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STYLE: Glam/Hard Rock
PhotobucketAn illustrious name on the mid eighties Los Angeles circuit, L.A. GUNS came tantalisingly close to achieving international stardom based on three sassy and attitude loaded albums all of which charted impressively on the Billboard charts, the 1988 debut, 1989’s ‘Cocked & Loaded’ and ‘1992’s ‘Hollywood Vampires’. Unfortunately the band was caught in the slipstream of higher profile acts and, whilst maintaining a staunch fanbase, has struggled over the ensuing years with an utterly confusing tangle of membership changes.

L.A. Guns were first formed in 1983 by guitarist Tracii Guns. The first lineup included singer Axl Rose, bassist Ole Beich and drummer Rob Gardner. Rose would leave the group to front Rapidfire before going on to form Hollywood Rose, a group formed following the introduction of guitarists Izzy Stradlin and Chris Weber to each other by Guns. Singer Michael Jagosz was brought in to replace Rose with the group recording the only material by the current incarnation of L.A. Guns. The material would be released as a bonus disc, titled Collector’s Edition No. 1, with the compilation album Hollywood Raw in 2004.

Following the breakup of Hollywood Rose, in 1984, singer Rose rejoined L.A. Guns. However, Hollywood Rose reunited, briefly, with Rose, Stradlin, Weber and Steve Darrow returning while L.A. Guns drummer Gardner also joined the group. Weber, who left to move to New York City, was soon replaced by Tracii Guns. The group changed their name to Guns N’ Roses (combining the names of L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose) with the lineup composed of Axl Rose, Tracii Guns, Izzy Stradlin, Ole Beich and Rob Gardner.

Beich was eventually replacedby Duff McKagan while Guns left the group (after a falling out with Rose), being replaced by Slash. McKagan went on to book shows taking place between Sacramento and Seattle, which was dubbed “The Hell Tour”. During this time, Gardner quit the group and was replaced by Steven Adler with this lineup becoming known as the “classic lineup” of Guns N’ Roses.

Later, in 1985, Guns and singerPaul Black reformed L.A.Guns with Mick Cripps and Nickey Alexander. Robert Stoddard, former The Dogs D’Amour singer, was briefly a member of the group, co-writing the song “Nothing to Lose” that appeared on L.A. Guns debut album. Initially, the group were to be called Faster Pussycat (later the name of another band; several of that band’s members over the years were also in L.A. Guns) but soon re-adopted the L.A. Guns moniker. After writing material and playing shows, the group signed with PolyGram. Black was soon replaced by former Girl singer Phil Lewis while Kelly Nickels (formerly of Faster Pussycat) was added to the lineup.

They recorded their debut album, titled L.A. Guns, with producer Jim Faraci. The album featured six songs co-wrote by former singer Paul Black (“No Mercy”, “Sex Action”, “One More Reason”, “Nothing to Lose”, “Bitch is Back” and “One Way Ticket”) while, after album completion, drummer Alexander was replaced by former W.A.S.P. drummer Steve Riley (with Riley credited as L.A. Guns’ drummer on the albums linear notes and Alexander only given drum credits). The album was released in 1988, through PolyGram/Vertigo Records, peaking at number 50 on the Billboard 200. After briefly touring in support of the album, the group returned to the studio to record their new album with producers Duane Baron, John Purdell and Tom Werman . Though the group (Lewis, Guns, Cripps, Nickels and Riley) wrote the album’s material, “Never Enough” was co-wrote by Paul Black, Gregg Tripp and Phil Roy. Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen, both of Cheap Trick, also make an appearance on the album.

Released in 1989, L.A. Guns new album, titled Cocked & Loaded, peaked at number 38 on the Billboard 200 while the single “The Balled of Jayne” peaked at number 25 and 33 on the Mainstream Rock Chart and the Billboard Hot 100 respectively. The album went on to become RIAA certified Gold and eventually Platinum. They released their third album, titled Hollywood Vampires, in 1991 which peaked at number 42 on the Billboard 200. The singles “Kiss My Love Goodbye” and “It’ Over Now” would peak at number 16 and 25 on the Mainstream Rock Chart respectively while It’s Over Now” also peaked at number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100. Drummer Riley was fired from L.A. Guns in 1992 following the group’s tour of Europe with Skid Row.

Due to the rise in popularity of Seattle’s grunge movement, the group waited a number of years before recording new material. During this time, Guns participated in the short lived supergroup Contraband, the group put together by Alan Kovac. The group featured singer Richard Black (of Shark Island), Michael Schenker (of Scorpions, UFO and Michael Schenker Group), Share Pedersen (of Vixen) and Bobby Blotzer (of Ratt). They released one self titled album in 1991, which peaked at number 187 on the Billboard 200, and achieved some moderate success with the single “All the Way from Memphis”, which peaked at number 12 on the Mainstream Rock Chart, before disbanding.

The group recorded, with drummer Michael Gershima, and released their fourth album, titled Vicious Circle, in 1995 with the album failing to chart. It was their weakest selling album to date with the group’s first major lineup change came afterwards. Former drummer Riley was invited to rejoin the group for the subsequent tour however both Lewis and Cripps departed the group with singer Chris Van Dahl replacing Lewis and Johnny Crypt becoming the new bassist, replacing Nickels. PolyGram soon dropped the group following the low sales of Vicious Circle. The current lineup went on to record the Pantera influenced album American Hardcore, released in 1996 through CMC International with the album failing to chart also.

The group changed singers once again, recruiting Ralph Saenz, formerly of The Atomic Punks, for the recording of the Wasted EP released in 1998 beforing eventually adding former Love/Hate singer Jizzy Pearl to the group in 1999. With the lineup consisting of Pearl, Guns, Crypt and Riley, the group recorded their new album with former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke producing. The group released the album, titled Shrinking Violet in 1999 through Perris Records before going on tour supporting Poison.

A compilation album of re-recorded songs and new material, titled Greatest Hits and Black Beauties, was released in the summer of 1999. Despite having already released new material, Shrinking Violet, during this time, the “classic” lineup of L.A. Guns reunited with Phil Lewis, Mick Cripps and Kelly Nickels returning to the group in the fall, touring in support of the compilation album. They recorded a live album during this time, titled Live: A Night on the Strip, which was released the following year. Both Cripps and Nickels would leave the group for the 2000 summer tour, replaced by Faster Pussycat guitarist Brent Muscat and bassist Muddy. earlier in the year, the original line-up re-recorded and re-released Cocked & Loaded, retitled Cocked & Re-Loaded, on Deadline Records.

For the recording of their new album, Cripps returned to the lineup replacing Muscat and recorded keyboards on the album. Produced by Gilby Clarke, the group released Man in the Moon in 2001 through Spitfire Records while former Pretty Boy Floyd guitarist Keff Ratcliffe was added to the group. Sometime afterwards, Muddy would depart the group, along with Ratcliffe and Cripps, with Adam Hamilton becoming the group’s new bassist.

They began recording new material with producer Andy Johns in 2002 while the group were scheduled to tour with Alice Cooper later in the year. During this time, Guns became involved in a new project, titled Cockstar, with Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx. L.A. Guns bassist Hamilton was briefly involved with the group (as keyboardist) while the rest of the group was composed of singer London LeGrand and Adema drummer Kris Kohls. John Corabi, formerly of Mötley Crüe and The Scream, was to fill in for Guns, during his involvement with Cockstar, for the tour with Alice Cooper. However, Corabi would soon join Cockstar, replacing Hamilton.

The group completed the recording of their new album in late April 2002. They released their new album, titled Waking the Dead, in the same year to positive reviews. That June, the group began touring with Warrant, Ratt, FireHouse and Dokken as part of the Rock Fest tour. However, they were soon dropped from their label. They also pulled out of touring with Alice Cooper followings Guns departure from the group in October in order to concentrate on his project with Sixx,  though he would argue he never left.

Despite the departure of Guns, the group continued and toured in support of Waking the Dead with the lineup, in 2003, consisting of Lewis, Riley, Hamilton, former guitarist Brent Muscat and Keri Kelli (formerly of Big Bang Babies and Slash’s Snakepit). The group eventually recruited guitarist Stacey Blades, with both Muscat and Kelli departing the group, in 2004 while they also released the cover album, titled Rips the Covers Off, the same year. Commenting on Blades addition to the lineup, Lewis stated that “Stacey really is a virtuoso type of guy and player. It was really fortunate that we found him and that he’s another Hollywood guy. I’ve read reviews where they called him a Tracii [Guns] clone, but he’s not. He is definitely his own man.” Enlisting Andy Johns and Bruce Witkin, the group began recording a new material with the group’s current lineup with the result being Tales from the Strip, released in 2005 through Shrapnel Records.

In September of the same year, the group released the live album Loud and Dangerous: Live from Hollywood before going on to play a selection of shows in California as well as one date supporting Ratt in Pennsylvania.

In January 2007, the group announced a string of US tour dates in support of Tales from the Strip. In March, along with more tour dates, L.A. Guns announced the departure of bassist Hamilton who was subsequently replaced by Scott Griffin. Further tour dates were announced to take place in Australia, taking place in October, as well as dates in Europe supporting Hanoi Rocks, taking place in November. They soon announced that the European dates were postponed until 2008, however, Hanoi Rocks issued a statement saying that the tour with L.A. Guns supporting “was never officially approved” by the group.

On July 5, 2009, bassist Griffin departed the group and was replaced by Kenny Kweens (formerly of Beautiful Creatures). In January 2011, Kweens departed the band, with Griffin returning to the lineup.

On March 7, 2012, the band announced a new studio album, titled Hollywood Forever, to be released on June 5.

Following his decision to put Brides of Destruction on hiatus, in 2006, former L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns formed The Tracii Guns Band with former L.A. Guns members Paul Black and Nickey Alexander as well as Brides of Destruction live bassist Jeremy Guns. The group announced a tour of the US with plans to perform songs from L.A. Guns, Brides of Destruction and Tracii Guns’ solo material as well as various cover songs. Previously, in 2005, Black released the demos, titled Black List, recorded during his time with L.A. Guns in the 80’s.

With Tracii Guns owning the rights to the name (along with Steve Riley), he changed the name of The Tracii Guns Band to L.A. Guns in the summer of 2006. In October of the same year, during the 20-year anniversary party for Cathouse Club, in Hollywood, Phil Lewis joined Tracii Guns’ L.A. Guns onstage, after being invited by singer Paul Black, for a duet of “Rip and Tear. Despite Black’s hopes that this would “relieve the tension between the two line-ups”, Lewis would later state that “Tracii [Guns] as good as he is, has had to pretty much lower himself to playing with these guys that if they were going to do anything they would have done it in the past twenty years, but they have done nothing.”

In 2007, Alexander would be replaced by drummer Chad Stewart with the group playing shows in South America, Europe as well as numerous tours of the US. In December, the Tracii Guns version of the band’s dressing room was robbed during a show at McGuffy’s in Dayton, Ohio. Items taken included wallets, “a Blackberry and a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey.” The thief was later caught with the items returned to the band.

Tracii announced, in January 2008, that the group were to record a new album stating that they were “heading up to Canada in April/May to record the new stuff in a very secluded location so we have no distractions and can actually get it done.” They announced dates in the US and South America in February, however, they announced, in March, South American tour was postponed with them beginning recording on their new album, tentatively titled Pretty in Black, with producer Steve Thompson. The same month, they were confirmed as one of the acts of the second Rocklahoma festival. After being invited by bassist Jeremy Guns, singer Marty Casey, of Lovehammers, joined the group, who had signed a deal with Alexus Records, in the studio co-writing material. Paul Black parted ways with the group in March, while Alec Bauer was added as the group’s second guitarist.

By July, the group had completed the new album with Casey with plans to release the album by the end of the year. They also recorded a pilot for VH1 which, at that point, was being shopped to different networks. Also announced that the “name of the band will not be L.A. Guns for this TV show and album, but we will do some nostalgia shows and festivals as L.A. Guns.” The group toured through 2008 and 2009, however, Casey returned to Lovehammers to record and release their new album Heavy Crown in 2009. While the group waited for a release date for their new album, as well as deciding on a new name for the group, former L.A. Guns singer Jizzy Pearl returned to group while guitarist Alec Bauer departed the band.

In February 2010, L.A. Guns announced they had signed a deal with Steve Vai’s label, Favored Nations, to release a “Deluxe Reissue” of Shrinking Violet, the only L.A. Guns studio album to feature singer Jizzy Pearl, that was released the same year. The album was repackaged with new artwork and five live bonus tracks by the group’s current lineup. The band announced a one-off unplugged event, taking place at the The Hotel Café in Los Angeles, California, in February 2011 featuring the band, with the exception of Jeremy Guns, former L.A. Guns members Muddy, Mick Cripps, as well as Danny Nordahl and Doni Gray. By March, both Jeremy and Stewart departed the band. Though Nordahl temporarily replaced Jeremy, while Stewart remained before both rejoined Faster Pussycat. It was later confirmed that Jeremy returned to the lineup, with Doni Gray joining as their new drummer. By September, it was announced that Pearl had departed the band, on good terms, with former Rock Star: Supernova finalist Dilana joining in his place. Session musician Eric Grossman was also announced as the replacement for Jeremy. But after being in the band for 71 days Dilana would depart from the band and be replaced by Tony West from Blacklist Union. West was replaced in January 2012 by Scott Foster Harris according to the L.A. Guns official Facebook site. It is also been announced that Tracii Guns L.A. Guns will be playing their farewell tour Europe and then they will be going under the name The Tracii Guns League of Gentleman. Eric Grossman has since announced his departure from L.A. Guns. He has since been replaced by Johnny Martin on Bass and the band has added Steve Preach on Guitar, Organ and Piano, extending the band to a 5-piece. Guns has said during his taping on “That Metal Show” that the only reason why he isn’t with the original L.A. Guns is because of Steve Riley calling him a “fucking theif” for taking full credit for L.A. Guns songwriting credits and has said that if he goes away then things will be different.

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– L.A. Guns [1988]
– Cocked & Loaded [1989]
– Hollywood Vampires [1991]
– Vicious Circle [1994]
– American Hardcore [1996]
– Shrinking Violet [1999]
– Man in the Moon [2001]
– Waking the Dead [2002]
– Tales from the Strip [2005]
– Hollywood Forever [2012]

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