Fiery Glam and Sleazy Rock: the Legacy of L.A. Guns

Glam Rock52L.A.Guns2L.A. Guns is an American hard-rock, glam metal rock (aka “sleaze”) from Los Angeles,California formed in 1983. According to Blabbermouth.net, Tracii Guns started L.A. Guns while still in high school in 1982. The original singer, Michael Jagosz, was replaced by Axl Rose, [who, as most Glamour Rock fans know, went on to become lead singer of Guns ‘N Roses with outstanding guitarist Slash]. Signed to PolyGram in ’87, the band’s self-titled debut, L.A. Guns [with Phil Lewis replacing Rose] sold over a million copies, as did Cocked and Loaded (1989) and Hollywood Vampires (1991). Tracii Guns’ L.A. GUNS is not to be confused with the Phil Lewis-led version of the group, which is continuing to record and perform under the L.A. Guns moniker to this day.

As of 2013, the lineup of LA Guns consists of Phil Lewis (vocals), Michael Grant (guitar), Scott Griffin (bass), and Steve Riley (drums, percussion). Additionally, LA Guns is on tour,

and tour dates can be found at http://www.laguns.net.

The history of LA Guns over the years has been extensive and confusing, because, unbelievably, Wikipedia lists a total of 25 musicians who have at one time or another been a part of LA Guns! (For this band history and the background information, see Wikipedia) Here are the most famous of those musicians, and their current band affiliations: Axl Rose (now lead singer of Guns N Roses), Tracii Guns (who also formed the original Hollywood Rose, as well as Brides of Destruction and Contraband), Paul Black (Faster Pussycat), Nickey Alexander (Faster Pussycat), Mick Cripps (Faster Pussycat), Steve Riley (WASP), Joe Lester (Bang Tango), Jizzy Pearl (Love/Hate), Jeremy Guns (Quiet Riot), Marty Casey (Lovehammers), and the list goes on! Holy Friggin’ Crap! Here is the essential nucleus points to “take away”: In 1985, Tracii Guns and Axl Rose decided to merge their groups LA Guns and Hollywood Rose to form the band Guns ‘N Roses. Rose named the band Guns N’ Roses, combining the two names of the bands with the lineup featuring Axl Rose on vocals, Tracii on lead guitar, Izzy Stradlin on rhythm guitar, Ole Beich on bass and Rob Gardner on drums.[12] Tracii had been trying to recruit Rose and Stradlin into a group before however, Tracii, as well as the other former L.A. Guns members Ole Beich and Rob Gardner, departed the group replaced by Slash, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler.[13](Wikipedia)

The debut album L.A. Guns, released in 1988 via Polygram records, peaked at number 50 on Billboard 2000, and included songs “No Mercy”, “Sex Action”, “Nothing to Lose”, “Bitch is Back” and “One Way Ticket”. The L.A. Guns 1989 album titled Cocked and Loaded, peaked at number 38 on Billboard 200 with the single “Ballad of Jayne” cresting at # 25 on the mainstream rock chart. The album went on to become certified Gold and Platinum. L.A. Guns released their third album Hollywood Vampires in 1991, which culminated at slot # 42 on Billboard 200. Their singles, “Kiss My Love Goodbye” and “Its Over Now” hit # 16 and #75 on the mainstream rock chart. Drummer Riley was fired from the band in 1992 following the band’s tour of Europe with Skid Row. However, drummer Steve Riley is currently with Phil Lewis’ version of LAG. The band released their fourth album Vicious Circle in 1995 with the album failing to chart. Polygram dropped the band after Vicious Circle went up in smoke. The band also recorded the Pantera-influenced album American Hardcore in 1996 via CMC International which also hit the skids –not landing on any chart.

L.A. Guns then went through a “renaissance” period where the original lineup reunited and released several successful albums from the years 1999-2002, according to Wikipedia. This cast of original band members saw the return of: Phil Lewis (vocals), Tracii Guns (guitar), Mick Cripps (guitar), Kelly Nichols (bass guitar), and Steve Riley (drums). A compilation of re-recorded songs and new material titled Greatest Hits and Black Beauties was released in the summer of 1999. A live album was also recorded on October 7, 1999 at the Key Club on the Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California on the label Cleopatra Records Live: A Night at the Strip. Songs on this live album included “Face Down”, “Sex Action”, Electric Gypsy”, “Rip N Tear”  and “One More Reason”. The band began recording new material with producer Andy Johns in 2002 with the group scheduled to tour with Alice Cooper later in the year. The L.A. Guns album Waking the Dead came out to positive reviews with songs “Don’t Look at Me that Way”, “Waking the Dead”, “Hellraiser’s Ball”, and “City of Angels” on the Spitfire label. This included Phil Lewis on vocals, Tracii Guns on guitar, Adam Hamilton on bass guitar, and Steve Riley on drums. L.A.Guns began touring with Warrant, Ratt, Dokken, and Firehouse that year as part of the Rock Fest Tour. The seminal event in 2002, however, was the departure of Tracii Guns, as well as L.A.Guns involvement in a project with Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx in a band named Cockstar.

What follows is an interview and press release from that time period, via KNAC.com and an interview with contributor Mick Stingley on 3/9/03 following an L.A. Guns show in Brooklyn:

“It is the day after the infamous club fire in my native Rhode Island. The Great White show at “The Station” is the top story on every majornews outlet, and the subject of concern for more than a few peoplein attendance this evening. I mention this because it bears mentioning.This interview was set up only a few days prior for me, as a “representative”of KNAC.COM — but I had been to “The Station” many times… I knewwell the club’s small size, I have seen a few bands there… it is as muchin the back of my head this night as anyone’s…

L’Amour is a famous, well-maintained rock club deep in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York. It is the pre-eminent venue for metal lovers in the Five Boroughs, and upon walking inside I note instantly the presence of red “EXIT” signs and sprinklers on the ceiling. I make my way to the bar, and hear the subject of the fire bandied about the rock crowd as I pass by rockers male and female, young and old. It is a horrible, frightening tragedy: Yet the turnout is strong for LA Guns… After the band takes the stage at 1:30AM, they are only one song in when Phil Lewis addresses the crowd… a quiet, poignant nod to the previousnight’s events. He offers up hopes and prayers for the victims and theirfamilies, and dedicates the evening to the crowd who came out to seethe rock music they love – tonight — and for the people who lost their lives in Rhode Island. After the show, I will be turning on my tape recorder and chattingwith LA Guns. They are on their first tour without founding memberand namesake Tracii Guns, who is working on a project with Nikki Sixx. I had my doubts about what the show would be like,but with the addition of guitar-slinger Kerri Kelli,and Faster Pussycat’s Brent Muscat — I was pleasantly surprised.I have forsaken a show review and attention to set listin favor of just enjoying the music over a beer.However, their set included a few tracks from the great, recent Spitfire release,Waking The Dead, as well as concert staples “Sex Action,”“Ballad Of Jayne,” “Rip N Tear,” plus some long missed favorites –“Long Time Dead,” “Kiss My Love Goodbye,” and the great,under-rated “Beautiful” from Man In The Moon. After the show, the whole band comes out to chat, meet, greet,sign autographs and shake hands with their fans. I make my way backstage tomeet up with Brad Nelson, their tour manager, and get situatedfor what was to be a brief interview with Phil, and maybe Steve.Pretty much, prior to the tragedy in Rhode Island, I had wantedto discuss the departure of Tracii, and the resulting changes.Mr. Nelson kindly assembled the entire group, and I realized theneed to be extemporaneous and include each member’s input –as the five men who make up LA Guns stood around me in a huddle,and I turned on my tape-recorder, the ease and charm of this companyof players made me mindful of the fact that, whatever lineupchanges they have undergone, whatever struggles they faceas a touring group in a descendant genre of rock music, and,  touched as they were by the previous night’s events — once thing remainsclear and unshakeable — LA GUNS IS A BAND.” – See more at: http://knaclive.com/article.asp?ArticleID=1836&StartTime=3%2F10%2F2003+8%3A30%3A45+AM#sthash.8QyXiV3t.dpuf

Here now are three important elements to this article: Condensed Timeline of Key Events, link to the interview where Tracii Guns announced his departure, and upcoming L.A. Guns Concert dates for 2013:

Condensed Timeline of Key Events from 2003-2012

  • 2003  Recruitment of Stacey Blades to the group
  • 2004  Release of cover album Rips the Covers Off
  • 2005  Release of Tales from the Strip and Live from Hollywood
  • 2006  Tracii Guns forms Tracii Guns band as well as Brides of Destruction
  • 2007  Tour dates announced to support Tales from the Strip
  • 2012  Tracii Guns announces he is finished with his version of L.A. Guns

Link to Tracii Guns interview where announcement of departure is made:

http://blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=176904

Upcoming Tour Dates for L.A. Guns, with some dates including Warrant, Ratt, and Dokken:

8-1-13  Toledo,OH

8-2-13Dayton, OH

8-3-13Sterling Heights, MI

8-5-13 Sturgis, SD

8-17-13Des Moines, IA

9-6-13Akron, NY

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