It’s hard to believe it now, but there was a time when Axl Rose was on top of the world.
Born William Rose Jr, Axl had an incredibly rough upbringing, starting when his sexually abusive father and namesake, William Rose, disappeared. He was raised in an incredibly religious family, and by his late teens had become Lafayette, Indiana’s resident hooligan. He was arrested upwards of 20 times, spent months in prison and, after the local authorities threatened to charge him as a “habitual criminal,” moved to Los Angeles in 1982.
And that’s when the magic started. By 1985, he’d started Guns N’ Roses, the combination of he and Tracii Guns’ existing bands, L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose. A few months and several line-up changes later the band enlisted Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler. Two years later, Appetite for Destruction came out, and from there, the band, and Axl’s, steady rise and equally sloping decline.
And by decline, we mean aesthetically.
From goatees to corn rows, pimp canes to belly tops, Axl Rose has been through more than a few phases. Some were funny. Some were sad. All were worth remembering.