How did Guns N' Roses come up with their name?

29 November 2020, 21:00 | Updated: 4 February 2021, 22:46

Axl Rose of Guns N'Roses in his heyday
Axl Rose of Guns N'Roses in his heyday. Picture: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Axl Rose and co have been around since 1985, but do you know how they got together in the first place?

Guns N' Roses have had several bust-ups, line-up changes, falling-outs and making ups over the years, but one thing that hasn't changed is their iconic name.

So why are Axl Rose and co called Guns N' Roses? And what came first: Axl's name or the band?

How did Guns N' Roses come up with their name?

Guns N' Roses might sound like the perfect name for a LA rock band, but actually it came about by complete happenstance. It's actually an amalgamation of two previous bands, Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns, that would later form to become GNR.

Guns And Roses (Duff McCagan, Slash, Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler) at the UIC Pavillion  in Chicago, Illinois
Guns And Roses (Duff McCagan, Slash, Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler) at the UIC Pavillion in Chicago, Illinois. Picture: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

How did the bands combine?

Hollywood Rose were formed and founded by Axl Rose (born William Bruce Rose Jr.), Izzy Stradlin and Chris Weber in 1983, and they played live shows with Rick Mars, Andre Troxx Johnny Kreis and Steve Darrow.

Various line-up changes took place over the next two years, which would see Weber and Stradlin replaced by Slash and Steven Adler (who were previously in a band called Road Crew with Duff McKagan). However, the group disbanded by 1984.

L.A.Guns (unsurprisingly) formed in Los Angeles in 1983 by guitarist Tracii Guns and drummer Rob Gardner. The band, also consisted of singer Mike Jagosz and bassist Ole Beich. This line-up recorded one EP - Collector's Edition No.1 before Jagosz was replaced by Axl Rose.

In March 1985 the bands merged to become Guns N' Roses, and the rest as they say, is history. They weren't the only names being thrown around, though. Initial ideas rejected by the early band were AIDS and Heads of Amazon.

21 July 1985: Axl Rose and Slash of the rock band "Guns n&squot; Roses" perform onstage at a UCLA frat party.
21 July 1985: Axl Rose and Slash of the rock band "Guns n' Roses" perform onstage at a UCLA frat party. Picture: Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

What happened next?

The first line-up of Guns N' Roses consisted of Axl Rose, Rob Gardner, Izzy Stradlin, Tracii Guns and Ole Beich, but that wasn't to be the last.

Not ones to let the grass grow under their feet, after their first gig, Beich was sacked and promptly replaced by Duff McKagan.

Tracii Guns left GNR after an argument with Axl Rose, which led to Slash's appointment to the band. Gardner quit not long after and was replaced by another Hollywood Rose bandmate Steven Adler.

This finally gave Guns N' Roses their classic line-up of Axl Rose, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler and Duff McKagan, who went on to release their first album, Appetite For Destruction in 1987.

Three decades and multiple line-up changes later, GNR are now back with Axl Rose and Slash performing side by side and a new album reportedly in the works.

The story of the band may be a long and complex one, but it's by no means over.

READ MORE: Why Does Slash From Guns N' Roses Wear A Hat?

Guns N' Roses Songs