Chris Weber of Hollywood Rose & U.P.O.: 17 Albums That Changed My Life

Chris Weber of Hollywood Rose & U.P.O.: 17 Albums That Changed My Life

Feature Photo courtesy of Chris Weber

Many know guitarist Chris Weber for the seething rock records he dropped in the 2000s with his band U.P.O., No Pleasantries (2000), and The Heavy (2004), but his origins go far farther and extend far deeper. In the ’80s, Weber was the original guitarist for Hollywood Rose, aka the band that morphed into Guns N’ Roses with Slash at its six-string helm. Weber first entered Axl Rose’s midst via his pal Izzy Stradlin, who had met Weber in 1984 in the Rainbow Bar and Grill parking lot via fellow guitar-playing friend Tracii Guns.

Not long after, Weber and Stradlin began writing together, formed a band, and recruited a young singer named William Bailey, aka Axl Rose. Initially, the group was called AXL, then Rose, and eventually, Hollywood Rose. And not long after that, Hollywood Rose recorded a five-song demo in Hollywood in 1984, funded by money Weber had borrowed from his father.

Sadly, Axl Rose fired Weber from Hollywood Rose, replaced him with Slash, then Tracii Guns for a spell, eventually forming Guns N’ Roses. While Weber might have been cut loose before the mega success that was to come, he did get a taste via his co-written song “Anything Goes” being included on Appetite for Destruction (1987), and two more of his co-writes, “Reckless Life,” and “Move To The City” on GN’R Lies (1988).

If you’re interested in hearing the Chris Weber era of Hollywood Rose, dig into The Roots of Guns N’ Roses (2004). That aside, during a moment of reflection, Chris Weber beamed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to dig into the seventeen records that changed his life. Can you spot any of your favorites?

Chris Weber of Hollywood Rose & U.P.O.: 17 Albums That Changed My Life

Feature Photo courtesy of Chris Weber

The Song Remains the Same – Led Zeppelin (1973)

Listening to the album was a way to play the movie in your head every time. And the album played like a movie, with different tones, images, and an array of emotions.

At Budokan – Cheap Trick (1978)

Just hit after hit. It’s still one of the best albums, live or not. I was so happy when our band U.P.O. signed to Epic Records ala “Alright Tokyo, are you ready? Will you welcome Epic recording artists Cheap Trick!”

Alive! & Alive II – Kiss (1975/1977)

Like The Song Remains the Same did for Zeppelin, these albums took me back to the first Kiss concerts I went to, which was Kiss at Magic Mountain for filming Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. Also, it is not easy to play this stuff in nine-inch platforms. Listening to these records and staring at my posters of Ace… nothing better.

Rocks – Aerosmith (1976)

Just the best riffs I’d ever heard. Joe [Perry] created riffs different from [Jimmy] Page’s yet just as essential.

Cat Scratch Fever – Ted Nugent (1977)

I mean… 1970’s Ted shredded like a wild mountain lion running after his prey.

Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

My first hard rock album. A game changer. How Ed [Van Halen] integrated his riffs into the songs. And Dave [Lee Roth], I mean, just the best back then. I saw them at the California World Music Festival and The US Festival. Doesn’t get any better as a live band.

Women and Children First – Van Halen (1980)

The dark broody riffs. I learned most of ’em, but there’s just some stuff I could never play.

Hemispheres – Rush (1978)

One of the first albums that I learned back-to-back. I would put it on Side A and play along with it, then flip it over and play the rest. “La Villa Strangatto” is still my favorite instrumental track.

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970)

This album took creating a mood of darkness to a new level. Those damn church bells would scare the shit out of me. Around 13 years old, my friends fell into three camps: the ones that idolized the [Rolling] Stones, the ones that liked [Jimi] Hendrix, and the ones that liked [Led] Zeppelin and [Black] Sabbath. I was in the latter.

Jazz – Queen (1978)

A damn masterpiece. There is so much movement in that album—each musician at his finest. I listened to this and The Game nonstop one summer.

Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin (1971)

What guitarist of my day wasn’t enamored with Zep IV? The openness and looseness to Page’s playing, ala “Black Dog,” gave me some grace with my own, sometimes a bit sloppy, notation. Page taught me groove and swing, which became a massive part of my playing. And those goddamn dragon pants were the greatest piece of stage gear ever.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John (1973)

My first concert was Elton at Dodger Stadium in 1975—those songs performed by one of the greatest ever. I could never write like him, but his ’70s songs were part of the soundtrack to my young life.

In Color – Cheap Trick (1977)

Masterful songwriting, perfect voice, and a guitarist that was almost too different to emulate. Wrote songs with easy enough chord progressions that you could learn the album quickly and start jamming along with ’em.

Back in Black – AC/DC (1980)

Another album I learned from front to back. I liked Brian [Johnson] a lot and was still in denial that Bon [Scott] was dead and there wouldn’t be any more albums with him, kinda like getting used to your new stepfather. AC/ DC gave me and thousands of other young guitarists permission to write three-chord songs that rocked and didn’t lack anything. I turned 16 and met them all at a house they rented when they were playing L.A. One of my fondest memories.

Rock in a Hard Place – Aerosmith (1982)

Jimmy Crespo joining Aerosmith was divine—just the best riffs. There’s nothing like having the opportunity to use all your best riffs to write a first-time album with a group that needed a shot in the arm, figuratively. It may be controversial, but I think it is easily up there with Rocks and Toys in the Attic, and it’s better than all the stuff that came afterward. Much of this record inspired the Hollywood Rose stuff I wrote that went on Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction and Lies.

Chris Weber of Hollywood Rose & U.P.O.: 17 Albums That Changed My Life

Feature Photo courtesy of Chris Weber

Chris Weber of Hollywood Rose & U.P.O.: 17 Albums That Changed My Life article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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