Question: Who the Hell Is Even In Guns N' Roses Nowadays?

gnr03.jpg
Photo by Marco Torres
Does this man have a name?
Tonight, Guns N' Roses plays what's being billed as an "intimate" performance at House of Blues. From our perspective here at Rocks Off, that's a good thing. The opportunity to get close enough to W. Axl Rose to check carefully for plastic surgery scars is one many longtime fans never dared dream of, and the sound at HOB is pretty consistently excellent. We're looking forward to it.

Still, the choice of venue came as a bit of a surprise. Just a couple of years ago, the band was playing Toyota Center. Despite their origins in the seedy clubs of L.A.'s sunset strip, GNR has been a stadium-rock band through and through since the late '80s. If you can remember seeing Axl wail in a venue of this size before, congratulations, you're one hell of a rock and roll survivor.

Is Guns N' Roses no longer able to fill up a major U.S. arena anymore? It's hard to imagine, but only the promoters know for sure. But if their drawing power is on the wane, however, a big part of the problem might be that the group has gone through quite a few lineup changes in the past 25 years. Original members Slash and Duff haven't played a show with Axl since 1993, and even Buckethead, probably the most famous of the 21st-century replacements, has been gone for nearly a decade.

So who the hell is even in Guns N' Roses these days, anyway?

"Who cares?" would be the understandably smug response. For many fans, it's still Slash and Izzy or nothin'. But the simple truth is, Slash ain't walking through that door. That's a hard truth, perhaps, but no harder than this one: the new guys are pretty fucking good. Now that the current lineup has stabilized a bit in recent years, it's probably safe to start actually getting to know them a little.

To jumpstart the process of beginning to see the non-Axl members of Guns N' Roses as something other than faceless hacks and hired, er, guns, here's a handy guide to the capable musicians who will be furiously bashing out "Paradise City" tonight:


Dizzy Reed, keyboards
The Guns N' Roses member who has logged the most hours in the group outside of Axl is keyboardist Dizzy Reed, who came aboard in 1990 to do some recording on the band's Use Your Illusion albums. He's managed to hang on ever since, humbly tickling the ivories, singing backup and generally knowing his role in a band that gradually came to be completely dominated by Axl Rose.

However, Reed has remained cool with his ex-bandmates too, contributing to albums by former Gunners Duff McKagan, Slash and Gilby Clarke. In a band filled with infighting, drugs and all-around drama, Reed has served as GN'R's Mr. Reliable for a couple of decades now.


Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, lead guitar
From relative obscurity to the lead-guitar slot in Guns N' Roses: probably not a difficult decision for axeslinger Ron Thal back in 2006. After the departure of Buckethead, the man known (or, perhaps, unknown) as "Bumblefoot" came recommended by guitar god Joe Satriani, and Axl evidently liked what he heard. He's been involved with the band ever since.

Thal recorded licks on parts of Chinese Democracy, one of a number of guys who were called in to fill Slash's snakeskin boots for the long-delayed album. Now he's playing gigs all over the world with GNR, performing the same solos that he used to play years ago in front of small bar crowds with his cover band, Leonard Nimoy. Not a bad upgrade.


DJ Ashba, also lead guitar
Wouldn't surprise us if Slash occasionally has a chuckle over the fact that Axl hired two guys to replace him in Guns N' Roses: one to fill his shoes, and another to fill his hat. DJ Ashba would be the latter. In 2009, he replaced guitarist Robin Finck, who left GN'R to rejoin Nine Inch Nails. For those keeping score, that makes him the newest member of the band.

Ashba arrived already armed with L.A. cock-rock bonafides, however, having served time in BulletBoys, Beautiful Creatures and Sixx:A.M. He also wrote much of Motley Crue's 2008 album, Saints of Los Angeles. Axl apparently didn't begrudge him that paycheck, despite his early-'90s feud with Vince Neil and company.


Location Info

House of Blues

1204 Caroline, Houston, TX

Category: Music


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27 comments
alexandrumd
alexandrumd

 "Original members Slash and Duff haven't played a show with Axl since 1993" - that's not true. Duff played with Gn'R some two years ago. Check youtube for "Duff London Nice Boys" for example.

Needless to say that you media ppl should research better before posting.

JDMason
JDMason

Your an idiot. Your ignorance as a writer is extremely obvious. The "I hate Axl" band wagon is getting old. He hasnt done a dam thing to you or anyone else for about 20 yrs now and no one can be certain of how much he ever did or was accused of doing since he never made any public statements in regards to anything he has ever been accused of. I would imagine that the reason for his decision to stop talking to the press would be obvious...people like you who aren't very good at what it is you do for a living. Just in case you forgot what your job is I will try and explain it to you in a way that you can understand. Your a writer for a news column and your suppose to be impartial and just write the facts but you havent't even come close to doing that part of your job right. So that leaves research. You didn't spend anytime on researching this article AT ALL. You seem so hell bent on making Mr. Rose look bad that you have made yourself look very unprofessional. I believe it even makes you seem childish. You don't even know the man but yet you seem to hate him. Did he do something to you or did he just not want some idiot doing a write up on his band. Hmmm...I believe that all you have seemed to accomplish is to have a public temper-tantrum or as a 5 yr old might say..nanny nanny poo poo I got a ticket (that you over paid for) and went to the concert even if Axl didn't want me too. Well good for you. You just paid him to make a fool of yourself...LOL  btw...the reason for the high security has a lot less to do with Mr. Rose and a lot more to do with the bombing in Boston...your really very bad at what you do!!!

GlenW
GlenW

GnR fans, show up early and enjoy Venomous Maximus.

tricia
tricia

I don't care how good the new guys are at playing songs they didn't write so knowing them means nothing. At this point Axl is the only one that matters and he needs no introductions. Now if they actually create anything of their own then maybe I will care.  Anyway, I hope whoever goes enjoys the show. Hopefully Izzy will be there since he is the other half of Guns N' Roses.

askelsabo
askelsabo

Wow, lousy article.

"Wouldn't surprise us if Slash occasionally has a chuckle over the fact that Axl hired two guys to replace him in Guns N' Roses: one to fill his shoes, and another to fill his hat. DJ Ashba would be the latter. "

FALSE! All Guns n Roses albums have three guitar tracks, even Appetite and Use Your Illusions. Slash played two tracks, and Izzy played one. When they played live, they simple played two of the three. 

When Axl was re-creating Guns n Roses, he tought it would be cool to actually play all those three tracks live. All the current guitarists are induvidially just as good (if not better) than Slash. Saying they have three because they sucks is false, and the articlewriter should have known his facts before posting the article. 

Caleb Fraid
Caleb Fraid

I saw them open for The Cult on their Electric tour back in '87? I know that "welcome to the jungle" had just debuted on 120 minutes the week before & I thought it sounded pretty so I was kind of excited but mainly I was there for the cult so I didn't care that much. Anyway, axl had on the cult's tour shirt with a canadian flag on the back. The ones they were selling us had the USA flag on it & the American tour dates. Anyways, that's boring but the best part came on G-n-R's last song, "Knocking on Heaven's Door" axl was doing the bit where you hold the mic out to an audience member & they would sing the chorus & a few people did it right but then he held it out to the wrong guy & instead of singing the line, the guy said "where's The Cult?" He said it all matter of fact like too, like fucking enough already opening band. & axl paused for one split second then went nuts & kicked the guy in the chest and ranted a few minutes about how they're out there working their asses off yada yada, don't get me wrong we love the cult too but goddammit etc etc. Was pretty funny. Nobody really helped that guy that kicked either but all in all it was pretty funny. Guns -n- Roses was really good that night too. Axl was right about them giving it their all. But to this day, that's one of my fave concert moments.

Descent Into Madness
Descent Into Madness

DJ Ashba just cause he has a good wedding band name and Axl of course...

Ron Taylor
Ron Taylor

ummm.. this was just on the Dean and Rog radio show before 7am this morning

Justin Bradley
Justin Bradley

theres that big fat guy, what his name? Axel something?

Patrick Stevens
Patrick Stevens

Just saw them on Sun, and it was awesome, interesting, and surreal all @ the same time. He ran out of breath several times causing him to skip some words, but this was a massive stage setup with ramps, pyro, and he ran around a lot. He still has that same charisma and stage presence, but a little slower for obvious reasons. Still pretty awesome for what it was :)

Will
Will

@MATT-A-REAL-FAN you got a dick up your ass. Calm the fuck down. And to correct you, Izzy plays with both Axl and Slash and Duff (contrary to what you said). Izzy didn't show at the Hall of Fame because he doesn't like that kind of attention. He even used Duff's social media accounts to say thank you since he doesn't have one. He's played a number of shows with Axl's new GN'R, and also a number of shows with Velvet Revolver. He also guested on the track "Ghost" off Slash's 2010 solo album, Slash. So calm the fuck down you don't know shit

Will
Will

@askelsabo lol, compared to Slash these guys are a bunch of hacks. they can't play for shit

NathanSmith
NathanSmith

@askelsabo I never claimed they sucked. In fact, I called them "pretty fucking good." Three guitarists is just fine with me, although I certainly prefer Slash. I'm not exactly alone in that feeling, but you're welcome to disagree.

askelsabo
askelsabo

@Will @askelsabo Haha! Have you even watched new Gnr? All three of them are just as good as Slash. Slash is overrated, lets face it. He plays with Fergie and plays superbowl. Slash were a rockstar, now he is a sellout. 

All three of them plays great guitar. Please back up your arguments before saying stupid shit.

askelsabo
askelsabo

@NathanSmith @askelsabo Irrelevant what you you think. You made it look like they have two lead guitarists simply to play Slash role, wich is false. They have two lead guitarists to re-create the music they play in the studio. As a articlewriter, you should actually learn the facts before you write stuff like

"one to fill his shoes, and another to fill his hat. DJ Ashba would be the latter."

Its horribly subjective, and made you look nothing but stupid, as you didnt know the actual fact why they have three guitarists.

askelsabo
askelsabo

@CoreyDeiterman @askelsabo No, there is a difference between making a joke about GnR, and making fun of a guitarist. 

And no, they are not filling Slash shoes. They could have easily fired Dj Ashba, and still rocked. As said, they are all induvidially better than Slash. They simply do it to re-create the sound they make in the studio. Its not needed, but Axl wanted something different when he was re-creating GNR. 

Slash played two lead guitar tracks, and Izzy played one rythm guitar track. 

andrew72287
andrew72287

@askelsabo @NathanSmith Until Slash left the band they only needed two guitarists in a live setting. Despite the multi tracking of Slash on the albums. Now they use three to fill the role of what two guitarists did before. That is what is happening. He's not wrong, and he was clearly joking around.

CoreyDeiterman
CoreyDeiterman

@askelsabo The "one to fill his hat" is clearly a joke, but I'm guessing you don't feel Gn'R is a matter to joke about.

On a factual note, however, if Slash played two guitar tracks and Izzy played one, then technically both guitarists are filling the Slash role in this current line-up; one for his rhythms, one for his leads. Your criticism then makes no sense.

askelsabo
askelsabo

@NathanSmith @askelsabo My comment was directed at the fact that you have not read properly about new Guns n Roses. If you have, you could easily have known why they have three guitarists. My perspective is simply how bad journalism this is.

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