Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube Mix of music by Guns and Roses

Although heavy metal music remained extremely popular in the mid 1980s, its edge had been slightly dulled by the success of more commercially accessible pop metal bands like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. Metal's original formula, which included distorted and extended guitar solos, thrashing drums, heavy bass, gritty vocals and macho, aggressive lyrical content had been refined and lightened to include harmonies, sweeter vocals, and softer songs about love. However, it wasn't long before the dark and sleazy characteristics that had defined classic metal since the early 1970s prevailed to quickly reclaim the original, undiluted style.

One of the darkest, sleaziest and most popular of the late 1980s heavy metal bands was Guns N' Roses. Guns N' Roses formed in 1985 in Los Angeles, California and released their first EP, "Like Suicide", the following year. The EP quickly gained the attention of Geffen Records, who signed them to release their 1987 debut "Appetite For Destruction". While the band built a following through their live shows in the Los Angeles area, an entire year passed before the rest of the country would hear about them. Not surprisingly, the success of the album was dramatically effected when MTV began to play the video for what became their breakthrough hit, "Sweet Child O' Mine".

It wasn't long before Guns N' Roses found themselves one of the biggest rock bands in the world with their first full-length release topping the charts. The album's cover depicting a woman being "violated" by a robot raised eyebrows, to say the least, and marked the first of many controversies for the new bad boys of rock and roll. In spite of the overtly misogynistic cover art Appetite became the top selling debut in rock history and stayed firmly planted on the charts for over three years, with the singles, "Sweet Child O' Mine", "Welcome to the Jungle", and "Paradise City", all reaching the top ten.

As with many successful rock groups, a certain amount of Guns N' Roses success was due to the charisma of their lead singer, Axl Rose. Born as Bill Bailey in the small Indiana town of Lafayette in 1962, Rose was raised by his mother and stepfather in a strict religious household. Forbidden to listen to rock music, he sang in the church choir until the age of 17, but after learning his biological father, William Rose, had abandoned the family when he was two, he discovered a taste for rebellion and intoxicating substances. Within the year he hitchhiked to Los Angeles and changed his name to Axl Rose.

After finding another Indiana native, guitarist Izzy Stradlin (born Jeffrey Isbell in 1962) the two formed a band with guitarist Traci Guns, and drummer Rob Gardner. After a series of name changes, including A-X-L, Rose, Hollywood, and L.A. Guns they eventually came up with Guns and Roses. The band replaced their drummer with Stephen Adler (later replaced by Matt Sorum from The Cult), bassist Michael "Duff" McKagen, and the notorious guitarist Slash (born Saul Hudson in 1965).

Following the success of Appetite problems within the group threatened to break up the band before they were able to release a second full-length album. However, in 1988, Geffen released G N' R Lies, which combined acoustic versions of four new songs with the songs from their original EP. The success of Lies helped keep the band intact as they began work on the ambitious "Illusions" project, which eventually yielded two separate albums.

Use Your Illusion I, and Use Your Illusion II were finally released in autumn of 1991. Fans quickly understood why the project had been two years in the making as the band showcased their unique ability to combine complex arrangements with traditional hard rock songs. The band added a keyboardist, horn section, female back up singers, and recorded a number of ballads and lengthy numbers to create the Illusion series. Although critics praised the effort and sales were initially impressive, by 1992 audience interest had shifted away from LA's metal bands to the emerging Seattle grunge scene. Suddenly, rock star excess, supermodels in slick videos and screeching vocals weren't cool.

The band's ego propelled them for another year and one more album, The Spaghetti Incident? released in 1993. The album included covers of early punk tunes and a few songs written by Charles Manson and proved to themselves and their audience that the band was not able to sustain the energy of their debut release.

By 1994, rumors circulated that the band was considering a break up, but this never seemed to actually happen. Rose remained as the band's only original member and within eight years managed to release only one new song, which appeared on the soundtrack for the Schwarzenegger film End of Days. It was apparent that everyone except Axl had received the news that Guns N' Roses was no longer.

Although many rumors about Axl working with new musicians in the studio made their way into the press over the last few years, it wasn't until January of 2001 that Rose appeared in Las Vegas to perform a concert. The success of the show, and inclusion of four new songs has led many to believe that a Guns N' Roses release just might be possible this spring.

Page author: A.E.