It was never my intention in #GnRWeek to actually do full band member blog post profiles. It just turns out that I read three autobiographies of the original lineup and now it feels strange not writing anything about Axl and Izzy just because they haven’t written books. So I thought I’d write a joint post about them here. They’re both old friends from Indiana after all.

W. Axl Rose
Where do you start with Axl. He’s such a dichotomy. One minute he’s a quiet, intellectual being interviewed in a deep speaking voice, and the next minute he’s performing incredible high-pitched screams whilst running the stage as if he’s possessed. When you think about the ultimate showmen, Axl Rose is definitely up there. Very possibly at the top. When he performs he gives 100%, but you always have the question in your mind if at any minute he’s just going to throw down his mic and walk off stage, or even not show up to the gig at all. On one hand that is possibly what contributes to his status of being a must see performer, because you can’t take him for granted, but on the other hand it can quite literally instil riots. It’s hugely disrespectful to fans and there is a fine line in a crowd where awe can change to anger. He certainly elicits emotions from his crowd.

He courts controversy too with things like the ’n-word’ being used in One In A Million and the Charles Manson cover on “The Spaghetti Incident?”. I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. Many people say he’s a genius, and we all know that geniuses are on that line just a few inches away from madness. It sounds he was always a very difficult character to deal with right from the early days. Most of the band would just learn to give him room or give him space.

Slash has hardly changed over the years and what you see is always what you get with him, but with Axl you never quite know what you’re going to get. He’s also had several looks over the years. Here’s a compilation of some of the main ones, including his kilt, leather kilt, cop cap, tighty-whiteys and bullet proof vest.

Axl Outfits

I’ll be honest and say I really didn’t like how he treated the rest of the band in terms of demanding control over the band name and then slowly distancing himself from the band and dealing with them through management. It just doesn’t sound cool and it sounds like he went on a major ego trip. But I’d love to know what he’s really like, because Slash and Duff have always avoided really slagging him off publicly. Sure they may have a couple of times but in several interviews, even after everything Axl did to annoy them and eventually push them out of the band, they still are eager to say how great a frontman he is and even at times highlight his good points when the interviewer is trying to insinuate negative things about Axl. In his book, Steven Adler says that when he had his first major overdose it was Axl who was there at his side when he woke up, not any of the other band members. And Duff too has stated that it was Axl who was there to listen to him at tough times or to congratulate him about his business studies or stuff like that. It shows there is really caring side to Axl and we really don’t get to see that. We just see the switched on interviewee or the pumped up front man or we hear about the egotistical angry persona. It sounds like there is another side though. He’s a fascinating individual. And the bottom line he was an amazing singer, lyricist, frontman and absolutely perfect for Guns N’ Roses. He’s the kind of guy you want, to get crowds wild and to garner headlines. I’m sure Axl Rose was instrumental in the making of Guns N’ Roses but unfortunately he was also instrumental in the breaking of it too. And having just seen them perform live yesterday I have to say he absolutely nailed it. Very professional, started bang on time and his voice was incredible.

Izzy Stradlin’
Izzy’s a funny one. I never really knew much about him. He always slightly faded into the background in the early days in my mind, because he wasn’t as much of a cartoon character as the rest of the band. He didn’t have big hair and he often wore more muted colours. He rarely spoke in interviews. People often say he was the coolest member of the band but I never really felt a connection with him. There was a mysterious air around him, which in itself of course can be cool. Coupled with the fact that on the Use Your Illusion CD inlay the photo of him sitting down wearing a red top and a black hat really doesn’t look like him at all. Back in the pre-internet days you just had the odd picture like that in albums and that image always confused me a bit more as he looked totally different. Plus there was also suddenly a new band member called Dizzy. Was this guy Izzy’s brother or something?! Very confusing at the time.

In many ways Guns N’ Roses was Izzy’s band. He seemed to be the founder of Hollywood Rose and had a foot in the camp of L.A. Guns and was the catalyst to form Guns N’ Roses out of them. If it’s anyone’s band it’s Izzy’s. He is also often credited as being the most influential songwriter on Appetite, but that’s really not fair on the other guys who mostly all brought songs of their own or were heavily, heavily involved in the writing. But it certainly could be argued he had his writing had the most influence. He was once described by a past manager as being the beating heart of the band, between the two boobs that are Axl and Slash.

Izzy certainly seems to be a bit different to the other members of the band. His reasons for leaving the band are often put down to drug use, in the sense that he got clean while the rest of the band were still using heavily and it was hard for him to be on the road with them. Others say he just doesn’t enjoy life on the road (but that’s something he has refuted since). Also, and this is referenced in some of the books, he didn’t like Axl’s egotistical behaviour such as appearing at gigs 3 hours late during the Illusion tour and he finally had enough. But also, Izzy has been quoted as saying he just wanted a change. He’d done the whole thing of being in the biggest band in the world and touring stadiums and he couldn’t imagine doing that forever and thought there must be more than this. Fair play to him. We all want our bands to say together but you have to respect Izzy’s decisions. I think his reasons for leaving were likely a combination of all the above points. He certainly doesn’t seem to have any issues with any members of the band and has collaborated with all of them since and has also played with Axl’s Guns N’ Roses a few times at one-off gigs. He also came back and helped the band out for a few shows during the Use Your Illusion Tour when Gilby Clarke got injured. Since leaving GnR he certainly hasn’t been avoiding the studio as he has released 11 studio albums of his own!

I put up a few interesting Izzy interviews on my post about GnR video clips, but I’ll post them again here because there aren’t too many interviews out there with Izzy.

Izzy – Post-GnR

Izzy audio interview – Really great interview here with Izzy from 2006. Very open and honest interview about his whole story from pre-Guns to post-Guns

Slash, Duff and Izzy – Early part of Ilusion tour

Main discography after Guns N’ Roses
Izzy Stradlin