Years before there was a Guns N' Roses there was Hollywood Rose. Formed in -- where else -- Hollywood, circa 1983, by recent Indiana transplants William Bailey (later to become W. Axl Rose) and Jeff Isabelle (aka Izzy Stradlin) along with Los Angeles native Chris Weber, they were briefly billed as A.X.L. (another portent of things to come) before assuming the Hollywood Rose moniker and cutting a five-song demo with money borrowed from Weber's father. Drummer Johnny Kreiss and bassist Rick Mars were then brought on board, as the young band joined the other hundreds of hairspray hopefuls overcrowding the Sunset Strip, and when lead guitarist Weber decided to split for New York City, mutual friend Tracii Guns briefly put his own L.A. Guns project on hold to lend a hand. By the time Guns departed in June 1985, bassist Duff McKagan had joined the fold, and the door was finally open for lead guitarist Slash and drummer Steven Adler (replacing most recent sticksman Rob Gardner) to complete the now "classic" lineup of a newly baptized Guns N' Roses.
Of course, the rest is history, and the early-day exploits of the original Hollywood Rose were of course consigned to the realm of vague memory once GNR exploded to worldwide stardom on the back of 1987's watershed Appetite for Destruction. And that's how they remained for 20 years, until those five long-forgotten 1984 demos were unexpectedly unearthed, appended with ten remixes, and issued on CD under the title of The Roots of Guns N' Roses to the delight of aging hair metal fans everywhere. Not surprisingly, the release immediately drew a cease-and-desist lawsuit from Axl Rose, but with litigation still ongoing, it appears that this very patchy, very belated, but nevertheless fascinating article of L.A. hair metal history will remain available to enthusiasts of the genre for the time being. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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