L.A. Guns are an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1983. As of 2014, the lineup consists of Phil Lewis (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Steve Riley (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Kenny Kweens (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Michael Grant (lead guitar, backing vocals). The first incarnation of the group was formed by Tracii Guns in 1983, but disbanded in 1984 following its merger with fellow Los Angeles group Hollywood Rose, becoming the first lineup of Guns N' Roses. In 1985, the group was reformed by 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. They achieved moderate chart success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, the group went through numerous lineup changes (with Riley being the most consistent member) and failed to regain mainstream attention.
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Raunchy and rude, if ever a band epitomized the genre of sleaze rock it would be the infamous L.A. Guns. When hair metal became a commercial force in the late 80s L.A. Guns rode the wave to attain some of their own popularity, but came across as a darker, more ominous brand of rock band - it was if they were the black sheep of sleazy hard rock.
The origins of L.A. Guns date back to 1983 when guitarist Tracii Guns and vocalist Axl Rose first began working together. Shortly after their humble beginnings the duo decided to form a band called Guns N'Roses, but Tracii Guns would leave to reform L.A. Guns prior to GN'R exploding onto the metal scene. With a revamped lineup consisting of Paul Black (vocals), Robert Stoddard (guitar, ex-Dogs D'amour), Mick Cripps (bass) and Nickey Alexander (drums) the band toured and demoed material. By 1987 Black's drug problems led to him being replaced by former Girl and Torme front-man Phil Lewis and when Stoddard left Cripps switched to guitar and ex-Faster Pussycat bassist Kelly Nickels was recruited. It was this version of L.A. Guns that would record one of the most important sleaze metal albums of all time. The self-titled album peaked at #50 on the Billboard charts, helped in part by airplay of the singles "One More Reason" and "Sex Action", songs that were too raw and dirty to chart themselves. Former W.A.S.P. drummer Steve Riley replaced Alexander for the accompanying tour, resulting in the definitive L.A. Guns line-up.
Cocked & Loaded proved to be the groups most successful album, hitting #38 and spawing the Top 40 hit "The Ballad Of Jayne". Despite containing the #62 hit single "It's Over Now", Hollywood Vampires became the first L.A. Guns release not to reach gold status. Riley was kicked out of the band in 1992 due to a confrontation with Lewis and Mike "Bones" Gersema took over the drumstool on the Cuts EP. Riley returned for the Vicious Circle tour, but due to the changing tides in popular music, all was not well in the L.A. Guns camp. By 1995 the band had been dropped from their record label and Lewis and Cripps jumped ship, the future looked bleak.
Tracii Guns, Nickels and Riley carried on with a new version of L.A. Guns featuring former Boneyard members Chris Van Dahl (vocals, and also formerly of Cherry St) and Johnny Crypt (guitars). During the recording of American Hardcore, Nickels left and Crypt took over on bass, leaving the band as a four piece. But the following years proved to be very unstable for the band as vocalists Ralph Saenz and Jizzy Pearl (of Love/Hate) both had short stints fronting L.A. Guns and bassists Stefan Adika and Chuck Garric quickly came and went. By late 1999 the classic L.A. Guns line-up (the Cocked & Loaded version) was back.
But in typical L.A. Guns fashion, members once again invoked a revolving door policy. Cripps and Nickels were replaced by Brent Muscat (Faster Pussycat) and Muddy respectively. Cripps returned for Man In The Moon, an album that showed the band was back in fine form. In 2002 bassist Adam Hamilton joined the band as did guitarist Keff Ratcliffe (ex-Pretty Boy Floyd) shortly after to record the critically acclaimed Waking The Dead. But the big shock came later that year when founding member Tracii Guns left on bad terms to form Brides Of Destruction with Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx. With new guitarist Stacey Blades, L.A. Guns vowed to soldier on, but it will be anyone's guess who will be in the band in the years to come.
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Los Angeles, California, US
Music Genre (Text)
Hard rock, glam metal
PolyGram, Vertigo, Polydor, CMC, Spitfire, Shrapnel, Sanctuary, Favored Nations
Guns N' Roses, Hollywood Rose, Girl, W.A.S.P., Faster Pussycat, Contraband, Brides of Destruction
Phil Lewis, Steve Riley, Kenny Kweens, Michael Grant
Past Group Members
see L.A. Guns band members