MusicMight





In Association with Amazon.com
Musicians | Biography | Discography | Links
UNITED STATES, California, Los Angeles

Date Formed 1983

Categories: Hard Rock

L.A. GUNS

Current Members

Past Members

Live Session Members

Biography

1983 to 1994

An illustrious name on the mid eighties Los Angeles circuit, L.A. GUNS came tantalisingly close to achieving international stardom based on three sassy and attitude loaded albums all of which charted impressively on the Billboard charts, the 1988 debut, 1989's 'Cocked & Loaded' and '1992's 'Hollywood Vampires'. Unfortunately the band was caught in the slipstream of higher profile acts and, whilst maintaining a staunch fanbase, has struggled over the ensuing years with an utterly confusing tangle of membership changes.

L.A. GUNS was created by ex-PYRRUS guitarist Tracii Guns, his formative years involving a term in the fledgling GUNS N' ROSES and an unsuccessful audition for a position in RATT. According to Guns, the very first L.A. GUNS line-up, pinpointed at 1983, would see the guitarist in alliance with Gardner, ex-RAPIDFIRE vocalist Axl Rose (a.k.a. William Bailey) and bassist Ole Beich. Rose would bail out to front HOLLYWOOD ROSE and was duly substituted by Michael Jagosz. Demos were committed to tape in 1984 but then the band was put into stasis as both Guns and Gardner re-united with Rose to found GUNS N' ROSES.

With Guns being replaced by Slash, he duly re-activated L.A. GUNS. The 1986 line-up comprised Guns, bassist Mick Cripps, second guitarist Robert Stoddard (an original member of British Sleaze act DOGS' D'AMOUR), vocalist Paul 'Mars' Black and ex-WEIRDOS drummer Nickey 'Beat' Alexander. Both Cripps and Black held a prior tradition with FASTER PUSSYCAT. Black had also staked his claim on the Hollywood circuit with antecedent acts the Punk MAU MAUS between 1980 and 1983 and hotly tipped THE JONESES, as drummer, leading up to 1985. It would be during this period that the band really made their mark both on the club scene and on the record companies. However, just as the band was signed the group was radically re-structured. Gardner soon parted ways with Guns and would re-emerge with JADE and another defection came with the exit of Stoddard.

In March of 1987 Black would depart for pastures new, founding BLACK CHERRY with guitarist Anthony Castillo, and British born PHIL LEWIS was added in the frontman role. Lewis had, of course, previously fronted GIRL with whom he recorded two albums for Jet Records, finding great success in Japan, after which the singer gave his talents to many acts including BERNIE TORME'S GYPSIES, NEW TORPEDOS and even NWoBHM band SOLDIER.

Mick Cripps, who had once lived in England and played in KILLER ELITE with THE QUIREBOYS bassist Nigel Mogg, moved from bass to guitar. Erstwhile VIRGIN STEELE, FASTER PUSSYCAT and ANGELS IN VAIN man Kelly Nichols linked up with the band whilst former ROADMASTER, EMPIRE, STEPPENWOLF, THE B'ZZ and W.A.S.P. drummer Steve Riley was ultimately pulled in. Although Riley appears on the debut album's sleeve he did not join the band in time to record the sessions.

The debut album, issued in 1988 and just breaking into the Billboard top 50, featured a cover of the GIRL track 'Hollywood Teaze' and proved a strong seller. Within the Rock environment created by fellow acts such as GUNS N' ROSES and FASTER PUSSYCAT the band's Sleaze Metal went down well with the American youth and L.A. GUNS became a high profile act both on the touring scene and on MTV, where videos for 'One More Reason' and 'Sex Action' scored regular rotation.

The Second album, 1989's 'Cocked And Loaded', which featured a guest appearance by the CHEAP TRICK duo of vocalist Robin Zander and guitarist Rick Nielsen, gave the band advances on sales in America to land in the top 40 and provided the impetus for a lengthy bout of touring. Headline shows in the UK during 1991 found LITTLE BIG HORN as support act. The track 'The Ballad Of Jayne' found favour on US radio and 'Cocked And Loaded' gave the band a worthy platinum sales award for one million US sales. For the video market, the strangely titled 'Love, Peace, & Geese' also sold well.

In support of third album 'Hollywood Vampires' L.A. GUNS, having adopted a new pseudo-vampire image, opened for SKID ROW on their European tour. The album eventually went platinum. 1991 would also see Guns taking time out to participate in the CONTRABAND 'supergroup', consisting of SHARK ISLAND vocalist Richard Black, the SCORPIONS, UFO and MICHEAL SCHENKER GROUP credited German guitar hero Michael Schenker, VIXEN bassist Share Pederson, and RATT drummer Bobby Blotzer.

L.A. GUNS then recorded the covers EP 'Cuts' prior to Lewis sacking Riley, replacing him with Michael 'Bones' Gershima from Seattle outfit GYPSY ROSE. The erstwhile drummer put together a proposed project with ex-DOKKEN guitarist GEORGE LYNCH and former LIFE, SEX AND DEATH bassist Bill E. Garr but the union was trounced by Lynch's reinstatement into DOKKEN.

L.A. GUNS then broke up, apparently following the sacking of founder Tracii Guns by his band mates. The band had elected to stick together until Lewis walked out after attempting to drastically change the direction of the band to the disapproval of his colleagues. Lewis duly formed FILTHY LUCRE together with Gershima and former LONDON COWBOYS man Steve Dior releasing the 1997 album 'Popsmear' whilst Guns formed KILLING MACHINE.

1995 to 1998

Guns, Cripps and Lewis regrouped with bassist Kelly Nichols to record L.A. GUNS 1995's 'Vicious Circle'. Japanese editions added the customary extra tracks in the form of 'Death In America' and 'Empire Down'. For club dates to promote the album Riley rejoined as the band also added second guitar player Johnny Crypt, previously with BONEYARD. Lewis quit once more shortly followed by Cripps and Nichols leaving Guns, Riley and Crypt to remould the band once again.

The 1996 'American Hardcore' album was the first fruits of a revamped L.A. GUNS' new label deal with C.M.C. International. The record, recorded with Dennis Degher as co-producer at the Red Zone Studios in Burbank, displayed a radically different sound to what had gone before and polarized fans. 'American Hardcore' started with a burst of confusing, backwards music, actually revealed as being a segment of BLACK SABBATH's 'Black Sabbath' the band had recorded but had been rejected by the label. Japanese versions included the track.

The new line-up featured veterans Guns and Riley alongside Crypt (now on bass) and his BONEYARD colleague vocalist Chris Van Dahl (a.k.a. Chris Korstjens), the latter, a Detroit, Michigan native, also having made his mark earlier on the scene under the pseudonym of Roxy Dahl for Glamsters CHERRY ST. The band's official press release for the relaunch gave the misleading impression that Guns and Riley had originally formed the band together, even though Nickey Alexander had been a member of the band and had played on the debut album before Riley was recruited.

During 1997 L.A. GUNS underwent further line-up changes as Van Dahl departed. Ralph Saenz, best known in Hollywood for playing the role of David Lee Roth in VAN HALEN tribute band ATOMIC PUNKS and previously being a member of 7% SOLUTION with ex TALAS guitarist MITCH PERRY, filled in for an American tour and the recording of the 'Wasted' EP. In Japan the 'Hollywood Rehearsal' album emerged comprising cover versions of tracks such as LED ZEPPELIN's 'Custard Pie', MONTROSE's 'Rock Candy' and THE CLASH's 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' amongst others.

The reason for Van Dahl's departure had been the group's need for a singer capable enough to perform the older material fans demanded to hear live. Van Dahl subsequently formed THE VOW with old BONEYARD band mates Pauly Alvarez on guitar and Bobby Holder on the drums, being rounded out by ex-LEGS DIAMOND bassist Adam Kurry and second guitarist Valadez. The group recorded demo material and immediately set to work on shopping for a record deal.

The L.A. GUNS shows with Saenz in the band proved so popular that the group recorded a bunch of demos with the singer and, although having talked with Phil Lewis about a possible return, were delighted to find Saenz keen on staying with the band. Lewis, meantime released a new solo album in Japan called 'El Nino' which was given a more widespread release under the new title of 'More Purple Than Black' adding more songs and remixed versions of existing tunes through the Stand Back label.

Unfortunately, Saenz dropped a bombshell in June 1998 as L.A. GUNS released the 'Wasted' album and prepared to hit the road throughout America when he announced his departure to concentrate solely on ATOMIC PUNKS. Saenz later founded yet another covers act in METAL SHOP with ex FIGHT guitarist Russ Parrish and DAVE LEE ROTH band drummer Ray Luzier.

L.A. GUNS bounced back briefly with Guns, Crypt and Riley joined by former BANG TANGO vocalist Joe Leste. The union was short lived though as Leste returned to his former act.

1999 to 2007

1999 found L.A. GUNS back on the road in North America but now fronted by ex-LOVE/HATE singer Jizzy Pearl pushing the 'Shrinking Violets' album, produced by ex-GUNS N' ROSES guitarist GILBY CLARKE. Bass was now in the hands of Crypt before Stephen Adika took over. He in turn was replaced by Chuck Garrick as Adika joined DAD'S PORNO MAG and GLAMNATION.

However, by August L.A. GUNS had reformed their classic line-up of Tracii Guns, Steve Riley, Phil Lewis, Kelly Nickels, and Mick Cripps. Former bassist Garric put together a new band with ex-L.A. GUNS front man Joe Leste, having left BANG TANGO once again, with former BULLETBOYS guitarist D.J. Ashba, FASTER PUSSYCAT's Brent Muscat on guitar and drummer Danny Parker. This unnamed unit's lifespan was brief as Garrick jumped ship to DIO.

Strangely for such a high profile reunion, L.A. GUNS first move was to completely re-record their second album re-dubbed 'Recocked And Loaded'. Live shows found the band on a club tour supported by BAR 7.

In 2000 Lewis, alongside the FASTER PUSSYCAT and BUBBLE duo of guitarist Brett Muscat and bassist Erik Stacy, featured fronting the LIBERATORS on their 'Access Denied' album. He was back with L.A. GUNS the same year promoting the live 'A Nite On The Strip' album, were back out on an arena touring package with RATT whose new vocalist was none other than Jizzy Pearl.

April found Nickels and Crypt decamping, the latter reforming LOVE/HATE with Jizzy Pearl and another L.A. GUNS refugee Chris Van Dahl. Crypt also busied himself on his own project titled PLAZMAHOLIX. Meantime both Guns and Riley figured in the guest roll call for the SHAMELESS album 'Queen 4 A Day'.

New faces in L.A. GUNS for their summer tour were ex-FASTER PUSSYCAT bassist Brent Muscat and BURNING TREE's Mark Dutton (a.k.a. Muddy Stardust) on guitar. The musical merry go round did not end there though as Guns supplanted C.C. DeVille in POISON only to be ousted within a matter of weeks as POISON settled their differences with C.C.

Typically, Guns announced yet another offshoot as he created KILOWATT with Chuck Garric on bass, VIDEODRONE drummer Kris Kohs and Gilby Clarke. Guns and Clarke somehow found the time to pursue yet another venture, this time with STRAY CATS drummer Slim Jim Phantom, titled STARFUCKERS.

L.A. GUNS made a welcome return to form with the 2001 album 'Man In The Moon' recorded for the Spitfire label. The line-up for this record being Phil Lewis, Tracii Guns, Muddy Stardust, now on bass, and Steve Riley. Touring plans were laid for American dates with the newly reformed FASTER PUSSYCAT and THE BULLETBOYS. Both L.A. GUNS and running mates FASTER PUSSYCAT would make it to the UK in September for club shows.

In December of 2001 the latest bass player to occupy the role would be announced as Adam Hamilton, better known as a drummer for JOEY C. JONES AND THE GLORYHOUNDS and his involvement with JOE 90, NO.9 and C.C. DeVille's NEEDLE PARK. Meantime, Lewis would put in a further tribute album appearance, fronting up a version of 'My Michelle' on an April Deadline Records GUNS N' ROSES collection.

The band, promoting a new record for Spitfire entitled 'Waking The Dead', would be back on the road during the summer of 2002 as part of the 'Metal Edge Rockfest' tour. Kicking off on June 20th at the West Fargo, North Dakota Red River Valley Fair the two month long string of dates found the band on a co-billing with WARRANT, RATT, FIREHOUSE and headliners DOKKEN. L.A. GUNS recruited ex-PRETTY BOY FLOYD bassist Keff Ratcliffe as the band's new rhythm guitarist for these shows. The success afforded the first leg of these shows would see this tour commencing a second round of gigs in Seattle on August 7th, eventually stretching out to mid September. However, Hamilton's skills as a drummer were called upon following an altercation between DOKKEN members Don Dokken and drummer 'Wild' Mick Brown. With Brown making a sudden exit Hamilton duly filled in on the drum stool for the headliners show in Tucson, Arizona.

Word also leaked that same month that Tracii Guns and Adam Hamilton, switching from bass to guitar, were working on a collaborative behind the scenes project with MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx and ADEMA's drummer Kris Kohls dubbed at first as COCKSTAR, then MOTORDOG and finally BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION. Meantime L.A. GUNS signalled an unexpected move to return to the stages in the UK, forming part of a package billing alongside ALICE COOPER, THUNDER and THE QUIREBOYS entitled the 'Monsters Of Rock' tour for November of 2002.

However, within weeks a public spat played out between Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns confirmed that the guitarist's commitments to BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION had ended up curtailing these dates. In his public letter to fans Lewis surprisingly stated that Guns had auditioned for both POISON and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS. It would also be revealed that the notorious W.A.S.P. and ANIMAL guitarist Chris Holmes had at one stage been considered to deputise for Guns for the UK shows.

The band, partnered with XYZ and headliners GREAT WHITE, revealed plans for a fund raising tour for Summer 2003 in memory of the late GREAT WHITE guitarist Ty Longley. Although scheduled, these shows would be cancelled due to apparent "insurance issues". A November US tour package seeing the band ranked alongside BULLETBOYS and BLACK N' BLUE was to see the RATT veteran Keri Kelli subbing for both BULLETBOYS and L.A. GUNS. However, these gigs were dramatically cut short in early November when an altercation resulted in BULLETBOYS tour manager Mark Rojas being stabbed by a bus driver en route to a Detroit gig.

Keri Kelli bowed out in December, citing conflicting schedules with his other act ADLER'S APPETITE. Lewis would donate vocal tracks to a version of the KISS classic 'Strutter' for a tribute album 'Spin The Bottle' in 2004 and would partner with guitarist Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter for a rendition of AC/DC's 'Shot Down In Flames included on the Rufftown 'We Salute You' tribute album.

A set of covers would be on the agenda for L.A. GUNS too, their 'Rip The Covers Off album comprising entirely of tracks originally by other artists. Included would be ROSE TATTOO's 'Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw', AEROSMITH's 'Nobody's Fault', LED ZEPPELIN's 'Custard Pie', HANOI ROCKS' 'Until I Get You', SAXON's 'Wheels Of Steel', FOGHAT's 'I Just Wanna Make Love To You', DAVID BOWIE's 'Moonage Daydream', THE ANGELS' 'Marseilles', QUEEN's 'Tie Your Mother Down', DONOVAN's 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' and IGGY POP's 'Search And Destroy'. That same year Muddy Stardust joined up with former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist GILBY CLARKE's band for a batch of March US dates.

The first new 2005 L.A. GUNS recording came with the release of the February 'VH1 Classic Metal Mania: Stripped' compilation album through Sidewinder Music, the band re-recording an acoustic version of the power ballad 'Ballad Of Jane'.

L.A. GUNS, working with producer Andy Johns once again, set to recording a new studio album 'Tales From The Strip' in early May. Performing guitar with the band would be Stacey Blades, previously a member of ROXX GANG, SMACK and SUPERCOOL. During these sessions the band also laid down a cover version of JUDAS PRIEST's 'Living After Midnight'. US Summer shows found the band participating in the 'Metal Blast' tour packaged with STEPHEN PEARCY, METAL CHURCH and headliners W.A.S.P..

In October early L.A. GUNS singer Paul Black brokered news of an attempt to reform the original line-up for live work. Tracii Guns quickly dismissed the idea. However, an album comprising archive tracks, 'Black List', did surface credited to PAUL BLACK'S L.A. GUNS.

In a surprise move, Tracii Guns joined the ranks of QUIET RIOT in mid-December. However, his tenure would be brief as in January 2006 it was announced the union was over. Shortly afterward, TRACII GUNS fired up a solo band, the line-up of which included early L.A. GUNS singer Paul Black, bassist Jeremy Guns and another ex-L.A. GUNS man, drummer Nickey Alexander. A live album by the Phil Lewis led L.A. GUNS, 'Loud And Dangerous', was announced in June. However, the situation soon became acrimonious as both Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis took their respective bands out onto the touring circuit - both billed as L.A. GUNS. On October 10th the two rival L.A. GUNS singers Phil Lewis and Paul Black shared the stage for a jam at the Key Club in Hollywood, California.

In early 2007 the Lewis fronted band announced they were to team up with WARRANT and FIREHOUSE for the '80s Invasion' North American tour. However, longstanding bassist Adam Hamilton opted out in March.

July 2008 found Paul Black recording solo album tracks with a band unit involving guitarist Jo Almeida, keyboard player John Bird, with the GILBY CLARKE and MARC FORD rhythm section of bassist Muddy Stardust and drummer Dennis Morehouse. 

The Tracii Guns version of L.A. GUNS imploded just prior to a concert date in Mexico. Guns decided not to do the show and was replaced by Danny Nordahl. That October Guns duly formed GUNS OF DESTRUCTION, a union with ex-GUNS N' ROSES drummer Steven Adler and ENUFF Z'NUFF bassist Chip Z'nuff.

The L.A. GUNS story took an unexpected twist in December when Tracii Guns revealed that his version of the band had drawn in singer Marty Casey, a former contestant on the hit CBS television reality show 'Rock Star: INXS'. Further, the new look group, which Guns revealed would no longer be using the L.A. GUNS title, had filmed a six part TV series financed by Alexus Records.

GILBY CLARKE, previously of GUNS N' ROSES, and Tracii Guns were to join forces for the 'Lone Guns' North American tour in May 2009. However, only Guns actually set out on the dates backed by local supports. In April Tracii Guns allied with singer Scott Foster Harris to front a brand new band called THE TRACII GUNS LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN. For US dates by the Tracii Guns led band, vocalist Jizzy Pearl rejoined the ranks, replacing Marty Casey. Guns had in fact extended an olive branch to Phil Lewis via email for these shows, but the offer was publicly declined.

Kenny Kweens, of HELLSTAR, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, SHAKE THE FAITH, NO. 9 and WICKED JESTER, joined the Lewis led L.A. GUNS on bass in July.

Garry Sharpe-Young

Copyright Musicdetector Websites 2009