The band has changed their original lineup twenty-two times since they started out.
The band was formed by Rose’s band, Hollywood Rose, and Tracii Guns’s band, L.A. Guns. The name Guns N’ Roses formed by combining the two names.
Some of the names Axl considered for the band included Heads of Amazon and AIDS. Thank God he eventually liked the name Guns N’ Roses best.
After several lineup changes the band consisted of Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. The lineup debuted at The Troubadour and proceeded to play the L.A. club circuit, eventually building up a devoted fan club.
The band’s first tour, the Hell Tour, was fittingly named. Two hours north of Fresno, the band’s 1977 Oldsmobile (plus U-Haul) gave out and left them hitchhiking for forty hours to Seattle, carrying only their guitars. They missed several shows and played on borrowed amps when they finally arrived.
While returning to Los Angeles after their first tour the band had a terrible accident that almost ended their careers and lives. While piled into Duff McKagan’s Toyota Celica, another car traveling 60 mph broadsided them at an intersection, miraculously leaving drummer Steven Adler with only a broken ankle.
Back in 1986, Guns N’ Roses backed up one of their main influences and idols Alice Cooper at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara, but they had to play without Axl. The singer was refused entry to the show because his name wasn’t on the artist list.
Early in their career, the band lived in a small apartment in Los Angeles that they called Hell House because of the alcohol, drugs, girls, and all manner of sin that occurred there.
During the recording of “It’s So Easy” for Appetite for Destruction, David Bowie (who dated Slash’s mother when Slash was still young) visited the band and flirted with Erin Everly, Axl’s model girlfriend at the time. Immediately, Rose went after Bowie and punched him. Eventually they resolved the misunderstanding and went out drinking at the China Club.
Even though we all know him as Axl Rose, the lead singer of the band was born William Bruce Rose Jr. In case you didn’t know, his stage name is an anagram of “oral sex.”
Before taking up the guitar when his grandmother gave him his first one, a stringed acoustic, Slash was mainly interested in BMX biking and briefly competed at the professional level.
One of Axl Rose’s many tantrums came on signing day with Geffen Records. He had misplaced his contact lenses and stormed out of his home, believing someone wanted him to be unable to read the contract. Slash and manager Vicky Hamilton found the contacts and convinced him it was just an unfortunate coincidence and not a conspiracy.
Guns N’ Roses’ first album, Appetite for Destruction, has sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and is the best-selling debut album of all time in the United States with eighteen million units sold.
Guns N’ Roses toured as Aerosmith’s opening act in the summer of 1988. It was a thrill for the band, since they all idolized Aerosmith and particularly Steven Tyler, and the two bands got along great. At first, a system was put in place to keep the bands separated, since Aerosmith had been through rehab and their management didn’t want them around drugs and alcohol. As the tour progressed, a mentor relationship formed between the bands, as Aerosmith saw their younger selves in Guns N’ Roses.
Steven Adler was the first to leave the band, getting kicked out in 1990 when his drug abuse got out of control. He took the band to court, claiming he was owed royalties and that the other members exasperated his downward spiral.
At the trial, a lawyer asked Duff McKagan about “The Spaghetti Incident,” referring to the drugs Steven Adler kept in a refrigerator when the band was rehearsing in Chicago. That phrase became the name of the band’s 1993 album. The case was settled, with Adler receiving $2.5 million.
According to legendary sound engineer Bob Clearmountain, Axl Rose “would threaten to quit the band three times a week.”
Ironically, Axl is the only remaining original member of the band and the only one who has been constantly present since 1985.
The final song Axl and Slash recorded together wasn’t one for a Guns N’ Roses album but a cover of the Rolling Stones song “Sympathy for the Devil.” The song appeared on the Interview with the Vampire soundtrack and was released as a single. The recording of the song led to Slash quitting the band in 1996, with McKagan following shortly after.
It took Axl Rose and Duff McKagan thirteen years after the band’s split to speak again. It was a chance meeting at a hotel in London that rekindled their friendship.
In mid-1991, Rose became involved in a high-profile relationship with supermodel Stephanie Seymour. During their relationship Seymour appeared in the music videos for “Don’t Cry” and “November Rain.” Seymour and Rose got engaged in February 1993 but separated three weeks later.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine,” the band’s biggest-selling single worldwide, was reportedly written in just five minutes. Despite its commercial success, Slash considers it the band’s worst song.
Rose started working on “November Rain” about ten years before its release in 1991 as a single from the album Use Your Illusion I. Tracii Guns once stated in an interview that Rose was working on the song in the early ’80s.
Before joining up with the dudes in L.A. Guns, Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin made money by smoking cigarettes for a study conducted by UCLA, according to the biography Appetite for Destruction: The Days of Guns N’ Roses.
According to “The Vocal Ranges of the Greatest Singers” by Concert Hotels, Axl Rose is the greatest singer of all time and has an insane range of five octaves. Rose beats out a truly jam-packed pantheon of male and female music legends that includes Mariah Carey, Robert Plant, Whitney Houston, Steven Tyler, and Elvis Presley, among others.