Check out Gigwise's guide...
As Guns N’ Roses prepare to appear at this year’s Reading and Leeds festival, Gigwise takes a look at the history of rock’s wildest band.
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Formed in Los Angeles in 1985, Guns N’ Roses have created some of rock music’s most recognisable songs of all time, including ‘Sweet Child O Mine’.
But the relationship between band's members new and old - both on and off the stage - has at times come to eclipse all that.
Check out Gigiwse’s guide to Guns N’ Roses through the years below.
Guns N' Roses formed in Los Angeles in 1985 by Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin of the band Hollywood Rose and Tracii Guns, Ole Beich and Rob Gardner from L.A Guns. The newly formed group fused their respective names together to make Guns N' Roses. Before Tracii had even set foot on a stage he abandoned the project in favour of his former band. Despite the guitarist's pivotal departure, the Guns N' Roses moniker remained.
A young Slash formed his band Road Crew in 1983 alongside drummer Steven Adler. After they disbanded he joined another group called Black Sheep with vocalist Willie Bass. In 1984 Black Sheep supported the Christian rock outfit Stryder alongside Hollywood Rose where he met Axl Rose and quickly formed a friendship. Slash performed with Hollywood Rose briefly, but his big break came when Tracii Guns quit Guns N' Roses a year later when Slash was asked to join the band.
Shortly after the departure of Tracii Guns, bassist Duff McKagan was drafted in to replace Oli Beich and the band announced their plans to undertake their first major US tour from Sacramento to Seattle. After the tour was confirmed, drummer Rob Gardner jumped ship. His natural replacement came in the shape of Slash's friend and former bandmate Steven Adler. This fivesome is considered by many as the 'classic' and 'original' Guns N Roes line-up.
Tom Zautut, an A&R Executive at Geffen Records, spotted Guns N' Roses performing at The Troubadour in West Hollywood and was keen to sign them on the spot. However, there was interest elsewhere so Zautut ingeniously told other A&R's that GnR â€œsuckedâ€ to distract them. Axl Rose demanded a $75,000 advance from Zautut before telling him an A&R rep from Chrysalis was willing to walk the streets of LA naked in order to sign them. Fortunately for Zautut, GnR were his five days later.
In December 2006, the EP 'Live?!*@ Like a Suicide' was released by Geffen Records under a specially created label moniker UZI Suicide. The band's first release was limited to just 10,000 copies and came complete with four tracks â€“ 'Reckless Life' (which fetchingly opens with Duff McKagan screaming "hey fuckers, suck on Guns N' Fuckin' Roses!â€), 'Nice Boys' (a Rose Tattoo cover), 'Move To The City' and 'Mama Kin' (a cover of the 1973 Aerosmith song). The EP is now a highly sought after collectors item.
The band's debut album 'Appetite For Destruction' was released on July 21, 1987 to widespread critical acclaim. Featuring songwriting input from all the band members, it spawned colossal hit tracks like 'Sweet Child O Mine', 'Paradise City' and 'Welcome To The Jungle' and is largely considered one of the greatest and most important rock albums of all time. To date it has sold 28million copies globally and is 18 times platinum in the US alone.
Designed by Robert Williams, the original Appetite For Destruction artwork is a cartoon of a robot rapist about to be attacked by a monster. A number of stores refused to stock the album due to its controversial cover, while others brown bagged it. Eventually Guns N' Roses agreed to have the artwork on the inside sleeve and issued an alternative cover (as on the previous page) of a cross and skulls of the five band members.
In 1988, the band were touring extensively across the United States playing huge arenas. That summer they were invited to appear at the prestigious Monsters of Rock Festival in the UK alongside KISS and Iron Maiden. Sadly the event was hit by tragedy when two fans were trampled to death during Guns N' Roses' set. Despite Axl's pleas for the audience to to stop surging forward, it was to no avail. Above are Slash and Axl with Metallica's Lars Ulrich and Dave Mustaine photographed backstage shortly before the tragedy struck.
Throughout the Appetite For Destruction world tour, Guns N' Roses were consistently portrayed in a negative light by the right wing media due to their hardcore debauchery. All of the band members were becoming infamous in the press for being intoxicated out of their skulls, while stories of wild excesses cropped up perennially. It was no surprise that they were soon dubbed 'the world's most dangerous band'.
Guns N' Roses' second studio album, 'G N' R Lies', was released in November 1988. The first four tracks originally appeared on the 'Live?!*@ Like a Suicide' two years earlier while the remaining four â€“ 'Patience', 'Used To Love Her', 'You're Crazy' and 'One In A Million' - were original compositions. The front cover parodied a tabloid newspaper, apparently mocking the bad press the band were receiving at the time. 'G N' R Lies' reached number 2 on the Billboard chart and has amassed around 12million sales around the globe to date.
The 'G N' R Lies' track 'One In A Million' caused huge controversy upon the record's release. A song about Rose's experiences of being taunted when he first moved to L.A, it features the words 'niggers' and 'faggots' alongside other obscenities. Axl, who wrote the song entirely on his own, was accused of racism and homophobia by some quarters. Although he had previously said in an interview that â€œhe didn't understandâ€ homosexuality, Rose has always strenuously denied he is either racist or homophobic.
Overshadowing 'G N' R Lies', 'Appetite For Destruction' still continued to grow in popularity at the turn of the decade. The band scooped numerous awards including, most notably, the coveted Best Rock Act and Best Rock Album (for 'Appetite..') at the 1990 American Music Awards. Hilariously Slash and Duff McKagan were drunk out of their minds during the ceremony and swore on television. Above is the pair shortly after picking up their award.
In the summer of 1990, keyboardist Dizzy Reed became the sixth member of Guns N Roses. A few months later the band hit the studio to record the charity song, 'Civil War', which was released to raise money for impoverished Romanian orphans. During the recording session, seriously blighted by his heroin and cocaine addictions, Steven Adler struggled and reportedly took over 30 takes to record the drums. He was subsequently fired from the band and 'Civil War' became his swansong. Former Cult member Matt Sorum was brought in to replace him.
Guns N Roses' third and fourth studio albums, 'Use Your Illusion' parts 1 and 2, were released simultaneously on September 17, 1991. With 30 songs at their disposal, the band decided to release two separate long-players rather than a double-album; a move which paid off when the records debuted at #1 and #2 in the Billboard chart. Alongside their own new songs, the heavier first record featured their famous cover of 'Live and Let Die' by Wings, while Bob Dylan's 'Knocking on Heaven's Door' bolstered the second album.
The sprawling Use Your Illusion world tour started at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre on May 24 1991 and wound up in Buenos Aries, Argentina on July 17 1993. The band performed an impressive 192 shows in 27 countries over the 26 months of the tour. Thanks to cancellations, delayed starts and erratic behaviour from Axl, the tour hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Above is one of Axl's fetching costumes outed on the road.
During a show at the Riverport Amphitheatre in Maryland Heights, Missouri in July 1991, Axl jumped off stage while performing 'Rocket Queen' to confront a member the crowd. Rose was angered as the fan was taking photos of the show. He yelled "Well, thanks to the lame-ass security, I'm going home!" and slammed his microphone to the ground, which some people thought was a gunshot. Slash announced "He just slammed his mic on the floor. We're outta here", before a massive riot ensued.
Fed up with Axl's unpredictable behaviour and the changing dynamic within the group, Izzy Stadlin quit Guns N' Roses on November 7, 1991. The final straw was a show in Germany when Axl stormed offstage once again, causing a near riot similar to Riverport a few months earlier. Izzy was replaced Gilby Clarke who Axl recruited on the strength of hearing him jam along to 'Coma'.
A somewhat controversial Charles Manson T-Shirt worn by Axl on the UK leg of the Use Your Illusion tour in 1992.
Slash and Axl getting up close in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
On August 8, 1992 Guns N Roses performed alongside Metallica as part of their joint North American tour at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. During Metallica's opening track Fade To Black, Hetfield got too close to the onstage pyrotechnics and suffered second and third degree burns to his left arm. After Metallica abandoned their set, Rose infuriated the crowd further by turning up late and leaving the stage early complaining of a sore throat. The cancellation caused a massive riot again, with the mob overturning cars and committing vandalism and arson outside the stadium.
On November 23, 1993 Guns N' Roses released their fifth album â€œThe Spaghetti Incident?â€, a record consisting almost entirely of covers of songs from the seventies and eighties. It was to be Guns N' Roses' last studio album in 15 years. Unsurprisingly, the release was not without its controversy as it came complete with a hidden track, a cover of cult leader Charles Manson's 1968 song 'Look At Your Game, Girl'. Rose claims that the media have misinterpreted his interest in Charles Manson.
The ensuing four years following the release of â€œThe Spaghetti Incident?â€ were extremely turbulent for the band. The last remaining original members of Guns N' Roses (Axl aside), Slash and Duff McKagan, quit the group for good and started up other projects respectively. It was the end of the Guns N' Roses as we knew it. The sprawling line-up by the end of 1999 featured Axl on vocals, Dizzy Reed on Keyboards, Paul Tobias on rhythm guitar, Josh Freese on drums, Tommy Stinson on bass and Chris Pitman on programming.
In 1999, Guns N' Roses released the single 'Oh My God', an industrial metal song which appeared on the End of Days soundtrack. Featuring guest appearances from Dave Navarro and Gary Sunshine, the song was billed to appear on the sixth Guns N Roses album â€“ the newly titled 'Chinese Democracy'. Despite being a live favourite, the song never actually made it onto 'Chinese Democracy' nine years later.
In November of that year, Geffen released a double live album entitled 'Live Era: '87 - '93'. Despite the album's title, the vast majority of the 22 songs originated from the Use Your Illusion World Tour between 1991 and 1993.
By the start of the Millennium, Guns N' Roses' line-up had changed yet again with legendary guitarist Buckethead joining the group for four years. During that time in early 2001, the band performed two high profile shows in Las Vegas and Rock In Rio, which were both extremely well-received. Axl even expressed his disappointment that he hadn't been able to get on with all former members of Guns N' Roses.
In 2002 the band headed out on the 'Chinese Democracy' North American tour. Predictably it wasn't too long before chaos ensued. With yet another new line-up (Richard Fortus had replaced Paul Tobias), the opening show in Vancouver ended in a riot when Axl failed to turn up. After some well received shows, notably in New York, promoters pulled the plug on the tour after another riot in Philadelphia when Axl failed to show yet again.
Seemingly despairing at the lack of new material, Geffen released another compilation package, this time a Greatest Hits, in March 2004. The record hit number one in the UK and has shifted an impressive 4million copies in the US alone to date. A few months after the release, Buckethead left Guns N' Roses.
In early 2006, Guns N' Roses demos 'There Was a Time', 'Better', 'Catcher in the Rye' and 'I.R.S.' all leaked on a fansite. Despite being removed from the net following record company pressure, the tracks served as an appetiser for the persistently delayed album. Later that year, Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal was named as the band's new guitarist and he appeared with them on their first tour dates since the aborted 2002 tour.
In late 2006, Axl set a final release date of March 2007 for 'Chinese Democracy'. Unfortunately the promise was not met and it was delayed again. Despite this, the latest Guns N' Roses line-up (Axl Rose, Robin Finck, Ron Bumblefoot Thal, Dizzy Reed, Richard Fortus, Tommy Stinson, Chris Pitman and Frank Ferrer) headed out on the latest leg of the Chinese Democracy World Tour in Mexico, Australia and Japan.
Finally, after a fifteen year wait the sixth Guns N' Roses studio album 'Chinese Democracy' was released in the US on November 23, 2008 and a day later in the UK. The 14-track album has received decidedly mixed reviews from the critics in the run-up to its release. Fingers crossed we won't have to wait half as long for the next instalment in the career of Guns N Roses!
Photo: WENN.com / PR Photos / Splash News