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Formed in the ‘age of excess’, otherwise known as the mid-80s, Guns N’ Roses were the band that set the standard for hard, fast rock music and an over-the-top attitude. Considered to be true ‘hard rockers’, they jumped headfirst into a genre full of massive hair, leather trousers, muscular guitar solos and huge stadium concerts but they did it better than everyone else.
They released the self-financed Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide as an EP in 1986 after signing to Geffen Records and a year later Appetite for Destruction hit the shelves and catapulted the band into the metal stratosphere. Full of scorching-hot rock anthems, the album sold in modest quantities until MTV fell head-over-heels in love with Sweet Child o’ Mine and all of a sudden GN’R were on a par with the biggest stadium bands of the 80s, U2 and Bon Jovi. Full of personal themes including love, depravity, über-excess and addiction, the album sold by the multi-million all over the world.
Following Appetite for Destruction was never going to be easy but after what Q magazine described as ‘the awesome feat of getting fired from GN’R for taking too many drugs’ drummer Steven Adler was replaced by Matt Sorum. Then followed the spectacularly ambitious double-album Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II which was less focused than Appetite, but still sold collectively over 30m copies. This is when the band suffered what ended up as a self-implosion and never properly recovered.
Guns N’ Roses wrote songs with wanton abandon. While the other ‘poodle perm’ rockers were playing it lyrically safe, there was nothing safe about GN’Rs sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle being peddled. Metal mag Kerrang! dubbed them Lines N’ Noses.
Minority-baiting One in a Million from the GN’R Lies album was criticised for its bigoted and homophobic messages and it seemed that the band didn’t necessarily simply document the seedier sides of life but actually revelled in its more grotesque elements.
After the release of covers album The Spaghetti Incident? In 1993, the band effectively ceased to exist after a hiatus between 1994 and 1998. The original personnel changed entirely save for frontman Axl Rose (Slash left in 1996, Adler had gone years before, Izzy Stradlin left in 1991 and Duff McKagan quit in 1997) and then the replacements started to get replaced.
Guns N’ Roses could have been the greatest rock band ever but they were criticised (as many others were) for drug and alcohol excess, for in-fighting that delayed single and album releases, late appearances and no-shows. The difference between Guns N’ Roses and other rock bands is that is became harder and harder to separate the band from the legend, and that, in our opinion, is why Appetite for Destruction is one of the greatest rock albums of all time. It’s just a shame they couldn’t have all got along and played nicely.
Guns N’ Roses Trivia
Slash auditioned to be the lead guitarist with Poison but didn’t get the gig.
Former band member Matt Sorum was a musician on the Power Rangers’ song Go Go Power Rangers!
Axl Rose’s real name is the less than rock ‘n’ roll William Bailey.
Slash was born in Hampstead, London and grew up in Stoke-on-Trent!
Chinese Democracy, the band’s sixth studio album released in 2008 and one of the most expensive albums ever recorded (approximately $13m) is, ironically, banned in China.
Selling almost 30m copies, Appetite for Destruction is the best-selling debut album of all time in the US.
Guns N’ Roses – Where Are They Now?
He still performs and tours as the lead singer of Guns N’ Roses albeit with a completely new line up which has gone through a number of incarnations. He has been plagued throughout his life with personal problems and when Guns N’ Roses were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, he didn’t attend the ceremony.
Saul ‘Slash’ Hudson
One of the world’s greatest guitarists, he battled with alcohol and drug issues but has been clean since 2006. Slash has performed in a series of collaborations with artists such as Lenny Kravitz, the Yardbirds and Alice Cooper and he has appeared on TV, as himself in video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and as an Angry Birds fan, he even created a revised Angry Birds Space theme song!
Since leaving GN’R in 1991, he formed Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds and they have released ten albums. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of Guns N’ Roses and known as a shunner of the limelight, he didn’t attend the ceremony either.
After he left GN’R in 1997, he played bass in ‘supergroup’ Velvet Revolver alongside former bandmates Slash and Matt Sorum. Somewhat of a writer, he has penned various articles for Seattle Weekly, Playboy and ESPN and founded Meridian Rock, a wealth management firm specifically for musicians.
Fired in 1990 because of his addiction to heroin, he was the drummer of eponymous band Adler’s Appetite and he has worked with Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist Flea, Alice Cooper and Nicole Scherzinger on Slash’s self-titled debut solo album. He has also appeared in VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr Drew.