Behind the band name: Guns N’ Roses
Few bands are as indicative of 80s heavy metal as Guns N’ Roses. With perennial hits like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Welcome to the Jungle”, their music is a big part of the zeitgeist of that era.
Formed in Los Angeles in 1985, the band went through a number of line-up changes, breakups, spin-offs and makeovers. What has have remained steadfast, but their ability to deliver a piercing rock anthem that stands the test of time.
You know their music but do you know how they got their name? We review the origins of Guns N’ Roses and their continuing legacy below.
Behind the band name
Although Guns N’ Roses might seem like a tailor-made name for a rock band from Los Angeles, the band came up with it completely by accident. It is a merger of two previous bands, Hollywood Rose and LA Guns. But how did the two groups come together?
Hollywood Rose was formed and founded by Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin and Chris Weber in 1983, who played gigs with Rick Mars, Andrew Troxx, Johnny Kreis and Steve Darrow. After various line-up changes over the next two years, Weber and Stradlin were replaced by Slash and Steven Adler.
The LA Guns were formed in 1983 by guitarist Tracii Guns and drummer Rob Gardner with vocalist Mike Jagosz and bassist Ole Beich. After recording an EP, Jagosz was replaced by Axl Rose. The two bands merged to become Guns N’ Roses shortly thereafter, cementing the band’s enduring nickname.
Guns N’ Roses wasn’t the only name to be thrown around. The initial ideas rejected by the group were AIDS and the heads of Amazon – good guys.
Find the classic line-up
Guns N’ Roses’ first line-up featured Axl Rose, Rob Garner, Izzy Stradlin, Tracii Guns and Ole Beich, but it certainly wasn’t the last.
Right after their first gig as five musicians, Beich was promptly fired and replaced by Duff McKagan. The weapons left after an argument with Rose, which resulted in Slash being hired for the band. Shortly after, Gardner quit and was replaced by fellow Hollywood Rose band member Adler.
Finally, the band had their classic line-up and released their debut album, appetite for destruction in 1987. Although their debut put them on the world stage, they are even more famous with two albums, Use your illusion I and Use Your Illusion IIwhose total circulation is estimated at around 90 million copies.
Millions of records sold and countless tours later, in 2012 the band cemented their place in the annals of rock history by being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
(Photo by Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)