Guns N' Roses

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AKA: Axl Rose and Friends

Guns N' Roses is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1985. The band, led by frontman and co-founder Axl Rose, has gone through numerous line-up changes and controversies since their formation. The band has released six studio albums, two EPs and one live album during their career.

Guns N' Roses has sold an estimated 90 million albums worldwide, including over 42 million in the United States. The band's 1987 major label debut album, Appetite for Destruction, has sold in excess of 28 million copies and reached number one on the United States Billboard 200. In addition, the album charted three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Sweet Child O' Mine" which reached number one. The 1991 albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II debuted on the two highest spots on the Billboard 200 and have sold a combined 14 million copies in the United States alone. After over a decade of work, the band released their follow-up album, Chinese Democracy, on November 23, 2008, a date to be remembered throughout history as the day when (non Pink Floyd-affliated) pigs actually flew.

The group is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. In an inversion of what happened to the band itself, everyone but Axl (and Izzy) came to the ceremony.


Guns N' Roses provides examples of the following tropes:

Musician tropes

  • Aerith and Bob: The original lineup consisted of Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy... and Steve. Steve's replacement Matt too.
    • Slash was replaced by Buckethead who was himself replaced by Bumblefoot
  • Alliterative Name: Axl's birth name is William Rose but he took his stepfather's name and was called Bill Bailey growing up.
  • Anime Hair: Slash's first replacement, Robin Finck (also known for his work in Nine Inch Nails).
  • Badass Long Hair: Well, everyone.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Velvet Revolver, 75% composed of former Gunners.
  • Berserk Button
    • An audience member at the infamous St. Louis concert in 1991 aimed his camera at the band. Axl Rose then proceeded, after security failed to eject the idiot, to dive off the stage and take matters into his own hands, taking the poor sap to school for trying to bootleg his concert.
    • During one show, Axl describes Steven Adler's button.

"First off, this guy grabs me and calls me Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi can suck my dick. Second off, he tried to hit me. That's when Steven cracked him in the head with his cast. And his words were, 'You never try to hit one of the family.'"

    • Guns n' Roses once played a double-bill with Metallica in Montreal. Early in his set, James Hetfield got confused about his stage cues and accidentally stepped into a column of phosphorous, nearly burning to death on stage. Naturally, he went to the hospital and Metallica apologized that they couldn't finish their set. GNR's roadies weren't prepared to switch over so early, so it took an exceptionally long time to set up Guns' stage apparatus. When they finally appeared, Axl threw a hissy fit over the quality of the sound and stormed off only a few minutes into his set. This pushed the audience's Berserk Button, and they tore apart the arena in rage.
    • Apparently it's a new tradition on the current Chinese Democracy tour for audience members to infuriate Axl by throwing bottles and stuff at him. It's not a show without Axl yelling "STOP THE SHOW! STOP!"
  • Carpet of Virility: Dear God, STEVEN. A quick Google image search proves it.
  • Cool Shades: As you see up there, nearly everyone in the band liked them.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Axl gets this the most, but pretty much every member besides Slash qualifies to a certain extent.
  • Eighties Hair: Many people there, as the page image shows.
  • Everyone Has Standards: As Dennis Miller once said about Steven, "How fucked up do you have to be to get kicked out of Guns n Roses?"
  • Fiery Redhead: Axl Rose is a male example of the trope.
  • GTA Radio: Axl is the DJ of the classic rock station in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: W. Axl Rose.
  • Deadly Change-of-Heart: When it looked like Axl was finally going to bury the hatchet with his old bandmates for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he pulled the plug at the last minute
  • I Am the Band: Axl is the only original member left.
  • Iconic Item: Slash can be considered an "Iconic persona":
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Axl: before and after.
  • Jerkass: Axl.
  • Large Ham: Axl.
  • Man in a Kilt: Axl, most notably during live performances.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Axl has one hell of a vocal range. If you listen to their music not knowing that, you'd think the band has at least three different singers.
  • Persona Non Grata: The group is banned from performing in St. Louis after the infamous Riverport Riot that started when a fan pressed Axl Rose's Berserk Button. Their music, however, is not banned in St. Louis. Ironically, their current rhythm guitarist, Richard Fortus, is from St. Louis.
    • A radio commercial that ran on the St. Louis classic rock station KSHE 95 (their actual frequency number is 94.7) in the summer of 2011 referenced this; 2011 was the 20th anniversary of Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, previously known as Riverport. The riot occurred there. Guns N' Roses' Paradise City started playing in the background of the commercial, then there was high-pitched mic feedback as the music stopped, footsteps in the background, and the voiceover said "Sorry... he's still a little sore about that" referencing the riot and the band's subsequent ban from St. Louis.
  • Revolving Door Band: One of the most glorious examples. (only two people remain since the Use Your Illusion era, Axl and keyboardist Dizzy Reed)
  • Smoking Is Cool: Most of them used this look, but Izzy used it the most.

Music tropes

"You can use your illusion, let it take you where it may!"

  • Atomic F-Bomb: "Right Next Door to Hell".
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Perfect Crime" and "Get in the Ring".
  • Contemptible Cover: the original "rapist robot" Appetite for Destruction cover, eventually changed in the USA.
  • Country Matters: "Bad Obsession" and "Ain't It Fun".
  • Cover Version: "Live and Let Die" in Use Your Illusion I and "Knocking on Heaven's Door" on II, a whole album of them on "The Spaghetti Incident?"... and "Sympathy For The Devil" for Interview with the Vampire, which arguably was the straw that broke the camels back...
  • Credits Gag
    • A few in the liner notes of Appetite for Destruction. Gotta love Victor Deyglio being credited as "the fucking engineer".
    • The hidden message "Fuck You St. Louis!" in the liner notes of Use Your Illusion I.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The liner notes of Appetite have an excerpt of "You Could Be Mine", and Use Your Illusion I has "Ain't It Fun?" (one of the songs in The Spaghetti Incident?).
  • Epic Rocking: Over the 7-minute mark: "November Rain", (8:57) "Coma", (10:13) "Civil War", (7:42) "Breakdown", (7:05) "Locomotive", (8:42) and "Estranged". (9:23) All of them from both volumes of Use Your Illusion.
  • Evil Laugh: Appears toward the end of "Get in the Ring," in the opening of "Back Off Bitch," and after the first verse in "Sympathy for the Devil"
  • The Immodest Orgasm: "Rocket Queen" features a woman having sex with Axl in the studio. It was Steven Adler's girlfriend, and he happened to be out of town at the time while she wanted to have revenge.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Axl does them quite well, mostly to end a song (the most extreme being "Don't Cry", where the guitars stop as he start screaming "toniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight" but play again after some time)
  • Inspired By: "November Rain", "Don't Cry" and "Estranged" are inspired by Del James's short story Without You.
  • Intercourse with You: "Anything Goes" and "Rocket Queen". Not to mention a cover of "Big Dumb Sex".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Used to Love Her"
  • Metal Scream
  • Mood Whiplash: "Sweet Child o' Mine" and "Rocket Queen"
  • Motor Mouth: "Garden of Eden". That has an hilarious Follow the Bouncing Ball video. Also one of GNR's few Speed Metal songs.
  • N-Word Privileges: Axl doesn't understand them.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Every one of the original six (and later, Matt Sorum) liked a different rock style, and it led to a distinctive sound.
  • Noodle Incident: As punny as it may seem, the inspiration for "The Spaghetti Incident?"
  • Numbered Sequels: Though both Use Your Illusions came simultaneously.
  • Power Ballad: "Patience", "November Rain", and "Don't Cry", among others. Chinese Democracy has a lot of these too.
  • Precision F-Strike: Chinese Democracy has an extremely low amount of F words compared to other albums.
    • From previous albums, "It's So Easy". "Since I Don't Have You" is notable in that it originally didn't have ANY swearing (given the fact that it's a '50s song, you wouldn't be surprised). There are two versions: the album version, which is on "The Spaghetti Incident?" and Greatest Hits, and the radio edit that omits the line "Yep, we're fucked", which was used for the music video.
  • Rated "M" for Manly: Take away the ballads (and deconsider the hair/clothes of some members), and it's pure macho.
  • Revival by Commercialization: Word has it that the one big push for the release of Chinese Democracy was the inclusion of "Shackler's Revenge" in Rock Band 2. And then later the rest of the album was put up for Downloadable Content. This opens space for some What Could Have Been if Harmonix had not considered them.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Duh. That said, a lot of their lyrics portray the lifestyle in a less than flattering light.
  • Something Blues: "Shotgun Blues" from Use Your Illusion II.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: "So Fine" and a few covers on "The Spaghetti Incident?" are sung by Duff, "14 Years", "Dust N' Bones", "You Ain't the First" and "Double Talkin' Jive" by Izzy, and "Buick Mackane/Big Dumb Sex" by Slash.
  • Take That, Critics!: Axl called critics out by name in "Get in the Ring." Arguably the only message this sent was "Axl is thin skinned."

Misc tropes

  • Artifact Title: The group's name was decided by its founding members, Axl Rose and and Tracii Guns, and the name stuck even after Tracii Guns left the group before the band made it big.
  • The Bet: Dr. Pepper bet that if they released Chinese Democracy before the end of 2008, they'd give away free coupons for a free can of soda. They were fully prepared to go through with it, but problems cropped up with the online distribution of coupons...
  • Concept Video: The superproduced videos of "November Rain", "Estranged" and "Don't Cry"
  • In Name Only: This has happened to the band twice: first when Axl fired all the former L.A. Guns members and replaced them with Slash, Adler, and McKagan, and secondly when those members left and the band's style changed.
  • Notable Music Videos: Besides the three Concept Videos, "You Could Be Mine", which was part of Terminator 2's OST. It even features Arnie himself.