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The Early Days of the Band and its Notorious Reputation

Guns n’ Roses is an American hard rock band that was formed in 1985 in Los Angeles. Combining punk, blues, trash and a variety of different genres they became acknowledged heavy metal musicians. The name of the band comes from a combination of last names of the band members Axl Rose (singer) and Tracii Guns (guitarist). Other band members were IzzyStradlin’ (guitarist) and Duff McKagan (bassist) and Rob Gardner (drummer).

Their first show was to be in Seattle, but Guns and Gardner could not make it, and Axl called Slash and drummer Steven Adler as substitutes for the Seattle gig. The show was good, and when they drove back home to LA, they wrote the song Welcome to the Jungle. The energy among them was so good that they decided to keep Slash and Adler. The band in this arrangement would count many successes.

In 1986 the band produced their own album EP, Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide and it was heard by executives of Geffen Records, and they decided to sign the band. Their first album saw the daylight in 1987 in August under the name Appetite for Destruction, and it sold 20 million copies. It was an enormous success, and it was no1 in the charts. This album still holds the title of best- selling debut album.

Soon after they scored one hit after another from their first album, they started to plan a tour. They performed across America. In 1988 they were invited to the Monsters of Rock Festival in Europe, where they had the opportunity to be on stage with Iron Maiden and KISS. The media started to observe and report about the behavior of the band. McKagan, Slash and Adler were overusing substances and alcohol and would be under influence during performances on stage. Slash was rumored by the crew to be carried to the stage and to pass out right after a show’s end.

The most shocking and scandalous moment at that time of rising was when they performed in Great Britain on the Monsters of Rock Festival, whereby two fans,unfortunately,ended up dead,. The fans were most probably killed in a stampede among euphoric fans who were aggressively moving, dancing and jumping during the performance of Guns n’ Roses. The band was accused of the unfortunate event by the media. Because of all the drug and alcohol stories and now the accidental death of two people, Guns n’ Roses became known as a dangerous and notorious band.

The New Controversy

Their next album also caused controversy. Released in 1988 the album G N' R Lies featured the song "One in a Million" whose lyrics was strong by using taboo words like niggers and faggots. The band or moreover Axl had to fight against controversial accusations of being racist and homophobic. Axl denied such statements and said that he is even a fan of some of the homosexual artists (e.g. Elton John). In 1989 they won an American Music Award in the category favorite Pop/Rock Single (Sweet Child O’ Mine). During the acceptance speech for winning Best Heavy Metal Album, Slash and McKagganappeared drunk on stage to receive the award and they used inappropriate language.

Such a TV moment made the AMAs to broadcast with a five-second delay in the future. Their music label was also not pleased with their reckless behavior and substance abuse. Axl threatened to dissolve the band if the drug use continues, which he also warned fans of, during an opening show for the Rolling Stones. Nevertheless, their drug abuse was reflected throughout their first album (the song Mr Brownstone- slang for heroin).

The Third Album and Member Replacements

The band was back in the studio in 1990 to record their third album. Since drummer Adler was reluctant towards giving up on his addiction and was not able to perform, he was fired and replaced by Matt Sorum (who had been the drummer of The Cult). This time, they did not only release one but two albums- "Use Your Illusion" and "Use Your Illusion II". The albums were no 1 and no 2 hits on the Billboard charts. It was a huge success. After the successful launch of the albums, Guns n’ Roses went on a tour for more than two years. Among many incidents, one that stands out from this tour is related to the singer Axl. Namely, during a concert, he jumped into the crowd and hit one of the fans, whereby taking away the fan’s video camera. He left the stage, and a riot started whereby many people were injured.

Axl was charged with riot incitement to be found not guilty (but only after he returned from the tour which caused a delay of the trial). The band went on tour in 1993 again, and it was one of the most successful tours including more than 200 shows. After this tour, the band would not be seen anymore in the lineup we knew it until then.

Tensions started to grow when the punk covers collection was not as successful as the previous double album. In 1994, Axl fired the guitarist Clarke who was in the band for three years. He did not tell the band. The guitarist was replaced by Tobias, a long-time friend of Axl. Tobias eventually caused some tensions by playing over Slash’s original solo, while parts of other members were replaced too. Slash quit in 1996 and Sorum was fired in 1997 after an argument with Axl. McKagan also left the band several months later.

The Third Album and Line-up

In 1998 Guns n’ Roses had a new lineup for a new album. New members were: Josh Freese (drummer), Tommy Stinson (bassist), Robin Finck (guitarist), Paul Tobias (guitarist) and Dizzy Reed (keyboardist). The band yet again changed some of the new members, for example, Freese was replaced by Mantia. The band had some success, but it could not be measured to its previous expirience. In 2001 the band received good criticism for two concerts. The band played their new songs, but also the old ones. During the concerts, Axl informed the audience that his former band members tried to prevent him from the show. He also said that he was sorry that they could not find a way to resolve their issues.

In 2002 the band planned a tour (nine years after their last tour). The opening concert was supposed to be in Vancouver, but Axl failed to show up and again, a riot started. When it happened for the second time, the tour was cancelled. In 2004 Slash and McKaghan sued Axl over some rights of the band’s songs. The band with the new line-up did manage to stay alive during the 2000s but still it is not comparable to the first years of success with the old band members. Nevertheless, the band was seen reunited at the 2016 Coachella in the original line-up.

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