Happy Birthday to Axl Rose!
W. Axl Rose (born William Bruce Rose, Jr. on February 6, 1962 in Lafayette, Indiana), frequently called Axl Rose, is an American musician, best known as the frontman of American hard rock band Guns N' Roses.
Born in Lafayette, Rose grew up in Indiana in a troubled family environment. His love of music was fostered by singing in church, participating in school chorus and studying piano, but his numerous run-ins with the police and activities as a teenager led to his leaving home at a young age. After moving to Los Angeles in 1982, Rose fronted various local bands, eventually forming Guns N' Roses with former L.A. Guns bandmate Tracii Guns.
As lead singer for Guns N' Roses, Rose enjoyed tremendous success, recognition, record and concert ticket sales in the late 1980s and early 1990s before dropping out of the public eye for several years. In 2001, he resurfaced with a new line-up of Guns N' Roses, and has since played periodic concert tours.
The only original member still part of the band's line-up, Rose still places high in numerous polls as one of hard rock's all-time greatest frontmen, but is also infamous for his onstage antics and high-profile disputes with former bandmates and others in the entertainment business.
Rose and his L.A. Guns bandmate Tracii Guns formed Guns N' Roses in March 1985. The band was a merger of L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose, and featured musicians who had played for one or both groups, including Ole Beich and Duff McKagan. The band debuted at the Troubadour in Hollywood and proceeded to play the L.A. circuit, eventually building a fan following and attracting the attention of several record companies. The lineup eventually solidified with Rose on vocals, Slash on lead guitar, Izzy Stradlin on rhythm guitar, Duff McKagan on bass and Steven Adler on drums. Guns N' Roses was signed to Geffen Records in 1986 and released a four-song EP, Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, on their own label, UZI Suicide, in December of that year.
The band's major label debut album, entitled Appetite for Destruction, was released in the United States on July 21, 1987. The record had a slow start, selling only 500,000 copies in the first year of its release. However, fueled by relentless touring and the mainstream success of the single "Sweet Child O' Mine," Appetite rose to the #1 position on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States in the fall of 1988. To date, Appetite for Destruction ranks as the fourth best-selling debut album in the United States, has been certified 15x platinum by the RIAA, and has sold over 27 million copies.
With the success of Appetite and its follow-up EP, GN'R Lies, Rose found himself lauded as one of rock's most prominent frontmen. In a 1990 interview with MTV, journalist Kurt Loder referred to Rose as "maybe the finest hard rock singer currently on the scene, and certainly the most charismatic." He was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in August 1989 and again in April 1992.
In 1990, Guns N' Roses returned to the studio to begin recording the full-length follow-up to Appetite for Destruction. Recording sessions were temporarily scuttled when Steven Adler, battling drug and alcohol addiction, was fired in July 1990 and replaced by former Cult drummer Matt Sorum. The band fired their manager, Alan Niven, in May 1991, replacing him with Doug Goldstein. According to a 1991 cover story by Rolling Stone magazine, Rose forced the dismissal of Niven, against the wishes of some of his bandmates, by refusing to complete the albums until he was replaced.
With enough music for two albums, the band released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II on September 17 1991. The tactic paid off when the albums debuted at #2 and #1 respectively on the Billboard chart, setting a record as Guns N' Roses became the first and only group to date to achieve this feat. The albums spent 108 weeks on the chart.
In the late spring of 1991, before the Illusion albums were released, Guns N' Roses embarked on the 28-month-long Use Your Illusion World Tour. It became famous for both its financial success and the many controversial incidents that occurred at the shows.
During the tour, Rose demanded, and received, sole ownership of the Guns N' Roses name from bandmates Slash and McKagan. His relationships with his bandmates became increasingly strained: Izzy Stradlin left the group voluntarily on November 7, 1991, and was replaced by former Kill For Thrills guitarist Gilby Clarke for the remainder of the two-year tour. Clarke himself left in 1994, and was replaced by Rose's childhood friend Paul Tobias. When Rose replaced Slash's guitar parts with those of Tobias on the band's cover version of the Rolling Stones' song "Sympathy for the Devil" for the soundtrack of the film Interview with the Vampire, tension increased further. Slash, McKagan and Sorum all left Guns N' Roses at various points between 1996 and 1997, leaving Rose and keyboardist Dizzy Reed as the only remaining Illusion-era members of the band.