Finally, we get to the man who caused this blizzard of music “fun cards” today, the birthday boy Axl Rose. He was born William Bruce Rose Jr. and raised as William Bruce “Bill” Bailey in 1962 in Lafayette, Indiana…a long way from Hollywood. He has appeared on non-Guns N’ Roses songs with Don Henley, Gilby Clarke, and Sebastian Bach, and fronted AC/DC in 2016 when Brian Johnson faced health issues. Perhaps the coolest thing that Axl Rose has ever done, though, happened just a few years ago when he was animated and appeared on New Looney Tunes, performing a new song called “Rock the Rock” with Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig in the episode “Armageddon Outta Here.”
Happy birthday Axl!
I often cite Slash* as the reason for getting a guitar when I was 16 years old. I’ve sadly never been able to learn how to play quite as well as the Guns N’ Roses axe-slinger. His recent collaborations with Myles Kennedy are very good, but nothing stands as tall as his work with Axl Rose and the boys.
Duff McKagan was at one time the most underrated member of Guns N’ Roses, but he has proven himself as a musician and writer over time and is now getting the recognition he deserves. In addition to GNR, McKagan released a solo album Tenderness last year and has been a member of Neurotic Outsiders, 10 Minute Warning, Velvet Revolver, and Loaded, and has performed with Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction, and Hollywood Vampires. He had dropped out of high school in the 1980s but has since completed his education and founded a wealth management business. Duff is also the author of It’s So Easy (And Other Lies) and How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions). He rejoined Guns N’ Roses in 2016.
I didn’t know until just now that yesterday was actually Duff’s birthday…56 years young! Happy belated birthday Mr. McKagan!
Guns N’ Roses was the biggest band in the world when guitarist Izzy Stradlin walked away. After recording four albums with the group, he decided the spotlight was too much and opted to pursue a solo career with less pressure. His first post-Guns album, Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds, featured some great songs, and he continues to put out solid music under his own name. Corporate rock radio, however, has all but ignored his excellent output.
Exactly how bad does your drug problem have to be for Guns N’ Roses to cite that as a reason for your firing? The group struggled with substance abuse for much of their early career, but Steven Adler‘s problems were so bad even his bandmates were worried about him. He has appeared on two seasons of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and one season of Sober House, both reality shows documenting the troubles of addiction in the spotlight. Adler has joined his former bandmates on stage a few times during the “Not In This Lifetime” tour a few years ago.
Matt Sorum followed the troubled Steven Adler behind the drumkit for Guns N’ Roses, recording all but one song on the Use Your Illusion records. Aside from GNR, Sorum’s most notable work came with Velvet Revolver, the supergroup formed by ex-Gunners Slash and Duff McKagan and Stone Temple Pilots‘ singer Scott Weiland.
Dizzy Reed officially joined Guns N’ Roses, if Wikipedia is to be believed, in 1990 during the recording of Use Your Illusion I and II, but he had a relationship with the band since their very early days in Los Angeles. Reed was the only Illusion-era member of GNR other than Axl Rose to appear on Chinese Democracy. He has an extensive discography beyond GNR which includes Johnny Crash, The Dead Daisies, and Motörhead.
Today is Axl Rose’s birthday and what better way to celebrate than a slew of Guns N’ Roses “fun cards”? I’m not going to touch the 2008 Chinese Democracy lineup. Instead, we’ll start with Gilby Clarke, who joined the band in 1991 following Izzy Stradlin‘s departure. He hit the road with the Gunners on the Use Your Illusion tour but didn’t make his studio debut until 1993’s The Spaghetti Incident?, a collection of cover songs ranging from The Stooges to Soundgarden to Charles Manson.
Following his time with Guns N’ Roses, Gilby released several solo albums and recorded with Slash’s Snakepit, Nancy Sinatra, and Rock Star Supernova, a supergroup that also featured vocalist Lukas Rossi, Metallica‘s Jason Newsted, and Mötley Crüe‘s Tommy Lee.
Axl Rose and Slash, on stage together, playing music. Who would have thought such a thing would ever happen again? Last night at the Troubadour club in Los Angeles, the two feuding men buried their respective hatchets for a few hours and entertained fans along with original bassist Duff McKagan. Izzy Stradlin was replaced by Richard Fortus, and Steven Adler by Frank Ferrer, but there can be no denying the magic that was created by 3/5 of the original band last night.
I wish I had been there.
The fortunate rock fans who saw Guns N’ Roses last night did so for only $10. A limited number of tickets were made available to fans on a cash-only basis yesterday at noon. Cameras (including those that are sometimes used as cell phones) were not allowed in the venue, and there were reports of audience members being escorted out because they tried to snap a few shots or take video. A handful of photographs were posted on Twitter (like the one above, and I have no idea who originally posted it), and there are some twelve-second videos floating around Instagram.
Several questions were answered at last night’s show. First, as already mentioned, Adler and Izzy are not taking part in this reunion tour. It was already confirmed that Izzy would be a no-show, but rumors persisted that Adler would at least sit in for a few songs. That never materialized.
Second, songs from Chinese Democracy were a part of the setlist. The title track and “Better” were both performed by the band last night, and I would assume they will be a part of the set this summer since Slash and Duff took the time to learn them.
Third, Axl smiled. You can see it in the photo posted above. Whatever bad blood existed may still be there, but it is not boiling as hotly as before.
Will this lead to new music from Axl and Slash? I certainly hope so. While I plan to go to a show this summer, what I really want is new studio music from the bad boys of rock and roll. I love new music, and I can’t wait to hear what 3/5 of the original Guns N’ Roses has to offer fans after a 23-year hiatus.