How Did Guns N’ Roses Come Up With Their Band Name?
It's a pretty outdated question to ask bands how they came up with their names nowadays, so there are a lot of new rock fans that simply don't know how certain artists came up with their monikers. That being said, how did Guns N' Roses come up with their name?
The Story of How Guns N' Roses Formed
Before Guns N' Roses formed, a lot of musicians were playing in a lot of different bands in the Los Angeles area. A pair of friends from Lafayette, Indiana named Bill Bailey and Jeffrey Isbell were two of those musicians, and they eventually formed a band called Hollywood Rose with a guitarist named Chris Weber. Bailey and Isbell became known as Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, respectively.
There was another band making a name for themselves on the Sunset Strip at the time, L.A. Guns, led by Tracii Guns, and in 1994 they needed a new singer. Stradlin lived with Guns at that point, and he suggested they audition Rose as their vocalist.
"So then I asked Axl to join L.A. Guns and he was in the band for about six, seven months, and then the same manager ended up hating Axl and he wanted to fire him," Guns told The Quietus.
How Did Guns N' Roses Get Their Name?
"We're all living together at this point and Axl and I sat down and went 'What are we going to do?' So we both said, 'Fuck that,' and came up with the name Guns N' Roses which was going to be just a record label that we'd put singles out on," Guns continued. "Sadly that idea only lasted for about 10 minutes and then we decided to keep L.A. Guns going, add Izzy and call it Guns N' Roses."
Thus, Guns N' Roses was essentially just a combination of Guns' and Rose's last names. L.A. Guns members Rob Gardner and Ole Beich were the new group's drummer and bassist. The latter was quickly replaced by another bassist named Michael "Duff" McKagan, who was originally from Seattle.
"And that's it, that's the whole story," Guns recalled. "And then I lasted for about seven or eight months in that, and then Axl and I got into an extraordinary fight — and we had never argued ever in the past few years before. [Then] I just kind of went my own way... We did two shows after that argument and then I left. It just wasn't fun anymore. I was probably 19 then and I thought, 'Great band, and I love these guys, but they're not worth the headaches.' Even at that age I didn't want to deal with it."
When Guns and Gardner left, the band was getting ready to head on a tour up the west coast to McKagan's hometown. Two other local musicians named Slash and Steven Adler, who'd both played a stint in Hollywood Rose, replaced the duo. They embarked on the trek up north, lost their gear, had to hitchhike and didn't get to play half the gigs they were supposed to. But that trip cemented the quintet's bond as a group, and they became the lineup behind the massive Appetite for Destruction.
"[That] trip had set a new benchmark for what we were capable of, what we could and would put ourselves through to achieve our goals as a band," McKagan recalled in his autobiography It's So Easy: (and other lies).