In 1985, Hollywood Rose fluidly morphed into Guns N’ Roses with the addition of Slash, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler and the departure of Tracii Guns, Ole Beich and Rob Gardner. By that time they already had their name – a combination of Axl Rose and ex-member Tracii Guns’ surnames, and in June 1985 they began a brief, hedonistic tour through California and Washington. See the band’s transformation period in the photos below…
Slash at an early photo shoot, October 1985, four months after replacing original Guns N’ Roses guitarist Tracii Guns. The previous year Slash had auditioned unsuccessfully for hair metallers Poison. Taken from a new book, ‘Reckless Road: Guns N’ Roses And The Making Of Appetite For Destruction’, by Marc Canter, published by Shoot Hip.
Pic: Jack Lue
Slash’s first show with Guns N’ Roses at LA’s The Troubadour, June 6, 1985 (the gig flier promised “A rock ‘n’ roll bash where everyone’s smashed!”). He was standing in for original guitarist Tracii Guns, who had failed to turn up for a rehearsal. Shortly after this gig, Guns quit the band and Slash officially took his place.
A young Slash in his basement, shortly after giving up professional BMX riding in order to concentrate on playing guitar. The guitar on the right, a B.C. Rich Mockingbird, was his favourite. He’d devised his own method of attaching it to his amplifier.
Hollywood Rose – featuring future Guns N’ Roses members Axl Rose and Slash – at Madame Wong’s East, LA, June 28 1984. At this time Axl was working at Tower Video on Sunset Strip. The band would hang out in the store after closing and watch porno videos.
Guns N’ Roses at one of their first photo shoots, October 1985. Earlier that month they’d debuted a soon-to-be-legendary new song, which at that time had the long-winded title, ‘Take Me Home To The Paradise City’.
Pic: Jack Lue
Photography taken from new book titled ‘Reckless Road Guns N’Roses and the making of Appetite For Destruction’.
Axl Rose and Slash at an early gig. Slash would often perform while severely drunk. Photographer Marc Canter recalls: “Slash was like a monster. You could put two bottles of booze in him and put a blindfold round him and he would still come out and play his part perfectly.”
Guns N’ Roses, The Troubadour, January 4, 1986. At this gig they debuted the song ‘My Michelle’, written about Michelle Young, a drug-addicted friend of the band. Today Young says: “I would prefer if people didn’t know that song was about me, since I have a pretty high-powered job and I’m a mom.”
Axl Rose, October 1985. Rose, real name William Bailey, grew up in a deeply religious household. He attended a Pentecostal church up to eight times a week, sang in the choir, and even taught Sunday School.
Pic: Jack Lue
Photography taken from new book titled ‘Reckless Road: Guns N’ Roses and the making of Appetite For Destruction’.
Guns N’ Roses at The Roxy, LA, January 18, 1986. The show was sold-out. Tom Zutaut, the Geffen A&R man who eventually signed the band, arrived late and wasn’t able to get in until their set was over.
Pic: Jack Lue
Photography taken from new book titled ‘Reckless Road Guns N’ Roses And The Making Of Appetite For Destruction’.
Axl Rose in his pre-Guns N’ Roses band LA Guns at The Troubadour, October 13, 1984. This show saw the live debut of the song, ‘Don’t Cry’, which would eventually surface seven years later on Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Use Your Illusion I’ album.
Axl Rose in an early incarnation of Guns N’ Roses, Hollywood Rose, at Madame Wong’s West, June 16, 1984. After a series of line-up changes, the band settled on the name Guns N’ Roses the following year, after briefly considering Heads Of Amazon and, unbelievably, AIDS.
Hollywood Rose play a sparsely-attended gig at Madame Wong’s East, LA, June 28, 1984. Axl Rose and Slash would go on to form Guns N’ Roses the following year.
A pre-fame Axl Rose and Slash with strippers in 1985. Slash recalled: “Strippers were our sustenance for the longest time. We crashed at their houses and that’s where we got extra cash.”
Picture taken from Marc Canter’s book, ‘Reckless Road: Guns N’ Roses And The Making Of Appetite For Destruction’.
Pic: Adriana Durgan