Please join the Albumism team in celebrating Axl Rose’s musical legacy and share your personal memories of him with us in the comments below!
Born: February 6, 1962
Biography: Depending who you ask, Guns N' Roses vocalist Axl Rose is either considered a rock music icon who is worshipped by millions as an almost Christ-like figure, or hated as a homophobic, misogynistic, and woefully self-indulgent "rock star" (in his defense, Rose has denied that he's a homophobe or a misogynist), as well as thought of as a tyrant by his ex-bandmates. William Bruce Rose was born on February 6, 1962, in Lafayette, IN, and suffered sexual abuse from his biological father and physical abuse from his eventual stepfather at an early age (Rose changed his name to William Bailey after his mother remarried).
Rose was also an outcast in school, where he was picked on for being "different," but found solace in singing with his school and church vocal choir and eventually rock music. His rough teenage years were eased a bit when he befriended a Keith Richards-worshipping chap by the name of Jeff Isbell, who shared Rose's interest in music. Isbell left Indiana for the streets of Los Angeles in the early '80s with hopes of forming a rock band, and Rose followed shortly thereafter, changing his name to W. Axl Rose (while Isbell soon adopted the name Izzy Stradlin).
The L.A. rock music scene at the time was split down the center between rough-and-ready punk rock and hair spray-soaked glam rock/heavy metal, and Rose wanted to form an outfit that borrowed equally from each genre. Stradlin and Rose plowed through several outfits that went nowhere (Hollywood Rose being one) before hooking up with fellow streetwise rockers Slash (guitar, real name Saul Hudson), Duff McKagan (bass), and Steven Adler (drums).
After slugging it out on the Sunset Strip and honing their act, the newly christened Guns N' Roses signed a recording contract with Geffen Records after issuing an independent live EP (1986's Live Like a Suicide). Their full-length debut, Appetite for Destruction, was released a year later, and at first the public didn't know what to make of the album or the band. Slowly but surely, rock's fickle audience came around, and by summer 1988, Guns N' Roses was fast becoming one of the world's top rock bands (on the strength of such hit singles/MTV-saturated videos as "Welcome to the Jungle," "Sweet Child O' Mine," and "Paradise City"). [Read more via AllMusic here]
Watch (Guns N' Roses): Official VEVO/YouTube Page