At first glance, Guns n’ Roses looked like any number of hair metal bands crawling out of the Sunset Strip during the second half of the 1980s. But then 1987’s game-changing ‘Appetite for Destruction’ proved there was more than met the eye and catapulted the band to another level of stardom their peers could only dream of — quickly fostering GnR’s reputation as the most dangerous band in the world…even to themselves. And the amazing part is just how quickly things had snowballed for the group, which was born in 1985, of the union of two competing bands: Hollywood Rose, featuring singer W. Axl Rose and rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin’, and L.A. Guns, home to lead guitarist Tracii Guns, bassist Ole Beich and drummer Rob Gardner. All three of the latter would soon be replaced by Slash, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler, respectively, and so powerful was the new quintet’s musical chemistry that they’d signed to Geffen Records by March of ’86 and capped the year with the ‘Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide’ EP. Then Guns n’ Roses got to work on the album that many still consider a high-water mark of ‘80s hard rock, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ which spent almost a year gathering steam amongst heavy metal fans before breaking through to the mainstream thanks to the number one single, ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine.’ From this point forward, GnR’s career seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut, driven by global touring and 1988’s controversial ‘GnR Lies’ EP; but internal dissension and drug abuse eventually drove Adler out of the fold (he was re-placed by The Cult drummer, Matt Sorum) ahead of the band’s much delayed, twin 1991 double albums, ‘Use Your Illusion I’ and ‘II,’ which immediately conquered the charts’ first and second positions upon release. Guns n’ Roses carried on conquering new audiences in far-flung locations over the next few years of touring, but after issuing a covers album, ‘The Spaghetti Incident?,’ in late 1993, the band went on extended hiatus while members pursued solo projects or simply recovered from all the years of grueling work. That hiatus soon descended into a prolonged band disintegration, and by the turn of the third millennium, only Axl Rose remained of GnR’s glorious original fivesome. In 2001, Rose finally recruited a new lineup of backing musicians and resumed touring under the Guns n' Roses name, but the long promised next studio album, ‘Chinese Democracy,’ did not emerge until 2008, and then to rather mixed reviews. Nevertheless, GnR has remained a relatively active touring concern in the years since, with the occasional reunion rumors as yet unfulfilled, while their legacy is bound to remain intact so long as fans recall those incredible, if fleeting, first few years of global stardom.
- Selected Discography: ‘Appetite for Destruction’ (1987), ‘GnR Lies’ (1988), ‘Use Your Illusion I & II’ (1991)
- Related Artists: Slash, Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, L.A. Guns
- Further Reading: 10 Best Guns n’ Roses Songs, 12 Unforgettable Axl Rose Onstage Moments