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Music / Guns N' Roses

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The classic line-up of Guns N' Roses.note 
You know where you are?!
You're in the jungle, baby!
You're gonna die!
"Welcome to the Jungle"

AKA: Axl Rose and Friends

Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1985. The band, led by front-man 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 rock history as the day when pigs actually flew (not associated with Pink Floyd, anyway).

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.

In another downright unexpected announcement given how troubled things got, in early 2016 it was announced Slash and Duff were returning to the band. This "reunion" of sorts performed in April, being one of the first acts in Las Vegas' new arena before a headlining gig at Coachella. Axl Rose was also chosen to sing in AC/DC after Brian Johnson's hearing loss forced him into (temporary) retirement. This soon led to the Not in This Lifetime... Tour, which ran until 2019 and became the third highest-grossing tour in history.

The band also served as the basis for two different pinball machines, both co-designed by Slash himself: Guns N' Roses (Data East) (1994, around the time of the Use Your Illusion tour), and Guns N' Roses (Jersey Jack) (2020, tying into the Not in This Lifetime... tour).

Current Members:

  • Axl Rose - lead vocals, percussion, synthesizer, whistle, piano, guitar, sound effects, drum machine, kazoo, keyboard (1985–present)
  • Dizzy Reed - keyboards, piano, clavinet, organ, backing vocals, synthesizer (1990–present)
  • Richard Fortus - rhythm guitar (2002–present)
  • Frank Ferrer - drums (2006–present)
  • Duff McKagan - bass, backing vocals, guitar, percussion, drums (1985–97, 2016–present)
  • Slash - lead guitar, dobro, backing vocals, bass, talkbox, banjo (1985–96, 2016–present)
  • Melissa Reese - keyboards, synthesizer (2016–Present)

Former Members:

  • Steven Adler - drums, backing vocals (1985–90)
  • DJ Ashba - lead guitar (2009–15)
  • Ole Beich - bass (1985, died 1991)
  • Buckethead - lead guitar (2000–04)
  • Gilby Clarke - lead guitar, backing vocals (1991–94)
  • Josh Freese - drums (1998–99)
  • Robert Finck - lead guitar, keyboards, synthesizer (1997–99, 2000–08)
  • Rob Gardner - drums (1985)
  • Jeffrey Isbell (Izzy Stradlin) - rhythm guitar, backing vocals, percussion, sitar (1985–91)
  • Bryan Mantia - drums (2000–06)
  • Chris Pitman - keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals, bass, guitars, mellotron (1998–2016)
  • Matt Sorum - drums, backing vocals (1990–97)
  • Tommy Stinson - bass, backing vocals (1998–2016)
  • Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal - lead guitar (2006–14)
  • Paul Tobias - rhythm guitar, piano, backing vocals (1994–2002)
  • Tracy Ulrich (Tracii Guns) - lead guitar (1985)

Studio and Live Discography:


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    Musician tropes 
  • Achievement In Ignorance: Slash is self-taught and has a rather basic knowledge of music theory (and can't read notation), but that hasn't stopped him from writing some of the most famous riffs from the '80s. This isn't actually too uncommon for most a majority of self-taught or non-classical/jazz-trained musicians, but was a change of pace from the very technical shredders of the '80s.
  • Aerith and Bob: The classic line-up consisted of Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy... and Steven. Then Dizzy joined and Steven was replaced by Matt, and eventually, Izzy was replaced by Gilby.
    • Lampshaded by Duff's fellow Seattle musician, Kim Warnick of The Fastbacks, as Duff recalled in his autobiography, It's So Easy: and other lies. After Warnick asked Duff "what kind of names" are Axl, Izzy, and Slash, Duff told her that "there is a guy named Steven."
    • Of course, if the rest of the classic lineups had done like Steven and Matt and not used stage names, they'd have been William "Bill" Bailey, Saul Hudson, Jeffrey "Jeff" Isbell...and Michael "Duff" McKagan, who got his nickname as a child to differentiate him from the other kids named Michael who lived on his street.
    • The 09-14 line-up reversed the trend while still maintaining the trope with the band consisting of Axl, DJ, Ronnote , Richard, Tommy, Frank, Dizzy and Chris. This was also the case with the band from 1998 to 1999, which saw Axl and Dizzy being joined by Robin, Paul, Tommy, Josh and Chris.
    • The 2000 to 2002 lineup is an example that is equal parts Aerith (Axl, Buckethead, Brain and Dizzy) and equal parts Bob (Robin, Paul, Tommy and Chris). '02 to '04 is also an example, with Richard instead of Paul.
  • 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.
      "First off, this guy grabs me and calls me Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi can suck my dick. Second off, he tried to hit me. That's when Steven cracked him in the head with his cast. And his words were, 'You never try to hit one of the family.'"
    • 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 was a tradition during the 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!" It didn't start there, either—a show in Argentina during the Illusion era was interrupted twice by rowdy fans who threw stuff at the stage, and the second time around Axl encouraged fans to beat up anyone they catch trying that in the future.
    • Wearing a Slash T Shirt was essentially this for him during his grudge with the guitarist, to the point where he even stated no one could enter GNR concerts with them anymore.
    • In recent years Axl has mellowed out considerably and rarely pops off during concerts now...unless he sees security harassing a child. (starts around 1:21)
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Slash and Axl were both fairly average (5'10" and 5'9" respectively), Izzy was a bit taller (5'11"), Steven was fairly short (5'7") and Duff towered over all of them (6'3").
  • 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 Guns (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, though he did thank 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. Slash continues wearing them during performances to this day.
  • 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 thought to bring 2 spares of his double-neck, while Ashba was known to bring 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. This wasn't always the case, though—just ask the Bogotans who got treated to a healthy dose of irony at the end of "November Rain" during one show.
    Axl: Hope you brought your fucking umbrellas! [to the crew] We need some over that. [Beat] Opie, how's this setup for electrocution?
    [the crewmen scramble to protect the band's equipment from the rain]
    Axl: Give us a few minutes to get our shit together. Do we got an interpreter? [Beat] Give me an interpreter.
    [an interpreter joins Axl onstage]
    Axl: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Jose. All right, give us a few minutes to get our things together, but we're not going anywhere. We'll be right back.
    • Steven Adler stated that two years prior to the start of the Lifetime tour that he was practicing nearly every GNR song (including the stuff he wasn't involved with) twice a day, every day for those two years in case a reunion tour happened.
  • Death by Music Video: Subverted with the "You Could be Mine" video. Featured on the Terminator 2 soundtrack, the video has the Terminator stalking them through the crowd at their concert. Afterwards it meets them in the alley, scans them to asset targets, and decides killing that them is a waste of ammo.
  • Disney Death: This happened to Slash in 1992 in San Francisco. He'd OD'd in a hotel and died of a cardiac arrest... for all of eight minutes before paramedics revived him.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Axl would rather you not call him Bill, as he had legally changed his name from William Bailey to W. Axl Rose in 1986. Likewise, we don't think Izzy Stradlin would like it if you call him Jeff, as in Jeffrey Isbell, nor Slash by his birth name of Saul Hudson.
    • Subverted by Duff, who was born Michael, but never went by his given name — he's been known as Duff since early childhood.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Axl got this the most in his clean-shaven youth, but pretty much every member besides Slash qualifies to a certain extent.
    • Averted by Axl when he got older, scruffier, and tubbier.
    • The whole band, including Slash suffered from this in their very early days, back when they were immersed in the "glam" aesthetic of the time.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The classic lineup, which ended up splitting up due to drug addictions and personality issues.
  • '80s Hair: Many people there, as the page image shows.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite his Jerkass personality, Axl has shown a remarkable capability for decency at least twice:
    • Though he liked to drink as much as the rest of the band, Axl made it clear that he hated hard drugs, particularly heroin, and once threatened to end the band if his bandmates continued "dancing with Mr. Brownstone". Needless to say, everyone except Steven Adler was quick to comply.
    • In 2016, Axl, himself known for his misogynistic attitudes particularly during the classic era, lashed out at President-elect Donald Trump and his administration, flat-out refusing to perform at Trump's inauguration. Among Axl's problems with the Trump administration are Trump's appointment of Jeff Sessions, who was accused by some civil rights groups of holding racist views (in case people had any doubts about Axl's own views on race after the whole "One in a Million" controversy), and Trump demanding an apology from the Hamilton cast for their epic rebuke of VP-elect Mike Pence (who, for what it's worth, appeared to be a better sport about it than Trump was).
  • Fat Bastard: Axl during his later years. There are a bunch of memes with GNR songs with food in the lyrics.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: After the band was formed they spent two and a half years straight writing, rehearsing, recording, touring and living as a group. When their tour ended at the end of 1988 they were one of the biggest bands on Earth, achieving everything they had set out to achieve and leaving them with no idea of what to do next. They all went their separate ways, leading to the drug and communication issues that eventually destroyed the lineup.
  • Fiery Redhead: Axl has red/strawberry blonde hair and is notorious for his temper, abrasive demeanor and volatile mood swings, especially in the band's heyday.
  • Functional Addict: Every member of the classic lineup was a heavy user of drugs and alcohol, but they were (usually) able to control their addictions enough to put on a good show. Stephen couldn't, and he was fired from the band after his addictions started to seriously impair his playing ability.
  • Genius Bruiser: Duff stands 6'3" and took up martial arts training after getting sober in the mid-'90s. He also was, by most accounts, a good student as a Seattle schoolboy, and very passionate in his attempts to get a college degree following his exit from the band and made smart decisions with his money, investing in Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon just before all three took off, making himself quite wealthy outside of the band and even being asked by other rock stars for financial advice.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Both Izzy and Duff took brief reunion turns in the 2000s\2010s.
    • Steven has also been making guest appearances during the Not In This Lifetime Tour (he was just coming off of back surgery during the tour's planning stages, and was unable to be signed for anything more long term).
      • After his stint with the Not In This Lifetime Tour ended in February 2017 (and his Non Disclosure Agreement expired), Steven was finally able to elaborate on why his involvement with the tour turned out the way it did. He stated in an interview with Eddie Trunk that Duff approached him in January 2016 about joining the tour, and Steven went over to Duff's house to rehearse. He injured his back during the second rehearsal and had to get back surgery, but was only out of commission for 10 days..... by which point the band moved on without him, and then told him he'd have to do guest appearances (the original plan was for Steven to do the first third of the shows, Frank Ferrer do the middle, and Steven come back out to do the rest). He stated that although he was glad he did the tour as it gave him closure and allowed him to play with his bandmates again (in Axl's case not since 1990), he didn't think it was as magical as he thought it would be without Izzy's involvement to complete the reunion, and that he grew very tired of flying all around the world to do one or two songs, and spending 95% of the shows he was at standing off to the side of the stage watching someone else play his songs (though he maintains he has absolutely nothing against Frank Ferrer).
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: In his early years with the band, W. Axl Rose was prone to losing his temper during performances.
  • 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.
  • Heel–Face Turn: That said, he finally reconciled with Slash in late 2015, and Slash in turn rejoined the band along with Duff.
  • I Am the Band: Axl is the only original member left, if you consider the very first lineup with Tracii to be the "original members".
  • 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.
    • The hair. Nothing screams "Slash" like his hair. Helps he tends to cover his face with it, as seen in the video for "November Rain" or the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.
    • 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.
    • Duff's rare Japanese Fender bass, pretty much the only bass he's consistently used, and the basis of multiple official replica models.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: DJ Ashba, as seen in the link below for the Older Than They Look entry.
  • I Was Quite a Looker:
  • Large Ham: Axl.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Axl in the band's heyday, as seen in this photo. (See Dude Looks Like a Lady above)
  • 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 "It's So Easy", "Mr. Brownstone", and "Bad Obsession"), 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." Axl's comparatively low speaking voice can also be heard toward the end of "Civil War'".
  • 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).
  • 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). Since the initial furor died down, he's taken to calling out James Hetfield on racial bias over dropping opening act Body Count, possibly passing the trope onward, and this might finally fade for Axl with his calling out Donald Trump for naming Jeff Sessions, who attracted criticism for racism back in the '80s, as his Attorney General.
  • Older Than They Look: DJ Ashba is exactly fifty at the moment. He really doesn't look fifty at all.
    • For a while, even Wikipedia had no idea how old Melissa was, with the only clue being that she was old enough to be collaborating with Brain by 2010. It was later revealed she was born in 1990, making her 26 at the start of her tenure.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Izzy. Leaving the band when he did allowed him to avoid getting caught up in the insanity that caused the band to fall apart.
    • Bumblefoot. Even with the animal infection-derived stage name, he may be the sanest person to ever play in this band. He comes off disarmingly normal and self-effacing by comparison with pretty much everyone else, though repeating history by starting a side project with Scott Weiland may prove otherwise...
  • Persona Non Grata: For 26 years, the band would not play in St. Louis after the infamous Riverport Riot that started when a fan pressed Axl Rose's Berserk Button. There was not a formal ban, but Rose's eventual criminal charges (for which he was acquitted) made both the band and St. Louis venues reluctant to even try to schedule a stop there. 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. The band played St. Louis in July 2017.
    • 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". 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 its 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 share his with Buckethead.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The return of Slash and Duff, making it 60% of the band pictured up there.
  • Rags to Riches: They went from sleeping on a makeshift cot in the studio and couch-surfing to multi-platinum record sales. According to the bio Watch You Bleed, Duff McKagan invested in a couple of little Seattle startups: Microsoft and Starbucks.
  • Revolving Door Band: One of the most glorious examples. Only two people remained since the Use Your Illusion era, Axl and keyboardist Dizzy Reed, until Slash and Duff doubled that number. Notably, the band never truly broke up so it was truly a "revolving door," as opposed to the group dissolving and then reforming with only a few members from the heyday like some other examples.
    • The process truly began with Gilby Clarke being replaced by Paul Tobias in 1994; two years later, Slash quit and was replaced by Robin Finck in 1997, which was also the year Matt was fired and Duff left. In 1998 Josh Freese, Tommy Stinson and Chris Pitman came aboard as the drummer, bassists and keyboard player/multi-instrumentalist, respectively. While this is the lineup that recorded the foundations of Chinese Democracy, it was short lived as Finck left in late 1999 to be replaced by Buckethead in 2000, and shortly after that Freese left and Brain became the new drummer. Finck rejoined later that year, and this lineup performed the first shows since 1993, though Paul left in 2002 and his position was taken over by Richard Fortus. Buckethead quit in 2004 and Ron Thal didn't take his place until 2006, the same year that Brain left midtour and was replaced by Frank Ferrer. The long delayed album released while this lineup was together, but before a tour could commence Robin Finck left again, and his replacement came in the form of DJ Ashba the following year. Despite this lineup never releasing anything more than a single live DVD, it lasted over five years and performed over 200 shows, more than any other lineup before it on both accounts, before Ron and Tommy left following the tour in 2014; Ashba quit the following July, and Slash and Duff rejoined shortly before Chris was fired and replaced by Melissa Reese.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Although probably not as much so as Mötley Crüe, the members of Guns 'N' Roses were well-known for the debauchery of their personal lives.
  • Signature Headgear: Slash's iconic top hat.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Most of them used this look, but Izzy used it the most.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Melissa Reese is the first female member of the band, taking Chris Pitman's place as second keyboardist.
  • Stage Names: As noted atop this page, those who don't shorten their names (Steve, Matt, Darren Jay - DJ) employ this a lot. Axl himself was born William Bruce Rose, Jr. (but raised as William Bruce Bailey once his mother remarried).
  • Starving Artist: In their early days, all the band members were broke and living in varying degrees of homelessness. In the bio Watch You Bleed, there's a story about their first tour. Before they received any money for Appetite for Destruction Izzy, ever the entrepreneur, scalped tickets to the show so the band could eat.
    • Dizzy Reed phoned up Axl, a long time friend, one day to let him know he was going to be hard to reach for a while because he was about to be homeless. Axl hired him on the spot.
  • Take That!:
    • Bumblefoot's stage name came from a medical condition that commonly affects chickens, the previous guitarist's Animal Motif.
    • Slash’s habit of playing The Godfather theme between sets started out at this directed at Axl on his behalf from the rest of the band. During their heyday, Axl Rose would often be so late to concerts that the band had time to (and would) watch The Godfather (which lasts nearly 3 hours!) before he arrived.
  • 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).
  • Vocal Evolution: Once the band resurged in 2001, it was clear Axl's voice was not the same. His loss of vocal potency is well-documented, though his voice improved a bit while his leg was broken, given that being forced to sit while singing gave Axl more breath.
  • Walking Disaster Area: The band's gigs during the early 90s were exceedingly prone to ending in riots, largely due to Axl's erratic, mercurial nature. The two most infamous were the Riverport Riot and Montreal with Metallica. The odd riot still happens even in The New '10s.
  • 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. He did note in one interview that prior to his leaving the group "If Axl is really excited about something and I don't want to do it, I have to grit my teeth or put my foot down. Either way, someone's gonna be unhappy."
    • These days Axl is on good terms with Izzy and Duff (also helping is the former being a childhood friend).
    • As for Steven, he stated during an interview with Eddie Trunk that he and Axl reconciled and talked for awhile after a Guns show that he attended back in 2006, although they haven't spoken since.
      • After his stint with the Not In This Lifetime Tour ended in February 2017 (and his Non Disclosure Agreement expired), he stated in an interview with Eddie Trunk that he didn't get much of a chance to chat with Axl on the tour, but what he did manage was perfectly enough for him.
    • As of August 2015, Slash and Axl have seemed to bury the hatchet, with Slash saying that "It was probably way overdue." Needless to say, rumors of an original lineup reunion have been running full force ever since, as the relationship between those two was the only thing keeping a reunion from conceivably happening (as everyone was cool with everyone else). Steven commented on Eddie Trunk's September 28th 2015 radio show that no one had said anything to him yet about a reunion, but was confident that if there was one they wouldn't dump him for Matt Sorum (he stated that he and Matt had actually discussed this. Not only would Matt not play if Steven was left out, but Steven would be fine with Matt taking part so long as they both played only the material they recorded). Eventually only Slash and Duff came back, as this drummer conundrum plus Izzy's disappearance made a full-fledged reunion hard to achieve.
    • As it currently stands, Matt has no involvement with the Not In This Lifetime tour, and Steven has been making guest appearances (he was unable to be signed on for something more substantial due to coming off of back surgery during the tour's planning stages).
    • Ironically enough, this trope now seems to be somewhat in effect with Izzy (the first original member to play with Axl after the band's new millennium relaunch), who claimed on his Twitter profile that he's not involved with the current tour due to being offered a poor contract.
      • There was talk that Izzy was set to join the band onstage for a guest appearance for one of their performances in the midwest (most likely Indiana). Except that Izzy apparently stormed out during the soundcheck.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Chris Pitman was fired before the 2016 tour after pretty much confirming that the band was playing Coachella, when everyone else had kept completely silent about the reunion.

    Music tropes 
  • Album Title Drop: From the Use Your Illusion albums.
    • "Locomotive" in Use Your Illusion II:
      "You can use your illusion, let it take you where it may!"
    • "Don't Damn Me" in Use Your Illusion I also has the variant line "your satisfaction lies in your illusion".
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From "One In A Million":
    Immigrants and faggots, they 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 Goddamn ways! It's all Greek to me
  • Atomic F-Bomb: "Right Next Door to Hell".
  • Break-Up Song: Among others, "You're Crazy", "Dead Horse", "Better", and "Sorry".
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Perfect Crime" and "Get In The Ring".
  • Country Matters: "Bad Obsession" and "Ain't It Fun".
  • Cover Album: "The Spaghetti Incident?", which was the last album by the original lineup ("original" in this case meaning Axl, Slash, Duff, Dizzy, Matt and Gilby Clarke, the latter of whom only ever appeared on this album, and was referred to by Rose as a "hired hand"), and which attracted some bad publicity by including a song written by Charles Manson.
  • Cover Version: "Mama Kin" and "Nice Boys" on their debut (the EP Live?!*@ Like a Suicide; later reissued in G N'R Liesnote ), "Live and Let Die" on 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.
    • Live, there were others, such as "Whole Lotta Rosie" (which probably helped Axl become a live singer for AC/DC) and "Slither" (from Slash and Duff's other band Velvet Revolver, but suggested by Axl!). After Chris Cornell's death, the band added Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" to the setlist as a tribute.
  • 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:
    • "Paradise City" (6:46)
    • "November Rain" (8:57)
    • "Coma" (10:13)
    • "Civil War" (7:42)
    • "Breakdown" (7:05)
    • "Locomotive" (8:42)
    • "Estranged" (9:23)
    • "Human Being" (6:48)
    • "Sympathy for the Devil" (7:36)
    • "There Was A Time" (6:41)
  • 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"
  • Genre Mashup: Everyone from the classic lineup had very different musical preferences; Axl was into heavily arranged and melodic artists like Queen and Elton John, Slash worshiped Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, Izzy enjoyed Bob Dylan and generally liked simpler acoustic artists, Duff loved punk and hardcore, and Steven was the glam guy, and they all blended their tastes together to get a sound that stood out from the rest of the artists of the day.
  • Icy Blue Eyes/Innocent Blue Eyes: A verse of "Sweet Child" can fit both, given the last line.
    She's got eyes of the bluest skies as if they though of rain
    I'd hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain
  • 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 starts screaming "toniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight" but play again after some time)
  • Inspired by…: "November Rain", "Don't Cry" and "Estranged" are inspired by Del James's short story Without You.
  • Intercourse with You: "Anything Goes" and "Rocket Queen". Not to mention a cover of "Big Dumb Sex" performed at the end of the Slash-led cover of "Buick Mackane".
  • 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
  • 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"
    • "November Rain" is sometimes played at weddings as people believe it to be a love song. It's actually the opposite; it's a song about two people falling out of love with each other.
  • Metal Scream
  • 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.
    • "Double Talkin' Jive" has the line "No more patience", a reference to their famous song of the same name.
  • N-Word Privileges: Axl doesn't understand them. See "One In A Million". Of course, the argument can be made that he does understand them and this song is a protest against them.
  • 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.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Nightrain", written about a night that the band shared a bottle of Night Train Express while walking down Palm Avenue.
  • 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.)
  • Wistful Smile: the opening lyrics of "Patience":
    Shed a tear —'cause I'm missin' you
    I'm still alright to smile
    Girl, I think about you every day now
    Was a time when I wasn't sure
    But you set my mind at ease
    There is no doubt you're in my heart now

    Misc tropes 
  • Arch-Enemy: 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 founding members Axl Rose and Tracii Guns, and the name stuck even after Tracii Guns left the group before the band made it big.
  • At Least I Admit It: During a San Francisco concert, he called out a heckler in a much more mature manner than fans were used to and told him, "If you think you're a bigger asshole than me, you've got something to learn!"
  • 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 super-produced videos of "November Rain", "Estranged" and "Don't Cry"
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: When someone asked Axl in 2012 “Any chance of you guys doing a reunion tour with full lineup in the future?,” his response was “Not in this lifetime.” 4 years later, Slash and Duff returning was enough to name the ensuing concerts Not in This Lifetime... Tour.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Steven Adler was hit particularly hard with this, including suffering a stroke in 1996 and several relapses over the years. Duff McKagan, who drank enough vodka to drown a horse, destroyed his pancreas and was told that if he had another drink, he'd die. It still took some time to get clean.
  • Funeral Cut: The larger part of the music video for "November Rain" shows the main characters' wedding. Then suddenly it is cut short by a storm, and the scene cuts to the bride's funeral. What actually happened is left to the viewers' imagination.
  • More Popular Spin Off: Guns 'N Roses are far more know and successful than L.A Guns and Hollywood Rose ever were. Especially the latter, which never had any studio albums.
  • 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.
  • Punctuality Is for Peasants: They are infamous for making wait to the crowd in their concerts (even hours late), as other debatable acts like getting drunk in stage and Axl Rose acting as a Rich Bitch, which eventually gave them a bad fame and soiled their music legacy in Rock history.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: Invoked by Axl in 2008 when he mentioned the legal eagles would've burned him years ago (as he put it, "could've cleaned [him] out for the name and damages") if the events of how he and Slash allegedly came to co-own the rights to the GNR name really did happen the way many fans believe it did.
  • Take That!:
    • "Fuck You St. Louis" was hidden in the liner notes of Use Your Illusion I
    • It is hard to believe that the misspelling of the word "Missouri" on the official website of Appetite for Democracy was not another potshot at St. Louis.
    • Many of their concerts start with a potshot at KISS by parodying their opening concert Catchphrase.
      ''You wanted the best, but they didn't make it, so here's what you get! From Hollywood... GUNS N FUCKIN' ROSES!
  • Wedding/Death Juxtaposition: The music video of "November Rain" juxtaposes the singer's wedding to his wife to her later death and funeral.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Axl's breakups with both Erin Everly and Stephanie Seymour were rife with allegations of Domestic Abuse. Ironically, the band now has a female second keyboardist.

Alternative Title(s): Axl Rose