The story behind Axl Rose
As all fans of Guns N’ Roses will tell you, Axl Rose was a force to be reckoned with. Before, during and after his time in the band, Rose proved time and time again to be an incredible performer with a penchant for exciting shows and the fans loved every single moment. But with arguably haunting lyrics and an incredible rocky personal life, the frontman had more skeletons in his closet than most, and not every fan was quite aware of the life this Indiana native had and is still living today. Here, we’re filling in the gaps. Without further ado, here is our take on the story behind Axl Rose.
Who is Axl Rose?
Born in Lafayette, Indiana on 6th February 1962, Axl Rose grew up playing in bands and working odd jobs for most of his young life. A musician to rival them all, the formation of Guns N’ Roses in the mid-80s skyrocketed Rose to incredible fame and this singer, songwriter, and producer has been the only member to stay in the band since it’s conception. Of course, some of you will know that not only did he lead Guns N’ Roses, but he went on to lead AC/DC since 2016. This, of course, means that not only has he been in one leading rock band, but two which is a career that any musician would envy.
Named as one of the greatest vocalists and performers of all time, Axl Rose has built and is continuing to build a legacy for current and future musicians alike. From the superstitious behaviour that stops him performing in any cities beginning with ‘M’, to a stage presence that rivals most, Rose has left his mark on music as we know it – but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. From controversial behaviour to a rocky personal life, there’s much more to this rock icon than just his music, and we’re looking into his story below.
The early years
Prior to his career as the frontman for Guns N’ Roses, Axl Rose had anything but a stable life. Born to a 16-year-old mother and a 20-year-old father who left when Rose was just a toddler, William Bruce Rose Jr became William Bruce Bailey when his mother remarried. It wasn’t until he was 17 that he came to know who his biological father really was, at which point he began to use Rose as his surname once again. However, surname change or not, he was constantly in trouble with the police, with public intoxication and battery being his most common charge that even landed him jail time. He was on the verge of a career criminal charge when he moved to LA in 1982.
After moving to LA, Rose started off in a band called AX’ – ultimately the band that led to his change of name – but when they fell through, he went on to do odd jobs alongside his music ‘career’ that mostly consisted of little bands that never seemed to get anywhere. These bands included Rapid Fire, LA Guns and Hollywood Rose to name just a few.
Of course, Rose eventually came to start up Guns N’ Roses, and as we all know, they rocketed to fame.
Guns N’ Roses
Rose’s fame was not unlike that of Kim Kardashian today, but with an extra dose of edge and controversy, and much of this is down to his time at Guns N’ Roses.
Axl Rose was notorious for being late to concerts, causing most of the shows to start hours off of the schedule and with the death of two people at the Monsters Of Rock concert, he even became known for stopping concerts when fans were being unruly. There was even an incident in 1991 at a St Louis concert in which Rose made his way into the crowd to take a fan’s video camera. At the time, video cameras were banned, but after taking the camera and walking off stage and cancelling the show, riots broke out. He was later arrested for assault charges and left with a hefty six-figure property damage bill to handle.
But none of this calmed him down. In fact, he only seemed to be getting worse. Ranting and raving on stage became commonplace at any Guns N’ Roses show, as did rioting and his walking off and cancelling shows – at least until Guns N’ Roses seemed to hit a stop in 1993 after their last Use Your Illusion performance.
After lead guitarist Slash left in 1996, Matt Sorum got fired in 1997, and Duff McKagan – the bassist – went on to quit later that year, Rose was left solo, but with full rights to the Guns N’ Roses name, he was essentially the band in and of himself. He became a recluse, never venturing far from his Malibu home. 2004 saw a re-emergence of Axl and a new line-up of Guns N’ Roses, but the band saw so many ups and downs over the years that the stability is still in question today. With Rose taking over the lead position in AC/DC in 2017 too, the future of GNR as we know it is certainly in question, despite previously reuniting in 2016 for an epic world tour, with two consecutive nights being played at the London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Rose has certainly proven to be a force to be reckoned with. From rocky marriages that never lasted to bands that are barely clinging on, his unique but unusual way of operating has left fans and curious parties alike unsure what the future of Axl Rose or Guns N’ Roses might hold – only time will tell!
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Photo: Raph PH