It all begun in Los Angeles in 1985 when William Bailey (Axl Rose - vocals) formed a rock band with Jeffrey Isbell (Izzy Stradlin - guitar), Tracii Guns (guitar) and Rob Gardner (drums) called in turn Rose, Hollywood Rose and L.A Guns. Soon Guns and Gardner were replaced by Saul Hudson (Slash - guitar) and Steven Adler (drums) and with the addition of bass player Duff McKagan the band was renamed to Guns N’ Roses. Playing a unique sound incorporating punk, blues and metal, the band released a self-produced live album called Live ?!*@ Like A Suicide in 1986. Having received some interest from the music industry the band signed to Geffen Records.
The following year the band released their debut album Appetite for Destruction which, despite being the best selling debut album of all time, it only started selling a year latter when MTV started playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. The album shot to Number One and Guns N’ Roses became overnight one the biggest bands in the world.
At the end of 1988 the band released Lies, which featured four new acoustic songs and tracks from Live ?!*@ Like A Suicide. The album hit Number Two on the charts but controversially the song “One in A Million” sparked intense controversy for its violent and racist lyrics. Also when in 1989 Guns N’ Roses were awarded at the annual award show for best heavy metal album and best heavy metal song for “Appetite for Destruction” and “Paradise City”, McKagan and Slash used strong language on live television. As a result all subsequent award shows were broadcasted with a five-second delay.
Shortly after the release of Lies drummer Steve Adler was fired and replaced by Matt Sorum from the Cult and during the recording of their long-awaited second studio album the band added keyboardist Dizzy Reed. Under the new lineup Guns N’ Roses released “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II” which simultaneously shoot at the two top spots of the charts.
The band then went on a colossal 28-month long world tour which was hugely successful but also very eventful. The most famous incident took place in the summer of 1991 when during a show in Missouri Rose jumped into the crowd injuring a fan and then left the stage. The angry crowd began a riot in which many people were injured. During this period Stradlin quit the band due to differences with Rose and was replaced by Gilby Clarke.
In 1993 the new lineup released a collection of punk covers named The Spaghetti Incident? which received some good reviews; however, it did not match the brilliance of their previous three studio albums. In conjunction with a number of other events, including the release of the Nevermind album that shifted musical interest to Nirvana and internal disputes between Rose and the rest of the band, Guns N’ Roses gradually declined. By 1997 the band disintegrated leaving Rose the sole original member of the band.
In the years that followed Guns N’ Roses remained relatively unnoticed, occasionally making the headlines for the wrong reasons including riots in their gigs, cancelled shows and the long delayed fifth studio album Chinese Democracy. The only releases from the band since 1993 were the two compilation albums Live Era ‘87-’93 (1999) and Greatest Hits (2004).
A notable attempt from previous Guns N’ Roses members came in 2003 when Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum formed the band Velvet Revolver with Scott Weiland formerly with the Stone Temple Pilots. Their debut album Contraband (2004) received good reviews and went straight to the top of US charts.
Chinese Democracy (2008) was one of the greatest records that never was - a project more fable than fact, more speculation than actualization. Created over fifteen years with countless producers and musicians, the album often seemed as if it would remain forever mired in the swamps of Axl Rose’s legendarily unpredictable personality. When the disc finally did appear, the musical landscape had changed so significantly that many wondered if Rose’s fans even still cared. What the faithful got for their undying loyalty may not have been classic GnR, but it was an unquestionably powerful slice of enigmatic, genre-pushing hard rock which retained some the group’s famously rebellious attitude. Sonically, Chinese Democracy benefited from its long gestation period by incorporating bits of many post-Spaghetti Incident subgenres, including nu-metal, electronica, new garage rock, and post-grunge. Luckily, even after all his bizarre, Michael Jackson-like personal travails, Rose lost little of his lyrical bite, shooting back at disbelievers with the fervor of a much younger and hungrier artist, leaving admirers wondering if perhaps the best was still yet to come.