Sunday Old School: L.A. Guns
If you lived in Southern California during 1983 to present day there is a very good chance you have played for a band named L.A. Guns. I demand a VH1 Classic documentary on this phenomenon. I already have the title: "Eight is Enough: The story of nine albums and eight lead singers.”
This is the story of L.A. Guns.
To start we need to get the administrative part out of the way. Instead of populating every other sentence with a line-up change, here we go.
We will refer to the “Classic Line Up” of L.A. Guns as Phil Lewis, Tracii Guns, Mick Cripps, Kelly Nickels, Steve Riley. The “Steve Riley L.A. Guns” a.k.a. L.A. Guns #1 as Phil Lewis, Stacey Blades, Scott Griffin, Steve Riley and the “Tracii Guns L.A. Guns” a.k.a. L.A. Guns #2 as Jizzy Pearl, Tracii Guns, Doni Gray, Jeremy Guns. Recently Jizzy Pearl has left Tracii’s version of L.A. Guns, being replaced by Dilana Robichaux. So now the story is “Nine Lives: Nine albums, nine lead singers”.
Need a comprehensive list of lead singers? Why not, here they are: Phil Lewis, Jizzy pearl, Paul Black, Axl Rose, Michael Jagosz, Chris Van Dahl, Ralph Saenz, Marty Casey.
And finally other members (non lead singers) that at one time were members of L.A. Guns: Nickey Alexander, Ole Beich, Rob Gardner, Robert Stoddard, Michael Gershima, Johnny Crypt, Brent Muscat, Muddy, Keff Ratcliffe, Adam Hamilton, Keri Kelli, Scott Griffin, Kenny Kweens, Chad Stewart, Alec Bauer, Danny Nordahl.
Push the paper to the side and let’s see if we can figure out how this band bio grew to the size of a phone book.
The band was formed through several lineups that included members of Hollywood Rose (William Bailey, i.e. Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin) and what would later become Guns N’ Roses. Even Tracii Guns was part of Guns N’ Roses for a short while before reverting back to L.A. Guns. The picture became clearer (for Guns N’ Roses) after Duff McKagan joined the band and took the band up the coast of California for what was know has the “hell tour” and solidified the original GNR line-up. Hollywood Rose was long ended and by default, many went back to L.A. Guns.
After several line-up changes and live shows L.A. Guns signed a deal and recorded their debut album, titled “L.A. Guns.” The album was released in 1988 and peaked at 50 on the charts. In 1989 the band released their second album, “Cocked & Loaded.” Their lead singer at the time, Phil Lewis, had a bio that included: expelled from boarding school at an early age for an incident involving a young girl, a clock tower, and a bottle of communion wine. VH1 Classic – where are you? Lewis was on vocals for the song “The Ballad of Jayne,” the most popular L.A. Guns song to this day. I would believe this to be a major highlight for Lewis right up there with the song “Over the Edge” being selected for the Point Break movie soundtrack. The latter alone is enough to cement Phil Lewis’s place in metal history.
After “Cocked and Loaded” the band recorded “Hollywood Vampires.” Released in 1991 this album also saw much success that would eventually wither away with the nineties grunge scene. Line-up changes would follow…many line-up changes. If any band warrants a VH1 where they are now mini series, L.A. Guns is the band.
The band would get back together in 1995 to record “Vicious Circle,” “American Hardcore” in 1996, and “Shrinking Violet” in 1999. They were experiencing critical success, but the band was no longer the commercial success they had during their first three albums. Despite this the band kept making new albums (albeit with line-up changes) that included 2001’s “Man in The Moon” and “Waking The Dead,” released in 2002.
What happened next would change the L.A. Guns story forever. Tracii Guns went to work with Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) on his side project, The Brides of Destruction, an underrated album that was just before the glam resurgence. The story from Tracii is that he didn’t quit Guns and was doing this as a side project (as was Nikki). The story from the other side is that Tracii quit the band and was over L.A. Guns. The real question is what is with Nikki Sixx and all of this miscommunication? I mean, isn’t this the exact same he-said-she-said break-up that happened with Vince Neil and Motley Crue in the nineties? Regardless, looking back, the true disappointment for Tracii wasn’t the circumstance of Brides of Destruction or L.A. Guns, but rather that Nikki waiting several years before unveiling his true masterpiece which would be known as SIXX:A.M.
This is how we got to two bands named L.A. Guns. Both Steve Riley and Tracii Guns share the rights so now they both share the name. Steve Riley’s version of the band released an album “Tales from the Strip” in 2005, Tracii’s band has struggled to record and have often found themselves as the #2 of L.A. Guns. In the end it has been annoying for fans as well, often not knowing which band they are going to see.
After nine studio albums, L.A. Guns has made a lot of music. They have also been part of a lot of rock history given the revolving door of musicians and their part in the creation of Guns N’ Roses. Let’s also face it; they have one of the greatest rock and roll names of all time. Had they not been named L.A. Guns would there still be multiple bands playing under this moniker? Don’t answer that. Instead if there is such a job as “Heavy Metal Arbitrator” now would be the proper time for this person to step in and settle this once and for all.
RIP AND TEAR
THE BALLAD OF JAYNE
SHOOT FOR THRILLS
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