Guns N' Roses Biography
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.
Back, back I say