Let There Be Guns and Roses: 1985

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O.G. GNR March 1985 WillPower Studio L-R Robbie Gardner, Izzy “Stranded,” Axl Rose, Ole Beich, & Tracii Guns

Shortly after that Iron Maiden concert, Izzy and Axl regrouped Hollywood Rose for a one-off gig at Dancing Waters. The South Bay club featured an actual waterfall cascading down behind the stage, but I never actually saw it because the joint wasn’t so wheelchair friendly. The flyer warned of “Hollywood Rose: The Band That Refuses to Die!!!” Axl seemed quite eager for the gig, not merely due to a chance to perform after a five-month hiatus, but also because of the huge stage featuring a catwalk jutting out into the crowd. Hollywood Rose needed a drummer, so Axl sought Tracii’s blessing before asking Robbie to play the show, which he did. Good drummers were hard to come by, and I kind of hoped Izzy and Axl planned on stealing Robbie to get Hollywood Rose back together permanently.

Robbie stored his gear at my house, plus Hollywood Rose borrowed my van to cart everything to the venue. The L.A. Guns’ crew of Joe, Danny, and Carlos worked the show, and afterward brought everything back to my house, where we all celebrated well into the a.m. By all accounts, the show was a roaring success and everyone had a blast.

Tracii said, “Hey, Axl, L.A. Guns has a Troub show booked for the end of the month, and they won’t let us cancel. Will you do one more show with us?”

Axl was in an outstanding mood the next afternoon, and Tracii chummed it up with him while breaking down the show song by song. Even though it was obvious to me Tracii was disheartened because, instead of him, Izzy and Axl used Chris Webber for the gig, Tracii didn’t show it. So with all his supportive talk and congratulating, I sensed him working some sort of angle. Soon, my instincts proved correct when Tracii said, “Hey, Axl, L.A. Guns has a Troub show booked for the end of the month, and they won’t let us cancel. Will you do one more show with us?”

Then, without hesitation, Axl said, “Sure.”

And I was absolutely floored.

By the following afternoon, Tracii had put together an L.A. Guns flyer with pictures of him, Axl, Robbie, and Ole. When Axl dropped by to approve the artwork, I said, “If you two are going to jam together, why not bring Izzy in and do that Guns and Roses thing you two talked about?”

Axl did a double take, gave me one of his dog-eat-dog sly smiles, and then, after a slight pause, nodded and said, “That sounds cool. I’ll see if Izzy’ll do it.”

I had good, selfish, reasons for my suggestion. From the first time I heard it, I knew Guns N’ Roses was one of the greatest combination of words ever conjured, with broad brush-stroked images of contrasting emotions and multi-layered meanings leaping from the tongue headfirst into a pool of fiery desire. Don’t even get me started on the whole penis ‘n’ vagina double entendres. If it sounds like I’m trying to claim credit for coming up with the name, I’m not. Axl Rose conjured up Guns N’ Roses all by himself, combining surnames Tracii (Guns) and Axl (Rose). It’s just until that very point in time, Axl had no idea I even knew he and Tracii had considered a side project. All I am laying claim to is this: Guns N’ Roses formed in my living room after I suggested Izzy join in on a previously booked L.A. Guns show.

Tracii Guns’ Flyer Mock-Up
Became GNR’s Debut on March 25, 1985

The reason I suggested Izzy join in on the gig is obvious. I was, and remain, a huge fan of Izzy as well as his brilliant songs. The best L.A. Guns tunes were written by Izzy and Axl, with some contributions from others. Also, I thought he might give Tracii some sorely needed help in the song-crafting department. Another important factor, both Axl and Tracii held immense respect for Izzy, and not just because he’s almost as cool as Fonzi. Plus, ever since Axl escaped Indiana in search of Izzy in Hollywood, those two were destined to take their shot at the big time together. If Tracii wanted Axl to be his singer and put it all together in a show to last forever, eventually Izzy would join together in their band. It’s Izzy’s world. Axl and Tracii were just rocking in it.

But the thing absolutely foremost in my mind when suggesting the name change was that I wanted to save the name L.A. Guns from being blacklisted by the Troubadour. I figured once Tracii and/or Axl quit or fired me – which I was 100 percent positive was going to happen – I’d hire a few cats to reform a Mike-Jagosz-fronted L.A. Guns, load them into the van, and hit the road to hopefully sell some EPs. Right before Tracii fired Mike, I had already laid groundwork for a four-week spring and summer national club tour. So making a little bit of cash was only a few phone calls away.

He added, “Izzy’s got some great new songs that we’ve been working on.”

The next night, a clearly thrilled Axl stopped by to report that Izzy was down for the show. He added, “Izzy’s got some great new songs that we’ve been working on.” With little more than two weeks to get ready, I was beyond stoked about those five guys – Izzy Stradlin, Axl Rose, Tracii Guns, Robbie Gardner, and Ole Beich – jamming together. Even though Tracii had converted a bedroom into a rehearsal space, everyone agreed the better option was Willie Basse’s Wilpower Studios, with its nice stage and powerful PA. Plus, Willie was an awesome soundman, and after adding my QSC power amp and wedge monitors to his system, Axl probably had his best rehearsal PA ever.

I’m well aware it’s a common phenomenon for folks to believe their friends’ mediocre band is great. But that very first rehearsal was totally awesome, dude. It was immediately evident Guns N’ Roses were beyond something special. Without a doubt, L.A. Guns had delivered some major ass-kicking with Axl Rose up front, but the addition of Izzy and the new songs “Don’t Cry,” “Move to the City,” and “Think About You” blew my mind. After the second rehearsal, my brother Joe took a roll’s worth of cheap-camera band photos at two different locations around Wilpower Studios; on the interior stairs and against the exterior wall of the warehouse.

I will remain a fan of Ole Beich till it’s time for my dirt nap. Back in the day, he was one of my best and most loyal friends. I still miss that guy, and feel awful that he didn’t seem to care enough at the time to make sure he stayed in Guns N’ Roses. Unfortunately, at times the dude could be a real downer, sullen while keeping to himself as other folks around him boisterously celebrated youth, booze, and rock ‘n’ roll dancing upon Satan’s sack. A few years earlier, also briefly in the iconic Danish black-metal band Mercyful Fate, Ole’s history repeated when he played with Guns N’ Roses for their first two rehearsals. And that was it.

Izzy said, “If Ole doesn’t want to be in the band, there’s a guy who lives across the street from me who’ll do the show.”

After that second practice, another rehearsal was set for a tentative “in a few days.” Ole neglected to tell anyone of his newest girlfriend, so when the next practice got scheduled, there was no way to get ahold of him. After three days of no one hearing from him, and rehearsal scheduled for the following evening, Izzy said, “If Ole doesn’t want to be in the band, there’s a guy who lives across the street from me who’ll do the show.”

March 1985 Ole Beich, Izzy Stradlin, Tracii Guns, Axl Rose, & Robbie Gardner

I sometimes wonder if it was a political play by Izzy, so Tracii would not have two automatic band-votes on his side to vote-block against him and Axl. But I think it far more likely Izzy felt Ole wasn’t into it, and his style made G N’ R too metal. I don’t know the answer, but the next night, Izzy showed up to Wilpower Studios to introduce Duff Rose. That was his name the first time I met him, and we all knew it was a sign. Ole was an old-school, brain-damage, hard-rock ‘n’ roller, devoid of even the slightest punk influence. But Duff was an O.G. Seattle punk, pre-grunge glamster with a far more upbeat personality, a cool bro to hang out with, a world class musician, and no doubt perfect for Guns N’ Roses.

With only enough time for two rehearsals before the debut show, Izzy taught Duff most of the material at home, and everything got tightened up at high decibels inside Wilpower Studios. Ole was surprised when I broke the news to him, but didn’t argue or even ask me why until years later.

A few nights before the Troubadour show, G N’ R made their first-ever radio appearance during a half-hour long, live-in-studio interview by DJ Hope

To help promote the gig, Izzy arranged an interview on KPFK FM, and Willie recorded a few songs live right off the mixing board to be played on the air. A few nights before the Troubadour show, G N’ R made their first-ever radio appearance during a half-hour long, live-in-studio interview by DJ Hope, along with the playing of “Don’t Cry,” “Think About You” and “Anything Goes.” Tracii’s mom, always so good to me, recorded the show on cassette and gave me a copy that I still have. Bet you’d love to hear it, but chances are you never will. [2024 Update: I Had it Online, but got a YouTube Copyright Strike]

Me @ One-ish 1966
Raz, Jo Joe, Valiant, & Peggy 1967

It seems one really can do anything they want to do, and it’s a total coincidence that I’m listening to “Black Rose” while writing this paragraph thirty years to the day of Guns N’ Roses debut show. March 26, 1985 was a Tuesday, the eighty-fifth day of the year. That don’t mean shit, I just dig numbers. We all met up at the Troubadour around three in the afternoon for a first-ever Guns N’ Roses’ sound check, but the marquee out front said “L.A. Guns.” A weeknight meant tables and chairs were set up in the showroom. Robbie and the crew had most of the gear set up by the time the rest of the band began straggling in, but I can’t remember if I smoked pot with the crew.

About an hour prior to their set, G N’ R departed for the dressing room to read scripture while enjoying some tasty milk and cookies.

One of the cool things about a band’s debut show, whether they never play another gig or blow up hotter than Nagasaki, is that first crowd is loaded with friends there to support their friend(s). Before the show, Izzy, Axl, Duff, Tracii, and Robbie spent varying amounts of time in the showroom, having cocktails while chatting and personally thanking folks for coming. The guys were likely as excited to hit the stage, or possibly even more, than the crowd there was to discover what Guns N’ Roses were all about. I for one was super excited, because I knew those folks were in for a treat. About an hour prior to their set, G N’ R departed for the dressing room to read scripture while enjoying some tasty milk and cookies. Wait, that’s Stryper. I have no idea what they did, because there were stairs between me and the Troub’s dressing rooms.

Most weeknight local bands typically played to a few haggard chicks, their crew, and tables. But the show had a decent-sized crowd, not huge, but slightly larger than the L.A. Guns’ gig a few months earlier. A hundred fifty fans, give or take. There were several folks who I recognized as L.A. Guns regulars, a bunch of teeny boppers whose two drink tickets were mostly used for soft drinks. But there were also scores of older folks, more punk-looking and often lined up three deep at the showroom bar. Then when their beloved liquor got served, they stuffed tip jars in hopes Ms. Barkeep would keep hooking them up.

Then it all began. The showroom lights dimmed. An array of colored lights cut through a nicotine haze to paint the stage in hot hues. From stage left, the guys descended the stairway onto the stage. Robbie got busy fine-tuning his drums’ positions as Izzy, Duff, and Tracii plugged in, tuned up, switched their amps off of standby, twisted some knobs, and then gestured to one another. Good to go.

The house music faded away as the voice of God announced the band from on high. Izzy stuck his smoke near the head of his ax and motioned to count it out. Without a hint of hesitation, Robbie raised drum sticks high above his head and “Click-click-click-click.” One, two, three, four, the band threw a sonic punch into the crowds’ face as Axl, decked out in chaps and g-string, bounded down the stairs to burst onto that stage as if shot from a howitzer. Having only been unleashed before a crowd once in the previous five months, Axl set his pent-up dervish free with a spontaneous and fresh kinetic overload that saw him trying his damndest to stomp a hole through the Troubadour’s stage straight to China.

Gay man with makeup on having fun wearing lgbt rainbow flag outdoor - Focus on face

The guys’ image was more glam than later images, like the 70s glam of Aerosmith, T-Rex, Sweet, or Bowie. And not like their contemporary scene’s spandex-clad trannys playing loosely inspired Van Halen or Crüe. Axl didn’t offer much commentary between tunes. The band merely delivered a few blistering songs in a row, then, after a short pause to allow folks to wipe the blood from their ears, he’d let the audience know what was next. When G N’ R were ready to play “Nice Boys,” he dedicated it to Poison with the same mocking disdain as during L.A. Guns gigs. Although Poison was pulling huge crowds into the clubs, Axl routinely made it crystal clear he didn’t like Poison or consider what they played rock ‘n’ roll.

Over the next five years, I saw G N’ R perform or rehearse at least a hundred times, and probably far more than that. Combine all those gigs with my love of booze, pot, and various other mind-altering cash killers, and I would be guessing about what else was on that night’s set list. It’s safe to say “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Shadow of Your Love,” and for sure “Think About You,” “Move to the City,” “Don’t Cry” and “Anything Goes.”

What can I say? Drummers are the most interesting guys sitting at the back of the room.

The last time I had seen Izzy and Axl together on stage was in Rose, a super frenetic band that constantly hopped and bopped while bouncing off of one another. Axl was still the incredibly dynamic bundle of energy, drawing lots of attention up front, but Izzy settled into a far more laid-back groove, absorbed in song while seemingly as one with the timbre, rhythm, and melody. It was my first time watching Duff on stage, but I really dug his bass tone, smooth chops, and in-your-face energy. Tracii was Tracii, a very entertaining showman and talented shredder with a great guitar sound. Robbie remained solid and right on time, neither boring nor flashy. What can I say? Drummers are the most interesting guys sitting at the back of the room.

While Guns N’ Roses’ high-voltage rocking shocked the unsuspecting room, I camped out in back to split my time between people watching and rocking out, with an occasional yelled “Fuck yeah!” and “Don’t play ‘Freebird’!” When able to calm down, curiosity had me checking out people’s reactions, as well as receiving much positive feedback hollered my way. Not many other audience members actively rocked out like spaz Raz, but a whole lot of those proto-hipsters got some vigorous toe tapping in.

That’s the moment I realized raw audience numbers were less important to a business than how many flush lushes you drew into their bar.

There was only one bartender that evening, and she valiantly busted her tight ass keeping up with the seemingly never-ending thirsty patrons lined up for cocktails. When the houselights came back on, I was dumbfounded by the tip jar, a gallon-sized clear glass jug, stuffed to the top with bills. I had never seen so many tips in a single jar on that bar before. Another measure of success, Eddy the owner paid the band three hundred bucks. That blew me away, because a few months earlier, L.A. Guns drew approximately the same number and only made a hundred. That’s the moment I realized raw audience numbers were less important to a business than how many flush lushes you drew into their bar.

There was no big party after the show. The gear, van, road crew, and a few of the guys ended up at my house, where we did some minor-scale partying that likely would have sent lower-tier degenerates crying for rehab the next day.

Because G N’ R only formed two weeks prior to their first show, it was a few weeks before a second show went down. But even before the live debut, the guys decided Guns N’ Roses should be more than a one-off fill-in for an L.A. Guns’ Troub show. With all involved eager to see what could become of the group, more shows were booked before they ever hit the stage. Most everyone I told that Axl, or “L.A. Guns’ old singer,” was in Guns N’ Roses were happy to hear the news. Very few people – like one or two – expressed sadness about Mike not singing for the band. But his brother and girlfriend don’t count.

Tracii Guns with Ibanez Guitar
Tracii & Robbie’s Last GNR Show

Not long after Guns N’ Roses’ first gig, given an option to pay rent or move out, Tracii reluctantly vacated the bedroom he was “renting.” Still in the band, and living nearby, we remained on good terms despite me booting him. After Tracii moved out, Joe said, “You should rent me the room, I’m here all the time anyway.” It made sense. He was there a lot, had a job, and I might as well get some cash from him. Plus, he was pretty handy to have around, whether it was building a wheelchair ramp or bouncing guests who had overstayed their welcome.

Plus, once Joe moved in, it seemed like Axl became a full-time housemate.

Within days, I realized what a horrendous error I had made. Joe was far less confrontational as a guest. As an entirely unreasonable renter, he felt it was his house to do with as he pleased. We fought constantly, about every little fucking thing, whether I wanted to or not. I hate losing control of situations, but felt boxed in because he routinely ignored the prime directive: “Get the fuck away from me.” Plus, once Joe moved in, it seemed like Axl became a full-time housemate. I had just gotten Tracii out, because he had no rent money, and then Joe put me in a position to be the bad guy if I were to tell Axl to pay rent or hit the road. But for sure the situation added way too much stress to my existence.

At that point in time, the guys still referred to me as their manager. Many young bands believe having a manager makes them appear more professional. It also helped me feel more important to let them call me that. But in reality, all I did was let them use my place for band meetings. Or, if they were short, I’d chip in a few bucks – like five – for rehearsal. I’d share my reheated leftover Naugles’ French fries, or let them borrow my van, amps, cabinets, wireless microphone, or whatever they needed. Joe, Guns N’ Roses’ stage manager, would cart all the gear to the show, and when my van came home, so did my gear. No charge. With a vast fecal sea of inferior bands drowning Hollywood, it was my pleasure to help out an obviously above-average group. Didn’t cost me nothing, and that gear would have just sat in storage with my van stuck in the driveway. Plus, I got to see G N’ R well over a hundred times and you didn’t.

As L.A. Guns’ manager, I handled all business-related matters: promotional material, booking shows, getting a rehearsal space, and so much more I remain shocked that I never wiped anyone’s ass. Except for the actual music stuff, those guys were more than happy to let me do all the work. They merely rehearsed, flyered, played shows, got high, and fucked chicks. Twenty-one seconds after Guns N’ Roses formed, their hard work and dedication became evident. They hit the ground running and, unlike L.A Guns’ paltry show a month, G N’ R played four or five shows a month at any place with a stage and PA that’d have them.

Izzy, Axl, and Duff each had their own business instincts, ideas, and connections. But no one has ever cared what a drummer has to say. And Tracii was still in baby-rock-star mode, more than content to have others worry about band stuff. With no money for professional flyers, they drew their own. Magazine ads were way out of budget, so flyers were hand-delivered throughout the city and passed out at clubs. While Izzy and Duff saturated places around the city, Joe or I often rode Axl around to drop off flyers at several different spots. The scope of their promotion covered a much larger swath of the city than we canvassed for L.A. Guns. To give an idea, I found a list of places to flyer written by Axl during the early days: Guitar Center, Café L.A., Fairfax High, shops on Melrose, and the record stores – Music Plus, Warehouse, Tower, Auditory Odyssey, Moby Disc, and Musicland. And, of course, night clubs, Troubadour, Gazzari’s, the Rainbow, Music Machine, Wong’s West, Fetish, Anti Club, Palace, Glam Slam, Lingerie, and Country Club.

People often picture bandmates spending their offstage time hanging out with one another. But like any group of friends or business associates, those guys lived their own lives. Sure, they spent several hours a week with each other, partying, promoting, writing songs, rehearsing, and, of course, doing shows, but each had their own living situation and circle of friends. Although technically he didn’t live there, Axl slept and partied quite often at my house. When it came to love, his music, or business interests, Axl Rose had a touch of Young Werther, some Michael Corleone, and a dash of Tony Montana in him. But during times of leisure, he was actually a very easy-to-get-along-with, laid-back dude with a fun sense of humor.

Though the gunplay was sporadic, the music got cranked day and night with never a noise complaint or life-threatening wound.

Mass quantities of pot got destroyed 24/7 at that place. Axl wasn’t the biggest fan of the weed, but that rarely stopped him. Similar to my brother and me – with a tip of the hat to Alice in Chains – his drug of choice was whatever you got. The burgeoning praise his new band garnered had Axl in good spirits most of the time. When not prolifically penning lyrical musings upon any spare piece of paper, he often listened to music or watched movies. Despite my brother and me in constant conflict, the house was relatively low stress due to its seven rooms offering plenty of privacy to anyone who sought it out. The house’s strategic location, with an alley on the living-room side and enough distance from other neighbors, gave a level of privacy where even gunshots weren’t noticed. Though the gunplay was sporadic, the music got cranked day and night with never a noise complaint or life-threatening wound.

Axl and I shared a love for a lot of the same bands popular within our circle of friends: Aerosmith, Stones, New York Dolls, Alice, Hanoi Rocks, Black Sabbath, Sweet, and Bowie. Our mutual interests also included blues, oldies, R&B, soul, pop, and rock like Queen, Elton, Eagles, Nazareth, Rose Tattoo, and Billy Joel. His opinion was highly credible to me. If he told me I’d dig something, he was usually correct.

Besides it being the era of “New Coke,” which I was the only one of our group to give a thumbs up to, 1985 was also a time of a cutting-edge music technology. Compact Disc players hit the consumer market the prior year, and I dove right in to spend two hundred bucks on a CD player. At first, the CD was billed as “indestructible.” I found out the hard way it was an utterly bullshit claim, right after I hurled an AC/DC disc against the wall to show a friend how tough the discs were. One little scratch and that CD was toast. Despite that, I have never missed the hissing and popping of LPs as some pretentious audiophiles professed they did.

In their early days, selection was limited, and each CD cost fourteen bucks or more. Plus, you couldn’t copy them unless you had a ten-thousand-dollar duplicator. I didn’t care too much about how expensive they were, because I shoplifted about 75 percent of them. With my firmly held belief that music companies had ripped off artists for decades, rationalizing the theft was fairly easy. I do remember feeling semi-swindled upon seeing the digital readout showing my Van Halen CD was barely thirty minutes. But over time, my opinion changed after realizing the maximum time constraints dictated by physical grooves of a vinyl LP forced artists to edit out all but their strongest material. Think about it. How many complete albums, every song, released after 1990 do you have in your playlists?

New Coke & GNR Began Spring 1985
Vinyl player and compact disk
Rare Photo of Original Compact Disc Player

I had never been much of Led Zeppelin fan. Didn’t hate them, just could not understand why they were so huge. But when their albums were finally released on CD, I acquired a few Zeppelin discs solely to revel in digital-quality John Bonham drumming. Then the band grew on me to the point where I realized their greatness was there all along. I only mention it to tell of a conversation Axl and I had while watching MTV. A die-hard Zep fan was trashing the surviving members, claiming they were selfish to not reunite for their fans. Axl expressed his belief that the was guy a complete idiot. I agreed and said, “Why can’t people just thank them for the great music they made and leave it at that?”

While I’m telling stories, with detached relevance to later events, there was a time when Axl’s throat had become extremely sore, not quite laryngitis, but bad, and he said, “I couldn’t do a show tonight for a million bucks.” I chuckled and suggested for a million bucks it might be worth a shot. But Axl made it clear to me that I had no idea what the fuck I was talking about. It was not the first, or last, time I had no idea what the fuck I was talking about.

Izzy’s birthday was a few nights before G N’ R’s second show. So Axl had me stop at a liquor store on the way to rehearsal to buy Izzy a celebratory chocolate donut and a pack of Marlboros to wash it down with. The show was at Radio City and fell on Joe’s birthday. One of my favorite things about the club was the liquor store a half block away, where we scored a big bottle of whiskey then camped out in my van, and for the first time used it as dressing room/party spot before a show.

Near the end of April, G N’ R played three shows in the same week. I only made it to the Troubadour show, which had at least fifty more people than their first show. The G N’ R word was spreading like wildfire on a sea of gasoline. Some in attendance told me, “I heard Axl was back,” or, “A friend told me these guys are great.” The next night, I skipped the Waters Club, because it still wasn’t wheelchair friendly. I had every intention of going to the Saturday night Timbers gig, but it was the first time in ages the house would be all mine. Thus, I decided to call the man to score some shit, made a booty call, and partied down with a rowdy rocker chick with loose morals and substance issues.

Selfie, March 1985 at Wilpower Studio

Initially, only three of Tracii’s tunes even made it into rehearsal, and at shows he was lucky if the guys even played one of them. Five shows in, it was all Izzy and Axl’s songs, plus some covers. Instead of taking it as a challenge, Tracii acted perpetually petulant. The morning after G N’ R played the Timbers gig, Axl was in an extremely foul mood. More specifically, he was thoroughly pissed off at Tracii, who the night before reportedly remained out of sight behind his Marshall stacks the entire show, all the while playing way too loud and purposely fucking up songs.

Axl went on and on griping, and I began getting an impression he sought my okay to get rid of Tracii, so I said, “Fuck Tracii. Fire him if you want.”

Clearly, Axl was happy to hear it. Upon the realization I wasn’t as loyal to Tracii as he had believed, Axl spilled the beans about why he quit L.A. Guns. Within days of joining the group, he came to realize that, while he was being recruited, Tracii misrepresented the musical direction the group would take. Even worse, they could not write songs together. My yelling at him about getting kicked out of the Rainbow was merely the final straw. It answered a lot of questions swirling around in my head. So that afternoon, the two of us clarified everything. I neither cared nor wanted to have any say about his band or its personnel. But I would remain supportive of G N’ R no matter what happened to Tracii. I could enjoy their shows while partying my brains out with no responsibility or stress. A fan and supportive friend was the way to be.

Izzy and Axl agreed Tracii would get the boot from Guns N’ Roses after their next show, the second week of May, giving them a month to find a replacement. Rose, Hollywood Rose, and other bands those two were in meant there were at least seven hundred former guitarists to choose from. Tracii Guns’ final performance as a member of Guns N’ Roses occurred at Joshua’s Parlor in Westminster. The guys could have fired him earlier, cancelled the show, and had more time to find a replacement, but we were all stoked for the gig. The headliner, Liquid Earth, was an above-average band with a massive draw. But add to that a wet T-shirt contest, plus fifty-cent Kamikazes, and it begged “On with the show.” All in all, it was a fun, shoulder-to-shoulder packed show. I’d bet if Tracii realized it was to be his last, he’d have savored his evening a bit more.

The next afternoon, Tracii called to tell me about Axl firing him from G N’ R. Tracii didn’t seem at all upset, mostly just talked shit about the guys. But I do believe he was shocked when I told him he blew it, and I didn’t give a shit. I had let Ole keep his Peavey Max bass head and some speaker cabinets after he was replaced. Fair’s fair, so a week after Tracii Guns got canned, when he showed up to the house with plans to start a band with some has-beens who I can’t recall, I gave him a Les Paul, Marshall 100-watt amp, and a 4-12 speaker cabinet as a parting gift.

Help Wanted Sign - employers advertising job openings to hire employees for their company business
Drummer play at drum set on stage in a concert hall behing glass wall.

The guys were pissed at Robbie for leaving them hanging, so Izzy taught me an awesome trick, which I employed relentlessly over the next decade

A day after Tracii got ousted, Robbie quit the band. We were all floored. No one had even contemplated Robbie abandoning the project. Izzy and Axl tried to change his mind. When that didn’t bear fruit, they asked me to have a talk with Robbie and let him know they really wanted him in the band. At the very least, see if he’d stay until they found another drummer. When I called Robbie to see where his head was at and tell him he was missing a great opportunity, before I even got my whole pitch, delivered he gave me a dismissive “I’m not going to play with those guys.” Part of me respected Robbie’s loyalty to Tracii, but the other part wondered what the fuck he was thinking. I could not fathom him not understanding the greatness of the band he was in. Plus, Tracii never showed a loyal bone in his body, or ever really wanted Robbie as L.A. Guns’ drummer. The guys were pissed at Robbie for leaving them hanging, so Izzy taught me an awesome trick, which I employed relentlessly over the next decade – a free ad got placed in the Recycler, something like: “Gay Drummer Available. Into Duran Duran, Flock of Seagulls, Pet Shop Boys, Haircut One Hundred… Call Robbie before 6 a.m.,” and listed Robbie’s number. Classic!

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You don’t have to go through your life struggles alone. Go to the corner bar!

“The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Malcom X