In this episode we talk with Rob Gardner, the original drummer for Guns N' Roses. This episode also includes the recording from Guns' N Roses' first ever radio appearance.
We pick things up during the Fall of 1984 when The New Hollywood Rose (which at the time consisted of Axl, Slash, Steven Adler and Steve Darrow) had called it quits. During this time, Rob Gardner, who would eventually become the original drummer for Guns N’ Roses, was playing in L.A. Guns with Tracii Guns, Mike Jagosz, and Ole Beich. Izzy, in the meantime, had joined the band, London, and Duff had recently moved to Hollywood from Seattle. Changes were in the air and the incestuous revolving door of bands was getting ready to spin once again, resulting in big changes for all of these musicians and leading to the creation and original lineup of Guns N’ Roses.
In this episode, we talk with Rob Gardner about how he got started playing drums, his early influences and how he met Tracii, Izzy and eventually Axl. We hear about his former bands including his bands with Tracii: Pyrrhus and L.A. Guns. He shares stories of Raz Cue’s involvement with L.A. Guns and the mashup of L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose that resulted in the creation of Guns N’ Roses. We also get to hear an excerpt from Guns N’ Roses’ first ever radio appearance and Rob shares his first hand account of why Duff replaced Ole and why Rob and Tracii eventually decided to leave Guns N’ Roses (and how he feels about all of it now).
As the original drummer for Guns N’ Roses, Rob helped create and influence the band’s sound and although his involvement with the band ended early, the blood, sweat, tears and grooves that Rob poured into Pyrrhus, L.A. Guns and Guns N’ Roses can still be heard today as it is forever pressed into the vinyl of Appetite for Destruction. Rob shares with us a first hand account of everything that led to the creation of the original lineup of Guns N’ Roses.
3:03-Hear about Rob’s early musical influences.
4:15- Hear about Rob moving to L.A. and meeting Izzy, Tracii and Mike Jagosz.
4:46-Rob talks about playing music with Tracii in Pyrrhus.
6:24-Marc sees Pyrrhus for the first time at a party.
7:41-Pyrrhus turns into L.A. Guns. Rob meets Raz Cue and he becomes involved with L.A. Guns.
9:03-Rob talks about New Hollywood Rose break up, Raz Cue signs on as manager and begins lobbying for Axl to join L.A. Guns as lead singer.
10:37-Rob discusses first time meeting Axl when filling in as drummer for Hollywood Rose.
11:22-Axl joins L.A. Guns. Rob talks about the fresh energy he broung and how the band’s sound began to change.
12:23-Talks about the songs that L.A. Guns inherited from Hollywood Rose.
12:42-Songs now having the mixed up sound of L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose.
13:45-Axl’s first gig with L.A. Guns at the Troubadour, Marc photographed it.
13:59-Marc asked by Axl to photograph the L.A. Guns show. Slash throws up in Marc’s car.
15:06-Izzy’s band, London, also played that show at the Troubadour. London takes up the whole soundcheck, pissing off Axl and he lets them know.
19:39-Axl and Raz have a falling out about some incident at the Rainbow Room, Axl quits.
19:54-Raz asks Izzy to join L.A. Guns. Shorty after they become Guns N’ Roses.
21:26 -Ole Beich taking a back seat, glam thing not quite his vibe. Izzy introduces the band to Duff Rose.
26:05- Discusses songs recorded at Willie Basse’s studio right before going in for first KPFK radio appearance.
28:09-Actual clip of recording of Guns N’ Roses’ KPFK radio appearance.
32:33-Playing more shows, including shows on the outskirts of LA (at The Timbers and Dancing Waters)
35:04-Rob discusses the Seattle Shake Out Tour and how he and Tracii decided not to go.
36:19-Jason asks Rob what the reason was for him and Tracii leaving Guns N’ Roses and Rob tells the story of quitting.
40:33-Rob talks about what was hard about leaving Guns N’ Roses.
41:46-Talks about the sting for him once Guns N’ Roses became successful.
44:27-Discusses how he feels about all of it now.
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Axl Rose, Jason Porath, Izzy Stradlin, Someone in Crowd, Band, Radio DJ, Rob Gardner, Marc Canter
Jason Porath 00:02
What was it like for you when Axl joined L.A. Guns?
Rob Gardner 00:06
Axl added like a real different kind of a rawness to the band. He had the attitude, he had the whole vibe going on.
Jason Porath 00:19
Welcome back to the first 50 Gigs: Guns N' Roses and the making of Appetite for Destruction. It's Fall 1984 and the new Hollywood Rose had just split. A version of Hollywood Rose, that at one point was comprised of four of the five members of the Appetite lineup: Axl, Slash, Steven Adler and bassist Steve Darrow call it quits, and once again, take a spin through the incestuous revolving door of bands. Izzy had joined London a few months prior, and Duff had just arrived to Hollywood from Seattle. Today, our guest is Rob Gardner, drummer for the garage band, Pyrrhus, and co-founder of L.A. Guns with Tracii Guns on guitar, Ole Beich on bass and Mike Jagosz as front man. The band launched out of Fairfax High School, first as Pyrrhus, and then L.A. Guns, and were on the rise in 1984, playing gigs on the strip, and building a following. But with Axl out of Hollywood Rose in September 1984, opportunism trumped loyalty, and L.A. Guns recruited him to replace Mike. Rob Gardner will talk to us about his history, the formation of L.A. Guns, and the eventual changes that led to the original lineup of Guns N' Roses. So Rob, thank you for joining us, and we're very excited to have you on the show. Before we get into the particulars of you know, when you started with Tracii and L.A. Guns, do you want to give us just a little bit of background where you came from and how you arrived in Los Angeles and how you met Tracii?
Rob Gardner 02:05
I grew up in New York, was born in Manhattan and lived in Westchester County, New York, it's just upstate a little bit. In grammar school, I was like in fifth grade and a buddy of mine was playing drums, I think his dad was running the marching band. And I was like, "Yeah, I want to do that," so I got in with the band and started learning all the snare, all the rudiments and all that kind of stuff and started marching in parades and what have you. So then after that, I decided I wanted a drum set, after a couple of years I wanted to go, so I got a drum set just to practice down in my basement all the time and then we did some talent shows at the school. And we took a couple of Beatles songs, and what have you, and was getting like first place things on there. I was like, "hmmm, this is kind of cool, you know."
Jason Porath 02:59
What kind of other music were you into at that time?
Rob Gardner 03:02
I have two older sisters, but the one that was living with me, her boyfriend left a Deep Purple tape (a cassette tape) on the table. I guess he forgot it and I found it, I'm like, "Deep Purple, what's that," and I put it in the cassette player and I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is crazy." So I took it downstairs with my tape recorder and I just started playing along with it, like Ian Paice, I think that was. And then I was into Cream, Ginger Baker. I was obviously Zeppelin, John Bonham, Keith Moon, The Who. I learned from just playing along with all those great drummers. By the time I got to L.A., I was a good drummer, so...
Jason Porath 03:49
How long before you really started hitting the Sunset Strip?
Rob Gardner 03:53
Once I met Tracii, I think that's when that kind of started coming into play. Because he was adventurous too. And we wanted all of what was going on, so we used to go up there, we weren't even old enough to get in the clubs, obviously, but we would just go up there and hang out. I met him in electronics class.
Jason Porath 04:14
At Fairfax High?
Rob Gardner 04:15
At Fairfax High. More interesting, when I first moved to L.A., so I was in the middle of ninth grade. So I went to another school first before I went to, I actually went to Fairfax in 10th grade. At that other schoo I met Mike who was the singer for L.A. Guns, Mike Jagosz. But his brother Dave Jagosz had a band and Izzy was in that band. So I actually met Izzy before, I met him before Tracii, before Axl, before any of those guys.
Jason Porath 04:46
So at what point did you and Tracii decide to start making music together?
Rob Gardner 04:53
So we were in class then got to talking and stuff and figured out that we're both, he said he played guitar, I said, "Oh I'm a drummer. Oh cool, we should jam sometime." So his dad had a plumbing shop over in Studio City. And he goes, "We can jam over there, you know, if you want to bring your drums over or something like that, and we just gotta wait till you know they're done with work. And he said other than that we can jam all night. I'm like, "Okay," so that's what we did. We jammed over there and then we jammed, actually up at my dad's house too, I had a big enough room and my drums were set up in there and we would just come over, it would just be guitar and drums. So that's originally how we started.
Jason Porath 05:38
Were you in Pyrrhus?
Rob Gardner 05:40
Yes. Yeah, me and him started that whole project.
Jason Porath 05:43
Okay, and who else was in Pyrrhus?
Rob Gardner 05:46
Dani Tull played bass.
Jason Porath 05:51
At this point, there was some rivalry going on in Fairfax. Was Slash a part of that rivalry, did you guys know? Was he part of that circle?
Marc Canter 06:01
Tracii and Slash, they knew each other and they both played guitar, so they kind of had a little bit of a, you know, a low competition thing going on. And then Slash had his band and we had ours. And what were they, Road Crew? Was that Road Crew? I remember seeing, I guess it was Pyrrhus playing a party at like Orlando, near Melrose or something between Beverly and Melrose, and you guys were doing a bunch of Zeppelin covers and I remember being at that party with Slash, and I remember, I think you guys were playing the song Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin and Tracii was just all over the place. He was just like moving it around doing the Jimmy Page thing, but the band was pretty cool. And I remember looking at Slash saying, "Wow, look at these guys," because it was the first time I saw any of you guys, I didn't really know Tracii. And Slash had already said, "Yeah, I know them." And it was like no big deal to him. But to me, it was like, "There's another band on the circuit that's, you know, good and ready to go." It was Tidus Sloan, and at that time.
Rob Gardner 07:12
Tidus Sloan, yes.
Jason Porath 07:18
To watch the video podcast of the First 50 Gigs, that includes exclusive photos and videos from this episode, and the entire season, join our growing community on Patreon and subscribe. So Rob, when was L.A. Guns formed?
Rob Gardner 07:41
Pyrrhus basically kind of turned into L.A. Guns and I want to say 82, 83... like 82, I think in there. And we had met Raz, Tracii knew him and then he introduced me to him and he said, "Yeah, I think this guy can help us out." You know, he's money-wise, you know, and he wants to kind of, he's into like the management thing. And he said he can be can help us out. So like, okay. So the next thing, you know, we did like a little demo. And that was the White Album. It just kind of took off from there. We started getting like bumper stickers and we would just plaster those bumper stickers everywhere. And then little all kinds of stuff match books and what have you, just started promoting the band.
Marc Canter 08:38
I remember there being an L.A. Guns banner above the Rainbow that Raz must have paid for that. Also, I think that was around 1984 because you guys were still Pyrrhus at December 31, 1983, when you guys played that show with Road Crew at Curly Joe's studio. So you were still Pyrrhus then so you must have, right after that is when you must have changed to L.A. Guns.
Jason Porath 09:03
So what's going on behind the scenes here is that the New Hollywood Rose broke up and everyone kind of went their own different way. And it was around this time that Raz Cue signed on to be the manager for L.A. Guns, and he knew Axl and started lobbying Axl to join as the lead singer. Axl refused a couple times because he, I think, wanted to try to keep Hollywood Rose together. But eventually it did break up and they played their last gig at The Troubadour on the 29th of 1984 of August. Raz tries to get Axl again, but Axl had mentioned that to Raz, and this is from Raz's book, that Axl didn't think that him and Tracii had the same vision. But according to Raz, at that time, after New Hollywood Rose broke up, Axl actually returns back to Indiana to figure out his options, but eventually decides to give L.A. one more chance with L.A. Guns. So he came back in October of 1984. Axl joined L.A. Guns with Tracii, you on the drums and Ole Beich on bass. And that was kind of the start of you know, L.A. Guns again. So when Axl came in, had you known him before? Was that your first introduction? That's the first question. The second question is, you know, when he replaced your other lead singer, you know, what was that dynamic like, and how did things change?
Rob Gardner 10:37
So, I did know Axl, I knew of him because Hollywood Rose, they had a drummer Johnny, Johnny Christ, I think it was, and sometimes he'd go AWOL, he'd go missing and like, they had a gig and they're like, "What are we going to do?" and so I knew Chris Weber and he would say, "Hey, can you fill in for Johnny?" I knew all the songs, so I used to play with Hollywood Rose, you know, just fill in spots here and there for, you know, when they needed a drummer, so that was kind of a cool thing too.
Jason Porath 11:14
Putting it back to you, what was it like for you when Axl joined L.A. Guns? Was there, was that a shift for you, for the band?
Rob Gardner 11:22
Axl coming in was kind of a fresh energy. He definitely had the attitude, he had the whole vibe going on. So Axl added, like a real, a different kind of a rawness to the band, I think. And I think we all fed off of that. I liked having that Hollywood Rose influence in there too. It gave a freshness to L.A. Guns because L.A. Guns was real heavy metal, which was fine. I mean, I like it and stuff but we were like, me and Tracii used to go watch Wasp and like, you know, like all the heavy bands, you know, that Wasp thing and Mötley Crüe and stuff like that. When Axl came in, he brought some of the Hollywood Rose feel to the band, so it just gave it a twist. And we were just able to make it, you know, kind of gel together.
Jason Porath 12:23
You also then inherited some songs from Hollywood Rows like "Shadow of your Love" and "Anything Goes"
Rob Gardner 12:29
Jason Porath 12:29
Which had a lot of influence also from Izzy as a composer.
Rob Gardner 12:33
Jason Porath 12:34
So yeah, do you want to talk about any anything around that? That kind of influence that Izzy brought with those songs even though he wasn't in the band yet.
Rob Gardner 12:42
It had its own flavor, its own style, you know, to it. And I knew it already, because I had played with Hollywood Rose, and done shows with them. And I knew there's a difference between like L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose. There was definitely a difference in styles, and genres, if you will. But when you put them together, it was like kind of a cool mix.
Jason Porath 13:05
Did you feel that Axl was trying to push L.A. Guns to be more like that Hollywood Rose sound? And did that create a rift with Tracii?
Rob Gardner 13:13
The influence was definitely there. And yeah, I think he was probably pushing that a little bit. Yeah. You have to let a person and artist be who they are, you can't fight it. Tracii played guitar the way he played, I play drums the way I played, and Axl sang the way he's sang, and that's how the magic happens. Like everyone just does their own thing. They put their two cents in. And that's how it comes about. So it worked.
Jason Porath 13:44
I think the first gig that Axl played with you guys was October 5, 1984 at the Troubadour. Marc, this was the gig that you covered for Axl, but you didn't want to share that with Slash. Do you want to talk about that quickly?
Marc Canter 13:59
Oh, yeah. Axl and I became friends when I met him with Slash so when he was working with L.A. Guns, he called me and asked if I could take some pictures at the show and I didn't really want to tell Slash about it because they were rivals and I didn't want him to think that I was helping his rival and we were are at a party together and Slash was intoxicated with alcohol and he probably shouldn't have been bothered, but I bothered him to get him because I was taking him home that night, dropping him off and he just wasn't ready to leave but I had to make the gig, it was at midnight and it was like 11:30 so I forced him to come with me to drop him home. And he ended up throwing up in my car. So, you know, that's what I get, I guess. But I did make that gig and it was a good fit. I saw L.A. Guns and they were definitely a good band. And I knew already some of the songs because, you know, they were Hollywood Rose. They played at Hollywood Rose shows but coincidentally I believe London was playing...
Rob Gardner 15:06
Yeah, I was gonna bring that up.
Marc Canter 15:06
....on the same bill which Izzy was in London, so I didn't see London's set, but there was some rivalry already with that night because Axl was angry at London for something, I wasn't sure what it was but... It was the soundcheck. Because we did soundcheck and the guys in London took up the whole soundcheck time that was supposed to be for both bands, they get half and we get half. And we barely got a soundcheck with like, you know, so that's what Axl was pissed about. I remember, he was thanking London and then he ripped up one of their posters. I do remember that. That's absolute Axl, whatever is on his mind, he's gonna let you know about it.
Axl Rose 15:51
(Sound from the live show) The band before us, London, this is one of their posters now.
Someone in Crowd 16:07
Fuck London! Woo!
Axl Rose 16:07
We'd like to thank them for fuckin' nothing. This is called "Nice Boys Don't Play Rock and Roll."
Rob Gardner 16:28
Being that we were so rushed for soundcheck and we ended up just finishing late. So we only had a certain amount of time by the time we finished soundcheck and had to go home, or back to the studio or whatever, get showered and cleaned up, changed and back to the club, you know. And I remember my car had broken down and I borrowed a friend of mine's motorcycle, and I was living, like so I would take Laurel Canyon into the back end of the valley, and I was living in the valley. So I take the motorcycle, go over the hill, go home, shower real quick, get my stuff together and I literally put my stage clothes on, so I had like these black leather shorts laced up the side, I had like a fishnet shirt on with my white leather jacket and like, my hair, and the makeup and the whole deal and I get on the bike and I, fuck it, it's already nighttime by then and I jam on over Laurel Canyon. I'm like trying to get to the show on time, you know. I get there and I pull up in front and the guys like, you know, I go, "Can you park this for me?" You know what I mean? Like the valet guy. I go, "I'm on right now," and he's like, "Go." So I just went in and the lights were literally out, everyone was on stage, the lights were out, I walked right up the stage sat on my drums and started clicked it off and started playing. It was awesome!
Jason Porath 17:56
According to Raz, you guys blew the audience away.
Rob Gardner 18:00
Yeah, we tore it up on that show. We definitely did. So after Axl tore up the poster, you know, he did this little rant, you know, so he's like, "Fuck London," down and everyone's like, "Fuck London," he was tearing it up and then we did a song called "Nice Boys Don't Play Rock and Roll" you know, Rose Tattoo, and we tore it up, it was awesome.
Jason Porath 18:26
There is another show at The Troubadour, the following week on October 13, 1984. and Marc you you shot this show as well. In fact, Marc, you shot a picture of Axl that I think is one of the most iconic shots of your entire archive. It's him, you know, with the mic leaning backwards, and it's an extraordinary moment. And I think it just captures all of the promise, right, and all of that energy that Axl had and brought to the game and really foreshadowed, I think, his success. To preview the full experience of the First 50 Gigs video podcast that includes exclusive photos and videos from Marc's archive, check out the First 50 Gigs YouTube channel. You'll find the link right here in our episode show notes. Axl and Raz actually have a falling out about some incident at the Rainbow Room and Axl quit L.A. Guns. Rob, do you have any recollection of that falling out?
Rob Gardner 19:50
I think there was a few of them. Yeah, that was just one of them, you know.
Jason Porath 19:54
So it sounds like after that New Year's Eve show, Axl, you know, kind of comes back around and there's sort of this kind of change and disruption that's going on. Raz suggests that is Izzy joins L.A. Guns and Izzy comes in and has his own ideas about, you know, what's what, and also around this time, there's a change in the name from L.A. Guns to Guns N' Roses. Do you remember some of the transitions that were going on in early 1985?
Rob Gardner 20:30
I remember Izzy coming around and so that was another dynamic as well. And like I said, I had known him already. We knew each other already. But I knew him and him and Axl were a team. Yeah and I remember the day when the name change kind of came about and that was a little rough, because Tracii and I had really worked so hard on the L.A. Guns thing, and Raz too, you know, like that that name was just already imprinted. And we already had a buzz going around, and all of a sudden, that's just going to disappear? And then we ultimately both decided, "Yeah, alright, well, let's do it." And I don't remember Raz's thing with that. I don't know if he was going out of the picture at that point or, you know...
Jason Porath 21:23
I think Raz ran out of money at that point.
Rob Gardner 21:28
Jason Porath 21:29
And I think he couldn't be the kind of manager/benefactor that he was for L.A. Guns. And I think he had enough confidence that Axl, Izzy and Tracii could carry the momentum of Guns N' Roses into the new brand, into the new name.
Rob Gardner 21:45
Jason Porath 21:46
...Guns N' Roses. I think he did start to take kind of a backseat. I think what's also notable here is that Izzy starts to suggest that Ole Beich was a little too punk for the band or there was just something about his playing that he didn't feel kind of meshed with the direction that he wanted and he introduced this new guy who just arrived onto the scene whose name was Duff Rose and everybody thought it was cool that his last name was Rose and it was meant to be because you know, it is Guns N' Roses.
Rob Gardner 22:11
Jason Porath 22:22
So there was this additional disruption now, there was this new element coming in where Izzy wanted Ole out.
Rob Gardner 22:31
Jason Porath 22:31
And he wanted Duff to come in. What was your experience with that?
Rob Gardner 22:35
So what was going on there was Ole came from like Mercyful Fate, and from Denmark and they were like, metal and there was no like glam going on. As heavy as we were and as rock'n'roll as we were, that vibe when the Hollywood Rose thing came in, was just like a different thing, like all together. Like it was just in L.A. Guns he could fit in because they're like dong dong, dong, dong, dong, dong, dong, dong, you know, but when Hollywood Rose came into the picture, it was just a different vibe and it kind of wasn't him. And the glam thing, he would not wear friggin' makeup for nothing like he'd do his hair up, you know, and, or have it done up and he had like, cool hair, but as far as any kind of like, makeup and being a little more glammy on the edge kind of thing, it just wasn't him. So I think that's when Izzy suggested he had a friend up in Seattle, Duff, that would fit like perfectly, you know, he would really give that the flavor that we needed and a bass player. I think they drove up there and got him, like went and picked them up.
Jason Porath 23:57
So Duff actually moved independently from Seattle to Los Angeles, and took up a number of just, you know, jobs, any kind of job that he could get, whether it was in a restaurant or whatever. But he ends up moving into this fleabag apartment in Hollywood that ended up being literally across the street from Izzy and they bumped into each other a couple times once at a girlfriend's house. And maybe they saw each other in the street, but they they bumped into each other enough times to form a friendship. Then obviously they had music that they were talking about and sharing and influences and they got along enough to where they started just messing around together. And that's when Izzy pulled in Duff to Guns N' Roses.
Rob Gardner 24:31
Marc Canter 24:45
Duff was here because they started coincidentally jamming with Slash and Steven three or four months before that when Slash and Steven were trying to put Road Crew together they put an ad in The Recycler and Duff answered the ad and then met at Canter's. So Duff was briefly in Road Crew for about a week but it fell apart because they didn't have a singer and it just wasn't a strong enough backbone.
Jason Porath 25:13
But it turns out when you guys started playing as Guns N' Roses that you still had that following.
Rob Gardner 25:19
We had both followings. So it was kind of cool. When you put two bands together, obviously your crowds gonna just automatically get bigger.
Jason Porath 25:28
It was you, Izzy, Tracii and Duff, right?
Rob Gardner 25:33
Jason Porath 25:34
And, you guys started playing, you get a couple different gigs. The lineup of gigs that I have here is April 11th at Radio City in Anaheim, and an April 24th gig at The Troubadour. But around this time Raz organizes this KPFK interview.
Rob Gardner 25:54
Jason Porath 25:54
And you all recorded a few songs with Willie Basse in the studio. This first ever GNR radio appearance. What can you tell us about that moment?
Rob Gardner 26:05
Yeah, absolutely. That was, I remember that well. We were rehearsing at Willie's studio in the valley out in North Hollywood over there. And he had like a mixing board set up and so we mic'd everything and basically just did a live recording. It frickin sounded good, I mean, everything sounded good. So we did "Think About You," "Shadow of Your Love." There was one more "Don't Cry Tonight." Because "Don't Cry Tonight" was like a brand new song, we just had just come up with it like a couple of days before or something like that. And so when the radio interview came, it was kind of a late night thing and it was like a real indie kind of a feel, you know, she's she says, "Yeah, this is two bands coming in together. It's L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose and now they're calling it Guns N' Roses.
Radio DJ 27:01
This is still KPFK Los Angeles and this is Hope here with Guns N' Roses.
That was called "Think About You". Yeah, the band Guns N' Roses, a lot of people probably haven't heard of them, because it's two bands that combined. Like we're saying L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose. And it's basically a rock and roll band.
Rob Gardner 27:26
She played a song off of the L.A. Guns, the EP, right? And then she played, you know, one of the rehearsal songs that we did earlier that night. It was literally that night of the radio interview that we that we recorded everything and so that way you can kind of tell like, okay, that was L.A. Guns. but here we are doing a Hollywood Rose song, you know, we did "Shadow of Your Love" or whatever it was so that way you can kind of hear the difference and feel the mesh if you will.
Jason Porath 28:00
So that L.A. Guns and the Hollywood Rose together is what you feel was really the beginning of Guns N' Roses?
Rob Gardner 28:07
Radio DJ 28:09
Well, here we are, KPFK Los Angeles and we have Guns N' Roses. Now who is in this band? And what do you all do? And what is this tape we're gonna play?
Izzy Stradlin 28:20
This is Guns N' Roses. In this band is myself, Izzy Stradlin...guitar. Tracii Guns..guitar. Axl Rose on vocals. Axl and I are from Hollywood Rose, originally. And Rob Gardner on drums and our friend Duff played bass. Rob, do you have anything to say for yourself?
Radio DJ 28:46
What do you do Rob, what does this boy do?
Rob's the drummer.
Radio DJ 28:49
Oh he plays drums.
Yeah, he's pretty good. The songs that you just heard, we just actually did them before we came in here.
Rob Gardner 29:01
We were all kind of riled up you know and I remember Axl saying something like yeah, we're Guns N' Roses and if anyone's around we're gonna be at Candie's across the street from the radio station and you guys want to come down and hang out with us, we'll be over there. You know what I mean, like just promoting like just right off the bat, right out the gate.
Radio DJ 29:24
Well that was Guns N' Roses "Anything Goes."
Thank you.... And that's about what this is tonight...anything goes. (sing songy) Candie's restauraunt....right across the street.
Jason Porath 29:46
To watch the video podcast of the First 50 Gigs that includes exclusive photos and videos from this episode and the entire season, join our growing community on Patreon and subscribe. You know Raz said in his book that Izzy held respect from both Tracii and Axl and that he was almost like the center of gravity at the time. Like it was Izzy's world and Axl and Tracii were just rocking in it. What was your experience with Izzy having that much influence on the music and the movement of the bands?
Rob Gardner 30:28
Izzy was a songwriter and we needed songs. And the songs he was coming out with were frickin' good, so, you know, it worked.
Jason Porath 30:41
And personality wise, do you think Izzy was a lot more kind of laid-back, cool, grounded?
Rob Gardner 30:48
Jason Porath 30:48
Was he that counter balance to Axl?
Rob Gardner 30:51
Yeah, again, knowing that they were friends and they kind of grew up together, and they were kind of a team, if you will, and he kind of just trusted that, they had that going for them. And then me and Tracii were like a team, you know what I mean? And then yeah, like I said, Duff just came in... I think, Izzy was kind of like a ring leader in a sense, I would say that. He had a way of kind of orchestrating things. And then when he spit out these songs, he had it written from start to finish. Like, this is it, here we go. And then, you know, we'd add in our flavors and stuff and my fills and I think luckily, it was cool that he was able to let everyone kind of put their own style into it, and it worked. So there was no fighting about it or nothing like that, I think it just all worked, it worked good.
Jason Porath 31:56
With the dynamic that was evolving in Guns N' Roses, did you feel there was a momentum building with the band and the music that was beyond what was going on in the strip at the time? Or did you did you feel like you were building enough momentum and enough complexity with the music that you thought you guys had a chance of perhaps being discovered and taking those next steps?
Rob Gardner 32:22
Yeah, there was definitely a momentum going on. Like, one of the ideas for the band was to, and I think this was kind of Izzy's idea, and everyone kind of agreed with it, was like, "Let's get off of the strip, " you know, "let's, go play Orange County. Let's go play like on the outskirts, and let's get a buzz going out there." Because we already had, I think individually, we each had our people here already. But you know, going on the outskirts like The Timbers was out in Glendora, all the way down to 210 and then Dancing Waters, that's like going on tour, to a Hollywood rock band like, "Whoa, god, we got to drive all the way down there to go play." But I remember those shows, and each one of those shows, like Dancing Waters and The Timbers we got a really good reaction out there, I remember that. I remember I was like, I remember being done with that show and going, "Whoa!" People were out there dancing and kind of slammin' a little bit. We were hardcore enough where we really got that crowd going and Axl just had that energy, he was able to to get it out of the crowd and the attitude, and they knew we were from Hollywood, the gutter like Izzy called it. And so it was cool, like we made an impact with those people that saw those shows that night for sure. I think that was one of the first times I saw Axl wear a kilt, at that Timber's show. It was one of those shows, The Timbers or The Waters. So that was different for everyone, they're like, "What's going on there?"
Jason Porath 34:16
After The Timbers, there's another show at The Troubadour on the 26th. And now we're beginning to lead into a few defining moments that would seal the fate of the original Guns N' Roses lineup but Duff comes up with this idea for this Seattle tour and the way that he and Izzy were talking about it, they called it "The Shake Out Cruise" to see what people were made of, right? It was a homecoming for Duff to get the band back there, but in their mind, it was also a test and they were expressing doubts about Tracii. So what do you remember about them introducing this idea about the Seattle tour?
Rob Gardner 35:04
I don't remember it being like a test of who was really gonna have the balls enough to go and just take that chance and that leap of faith to do that thing so much. I think it was just like a decision that Tracii and I had made not to go. I can't even remember like if I decided not to go and then he found out later or was it vice versa, he wasn't going and then I bowed out.
Jason Porath 35:35
This is actually a really important moment and I want to make sure that we consider all sides of the story that we've heard from various people who were around. That includes Slash and Duff as well as Raz. And so one version says that Izzy and Duff and maybe even Axl really confronted Tracii and said, "We don't want you in the band anymore," and gave him the boot and that you were upset about that and you dropped out when Tracii was forced out, and Raz tries to get you to stay in the band, wanted you to stay, but that they forced Tracii out. So that's one version of the story.
Rob Gardner 36:17
It sounds correct.
Jason Porath 36:19
Yeah, the other version of the story is that Duff came up with this Seattle tour and you and Tracii were like, "You know, screw that, where are we going to eat? Where are we going to sleep? How are we going to get there?" And you guys were like, "We're not going on this tour." And that was the end of the lineup, the original lineup with Guns N' Roses. So which one? Which one do you think is more accurate?
Rob Gardner 36:44
I do remember quitting. I remember going down to the studio and I remember quitting it, I think it was, I don't know if Tracy was already out and then I decided not to do the tour thing. Because I was, you know, because of all those issues. So it could have been a combination. I'm sorry, I think it was a combination of those two stories, really, to be fair.
Jason Porath 37:16
So neither of you wanted to go on the trip but also there was a natural breaking up that was happening.
Rob Gardner 37:22
Even though things were going good, like musically, I guess, and there was a good vibe going and I think we were still kind of butt hurt about the L.A. Guns thing. That's what I'm thinking. I just remember that being, that was hard to take because we really did put so much blood, sweat and tears into L.A. Guns and all of a sudden it was like it was gone. It was really just me and Tracii running that whole show and then all of a sudden, then we got these other factors, these other guys in, you know, starting to kind of run the show, kind of over us, if you will. I think Tracii didn't like that so there was some clashing going on. And I'm just the drummer, you know, I'm just like, "Well you guys figure it out but when do I play," you know, sort of thing. But I think when Tracii was gone, I just kind of followed, I followed him out. The tour thing was just out of the question, I guess for us, both of us, whatever, so.
Jason Porath 38:26
And that ended up being what is later known as "The Hell Tour." So everything that you predicted happened: The car broke down, they hitchhike to Seattle...
Rob Gardner 38:38
All their equipment got stolen.
Jason Porath 38:40
Yeah, it was a mess. However, it was something that they went through, these five guys, Slash and Steven stepped in for you and Tracii. They played the Troubadour on June 6th, which was a gig that you guys had already lined up. And then the next day, they went on "The Hell Tour" and the collective experience that they had going on that tour, I think cemented them as a band. To watch the video podcast of the First 50 Gigs, that includes exclusive photos and videos from this episode and the entire season, join our growing community on Patreon and subscribe. So when you and Tracii left, did you then reform L.A. Guns?
Rob Gardner 39:53
No, I think we both kind of, we both took a break I think from each other at that point, which ended up being pretty much permanent, that break. I didn't really want there to be like any bad blood really. I know they probably weren't too happy that I split but it obviously worked out. They had a drummer and a guitar player that were already a team came right in and boom, just fit in, and obviously the rest is history.
Jason Porath 40:30
What part of it was was hard for you?
Rob Gardner 40:35
Just the fact that I helped form that whole project and then just the way the whole sequence of events, you know, so yeah, it was hard to see it going on and I wasn't a part of it anymore because they started doing good, you know. So that was hard. That's harf, I mean, obviously understandable. Well, yeah, I mean, you generated this momentum, going back to L.A. Guns. Uh hu.
Jason Porath 41:07
And rolled it into Guns N' Roses.
Rob Gardner 41:09
Jason Porath 41:10
And built it up as Guns N' Roses.
Rob Gardner 41:12
Jason Porath 41:13
And then you dropped out of it and the momentum that Slash and Steven inherited from you really served them well as they carried on into the next phase. I would imagine what was hard was watching all of that momentum basically be captured by a different group.
Rob Gardner 41:33
Yes. Yeah. Pretty well said there. Yeah.
Jason Porath 41:38
You know, was there that sting for you once the band became very successful?
Rob Gardner 41:46
Jason Porath 41:48
Do you mind talking about that a little bit?
Rob Gardner 41:51
Yeah. I mean, for me it happened with L.A. Guns and Guns N' Roses. You know what I mean? So it was like a double whammy for me. I was happy for them, I mean, obviously, and I was glad to be a part of it, and all that but yeah, they signed their record deal on my birthday, which was kind of funny and then, I think the last show that I did with them was on my birthday as well. So like a year later they signed and it started taking off. And so yeah, it stung, yeah. I was happy for them, I was like, "Wow, you know," and when it came out, it was like, just friggin' huge. So, yeah, it was rough.
Jason Porath 42:43
But you also influenced that sound and you were, you are a part of that "Appetite" sound just from what you brought from L.A. Guns to Guns N' Roses.
Rob Gardner 42:59
Jason Porath 43:00
You know, your contribution is there in the music.
Rob Gardner 43:03
Yeah...yeah, I mean I remember Izzy introduced "Think About You" and how we really all worked together on that. I remember it like clear as day because it was a great song. "Hey, how about this fill right here." And just the dynamics of everything, I added a lot of dynamics to that song and, like, "Move to the City" had a certain groove to it that I just liked playing. That was one thing I noticed about when Hollywood Rose came into the L.A. Guns thing and that mesh was taking place that I liked the grooves and it felt different, like more unique than just kind of regular, heavy metal. It had more of a groove, more of a beat. I felt comfortable with that and a lot of that stuff didn't change very much once it went on vinyl, it just, it never changed. So it's like pretty much the same exact song.
Jason Porath 44:08
Your contribution to this story is significant. I don't want to understate that and...
Rob Gardner 44:15
Oh thank you, yeah. I definitely don't want to end this on a somber note, but it was probably, in retrospect a very difficult choice that you had to live with after dropping out. Yeah, I've been telling that story for years (laughs). You know what, all in all, I was glad to be part of it. And I'm proud to be part of it. And I like GNR, I'm a fan. And so it's all, it's good. And I still see Slash around and go, "Hey, what's up?" We're like that. I haven't seen Axl in years and years. Like I said, there was probably a time when they were taking off and I was like, "Oh boy, that could have been it for me right there." But, you know, it is what it is and that's the way the cookie crumbled, and what are you gonna do, you either lay down and die or you keep going on with it. You gotta move on, you know?
Jason Porath 45:15
Rob Gardner 45:16
Yeah, so all good.
Jason Porath 45:18
Rob, thank you for being a part of this project.
Rob Gardner 45:21
Jason Porath 45:23
And I just thank you for your time and your contribution.
Rob Gardner 45:25
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me, for sure.
Jason Porath 45:32
We hope you've enjoyed this episode of the First 50 Gigs, Guns N' Roses and the making of Appetite for Destruction. To watch the video podcast, access bonus episodes and galleries and buy show merchandise, join our growing community on Patreon and subscribe.