Guns N’ Roses

  • Hard rock band formed in 1985 from Los Angeles California. There have been 23 members of the band over the years – the members during their heyday were Axl Rose (frontman, lead vocals, keyboards, songwriter – born William Rose), Slash (lead guitar, songwriter – born Saul Hudson), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar, backing vocals, songwriter – born Jeffrey Isbell), Duff McKagan (bass guitar, backing vocals – born Michael McKagan, songwriting), Steven Adler (drums, percussion, backing vocals – born Michael Coletti), and Dizzy Reed (keyboards, backing vocals – born Darren Reed).
  • In 1984, Stradlin was a member of hard rock band Hollywood Rose and was living with guitarist Tracii Guns from the rock band L.A. Guns. When L.A. Guns needed a new vocalist, Stradlin recommended Axl Rose, the lead singer of Hollywood Rose. In March 1985, both Rose and Stradlin joined L.A. Guns. The band changed its name to Guns N’ Roses, combining the name of both previous groups. Over the next couple of months, the drummer and bass guitarist left and were replaced by Adler and McKagan. Guns also left the band after an argument with Rose, and was replaced by Slash, who had been part of Hollywood Rose. After playing in clubs in Hollywood, they were noticed by record labels, and they signed a deal in March 1986.
  • Their first release was a 4 song EP in late 1986 – Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide. The band did not have enough original songs yet to record a full length album, so they released this to appease the record label. While it sounds like a live performance, it actually was recorded in studio, and pre-recorded audience cheering was added to make it sound live.
  • Their debut album, Appetite For Destruction, was released in 1987. The first single released was Welcome To The Jungle. The album and single was out for nearly a year, with only modest interest. Then, David Geffen, the owner of the record label, personally convinced MTV to start playing the video of the song. It was played once, at 4 am on a Sunday, but it caught the interest of hard rock and heavy metal fans, who started requesting it. When their next single was released, Sweet Chile o’ Mine, their breakthrough was complete. The song was their only #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Welcome To The Jungle was then re-released, and it peaked at #7 on the chart. Sweet Child o’ Mine hits Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Songs of All Time at #198, Welcome To The Jungle ranks at #473, and the album ranks at #62 on their list of the Greatest Albums of All Time. The album is the best selling debut album of all time – certified 18x platinum, with global sales of over 30 million copies.
  • In 1988, they released their second album – G N’ R Lies. It included the songs from the previously issued EP, and 4 new acoustic songs. The only single from the album, Patience, peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 chart, and the album peaked at #2. By now, the band had developed a reputation during concerts, with near rioting by fans becoming commonplace. As such, they were called “The Most Dangerous Band in the World.”
  • In 1990 and 1991, Adler was fired from the band due to his cocaine addiction, and the band replaced their manager. They also added keyboardist Reed as a full time member. They had enough material for 2 albums, and so they released both separately on the same day in 1991 – Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. Both were 7x platinum albums. Top 10 singles from these albums were Don’t Cry and November Rain.
  • An album of punk and glam rock cover songs was released in 1993, called The Spaghetti Incident?. The title refers to a food fight between Rose and fired drummer Adler. It includes a hidden track of a song written by Charles Manson at the end of the album. After its release, the band went through several lineup changes, with only Rose and Reed remaining constant.
  • A new album was in the works by 1994 – but its release did not happen for 14 years. Finally, Chinese Democracy was released in 2008. It is the most expensive rock album ever produced, with production costs estimated at $14 million. While it was acclaimed by critics, it did not meet sales expectations.
  • In 2016, original members Slash and McKagan rejoined Rose for a concert tour. The tour continues today, and it is the fourth highest grossing concert tour of all time. In December 2017, gross receipts were over $480 million.
  • In 2012, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Rose did not attend the ceremony, stating that he did not know what the Hall is or how it makes money, or who chooses the voters. Rolling Stone puts Guns N’ Roses at #92 on their list of the Greatest Artists of All Time.
  • When Slash, Rose and Stradlin wrote Sweet Child o’ Mine, Slash hated the song, calling it a joke. He said that the famous opening guitar riff was a circus melody that he did as an exercise. Well, it made them a lot of money! Here it is.

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