|Guns N Roses Biography from rollingstone.com|
Rebel rockers Guns n' Roses won over legions of white male rock fans in the late '80s with their gritty punk-meets-heavy-metal sound and bad boy antics (domestic assault, public indecency, property destruction, inciting riots) that often bordered on rock 'n' roll parody|
The band formed in Hollywood in 1985 when Indiana transplants Axl Rose (b. William Bailey) and Izzy Stradlin (b. Jeff Isbell) hooked up with guitarist Slash (Saul Hudson), bassist Duff McKagen (Michael McKagen) and drummer Steve Adler.
They took their name from two former bands Axl and Izzy had played in -- the L.A. Guns and the Hollywood Roses. After paying their dues in the gritty rock clubs of Hollywood, Guns n' Roses self-released an EP, 1985's Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, that caught the attention of Geffen A&R exec Tom Zutaut.
Their debut for Geffen, Appetite For Destruction, was released in July 1987. Propelled by three Top 10 singles -- "Sweet Child O' Mine," "Paradise City" and "Welcome to the Jungle" -- Appetite For Destruction rose to the top of the album charts and went on to sell more than 20 million copies. The band spent most of '87 honing their live act, opening for the likes of Aerosmith, Motley Crue and the Cult.
Geffen quickly followed up with 1988's G N' R Lies EP, which included songs from the first Gn'R EP mixed in with new acoustic material. Despite the controversial lyrics of songs like "One in a Million," a neo-racist denunciation of "niggers" and "faggots," G N' R Lies brought the band even greater success. When G N' R Lies hit No. 2 on the charts, Guns n' Roses became the only band in the '80s to have two albums chart in the Top 5 at the same time.
But as their popularity grew, so did the swirl of controversy surrounding the band. At England's Monsters of Rock Tour, two fans were killed in the near-riotous crowd. Reports of heroin and alcohol abuse abounded, and came to light in several highly publicized incidents: Slash let loose a string of obscenities on live TV while accepting an American Music Award, Izzy was arrested for urinating in public on an airplane and Axl's three-week marriage to Erin Everly ended abruptly amidst charges of physical abuse. Ultimately it was Adler who was forced out of the band because of his heroin habit.
In the fall of 1990, Guns n' Roses went back into the studio with new drummer Matt Sorum (formerly of the Cult) and keyboardist Dizzy Reed. After several long delays, the group emerged with two albums, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, released simultaneously in the fall of 1991. The albums, both mixed by Appetite... producer Mike Clink, debuted at No. 1 (Use Your Illusion II) and No. 2 (Use Your Illusion I) on the Billboard charts.
But despite the group's then-promising future, Stradlin abruptly quit the band, unable to resolve his ongoing conflicts with Rose. With new guitarist Gilby Clarke, Guns n' Roses set out on a 28-month marathon world tour, including an appearance at the April '92 Freddie Mercury tribute concert in London which, via satellite, had the largest music audience in history. Back at home, the epic concept video for "November Rain" had become the No. 1 most requested video on MTV. Gn'R later picked up an MTV Video Award for "Best Cinematography" and the coveted MTV Vanguard, awarded for the group's body of work.
The band's next release, a collection of punk covers called The Spaghetti Incident, came out in 1993. By this time, however, grunge had knocked heavy metal off the music radar and the rock 'n' roll excesses of bands like Guns 'n Roses seemed suddenly out of date.
The Spaghetti Incident sold poorly and the band slowly disintegrated over the next few years, leaving Rose with sole ownership of the Guns n' Roses name. In late 1998 Rose entered the studio with guitarist Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails), bassist Tommy Stinson (Replacements), drummer Josh Freese (Vandals), guitarist Paul Huge and keyboardist Dizzy Reed to work on new Guns n' Roses material.
In 1999, "Oh My God," the first original Guns n' Roses song in eight years, appeared on the End of Days soundtrack. The following year, the newly - reconstituted version of G 'n R announced that they would play their first gig in seven years at the House of Blues Las Vegas on New Year's Eve 2000, with another gig at the mammoth Rock In Rio festival to follow on January 14, 2001. Soon afterwards, Guns and Gardner left, to be replaced by two members of local band Road Crew, drummer Steven Adler (b. 22 January 1965, Cleveland, Ohio, USA) and guitarist Slash (b. Saul Hudson, 23 July 1965, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England), the son of a clothes designer and an album cover artist. With bass player Duff McKagan (b. Michael McKagan, 5 February 1964, Seattle, Washington, USA; ex-Fartz; Fastbacks; Ten Minute Warning; and approximately 30 other north-west bands), the band was renamed Guns N'Roses.
Following the disastrous US Hell Tour '85, Guns N'Roses released an EP, Live?!*@ Like A Suicide, on the independent Uzi/Suicide label. This brought intense interest from critics and record companies and in 1986 the group signed to Geffen Records, who reissued the EP the following year. During 1987 they toured extensively, though the group's appetite for self-destruction became readily apparent when Fred Coury of Cinderella was recruited to replace Adler temporarily, after the latter had broken his hand in a brawl. February 1988 also saw the first internal rift when Rose was kicked out, then reinstated, within three days. Their debut, Appetite For Destruction, produced by Mike Clink, went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide and reached number 1 in America a year after its release date. 'Welcome To The Jungle' was used on the soundtrack of the Clint Eastwood film Dead Pool, and reached the Top 30 in the UK.
The group's regular live shows in the USA and Europe brought frequent controversy, notably when two fans died during crowd disturbances at the Monsters Of Rock show at Donington, England, in 1988. In 1989 the eight-track album G N' R Lies was issued, becoming a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic, as were the singles 'Sweet Child O' Mine' (written about Rose's girlfriend and later wife Erin Everly, daughter of Don Everly), 'Paradise City' and 'Patience'. However, Rose's lyrics for 'One In A Million' were widely criticized for their homophobic sentiments. Although Guns N'Roses appeared at the Farm Aid IV charity concert, their career was littered with incidents involving drugs, drunkenness and public disturbance offences in 1989/90. At times their excesses made the band seem like a caricature of a 60s supergroup, with headlines screaming of Stradlin urinating in public on an aeroplane, Slash and McKagan swearing live on television while collecting trophies at the American Music Awards, and Rose's on-off relationship with Everly. In September 1990 Adler was replaced by Matt Sorum (b. 19 November 1960, Mission Viejo, California, USA) from the Cult. Apparently more restrained in their private life, Guns N'Roses added Dizzy Reed (b. Darren Reed; keyboards) for a 1991 world tour, where their exciting and unpredictable performances brought favourable comparisons with the heyday of the Rolling Stones.
In September the group released the highly publicized pair of albums, Use Your Illusion I and II, preceded by a version of Bob Dylan 's 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door' from the soundtrack of Days Of Thunder. Further hit singles, 'You Could Be Mine' (featured in the film Terminator II ) and 'Don't Cry', followed. The Illusion brace immediately sat astride the top two album positions in the Billboard chart, the first occasion on which they had been thus dominated since Jim Croce in 1974.
Izzy Stradlin found the pressure too much and left late in 1991, going on to form the Ju Ju Hounds. He was replaced by Gilby Clarke (ex-Kill For Thrills). Meanwhile, Slash's growing reputation brought guest appearances on recordings by Dylan and Michael Jackson. He also contributed to tribute albums to Muddy Waters and Les Paul, and subsequently established his own spin-off band, Slash's Snakepit. Guns N'Roses' appearance at the 1992 Freddie Mercury AIDS Benefit concert prompted the reissue of 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door', and while Dylan fans groaned with disbelief, the band's vast following was happy to see its heroes scale the charts shortly after the single's release.
While both of their previous albums remained on the US chart, having sold more than four million copies each, it was not until the end of 1993 that any new material emerged. When it arrived, it came in the form of The Spaghetti Incident, a much vaunted collection of cover versions with a punk foundation. A perfunctory affair, it was mainly notable for lining the pockets of several long-forgotten musicians ( UK Subs, Nazareth, Misfits, Fear, etc.), and for including a song written by mass murderer Charles Manson. The main inspiration behind the project, Duff McKagan, had his debut solo album released at the same time. However, reports of an unhappy camp continued to filter through in 1994, leading to the dismissal of Gilby Clarke towards the end of the year, following his own, highly public, outbursts about Rose. His replacement was Paul Huge, a former flatmate of Rose from his Indiana days. Huge's first recording with the band was a cover version of the Rolling Stones' 'Sympathy For The Devil' for the soundtrack to Interview With The Vampire. However, Huge stayed only briefly with the band, as did his replacement, Zakk Wylde (ex- Ozzy Osbourne ), who failed to record a single note with the band before falling out irreconcilably with Rose. In May 1995 Izzy Stradlin was reinstated as second guitarist, but by the end of the year Rose and Slash were again at loggerheads and no new album was imminent. Sorum and McKagen, meanwhile, teamed up with guitarist Steve Jones for the spin-off band the Neurotic Outsiders. Slash confirmed Rose's departure in November 1996, although this situation was reversed in February 1997 when Rose allegedly purchased the rights to the Guns N'Roses name. Later in the year, this was seemingly confirmed by the recruitment of Robin Finck, formerly of Nine Inch Nails, to replace Slash.