At a time when pop was dominated by dance music and pop-metal, Guns N' Roses brought raw, ugly rock & roll crashing back into the charts. They were not nice boys; nice boys don't play rock & roll. They were ugly, misogynist, and violent; they were also funny, vulnerable, and occasionally sensitive, as their breakthrough hit, "Sweet Child o' Mine" showed. While Slash and Izzy Stradlin ferociously spit out dueling guitar riffs worthy of Aerosmith or the Stones, Axl Rose screeched out his tales of sex, drugs, and apathy in the big city. Meanwhile, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler were a limber rhythm section who kept the music loose and powerful. Guns N' Roses' music was basic and gritty, with a solid hard, bluesy base; they were dark, sleazy, dirty, and honest -- everything that good hard rock and heavy metal should be. There was something refreshing about a band who could provoke everything from devotion to hatred, especially since both sides were equally right. There hadn't been a hard rock band this raw or talented in years, and they were given added weight by Axl Rose's primal rage, the sound of confused, frustrated white trash vying for his piece of the pie. As the '80s became the '90s, there simply wasn't a more interesting band around, but owing to intra-band friction and the emergence of alternative rock, Rose's supporting cast gradually disintegrated, as he spent several years in seclusion.
Guns N' Roses released their first EP in 1986, which led to a contract with Geffen; the following year, the band released their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. They started to build a following with their numerous live shows, but the album didn't start selling until almost a year later, when MTV started playing "Sweet Child o' Mine." Soon, both the album and single shot to number one, and Guns N' Roses became one of the biggest bands in the world. Their debut single, "Welcome to the Jungle," was re-released and shot into the Top Ten, and "Paradise City" followed in its footsteps.
By the end of 1988, they released G N' R Lies, which paired four new, acoustic-based songs (including the Top Five hit "Patience") with their first EP. G N' R Lies' inflammatory closer, "One in a Million," sparked intense controversy, as Axl Rose slipped into misogyny, bigotry, and pure violence; essentially, he somehow managed to distill every form of prejudice and hatred into one five-minute tune.
Guns N' Roses began work on the long-awaited follow-up to Appetite for Destruction at the end of 1990. In October of that year, the band fired Adler, claiming that his drug dependency caused him to play poorly; he was replaced by Matt Sorum from the Cult. During recording, the band added Dizzy Reed on keyboards. By the time the sessions were finished, the new album had become two new albums. After being delayed for nearly a year, the albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II were released in September 1991. Messy but fascinating, the albums showcased a more ambitious band; while there were still a fair number of full-throttle guitar rockers, there were stabs at Elton John-style balladry, acoustic blues, horn sections, female backup singers, ten-minute art rock epics with several different sections, and a good number of introspective, soul-searching lyrics. In short, they were now making art; amazingly, they were successful at it. The albums sold very well initially, but while they had seemed destined to set the pace for the decade to come, that turned out not to be the case at all.
Nirvana's Nevermind hit number one in early 1992, suddenly making Guns N' Roses -- with all of their pretensions, impressionistic videos, models, and rock star excesses -- seem very uncool. Rose handled the change by becoming a dictator, or at least a petty tyrant; his in-concert temper tantrums became legendary, even going so far as to incite a riot in Toronto. Stradlin left by the end of 1991, and with his departure the band lost their best songwriter; he was replaced by ex-Kill for Thrills guitarist Gilby Clarke.
The band didn't fully grasp the shift in hard rock until 1993, when they released an album of punk covers, The Spaghetti Incident?; it received some good reviews, but the band failed to capture the reckless spirit of not only the original versions, but their own Appetite for Destruction. By the middle of 1994, there were rumors flying that the band was about to break up, since Rose wanted to pursue a new, more industrial direction and Slash wanted to stick with their blues-inflected hard rock. The band remained in limbo for several more years, and Slash resurfaced in 1995 with the side project Slash's Snakepit and an LP, It's Five O'Clock Somewhere. Rose remained out of the spotlight, becoming a virtual recluse and doing nothing but tinkering in the studio; he also recruited various musicians -- including Dave Navarro, Tommy Stinson, and ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck -- for informal jam sessions. By 1996 Slash was officially out of Guns N' Roses, leaving Rose the lone remaining survivor from the group's heyday-Guns N' Roses effectively ended then. Axl has put together a new band using the Guns N' Roses name (which he legally owns) but without the other original members and a complete change in musical direction Guns N' Roses are no longer identifiable as the hard rock force they once were.Biography taken from www.allmusic.com (edited and amended by Alan Hylands)
|November 19, 1960||Matt Sorum born|
|February 6, 1962||Axl Rose born|
|April 8, 1962||Izzy Stradlin' born|
|June 18, 1963||Dizzy Reed born|
|February 5, 1964||Duff McKagan born|
|July 23, 1965||Slash born|
|January 22, 1965||Steven Adler born|
|1984/1985||Guns N' Roses are formed from the remnants of LA Guns and Hollywood Rose - June 1985 Slash and Steven Adler of Road Crew join for GNR's "Hell Tour"|
|August 1986||Guns N' Roses sign to Geffen Records|
|December 1986||Live Like A Suicide released|
|August 1987||Appetite For Destruction released|
|August 1988||GNR play Donington Monsters of Rock - two fans die in crush|
|GNR Lies released|
|October 1989||Play four shows with Rolling Stones|
Play Farm Aid, Dizzy Reed joins
|July 1990||Steven Adler fired|
|August 1990||Matt Sorum joins|
|January 1991||New line-up plays Rock In Rio II|
|May 1991||"Get In The Ring Tour" begins|
|July 1991||St. Louis riot, Axl arrested|
|September 1991||Use Your Illusion I&II released|
|October 1991||Steven Adler files legal proceedings against GNR|
|November 1991||Izzy Stradlin' departure official|
|April 6, 1992||GNR&Metallica begin joint tour|
|July 1992||GNR play Freddie Mercury Tribute|
|August 1992||Montreal riot|
Izzy briefly rejoins band on tour
|July 1993||World tour finally ends|
|September 1993||Legal settlement with Steven Adler|
|November 1993||The Spaghetti Incident released|