The classic line-up of Guns N' Roses. From left to right: Duff McKagan, Slash, Axl Rose, Steven Adler and Izzy Stradlin.AKA: Axl Rose and Friends
Guns N' Roses is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles
, California in 1985. The band, led by frontman and co-founder Axl Rose, has gone through numerous line-up changes and controversies since their formation. The band has released six studio albums, two EPs and one live album during their career.
Guns N' Roses has sold an estimated 90 million albums worldwide, including over 42 million in the United States. The band's 1987 major label debut album, Appetite for Destruction
, has sold in excess of 28 million copies and reached number one on the United States Billboard 200. In addition, the album charted three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Sweet Child O' Mine" which reached number one. The 1991 albums Use Your Illusion
I and Use Your Illusion
II debuted on the two highest spots on the Billboard 200 and have sold a combined 14 million copies in the United States alone. After over a decade of work, the band released their follow-up album, Chinese Democracy
, on November 23, 2008, a date to be remembered throughout history as the day when (non Pink Floyd
-affliated) pigs actually flew
The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. In an inversion of what happened to the band itself, everyone but Axl
(and Izzy and Dizzy) attended the ceremony.
Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):
- Steven Adler - drums, vocals (1985-1990)
- DJ Ashba - guitar (2009-Present)
- Ole Beich - bass (1985, died 1991)
- Brian Carroll (Buckethead) - guitar (2000-2004)
- Gilby Clarke - guitar, vocals (1991-1994)
- Frank Ferrer - drums (2006-Present)
- Robin Finck - drums, percussion (1998–1999)
- Richard Fortus - guitar (2002-Present)
- Josh Freese - guitar, keyboard, synthesizer (1997–1999, 2000–2008)
- Rob Gardner - drums (1985)
- Saul Hudson (Slash) - guitar, dobro, backing and lead vocals, bass, talkbox, banjo (1985–1996)
- Jeffrey Isbell (Izzy Stradlin) - guitar, backing and lead vocals, percussion, sitar (1985–1991, 1993, 2006, 2012)
- Bryan Mantina - drums (2000-2006)
- Muchael "Duff" McKagen - bass, backing and lead vocals, guitar, percussion, drums (1985–1997, 2010, 2011, 2014)
- Chris Pitman - keyboard, synthesizer, vocals, bass, guitar, mellotron (1998-Present)
- Darren "Dizzy" Reed - keyboard, piano, clavinet, organ, vocals, synthesizer (1990-Present)
- William "Axl" Rose - lead vocals, percussion, synthesizer, whistle, piano, guitar, sound effects, drum machine, kazoo, keyboard (1985-Present)
- Matt Sorum - drums, percussion, vocals (1990-1997)
- Tommy Stinson - bass, vocals (1998-Present)
- Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal - guitar (2006-Present)
- Paul Tobias - guitar, piano, vocals (1994–2002)
- Tracy Ulrich (Tracii Guns) - guitar (1985)
Studio and Live Discography:
Tropes involving this band:
open/close all folders
- Aerith and Bob: The second line-up consisted of Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy... and Steve. Steve's replacement Matt too.
- Slash was replaced by Buckethead who was himself replaced by Bumblefoot
- The current line-up reverses the trend while still maintaining the trope with Axl leading DJ, Ronnote , Richard, Tommy, and Frank.
- Achievement In Ignorance: Slash knows nothing about music theory, but that hasn't stopped him from writing some of the most famous riffs from the 80's.
- Ascended Fanboy: The classic lineup can be considered this, and later on, especially Slash. The entire classic lineup were huge Aerosmith fans, and got to open for them during a tour before Appetite came out. Lately, Slash himself has been playing "Mama Kin" on-stage together with Aerosmith a couple of times, and has announced a co-headlining tour with them! Considering that Joe Perry from Aerosmith is also a fan of Slash, it's kind of a mutual thing.
- The Band Minus the Face: Velvet Revolver, 60% composed of former Gunners.
- Berserk Button
- An audience member at the infamous St. Louis concert in 1991 aimed his camera at the band. Axl then proceeded, after security failed to eject the idiot, to dive off the stage and take matters into his own hands, taking the poor sap to school for trying to bootleg his concert.
- During one show, Axl describes Steven Adler's button.
- Guns n' Roses once played a double-bill with Metallica in Montreal. Early in Metallica's set, James Hetfield got confused about his stage cues and accidentally stepped into a column of phosphorous, nearly burning to death on stage. Naturally, he went to the hospital and Metallica apologized that they couldn't finish their set. GNR's roadies weren't prepared to switch over so early, so it took an exceptionally long time to set up Guns' stage apparatus. Then the band played for 40 minutes before Axl complained about the sound quality of the monitors and stormed offstage. This pushed the audience's Berserk Button, and they tore apart the arena in rage.
- Apparently it's a new tradition on the current Chinese Democracy tour for audience members to infuriate Axl by throwing bottles and stuff at him. It's not a show without Axl yelling "STOP THE SHOW! STOP!"
- Wearing a Slash T Shirt essentially becomes this for him nowadays. He even stated no one can enter GNR concerts with them anymore.
- Broken Pedestal: Axl was a fan of Nirvana, even wearing their cap in a video and inviting them for a tour. Unfortunately, Kurt Cobain loathed his band(or perhaps just Axl, as in Duff's autobiography he mentioned having a positive experience with meeting Cobain). It's unknown if Dave Grohl shares the feeling - he even thanked GN'R for not attending Rock in Rio Lisbon so the Foo Fighters could perform!
- Carpet of Virility: Dear God, STEVEN. A quick Google image search proves it.
- Cool Shades: As you see up there, nearly everyone in the band liked them.
- Crazy-Prepared: The current lineup is just about prepared for anything that might happen. On tours, all the guitarists bring a back-up generator for their amplifiers and pedalboards, Axl brings a megaphone along with a few spare microphones... Suffice to say, they won't be bothered by a simple power outage. And simple things like rain, heat or malfunctioning guitars? Everyone brings spares. Plenty of spares. Bumblefoot even brings 2 spares of his double-neck, while Ashba brings a spare for each of his guitars. And then add the carbon-rod in all of Bumblefoot's guitars, which keeps the neck in place regardless of changing weather conditions... Oh, and they keep a spare piano, just in case there's trouble with the main one. They seem to be pretty much prepared for the worst.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Axl gets this the most, but pretty much every member besides Slash qualifies to a certain extent.
- '80s Hair: Many people there, as the page image shows.
- Everyone Has Standards/Role Ending Misdemeanor: As Dennis Miller once said about Steven, "How fucked up do you have to be to get kicked out of Guns n' Roses?" The answer: Extremely. Everyone in the band except for Axl was a junkie and/or alcoholic, but they were still able to keep it together on stage. Steven's abuse, however, was so extreme that it began to seriously mess with his playing ability, and eventually led to his being fired. He has struggled with his addictions ever since, and if you have seen him on That Metal Show, it is clear that he has been permanently damaged.
- Fiery Redhead: Axl Rose is a male example of the trope.
- Five-Man Band: The classic line-up
- GTA Radio: Axl is the DJ of the classic rock station in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: W. Axl Rose.
- Heel Face Door Slam: When it looked like Axl was finally going to bury the hatchet with his old bandmates for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he pulled the plug at the last minute.
- I Am the Band: Axl is the only original member left.
- Iconic Item: Slash can be considered an "Iconic persona":
- The top hat.
- His sunglasses are so iconic that some people wonder if he's blind or if he even has eyes. Neither of these claims are true, but his playing would somehow be even more epic if he was blind/eyeless. He has been seen once without his hat or his sunglasses, when he played with Joe Elliot and members of Queen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. But even so, you don't really see his eyes past his hair, to the point where you wouldn't even know it was him if Joe Elliot didn't shout, "Slash!" when he takes to the stage. And aside of this, have you ever seen him without his sunglasses? He can be seen occasionally without his signature top hat, but without the glasses? Not so much.
- And in the video for "November Rain", during the churchfront solo.
- The hair. Nothing screams "Slash" like his hair.
- And his Gibson Les Paul guitars.
- Marshall Amplification says on their Artist-page for Slash, that his top hat is so iconic, that if you see a picture of a top hat with a Les Paul or a Marshall Amp (or both), you know right away that it's Slash. The man himself is less iconic than the gear and hat!
- For Axl, the bandanna.
- I Was Quite a Looker:
- Jerkass: Axl. He's reportedly pissed on the crowd in several shows, never turns up on time and goes crazy at anybody for wearing a Slash T-Shirt, of all things.
- Jerk Ass Woobie: Though in all fairness he did have a horrible childhood as he was sexually assaulted by his stepfather at a very young age(Axl mentioned in a 1993 interview that the tramuatic experience caused him to stop aging emotionally, remarking that "when people say Axl sounds like a screaming two-year old, they're right") and much of his behavior stemmed from being manic-depressive(something which you often have no control over)
- Jerk With A Heartof Gold: Also while Steven, Slash and Duff did criticize Axl in their autobiographies, they also had plenty of good things to say about him(I.E. Axl took time off to visit Steven and Duff in the hospital, he even missed out on being in the movie "the Dead Pool" to see the former) and do defend him at some points, Slash in particular says that has a big problem with people who don't know Axl criticizing him.
- Large Ham: Axl.
- Man in a Kilt: Axl, most notably during live performances.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Axl has one hell of a vocal range. If you listen to their music not knowing that, you'd think the band has at least three different singers.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: He speaks in a deep voice (used in songs such as "Mr. Brownstone"), but his most common singing voice is that screech Slash compared to "the sound that a tape player makes when the cassette finally dies and the tape gets ripped out, but in tune."
- Mistaken for Racist: Possibly Axl, yet again. It seems he can't live down "One In A Million" from Lies, whose lyrics were...somewhat controversial. Whether or not to believe his claims that the song was written "in character" or that he was calling out specific people who tried to hustle him on the LA streets is an exercise for the reader (Slash's silence doesn't help). In recent years he's taken to calling out James Hetfield over dropping opening act Body Count over racial bias, possibly passing the trope onward.
- May-December Romance: Slash dated an older woman for a stretch during the early nineties, generally thought to be Carole King (with whom he toured during the same period).
- Nice Hat: Slash's iconic top hat.
- Older Than They Look: DJ Ashba is forty. He really doesn't look forty at all◊.
- Persona Non Grata: The group is banned from performing in St. Louis after the infamous Riverport Riot that started when a fan pressed Axl Rose's Berserk Button. As revenge, the band hid the message "Fuck You St. Louis!" in the liner notes to Use Your Illusion I. Their music, however, is not banned in St. Louis. Ironically, their current rhythm guitarist, Richard Fortus, is from St. Louis.
- A commercial that ran on the St. Louis classic rock radio station KSHE 95 in the summer of 2011 referenced this; 2011 was the 20th anniversary of Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, previously known as Riverport, where the riot took place. "Paradise City" started playing in the background of the commercial, then there was high-pitched mic feedback as the music stopped and someone in the background stomped away, and the narrator casually said "Sorry, he's still a little sore about that," referencing Guns N' Roses' permaban from playing in St. Louis. For extra hilarity, St. Louis also plays host to an annual Christmastime charity boxing match between the local police force and the fire department...called "Guns n' Hoses."
- Pet the Dog: When Dr. Pepper made it's famous bet (see The Bet below) they offered a free soda to everyone in the USA except for Slash and Buckethead. Axl responded that he would give his to Buckethead.
- Revolving Door Band: One of the most glorious examples. Only two people remain since the Use Your Illusion era, Axl and keyboardist Dizzy Reed.
- Smoking Is Cool: Most of them used this look, but Izzy used it the most.
- Visual Kei: Richard Fortus. Some VK fans associate him with the scene despite being a non-Japanese musician; his attire can be considered VK or influenced by it, and he has played with X Japan during one of their 2008 live shows as a stand-in for hide, alongside Wes Borland and Luna Sea guitarist Sugizo (who later became an official X Japan member in 2009).
- We Used to Be Friends: Axl and Slash, big time. However, the animosity is pretty much one sided. While Axl's dislike for Slash is well noted on this page, Slash says that he pretty much just ignores his bullcrap, stating that dwelling on it would drive him insane, and is very complimentary of Axl's singing and songwriting talent in his autobiography.
- These days Axl is on good terms with Izzy and Duff (the former being a childhood friend).
- Album Title Drop:
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From "One in a Million":
Immigrants and faggots don't make no sense to me
They come to our country and think they'll do as they please
Like start some mini-Iran or spread some fucking disease
And they talk so many Goddam ways! It's all Greek to me
- Atomic F-Bomb: "Right Next Door to Hell".
- Cluster F-Bomb: "Perfect Crime" and "Get in the Ring".
- Contemptible Cover: The original "rapist robot" Appetite for Destruction cover, eventually changed in the USA after pressure from the PMRC.
- Country Matters: "Bad Obsession" and "Ain't It Fun".
- Cover Album: "The Spaghetti Incident?", which was the last album by the original lineup, and which attracted some bad publicity by including a song written by Charles Manson.
- Cover Version: "Mama Kin" on their debut (the EP Live?!*@ Like a Suicide; later reissued in Lies), "Live and Let Die" in Use Your Illusion I and "Knocking on Heaven's Door" on II, and "Sympathy For The Devil" for Interview with the Vampire, which arguably was the straw that broke the camel's back...
- During the solo spot in live shows Slash would often perform the theme to The Godfather.
- Credits Gag
- A few in the liner notes of Appetite for Destruction. Gotta love Victor Deyglio being credited as "the fucking engineer".
- The hidden message "Fuck You St. Louis!" in the liner notes of Use Your Illusion I.
- Downer Ending: "This I Love."
- Early-Bird Cameo: The liner notes of Appetite have an excerpt of "You Could Be Mine", and Use Your Illusion I has "Ain't It Fun?" (one of the songs in The Spaghetti Incident?).
- Epic Rocking: The Use Your Illusion albums have several songs over the 7-minute mark: "November Rain", (8:57) "Coma", (10:13) "Civil War", (7:42) "Breakdown", (7:05) "Locomotive", (8:42) and "Estranged". (9:23)
- Evil Laugh: Appears toward the end of "Get in the Ring," in the opening of "Back Off Bitch," and after the first verse in "Sympathy for the Devil"
- Icy Blue Eyes/Innocent Blue Eyes: A verse of "Sweet Child" can fit both, given the last line.
- The Immodest Orgasm: "Rocket Queen" features a woman having sex with Axl in the studio. It was Steven Adler's girlfriend, and he happened to be out of town at the time while she wanted to have revenge.
- Incredibly Long Note: Axl does them quite well, mostly to end a song (the most extreme being "Don't Cry", where the guitars stop as he start screaming "toniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight" but play again after some time)
- Inspired By/Filk Song: "November Rain", "Don't Cry" and "Estranged" are inspired by Del James's short story Without You.
- Ironic Echo: These lyrics from "Pretty Tied Up"...
Once there was this rock n' roll band rollin' on the streets
Time went by, and it became a joke
We just needed more and more fulfilling, uh-huh
Time went by, and it all went up in smoke
- Intercourse with You: "Anything Goes" and "Rocket Queen". Not to mention a cover of "Big Dumb Sex".
- Loudness War: mostly averted. Other than "The Spaghetti Incident?",note their studio albums were always a healthy DR9 or higher. It helps that Axl began working on Chinese Democracy before the loudness war reached full steam, and only finished when there was a strong backlash against it.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Used to Love Her"
- Metal Scream
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally 6 or 7. With some songs going down to about a 4, and a few bordering on 8.
- Mood Whiplash: Appetite for Destruction has "Sweet Child o' Mine" and "Think About You" sandwiched between some of the hardest tracks, and an ending song that goes from racy to sensitive ("Rocket Queen").
- Motor Mouth: "Garden of Eden". It has a hilarious Follow the Bouncing Ball video and is one of GN'R's few Speed Metal songs.
- Mythology Gag: "Coma" has the lines "It's so easy to be social/It's so easy to be cool/It's easy to be hungry cause you ain't got shit to lose," a nod to their song "It's So Easy" from their first album.
- N-Word Privileges: Axl doesn't understand them. See "One in a Million".
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Every one of the original six (and later, Matt Sorum) liked a different rock style, and it led to a distinctive sound.
- Noodle Incident:
- As punny as it may seem, the inspiration for "The Spaghetti Incident?"
- "Out Ta Get Me" would seem to qualify as well, as Axl says, "I'm fuckin' innocent," but it's never made clear why he's being pursued in the first place.
- Numbered Sequels: Though both Use Your Illusions came simultaneously.
- Power Ballad: "Patience", "November Rain", and "Don't Cry", among others. Chinese Democracy has a lot of these too.
- Precision F-Strike:
- Chinese Democracy has an extremely low amount of F words compared to other albums.
- From previous albums, "It's So Easy". "Since I Don't Have You" is notable in that it originally didn't have ANY swearing (given the fact that it's a '50s song, you wouldn't be surprised). There are two versions: the album version, which is on "The Spaghetti Incident?" and Greatest Hits, and the radio edit that omits the line "Yep, we're fucked", which was used for the music video.
- Rated M for Manly: Take away the ballads (and deconsider the hair/clothes of some members), and it's pure macho.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni:
- Use Your Illusion I is mostly made up of macho hard rock tunes while Use Your Illusion II features more introspective ballads and even the rockers tend to be more thoughtful. Underlined by the primarily red cover art of I and the primarily blue cover art of II.
- The two sides of Appetite for Destruction fit into the theme - even naming themselves after the band. Side A\G(uns) focuses on drugs, alcohol, crime and the horrors of the "jungle" with songs like "Mr. Brownstone," "Nightrain," and "Welcome to the Jungle." On the flipside, Side B\R(oses) has all of the love/sex songs like "Rocket Queen," "Think About You," and "Sweet Child O' Mine." Thanks to the rise of CDs and digital distribution this isn't as obvious.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Duh. That said, a lot of their lyrics portray the lifestyle in a less than flattering light.
- Something Blues: "Shotgun Blues" from Use Your Illusion II.
- Song Style Shift: "Rocket Queen" starts as standard Appetite for Destruction song (fast, distorted guitars and dirty, dirty lyrics) before changing tempo and moving into a Power Ballad-ish love song in the final 2-and-a-half minutes of the song with a suitably epic Big Rock Ending.
- Step Up to the Microphone: "So Fine" and a few covers on "The Spaghetti Incident?" are sung by Duff, "14 Years", "Dust N' Bones", "You Ain't the First" and "Double Talkin' Jive" by Izzy, and "Buick Mc Kane/Big Dumb Sex" by Slash.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Sweet Child O'Mine" and "Think About You" in Appetite, the four acoustic songs on G N' R Lies, several songs off of the Use Your Illusion albums, including "November Rain", "Don't Cry", "Estranged" and "Yesterdays", and their cover of "Since I Don't Have You" off of "The Spaghetti Incident?".
- Take That, Critics!: Axl called critics out by name in "Get in the Ring." (Turns out it wasn't a good idea.)
- Arch-Nemesis: While there's quite a bit of revisionist history involved, the Gunners are popularly considered the Grunge scene's ultimate rival due to their role as the biggest Hard Rock group in the country in 1991. Their Illusion-era theatrics don't help the perception much (nor does Axl's feud with Kurt Cobain), though most of the bands who opened for their tours at the time cite the band as particularly supportive headliners, especially Kim Thayil, who goes out of the way to compliment them in the book "Grunge Is Dead" despite his avowed hatred for their music.
- Artifact Title: The group's name was decided by its founding members, Axl Rose and and Tracii Guns, and the name stuck even after Tracii Guns left the group before the band made it big.
- The Bet: Dr. Pepper bet that if they released Chinese Democracy before the end of 2008, they'd give away free coupons for a free can of soda. They were fully prepared to go through with it, but problems cropped up with the online distribution of coupons...
- Changed For The Video: Quasi-ZigZagged with "Don't Cry", which featured two completely different sets of lyrics, one version released on each disc of their infamous Use Your Illusion double disc set. MTV used to run the same video and both versions with the text "alternate version" for the version included on Use Your Illusion II.
- Concept Video: The superproduced videos of "November Rain", "Estranged" and "Don't Cry"
- In Name Only: This has happened to the band twice: first when Axl fired all the former L.A. Guns members and replaced them with Slash, Adler, and McKagan, and secondly when those members left and the band's style changed.
- Licensed Pinball Table: Designed by Slash himself.
- Notable Music Videos: Besides the three Concept Videos, "You Could Be Mine", which was part of Terminator 2: Judgment Day's OST. It even features Arnie himself.
- Take That:
- "Fuck You St. Louis" was hidden in the liner notes of Use Your Illusion I
- It's hard to believe that the misspelling of the word "Missouri" on the official website of Appetite for Democracy wasn't another potshot at St. Louis.