Our Guns N’ Roses Complete List Of Former And Current Members article presents a list of the musicians that helped create one of the most loved rock bands of the past 40 years. Guns N’ Roses burst onto the rock scene in 1985, and it didn’t take long for the band to become one of the defining acts of their generation. Founded in Los Angeles, California, the band originally comprised Axl Rose (vocals), Slash (lead guitar), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), Duff McKagan (bass), and Steven Adler (drums).
The Appetite for Destruction Era
Their debut album, “Appetite for Destruction,” released in 1987, shook the music world. This one below all of our midens, It had been a long time since an albums like that one had been released. It had that Led Zeppelin meets Rolling Stones type vibe to it. It sold over 30 million copies worldwide and spawned hits like “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child of Mine,” and “Paradise City.” The album was a cocktail of raw energy, fueled by punk, blues, and classic rock influences. We all thought that we were witnessing the birth of what would become the greatest rock and roll bands of all time.
Lineup Changes and Use Your Illusion
By the early 1990s, the original lineup started to disintegrate. Drummer Steven Adler was fired due to his drug problems, and Matt Sorum replaced him. Similarly, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin left and was replaced by Gilby Clarke. In 1991, the band released two albums simultaneously, “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II,” which were more experimental and showcased a wider range of musical styles. Hits like “November Rain” and “Don’t Cry” came from this era.
The Spaghetti Incident? and Hiatus
The band released a cover album, “The Spaghetti Incident?” in 1993, but by this time, internal strife and external pressures were taking their toll. Slash left in 1996, followed by McKagan in 1997. Axl Rose became the only original member and spent several years working on the infamous album “Chinese Democracy,” released in 2008 after many delays. This album featured an entirely new lineup, except for Axl Rose. For most fans, this was no longer Guns N Roses, but Axl owned the name, and so there you go.
Below is a look at the musicians who served as members of the band at one time or another
The Orginal Lineup Of Guns N’ Roses Members
Axl Rose, born William Bruce Rose Jr. on February 6, 1962, in Lafayette, Indiana, is the co-founder and lead vocalist of Guns N’ Roses. He’s been with the band since its inception in 1985 and is the only constant member. Rose’s distinctive voice and volatile onstage presence have become synonymous with the band itself. He has contributed to all the band’s albums, including their monumental debut “Appetite for Destruction,” the experimental twin albums “Use Your Illusion I & II,” and the much-delayed “Chinese Democracy.”
Outside of Guns N’ Roses, Rose briefly fronted AC/DC and has done some collaborative work with other artists. However, most of his career has been devoted to Guns N’ Roses, both in its original form and its later incarnations.
Tracii Guns, born Tracy Richard Irving Ulrich on January 20, 1966, in Los Angeles, California, was a founding member of Guns N’ Roses. However, he left the band early in its formation, even before the recording of their debut album. Guns went on to achieve fame as the lead guitarist for L.A. Guns, a band he founded that was a prominent act in the glam metal scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Izzy Stradlin, born Jeffrey Dean Isbell on April 8, 1962, in Lafayette, Indiana, is best known as the rhythm guitarist for Guns N’ Roses. Stradlin was one of the co-founders and was instrumental in the creation of many of the band’s biggest hits. He was part of the classic lineup that released “Appetite for Destruction,” “G N’ R Lies,” and the “Use Your Illusion” albums. Stradlin left the band in 1991 but has made guest appearances since.
Ole Beich was a Danish musician born on January 1, 1955, in Esbjerg, Denmark. He was the original Guns N’ Roses bassist but left the band shortly after its formation and before they achieved mainstream success. Unfortunately, Beich didn’t achieve significant fame in his musical career and died at the young age of 36 in 1991.
Rob Gardner was the original drummer for Guns N’ Roses, part of the lineup that included Tracii Guns and Ole Beich. He left the band in 1985, replaced by Steven Adler, before the recording of “Appetite for Destruction.” Gardner has since kept a relatively low profile in the music industry compared to his former bandmates.
Steven Adler, born Michael Coletti on January 22, 1965, in Cleveland, Ohio, was the original drummer for Guns N’ Roses when they started recording. Adler was a crucial part of the band’s early years and contributed to the iconic “Appetite for Destruction” album, as well as the “G N’ R Lies” EP. However, due to struggles with substance abuse, he was replaced in 1990 by Matt Sorum. He rejoined the band briefly for a few performances during their “Not in This Lifetime” reunion tour.
Beyond Guns N’ Roses, Adler formed his own band, Adler’s Appetite, in the early 2000s, focusing on his own material as well as performing some Guns N’ Roses classics. He also released an autobiography, “My Appetite for Destruction,” detailing his life, career, and struggles with addiction.
The Addition of Duff and Slash Began the Formation of the Classic Lineup
Duff McKagan, born Michael Andrew McKagan on February 5, 1964, in Seattle, Washington, is best known as the bassist for Guns N’ Roses. He joined the band in 1985, shortly after its formation, and quickly became an integral part of the classic lineup. McKagan played on the groundbreaking “Appetite for Destruction,” as well as the “Use Your Illusion” albums and “The Spaghetti Incident?”. He left the band in 1997 but returned for the highly publicized reunion in 2016.
Outside of Guns N’ Roses, McKagan has had a busy career, including stints with Velvet Revolver and his own solo work. He has also written columns on finance for various publications, drawing from his own experiences managing the finances of Guns N’ Roses. Duff has even authored a book called “It’s So Easy: And Other Lies,” where he elaborates on his life and career.
Slash, born Saul Hudson on July 23, 1965, in Hampstead, London, England, is the iconic lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses. Recognized instantly by his top hat and curly hair, Slash has been an essential element in defining the band’s sound. He was part of the classic lineup that delivered “Appetite for Destruction,” “Use Your Illusion I & II,” and “The Spaghetti Incident?” among other works. He left the band in the mid-90s due to personal and musical differences with Axl Rose but returned for the 2016 reunion.
Outside of Guns N’ Roses, Slash has had a prolific career. He formed Slash’s Snakepit and later co-founded Velvet Revolver with Duff McKagan and Scott Weiland. Slash has also released several successful solo albums featuring a range of guest vocalists. He has collaborated with numerous other musicians over the years across multiple genres, cementing his reputation as one of the most loved by his peers and fans while becoming one of the greatest guitarists in rock history.
More Essential Members From the glory years
Matt Sorum, born Matthew William Sorum on November 19, 1960, in Mission Viejo, California, succeeded Steven Adler as the drummer for Guns N’ Roses in 1990. He made significant contributions to the “Use Your Illusion I & II” albums and “The Spaghetti Incident?” Sorum left the band in 1997 when it began to disintegrate but has since appeared in various reunions.
Outside of Guns N’ Roses, Sorum has had a rich musical career. He was also a member of The Cult and Velvet Revolver. Over the years, he has collaborated with a wide range of artists and even released solo work. Sorum has also dabbled in acting and has been an advocate for animal rights.
Gilby Clarke, born Gilbert John Clarke on August 17, 1962, in Cleveland, Ohio, joined Guns N’ Roses as the rhythm guitarist in 1991, replacing Izzy Stradlin. While Clarke did not contribute to the band’s landmark albums, he did participate in extensive touring and was featured on “The Spaghetti Incident?” He left the band in 1994 due to creative differences.
After his departure from Guns N’ Roses, Clarke engaged in a variety of musical projects. He released solo albums and worked as a producer for several bands. Clarke also joined Slash’s Snakepit and was a part of the reality TV show “Rock Star: Supernova.” His versatility and skills as a guitarist and producer have made him a respected figure in the rock community.
The Times are a Changing, as well as the band….
Paul “Huge” Tobias
Paul “Huge” Tobias, born Paul Hug in 1963, replaced Gilby Clarke as the rhythm guitarist for Guns N’ Roses in 1994. A friend of Axl Rose, Tobias contributed to the cover album “The Spaghetti Incident?” and was involved in the long, tumultuous production of the “Chinese Democracy” album, although his contributions to the final product were minimal. His presence in the band created some tension, especially with Slash, and was cited as one of the reasons for the guitarist’s departure.
Outside of Guns N’ Roses, Tobias has kept a relatively low profile, with no significant highlights marking his post-GNR career.
Robin Finck, born Robert John Finck on November 7, 1971, in Bayonne, New Jersey, served two stints as a guitarist for Guns N’ Roses: from 1997 to 1999 and then from 2000 to 2008. He contributed to the long-awaited “Chinese Democracy” album. Finck is known for his distinctive stage presence and versatile playing style.
Beyond Guns N’ Roses, Finck is most notably associated with Nine Inch Nails, having contributed to several of their albums and tours. His diverse musical background and unique stage antics make him a well-regarded figure in the alternative rock and industrial music scenes.
Josh Freese, born on December 25, 1972, in Orlando, Florida, briefly served as the drummer for Guns N’ Roses between 1997 and 2000. Though his tenure was short, Freese did some initial recording sessions for “Chinese Democracy” but ultimately left before the album’s completion.
Freese has had an extraordinarily versatile career outside of Guns N’ Roses, playing with a myriad of artists across various genres, including A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, and The Vandals. He’s also released solo work and is considered one of the most prolific session drummers in the music industry.
Tommy Stinson, born Thomas Eugene Stinson on October 6, 1966, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, served as the bassist for Guns N’ Roses from 1998 until 2014. He played a significant role in the recording of “Chinese Democracy” and was part of the ever-changing line-up during the album’s lengthy production process.
Stinson is also well-known for his role in The Replacements, a pioneering alternative rock band. After leaving Guns N’ Roses, he rejoined The Replacements for their reunion shows and has also pursued solo projects.
Chris Pitman, born on November 19, 1961, served as a keyboardist and backing vocalist for Guns N’ Roses from 1998 until 2016. He was involved in the recording of “Chinese Democracy,” contributing keyboards, bass, and even some drum programming to the album.
Outside of Guns N’ Roses, Pitman has worked with a range of artists and bands, including Tool and Lusk. His musical skills aren’t limited to just keyboards; he’s known for his multi-instrumental talents, making him a versatile contributor to any project he’s involved in.
Buckethead, born Brian Patrick Carroll on May 13, 1969, in Huntington Beach, California, was the lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses from 2000 to 2004. Known for his virtuosic skills and eccentric stage persona, complete with a KFC bucket on his head, he contributed to the “Chinese Democracy” album, though he left before its release.
Outside of Guns N’ Roses, Buckethead has had a prolific solo career and has collaborated with a myriad of artists. He’s released hundreds of solo albums, displaying his versatile range that spans multiple genres including rock, metal, and experimental music.
Bryan Mantia, commonly known as “Brain,” was born on February 4, 1963, in Cupertino, California. He took over the drumming duties from Josh Freese in Guns N’ Roses in 2000 and remained with the band until 2006. He contributed to the “Chinese Democracy” album.
Beyond his work with Guns N’ Roses, Mantia has played with numerous artists like Primus and Tom Waits and is known for his contributions to the industrial and alternative rock genres.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal was born on September 25, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York. He joined Guns N’ Roses as a lead guitarist in 2006, taking over from Buckethead, and contributed to live performances until his departure in 2014.
Outside of Guns N’ Roses, Bumblefoot has had a successful solo career and is also a member of the supergroup Sons of Apollo. He’s well-known for his technical proficiency and eclectic style that incorporates various techniques and genres.
DJ Ashba (Daren Ashba)
DJ Ashba was born Daren Jay Ashba on November 10, 1972, in Monticello, Indiana. He served as one of the band’s lead guitarists from 2009 to 2015. Although he didn’t play on any studio albums, he was a key part of the band’s live lineup during those years.
Outside of Guns N’ Roses, Ashba has worked with various artists and bands, most notably Nikki Sixx in Sixx:A.M. He also has his own production company, Ashba Media.
Dizzy Reed (Darren Reed)
Dizzy Reed, born Darren Arthur Reed on June 18, 1963, in Hinsdale, Illinois, has been the keyboardist for Guns N’ Roses since 1990. He is the longest-standing member of the band behind Axl Rose and played on albums like “Use Your Illusion I & II” and “Chinese Democracy.”
Reed has also been involved in side projects like The Dead Daisies and Hookers & Blow, showcasing his versatility as a musician.
Richard Fortus was born on November 17, 1966, in St. Louis, Missouri. He joined Guns N’ Roses in 2002 as the rhythm guitarist and has been with the band since, contributing to live performances and becoming an integral part of the band’s current lineup.
Besides Guns N’ Roses, Fortus has played with The Psychedelic Furs and was a founding member of Love Spit Love. His diverse session work includes collaborations with various artists across multiple genres.
Frank Ferrer, born on March 25, 1966, in New York, New York, has been the drummer for Guns N’ Roses since 2006. While he hasn’t contributed to any studio albums, he has been a consistent member of the live lineup for years.
Melissa Reese was born on March 1, 1990, in Seattle, Washington. She joined Guns N’ Roses in 2016 as a keyboardist and backing vocalist, becoming the first female member of the band. She’s part of the band’s current lineup but has yet to contribute to any studio recordings.
Before joining Guns N’ Roses, Reese had a background in composing and producing music for films and commercials. Her inclusion in the band not only broke gender barriers within the group but also added a modern touch to their sound.
Guns N’ Roses Complete List Of Former And Current Members article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain Creative Commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Album Cover Photos are affiliate links and the property of Amazon and are stored on the Amazon server. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.