YEAR FORMED: 1985
HOME TOWN: Los Angeles
Axl Rose - lead vocals
Dizzy Reed - keyboards
Robin Finck - lead guitar
Tommy Stinson - bass guitar
Chris Pitman - keyboards
Bryan "Brain" Mantia - drums
Richard Fortus - rhythm guitar
Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal - lead guitar
Guns N' Roses was founded in Los Angeles in March, 1985 by singer Axl Rose and guitarist Tracii Guns as an informal merger of their respective previous bands, Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns. The name Guns N' Roses was derived from the two earlier names, and the original Guns N' Roses lineup included members from both bands: Rose's longtime friend Izzy Stradlin on rhythm guitar, bassist Ole Beich (later replaced by Duff McKagan), and drummer Rob Gardner. The band's unique style integrated rock, hard rock, blues, punk and other genres of music into the popular heavy metal music of the time.
When Tracii Guns and Rob Gardner could not appear at one of the first Guns N' Roses shows in Seattle, Rose recruited guitarist Slash and drummer Steven Adler for the performance. In early 1986, the pair joined full-time, thus creating the band's most famous lineup: Axl Rose (lead vocals), Slash (lead guitar), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), Duff McKagan (bass) and Steven Adler (drums). On the way back to Los Angeles, Axl wrote the lyrics for "Welcome to the Jungle", which became one of their signature songs.
The band's 1987 major label debut, Appetite for Destruction, earned them worldwide popularity. Their 1991 effort, the simultaneous release of Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, and subsequent world tour solidified their status. Guns N' Roses have sold an estimated 90 million albums worldwide.
The band's musical style, onstage presence, and image helped usher in a new era within the dominant hard rock and heavy metal scene of the 1980s. With hair metal as the leading genre in record sales, video charts, and radio airplay, Guns N' Roses offered a grittier, more traditionalist take on rock music, and won many fans who admired their apparent authenticity. The band enjoyed worldwide success from 1987 through 1993, but the clashing personalities of various band members, coupled with heavy alcohol and drug abuse hindered the group's ability to work together. Today, frontman Axl Rose is the only original member in the band's current lineup.