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L.A. Guns Biography

Home > Music > L > L.A. Guns > Biography

Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA
Years Active: 1986-present
Genres: Hard Rock, Glam Metal

L.A. Guns is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1983. The first incarnation of the group was formed by Tracii Guns in 1983 but disbanded in 1985 following its merger with fellow Los Angeles group Hollywood Rose, becoming the first lineup of Guns N' Roses. The same year, the group was reformed by Tracii Guns and singer Paul Black adding Mick Cripps and Nickey Alexander. Black would soon be replaced by former Girl singer Phil Lewis while former Faster Pussycat bassist Kelly Nickels was added to the group. Later, Alexander would be replaced by former W.A.S.P. drummer Steve Riley with this being known as the classic lineup of L.A. Guns. Throughout their career the group has gone through numerous lineup changes (with Guns being the only consistent member).

With Axl Rose as lead singer, the band recorded a four song EP, “Collector’s Edition No. 1” that was issued in 1985 prior to the band’s first breakup. 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.

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 Rob 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 with the lineup composed of Axl Rose, Tracii Guns, Izzy Stradlin, Ole Beich and Rob Gardner. Beich was eventually replaced by Duff McKagan while Guns left the group, being replaced by Slash. Gardner quit the group and was replaced by Steven Adler with this line-up becoming known as the “classic lineup” of Guns N' Roses.

Later, in 1985, Guns and singer Paul Black reformed L.A. Guns with Mick Cripps and Nickey Alexander. The band signed with PolyGram Records and put out their debut album, “L.A. Guns” in 1988, which peaked at #50 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

The band’s second album, “Cocked & Loaded,” arrived in 1989, peaking at #38 on the Billboard 200. The album spawned the single, “The Balled of Jayne,” which peaked at #25 on the Billboard Rock Songs chart and at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

They released their third album, titled “Hollywood Vampires,” in 1991which peaked at #42 on the Billboard 200. In 1991 drummer Riley exited the band after their European tour with Skid Row to support their third album. As the music climate began to shift in the late 90s and Seattle's grunge movement overtook the music world, the band pulled back from music and began to work on side projects with other musicians

The group recorded and released, with drummer Michael Gersema, their fourth album, titled “Vicious Circle,” in 1995 with the album failing to chart. It was their weakest selling album to date. 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 also failing to chart.

The group changed singers once again, recruiting Ralph Saenz, formerly of The Atomic Punks, for the recording of the “Wasted” EP released in 1998 before 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.

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 Lewis, Cripps and Nickels returning to the group in the fall and 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 they 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.

L.A. Guns completed the recording of their new album in late April 2002. They released their new album, titled “Waking the Dead,” in the same year. They pulled out of touring with Alice Cooper followings Guns departure from the group 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. 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. Enlisting Andy Johns and Bruce Witkin, the group began recording 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.

The next member to leave was bassist Hamilton who was subsequently replaced by Scott Griffin. 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. In 2012 the band’s 14th album, “Hollywood Forever,” was released by Cleopatra Records. It was produced by Andy Johns, and reached #25 on the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart.