Download headliners Guns N’ Roses iconic frontman Axl Rose turns 56 today! Pop open the champagne and crank up ‘Appetite For Destruction’ to 11 as we celebrate his big day with our Top 5 Awesome Axl Rose Moments.
1. Making Rock History by Forming Guns N’ Roses
Axl Rose’s most defining moment has to be without a doubt being one of the founding members of Guns N’ Roses as if there was no Axl, there would be no Guns N’ Roses. The first seeds of one of the greatest rock bands of all time were sown when Axl Rose, arriving fresh in LA from his hometown of Lafayette, Indiana, wasted no time in tearing up the Sunset Strip with his own fast and furious glam metal band Hollywood Rose and briefly fronting the hard rock of fellow local band, L.A Guns.
He would strike the match to light the fire of what would become one of the biggest selling bands of all time when in 1985, along with Tracii Guns and childhood friend Izzy Stradlin, he merged Hollywood Rose and L.A Guns to form one group: Guns N’ Roses. Axl and Izzy would later ask Slash, Steve Adler and Duff McKagan to join the band crystallizing what would be the classic Guns N’ Roses line up and making rock history.
2. Penning The Epic ‘November Rain’
‘November Rain’ is the power ballad to end all power ballads and Axl Rose is the man you can thank for writing this lighters-in-the-air classic. The song was a labour of love for the frontman as he originally began working on it back in 1983 – two years before Guns N’ Roses even formed. A whopping 18 minute version of the song was recorded in 1986 and nearly graced the band’s career defining debut, ‘Appetite For Destruction’, but it took until the band’s third album, ‘Use Your Illusion’, for the sweeping orchestral masterpiece to finally be unleashed in 1991.
The song made history crashing into the billboard at number 3 making it the longest song to enter the top 10 and going on to sell an astounding 1 million copies worldwide. And let’s not forget the epic video, costing a reported $1 million it gave us the iconic scenes of Axl resplendent in signature red bandanna and red jacket at the piano and Slash riffing up a storm in front of the chapel.
3. Taking On ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
Stepping up to sing a song by your musical hero could be daunting especially when it’s with music royalty, but if you’re Axl Rose you go out there and you own it. On 20th April 1992 Axl Rose joined Elton John on stage at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium to sing one of rock’s most epic and hardest to master songs, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. As the pyro erupts and the rock interlude kicks in, Axl runs onstage in his iconic kilt to scream “So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?” with an intensity that sends the 72,000 crowd wild before duetting on a tear-jerking outro with Elt.
Axl’s love of a collab doesn’t stop there, he took on Alice Cooper’s ‘Under My Wheels’ with Guns N’ Roses for the opening track of the cult classic documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, sang two songs with the late great Tom Petty at the 1989 MTV Awards, in the same year he had a strut-off with Mick Jagger on a Rolling Stones’ TV special and at the 1994 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame he paid tribute to John Lennon singing The Beatles ‘Come Together’ with Bruce Springsteen. His most memorable guest appearance however was yet to come.
4. Killing It On The AC/DC Rock Or Bust Tour
Axl Rose silenced naysayers all from the comfort of Dave Grohl’s borrowed chair when he hit the road with AC/DC back in 2016. When it was originally announced that the Guns N’ Roses frontman would be stepping into the Aussie legend’s fold, replacing long term vocalist Brian Johnson on the band’s Rock Or Bust tour, there was outcry with some fans even demanding refunds. Never one to shy away from controversy, Axl blew the haters away when his six octave vocal range blasted through the AC/DC back catalogue and all with a broken foot. With rumours abounding that he’s set to join AC/DC again in the near future it’s an awesome moment that’s set to last.
5. Making Peace With Slash & Duff
Axl Rose proved miracles do happen when on 1st April 2016 he took to the stage of the Troubadour in West Hollywood with original Guns N’ Roses members Slash and Duff McKagan and shocked the world with their first performance together since 1993’s Use Your Illusion Tour. This moment got even more awesome when the band headed out on the Not In This Lifetime…Tour.
The three hour shows bristled with the same kinetic energy as when the band first played the UK 24 years ago with Axl roaring through ‘Welcome To The Jungle’, Slash effortlessly picking the riff to ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ on his orange Les Paul and Duff as ever keeping it cool. Axl is set to keep the awesome moments coming when he returns with Slash and Duff to Donington Park for Guns N’ Roses Saturday headline set on the main stage at Download Festival this summer.