Written by: Matt Bolton
One important tree to be discovered in this edition of HEAVY Roots is that of seminal rock group Guns N’ Roses, who have much history branching out from various bands, and even to this day the branches reaching out from the seminal core have produced highly successful side projects and bands of their own.
The band came from humble beginnings, when founding member Izzy Stradlin, who played in a band with Axl Rose that went by the name of Hollywood Rose, got together with his roommate at the time, another guitarist by the name Tracii Guns no less, from the band L.A. Guns.
After Hollywood Rose broke up in 1984, Axl took over as front man for L.A. Guns for a short while. When Hollywood Rose reunited with Rose, guitarist Stradlin and Chris Weber were joined by L.A. Guns drummer Rob Gardner. After Weber left he was replaced by Guns. The two band names L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose were merged to form the name Guns N’ Roses. After a falling out between Rose and Guns, Guns left the band and was replaced by guitarist Saul ‘Slash’ Hudson. Then bassist Ole Beich was fired and replaced by Duff McKagan. Another member to leave was drummer Gardner who was replaced by Steve Adler.
The Gunners broke through with their classic debut Appetite for Destruction album in 1987, giving us the well known hits such as the infamous Welcome To The Jungle, Paradise City and Sweet Child O’ Mine. Not to forget crowd favourites Mr Brownstone, Nightrain and my personal fave It’s So Easy. My Michelle and Anything Goes were originally performed by Hollywood Rose.
The year to follow G N’R Lies was released with covers of Hollywood Rose, Rose Tattoo and Aerosmith songs as well as acoustic originals such as the hit single, Patience, the aptly titled I Used To Love Her (But I Had To Kill Her) and the controversial One In A Million. The Gunners were really at their peak and the following two part record Use Your Illusion I and II from 1991 continued to rain down with more hits than a steady downpour on a tin roof. On Use Your Illusion I, a cover of Paul Mc’Cartney’s Live and Let Die was made even more famous by the band. November Rain, arguably the band’s most well known song, also came with possibly the most well known film clip of the 90’s. Use Your Illusion II gave us another cover made famous by the Gunners, that being Bob Dylan‘s Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Estranged to this day is another crowd favourite. The Terminator made You Could Be Mine well known on it’s Judgement Day Soundtrack in 1992. The year to follow saw the band release The Spaghetti Incident, with covers of songs by the like of the Misfits, the Stooges, Tthe Damned and even the controversial choice of covering a Charles Manson original, Look At Your Game Girl.
After album sales took a dive, Axl gained rights for the band and was the only remaining member. Rose worked on the Chinese Democracy album, that wouldn’t see the light of day until 2008. Members of the new Guns N’ Roses line up included the likes of guitar genius Buckethead, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, former Primus drummer Bryan “Brain” Mantia, Vandals drummer Josh Freese and Gunners long time keyboardist Dizzy Reed.
Slash at first joined Hollywood Rose along with Adler.; Axl and Izzy were already in the band. With McKagen already in the band, this was of course the classic line up of Guns N’ Roses. Slash however being the talented musician that he is branched out to form his own solo projects Slash’s Snakepit, which kept him busy from 1994 to 2008 when he joined supergroup Velvet Revolver, fronted by the late Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots). As Snakepit disbanded in 2008, Slash took his solo career further, later teaming up with Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy and backing band The Conspirators. They toured heavily, and were a regular at Australia’s Soundwave Festival.
Duff McKagan, who also played with Slash in Velvet Revolver, also branched off from the Gunners to his own group Loaded. McKagan also played for a short time in 2010 with Jane’s Addiction but it was his band Walking Papers, that I witnessed live supporting Alice In Chains, that really stuck out to me.
Another honourable mention would be Dizzy Reed, keyboardist from the Gunners who worked with Australian-American rock group The Dead Dasies, who are still rocking out today with numourous top musicians taking a turn spreading the riffs. Their latest Make Some Noise only being released earlier this year.
After taking over Brian Johnson‘s role of front-man for legendary Aussie Rocker’s AC/DC on tour and doing a mighty fine job of it, Axl Rose has come to good terms with fellow band members Slash and Duff hence the Not in This Lifetime… Tour that is currently taking the world by storm. With second shows announced for Sydney this will be the tour not to be missed, and we hope this lineup can stick with it for the long term.
Find the links to get tickets for this tour and don’t miss out!