Hollywood Rose: The Roots of Guns N' Roses

Hollywood Rose

The Roots of Guns N' Roses

Recorded January, 1984

Released June 1, 2004 (Cleopatra)

In this guide, I give an issue date, release location, and a monetary value of what an item is worth to a collector.  This value only applies to an item that is in perfect mint condition, i.e., it has to be factory sealed.  Please refer to my Evaluation Guide for more information.

Track list:

1. Killing Time (Original Demo)
2. Anything Goes (Original Demo)
3. Rocker (Original Demo)
4. Shadow Of Your Love (Original Demo)
5. Reckless Life (Original Demo)
6. Killing Time (Remixed by Gilby Clarke)
7. Anything Goes (Remixed by Gilby Clarke)
8. Rocker (Remixed by Gilby Clarke)
9. Shadow Of Your Love (Remixed by Gilby Clarke, featuring Tracii Guns)
10. Reckless Life (Remixed by Gilby Clarke, featuring Tracii Guns)
11. Killing Time (Remixed by Fred Coury)
12. Anything Goes (Remixed by Fred Coury)
13. Rocker (Remixed by Fred Coury)
14. Shadow Of Your Love (Remixed by Fred Coury)
15. Reckless Life (Remixed by Fred Coury)


Axl Rose: Vocals
Izzy Stradlin: Rhythm Guitar
Chris Weber: Lead Guitar
Johnny Kreis: Drums

15-track CD album comprising a collection of rare recordings by Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Chris Weber & Johnny Kreis recorded in Hollywood California, January 1984 including remixed versions by Gilby Clarke and Fred Coury, presented in card picture slipcase.  This album is valued at $20.00 USD.

Axl sued Cleopatra Records claiming copyright infringement over the use of "Guns N' Roses" in the album title to try and stop the album's release.

This is a great album if you want to study the development of Axl's voice.  During an interview on the DVD, Axl Rose: The Prettiest Star, Chris Weber described the event which led to Axl using the high pitch voice that made him famous.  "Axl had started singing with a very low register like he did on some songs on Appetite for Destruction.  He didn't used to sing all high; he sang on this low register.  I remember on this one occasion, he sang with this falsetto, this high thing that he does that he's known for.  And me and Izzy looked at each other and I said, 'Jesus Christ!  That's the sound!  You've got to sing like that all the time.'  And Axl said, 'What?  I don't even sound like that,'  because he was a baritone in the choir."  This album therefore showcases Axl's initial attempts to sing with a perpetually high register.

The song, Shadow of Your Love (which in my opinion is the best on the album) very closely resembles Motley Crue's glam metal sound which was popular during this period.  In fact, Hollywood Rose and later Guns N' Roses competed with both Motley Crue and Poison for club gigs.  They were always on the Crue's heals.  In fact, it was Tommy Lee's piano piece at the end of the video for Home Sweet Home that inspired Axl to finish November Rain.  Despite the influence, Crue and Poison were consistently at odds with Guns N' Roses.  There is a lot more history here, but I'd rather stick with the album.

Axl was in the band, Rapidfire while Los Angeles natives Chris Weber and Tracii Guns, two young guitarists who shared multiple interests, were both students at Fairfax High.  One fall evening they ended up hanging out in the Rainbow parking lot because they were too young to get into any of the clubs.  Chris expressed to Tracii that he wanted to put a band together, but Tracii was already involved in his first version of LA Guns.  Tracii introduced Chris to Izzy in the parking lot.  The three guitarists then sat in the pickup truck belonging to Tracii's dad discussing their musical dreams and sharing ideas.  Chris and Izzy became fast friends.  They got together the next day in Izzy's Hollywood apartment and had a jam session in the living room.  The pair soon developed some solid rock riffs when Izzy suggested that they hook up with his friend, Bill Bailey (Axl), who he felt was the right vocalist for their new project.  Chris, Izzy and Tracii ventured to an apartment building on 1921 Whitley Ave and had their first meeting/jam session atop a tar roof in the boiling hot sun.  Weber accounts his original meeting with Axl Rose: "Here was this pale, white-skinned guy with long red hair blistering in the strong California sunlight."  The three musicians felt the magic that day and agreed to start a band.  Shortly thereafter, Izzy and Axl moved into a house in Laurel Canyon owned by Weber's parents.  Izzy and Chris wrote the music and Axl added the lyrics.  They decided to name the band "A.X.L.", the name that Rose preferred, which was the same name as the band Axl had formed as a teenager, named for the wheel axle of his skateboard.  Apparently the name or the band itself meant a lot to him.  Afterward,  Steve Darrow and Rob Gardner joined the group.  It was Steve Darrow who convinced Bill to start calling himself Axl.  According to an interview in the Rock City News January 1988, "The main guy was Steve Darrow.  Izzy and I had a band called Rose and before we had Rose, it was A.X.L. and that was before I was Axl.  Steve said 'Man, you eat, sleep, and walk like A.X.L., why don't you just be Axl.'  And I said 'Bitchin, alright!"

The crew spray painted a billboard at Sunset & Doheny Blvd. on the west end of Sunset Strip proclaiming the name and took some photos in front of it.  Their first gig was at a club called the Orphanage on Lankershirm Blvd. in North Hollywood.  They played a few gigs as A.X.L.  Then, Rose and guitarist Tracii Guns and drummer Rob Gardner formed the band, LA Guns with bassist Ole Beich, but with nothing much going on, Axl returned to his friends Izzy and Chris sometime after the 1983 Christmas holiday.  The band reconvened and took the name "Rose" (since Bill assumed the identity of Axl), which then became "Hollywood Rose".  In January of 1984, the boys had put together enough material to deliver a 5-song EP featuring the songs, "Killing Time", "Anything Goes" (formerly titled "My Way, Your Way"), "Rocker", "Shadow of Your Love", and "Reckless Life".  Chris' dad paid for the recording at the now defunct 16 Track Studio on the corner of Ivar & Selma Blvd. in Hollywood.  Drummer,  Johnny Kreis, was hired from an ad in L.A.'s infamous networking rag, The Recycler.  The two axe men took turns laying down bass over drum tracks.  Chris tracked lead guitar, Izzy played rhythm and Axl sang lead vocals.  After the demo was recorded, bass player, Andre Roxx joined the group.  Together, the band wrote more songs that were never recorded with the exception of one: "Back Off Bitch", "Hollywood Girls", "International", "That Something", "Cold Hard Cash", and "Rock and Rose".  Hollywood Rose survived for a short period of time before splitting after a gig in Santa Monica. Hollywood Rose staged a reunion on New Years Eve 1984 with Rob Gardner on drums and Steve Darrow on bass.

Chris Weber moved to New York City for a while, which is when Tracii Guns was in the band for a season.  L.A. Guns demoed in 1984, but Tracii & Rob left to reform with Axl as Guns N' Roses (the combination of L.A. Guns & Hollywood Rose) and L.A. Guns broke up.  On March 26, 1985, a flyer for a gig at the Troubadour read, "L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose presents the band Guns N' Roses" featuring Axl on vocals, Tracii Guns on lead guitar, Izzy Stradlin on rhythm guitar, Duff McKagan (formerly of 10 Minute Warning and Road Crew) on bass, and Rob Gardener on drums.  They had rejected the names "Heads of Amazon" and "AIDS".  During this time, Axl lived in West Arkeen's apartment on Sunset Blvd.  Del James was also staying there. 

The band eventually rented a small apartment on Gardner Street, dubbed The Hellhouse, which was a run-down warehouse where they also rehearsed.  It quickly became a den for sex, drugs and rock n' roll.  Desperately poor, the fledgling band struggled to survive in the streets of LA.  Allegedly, Rose and Stradlin even sold drugs for petty cash.  According to Rose, they manipulated women for their money, an example being at a party at an unnamed woman's house and while one band member had sex with the woman, the others would raid her wallet for the little cash they could salvage.  Living on about $3.75 a day, they starved to make it.  "We tried to live on $3.75 a day, which was enough to buy biscuits and gravy at Denny's for a buck and a quarter. That's it. We survived.  We lived in the The Hellhouse for many months. It was pretty much a just a studio with beds. It didn't even have a shower."  Axl worked as a night manager for Tower Video, did telephone sales, and even smoked cigarettes with Izzy (one source says Slash, but they didn't know him then) for $8 an hour for UCLA medical tests.  "Every weekend, the biggest party in L.A. was down at our place. We'd have 500 people packed in an alley and our old roadie was selling beers for a buck out of his trunk. It was like a bar and everyone had their whiskey. We could get away with whatever we wanted, except when the cops came.  If there was a problem we'd escort them out.  By 'escort' I mean we'd drag 'em out by their hair down the alley, naked."

In early June 1985, Duff got the band some gigs in his hometown of Seattle. When approached with the idea of touring in Seattle, Tracii and Rob were not interested.  Tracii and Rob left GNR to re-form L.A. Guns because they didn't like the direction of Guns N' Roses' music.  Duff called up a couple members from Road Crew: Slash (Saul Hudson) and Steven Adler, and this is when Slash stepped in as the band's guitarist.  Guns N' Roses was now born.  The next day, the new Guns N' Roses traveled to Seattle for the Hell Tour. On the way there, their van broke down on Interstate 5 and they were forced to hitchhike, leaving all their equipment behind. While in Seattle during the disastrous tour, Axl wrote the lyrics to "Welcome to the Jungle."  On June 6, 1985, Guns N' Roses played their first show.

Axl played a demo for Vicky Hamilton who booked several shows for them over the next few months: Country Club, Dancing Waters, Troubadour and Music Machine.  Later, Vicky moved them all (with the exception of Duff who lived with his girlfriend) into the living room of her one bedroom apartment.   Later in 1985, the band became very successful on the club circuit in LA.  The song "Don't Cry" was first performed at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood.  A short video clip of the performance can be downloaded from Slash's website.  With William "Bill" Bruce Rose-Bailey "W. Axl Rose" (vocals), Jeffrey "Izzy Stradlin" Isabelle (rhythm guitar), Saul "Slash" Hudson (lead guitar), Michael "Duff" McKagan (bass), and Steven Adler (drums), Guns N' Roses signed a recording contract with Geffen Records on March 25, 1986.  They spent the first half of their advance on clothes and equipment, and the second half on drugs.  On December 23, 1986, their demo EP, Live?!*@ Like A Suicide, was released on the Uzi Suicide Label, a pseudo-independent label under Geffen Records.