck to his word when he really didn't have to. I'll always appreciate that. I remember that and I just try to give back 100 percent.

Within a couple of days, I got another call saying, 'Congratulations, you’re in Guns N’ Roses,’ and I was on a salary.

Later, Dizzy would say it was Del James who had called him:

It was definitely a pinch-myself-every-once-in-a-while situation to see if I was dreaming. But it I had known them before they even got signed and Axl had talked about having me in the band from very early on and then to watch them become so gigantic, I was always wondering if it was really going to happen. But he’s a man of his word and when they were ready to start tracking those songs and those albums he called me and I got a phone call a couple of days later from Del James who was putting together the press release and said ‘Congratulations, you’re in Guns N’ Roses.’

Axl would announce that the band had got a new members, a keyboard player, in early 1990 in an interview with Kerrang!'s Mick Wall:

But here is new news. There is a new member of GN’R. […] Erm, a guy named Dizzy. […] Dizzy. D-I-Z-Z-Y. […] We just call him Dizzy. But he’s the sixth member of Guns N’ Roses. He’s our keyboard player and piano player. […] He was in a band out here called The Wild. And he used to be our next-door neighbour. He was actually asked to join three or four years ago. But the very same day that we decided we were gonna ask Dizzy to join the band he was in a car wreck and had his hand smashed, so he had to get pins and stuff put in it. Then he came into rehearsal a few months ago and played three songs that he’d never heard before, songs that we didn’t even plan having piano in, that were heavy metal. But he put heavy metal piano into it, you know? And it was amazing. […] So the other day, Monday, I found out he was going to be put out on the streets... no, it was a Sunday night. So I called Alan on Monday and I said, secure this guy, hire him, write up the contracts. Put him on salary and give him an advance so he can get an apartment. So now we have a piano player...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

As stated above, Axl had planned to have Dizzy in the band for some time:

[After Appetite hit it big] [Axl] said 'Our long-term plan is to have a keyboard player and it's going to be you.' I ran into him a little later, and he said 'It's almost time; be ready.'

In 1990 I joined Guns N' Roses when they decided to add a keyboard player.  I had known Axl and actually the whole band for a long time, like five years.  Axl would always tell me when they added a keyboard player that I was going to be the guy.  And when it was time, he found me, tracked me down, and said, "Its time to do it."

[...] we met in Hollywood when I first moved there and... [Axl] just liked the way I played the piano. At the time, in the 80s, most of the keyboard players that were playing at the time were kind of classically-trained and you know... they were good but they would not have fitted in with Guns N' Roses songs. And I think he realized that I would be able to play and add something that would raise the songs.

My old band and (GNR) used to live next to each other. And when I saw them play live, I thought: 'I'm going to join that f--- band. They need me!' (I later learned) it was Axl's idea, his vision for the band to grow in that way. It was something (he had planned) before the band even got signed. He was eventually going to put a keyboard player in the band, and it was going to be me.

Well, I'd been friends with and known, you know, the guys since before they got their their record deal. I was in another band, we lived next door to each other in Hollywood and Axl heard me play one night and and he said, you know, "I wanna"... he had a a master vision, the master plan, for the band, before they got signed and that was to evolve that way. And he told me, [?] he goes, "We have like an acoustic record or EP and then, you know, the big record," "then the acoustic record," sorry, "and then we are going to do a double album and add a keyboard player and it's going to be you". And he stuck to his word.

With GNR, I knew that Axl always wanted to add a keyboard player. There were keyboard players around L.A., but they were doing a different sort of thing—more like classically based music. Not so much blues based. I think I might have been one of the few guys in town who was doing that at the time. Axl heard me play while I was still with The Wild and I think it was sort of a relief that someone was still doing that. So he told me, ‘When we add a keyboard player you’re going to be that guy.’

I gotta give Axl credit for all that, man, you know, he wanted me in band and I think he saw that I really wanted to be a part of the band and [...] But Axl I think saw how badly I wanted it and wanted to be a part of the band and wanted to add to it. I give him all the credit for that and I'm happy to be, you know, if not the first guy, one of the first guys to actually be on stage, be a part of the band and hopefully I opened the door for the other keyboard players that came after me. We add to the music when we can and I think it's always an important part of it and that's cool, let's drink more beer.

You know, Axl and I became, you know, pretty close. And, you know, we had a lot of fun, had a lot of adventures, a lot of mishaps, a lot of crazy, crazy stuff. But he heard me play the piano one night and I think he, you know, he said - because he had, you know, a plan in his head, a long term plan about adding a keyboard player at some point - and he heard me play and he said, "You're going to be the guy in the future."

In 2010, Steven would be asked about the direction of the band after he was fired and say the original plan had to be to include a keyboard player called Howard:

I would’ve okayed the one keyboard player, but it wouldn’t have been that jackoff [Axl’s] got. It would’ve been a friend of ours named Howard; that was the whole plan, anyway, that was the only change we were going to make. But it was going to be kinda like the Aerosmith keyboard player, off to the side. Put a mask on him or something [laughs].

It is possible this person was Howard Teman who would play percussion on Lies and also play piano on So Fine.

Being asked if Axl had wanted him on Appetite:

Not really, but when... They did like a short tour at one point and asked if I could, you know, join them. Just around California and stuff, but I got into a car accident and broke my thumb. I got hit by a drunk driver out of the 210. Going out to this girl's house for like homemade Mexican food and I was really excited and almost died. [...] It was really, really bad.

1991 (?)

Regarding the challenge of joining Guns N' Roses:

To me it’s just as anything else. I just looked at it as another challenge. And it’s like, if I can pull this off, I could definitely do anything (chuckles).

Looking back at joining the band:

When I came along it was already to the point of flying on a chartered jet everywhere. So I skipped the whole bus thing and went straight to the plane. It was literally like one day I was living my life-long dream to be in a big, giant, touring rock band. I was having a blast, there’s no question about that.

It was kind of like my dreams came true, finally. Back then, myself and all the other musicians I knew, it’s what we were trying to do. I knew the guys in Guns N’ Roses from before they had their success and everything. When I got asked to join the band is was very gratifying and very cool. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane flying all over the world for the next three years playing huge rock concerts. It was pretty awesome.

They were pretty much the biggest band going at the time. I literally went from the Whisky A Go-Go on Thursday nights to flying around the world. [...] I remember at one point, we were about three years into the ‘Use Your Illusion’ tour,” I was sitting around with some of the crew guys, and they’re telling bus stories. It came to me, and they’re like, ‘Dizzy, got any good bus stories?’ And I started laughing, like, ‘I’ve never been on a tour bus.’

I think that the band just wanted to expand their horizons  and be able to play a greater variety of music than they did when they started out.  The keyboards just give the band an added dimension.

I gotta give them all the credit for, you know, and Axl especially, again, for, you know, inviting me to be a part of this. He didn't have to do that. But I'm a strong believer in there are situations where I think, you know, you create your own luck. Like a lot of people say, "Yeah, you were lucky" but I knew those guys like five years before that. I could have been a dick to them. But I saw them playing like, "God, I want to be in that band." So I did whatever I had to do to make that [...].

In a press release from Geffen in 1991, it was said that Dizzy was included to "give some additional color to the sound" [Geffen Press Release, September 1991].


Getting Dizzy in the band was obviously Axl's decision and not enthusiastically appreciated by the rest of the band:

…Another thing Axl had been working on. One day Dizzy came down to our rehearsal. He must have had a terrible time, 'cos everyone ignored him for two weeks. I tried to be friendly. I'd say: 'Hey man, how's it going? I don't know what we're doing either! We've just been in this studio for the last two years and we're supposed to be making a record or something. By the way, do you have a keyboard?' - 'cos the guy didn't even own a fuckin' instrument. After a few weeks I said to him: 'Hey man, seeing as we're Guns N' Roses, maybe someone can lend you a keyboard or we can get you an endorsement or something'. In fact, the guy's turned out to be a really cool addition.

You know, some of the guys really weren't keen on the idea of having me, you know, in the band, I think. They made it a little difficult for me. I wouldn't call it a hazing or or pranks or anything because those are kind of fun, sometimes you look back... But I wasn't going anywhere. Eventually we all became, you know, good friends.

Slash would admit to giving Dizzy a hard time:

I had to get used to the idea. At first I thought, "We don't need no stinking keyboards!", and I really gave Dizzy a hard time. He was the new guy, and I would be like, "You screwed up there. Just don't play." Now he's really part of the band and I love him to death. But he probably remembers how bad it was at first. […] Now, I think the keyboards are great, especially live. They give as many more expressive options.

Later, Dizzy would look back at this:

From what I remember - and trust me, it was a long time ago and many, many vodkas and beers ago - a lot of people had a hard time accepting I was in the band. They were gigantic when I joined. Some people thought I was just going to be a passing thing. Whether or not the other guys at the time were into it, I don't know. But now they're gone, and I'm still here.

I think when you make up your mind that you want to do this for a living, you can’t be intimidated or you won’t make it. I think maybe a couple of the guys in the band at the time, at first, didn’t really agree with having a keyboard player, but I’m very, very determined. I think they saw that, and they saw that I could add a lot to the band. After a few shows everyone sort of realized it was going to be pretty cool having me around.

When I joined they were already very successful, and I felt awkward at times, as I was trying to fit in. A lot of times I didn't feel like I did fit in, although eventually I got there [...].


The band would formally tell their fan base that Dizzy was in the band in May 1990 through the official fan club newsletter, but say that he was "employed" and that he might "become a full-time member" [Conspiracy Incorporated, May 1990].

There are signs indicating that Dizzy may not have been considered a band member of equal stature as the rest of the guys. Izzy's story above about how Dizzy had been given a cold shoulder at the first rehearsals attests to that. Whereas Matt, who would join the band a few months later, was quickly embraced, other band members seemed more lukewarm towards Dizzy. When Duff mentioned how they would rehearse for the Rock in Rio shows, he mentioned Matt but not Dizzy [Special TV, 1991]. And when Duff was talking about how the Rock in Rio gigs would be the debut for Matt, Dizzy was mentioned almost in a side-sentence [Special TV, 1991].

The difference in how Dizzy and Matt was welcome can probably be explained by Axl thrusting Dizzy upon the rest of the band members while Matt was Slash and Duff's choice, and disagreement on whether they really needed a keyboard player.

Being asked if Dizzy was brought in to add a dimension to their music, Slash would answer:

No, we just did cuz we wrote the songs that way. You know?

In July 1991, the journalist Nick Kent who wrote an article for VOX that was released in October, and who hung out with the band backstage before their July 19 show at Mountain View in California, would comment that Dizzy "still looks a bit lost in the midst of it all" [VOX, October 1991].

Around the same time Slash would deny Dizzy being a fully-fledged members of the band because he hadn't been in the band long enough (yet say that Matt was, despite having been in the band for about equally long), and also imply that bringing in Dizzy had been all Axl's idea:

Dizzy’s more - and Axl might disagree with me here - but Dizzy’s an old friend, somebody that we’ve known for a long time, since Guns started, and he was the kind of player that Axl wanted. His style was what Axl wanted for the piano stuff


In May 1991, Dizzy would talk about fitting in the band:

I'm lucky enough that Axl has a really good... You know, he wrote a lot of the songs on piano and stuff, so he has a really good concept of keyboards in music and whatnot. And to me it’s just as anything else. I just looked at it as another challenge. And it’s like, if I can pull this off, I could definitely do anything (chuckles).

And he would later say that some of the band members weren't "ready to hear keyboards yet":

When I joined Guns N’ Roses, some of the guys weren’t ready to hear keyboards yet. At that time I was doing what I always wanted to do: I was keeping it very organic-sounding—something you really couldn’t do in the ‘80s. They thought it made things sound “dated.”

In May 1993, while being interviewed on a boat together with Matt and Duff, Dizzy would be asked how he had been fitting into the band:

Well, it’s been three years now. I think if I hadn’t settled in I probably wouldn’t be on this boat.

Yet Slash would refer to him as "the sucker in the bunch":

When we got really f**ked up [at the 'Use Your Illusion' tour], we'd party in Dizzy's room. He was like the sucker in the bunch - you know how there's one in every band? [laughing] We'd all party and charge it to Dizzy's mini-bar tab!

Although this sounds somewhat mean-spirited, Slash would work with Dizzy in 1994 for Dizzy's solo album, indicating they had become good enough friends or colleagues.

To add more to the band, Dizzy also started to learn percussion:

Matt Sorum, the drummer at the time, he had a deal with LP [Latin Percussion] at the time, and they brought down some congas and he said ‘Here,’ and put them in my corner. I started just beating on them and basically taught myself how to do that in a very short period of time. I definitely wanted to add something to the music. But I didn’t want to just be like a monkey beating on a drum. So I listened to a lot of older rock that had percussion on it and tried to emulate that. I worked on fitting it in where it would serve some sort of purpose.

Looking back at joining the band:

I had been living on people’s couches for five years, just out here (in Los Angeles) trying to make it happen. I had met everyone in Guns N’ Roses and became friendly with them long before they got their first record deal.

When I did get the call, it was magic. The realities of what it takes to play music on that level sank in real quick. It was a very exciting time to be in Hollywood, to join a band at the peak of the whole music scene. It was one of those fairy tales.


As Dizzy started recording his parts for Guns N' Roses' next albums (Use Your Illusion I and II), he would also secretly use the studio at night to record tracks for the band he had left, The Wild:

I was down at A&M tracking basics for the Use Your Illusion albums during the day. I didn’t have a car, so I would take a cab out to the Valley to some studio out there late at night to record stuff for The Wild, help them finish their record. … I wanted to do whatever I could to help them. Guns N’ Roses didn’t know — maybe until now.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Tue Jan 30, 2024 10:10 pm; edited 25 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:14 am


Darren Arthur Reed was born on June 18, 1963, in Hinsdale, Illinois [Loudwire, August 26, 2015]. Hinsdale is a western suburb of Chicago. He moved to Boulder near Denver, Colorado, when he was eight years old:

I was born in Chicago, grew up in Colorado and now I live in Southern California.

I grew up [in Boulder], I was born in Chicago. My family moved to Boulder when I was eight, so I could sort of have like a dual allegiance.

At some point, likely as a child, he wanted to be an archaeologist or a journalist [The Metalist, March 7, 2018].

His family loved music:

You know, I grew up in a house where no one else in my house really played an instrument, but they loved music, there was always music on.

My parents were always listening to music. They loved music. My dad and mom had a big record collection. My dad listened a lot to Neil Diamond. He got into rock in the seventies, when the band Boston came out with their first record. He fell in love with the song “More Than a Feeling.” He used to crank that song.

My musical influences are, you know, it's... The very first thing I could think of is probably Booker T and the MG's, I think, because I was starting to learn how to play the organ and I was getting into pop and rock music at that time, I was probably like eight or nine years old.

He was taught to play organ by his grandmother and formed his first band at age six [Glam Metal, August 18, 2004].

I started a band when I started playing in sixth grade, we did the prom and stuff like that. [...] We were kind of the novelty act. We knew "Freebird."

My grandparents lived with us, like in an apartment upstairs, and my grandma had an organ. And my brother now go beat on that and make noise just for fun. And one day I went up there by myself and she asked me if I would like to learn how to play a song, because I loved listening to her play. And I watched her play like a Christmas, Silent Night or something, and I played it back. So she saw that I had this like talent, this ear for music. And so she kind of nurtured that.

I started playing when I was really young, like 6 or 7. My grandma had an organ which I started playing on, and soon after I realized that the instrument was very cool in rock and roll. I was 11 or 12 when I formed my first band. It was called 'Hairy Bananas.' Yeah, from 'Hairy Bananas' to 'Hookers & Blow.' [=Dizzy's side band in 2005]

I’ve been in bands pretty much since I was, I don’t know, 11. I started playing bars and stuff when I was a kid.

For rock music, it’s not the greatest place to start. It worked out for me—there were still a lot of the classic rock bands [using keyboards] like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep at the time. My grandma had a Lowrey organ that I started playing when I was real little. About the same time I began listening to rock music. I listened to Booker T. and the MGs and put the two things together, thinking ‘I can actually do that someday.’

I was eight years old. My grandmother lived in the apartment above us, and she taught me to play organ. She played a song one night and said, ‘Why don’t you try it?’ When I played it back, she knew I had talent, and she kinda nurtured that. Then I started getting into pop and rock music. My dad had a big record collection, and one of those records was Soul Limbo.

He put that on one day and I said, ‘Aha! That’s the same instrument that I know how to play. I know how to play rock music now!’ That was the turning point in my life, when I discovered I could play in a band. I didn’t want to work nine-to-five. My whole life – since I was ten – I’ve been in a band. By the time we were twelve, we were playing for money. I don’t know much else.

When I was 10 years old I started playing in front of people and I formed my first band and we took it on the road and we started making money and all that by the time we're 11 to 12 years old. [...] my first band was called - we went through a few name changes - the initial name was The Hairy Bananas and we had t-shirts and the whole thing, but we grew out of that rather quickly [laughter] and we settled on Bootleg. Bootleg was the name for our band. [...] We wrote songs, we tried writing songs anyway. I think I wrote a song about Christmas called the Noel Jive. I don't remember how it goes. I'll never remember how it goes, so don't ask [laughs]. [...] We would go out on the weekends and play like out in places in Nebraska and Kansas and Wyoming. I grew up in Colorado, up in the mountains. We played Keggers, parties for bikers and stuff.

My grandparents lived in an apartment upstairs from us, and I'd go up there after school and just goof around, beat on an organ, my brother and I would make much noise. And one day she asked me to learn how to play a song and I watched her play and I played it back. So that's... she kind of saw that I had a talent. And then, yeah, so I was getting into rock and pop music. My dad put on Booker T and the MG, "Now, wait a second, I know how to play that instrument!" So I kind of made that connection. And I started my own first band when I was 10. And I started getting into like, Deep Purple, John Lord especially, Lynyrd Skynyrd - Billy Powell is an amazing piano player, and all the guys that played with the Stones, man, they're all amazing. Especially the 70s stones.

You know, I started playing when I was like 12 years old, started my first band, and I was always the singer for that band sort of by default because no one else could sing. The first show we did ever, we played Smoke on the Water [laughs]. Had a talent shows in the 6th grade and I had this little synthesizer thing. We wanted that to be featured so they gave me the only microphone. And we were all singing but since I had a mic they could hear me sing and so I became a singer. I did that till I was 20 but I kind of got burnt out on it and I, you know, been playing keys the whole time as well and I figured I might have a better shot as a keyboard player. There would be like more of a demand and I think I made a good choice. But, you know, singing was always sort of something I can add to the music if it if possible.

Talking about taking piano lessons, sort of:

I never really took lessons. I know when my parents, when I convinced my folks that I was serious about being in a band and playing keyboards and singing, I think - just to sort of make themselves feel a little bit better - my mom started taking me to piano lessons. But I wouldn't practice the lesson, I'd come back the next week, you know, I'd go home and I'd start, you know try to learn Zeppelin or some Stones song or something, and I'd go to my lesson the next week and I'd play it back and she go, "Oh my God, you must have practiced all week." And I never even looked at it. The weird thing is like, it's good... and later on I took some theory and it got some structure and it helped a lot and everybody should take that, but I just wanted to jump into the fun stuff right away. [...] So I never really took lessons. I was fortunate enough to be around some very talented people when I was younger and along the way and that, you know, I could learn from. It's like, you unlock certain little secrets and then, you know, everything makes sense after a while.

In 2014, Dizzy would look back at his late grandmother and tell how she had approved of his career choice:

I remember one of our last conversations. She couldn’t speak very well at that point. She was in a hospital and had a picture that was in one of the rock magazines hanging up on the wall. She pointed to it and gave me the thumbs-up.

I don’t think she had seen my tattoos yet; I’d put on long sleeves.

Dizzy would also talk about his supportive parents:

They were very supportive, but I think they thought it would just pass, you know. But I stuck with it and they never stopped supporting, they never stopped backing me up, they're always behind me 100%. I'm really lucky to have had such cool parents. And, you know, I got to give my brother a lot of credit too, because I've got an older brother, Rob, and he - in addition to supporting me - he also turned me on to a lot of cool music that I might not have, you know, discovered.

And at school:

I was deceptively quiet, and just wanted to get it over with. My band was my identity. School was just something I had to go through.


I joined [Gauntlet] when I was like 20. My first band, we were together from the time we were 10 years old till we were like 20 years old and then we broke up and so everyone else kind of went their separate ways. And I started looking for a new band and I saw this band play in Denver, they're called Gauntlet at the time. They're opening for Ratt and all the girls were screaming and all the guys were sitting down and booing. I went, "I want to join that band!"

Talking about how he got into Gauntlet:

And the weirdest thing, man, is, like, I was working for my dad at the time. He got this grocery store and this guy that lived in Denver got a job there and he started talking about that band and I'm like, "You know those guys?" And he's like, "Yeah, I went to school with the drummer." So he introduced me and I ended up, you know, joining their band and moving out to LA with them.


In 1984, Dizzy moved to Los Angeles but ran out of money and moved back to Denver, yet returned to Los Angeles again for good in 1985 [Sirius XM Trunk Nation, May 7, 2018; Glam Metal, August 18, 2004].

Came in '84. Ran out of money. Moved back, joined The Wild. Came back '85 to stay.

It was all about finding the next big thing and Los Angeles was the hot spot at that point in time. That's where you had to go. Everyone ended up in L.A. at some point in time and most of the bands chose to come out here and conquer the club scene and show the record companies they were the next big thing. There was an insane energy but a lot of people kind of took the wrong direction. It was also a self-destructive time period.

I came out here with the best band in Colorado at that time. [...] They were called Gauntlet. We eventually changed our name to The Wild.

Gauntlet would quickly play the clubs in Hollywood:

Oh, we jumped in right away. I think we did our first show at the Troubadour, just we had to find a bass player first because our bass player's is wife wouldn't let him come back to LA. I don't know why. but So, yeah, we found a bass player and then we were playing the Troubadour pretty quickly. And we've worked hard. You know, back then if you worked hard and and if you weren't a dick and you were good, you know, you could work your way up the ladder pretty quickly. And I think we did.

We started gigging like right away. We needed a bass player. We found a bass player. But yeah, I mean, basically when I joined that, when I auditioned for that band, sort of, I just came down and recorded with them and the singer said, "When can you go to LA? When can you be ready?" And I said, "Now. I'm ready to go down." So that was how I knew I had the gig. [...] You know, we were the the biggest thing in Denver and moved out here and it's like a rude awakening because all the great bands from their own hometowns were in LA. So- [...] And then you have to work your way back up again. So, I mean, our first gig was like a Tuesday night at the Troubadour. At 9 slot, you know? But it changed pretty fast. We worked hard.

Talking about their music:

We were definitely a pop band at first. And then we sort of transitioned into more of a rock band, I think. And then we kind of we found this groove that was very sort of danceable. You know, I wanna say punk rock, but there was a groove there and I think that sort of took off. I think we were like one of the first bands to really sort of find that niche.

And recording with The Wild:

We actually were in the studio a couple times, but, yeah, those those fell through. I'm not exactly sure why, but yeah.


Gauntlet either changed name to The Wild, of Dizzy left Gauntlet for The Wild. It was while he was playing in The Wild that he started going by "Dizzy":

When I was with my former band, The Wild, I used to go by ‘DZ’ and just to mess with me they used to call me Dizzy. I started answering to it just to keep them from messing with me. As it turns out, it’s probably the most appropriate nickname for me.

When I first moved to L.A. hair metal and pop were pretty much the dominant thing, and if you heard any keyboard it was usually on a ballad or an intro. It was usually a DX7 [Yamaha synth] or something like that. Most of the bands, producers and fans would say that keyboards made the song sound dated. But my dad always told me that everything goes in cycles, so I was patient. In the meantime, I did what I could. I experimented with a lot of synth sounds. I was playing with a band called The Wild and we were doing sort of funk-pop, so sparsity and textures were good. I’m glad I went through that; now I can usually add something to any song if need be.

I was in a band with a drummer named Aaron. Having an Aaron and a Darren in the same band sounded gay. Ironically, when I joined Guns, we had an Izzy and a Dizzy.

Guns N' Roses band members knew Dizzy from their early days in Hollywood when Dizzy played the bands Johnny and the Jaguars and The Wild and used to hang out at the Gardner place. Slash would refer to him as an "almost pseudo-roommate" [MTV, May 1991]. The Wild would occupy the studio next to Guns N' Roses, the same studio that LA Guns had rented previously [GN'R Central, March 2018].

Raz Cue would mention that he happened to meet Ole Beich at Gardner Studios and that Ole introduced him to the guys in the Wild, including Dizzy:

It's a weird story, like Ole Beich was over there at the Gardner Studios, where Guns N' Roses ended up, and The Wild were there and I saw Ole walking down the streets... Oh no, he was working at upholstery shop right there so I went to get him to smoke pot with him and take him lunch or something, and he introduced me to one of the members of The Wild and they were in the studio that L.A. Guns had been in, the Gardner, the big one. And then Guns N' Roses ended up in the studio next door, like a couple months later. So I already knew the Wild guys for awhile.

Dizzy talking about getting to know the Guns N' Roses guys:

I remember the first time I ever met [Axl]: He walked into this studio that they were moving into. My band at the time was moving into the studio next door. I was sort of entertaining this young lady on this mattress on the floor of the studio. There was garbage everywhere because we just moved out. He walked in and saw us and he said, "I like that dude." That was the first thing I remember him saying. And I was like "All right, well ... ." Then I saw them play for the first time and I thought, "I have to join that band. Those guys are amazing." He heard me play and he said, "You're going to be the guy. When we add a keyboard player, it's going to be you."
Dizzy's an old friend of the band's, too. When Guns were all living in one room off of Sunset, he was in the room next door with his band. We used to have big parties in the parking lot. We always liked him.

Both the band and myself went through some hard times. When I first met the guys, I was in another band in Hollywood and we were all living in the same place. We worked in the same studio. At that time, Guns N’ Roses was very successful [in the club scene] and everyone said that they’d manage to get signed and make it.  So I wanted to be part of it too... It must’ve been 1986 – but, at the time, I wasn’t in position to figure out what year we were in, ha!
Pop & Rock, June 1993; translated from Greek

From early on Axl said, "I want to add a keyboard player and you are the one."

I knew who they were, and we all knew who they were. But I had met them... and met Steven first, we [=The Wild] were actually moving out of a smaller studio into the bigger one next door, and so it was in the this thing called The Recycler, which is like Craigslist. But it was a... you know, before the internet basically. And so the manager of the place had put it up, you know, that it was available for rent so we were sort of in this transitional period and we were hanging out in there and Steven walked in to look at it. So we met him and then the rest of the band came later. And then I met Axl later after that. And all in that same room. And then we lived next door to each other for about six months.

The first time I saw Guns N’ Roses, I thought, ‘I want to be in that band. But I was immersed with what I was doing with The Wild. We were family. We were brothers. We moved out here together. We went through hell and back together. I had to make myself believe that joining Guns N’ Roses was the right thing to do.

Well, my band, The Wild, we moved into a little studio off of Gardner street, Gardner and Sunset, right in the middle of Hollywood. And we were like, sort of living in this little dump of a place. It was really small. We slept on the floor between our amps. We ended up moving into the big studio. There a bigger studio next door with the air conditioning. Like, this was not made for people to live in. It was horrifying and looking back, yeah, I couldn't do it again I think. But we moved into this big studio and Guns N' Roses moved into the studio next door to us. So we became neighbors. And boy, we are great neighbors.

The Wild had moved into a rehearsal studio space right off Sunset Blvd, behind where Guitar Center is now. And there was two other rooms and Guns N' Roses moved into one of the rooms next to us. So we were neighbors for a while.

Talking about the very first meeting with Guns N' Roses:

I gotta tell you this, the guy that managed the studio, we told him we were moving out so he had it in the want ads, or whatever, in The Recycler, that this place was for rent. So people were coming by to look at it and one day we were - just me and the drummer, my friend Sid, we're still good friends - we were - I don't know what the hell we were doing, drinking beer or something - and the door comes flying open and Slash, Duff, Steven and Izzy walked in. Actually, Steven came down first and looked around and liked it and so he went and got those guys and came back. Later that night, Axl walked in with West Arkeen and that's the first time I met him.

Article in L.A. Weekly about
Johnny and the Jaguars
October 30, 1986

[…] it was after Guns moved out and I was still with The Wild. And Mary’s band moved in to the same little studio, and we’d been living there for a year-and-a-half, and there was no shower – there was, like, a faucet in the parking lot of a hose. […] We never thought about building a shower. She moved in and in, like, one day she sets up a shower. Like, she goes to the hardware store, comes back with all the stuff - the tools and everything - and sets up a shower; and she hooks it up to the faucet out in this parking lot and puts, like, a crate there to stand on. And I was like, “Woah, no way, I’ve got a shower! How could we never thought of that?” Like a year-and-a-half later, right? And so, I was so excited, man. I just stripped down naked and cruised over there. So it’s just in the middle, it’s out in the open, and I’m standing there naked taking a shower (laughs). This other girl (?) is around and I’m just like, “Hi, how you doing? Alright” (laughs). And then, like two minutes later, Mary pulled up the stuff and then she went to the store to build the curtain (laughs).

Anyway, to go back to the old days, that studio I was telling you about – we lived in a room that didn’t have a bathroom. There was only a toilet out in the parking lot and everybody went there. I really felt disgusted to go there. Then I remember that we had those big parties. There was a faucet in one corner of the parking lot, so we got those big glasses and went there, all of us together, to fill them up and wash ourselves! But the hardest thing was getting food. Sometimes, girls we’d met at some club the night before came to the studio, and the first thing we said to them was to bring us a cheeseburger or something! You got to have some nerve to ask other people to buy you something to eat. I also remember the big parties in the parking lot. It was a really good place for that, because there was a big brick wall that separated the studio from the street. We didn’t like it so much, of course, when the police came!
Pop & Rock, June 1993; translated from Greek

I remember a friend of ours, Jo-Jo, had a Mustang, and every Friday and Saturday night he'd load it with a hundred cans of beer that he had kept cold on ice. So after the bars closed at 2:00, he would come to the parking lot around 3:00 and sell beer to us... Three bucks for Budweiser, four bucks for the other ones! When the police would come and ask who was in charge there, Jo-Jo would lock his car and we’d all play dumb: "We don’t know, this is a parking lot." […] the parties were fun. But it’s no fun at all to have nothing to eat. I think it's still like that in Hollywood, but thankfully there are some good people who’ll help you get by.
Pop & Rock, June 1993; translated from Greek

[...] we had a rehearsal space next to [Guns N' Roses]. We lived there and would have crazy after-parties. This was before they had even gotten signed, but you could see Guns N' Roses were gonna be huge. Being around them you could tell. Axl had told me he wanted a keyboard player and he wanted it to be me. People talk like that all the time … but he kept his word.

Talking about seeing Guns N' Roses in those early days:

I saw great stage presence and characters that were larger than life. They had good songs, too, but (most) couldn't tell because they were the loudest band in town. There was a certain dark energy. Being around them, I knew they were real.

The first time I saw them I said to myself, ‘this band is going to be huge.’ They had all the great elements on stage. They were doing something that seemed important. They had the right songs, a great frontman, and character. I wanted to be in that band.

But where Guns N' Roses enjoyed success, Dizzy's bands went nowhere and 6 years after having met the guys, Dizzy hadn't "made a penny playing music" [Rolling Stone, September 1991].

I was in a band in L.A. called The Wild.  I had been in that band for about five years.  We were just trying to get a deal.  I had a few deals, they fell through, but we were doing really good playing the clubs.  We were basically just drinking a lot and chasing girls.

No, [The Wild] never [opened for Guns N' Roses]. I am not sure why, we had a lot of parties together. We lived in this place that had a studio and Guns lived right next door. We use to have a lot of after hours parties.

In the summer of 1986, when playing in the band Johnny and the Jaguars (under the name of "Dizzy Zin" [L.A. Weekly, October 30, 1986], Dizzy got in a serious car accident and injured his hand:

A friend of mine is a keyboardist in a band called Johnny and the Jaguars and got in a car wreck and smashed his fucking hand. We want to dedicate this next song to him, because he is our bro. This song is called "Nightrain." This is for you Dizzy.

Dizzy would later be asked if Axl was indeed referring to Dizzy in this dedication:

Yea... I think they just signed a deal with Live like a suicide and were touring and wanted to add a keyboard player too. And my band- we were doing a little tour then around the southwest and I broke my hand in a car accident... so around that time... because nightrain was my favorite G'n'R song at the time... Axl dedicated the song to me at that concert.

So I went to the show, that was one of the shows I was supposed to play, a place called The Music... What was that? Music Machine? No. A place up on Sunset. My memory escapes me. It was a famous place. But anyway, I went to that show that I was supposed to play at, I was in the cast and there's a a recording somewhere of Axl going on, "This next song goes out to Dizzy," and it was Nightrain, I think.

Dizzy would later talk about the accident and mention that he had been considered to do some shows with GN'R, and possible recording, before it happened:

I was supposed to do some shows with the band [before Appetite], and I think some recording too. But, a couple of days before the first show, I kind of got a little car accident. […] I got, like, a big toe instead of a thumb now. […] It made [playing the piano] a little difficult at first, but, you know, when your life is depending on it for whatever, you figure out a way to do it.

Anyway, they made it, and they called me and asked me to go on tour with them. But two days before I was supposed to go, I had a bad car accident and broke my hand. So I didn’t go.
Pop & Rock, June 1993; translated from Greek

Axl had a plan in place. He wanted to add a keyboard and when he met me he decided I would be that guy. People sit around, drinking beers, and everybody’s got ideas and plans. Ninety-nine percent of those plans never happen. I was hoping Axl’s would, but I wasn’t counting on it. They’d come back to town, I’d run into them, and they’d say ‘We’re going to need you soon.’

If this is true, it implies that the band, or perhaps only Axl, considered adding keyboards to Appetite for Destruction.

But we kept in touch and we’d see each other in clubs here and there; and years later, when they started recording “Use Your Illusion," Axl got ahold of me and asked me if I was still interested in joining the band.
Pop & Rock, June 1993; translated from Greek

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:15 am

APRIL 28, 1990

Erin and Axl got married on April 28 in a "middle-of-the-night ceremony" in Las Vegas [People Magazine, May 1990]. The wedding took place at Cupid Wedding Chapel and it was a five-minute ceremony with their limousine driver as the witness [Aiken Standard, May 3, 1990; The Independence Examiner, May 3, 1990].

Erin and Axl
April 28, 1990

But Axl would file for divorce only 28 days after the wedding [Los Angeles Times; May 1990; People Magazine, August 1990]. The filing would be cancelled and in July Axl would describe the marriage as "stronger than ever" despite having broken up many times before [The Howard Stern Show, July 1990] and in August he would say:

[Our marriage] is good when we’re communicating. Then it opens up a lot of doors and things of hope that I really didn’t see or believe in before and just read about in books. Being married is more a part of me. The ‘institution’ of marriage itself is mumbo-jumbo paperwork, but the union of two people when you get that involved just blows me away. […]I’m looking forward to [fatherhood]. We already have the children named. We wanna have a boy named Shiloh Blue and a girl named Willow Amelia.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:15 am


I would be safe to assume that if there was somebody to leave or if...whatever, the band would not be happening anymore. I would almost be safe to assume that. […]  I mean, because it takes personalities and a certain, uh, way with each other to fucking make whatever is going to happen. […] said we kicked Stevie out of the band, you can't just bring fucking Tommy Aldridge in the band and it's going to be the same.

Steven had bad drug problems and that was making him unreliable. We did everything we could to encourage him to come to terms with his addiction. But he just couldn’t stop. Steven's habits were bad for this band, so we took action to try to help him. And when it became obvious that it wasn’t working and that we were faced with having a sub-standard album as a result, then we did what was necessary.

My whole life changed in one afternoon at A&M records. It all changed in one afternoon. [...] Rick Allen lost his arm, his brothers didn’t throw him out, they found a way. They didn’t give me a chance, it was just one afternoon, all of a sudden, ‘You’re out.’ In eight hours my life changed.


Steven did not improve despite the band's efforts [see previous chapter], and the band decided to permanently fire Steven.

[The lawyer threat] was meant to scare him, but it proved convenient for Slash, Axl, Izzy and me. In the end, we had our lawyer tell his lawyer that he was permanently out.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 172

Steven would claim it was Doug Goldstein who told him [The Howard Stern Show, January 22, 1997]:

Dougie called me up and said I was out of the band. Then I tried calling the guys up and they would not talk to me.

Well it's more like, "Come down to the office, I want to talk to you." I get down to the office. [Goldstein] has his papers, that's about half a foot thick, going, "Sign everywhere where the little colored paper clips are" and I'm under [?] signing away and "What's this for?" and he said, "Oh nothing, it just means you are on probation for three weeks." But then what I really find out, I'm signing away all my rights.

Doug Goldstein called me into the office about two weeks later [after the Civil War recording]. He wanted me to sign some contracts. I was told that every time I did heroin, the band would fine me $2,000. There was a whole stack of papers, with coloured paper clips everywhere for my signatures. What these contracts actually said was that the band were paying me $2,000 to leave. They were taking my royalties, all my writing credits. They didn’t like me anymore and just wanted me gone.

Goldstein, on the other hand, would say it was Michelle Anthony, the band's legal counsel at the time [One On One with Mitch Lafon, April 5, 2015].

Alan Niven called [Anthony] and said, "You need to get Adler in here and let him go. He's wasted over a million dollars in the recording process. It's over."

The firing of Steven would be not be officially disclosed in quite a while, and first when Matt Sorum recorded 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' for the Thunder Days soundtrack would the rumours start flying that Steven was out of the band [Metal Hammer, July 30, 1990]. On Axl's interview with MTV's Kurt Loder that was aired on August 31, 1990, Axl would explicitly say that Steven was out of the band [MTV, August 31, 1990].

In an interview in September 1992, Izzy would be asked if firing Steven had been "all Axl's idea" (like firing Alan Niven which they had discussed earlier in the interview), to which Izzy would indicate the entire band agreed Steven was a problem but that it had been the "industry's machine" - so perhaps the label? - who had made that call:

At this time I had nearly managed to get clean up, from everything. When I was looking at the band, I would see Stevie, who was a good guy, who's been struggling with us during all these years, but couldn't handle it anymore. He was a real millstone, he needed to clean up! Fuck... We all tried to help him, to support him. But no, finally, we'd been on the road with this guy for years and we lived this dilemma: "OK. We leave him six months doing nothing without any guarantee it gets better, or we forget about the double album and we burry the band?" Actually, the industry's machine woke up and the answer was: "We take someone else to cut these records." It's wasn't an easy decision.

According to Goldstein 2000, it was Mike Clink (?) and Alan Niven who urged for Steven's termination [Newsweek, January 6, 2000]. Goldstein would also indicate that Axl was the last to sign the termination papers:

After numerous failed attempts at rehabilitation, the band's producer, and their former manager, convinced Slash and Duff to fire Steven. Axl was the last person to sign Steven's termination document. He sat with it for over a week until the then manager convinced him that it was the right decision.

[...] there's an interesting understanding that Steven has which is that Axl was gunning for him since fucking day one. That's not reality. And there's a reason why, Mitch, which I will explain, but Slash and Duff, they had to be there in the studio with him every single night. So the decision to let go of Steven was really between Mike Clink, Slash and Duff because, again, they had to deal with it. But Axl was the very last guy to sign the termination papers on Adler. He was agonizing over decisions, calling me saying, "Are you sure there's nothing else we can do?" because I had taken Adler to so many different rehab facilities, either the normal type, like Sierra [?] Tucson, or the great venture to Scottsdale, to the golf resort where Slash shows up and that whole melee happens.

This would also be stated by Robert John:

I remember Slash complained during the rehearsals and recording, about trying to do stuff but Steven was too high to work. They all talked about getting another drummer in there, but I remember Axl was the last person that wanted to fire him. He thought Steven was an important part of the show. But nobody - especially Slash and Duff - could take it anymore. It was killing the band.
Stephen Davis. Watch You Bleed: the Saga of Guns N' Roses. Gotham Books, August 2008

And Axl would support this:

The misconception is that we kicked him out for the hell of it, and that I was the dictator behind it. The truth is, I probably fought a little harder to keep him in the band, because I wasn't working with him on a daily basis like the other guys were. They grew tired of not being able to get their work done because Steven wasn't capable of it.

Slash would also be asked if he was Steven's "champion" at the time:

More that I just stuck by him.

Steven would later claim that Izzy apologized for the sacking:

Izzy Stradlin was the only one who apologized to me [...]


Other factors may have played a role in Steven being fired. In early 1992, Slash would imply that the new material was too complex for Steven:

[Being asked if firing Steven had compromised the band]: No, keeping Steven Adler in this band would have been a compromise. He did a great Job on 'Appetite For Destruction'. Nobody could have done a better job than him. But this time round we needed something a little different and Steven wasn’t able to do what was needed. We realised this early on, so brought in Matt Sorum, who's a lot more able to do the things we want. Yes. we could have stuck with Steven, but then we'd have had to accept a very limited drumming technique from him. That would have been us compromising on the standards we've wanted to hit just to keep him in this band. And I know we'd all have been unhappy, including Steven. With Matt on board we've grown as a band, and that's important to us.

But Steven [Adler] would have been happy just to do the same thing [as on 'Appetite'] again on the new album. He wouldn't have made it through the record.

Well that’s always been a sensitive subject, because Stephen had, I wouldn’t say no metre, but very bad metre; he used to watch my foot to keep time! And because we were all really young then, we had a kind of aggressive, almost punk attitude; it was great, very brash and very abrupt. But it wasn’t like, say, the Ramones, where we were just going to keep doing that forever. So after we did ‘Appetite’ and ‘Lies’ and toured, and because Axl, Duff and I really do love all kinds of areas of music, we all had different musical things we wanted to achieve, we got to a point where Stephen... well... you know...

But I noticed that some of the immediacy of our sound was lost in losing Stephen; it almost had a touch of anxiety to it. With the situation of Stephen leaving and Matt coming in, I did listen to see what changes were happening in the attack of the band, and all of a sudden it turned into a very precise, big thing, and it was like, ‘God, we can do all kinds of stuff with this.’ And I like that because I feel like I’ve matured and I’ve been able to do a lot of things that, with Steve, we couldn’t have done. I mean, I did a song on a Les Paul tribute record that’s coming out. I wrote this tune and Stephen could never play it; it was a very ‘black’ groove thing and he could just never get it right, and so I shelved the song.

And there were a lot of other songs that went by the wayside because of that, which has a lot to do with why the ‘Illusion’ albums sound so diverse. There were so many things that we wanted to do that were stifled by the group as it was. So releasing these two albums simultaneously was a big orgasm for us...

A specific example of Steven not being good enough was when Duff allegedly had to help Steven with the intro to 'You Could Be Mine', back in 1986, something Duff would testify on while in court in 1993:

[…] I used to get behind the kit when Steven was in the band. That song was written for ‘Appetite’ and at that time Slash and I would have to try and explain to Steven how the drum part should go; I’d have to tell Slash to chill out and I’d do it - a guitar player relating to a drummer just doesn’t work.

So I ended up getting behind the drum kit and showing Steve. I’m not technically a great drummer but I know how to get the playing across. And that’s what I testified yesterday, too.

The topic of Steven not being skilled enough would also come up when Slash would explain why he took the song 'Always on the Run', which was originally intended for Guns N' Roses, to Lenny Kravitz:

Axl and Duff were like: "Why did you do that?" I was like: "'Cause Steve couldn't play 'em"

In 2012 and 2013, Alan Niven would state that the main reason Steven was fired was his limitations as a drummer:

Losing Steven was frustrating and painful. But we tried and tried to pull him through. The problem was, he just could not connect to the more intricate material Axl was writing for the Illusion albums. Time and again, Slash and the others would bemoan that he just couldn’t get it, and that he would play the same section the same way twice instead of fixing it. The bullshit that he was fired for his addiction is just that – bullshit. It was a performance matter. There were other issues between Steven and Axl that certainly didn’t help, and may have been sufficient within themselves to see him go.

[...] Steven couldn't get next to that material either. And he had a real difficult time playing it the same way twice. And you put that with an addictive personality and heroin and pressure and money and you know Steven, God bless him, you know, he's not a Road Scholar. You know, it's difficult for him to deal with that and he just got lost and couldn't deal with it. And unfortunately the pragmatic decision had to be made after over a year of trying to work with him, well over a year, was perhaps two years of trying to work with him, that, you know, obviously Steven wasn't going to get it and we had to get a drummer in who could get what Axl wanted.

And Marc Canter would agree:

Also, in an Alan Niven interview he said something that really made sense which was that Steven wasn’t really fired for the drugs but more for the fact that the Illusions stuff was so much different and he wasn’t really getting it.  It was so 360 from the swing, groove stuff on Appetite and it required less rock and roll and more technical drumming which was more suited to a drummer like Matt Sorum.  If you listen to a song like “Locomotive” it sort of makes sense what Niven was saying.  It’s almost got this unreal, machine type feel to it.  Of course some of those songs like “Don’t Cry” were older and he could have easily performed those but on many of those songs the groove had just changed and the songwriting was totally a different beast. [...] he was fucked up, no doubt about it and he would even tell you that but on the same token some of the other guys were totally fucked up at the same time.  The biggest difference, and again, this is important, the biggest difference is that if you are a guitarist or a bassist or whatever you can sort of get away with being a little fucked up where as with a drummer it is usually readily apparent.  Steven also went a little father with his addiction than they did and it was a little harder to keep timing with the songs and that’s a fact.  But again, their writing was just was different than it was in 85 as well.  I’m a big Led Zep fan and if you look at the five year gap between the material on the debut and the material on Physical Graffiti it is massive.  That’s how bands are.


Steven makes a point in his biography to emphasize that the band already in its early years had a problem with him. During rehearsals for the 1987 shows at the Marquee in London, for instance, the band started playing 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' without informing Steven that it would be played:

It was Axl's idea to do "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." He told Slash about it, they learned it, and we did it. They never even mentioned it to me though, just expecting me to pick up on the beat on the fly. I didn't know if this was a tribute to my drumming adaptability or a sign of their abject disregard for my needs as a member of the band (but I could venture a pretty good fucking guess).
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 126

In 2012, her would talk more about being estranged:

All of a sudden the family thing turned into little cliques. Duff and Slash would hang out, Izzy would disappear, Axl - god knows what he was doing. I was hanging out with the crew guys. Then the crew guys, if they were seen hanging out with me they would get a reprimand. It was terrible.

It started off where Axl was doing his own thing, Izzy was doing his thing, and me, Slash and Duff were like brothers. We did everything together. In the Paradise City video, you see the three of us walking onto the Concorde - we didn't even know where Izzy and Axl were. Near the end, Slash and Duff were the tight brothers. I got pushed out. I didn't see it happening.

In Steven's opinion, this feeling of disrespect towards him, although he doesn't explain where it came from, was a major component in the decision to fire him:

[...] this growing disrespect only snowballed until it put me in an awfully embarrassing situation at Farm Aid.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 126


After being fired, Steven would claim he tried to contact the band members, including calling Duff and Slash for their birthdays, but that they wouldn't see him:

They would not let me in. I left their birthday gifts on the porches of their houses. I feel totally betrayed! […] The thing with Slash is [Steven's voice verges on tears] we were family. I know his mother, his grandmother, he knows mine. We were best friends, man. How could you just desert somebody like that?

Then Steven sued the band [see below]. According to Steven in the October 1991 interview, he first met Slash again "recently" when they crossed paths outside the Rainbow in Hollywood:

Slash says, 'So, you're suing us'. I say, 'Yeah,' And he says, 'Well Axl's going to kick your fucking ass.

Steven's claims that the band avoided him is disputed by Slash, who claims he tried to keep in contact with Steven, but that Steven's insufferable behavior pushed him away:

I did keep in touch. I'd pop into his house every now and then to see how he was doing. I stuck with him, as you'd do for a loved one. And then he started getting on my case, saying, `I've heard you guys are all on heroin and what's the difference, blab blah blab....' And finally I couldn't talk to him anymore. I'd take him out to dinner and it would turn into this huge fight, to the point where I couldn't take it. So now I don't see him anymore. I call his doctor and I think about him a lot. And I worry. 'Cause it's a scary thing. And he was my best friend for a long time.


In 2005, Steven would offer the explanation that he was fired because of monetary reasons, and not because of his drugs, which he didn't do, and if he did, so did the others:

[Drug abuse] was the ridiculous official explanation. They were stupid. They said they fired me because of drugs, but I wasnt experimenting with the hard ones. And if I was doing it, in that case, they were even. So, I think it was' cause of a monetary issue, which is ridiculous too because we were on our way to making loads of money.


The split with Guns N' Roses hit Steven hard:

Well, I was always very independent and I did what I wanted to do, but I never did anything really wrong. Obviously everybody Knows about the drug thing, but, hey, I didn't think I was being foolish.

I know drugs aren’t right and can screw your life up, I know first hand, but I didn’t think I was doin' anything wrong because I was doin' them with my band. They were doin' it, so was I, and I didn't think I was doin’ anything wrong.

Obviously it didn’t work out... I personally haven’t changed from when I first started playing drums when I was 12 and I moved out and lived on the streets, which is when I met Slash. We were hangin' at the rock clubs, makin’ out with girls... I’m the same person I was then. But they changed, my other band changed, and that’s why we weren't getting along. We may have been partying together, but I don’t think it was the drugs really that got in the way...

I wish that maybe someone could've given me a hug and said, 'Hey, y'know, slow down'. But like I said, I was doing the drugs with my band, okay? And it didn't seem abnormal back then.


To tell you the truth, they’re the meanest people I ever met in my life. That’s why we didn’t get along. I got along with Slash and Duff, but with Axl it was just a total difference in personality.

I’ve always enjoyed this business and what I do. As I say, I was the scapegoat for Guns N' Roses. They had the record company comin’ down on them tellin' them to straighten up... and no way were they gonna straighten up.

So to make it look like they were gettin’ straightened up it was ‘point the finger at the nice guy’. Because at the time I was no more f*'ked up than they were. Besides losing my best friends and my family, which was that band, my wife left me...[...] Yeah, I was married and my wife left me. First the band treats me like I’m dead, then my wife leaves me. At that point I was feeling so sorry for myself it was ridiculous. The people who helped me pull it together? The fans. I got thousands of letters from the fans saying that they loved me and wanted to see me back out there. I got fed up feeling sorry for myself...

One thing that also helped me a lot was meeting other musicians who’d had drugs f**k them up, people like Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Steven Tyler. Seeing those people made me realise that I wasn't the only one. Because I felt like the only one, y’know... the only one who’d ever got thrown out of a band and got f"ked up on drugs. But it's happened to a lot of people. I was lucky because I got to speak with people who I can relate to; I can relate to the kids, because I'm a fan too.

Besides losing my best friends and my family, which was that band, my wife also left me… […] I was married and my wife left me. First the band treats me like I'm dead, then my wife leaves me. And at that point I was feeling so sorry for myself it was ridiculous.

I did everything I possibly could to try and kill myself. I had nothing to live for. I mean, everybody that I knew, that I thought were my friends, took everything they could from me and disappeared. I would drink a whole bottle of vodka, just down it, (?) just I could pass out.

It was a very hard thing that happened to me, leaving the G N" R guys. It took me many years to be able to handle it and move on.

The thing that hurt me the most was that Slash didn’t stick up for me. We were blood brothers.

Steven would never really seem to get over having been thrown out of Guns N' Roses. Over the coming years he would talk about this frequently in the media, and his career would to a larger and larger extent revolve around playing covers of Guns N' Roses songs.

It was devastating. My dream had been taken away from me. Saddest part was I had their backs; we were a gang. There were so many times when I had their backs. I used to get into fights at bars defending them. We we a gang. I guess the hardest part was Slash not having my back. We were childhood friends and that was the hardest part not having Slash's back when I got kicked out.

What does bother me the most, I have to say, is, especially with Slash, that was our dream since we were 11 years old to be rock stars and make records and travel around the world, do all these drugs and have sex with all these women. And our dreams came true and then right when you get as famous, as rich, and as big as possible? He says, “The dream’s over for you. We’re gonna give it to some stranger.” Hey, who the hell is this Matt Sorum f-cker? He wasn’t there. It was just like they threw me out like I never existed and gave my life over to some stranger. “Here, you take over everything Adler worked for; you live his life.” So it was crushing; it was devastating, very devastating. That’s the word I’m looking for: devastating.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Wed Jan 24, 2024 5:57 pm; edited 13 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:16 am


If you take out any one of the five (band members], you no longer have Guns N' Roses.


Later the band members would comment upon firing Steven:

I was trying to talk some sense into [Steven] but it never happened. He wouldn't listen to anybody—none of us will! And Axl and Duff had had it. […] As amazing as it seems in this `drug-free' exercise and health age, there's a bunch of us who are still clinging fast to the late '60s and '70s. But Steve never grew up to the fact that it's not all just sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. To him it was a big fantasy and we took care of him. And now he's on his own.

I felt really bad for Steven. He’s saying stuff like “How could they do this to me?” But it wasn’t a matter of how could we do this to him. It was how could he do this to us. He was taken care of by this band. Anybody who thinks we just kicked him out is just somebody who doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talking about and doesn’t know what went on. We waited for him for a fucking year. How long is a band supposed to wait around? We all wanted to get out and play, and he wanted to play, too. He was just too loaded to do it. Really, we did all kinds of things for this kid to get him back to normal, and he refused. Every time he went into rehab, he took off. I mean, I took off from rehab, but it’s because I didn’t want to be controlled by anybody else. I went and cleaned up on my own. Steven had no control whatsoever. He didn’t want to be in rehab and still wanted to be doing what he’s doing. He thought it was very rock & roll. What do you tell a guy like that? So I just said, “Fuck it, that’s it, I can’t deal with it anymore, we have to get a new drummer."

Steven is about as rock & roll a personality as you can get. All he lived for was sex, drugs and rock & roll — in that order. Maybe drugs, sex and rock & roll. Then it was drugs and rock & roll. Then it was just drugs.

We tried our best to get Steven back together. Steven - he's always been the child of the band, the one that was always just the happy-go-lucky, sex, drugs and rock'n'roll and that's it. He couldn't understand why the drugs were so separated from rock'n'roll all of a sudden; why he couldn't be a junkie and be in a rock'n'roll band, because the twain are supposed to meet on the same ground. But after a while it's really not like that. You have to take care of yourself. People will not go around wiping your ass for you. So a year went by (three visits to rehab) and I finally said, Steven, you've got to go. […] It still fucks with me. And I still check up on him. I won't go so far as to say he's clean and I won't go so far as to say he's still fucked up. I know he's unhappy. I hadn't seen him since the day it that it was over. Then I was at the Rainbow one night, of all the places to run into him, and I was with Duff and with Matt, who he'd never met...It was really awkward. I haven't really seen him since. It's too deep a thing to get into. But the upside of it is that Matt has made the band - I think it was a shot in the arm, no pun intended, that the band didn't necessarily need but that took the band beyond what we were before. I think we're a little bit more - just tight, more focused, more serious about what we're doing. We're not so much the punk band as we were, only because we've been doing it for a while and we're all sort of really aspiring musicians, regardless of the lifestyle. The most important thing I've gotten out of this whole fucking stupid circus that we've been involved in all this time is to sit back and know that we're actually good. And not only that we're good, but that we're original. And if I'm sleeping in a chandelier one night - I stole this from Keith Richards, OK? - I can still get up the next morning and actually play, and play with some sort of integrity, as opposed to hitting one chord as many times as I can as quickly as I can and then continue partying. My playing is my priority, and my playing's actually a lot better. When I listen to the record, it's really good. And that's the thing that's my saving grace and my feelings for the whole thing that happened with Steve.

That's a sensitive subject. It's because as everybody grew up a little bit and tried to get out of the heroin thing and that whole trip [Steven] just never went along, he never grew up with the band. When I gave up a really serious habit he just kept going, the whole sex, drugs and rock'n'roll concept was pretty much all he could fathom and we couldn't work he wasted a lot of money in the studio with us. We've all gone through our trips and we've all had our fucking problems but we've dealt with it, if not for our personal lives for the band itself. We always took care of him and it stopped the band working for a fucking year. When I came back after cleaning out— and I had a really fucking bad habit with all kinds of shit and lzzy came back and we were ready to go, and having to go through this whole thing with Steve going to the hospital, we were wasting tons of money. The guy is sitting on the stool in the studio with his nose touching the fucking floor, with the whole band just staring at him. We'd wake him up and he'd go 'I'm just tired'. Finally it came to the point where I called him up and said 'Steve, it's over.'

With Steve, the whole 'sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll' thing is great, but there comes a time where you have to concentrate on the craft. And Steve could never swallow the idea that he had to get his life together.

I took it pretty hard when Stevie was out of the band. It was pretty upsetting, cos I was watching Stevie trying to get himself together after pulling myself together, and it was kinda hard seeing somebody trying when they're not really ready for it. Weeks and months were going by, we were in that old dilemma; it had been two or three years and we didn't have a f**king album out, we gotta move.

The misconception is that we kicked him out for the hell of it, and that I was the dictator behind it. The truth is, I probably fought a little harder to keep him in the band, because I wasn't working with him on a daily basis like the other guys were. They grew tired of not being able to get their work done because Steven wasn't capable of it. I've read interviews where he's saying that he's straight. Most of the time he isn't. He's the type of person who wants everything handed to him, and he did get it handed to him. He got it handed to him from me. At one point, in order to keep this band together, it was necessary for me to give him a portion of my publishing rights. That was one of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life, but he threw such a fit, saying he wasn't going to stay in the band. We were worried about not being able to record our first album, so I did what I felt I had to do. In the long run I paid very extensively for keeping Steven in Guns N' Roses. I paid $1.5 million by giving him 15% of my publishing off of Appetite For Destruction. He didn't write one goddamn note, but he calls me a selfish dick! He's been able to live off of that money, buy a shitload of drugs and hire lawyers to sue me. If and when he loses the lawsuit he has against us, and he has to pay those lawyers, if he has any money left, it'll be the money that came from Guns N' Roses and myself. At this point I really don't care what happens to Steven Adler, because he's taken himself out of my life, out of my care and concern. I feel bad for him in ways, because he's a real damaged person, but he's making choices to keep himself in that damage. There's nothing we can do at this point. We took him to rehabs, we threatened his drug dealers, we helped him when he slashed his wrists. I even forgave him after he nearly killed my wife. I had to spend a night with her in an intensive-care unit because her heart had stopped thanks to Steven. She was hysterical, and he shot her up with a speedball. She had never done jack shit as far as drugs go, and he shoots her up with a mixture of heroin and cocaine? I kept myself from doing anything to him. I kept the man from being killed by members of her family. I saved him from having to go to court, because her mother wanted him held responsible for his actions. And the sonofabitch turns on me? I mean, yeah, I'm a difficult person to deal with, and I'm a pain in the ass to understand, and I've had my share of problems, but Steven benefited greatly from his involvement with me - more than I did from knowing him. Steven had a lot of fans, but he was a real pain in the ass. I need to keep him in my life for you? F?!k you!

The first time I realized what Steve did for the band was when he broke his hand in Michigan. Tried to punch through a wall and busted his hand. So we had Fred Coury come in from Cinderella for the Houston show. Fred played technically good and steady, but the songs sounded just awful. They were written with Steve playing the drums and his sense of swing was the push and pull that give the songs their feel. When that was gone, it was just...unbelievable, weird. Nothing worked. I would have preferred to continue with Steve, but we'd had two years off and we couldn't wait any longer. It just didn't work for Slash to be telling Steve to straighten out. He wasn't ready to clean up.

I took it pretty hard; it was upsetting.

I know Steven, and he was, like, beyond repair. Or it wasn’t coming within the next couple of years. You can do whatever you like to do but you’ve got to be able to make the gig. We still go out and party and have a lot of fun, but we make it to the gig the next night.

The reasons [why Steven was fired and Izzy quit] were very different. Steven didn’t leave only because of his drug problem, but also because he couldn’t handle the pressure. And I hate to say it, but I miss him much more than Izzy, who thought that being in the band was just a question of ‘sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll’; he didn't accept the other aspects of this job.
L'Unita, May 16, 1993; translated from Italian

Somewhere along the way, how seriously you take things becomes important as things get bigger. You have to really pay attention; but for Steven it was all about chicks, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, and that was it. […] He was never what you’d call a schooled, intelligent person, but he’s a sweetheart. Yet after a while he couldn’t keep up with it. […] The guy we had to replace the most on a tour was him, and when the whole dope thing came up and we were all locked up in our own individual houses for God knows how long, there did come a point where l had to clean up if I was going to retain any sort of foundation, so far as the band and myself were concerned. […] So I stopped, Izzy stopped as well, and Steven never came back.
[…] We went through all these fights and hospitals and this, that and the other, and I figured somewhere along the line he would come around. He just never did.

[…] when Steven, when Steven Adler um… […] Who I love dearly. I talk to him all the time. When it came to a point where he could not play as part of the band, after a while we're just like... […] But there is, you know, there is a point there as long as you can play, as long as you're part of the group and, like, you show up and you get into it, then everything's fine. I heard that you slept with 15 or 16 chicks the other day and it was outside of the beach and you did, you know, three grams of this blah blah blah but you still show at rehearsal..

It sounded ironic to a lot of people for us to kick someone out of such a notoriously debauched band for drugs. The truth is we didn't care what drugs people did or how much they did. We cared only about our work and our ability to keep the band moving forward now that we finally had songs to record and shows to play. We didn't give a shit about cause, just effect. Drugs? Sure. But it could just as easily have been something else. Lack of motivation. Jail time. Death. For me, I always thought death and death alone could ever push me across that line when it came to this band. (I was wrong.) For Steven, coke and heroin proved enough to nudge him across.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 172

It was real hard to see Steven go, because he was my friend. He was a big pan of what made us happen, and he had a great energy in the beginning. But when the rest of us straightened up and bounced back, he didn't.

Ah, man, it was fucked-up. But Steven... Steven... he just wouldn’t quit it, and everyone was saying, ‘Oh, his playing’s off.' But he was never that great with his time-keeping or whatever anyway. It wasn’t about being the perfect drummer. Steven was just GNR through and through. He just was. We shouldn't have let him go really...

Well, we all had problems with heroin, me, Izzy and Steven — but we just had to get over it. But we could never a reel Steven back in. We just couldn't get him back out.

When Steven Adler got kicked out of the band, I really felt that the chemistry had been seriously altered. And I hated to see that happen. I personally didn't want to see Steven go. It was as if we were missing an arm or a leg... No, what bound us together, the glue, was that primal chemistry. It's strange, it's always between the drummers and the singers that it sticks the most (laughs). And, of course, it's about a fucking chick! First the drummer bangs her, then it's the singer's turn, then again the drummer's turn,and so on. And then the singer gets mad and the shit hits the fan. [...] I really thought that [firing Steven was the beginning of the end]. It was certainly the end of the original spirit... and the original band. Besides, I think Steven was the perfect drummer for the band. He wasn't a super technical guy who could play with any band, but he was exactly what we needed. Uh, some nights anyway... (laughs)

At the time, I was totally straight, and as the days went by, my interest in Guns N' Roses started to wane. I had been arrested and was on parole for a year, so they could call me at any time to give me a urine test to see if I was clean. If I wasn't, I would go to jail. For a year, I was really careful, which was very difficult because the others were getting high all the time. So when Steven got fired for "drug abuse", I couldn't believe it.

Guns were a bunch of nutcases and with the original band there was a real sense of family. When we had to let Steven [Adler, Guns N' Roses' drummer] go, which was moronic, we came to him and said, ‘Hey, look who's telling you you're too f***ed up! It's us! If we're telling you you're too f***ed up then you're too f***ed up!'

Steven became bitter over being fired and would repeatedly attack the band and especially Axl for the what happened; in the words of Slash, Steven "slandered us like crazy" [Guitar World, February 1992]. When contacted by Los Angeles Times in July 1991, he would refer to Axl as the "most ruthless and meanest person" he's ever met [Los Angeles Times, July 1991]. Shortly thereafter, on July 19, he would file a lawsuit against the band [see section below for details].

Later on, he would describe the firing this way:

Obviously everybody knows about the drug thing but, hey, I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. I know drugs aren't right and can screw your life up. I know first hand, but I didn't think I was doin' anything wrong because I was doin' them with my band. They were doin' it, so was I, and I didn't think I was doin' anything wrong. […] I wish that maybe someone would've, not just put their hand on me, but given me a hug and said, 'Hey y'know, slow down.' But the drug thing, I don't really wanna talk that much about it because I'm getting away from it. Like I said, I was doing it with my band. It didn't seem abnormal then. […] "I was their scapegoat. Everyone knows that Guns N' Roses were drug-oriented, everyone knows that. […] They had the record company comin' down on them, saying, 'You've gotta straighten up.' And no way were they gonna straighten up, so to make it look better they decided to 'point the finger at the nice guy'. Because (at the lime) I was no more f ked up than them. […] To tell you the truth, they're the meanest people I ever met in my life, that's why we didn't get along. I got along with Slash and Duff but with Axl it was just a total difference in personality.

In 2000, Slash would imply it was Axl's fault:

Axl always had this kind of vision of where he wanted to be, what he wanted the band to be. He didn’t like people he thought were trying to hold him back.

In 2008, Del James would comment:

Steven Adler is always so quick to ride Slash's tip yet please remember that when it came down, Slash was among the first ready to fire Stevie and the last guy to sign the termination papers was Axl. And this is after Steven almost killed Erin Everly with drugs. Know you're fucking history.

And Izzy would compare the old and the new drummer:

Steven had a more accidental style and Matt is more precise.

In 2009, Axl would talk about how bad Steven's playing had been in rehearsals, and suggest Izzy and he couldn't take it:

The public has no idea what went into Steven's parts and the notion of getting through songs in rehearsal if ever, with no exaggeration, was unfortunately a nightmare that neither I or Izzy could take, and eventually the others as well, though they lasted longer for other reasons.

More comments:

I agreed with the final exasperated decision (to fire Adler), with reluctance, because once you change the structure of the molecule that is the band it can become volatile and unstable. And, from an emotional point of view, you don’t want to lose anyone along the way but we had tried all we could to help Steven win his battle with smack, but only he could win his war.[...] We tried to get him into the material but he just could not connect with Axl's longer piano based compositions. There were constant complaints that Steven would not play the pieces consistently and it annoys me even today that Steven plays victim as he was given every chance over a long period of time. What is more he had been paid composer royalties he did not earn as a courtesy – no one fucked him over but himself.

He was suffering the worst and couldn’t pull it back. We had this unwritten sort of code – pull it back when it’s sensible, when it’s time to record or time to play a show. Pull it back. Check yourself. There had been a few times where we’d check each other. You know: ‘hey dude…’ And that’s all you’d have to say. It was a sort of honour amongst thieves. But Steven wasn’t able to pull it back time and time again. The irony wasn’t lost, even then. Slash and I told him quite a few times: ‘Dude, it’s us talking to you. If we’re telling you you’re getting too fucked up, you’re getting too fucked up. Look who’s talking to you. We’re the guys that everyone else is worried about, and we’re worried about you.’ It was really heartbreaking. We warned him too many times.

It was totally regrettable. But the band finally got to the place where we wanted to make a record, which was a hard enough place to get to… We’re talking about the span of about a year, which to us was like a lifetime, and Steven… we could not get him back to front. We were resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to be able to do it in the time frame that we needed to get going, because we might miss the bus. We might fall apart again and take another year to get it together.

In no way was it minor. Firing a member of a band is a pain in the ass. It was incredibly painful and frustrating. I’ve got to confess I’m still capable of a flash of red hot anger with Steven at that.

[...] we had a situation with Steven [Adler] that happened, it was pretty irretrievable in a way. We were trying to get him together, but he just, you know, he's still around... There was the lying and all that, and it just wasn't going anywhere, and Steven wasn't that kind of a person that under the influence he could just show up and play.


Being asked if he took responsibility for his own behaviour while in Guns N' Roses:

Of course. Nobody forced me to do those stupid things. It was all a part of growing up, and they didn’t have shows like Behind The Music in those days. I’d read interviews with all my favourite rock stars and just wanted to be like the guys I idolised. You never read in Hit Parader what it was like to throw up blood, or to wake up in hospital. When GN’R toured with Aerosmith back in the day, Slash and I had looked up to Joe Perry and Steven Tyler, but we weren’t even allowed to have beer in their company. Then again, nobody tells you how sick you can get. I was very naive to the dangers of heroin. The first times I did it were two years apart. It made me so sick. Then the third time I did it, it didn’t affect me that way. So I did it every day for a month.

In 2010 and 2011 Steven would also express understanding of why he had been fired and admit he was to blame:

I was stunned. The thing was, we were a gang. So often I'd get into fights in bars defending them. To me, I had my dream taken away. But there again, I understand now why they had to do it. I was out of control, and didn’t even realise.

I realized that I thought the guys in the band kicked me out, but they didn't. I kicked myself out. I blamed them for 20 years for all my downfalls, especially Slash, because we have history. They didn't let me down. I let them down. When they kicked me out, I had two directions. One, I take care of myself and get back in the band or two, I do the drugs. I went off the deep end and beat myself up since I blamed them.

It took me 20 years to admit and realize that I blamed Slash, Duff, Izzy, and Axl for my downfall with the band and all the drug abuse I went through after that. I blamed them. When I started working with Dr. Drew … I realized that I thought they let me down, but it wasn’t them who let me down, it was me who let them down.

In my book I take full responsibility for all my actions, for everything that happened. For 20 years I wasted my life, blaming and being angry with Slash, Duff, Izzy and Axl thinking they let me down. Unfortunately it took 20 years and to have to start working with Dr. Drew to realize that they didn’t let me down, I let them down. They counted on me and I messed up. It was a special time in my life, where it taught me growth, from being a teenager to being a man. I got to say I was sorry to each of them, I apologized for blaming them for everything that happened to me and everything I did to throw the band out of whack, my actions threw a wrench into the machine and changed the destiny of the band. Forever I blamed them, and I couldn’t grow as a human being.

I don't blame nobody for nothing. I did everything to myself. I made mistakes. If I was the only one who's ever made a mistake I would really really feel bad. But I'm not.

Everybody handles situations differently. When they came to me and said, 'You have to straighten up,' I had two choices: either get it together or keep doing what I was doing. I chose the wrong path.

By 2017, though, after having guested with the semi-reunited lineup, Steven had taken a U-turn and would not only blame Axl for getting fired from the band and claim he did less drugs "than anybody", but also blame Axl for the demise of the classical band:

If people think that I got kicked out of Guns N' Roses for doing drugs, they are so mistaken. Everybody in that band was doing drugs. I was doing less than anybody. I got kicked out of the band, and Izzy got kicked out of the band, and then Slash and Duff did, because Axl wanted to take control of everything — he wanted to own the name, he wanted to be the only person who gets paid for the songs. He wanted to be the manager, the accountant and everything, when all he needs to do is get up there and sing like a motherfucker that he does. But he wanted to own and control everything. Like Elton John — he wanted to be like Elton John or Billy Joel. That's where the whole piano thing came in. He wanted to be a piano man, which is cool, but that's not Guns N' Roses. Leave Guns N' Roses the way it is, and then you do solo albums, like all musicians in other bands do. But that's what he wanted to do, and that's what happened. So I was the first to go, 'cause I was the easiest one; I was the nicest guy. They tricked me. They had me sign some contract with my lawyer there at the office. And I was completely sick at the time. And I had no idea I was signing my rights away, rights to the name, my royalties. They wanted to basically give me two thousand dollars and throw me in the street. And thank God my mom realized what happened and she got a lawyer for me. And thank God everything got taken care of.

And the reason I did it [=play with the semi-reunited lineup] and needed to do it was because I got kicked out of the band for reasons I still don’t know. To say that I’m a drug addict in that band and getting kicked out for drugs is ridiculous. They were doing drugs way more than me, so it’s like calling the kettle black. But it was different stuff. Axl wanted more control of the thing. Then he wanted control of Izzy, and then he wanted control of Slash and Duff, and so one at a time everybody left until it was the Axl Rose band. But he still called it Guns N’ Roses. And I don’t blame him — I would too, ’cause that name is worth billions. So I’d use it if I could myself. [Laughs] I’d get Steven Tyler to sing though. [Laughs] [...] and I needed to do it, because I neeed closure. I got kicked out, and all of a sudden… I had a road crew, I had management, I had accountants, I had stage people, I had a band, and then one day, literally in one afternoon, I had nobody — I was all alone. And I was scared shitless. I didn’t know what to do. What do I do? All I knew was what I was doing. And then I was left all alone.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Mon Feb 26, 2024 4:01 pm; edited 17 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:16 am


With Steven in the process of being kicked out of the band, the band needed a new drummer to finish the recording which was dragging out.

It was heartbreaking, especially for me and Slash, but we had to find a replacement drummer.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 172

Finding a replacement drummer wasn't easy, both because Steven's drumming was such an integral part of the band's sound but also, as Slash would say, "we couldn't place an ad in the paper" [Musician, December 1990].

The same thing that had made Steven an important part of our sound also made it difficult to replace him-his sense of groove We tried out drummer after drummer. Things started to look a bit grim.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 172

So Steven was ultimately let go and then we couldn't find anybody to replace him. We're a very tight-knit little family. Every single guy that we tried out would have to walk into this room with a bunch of guys just sitting there, looking like they were going to kill him!

When I was looking for a drummer to replace [Guns’] Stephen [Adler], there was a point where we had a million top-notch drummers and I could not find anybody. That was probably the first real break-up of Guns, was when we couldn’t find a drummer… It’s like -- a bad drummer? Can’t do it. It just won’t happen.

Eventually, the band found Matt Sorum from the band The Cult. Guns N' Roses knew the band well, having opened for The Cult on their 1987 tour in Canada and USA. Axl and Izzy had also jammed with Matt and The Cult in July 1989 [see previous chapter].

Thankfully, at the very last moment we found Matt Sorum, who had been playing with the Cult.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 172

Slash would  talk about having seen Matt play with the Cult:

What happened was I went to the Universal Amphitheatre and saw The Cult, I watched the show from the soundboard and the main thing I noticed was that the drummer was great and I said, 'Well, why can't we find a drummer like that? What's the problem?

I didn’t wanna go and see The Cult that night. I had just got a new girlfriend who’s now my wife, and I thought, ‘I’ll take her to a concert’. And that’s where I saw Matt, and that’s how that happened.

Matt would confirm that Slash and Duff had come to that show and watched him play:

I was doing the tour with the Cult, and our last two shows were in L.A. at the Universal Amphitheatre. Slash and Duff, the guitarist and bass player for Guns N' Roses, came out to the show. They hung out at the sound board the whole time.

Slash and Duff came down to see me play at the Universal Amphitheater. Then Slash called me up. I was staying with my mom 'cause I didn't have a house and they asked me to join.

This show with the Cult was the final gig on the The Cult tour in 1990 and took place on April 3, at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. But both Slash and Duff had seen Matt play with The Cult a few months earlier, on June 24, 1989, at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy when they were hanging out in Chicago waiting for Axl and Izzy to show up [Chicago Tribune, May 1991] and had been impressed with his performance.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:17 am


Matt is unclear on when he was contacted by the Guns N' Roses camp. In one quote he says he was contacted the day after the April 3 show with the Cult, while Steven was still on the probation contract:

They didn't approach me again until the very last show I did with the Cult in April last year, so I had a sneaking suspicion something was going on. The next day I got a call from Slash at my house. Originally I was just going to go down and do the album. Then about two weeks into rehearsal, I went up to Slash's house for a little barbecue and he asked me to join the band.

In another quote he says it happened five weeks later:

About five weeks after [the Universal Amphitheatre shows with The Cult] I got a phone call from a producer named Mike Clink. He said, "Someone's going to be calling you, and I'm not going to tell you who." I was sitting around the house going, "Who is this?" I finally got the call: "Hey Matt, this is Slash. Do you want to come and record our album? Steven is no longer in the band."

Regardless, initially the idea was to only bring Matt in to finish recording the album:

I was just finished with The Cult tour in 1990. It was a couple... It’s two years ago that I’ve been in Guns. And I got a call from Slash. And originally I was just gonna go and do Use Your Illusion I and II, the records, and go back to The Cult. And they would go with Steven out on tour. And I started rehearsing with the band and we just got along really well. Duff and Slash and myself mainly rehearsed at first, then Izzy would come in and then Axl. And about two weeks into it, I was up at Slash’s house, where we had a little barbecue - you know, cook us a chicken – and he said, “Hey, do you wanna come to Guns N’ Roses?” And I go, “Wow” – again (laughs).

I was going to just do the albums and Steven was going to come back and do the tour. Steven was going through a lot of personal stuff. I was temporarily there. But as time progressed, maybe a couple of weeks into the session Slash pulled me aside, and said it didn’t look as if Steven was coming back and asked if I’d like to join the band.

This would be confirmed by Slash [MTV Rockline, March 1992].

The date of when the band formally contacted Matt aside, we know that Slash and Duff had Matt in mind after having witnessed him play on April 3 [see later chapter].

With Matt only being intended to replace Steven in the studio, it is likely the band still hoped that Steven could remain in the band. But that after two weeks they gave up that idea and asked Matt to replace Steven permanently.

I went down [to the recording studio] thinking I was just going to do the album, which is what I told the guys in the Cult, figuring I'd be able to do the Cult album after that. About two weeks into rehearsals, Slash asked me if I wanted to be in the band as a member.

Duff would talk about the first impression:

I think he just came down, we played with him and, you know, he picked up stuff really quick. He hit the drums really hard. His meter was great and...


If the band called Matt already in early April, this would place Matt joining GN'R to mid-April 1990. This also fits with a comment he made during an interview at Rock In Rio II, in January 1991, when he said he joined GN'R "about 8 months ago" [Special TV, 1991]. Despite this, in a Geffen press release from 1991, it was stated that Matt joined the band in August 1990 [Geffen Press Release, September 1991]. And later, in an official newsletter, Matt would say he started rehearsing with the band in May but joined in June:

I joined GN'R in May of 1990. I mean I joined them in July 1990, but our first rehearsals were in May 1990.

Slash has also given statements that could imply Matt joined the band much later than April:

What happened was I went to the Universal Amphitheatre [April 3, 1990] and saw The Cult […] So three months or something went by and I was tearing my hair out trying to find a guy who would fit in the band and have the right feel and get along with us on a personality basis. Because as much as everybody would like to try and believe it, we're not like a business when it comes to just the five of us. It's not like we just hire some outside guy as long as he can play the parts right. And I think then I remembered that Cult gig and figured out I'd just try and steal him. And that's what I did.

This would imply Matt joined the band in June-July 1990, and that Matt was incorrect in saying he was contacted immediately after the April 3 show.

Matt would kater describe how he was offered the job:

I had this sort of initial big offering of The Cult taking me into the arena level. I feel like I'm in a [big] band. This is good. I'm cool. This is a great life. I'm making a great living. When the Guns N' Roses offer came along, I can't say I had really listened to the ['Appetite For Destruction'] record even though it was everywhere. I didn't buy it, because I was on the road. I was doing my own thing; I was living another life. When I got back to L.A. and The Cult tour finished, I got that call from Slash, and ended up coming to Hollywood. When I finally was offered the position, Slash and Duff and then Axl came in, very similar to Ian. Waited a few days and came down. Axl came in and he kind of walked by. He winked at Slash, and then he left. Same thing as Ian did, except for he didn't sing. That day, Slash said, 'You're in the band, dude. You want be in the band?' We went up to his house, and we were drinking and hanging out. I remember thinking, 'These guys are nuts, but I like them.' [Laughs] I ended up joining the band and becoming a member. I wasn't a sideman. A lot of people think I was, but I was full member.

Press rumors about Matt joining started first in August [L.A. Weekly, August 24, 1990] and that's when it finally had to be confirmed by the band, despite it likely having happened in May/June.

Slash would talk about hiring Matt in a Guitar Player issue that was published in October 1990, but the interview was done before July 1990:

We've got a new drummer, named Matt Sorum. The press doesn't seem to know about it, which is cool. We've had problems for months with Steven [Adler], and it was holding up the band. Once I swallowed the reality that things had to change, I started scouting drummers. We obviously couldn't put an ad out -- we would've had the Goon Squad knocking at our door. So we started auditioning people we heard about through the grapevine.

Unfortunately, we couldn't find anyone with the right attack or feel. I was really depressed over the situation for a while. Then one night, not too long ago, I went to see the Cult. I was at the sound board, and I was thinking, "This drummer is really awesome." I think Lars from Metallica told me about him, too. I was really, really impressed. He was literally one of the best rock drummers I had ever seen.

I initially didn't contact him because he was with the Cult. But I was at an all-time low and I knew that the Cult were off the road, so I decided to give Matt Sorum a call. I went through all these different sources to get in touch with him. Finally we hooked up, he came down to a rehearsal, and things immediately clicked. It was great and he was a great guy -- the chemistry worked.

Steven wasn't a technically great drummer, but we had been playing together for so long that we had a great collective feel. His meter, however, was always changing-up and down, up and down. So we had never really played with a great drummer. We didn't know what it would feel like. Not to say Steven isn't any good -- I don 't want to put him down -- but we never really played with anybody that was awesome. Duff and I started realizing how good Guns N' Roses could be after playing with some great drummers, like Kenny Aronoff from Iggy's band. We just looked at each other after playing with Kenny and went," Wow!" Then when Sorum came down and kicked ass, it confirmed things. The band sounds about 100 times better.

The difference is insane. At one point Duff thought it was his fault. We couldn't get a decent groove going, and we couldn't figure what was going wrong. Then we thought it was the whole band! You should've seen us! Y'know, long faces and shit ... [laughs].


Matt would claim to have had reservations about joining Guns N' Roses:

I heard a lot of horror sto­ries, and I had mixed opinions about joining this band. Final­ly I decided that this is a once in-a-lifetime opportunity and that if I didn’t take it now, I’d probably kill myself later.

You hear the stories, the drug abuse, the lifestyle. I just didn’t know what to expect, it was crazy, a wild ride.

And this might have been what Matt was referring to in this later quote:

When I was hired in GNR, it was hell in the band and I patched things up.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French

When I joined the band about 8 months ago [interview is done in January 1991, during Rock in Rio], everything was in turmoil. And the band has really come together and we pumped out a lot of tunes for this new album.

But the band had few reservations about him:

He has saved the band’s life. He came in, he's in an up mood, he works, he writes his own material. He writes a lot. He works real well with us. He takes suggestions while he keeps everybody in line, keeps the timing great... Yeah, I mean, he played 29 songs in a month.

[Matt had] the best groove I'd heard. So we got together, and he fit in with us from day one. […] In the past, Steve used to watch my feet for meter, and I always rush things in certain places—not on purpose. So a lot of our tempos would be all over the place. We just got used to that. A couple of times we had a drummer fill in for Steve on the road, and in the middle of 'Welcome to the Jungle' I'd realize I'm four bars ahead of the drummer. So, now I'm learning to play with an actual musician.

He’s amazing. Can’t say enough nice things about him. He’s a great guy to hang out with, he’s always friendly, he’s usually always in a good mood.

The fact that Matt could play and fit in was what saved us. If we hadn’t found somebody, it would have ultimately been the demise of the band. Matt’s been capable of keeping up with it, if not enhancing it totally and bringing new stuff to it. He still can’t show up anywhere on time, though [laughing].

When Matt happened, it was the one final thing that we needed to pull it all back together. It was just loose; we were all together but we were all just hanging on the edge, trying to figure out how to keep the band going. There were a lot of, uh, chemical situations going on and so forth, and Matt was like a godsend because he was the one thing we needed.

There was a point there that we thought we couldn’t play. It was very weird. Matt’s a f**kin’ great guy, an awesome drummer, and he f**kin’ made the band solid. He was the kick in the ass that re­motivated us, because at one point, I think we forgot what we were here for. When Matt joined the band, we pulled 30 songs together in a month. So after two years of going through all this bullshit, when the band finally came together, we just clicked like we always have.

Matt came in and kicked ass. And that put a foot up our ass. It was like, ‘That’s right! We’re a fucking band, man, that’s right!’ It’s like we forgot we were a rock and roll band that could kick ass. And it all came back. It was completely natural.

Izzy seemed to be a little bit more reserved:

[Talking about what Matt has done for the group since he became a member]: Um, as a drummer I would say... I don’t know, it’s good, you know? (chuckles). […] Yes, different style [than Steven's]. But, you know, they’re both good drummers and Matt is working good.


With Steven being entirely replaced by Matt, and Matt joining Guns N' Roses on tour in 1991, Guns N' Roses had practically "stolen" the drummer from the Cult. Asked about how Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy from the Cult reacted, Slash would reply:

Actually, I just ran into them, like, two days ago. They were really cool about it, because... Of course I called Matt on the sly, you know (chuckles). I didn’t call Ian and say, “Can I steal your drummer?” But I called Matt and said, “Well, do you wanna do the album?” you know. I didn’t really tell him I was stealing him for the whole tour and everything. So he was like, “Well, The Cult’s off tour and the record is done” and so on, and so, “Yeah, I’ll come down.” And we clicked, you know, in the first five minutes. So then it was like, obviously we’re not gonna replace him, and we did the whole record and everything. So we made him an offer of such... You know, right? […] And so, as far as Ian and Billy were concerned, that was Matt’s deal, really, to confront them with it. And then, as time went by, running into Billy and Ian... I mean, Ian was great about it. I didn’t really talk to Billy about it, you know, but Ian was like, “Whatever, it’s cool.” Yeah, so it was amicable.

Duff, on the other hand, would claim they talked to Astbury before offering the job to Matt:

We didn't steal their drummer away. We talked to Ian first. It was their last gig of the tour, so it fell right into place. I was crossing my fingers, 'cause he seemed perfect. Then when he came in for an audition, I was like, "Okay, yeah!'

Then Slash and I went to see The Cult on the last night of their tour and we were amazed by this guy Matt on drums. We were friends with Ian [Astbury] and Billy [Duffy] because our first tour ever was opening for them so I asked Ian whether they would be hanging onto the drummer now the tour had finished. They wanted to get all British guys in the band so we got hold of Matt, he came and played and we knew it would work. He’s an awesome drummer.

[...] Slash and I went to a Cult show. I think it was their last show on a tour. And we saw Matt. "Holy shit," you know. So I think we talked to Ian after the show and they were like, "We're done touring so if you need him to do the record, you know, it's fine with us." You're not going to cross any... You don't want to cross your friend's band and take their drummer, you know.

Matt would explain that he wasn't an actual member of the Cult at the time, but was negotiating it:

I was negotiating that. My deal with them was that I was going to tour with them for one year, and then I was going to become an equal member. I said to Guns N' Roses, "If you want me in the band, you have to make me a member, because I already have an offer to be a member of the Cult." Guns N' Roses brought me right into the organization, and that was nice

Any drummer in my position at the time would have been kicking themselves had they not done it. At the time, GNR were the biggest band in the world! The fact that I got the call to do the gig was such an honor. They came to the show and liked the way I played. So I went back to Billy and told him I'd just been offered the GNR gig, not as a sideman, but as a band member (Matt was a waged session player while in The Cult). Billy told me that if it was him then he'd do it - at the time it was like winning the rock 'n' roll lottery.

Then when Guns N' Roses came along that was the next career move for me. At the time I was a sideman for The Cult. They were paying me a salary. I'm thinking, “Make me a member. Include me in the band.” I made them that offer. They didn't really step up so I said, "Well I've gotta go." When I left and joined Guns N' Roses it was a big move for me.

Slash, summarizing what happened:

Matt I found after being seriously frustrated looking for a drummer. It was a crucial period where we had to get it together if we were gonna stay together. He was playing with the Cult. I saw him a few months before I called him. I had to sit down and go, "Okay, who's the best drummer I've seen, regardless of what band he's in?" I remembered being blown away by Matt with the Cult. So I thought, "I'll just give him a call. The Cult's off the road." I called him, and he came down and we hit it off right away.

In 2016, Billy Duffy would talk about how it had happened and that it was all good:

[Laughs] Well, back in that day they did what they had to do and who’s to say I wouldn’t have done the same if I was in their position — you know? There seriously weren’t any hard feelings because at that point me and Ian weren’t really in a good place, so holding onto Matt Sorum out of spite… because Matt was very conflicted. I sat with him and he was like, “I don’t really want to leave, but you and Ian aren’t really getting along and there’s no plans for the Cult and [Guns N’ Roses] are asking me to play their last album sold about five thousand billion copies.” I said, “Do it mate. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t take this opportunity. The Cult will survive. The Cult is built upon the foundation of Astbury/Duffy, and we’ll survive mate, so go ahead and have at it. I would.” And it became what it became.


It was hard for them to bring someone new into the band, because they had known Steven for so long and he was a really good person; he just had his problems. And they were having a hard time finding someone that they could really open up to and hang out with the way they had with Steven.

Basically, I never was really a member of the Cult. And when these guys came on and asked me to do the album – I was just gonna do the record and go back to the Cult and hopefully Steven would get his thing together, but it didn’t work out, so they asked me to join the band. And, you know, it was basically something I couldn’t turn down; I’d have probably kicked myself in the ass real hard later, you know.
Rapido, September 1991; from Press Conference, August 1991

Slash and Duff came to see a Cult show and liked my style of playing. They called me to work on the records (Use Your Illusion I and II). Originally I wasn't going to tour with them, but Steven had to be let go and I became a full time member.

I replaced Steven Adler and many people said Use your Illusion is very different from Appetite For Destruction. It wouldn't have been constructive to do Appetite 2. Many people also said I'm better than Steven. No, I only play in a different way.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French

That was like winning the rock-and-roll lottery. I was a sideman in the Cult. Fans came up to me for years and asked if I left for the money. That had nothing to do with it. I wanted a full partnership and I got that with Guns N’ Roses. I wanted to make a name for myself and I did.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:17 am


I wish I’d played on Appetite For Destruction.


Matthew William Sorum was born in Long Beach, California, on November 19, 1960 and grew up in Orange County near Laguna Beach [Conspiracy Incorporated Newsletter, July 1991; GN'R Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3, May 9, 1996] into a musical family where his mother was music teacher and his brother a classical violinist [Conspiracy Incorporated Newsletter, July 1991]. He has two older brothers and a younger half brother [GN'R Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3, May 9, 1996].

I grew up in a surfing community and if you weren't a surfer, you weren't one of the cool guys. When I started playing drums, I got some attention, so it made me wanna play all the more.

He got his first drum kit, a "Sears Tigger Tiger Drum Kit" from Sears and Roebuck, when he was 5 but his older brothers broke it because they "didn't like the way [he] played it" [GN'R Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3, May 9, 1996]. Matt but "got serious" about drumming at age 9 [Conspiracy Incorporated Newsletter, July 1991]. He got inspired to play drums after having seen Ringo Starr at the Ed Sullivan Show in 1966 [GN'R Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3, May 9, 1996].

I started playing the guitar, actually, before I started playing the drums. My mother was a classical pianist, so I had a lot of music in the house. I started playing piano and then I got into the guitar. My middle brother played guitar so I started dabbling on his guitar, and around that same time I saw the Beatles on TV and I gravitated more towards the drums.

I just always wanted to play drums. I got my first set of drums when I was about 5 years old. You know, I was just always banging on things, I don’t know. My first band I was really into was probably Black Sabbath. You know, during, like, junior high school. I guess that’s what made me hit drums so hard, because I saw Black Sabbath and, you know, his drumming was just so amazing, Bill Ward, back in those days. And I liked his power. And then I got into Zeppelin and all the stuff that the rest of the guys were into, you know, Aerosmith and...

[Talking about the first record he bought]: 1966, A Hard Day’s Night. I saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show — I was six years old. I wanted to be a drummer when I bought that record — I was playing then too.

In high school I was in marching band and jazz ensemble. I actually took three band classes a day in high school. We could have three electives, and I picked all music—wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, marching band. And we had a really good drum corps at Mission Viejo High School. I played timp-toms.

I took some [lessons] from Jay Wanamaker. In those days I wasn't really into the rudiment thing. I was just into playing hard rock. When I was in the eighth grade I had my first band, and I was totally into Black Sabbath. So I kind of got turned off to lessons until I got into marching band and that kind of stuff. Once I got into doing that, it took up a lot of my time. Marching band was two hours after school.

[Being asked if he didn't take any lessons after that]: Not really. The only thing I did was attend jazz retreats and clinics and things. At home I played to records. In 1974, when I first got into high school, I really got into early Genesis and Gentle Giant—more progressive stuff. I wasn't really into Led Zeppelin until much later. I was more into the weird stuff like Gentle Giant, which helped me with my odd meters. I learned how to play in 7/4 and things like that in the ninth grade, because early Genesis was really into that.

My parents split up when I was a child and that's when I started playing drums. I was unhappy, angry, aggressive.

My mother’s a classically trained pianist so I grew up in a sort of classical family. My grandfather was a professor of music at the university and a classically trained musician. I kind of came up through that and rebelled a little bit and got into rock’n’roll because when I was growing up, as a teenager in the ’70s, the culture of music was just so rich at that time, with bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and the Stones. So many different great rock bands. David Bowie!

I got into music through my two older brothers. In the mid-’60s they were bringing home Beatles records. As I got into junior high school, I was starting to vibe out with my friends and we were into bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and all the greats. I started playing drums pretty young and I always say it was because I saw Ringo Starr on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” I really got into the drums at that point. You always say it’s like when the kid sees a fire engine and tells his mother that he wants to be a fireman or when a train goes by and he wants to be engineer. That whole Beatles invasion caught my attention and that was pretty much it! I was like, “That’s what I want to do!” I couldn’t really get it off my mind and was pretty much obsessed to the point where all I will talk about was drums. When I finally got the drum set, I think it was Christmas when I was about 5 years old, I never really turned back!

Playing drums was a good way to get out anger:

[…] you know, it was my way of getting it out. It was great that I’d come home from school every day and thrash (imitates playing drums). And right after that I’d feel really good and mellow. […] I’d say for anybody out there that, like - let’s say people down in, like, East L.A. that want to go out and beat somebody up. They should just buy a drum kit or something, you know? Really. Beat on a drum, don’t beat on each other or something. I think that’d be a great model for the world. You know, everybody buy drum sets. And when you feel like you wanna go, like, hit your kid or something, go in a room and play a beat.

Matt with his first drum kit

Other bands and artists that inspired Matt were old Genesis, Deep Purple, Louis Belson and "some other jazz artists" [Conspiracy Incorporated Newsletter, July 1991], while his favorite drummers are "probably John Bonham, Ian Place from Deep Purple and Bill Ward from Black Sabbath" and Keith Moon [GN'R Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3, May 9, 1996].

Kiss Alive was the first concert I ever saw in the ninth grade, so I bought that album, but it was probably Led Zeppelin ‘Good Times Bad Times’ that made the biggest impression on me or Ginger Baker playing drums on Fresh Cream.

I liked Deep Purple because they were kind of orchestral in a way. I liked everything with kind of a classical sound to it. Then I got into the early fusion drummers like Billy Cobham, Lenny White, and Tony Williams. I learned a lot from them, like playing real fast and applying rudiments to the drumkit. I went off in that direction for a while, but I came to the realization that I really couldn't compete with those guys, and I found my niche in rock 'n' roll. I kind of moved around for a while and couldn't figure out what my style was until I finally started getting a lot of calls from rock bands. I played new wave, country—everything. But I didn't really figure it out until I did the Jeff Paris album, and then I got back into rock and grew my hair out. Then when the Cult gig came up, I said, "This is it."

Another hobby of Matt was surfing:

[…] I was a surfer. I surfed all the way up until the tenth grade and then I gave up surfing to then be completely enthralled by rock.

And drug smuggling:

Before I was in a rock band, I was a drug smuggler. I used to smuggle cocaine across borders. I'd fly on airplanes with two kilos strapped around my waist. Most of my deliveries were in Hawaii, because I had a big connection there. I thought about the title 'Rock 'N' Roll Smuggler'. Imagine the movie 'Blow', and then think about coming up in rock 'n' roll, before I got into bands that I was in. My way to pay my way was smuggling, and that's what I did. A lot of the book, there's probably going to be at least a chapter or two on my drug-dealing days. The last time I smuggled two kilos to Hawaii, I remember thinking I was being followed, and it wasn't because I was paranoid on cocaine — I really felt that I was being followed. So, I told the guy that flew this stuff for — I was the mule, and I got, like, a couple grand every time I went — 'I can't do this. I'm being followed.' He's like, 'Oh, man, you're just high.' I'm like, 'No, man. I'm not doing it. I'm going back to L.A.' The guy that took my place got arrested. 20 years in a federal penitentiary [for] international drug smuggling. That would have been me.


Matt started his career as a drummer in various Los Angeles-based hard rock bands in 1976 or 1979.

I came to Hollywood right out of high school around '79. When I started, I was getting $25 per rehearsal, and $50 per gig. I was playing in seven or eight bands at the same time. I loved playing in bands, and I didn't want to get a real job. I developed a good instinct for finding the right guys, learning to deal with all the different personalities.

My brother started to turn me onto other records and, as I got into junior high school and high school, I started forming bands. My first experience of playing in front of an audience, where I really got the bug, was when I started coming to Hollywood in my teens. I started playing up in Hollywood when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I would sneak out of the house and tell my mom I was going to my buddy’s house but I would drive up the freeway about 60 miles from where I grew up in Orange County to Hollywood. I started playing clubs like The Whiskey, Gazzarri’s, Crazy Horse West, Starwood and all these clubs in Hollywood. That’s why I really got the bug because I felt the energy of that time, which was the mid-’70s. I started meeting other rock ‘n’ roll musicians and it seemed like there was a real community amongst musicians. That holds true to this day. There was a camaraderie and competition at the same time! You were in a competitive band and, in a healthy way, we were all competing because we all wanted to be successful and, most of the time, famous. I moved to Hollywood right out of high school, when I was about 19, and I never looked back. I’ve been there since 1979.

Then he played with an Australian new wave band called IQ, toured with a guitarist named Greg Wright, and returned to LA to work as a session drummer, including playing with Gladys Knight. He also played with E.G. Daily, Belinda Carlisle, Shaun Cassidy, Jeff Paris and Spencer Davis [Conspiracy Incorporated Newsletter, July 1991].

There’s a lot of different types of music, which I didn’t have a problem with, because I come from, like, a lot of different musical backgrounds. I played with R&B artists and I played with a lot... […] Gladys Knight & the Pips I played with… […] I played with them about two years ago, I did one of their albums. I got one track with them. And then I worked with Belinda Carlisle, who is a pop star, so I have all kinds of different, like, stuff just to make ends meet. It’s what I did in the studios in LA. If someone called me up, you know, I wouldn’t argue. I’d play with anyone.

I came from [an environment] of getting gigs, you know what I mean? The beauty about growing up in the '70s is that you had to have musicianship, number one, but you had to be able to sort of morph as well. When I came to Hollywood in 1979 I just grabbed every gig I could get because I didn't want to have a real job. I was jumping into all these different situations and I was picking up gigs and doing all kinds of shit.

There was one time I was in ten bands at the same time and I would drive around with this drum kit. I had this full station wagon, and I'd go from gig to gig. It was kind of a trip because I was playing in a Top-40 band five nights a week, and then going and doing other gigs to make sure that I wasn’t going to get locked up in that world, because I always looked at Top-40 guys as, "Oh God, they're making a living and they get lazy." But I wanted to break out, I wanted to be in the big bands.

I had a buddy who was working for a famous producer, Michael Lloyd. My first session was working with Gladys Knight and the Pips. I was in my early twenties, Orange County kid, blond hair. As a drummer, I listened to everything: Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, the Average White Band. I had a background in funk, believe it or not.

So I nailed the gig and ended up playing on a lot of stuff for them. Out of that I did sessions for Belinda Carlisle; I played with the famous gospel singer "King" Solomon Burke. I worked with Ronnie Spector, Celine Dion. I did tons of stuff that people don't know about. I did Tori Amos's first album.

And then I got a little burnt out on studio work. I got tired of being everyone else's drummer. I wanted to be a known guy. My dream was to be like John Bonham, Keith Moon or Ginger Baker in terms of drumming ability and notoriety. I wanted to be recognized, so I started auditioning for bands.

I joined Jeff Paris. We got signed to Polygram Records. Then I joined The Cult in the late '80s. I went through this metamorphosis, all these different styles. And it made me into a guy who can morph into anything. In order to have a career, sometimes you have to do that. You have to be able to walk into any situation and be that guy.

I fought for 10 years to get a proper career. I didn’t have many other job skills to be honest, so it was kind of like do or die! [laughs] It was like, “If I don’t have success and pull this off, I don’t know what I’m going to do!” [laughs] I wasn’t very good at my school activities and I didn’t have any aspirations anywhere else. I was fiercely focused on making it in rock ‘n’ roll. Once I started having some success, I was happy I was making a living. I was able to pay my rent and tour from being in a band, which was the life I had always dreamt of and that still holds true to this day! I’m still doing it and still happy to be at it after all these years.


Matt with Tori Amos' band
Y Kant Tori Read

Talking about how he ended up in a band with Tori Amos:

I was playing in this hotel in this Top-40 band and I walked out in the lobby and saw Tori Amos sitting behind a piano. She was working in the piano bar trying to make tips -- $100 or $50 a night or whatever they paid in those days. I went up to her and we formed a band. I thought she was the most talented singer. We started a band and started playing around Hollywood. I had that going, and then she ended up getting a record deal and they fired the band [laughs]. I spent about two years with Tori to kind of be left in the dust. That was my first real taste of the cutthroat music business. I tried to build a band up to get a record deal, a band called Population Five. All the time I was doing sessions and picking up gigs.

Before I came into The Cult I was basically a session musician and at night time I would play in bars. I’d go around five nights a week playing in local bars so I could pay my rent. I was playing at this place near the airport in Los Angeles and I came out of the club and there was someone in the lobby playing piano and I looked over and it was Tori. I walked up to her and I said, “Wow, you’re a really amazing piano player.” [She is] also a classically trained pianist. I said to her, “What’s your name?” She said, “I’m Tori. I’m from Baltimore,” and I said, “Oh my God, I love you.” We spent two years writing music together and writing together and we put a band together and started playing around Los Angeles.

She ended up getting a record deal. They asked her to sign a solo deal, so at that point we split up. But I ended up playing on the first album, which is called Y Kant Tori Read, which is sort of a hard-to-find record now. It didn’t do well and after that she came out with Little Earthquakes and that was a big record for her. But it was all part of the plan. After that I got a little bit back to my rock roots … and that’s when I joined The Cult.

Well I actually formed that band with Tori when she first came to Hollywood. That’s an interesting time period musically because there wasn’t really any rock and roll happening in L.A., it was more of a new wave period in the late ’80s. A little after Tori, the hair metal thing came. Around the mid-’80s I was dabbling in electronic music and stuff like Human League and Ultravox. I had a weird hairdo. I met this singer/songwriter keyboard player girl at this hotel playing piano. I walked over to her and I ask, ‘Who are you?’ And she said ‘I’m Tori Amos, I’m from Baltimore.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, you’re incredible.’ She’s playing like classical, just ripping, and singing with this very like, Kate Bush voice, which I love, Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. And I said ‘We’ve got to jam!’ So I called a buddy of mine we started playing around town. And she came up with the idea to call the band Y Kant Tori Read, and we used to play this club over at the Valley, and Jason Flom from Lava Records signed the band, and then just decided that he just wanted to sign Tori. And that was my first sort of real kick in the teeth. Two years of working with her, and just got kicked to the curb, and that hurt. But I learned about the music business pretty quick. But in retrospect, it was all right. God’s rejection is God’s protection. I wasn’t meant to be there, who knows where I would’ve been now? And after that I morphed into the Cult.


After playing with Gladys Knight he hooked up with The Cult [Rolling Stone, September 1991] and played with them in "December of ’88 and through May of 1990" [Conspiracy Incorporated Newsletter, July 1991].

After the Tori Amos experience I did an album for a guy named Jeff Harris and Polygram Records. I just put my name out as a gun for hire, and I got an audition for The Cult. I got offered all these heavy metal band gigs, like Winger, Warrant, Survivor, and I just never felt that music. So I turned them down … When it came time to make a big decision, I always made sure that I made the right decision, so when I found out about The Cult, I said, "Here's a band that I can sink my teeth into and get some credibility." So when I joined The Cult that was really my first taste of the big time.

I was playing around town a lot, and a few different people recommended me. The Cult is an English band, so they were looking for English players, but Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols and his bass player, Terry Nails, recommended me, as well as Chuck Wright, the bass player from House Of Lords. So they finally called me up and asked me to come down to audition. I went down, and it was a real cool audition; we jammed stuff like Zeppelin. It wasn't a real pressure situation like other auditions I had been involved with. […] I picked up a couple of their albums, but I didn't go crazy learning them—and I'm glad I didn't, because we didn't end up doing anything like that. It was just to see how I played. They weren't trying to run me through this thing of, "Play this exactly like Mark Brzezicki," who played on their Love album. When I got done with the audition, they said, "You've got the gig if you want it." I was the only guy they auditioned. They were going to audition Pat Torpey, but he decided to go with Mr. Big. The Cult album sold about a million in a month and went to #10—it really took off. The tour was great. On my first gig we played for 15,000 people, and I had never played for that many people before, so it was pretty scary.

In the Cult every night was a big party. Now I take it a little easier.

I was in L.A. for more than 10 years, trying to live in playing music. I was a session-man. I played with a lot of bands that never did anything. I even worked on Tori Amos' first album. Do you believe in it (laugh)? It became really frustrating. Then I did an audition for The Cult. I thought: "Cool, this is a great opportunity, it's a good band, I will do a tour". I lived in a shitty place, I slept on a sofa, I had no shower, I had a shitty car, then I'm with The Cult and for the first show, we opened for Metallica in front of 25,000 people. "Cool, now it's true!" So I stayed with The Cult for 2 years.
Hard Rock, September 1996; translated from French

I was just blown away by this band. [...] I was pumped about having an opportunity to play with these guys. I studied English drummers like John Bonham and Keith Moon my whole life.

I was on my first tour bus, hanging out with all the big rock stars. The first show I met Steven Tyler, and the Motley Crew guys in Vancouver. Our opening show with Metallica was in British Columbia. There were all these guys and I'm like, "Oh my God, I've definitely arrived into the big leagues."

The Cult was a big band then. We'd gone platinum on the Sonic Temple album and we were starting to play arenas. So I got a real taste of the big arena world and became pretty close with the Metallica guys. We toured with them for about six months. My next tour in Europe with The Cult was with Aerosmith and all of a sudden here I am on stage with Steven Tyler, a guy that I grew up [listening to]. I would be perfectly happy to have stayed with The Cult.

It was sort of a natural progression because The Cult at that time was coming out of a goth period, they were out of the English scene like Bauhaus and those kind of bands. I was brought into that group when they were starting to become more rock in the late ’80s, early ’90s [...]

The Cult was coming around during that Electric album, that was getting big in America with a song called ‘Wild Flower’, and ‘Love Removal Machine’. It was starting to make a lot of impact in Los Angeles. The style was a little more cool and groovy than what was going on in LA at the time. You’ve got to remember there was a lot of hair metal and hair bands. The Cult was a lot more down and dirty and had a lot cooler look. Ian [Astbury] was just like modern Jim Morrison. I didn’t really fit into that hair metal scene. I did have a little bit bigger hair back in those days, but that’s only because my hair was curly. When I joined The Cult I felt like I’d found a special band. It was the heyday of The Cult, we were the biggest it ever was. I played arenas, I toured the world headlining. It was a really great time.

Basically, it was a guy that played with Steve Jones named Terry Nails. He was a cool local guy, and him and Pat Torpey from Mr. Big told The Cult about me. Pat had played with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant when they did that tour [in 1988], and The Cult guys had seen him, so they called Pat first and wanted Pat in the band. Pat said, 'No, man, I can't do it. I'm starting a band called Mr. Big, but I know this guy named Matt Sorum.' That's how it happened. I went to this [rehearsal studio] in the valley called Mates. I lived in the [San Fernando] Valley in a warehouse, and I had, like, a broken-down [Datsun] 280z. I needed the gig. I was like, 'All my friends are making it.' I was, like, 28 at the time. I'm like, 'It's almost over for me. I'm old!' If you're in rock and roll and you were 27, you were, like, an old dude. I said, 'Man, I have to get this gig.' And I manifested it. That's when I started learning about manifestation, and, like, really setting the stage for myself — 'I am going to get this gig.' I learned 'Love'; I learned 'Electric'; I even went back to 'Death Cult'. I was prepared. I walked in there, and Billy Duffy and Jamie Stewart, the original bassist, [were there]. No Ian Astbury. I had this big double-bass drum red kit, which was, like, a no-no, but I only had that because I'd lost the David Lee Roth audition because I didn't play double bass. I went out and learned how to play double bass. That's all I did all day. Then I come to The Cult and they go, 'Oh, what's with the other bass drum?' I took it away, and I was back to being me. I played a bunch of songs with those guys, and they said, 'Well, we really like you, man, but Ian's got to sign off.' I was very superstitious about telling anybody. I go two weeks before Ian's coming back from London without telling anybody. Then Ian comes and we went to this little place out in the Valley. He came in in full regalia — a hat with a skull, sunglasses, black flares, cross around his neck. He didn't say hello. We kicked into, like, 'Fire Woman' and 'Sweet Soul Sister', and then we did, like, 'Wildflower', 'Little Devil'. He turned around to me and says, 'You got the gig, but just don't smile so much.' Then he turned around and walked out. We ended up being drinking buddies. We did a lot of drinking together on that tour, and really pissed off the rest of the band.

Talking about reacting to Guns N' Roses blowing up:

While I was doing the Sonic Temple tour, Appetite For Destruction was really taking off. We were out on the road and the joke was, ‘hey, that band used to open for us!

Matt never got to record for the Cult, though:

The Guns N' Roses thing came up. The only thing I did with the Cult was a recording session in London where we did about eight tracks, but the last I heard, they were going to do them over. There is a live CD that I'm on, though.

[...] I mean I was hired as a live drummer but I was gonna go back. I started recording a second album, there was some stuff on a “best of” that I started working on in the studio, songs like ‘White’ and some songs that ended up on the album after Sonic Temple. I did record a lot of stuff and I was gonna go in the studio and be the drummer – they offered me a position in the band, a percentage and everything – at that point they had tried me out for a year and they decided that they liked having me around. Which is smart on their part because a lot of times the thing about musicians is guys get big personalities and sometimes get along and sometimes they don’t, you know?

We got along great, we had a blast out there. Me and Ian were good friends, and me and Billy [Duffy] were friends, so when it came time for me to do the next album at that point Slash and Duff were looking at me to join their band. I had a big choice to make.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:18 am

EARLY 1990

In mid-1990 it was reported that Axl was rumored to have received a request from Ice-T to make a new version of Welcome To The Jungle with them [MTV Famous Last Words, August 1990].

Axl would comment on the rumors:

It’s like, I had this big heavy conversation with Ice-T and Eazy-E. Ice-T sent a letter, wanting to work with me on “Welcome to the Jungle” if I ever did it as a rap thing. And I got the word to Eazy-E that I’m interested in having him be a part of it too, if we ever do it. I mean, don’t think it’ll be on this record now, there’s already too much material.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

The rumour that Ice-T would include a version of Welcome to the Jungle on his album Escape from the Killing Field would be reported again later in the year [Lethbridge Herald, November 8, 1990]. Ice-T never released an album with that title [he had a song called Escape from the Killing Fields, though, that was released on his 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster]

In the end nothing seems to have come out of this.

In June 1992, it would be reported that Eazy-E had collaborated with Axl and Slash [Santa Ana Register, June 12, 1992]. This collaboration supposedly had resulted in the song 'Apocalypse' intended for the album Temporarily Insane [Rip It Up, January 1993]. The album was never released and the song, which featured Slash [Netscape Online Chat, July 30, 1996] and possibly Duff, but not Eazy, is not circulating among fans. It is also claimed that GN'R collaborated with Eazy-E on the unreleased song "The Yellow Road of Compton," but this might be another name for 'Apocalypse'.

Matt and Slash with Eazy-E

In 1996, Slash would say he "never heard the Eazy-E album" [Netscape Online Chat, July 30, 1996].

In 2008, Axl would be asked about the song and hanging with N.W.A. and say it was Slash and Duff that recorded with Eazy-E and that it sounded a bit like Bodycount:

[Eazy-E] recorded w/Slash and Duff. He really wanted to attack the media over attacking me for One in a Million. There wasn't really any Easy on it. I wasn't there. He gave me the tape to consider. Sounded a bit like the other guys doing Bodycount. The idea was ok but the track wasn't really there and I felt it would get more heat than the track could stand up to. Only hung a couple times after a show with any of them. Was glad I got to meet Easy.

Later, Duff would also talk about hanging out with N.W.A. and Ice-T:

I hid a gun in a darkened place, a simple short arm's length away. [...] I had guns everywhere. [...] It was the '80s in L.A. We hung out in the seedier underbelly. Then add drugs to that, and hanging out with the N.W.A. guys, Ice-T, and stuff like that. There were always guys around ready to protect my house and stuff. And it fed into my paranoia. They were like, "Fuck ... are you strapped? "I'm like, "Uh?" They're like, "Well, we can hook you up." And I started buying guns.

[Being asked if he hung out with N.W.A. often] Yeah, all the guys. They were, like, the other band like Guns N' Roses in L.A., to be quite honest. They were telling the same story we were telling, and we both recognized that. We were fans of each other's bands. Were we the tightest budddies, hanging out? No. But we had parties and stuff together and hung out.

Ice Cube and Axl
Unknown year


Eazy-E died from AIDS in 1995. Slash would be asked about this death and comment upon AIDS in general:

That really blindsided everybody. This whole business is geared towards avoiding reality. We knew all about AIDS and everything... and we’d still be out there pushing needles (having sex with) anyone we could. I’ve given up a lot of that stuff, but I hope this wakes up some more people.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:18 am


"We didn't have a lot of time to prepare [for 'Use Your Illusion' records] - we rehearsed for about a month and went into the studio. We had to learn 33-34 songs, then we went in and recorded everything. I was so crammed with music, I had so much to learn. In those days, it was so crazy, how we operated. We'd take one or two takes and it was in the can. You don't cut it up, you don't fuck with it like bands do nowadays. It's done. Everything that happened was so natural and everyone was given free rein.

Replacing Steven with Matt caused further delays to the work on the new record because Matt had to learn all the songs in rehearsals and make charts for them for the recording sessions. But after this the band would enter a productive phase:

As soon as I got into the band, it was like clockwork. We rehearsed for a month every day for four or five hours. There was none of this calling in sick because you were up too late the night be­fore partying. If you were, you had to show up anyway. […] More songs just kept com­ing out. Some of the better ones on the album were actually writ­ten in the studio. Some were done on the first or second take, real spur-of-the-moment stuff. It ended up being 36 songs and we went, ‘God, how are we gonna put all this on an album?’. […] About one-third of the stuff we updated, because it’s been around with those guys from the beginnings of the band and they wanted to get it out now.

What took us two years to get together came together in a month.

Duff would talk about how quick Matt leaned the new songs and that they did one song per day:

But there were a bunch of new songs. So a lot of them we hadn't played with Steven at all. So it was kind of an open playbook. And to be honest, we were really under the gun and we had - whatever it was - 28, 29 songs to do. And we did one song per day. Matt would get the cassette tape, you know, "Here's the song."

Instagram from Matt
August 24, 2023

Matt would describe taking over from Steven:

They had tapes of a lot of stuff. They had recorded some of the album with Steven already, although a lot of it got canned. They kept "Civil War," which had Steven on it, but before all the rehearsals, we went in and cut the track for the movie Days Of Thunder, "Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door." We rehearsed that for about an hour, got the groove, and went in. That was my first day of playing with those guys, but we had to get the song done because the movie was going to be out the following week. They played the live video that Steven played on, which was weird, but it’s me you hear on the radio.

[Being asked if he was brought demos with Steven's drums]: Maybe about five of them, but the rest were just them sitting around the house with acoustic guitars. When we met in the studio, a lot of other songs came up as we were recording. Axl walked in a couple of nights with some songs he played on piano. We always tracked live, no click tracks ever. There were some tracks where Axl played piano and sang live, too. It’s a real live-feeling band.

Slash would later say that Matt did not get to put his own stamp on the drumming, but had to follow the blueprint put down by Steven on most of the songs:

[Talking about the first Snakepit record]: This is the first record that Matt's been able to do whatever he wanted on because most of the songs were arranged when we did the Use Your Illusion set and the songs were pretty much done when he was in the Cult. He had to work within the confines of what was there.

Talking about his favorite songs from the recording process:

My favorite is probably a song called "Coma." The song is about ten minutes long and has a lot of different kinds of parts. It starts out real heavy, almost like Metallica or something, and then it breaks down into a Pink Floyd thing. I overdubbed some timpani over it, and I used a gong on it. I warmed up the gong with a Superball, which makes a really eerie sound, like you’re under water. I have some really eerie effects in the middle where I use triangles and shakers and stuff.

There’s a song called "Locomotive" that I like a lot, which is about eight minutes long. It has kind of a funky groove on it, sort of like "Welcome To The Jungle." At the end it goes into something that almost sounds like "Layla." It goes out with a lot of Phil Collins-type tom stuff. I did timbale overdubs on the end fills.

Then we did some big ballads where Axl asked me if I could sound like the drummer from Elton John, Nigel Olsson. So I did big Nigel Olsson-type fills and stuff. We also re-cut the Wings tune "Live And Let Die," but much heavier than the original. It’s basically the same arrangement, but with heavier guitars, and it’s not as orchestrated.

And talking about the recording process:

This band requires a lot out of a drummer, but mainly energy. To be able to go into the studio and cut 35 tracks was...well, by track 35 I was pretty beat. It took a month, but we only like to do two tracks a day, regardless of how long it takes. There were days when I felt really good and I could have done ten, but they didn't like to work that way. The attitude is how everyone feels, not just one person. I had to sacrifice sometimes because even if my drum track wasn't the greatest, if everyone was happy with it, it went. That's how this band works.

[Being asked how many takes it took for each song]: Two maybe. Those tougher songs maybe took six, but the band doesn't believe in punching in anywhere, ever, so those eight-minute songs had to make it all the way to the end. On the song "Coma," I made it all the way through the track and then blew the last fill. When that kind of stuff happened I'd say, "Can't we just punch that in?" "No way, sorry." They like the consistency, and if the band moves around and makes it all the way through, that's the real stuff. That kind of stuff was hard; that took a lot out of me, recording ten-minute songs.

[…] I did dial up some tempos, but usually once we got in the studio...Slash is real good with tempos, and he likes stuff real up. With the Cult, we were into playing everything back, slower and heavier. With Guns N' Roses it's faster, more energetic, so there's a lot of stuff that's real up on the album and on top of the beat. And live, that's going to work great. When we'd take some of the stuff off the Sonic Temple album with the Cult, it didn't work because it didn't always get the crowd moving. With Guns N' Roses, in the studio we played it just like it was live. They stood in front of me, and everyone jumped around. It was a lot of fun.

When we miked up the toms we were very particular with how they sounded. I tuned them to a piano. I was using Pinstripe heads, they were the go-to for that really thumpy, big rock sound. I was always a Zildjian guy so I played all my Zildjians. [...] In those days I had a large collection of snare drums and I used about 30 different drums on that album. Every time I’d do a song I’d pick a snare to go with it. There was a snare we nicknamed Big Red. That was an old Tama that I used on ‘November Rain’, ‘Don’t cry’, and ‘Estranged’. It was a big 14x8-inch birch drum. It’s owned by a buddy of mine Mike Fasano who techs for Green Day. That’s a famous drum now. If you’re in LA now doing a session you can call Mike and rent Big Red. It wasn’t a high-level Tama, it was a medium-level birch but it was just fat as f**k and sounded huge. We had the Black Beauty as well. There’s a song called ‘Locomotive’ that I used a killer white 14x6-inch Noble and Cooley on. On some of the real radical rock stuff I had a Zildjian Noble and Cooley. They only came out with a few of those and I still have it. It’s made out of Zildjian brass with Noble and Cooley hardware, 14x6 1/2-inch. It was an insane-sounding bell brass drum.

And then when we came here [to A&M Records] to record with Guns N' Roses, we chose Studio A mainly for the space of it. And in those days we recorded live, you know. The band was all set up in the studio, if you look behind me in the big room, it's pretty massive, you know. They do full strings in there and you can get a lot of people in there. But you know, we were spread out, we had the drum kit set up over against that wall and then Slash and Duff and Izzy had a little room. Izzy liked to hang out in the vocal booth over here. So we had Izzy in there and then Axl's room was actually back behind those glass doors. Axl had a piano back there. When I first joined the band, the amp room was the furthest down being those slide doors so all the amplifiers could go in there.

You know, we just came in here and this was our home. You know, we created an environment that made us want to be here and make music. And it was an amazing time, you know, we recorded 35 songs in here. And I remember, Axl Rose walked through that door right there, came through, and the little slider went up, and there's a push button door here, it's a bit like Star Trek, you know, "Beam me up, Scotty" kind of shit, and the door and go, "woooosh!", and then in comes Axl, you know, I probably had a headband on, I don't remember, but you know, it's like, "Hello!"

And I think the one thing I did get off those records was a pretty great tom sound that really represented who I was as the new drummer coming into GN'R, out of the first record. It became more of an epic album. You know, Axl wanted to make an epic record. We couldn't make the same record twice, we wanted to go forward, we wanted to move into a bigger arena, being epic, meaning we're gonna be an arena band, play stadiums, and we're gonna go...

It was in Axl's mindset to make this grandiose piece of music. And at first, when I joined the band and the pianos were involved, and the strings, I was like, "Whoa!" you know, I thought I was joining a two guitar, bass and drum band. But then I understood, you know. For songs like November Rain and Don't Cry and Estranged, these big sort of epic pieces, me and Axl sat... I believe we were over there on the floor. We ordered some Russian caviar. We had a bottle of vodka. We sat here, me and Axl late at night, and we listened to Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John. He was a huge Elton fan. You know he loves Elton. We're eating the caviar and drinking shots of vodka and this big epic tom fill came by, Axl goes, "I want you to do that, something like that on November Rain, and I want you to mark every section with this signature musical fill that would be representative of not only that song but I want you to use it again as a little snippet in Don't Cry and I want you to do it again in Estranged." I said, "You want me to do the same drum fill?" He said, "Yes." Sounds like OK. So I did the most famous fill that drummers give me shit for all the time. It's called the Pat Boone, Debby Boone. And it goes Pat Boone, Debbie Boone, right? And when I played that Axl said, "I love that, and I want you to do here, here, here and here." And then he sat in there on the piano and I was out there. And we went around the cymbals too, and he played notes on the piano, "And when I go to this chord, I want you to hit that cymbal." And I'd hit it and he'd thought he heard like a G note or maybe it was a C. "When I go to this court, I want to hit that cymbal." And so we worked out this whole thing, just me and him. And the rest of the band came in for doing whatever. And we had it all worked out. And we recorded that piece of music, November Rain, and then Estranged was originally part of November Rain, it was segwayed into Estranged and it was this huge 20 some minute epic thing. And we cut it in half and made it separate. But it was part of what he called The Trilogy, which Don't Cry was included in that. So it all sort of was a story that went interspersed. And on that particular trilogy I used this snare drum that's sort of become famous and my my tech and good buddy Mike Fasano had this drum and we named it Big Red. And it was this Birch deep drum. And the color of it was red and it was a [?]. And we used that on all three of those tracks and it had this real thumpy low end to it and it was just a great ballad thing.

And when I did those records, I got really into snare drums, you know, it's like, I thought at the time it'd be really cool to experiment with different tonal things with the back beat. You know, "What should I use for this particular song that would speak?" It wasn't about... a lot of drummers in rock bands have signature snare drum sounds that just sort of play through the whole album, right? Like Alex Van Halen' [?] snare drum, you know, [?]. I kind of thought, "Well, I'm gonna kind of take a different approach. And I don't want to say I used a different snare drum on every song but I used probably 20 different snare drums, maybe a little bit more on those records. And there was this song called Locomotive. And I just gotten a hold of this really cool, Noble and Cooley [?] drum. Which was kind of a little custom snare drum company up in upstate New York, I believe. On the East Coast. And it was this little white shell, 5 inch deep drum. And it just had the most killer crack sound to it. So I grabbed that and as soon as I kicked in to Locomotive, started with the drum fill, the band was like, "Wow, that's so cool, I love the sound of that." So we ended up using that.

But the two probably most representative drums on those records is Big Red and then, you know, Boom Cooley [?] drum. And I played with a lot of different things, you know. I kept the kit pretty similar. I used three rack toms on that album. And I, you know, then when I played live only used one rack tom, like the way we recorded but I had a little bit more to work with, you know. And then I messed with the cymbals depending on what I was doing sonically.

Matt would also describe how they consciously avoided doing too many takes on each track:

You know, a lot of what went into making the record in those days for us was just the sheer enjoyment of playing music and being here in the environment that we created in in the studio. You know, we work hard. You know, we'd come in at noon, which is in my opinion, anything before noon for rock'n'roll is a little bit suspect [laughs]. So we'd start around noon. You know, get the coffee going and coming off the night before or whatever we had to do. You know, we would get out in the studio and cut a track and then Mike Clink, the producer, would sit here at the console and instruct us and what to do next. You know, we recorded live in those days, so we cut the tape. There's really no click tracks to speak of. You know, we would do you one or two takes and then if it wasn't happening, we would maybe blow it off and do it another day. But in general, most of those records were recorded in two to three takes, tops. And Slash used to say to me, I would say, "Hey, what do you think about doing one more?" And Slash turning me and say, "You just want to suck the rock'n'roll right out of it, don't you?" [laughing] I'd be like, "OK, that makes perfect sense to me." You know, it wasn't about being perfect. It was about the spirit of it. You know, the energy that went into the track. Sometimes I think that he felt, for the music that we were making at the time, if it was being thought about too much, the thought process went into recording or I'm gonna think about what I'm doing now, that took away from that sheer moment that we were creating, you know, around the music. 99.9% of the time what you hear on those records was what went down together, you know, that was the push and pull of the music. There was no computers in those days, so it was about what we heard back at the moment, so we got the best sounds going in that we could. It wasn't about, like, you used to hear that expression, "Oh, we'll fix it in the mix," now they just fix fucking everything [laughs].

In the band's official fan club newsletter for May 1990, it would be said the band was "hard at it recording the almost forty songs" and that recording sessions had been held at "Rumbo, A&M, Take One and One on One in Los Angeles" [Conspiracy Incorporated, May 1990].

In July 1990, Axl would say they had just "laid down 29 basic tracks", that the record "won’t be out till the beginning of the year", and that it would contain 31 songs  [The Howard Stern Radio Show, July 1990]. The same month he would say the planned to "start the album in about a week or so" [Unknown Source, July 1990]. That the main recording took place in the summer of 1990, would also be confirmed by Slash:

So we worked for a month on 30 songs and then went in the studio—I guess it was the summer of last year [must be summer of 1990 since the interview with GW happened in 1991]—and recorded basic tracks. We ran through 30 songs in 30 days.

In July 1990, Axl would for the first time disclose the possible name of the albums:

It might be called Use Your Illusion. We’re talking with an artist named Kostabi, because I bought a painting and we want to use it as a possible cover, and the title of the painting is “Use Your Illusion”, and that’s what we may use. I wrote a song the night before that says, “I bought me an illusion and put it on the wall”, and the next day I found a painting called “Use Your Illusion."

Despite this, as late as January 1991, RAW Magazine would refer to the name as "Lose Your Illusions" [RAW Magazine, January 9, 1991].

According to rumors in the press the band "were getting along so badly that they recorded their studio parts at separate times [New Musical Express, November 1990] and it would be reported that a record company staffer had been overheard saying "we'll be lucky to see an album from them by the end of 1991, if ever..." [Hot Metal, August 1990], indicating that the problems in the band hadn't gone with Steven.

Slash and Duff would later describe how Slash worked in the studio:

For the basic tracks, I play with the band, using headphones; we're all in one room. The main goal is to get the bass and drums down. It's a great vibe and I wish I could record my final tracks that way, but I can't. I need to be in my own studio—away from where the basic tracks are done—in the control booth. I don't let anybody in from the band, if I can help it. On "Shotgun Blues" (Illusion II) Axl and some friends popped in, and I did the solo in one take. Sometimes you just want to fuckin' jam in front of somebody. Usually no one was in the studio except for Mike [Clink, producer] and Jim Mitchell, our engineer. That's really my element. I love it.

I'm basically the only one Slash will even let in the studio. He doesn't like anybody around when he records. He gets real nervous, but I drop by. Sometimes he'll call me and say, "Come down, man, and listen to this thing I did." Who am I to tell Slash what to do? But I love playing with the guy. I might make a suggestion here and there, which he listens to, 'cause he knows if I make a suggestion it's at least valid. I don't know where he comes up with his stuff. His solos are never random, off-the-cuff solos. He thinks, he maps them out, but they're not contrived.

Use Your Illusion was scratching all the rhythm tracks and then doing all the guitars over - same as Appetite. I couldn’t deal with the headphones and would only play with the band because we needed to play together to get the feel. I would consciously know I wasn’t keeping the guitar tracks so I would play like shit a lot of the time!

Slash and Matt would discuss working with Clink:

[Clink] has a good ear and if I'm overplaying, or if I might be a little bit out of pitch, he'll let me know. I can take it home and listen to it that night if I disagree. By the next morning, I'll either keep disagreeing, and we'll keep it on there, or he might be right. The outro solo on "Heaven's Door," I did the first day after I came up with the melody for the first solo. I did the second one and he wasn't really happy with it. I thought it was fine. I took it home and listened to it. The next morning, on my way somewhere, I stopped by the studio and just pulled it off one more time and did it way better.

You know, Mike Clink was the premier producer of the time. He knew how to capture the live element of a band on a recording and capture the essence and the attitude of the band and the musicians involved, right. So it wasn't like... I think a lot of times when you listen to music and you listen to a band or a great band like the Stones and Zeppelin and Queen or AC/DC or any of these great bands, I think somehow that studio or that moment in time and that producer captured the essence of that attitude that goes into playing the music.

Then, with the basic tracks recorded, Slash would redo his parts, completing his work for 27 songs in five weeks:

I redo all my parts. There are a lot of guitars on the album. Izzy has only one guitar throughout the whole record; he comes out of the left speaker. He recorded most of his stuff during basic tracks. I did all the overdubs and harmonies, plus my regular rhythm track. There are a couple of songs, especially ones I wrote, where I beefed up the tracks over on Izzy's side, 'cause he's got a particular sound that doesn't necessarily... ["weigh as much" would be suggested by the interviewer] Yeah, exactly. It falls out of balance. I did all that, the acoustics, and my other instruments in five weeks. For 27 songs, it was pretty quick. […] Actually, I didn't spend too much time on anything. It was always one or two takes, more or less. If the intonation was really off, Clink would tell me, and I'd go back and maybe punch in. But we never spent entire days on guitar solos. We'd take an entire day and do a whole song. Of course, for the really long songs, it would take two days to get all that shit right. But I'd like to think that it was more rock and roll than what most bands are doing these days.

Then I worked on guitar parts and overdubs for five weeks. I played a lot of guitar on this record, though five weeks isn't bad for 30 songs.

Slash had a preferred spot to stand on when recording:

I'd find a cool spot and put a piece of tape on the ground. Then girls would come down to the studio and hang out. I'd get in the next day and find these shapes on the floor where they'd had a ball with the tape. I was completely confused: "Where's my spot?" Or somebody would come in and tidy up. I'm like, "Fuck, do not touch anything, leave everything alone!" I love things to be a complete disaster. For every beer we drank, we'd stick the label on the [control room] glass—we almost covered the whole thing. One day we got to the studio and the manager had cleaned up. The whole environment was shot—all the porno pictures were taken down.

In November 1990, Melody Maker reported that the band had almost finished recording and that they intended to tour in the summer of 1991. According to a spokeswoman for the band, "Before they even got to the studio, they had 56 songs ready to go, and that was before Axl came in with his. It was a matter of working through which ones were right for the album" [Melody Maker, November 1990]. What was left at the time was Axl's vocals. The spokeswoman would elaborate, "Axl still has to do quite a bit of vocal. He doesn't sing every day he sings when it suits him. But if everything goes according to schedule, it should be released in mid-April or the beginning of May" [Melody Maker, November 1990]. The band also recorded "four live tracks in one-and-a-half hours, for B-sides, and it sounds great" [Melody Maker, November 1990].

Around the same time Slash would say things had happened very fast for the last three months:

We've done everything over the last three months. We rehearsed 35 songs in 30 days, got them all 'recordable' and then went into the studio and did 30 songs in 30 days on basics. We recorded five more while I was doing my guitar overdubs, did five more in a day, and then Axl's doing the vocals. The whole process, once we got it together, was really fast. Not that everybody would believe it.

In 2018, Duff would look back at recording Illusions and how they didn't let the partying get in the way of the recording:

You know, there was a line in the sand we wouldn't cross. And that was, you would never get too fucked up to perform. That was the line. We had honor in our band, you know, honor in our music. So it was always after. Definitely always after. [?] keep ourselves from being tight in the studio. You know, some cocktails, but no cocaine or nothing like that. [...] No, you can't play [when doing coke]. [...] So there was none of that. I mean, we're actually underneath all of what you see on the outside. We worked hard. We rehearsed every day, sometimes two days, you know? And that was our thing, this was our whole thing. And we didn't let any of the drugs or the alcohol stop us from doing that. So there was, like I said, a line in the sand. It's okay to go crazy after we've gotten the shit done. And so that was always at night and always started across the street at the Crazy Girls. [...] I don't know where [?] you know, like, Crazy Girls was a bar across the street, strippers and stuff, but that wasn't, you know- [...] there's a pool table and stuff and just kind of chill. And then I don't know, go up to my house or go to Slash's house and go any direction, neither of our houses, some, you know, random person's house. But, yeah, we got done with that 30 days [of recording] in there.

In December 1990, Musician would release an interview with Slash where he said the new record is tentatively scheduled for release early in 1991 and that he's put on nearly all the guitar parts for the record's 30-plus tunes [Musician, December 1990].

This month Axl would also physically move into the recording studio to add vocal tracks:

There was no heat in that room. It was a cold, lonely place, but it was the only place I could stay to keep myself in the work. It was cool-looking, but it was dark, cold and weird! It got to the point that certain people could tell just by the way I was talking, the tone of my voice, that I wasn't right. A friend brought by some Christmas presents. Another flew out unannounced and stayed with me Christmas Day, because they were very worried that I wasn't going to make it through. I couldn't leave the studio, but I couldn't go back to my condo because of my neighbor. That was a nightmare.

While Slash in the end of 1990 and beginning of 1991 was somewhat sober and productive, Axl's mental instability and issues with everything from his marriage, the police and his neighbor, was allegedly holding up the record resulting in Slash's growing frustration:

Well, [Axl's problems are] a pain in the ass, and they keep things from getting done. I’m the most uptight about all of this. It’s just my nature — Axl thinks I’m this sort of sick-minded workaholic. And it’s true — in some ways, I do get uptight. I can get very negative about it. But there are moments when it [Axl’s troubles] really gets in the way of what I think is productive, and we end up spending a lot of money. Sometimes I think Axl has no idea, or has a very slight idea, of what the financial reality is. I mean, to me $400,000 or whatever to make a record is ludicrous. Of course, if I was to say that to Axl outright, he’d say I don’t know what he’s going through, and there’d be a fight right there. That’s the way we’ve always been — there’s something I can’t relate to or vice versa, and that’s where we butt heads. So I just sit there with my head between my knees, freaking out…But Axl’s craziness drives me crazier than it does Axl, unbeknownst to him. And that’s the truth.

As for the amount of material Slash would say that due to their stormy history, they couldn't be sure they would release another record, and:

It's all material we would never have gotten off our chest if we didn't do it now.


When the band started recording the Use Your Illusion albums, Dizzy had joined the band (this happened in April, see earlier chapter) and he got to make his print on the songs they were writing and recording:

I started going down to pre-production and we were kind of listening through (?). We listened to, you know, all the songs. And I was there and, like, if I had an idea I got up and I played it, and if they liked it, we worked on it. If they didn’t want keyboards on that song, we just threw it out. And then I went in, they did all the basic tracks and I went in, like, a couple of weeks and just did (?) keyboard stuff on the new album.

Everything was written at that point in time. There were a lot of songs that Axl had written and played on the piano. That was part of his wanting me in the band so he would have someone to play his parts. But with everything else, I just tried to play along and add what I could. I don’t think I had a lot of set parts; I just added what I could. You know, with a lot of those songs I don’t think I ever played them twice the same. It’s that kind of music. It’s like with the Stones—they do the same song so many different ways. Obviously there are songs that are based around a piano part that has to be there, but otherwise it comes from years and years of playing along and jamming that lets you approach a song different ways each time. Everything I came up with, with the exception of a few songs like “Live and Let Die,” I just went in and kind of went with it. It’s important to get feedback in those situations from the control room about what does and doesn’t work. In a lot of ways that’s how I still operate.

Being a keyboard player in a guitar-based world is not an easy thing. You’re always trying to prove yourself. I wanted to add to the music — even if that meant not playing on a song. I take what I do very seriously and, over time, everyone saw that, from the crew to the producers.

Later, Dizzy would talk about the work he did on Use Your Illusions:

I guess when “Use Your Illusions” was being recorded, all that stuff had already been written but I just added whatever I could creatively to make the songs better or, at least, in my opinion, make them better. You have to do something that adds to the song and nothing that takes away or clutters things up. There’s a fine line.

And how he and Axl divided the songs between them:

The songs that [Axl] was gonna play [live], he played. And so the songs that he did play once he played. There are other songs I think I had a little bit of a... Basically, if I thought something needed piano and I tried it and they liked it, it was cool. So that's what I did. Piano and organ, basically, and a little bit of clavinet. Just stuck to the basics.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:18 am

JUNE 1990

In 1990, Slash and Duff would be featured on four songs on Iggy Pop's 'Brick by Brick' [Musician, December 1990].

Duff and I met Iggy here [=at the Rainbow in Hollywood], and he brought his demo tape, and it was just Iggy on acoustic. And he asked us if we’d be interested in playing on it, which, of course, was a huge thing for Duff and I. So we hooked up with Don Was and Iggy at a studio in Hollywood after that, and we sort of worked up these four songs. It was a great experience. Iggy sort of epitomizes the kind of rock ‘n’ roll that I was weaned on.

I got a call from Iggy in 1990 in my house and I pick up the phone and it’s unmistakably his voice. It wasn’t like somebody fuckin with me, and he said, “Is this Duff?”, and I was like “Yeah.”, “Hey man. Its Iggy”. I was shaking and he said, “Would you like to play on my record?”, “Fuck yeah I’ll play on your record!”, That was probably the biggest honor I’ve ever experienced. Just playing on his record and hanging out and I became friends with him.

Slash even picked up a co-writing credit for revamping "My Baby Wants to Rock and Roll" [Musician, December 1990].

Iggy Pop's Brick by Brick
June 1990

I've known [Iggy Pop] since I was little. My mum went out with David Bowie when I was little. Iggy was in a mental hospital when I first met him and so my mum and I and David went to visit. He's such a fragile, sweet, soulful, honest and sincere guy. I really love him a lot. That was great. We did that in one day and it kicked ass.

The first record I did was with Iggy [Pop], who is just one of the sweetest guys. He was doing Brick By Brick and had some songs he thought me and Duff might want to play on. We hung out one night, listened to his home demos, and picked out songs. We went into the studio and cranked out four songs in one day. I co-wrote one. That was great.

All four of the songs I did with Iggy Pop were done in one day. I went in and it was just fun. There's the song "My Baby Wants to Rock 'n' Roll," that I wrote with lggy in the studio. That's a real spontaneous, off-the-cuff riff that I wrote on the spot.

One of the most pleasurable sessions I’ve ever worked on. Duff McKagan and I went out with Iggy one night and heard some simple acoustic demos he’d done. We'd decided to play on some songs. So Duff and I went down to see Iggy and Don Was at the studio in Hollywood. We basically put down bass and guitar on three songs, just one or two takes apiece, and that was it. Very rock, very live. And then on the fourth song Iggy was playing something, and I just strapped on some headphones and I went in with the actual band and just raped the song - turned it into something totally different. A day’s work and it turned out really cool. Just went in one afternoon, and a couple of beers later it was done.

I first met [Iggy Pop] in a mental institution with my mom. This was when I was a kid. My mom had to explain to me, so I could understand what the hospital was and why he was there. He was crazy because of the drugs. That was my introduction to Iggy and I always remember him, at that point, being this sort of sad, sweet little guy.

Pop would comment on Slash and Duff:

They’re not dumb boys. They’re canny guys. They’re very aware of the world around them and things. They know a lot of stuff I didn’t learn until just this last year.

Iggy, Duff and Slash

And also on Guns N' Roses in general:

The band didn’t sound like they were biting the weenie, like all the other bands. They didn’t sound fake to me. At least they didn’t sound like they were faking it for somebody else. Everybody in this world fix things for themselves. You can’t help it, you’re a human being. But – and musically it sounded exciting, in a way that it didn’t sound like it was dependent on some click track in the drummer’s ears or some machine going “bum-bum-bum” to give them a muscle they didn’t have. It sounded like it might fall apart at any time, and they would change tempos, and so I thought, “Ooh, a real band. How exciting. How cool.
Rapido, September 1991

They really have the energy of a good punk band, and lyrically, that guy [=Axl] actually does what a good punk lyricist tries to do. He describes what's bugging him, no matter how out there it is, and he describes what's going on around him faithfully.
Altoona Mirror, November 18, 1990

Looking back:

It still trips me out. Like I’ll see him somewhere like at the Mojo awards, I got to present ‘The Stooges’ with the Lifetime Achievement award, and he came bounding up on the stage and gave me a hug and I was freaking out the whole day.

[...] my collaborations with Iggy Pop over the years have been exceptional. He is just an enigmatic talent that made a huge impact on me since growing up. Getting to work with him, seeing how he works and experiencing the spontaneous and true rock’n’roll individual that he is, has just been amazing!

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:19 am

JUNE 26, 1990

On June 26, 1990, the world would finally hear new music from Guns N' Roses. A studio recording of the Bob Dylan cover Knockin' On Heaven's Door was featured on the soundtrack Days of Thunder for the movie of the same name.

Matt would describe recording for Guns N' Roses for the first time, and with Mike Clink:

And when I came in here [A&M Records] with Mike Clink, you know, the first track I did with him here at A&M was Knockin' on Heaven's Door. So we came in here to sort of try the room. And we did a track for this film called Days of Thunder, which Tom Cruise was the star. And I remember at the time we hired the drum kit of Jamo [?] who was [?] Carlos' drum tech. And he had a kit and he came in and it was all tuned up and I sat down. It was a beautiful Gretch kit.We set it up and Mike miked it get really cool and baffled it because the room is really big. We weren't really looking for a big room sound. We were looking for kind of a more tight rock'n'roll, in your face, punchy, se we baffled the drums off quite a bit. Didn't really use the entirety of the room for the drums per se. Like a lot of guys think, "Oh, we're gonna get a big rock drum sound but we're gonna go to this massive room and it's gonna sound huge," and things got carried away with that in the 80s. Mid 80s. Everyone was trying to like go and capture this Kashmir, John Bonham kind of thing, which, if you really listen to that, it's not a big room, it's John Bonham, you know, and it's the way they miked the drums and it goes with the other instruments. So something happened in the mid 80s where it was like, "Big drum rooms! Let's go record the drums in a swimming pool!" and you know, microphones everywhere and, you know [imitating big drums], and reverbs and all these things started happening, you know, to drums. And the thing about Guns N' Roses was there was more of a traditional rock band, is that we studied the bands that we were into and that we studied were the great bands that came before us. You know, like the Stones, Aerosmith, you know, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, I can name a list. And there was a punk element to it. So we we loved early Pistols albums, Clash records, you know, they were down and dirty.

In 2013, Alan Niven would explain how David Geffen had originally wanted a song from Appetite for Destruction on the soundtrack but since Niven thought the movie was so bad he didn't want to have an Appetite song associated with the movie and made the band record a new song for the album:

I mean, [David Geffen] called me up. I was in New York, and funny enough I was at the Capital EMI building for a meeting there. And you know, there's this kind of, "Ah, Mr. Geffen's on the phone for Mr. Niven!" you know, it's like, "Gosh, hush, hush! This is really important!" It's right, you know, just the mention of his name would get people hopping and jumping. And I had the flu at the time and I went into an empty office and David was... he had this movie coming out, a Tom Cruise movie. And he wanted an Appetite track for it. And I'd done a little research on it, you know, and I have to say, I'm not the biggest fan of Tom Cruise and the research I'd done on the movie was that it was a bit of a stinker. And that all went to the fact that David was trying to get a GN'R track on it, to hype the movie and sell tickets on the movie before people found out that it wasn't a very good movie, and it was called Days Of Thunder or something. [...] not a great movie. And I told him no. He couldn't have a track and he went fucking ballistic, screaming and yelling. You know, and I had a temperature of 101 or something and was full of chemicals to try and fight it so I'm screaming back at him. And I walk out of the office and I look around and it's literally like people hiding under their desks, you know, so that they don't get hit by the shrapnel from the, you know, from the argument. And I thought about it for a little while and I got a better perspective on it and my perspective was: David was there for this band. He obviously needs help with this movie. "No, I don't want to attach an Appetite track to it and undercut the sense of value that I have in those tracks and Appetite by associating it with a shitty movie, but I tell you what I will do, I'll call up Axe and Iz and say, 'Look, what if we gave him something else?'" You know, and that's how Knockin' On Heaven's Door came about. So I talked to Axe about it, and I talked to Iz about it, I talked to Slash about it, and I said, "Look, you know, here's the situation: I really don't want an Appetite track on this, nor do you. But what if we go and cut him something else?" And that's what we did. So he got his GN'R track and we got a Dylan track that has been, you know, overplayed and overplayed and overplayed ever since.

Days of Thunder soundtrack
June 26, 1990

This would not be the first Guns N' Roses release of this cover, they had earlier used a live version as a B side on singles.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:19 am

JULY 1990

In July 1990 Erin overdosed at Steven's place. Steven would be confronted with the rumour about this incident and that he had had sex with Erin, in 1997, and he would then tell his version of what had happened:

Erin Everly, beautiful girl, comes over with this guy, I'm not going to mention his name, and Izzy's old girlfriend. […] She came over [?] and this guy who's this girl was going out with were playing in my studio in the backyard. Erin comes over with this other girl and I said, "Don't come over," "Don't bring him over" and they just came over after we start playing and there's a knock on the door and Erin's not looking right, as I bring her in my room, I lay her on the bed, I'm going "What's up? What's up?" and then the girl goes, "Oh, I gave her 30 Valiums and 35 clonidines" which are all... […] ...lowers your blood pressure. And she gives her all these pills and I said, "What the hell did you do that for?" And she goes, "Because she got in a fight with Axl and is depressed," [?] and I was watching this girl die on me. […] so I call the ambulance. Ambulance comes, wakes her, gets her back up. And Axl thinks I shot her up with heroin....[…] There was no sex but that I shot her up with heroin and almost killed her. I never did anything like that. I was just in my studio plan. And they just came over. And Axl wants to kill me. I got a bad rap, it was this goofy girl who did it.

The guy mentioned in the quote above was Andy McCoy and his girlfriend, who according to Steven gave Erin the drugs, was Angela who would later marry Andy. In the quote above, Steven also offer that there "was no sex", indication that rumours had suggested he had had sex with Erin, too.

In the October 1992 issue of RIP Axl would mention this incident:

I even forgave [Steven] after he nearly killed my wife. I had to spend a night with her in an intensive-care unit because her heart had stopped thanks to Steven. She was hysterical, and he shot her up with a speedball. She had never done jack shit as far as drugs go, and he shoots her up with a mixture of heroin and cocaine? I kept myself from doing anything to him. I kept the man from being killed by members of her family. I saved him from having to go to court, because her mother wanted him held responsible for his actions.

It is worth noting that Axl in this quote refers to Erin as "his wife". In 1992 Axl and Erin had divorced, indicating that he meant that she was his wife at the time when the incident occurred, which must mean it took place after the wedding on April 28, and after Steven had been fired from the band.

On the other hand, in 2011 and 2019, Alan Niven looked back at the incident and suggested the incident had affected the decision to fire Steven, hence that it happened before Steven was fired:

Axl was fucking convinced that Erin had been overdosed. Well that’s going to go down well, isn’t it? That really helped everybody. Is it any surprise we got to the point that we had to seriously consider getting someone else?

Just to clarify, let me make it absolutely clear that Steven’s exit from Guns was driven by Axl and Goldstein, and to my understanding was significantly motivated by Axl’s anger at Steven for getting Erin high on smack and having his way with her. And well can I understand that. The support of everyone else for Steven was undercut by his inability, in preproduction, to play a song the same way twice. Steven dug his own hole, jumped in it and pulled the dirt down on top of himself.

This story would be alluded to in the lawsuit Everly would file against Axl in March 1994. In the suit she would claim Axl had beat her severely that night and that it resulted in her being injected with heroin and cocaine, suffering cardiac arrest, and ending up hospitalized [Associated Press/Albuquerque Journal, March 9, 1994]. The lawsuit did not specify who had injected her with drugs, though, and it is very likely she would have explicitly mentioned it if it was Axl who had done it to her. In other words, the hospitalization happened as a result of the overdose and not the fight between Axl and Erin.

People Magazine would also mention an incident between Axl and Erin where Erin was hospitalized:

One month [after the wedding], says Everly, Rose first threatened divorce. And two months after that, he beat her so badly she was hospitalized.

Again, if this is the same incident (and it likely is because there are no sources indicating that Erin was hospitalized two times), Erin was hospitalized due to a cardia arrest resulting from the overdose, and not the fight between her and Axl. The timing in the quote above also implies that the overdose took place in July (three months after the wedding).

Axl probably alluded to the incident in the bold parts of the quote below:

We gave [Steven] every ultimatum. We tried working with other drummers, we had Steven sign a contract saying if he went back to drugs, then he was out. He couldn't leave his drugs and... [...] Other things have happened involved with Steven, that Steven is basically someone I used to know. That makes me feel bad, but there's other things beside the band that he was involved in with his drugs that’ve been very dangerous and scary, and I want nothing to do with him.

In 2005, Steven would offer to tell a story about Andy McCoy's wife in an interview. In the interview Steven would again point the finger at Angela, claiming that she had given Erin valium and "some other stuff" and asked for Steven to give her heroin. And again, Steven would deny any allegations of having sex with Erin:

His wife – if she’s still his wife – used to be Izzy’s girlfriend back in the day. She’s the biggest cunt, slut, whore, loser, piece of shit I’ve ever met in my life! After they let me go from G ‘n R, Andy was living up the street from me. We started writing together. He would come down and I would say, “Do not bring that goofy wife of yours!” I’d be in the front yard and I’d see him up the hill and I’d flip him off because he was bringing her. One afternoon we were playing and I had a locked gate. The wife and Erin Everly come over. Axl and Erin had got in a fight. That’s what really did it. This girl gave her valium and some other stuff and kept telling me to give her heroin. There is no way in hell I would ever do anything to Erin, even sexually. The closest we ever got was eating sushi in Studio City once.

After this interview, Angela McCoy would reply through and accuse Steven of being the one who gave Erin drugs and also raping her:

Well I was not gonna post anything on this comment cuz Imo it's not news it's his own guilt & He wants us to speak s~t!
Just consider the source! The guy could of spoken about so many topics! His band,etc.. Instead he slagged me off! Im flattered. Really to think that this guy had the nerve to say that just shows us that he's talkin about himself! It's public record what really happened to Erin and this guy is The Biggest wimp Andy or I have ever met! If it was not for Andy that woman would most probably be dead(we thank the divine)And he would be in jail for attempted murder amongst ...!When Andy thankfully went over there she was blue with her panties to her ankles(with the guy well I will not go there)...well....Andy called me to call a ambulance immediatly as he tried to revive her. When the cops came(the guy ran into the shower, he had to save his own ass & his s~t? like nothing was happening.)I ran over w/A eyewitness and actress friend and she(Erin) was not coming to! It was the scariest thing I(we) have ever witnessed. Thankfully she's fine) Actually, I feel sorry for the dude and have not seen him or spoken(Andy too)For some 15 years or so when that went down! Imo: He hadda great gig w/'HANOI' and blew it(your off the gig gig's) !Bye dude & whatever happened along time ago it should be just that, Something in the past! I have so much dirt on you however I'm an adult now and wil not participate in this sandbox play anymore! Please Get new songs &a life Little man! Oh yeah as he pointed out: 'GOT LET GO' FROM GNR!! :jackass: Duh,(Get back in that little closet, you know)...You got fired just admit it you Dufus.(If I'm Goofy, Thanks, We Luv Goofy)You must be sleepy the dwarf...We Thank all out there that understands our view..
Angela McCoy, February 6, 2005

In the above quote. Angela refers to Steven's new band, Adler's Appetite, losing a tour with Hanoi Rocks. Andy McCoy was the guitarist in Hanoi Rocks at the time, and Angela obviously did not appreciate Steven's accusations. More on this in another chapter.

Steven would later discuss the outfall of his comments:

Ohhh, it had nothing to do with Andy! I love Andy and I don't even know who his wife is. I don't give a fuck! Well, she´s not worth talking about! We were supposed to play in England with them and they dropped us out of the show. Whatever, because ninety-five percent of the people went back and got their money back. So that kind of says something about us! And it's a shame... and fuck it, I don't even wanna talk about it! I love Andy and I love blah blah yada yada yada...

In 2006, Steven would be asked to say a few words about Andy McCoy and go on a new rant about Angela McCoy:

God I loved Andy. And I hated his fucking wife man that piece of shit whore. [...] That piece of shit whore.

And also suggest an explanation to why Axl was mad at him:

You know shit happens, but, I never did nothing to Axl. Axl thinks I gave; this is why I hate Andy McCoy’s fucking wife. Okay, Andy McCoy’s wife gave Erin Everly all these fucking pills, these KLONOPINs and these CLONIDINEs, because Axl got in a fight with her. She told Axl, I gave her heroin. I ‘m the one who called the ambulance cause they brought her over to my house. [...] Me and Andy were in my studio in my backyard, we were writing songs okay. And his wife, cause he lived up the hill from me, in Laurel Canyon. So, fucking the wife comes down with Erin, she’s all, she can’t stand up barely, she’s all blah, blah, blah.  And I said: “What the fuck did you give her?” She said: “Well Axl got in a fight and beat her up. So she came over and I gave her all these KLONOPINs and shit.” [...] KLONOPINs and CLONIDINEs. And they’re MAJOR downers.  She’s all fucked up, And I’m going; “What’s wrong with her?” And she’s: “Blah, blah, blah, I gave her all these pills.” I’m the one who carried her, and put her in my bed. And called the ambulance and saved her life. The whole time this bitch is telling me to; “Give her some heroin, give her some heroin.” And I’m all; “Fuck you bitch!” I’m not giving her fucking heroin. For one, I only have a little bit left, and if you’ve ever been a heroin addict, you ain’t giving your last bit away. Two, this was Axl’s fucking girl. And you never fuck, with your fucking, your band mates. Your mates woman.  Okay. And I would never do that to anybody in the first place. I called the ambulance and saved her, this bitch tells Axl I gave her heroin.  He calls me up and says he’s coming over with a shotgun to kill me. [...] But he never did anything. So that, I mean, I never did anything to Axl. Axl didn’t do anything to me, for me to hate him [...]

I 2009, Andy McCoy would release his autobiography where he would retell what had happened:

One fine day at Laurel Terrace, Erin showed up. I was watching TV and half-listening as she cried hysterically to Angela. She was begging for pills, sobbing that it was time to end it all. “Shut up already,” Angela said. Erin explained that while driving drunk, she’d tried to crash her car off Mulholland Drive at a spot where there’s a 150-yard drop down the cliff. It’s a perfect spot if you want to commit vehicular suicide—there’s not much left of you after a 150-yard drop. That’s where James Dean and a lot of other people were killed. But Erin didn’t have the guts—she was just vying for attention.


I went to check out the upstairs bedroom, and sure enough, Erin had disappeared. Angela thought for a minute and remembered that Erin had wanted to visit Steven next door. Erin had already asked me for heroin, but I had told her she wouldn’t find that stuff in my house no more. Erin even offered to give us five hundred bucks if we copped a fix together. If I had been a junkie, I’d have instantly made a $480 profit. But no way! You never introduce no one to heroin—that’s a matter of principle.

At the time, Steven was just about to get sacked from Guns N’ Roses. Angela and me looked at each other and said simultaneously: “Steven’s!” Erin was surely at Steven’s. Suddenly all that talk about suicide took on a whole new meaning, and we realized it was a young woman’s cry for help—a woman who didn’t want to live anymore. Angela instantly said to me: “Andy, you run to Steven’s house right now! Where else could she be? Her Jeep’s still parked in front of our house. Go see if there’s evil afoot!”

I could tell from Angela’s face that she was really worried. She told me to call as soon as I could. I ran over like some motherfucking rapist with the cops after me, fuck, and a pack of bloodhounds, too. I rang the bell for at least three minutes, until Steven Adler came to the door. He looked like an Alphabet City junkie, not stylish at all, the motherfucker, scratching his armpits, shit, even his balls—really fuckin’ disgusting.

He tried to open the door and finally managed to get the safety chain off. I rushed in, like, “Erin, where is she? Is she okay?” “Oh, she’s in the bedroom,” Steven mumbled. “She’s turning blue.” He said it so calmly as if nothing in the world mattered a bit. I became really pissed off and yelled at him: “Steven, how much did you give her?”

Well, at least I had a good idea what she had taken. No answer from Steven. I grabbed him by the shirt and slammed him against the wall. I asked again: “Steven, this could be a matter of life and death! How much?!”

I panicked. I tried to revive Erin. I slapped her face. I gave her mouth to mouth. I kept banging on her chest. Then I remembered what my late friend, my wife’s cousin, Johnny Thunders taught me: If you see somebody overdosing, you must use buprenorphine, or even just salt. Buprenorphine is ten times more effective. It stops the division of heroin in the body, and salt does the same thing to an extent. I finally found a vein and did what Johnny taught me.

I screamed at Steven to call a fuckin’ ambulance. It was useless. That fuckin’ chickenshit was so scared that he couldn’t do anything. He was just like, “No, man, I gotta hide, fuck, I’ll go to the shower.”

Well, no wonder the guy broke a sweat: He had just given our good, mutual friend her first fix of smack, and she was about to die in his house. But I still couldn’t understand how somebody could say something like that, without any sympathy for human life. It made me sick, but I kept on banging Erins chest and everything. Finally she began to breathe, very slowly and faintly, and I could feel a feeble pulse. Then I called Angela: “You call the ambulance now. I can’t do that, I have my hands full trying to save her life.”

I scattered ice on Erin’s half-dead body and tried forcing some strong coffee into her mouth. I tried to walk her around, simultaneously slapping her face. Every once in a while I had to lay her on the floor so I could bang her heart and administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“Erin, Erin, you’re a strong woman! Breathe!”

I prayed to the holy and good Saint Sara-la-Kali, the patron angel of us Gypsies.

Angela came over with Judie Aronson, her actress friend who lived next door. Judie was always around, although she wasn’t a part of the rock 'n' roll scene. Now she surely realized what kind of people her neighbors were. She and Angela both went white in the face. Angela came to help and took care of first aid, I mean resuscitation, while I kept banging Erin’s heart. I didn’t give a fuck if her rib bones cracked, as long as her heart kept beating.

I took a five-second breather. It seemed like, shit, Erin’s panties were down to her ankles. Remember this: Erin never did drugs, she sometimes took a Valium and sometimes had a drink, but never simultaneously. Although you couldn’t deny that her downward spiral had already begun. In many respects she was like a child, a very naive person who always needed somebody around. I think Axl had written their huge hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine” about her for that reason: Erin was like a small child. When I saw her there with her pants down and almost dying, I couldn’t help wondering if Steven had done something to her while she was out cold. What a cocksucker if so!

We could just about feel Erin’s pulse when we heard the ambulance and the LAPD arrive outside the house. The ambulance guys got to work right away, and I mean instantly. Goddammit, I so respect these guys; they dedicate their lives to helping others. That’s something we should all learn, even if it’s just small things, because then this world would be so much better to live in.

I watched them take care of Erin, and she looked almost like a doll. When they asked me what she had taken, I had to tell the truth: “Heroin, I don’t how much, maybe also Valium. I don’t know about the amounts.”

I talked to the cops. Steve was still hiding in the shower. Motherfuckin’ fuck, what a chickenshit! Me, Angela, and Judie, Angela’s actress friend, began to fear the worst. Would Erin pull through?

“We don’t know,” the paramedics said. They tried to kick-start her heart.

First time: “DUM!”

“Pump it, the pulse is rising, the pulse is rising, yeah, we got her. Hey, she’s breathing again!”

They carried Erin out, and the ambulance chief asked me: “Have you taken a first-aid course or something? I’m sure you have.”

“No, man, you’re talking to the wrong guy,” I said.

He took me by the arm: “You’ve just saved a life. Without you, we would have carried her out in a different kind of bag altogether. In a black one, if you know what I mean.”

“You mean she would’ve died?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

A couple of cops came to shake my hand.

“Thanks, man, you saved her life.”

I watched as the cops and ambulances left and took Erin away. I was starting to feel bad. For the first time in my life— although I had already kicked the habit myself—I was struck that heroin is really public enemy number one. It’s first-rate poison. It’s not just a “small personal problem,” you know what I mean, like, “I just have a small cold.” That’s what I used to say before the withdrawal symptoms got so bad that I couldn’t even get out of bed. The craziest thing is I never received any thanks from Erin, although she reappeared in our life later on and naturally messed everything up once again.

Later that night Axl Rose called me and said, “Thanks, Andy, how can I ever thank you? I really owe you big-time. Whatever you need—money, whatever—you only have to call.”

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:20 am

JULY 24, 1990

In July 1990 Guns N' Roses would again contribute to a compilation album, this time the charity album Nobody's Child: The Romanian Angel Appeal. GN'R's contribution would be the song Civil War that would later be released on Use Your Illusion II.

Nobody's Child soundtrack
July 24, 1990

This would be mentioned in the band's official fan club newsletter in May 1990:

The first completed track is “Civil War”, which was also performed at Farm Aid [April 1990]. This track may make an early appearance on a record George Harrison is compiling for the relief of Romanian orphans, many of whom are AIDS stricken.

Axl would discuss how it came to be:

It ended up on the benefit album 'cause Tom Petty called me and asked me, which was really weird, asked me if George Harrison could call me. […] And then George Harrison called me and we we're talking, and all of a sudden he started talking about his wife flying to Bangladesh… It just… All of a sudden my mind was like, boom… hyper-space, I'm talking to a Beatle. And he was very Beatle-esque talking about Bangladesh [laughs]. […] It was pretty wild. They asked for the song and the inspiration was… A friend asked me to write a song about just how crazy the world is and certain things and… I just thought it was an interesting subject and just… Slash had this music and it exactly fit what I'd written.

In early July 1990, Axl would announce the song was coming out:

[…] we’ve got a new track coming out in about three weeks. […] (?) benefit album, with, like, Elton John and Eric Clapton and the Wilbury's and shit.

Reviewers would comment on the more mature lyrics of the song:

I’m not a great fan of Guns N’ Roses - in fact I despise them in many ways, not least for making reckless living look cool to young impressionable kids - but it has to be said that ‘Civil War’ shows Axl and Co could be maturing. At first you probably won’t recognise this as a GN’R song, until Rose bursts into his unmistakable screech on the run up to the chorus.

Maybe their new album will show Guns N’ Roses to be deep thinking old farts who just want to sing about the Kennedys or the Vietnam war, in which case I guess they've already achieved what they set out to do..

Duff would discuss why they chose 'Civil War' for the project:

It was something that, at that point, we were really excited about playing. We just kinda, put it together. It was before we recorded, you know, the "Illusions". A long time before we recorded. And so we said: "Yeah, let's do "Civil War."" Because we had just, you know, learned it and wrote it and all that, so... And it kinda seemed somewhat appropriate for... you know, something that has meaning.

When we recorded [Civil War], it wasn't in our normal studio. I didn't have a normal amp. It was one of those things where we had to do it because we were doing it for a benefit album, and it was a rush thing. The song was great, but Steven couldn't play. It took two days just to get the drums. That's out of the norm for us. I had to use a rented amp, and I wasn't particularly happy with the sound. Then Clink tried to mix it in a couple of different studios. I wasn't happy with the mix, and we usually don't use Clink to mix. We sat in on the mix, but I couldn't get it right. I didn't like the studio. When it came time to use it for our album, we had it mixed by Bill Price, who is awesome.

And Dizzy would talk about hearing the song on the radio:

[...] one of my greatest memories, most exciting memories I could think of, was they hadn't been on tour yet, but I had recorded some tracks on the song Civil War and it came out long before Use Your Illusion for a benefit record I think. And I had just been told I was in the band and to go down to the management office and get my first check, I wasn't living anywhere so I needed a check to pay my rent for this apartment that I had been squatting at. I was driving down La Cienega and Civil War came on the radio, and I'm like, "This is awesome".

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:20 am

AUGUST 1, 1990

Axl was having problems with the West Hollywood police. On August 1, 1990, Axl filed a complaint over "police harassment and heavy-handed intimidation":

My wife [Erin Everly], my friend [Sebastian Bach] and I were sitting there on the balcony having dinner, and my wife suddenly saw about seven to nine police cars pulling up below. She thought someone had been killed. It took some 13 or 14 cops about 40 minutes to organize downstairs. They thought they were pulling some big sneak attack or something. My wife couldn’t see through the eyehole to see who was knocking, so she opened the door, and there they were, and they said to me, ‘Step out,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, right.’ This cop shoved my wife, walked into my place and is saying that I invited him in. He’s lying. That’s assault and trespassing, and I want an investigation. I don’t know if they’re out to get me, but they hate my guts, and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because if you’re working the [Sunset] Strip and you saw long-haired guys with earrings who have no socially redeeming qualities going out with these girls you wished you had, it might tend to piss you off after a few years.

The police had come to Axl's apartment after complaints about loud music [Del Rio News Herald, August 9, 1990]. Axl would later speculate that his neighbour from the flat that he owned, turned the police against him [Pirate Radio, October 1990 - copied in Melody Maker, November 1990]. This neighbour would later claim Axl had hit her in the head with a bottle, leading to Axl being arrested [see later chapter].

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