The founding members of the most controversial heavy rock band of the late 1980s included Axl Rose (b. William Bailey, 6 February 1962, Lafayette, Indiana, USA) and Izzy Stradlin (b. Jeffrey Isbell, 8 April 1962, Lafayette, Indiana, USA). Vocalist Rose, who had first sung at the age of five in a church choir, met guitarist Stradlin in Los Angeles in 1984. He changed his name to Rose at the age of 17 when he discovered who his real father was, the Axl prefix coming from a band with whom he had rehearsed in Indiana. With Tracii Guns (guitar) and Rob Gardner (drums), they formed a rock band called Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns. Soon afterwards, Guns and Gardner left, to be replaced by drummer Steven Adler (b. 22 January 1965, Cleveland, Ohio, USA) and guitarist Slash (b. Saul Hudson, 23 July 1965, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England). With bass player Duff McKagan (b. Michael McKagan, 5 February 1964, Seattle, Washington, USA), the band was renamed Guns N’Roses. In 1986 the band was signed to Geffen Records. During 1987 they toured extensively and their debut, Appetite For Destruction, went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide and reached number 1 in the USA a year after its release date. In 1989, the eight-track album G N’ R Lies was issued, becoming a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic, as were the singles Sweet Child O’ Mine, Paradise City and Patience. During the 80s the band suffered from its rock and roll lifestyle and consequently saw several band members come and go.
In a 1991 world tour their exciting and unpredictable performances brought favorable comparisons with the Rolling Stones. In September the band released the highly publicized pair of albums, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, preceded by a version of Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door from the soundtrack of Days Of Thunder. In 1994 the band did a cover version of the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil for the soundtrack to Interview With The Vampire. Differences rocked the band again in November 1996 when Slash confirmed Rose’s departure, although this situation was reversed in February 1997 when Rose allegedly purchased the rights to the Guns N’Roses name. Later in the year, this was seemingly confirmed by the recruitment of Robin Finck, formerly of Nine Inch Nails, to replace Slash.
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