Axl Rose

As the lead singer of world conquering hard rockers Guns n’ Roses, W. Axl Rose was arguably the most recognizable and talked-about rock star on the planet by the close of the 1980s. Then his fame turned to notoriety, as the ensuing decade saw him virtually disappear from public view, even as his former bandmates were dropped by the way-side, one by one, before finally reemerging in the new millennium as the de facto face of Gn’R. Born William Bruce Rose, Jr., in Lafayette, Indiana, but raised with the surname Bailey after his biological father vanished and his mother remarried, Rose fled an oppressive fundamentalist childhood for the streets of Los Angeles in 1982, and adopted the Axl handle after playing with a band by that name. One of his other fledgling bands during this time was named Hollywood Rose and reunited the aspiring singer with child-hood friend and rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin,’ before they both cast their lot with lead guitarist Tracii Guns, first as L.A. Guns and then, by 1985, as Guns n’ Roses. Within a few months, Tracii had been replaced by Saul ‘Slash’ Hudson and GnR’s classic lineup became complete with the addition of bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler. Their dizzying climb from the Hollywood gutters to the top of rock’s Olympus has of course been exhaustively documented elsewhere, so for Rose, in particular, the period surrounding the release of 1987’s watershed ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ 1988’s controversial ‘Gn’R Lies’ and 1991’s twin ‘Your Illusion’ double albums, was marked by in-creasing tension with band mates (mostly related to drug use) and a pair of tabloid romantic relationships with Erin Everly (daughter of ‘50s rock icon, Don) and super model Stephanie Seymour — none of which ended well. Nor did Rose’s once ironclad friend-ship with the rest of Guns n’ Roses, all of whom were systematically dispensed with during the 1990s, while Axl himself became something of a recluse, allegedly recording and re-recording new material for an album that was, at first, jokingly named ‘Chinese Democracy,’ because it would probably never arrive. But said album was finally completed in 2008, by which time Rose had been touring again, off and on, with a completely revamped lineup of Guns n’ Roses (as small glimpses into his secretive personal life revealed a peculiar penchant for psychoanalysis and past-life regression therapy). And when the original Guns n’ Roses was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, the ever-eccentric Axl declined to appear, thanking his fans by letter instead.


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