Friday, September 30, 2016

Izzy Stradlin: A Key Cog Missing From Guns N' Roses Reunion

With prominent and recognizable members like W. Axl Rose and Slash at the forefront of Guns N' Roses, it's easy to forget about Izzy Stradlin.

And, as their "reunion" tour resumes Oct. 16 in Peru, some fans of the band may not know how much of a key member the guitarist/vocalist was during his time in the band's heyday (1985-1991).

Not only was Stradlin a founding member, he was a main songwriter who brought a laid-back, Keith Richards-like stage presence to the group that a hired hand like touring guitarist Richard Fortus can't really replace.

Stradlin and Rose both grew up in Lafayette, Ind., and were buddies in high school, playing in bands before moving to Los Angeles and forming Hollywood Rose in 1983. They wrote a some songs (including "Anything Goes" and "Reckless Life") in that band which ended up as Gun N' Roses tracks.

No doubt Stradlin's early friendship with Rose was a key component to the band and the band's chemistry, certainly during the booze and drug-filled Appetite For Destruction days.

And some of the best songs on the Appetite album were largely thanks to Stradlin including "Sweet Child O' Mine", "Mr. Brownstone" and "Paradise City", and then "Patience" from the Lies album.

Not to mention his major input on the Use Your Illusion records where he wrote "Double Talkin' Jive" and "Pretty Tied Up", co-wrote on "Right Next Door To Hell", "Dust N' Bones", "Don't Cry", "14 Years" and "You Could Be Mine". Those are some of the best songs on those records, and it's Stradlin handling lead vocals on "14 Years"(a song about his relationship with Rose), "Dust N' Bones" and "You Ain't The First" and "Double Talkin' Jive".

Stradlin More Than Just A Hired Sideman

Given his contributions to the band (far more in terms of songwriting than bassist Duff McKagan), Stradlin isn't some fill-in or studio muscician, and he was understandably miffed when he wasn't offered equal pay to take part in the "reunion", where the band was rumoured to be asking for $3 million per show (reports on say they're getting around $2.75 million).

You've gotta give Stradlin credit for sticking to his guns and not settling for a lesser payday than Rose and Slash are getting from the tour.

Now, Stradlin has done some gigs with the Guns N' Roses since he quit in 1991 (sober and frustrated with Rose's chronic lateness for shows and the Guns N' Roses touring circus). He played with them for five shows in 1993, a few gigs in 2006, plus several shows as recently as 2012. Unlike former drummer Steven "Popcorn" Adler, (fired in 1990) who has played a few times on the latest tour, Stradlin hasn't played a single show.

For the fans who haven't seen Guns N Roses live, this tour is the closest they've come to seeing the original lineup (the real Guns N Roses), but it's not the same as seeing the original lineup with Izzy Stradlin there.

"14 Years" live in 1991 - Feat. Stradlin Vocals

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