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Founder and lead singer of Guns N' Roses, Axl Rose, is a celebrated but controversial figure in the world of rock.
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Axl Rose was born in Lafayette, Indiana in 1962. At age 17, he moved to California and worked odd jobs and played in bands, until the formation of Guns N' Roses in 1996. GNR achieved critical acclaim, but Rose’s antics caused controversy. After the Use Your Illusion Tour, Rose became a recluse. He resurfaced occasionally, promising to release Chinese Democracy, which finally hit stores in 2008.
Axl Rose was born William Bruce Rose Jr. in 1962, in Lafayette, Indiana. His mother was 16, and his father, William Bruce Rose Sr., was 20. Rose Sr. left when his son was two years old. Rose's mother later remarried, to Stephen Bailey, and changed her son's name to William Bruce Bailey. Rose grew up believing that Bailey was his biological father until, at 17, he discovered the existence of his father while going through papers at his parents' house. He began using Rose as his last name.
Rose was frequently in trouble with the police and spent time in jail on charges of public intoxication and battery. When the police threatened to charge him as a career criminal, he moved to Los Angeles in 1982. Shortly after, he joined the band AXL. The experience was so all-consuming that he legally changed his name to W. Axl Rose.
Rose worked odd jobs to support himself while playing in bands such as Rapid Fire, L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose. In 1986 he formed Guns N' Roses, and the band released their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, in 1987.
The band was successful, and Rose quickly became both a lauded and a controversial figure. Though hailed as one of the most charismatic and successful lead singers of all time, he was frequently late for performances, and shows often started several hours behind schedule. When the band released G N' R Lies in 1988, he was accused of being racist and homophobic, based on lyrics in "One in a Million."
After two people died while slam-dancing to "It's So Easy" during the Monsters of Rock concert, Rose became known for stopping shows to deal with unruly fans. At a concert in St. Louis in 1991, he dove into the crowd to retrieve a fan's video camera, which was banned. Back onstage, he denounced the security personnel and walked offstage. A riot ensued and caused $200,000 worth of damages, and Guns N' Roses was banned from St. Louis. While on the Use Your Illusion Tour, Rose's ranting and raving from the stage became more frequent, as did walk-offs and riots. After their last Use Your Illusion performance, on July 17, 1993, the band went dormant.
Although the band didn’t officially break up, Slash left in 1996, Matt Sorum was fired in 1997, and Duff McKagan quit later that year. Rose became a recluse, sequestered away at his home in Malibu. He reappeared in 2004 with a host of new bandmates and toured in sporadically in North America, Europe and Asia for several years. In 2008, the long-rumored album Chinese Democracy was released. However, Rose disappeared for two months, and when he resurfaced said that he hadn't received adequate support from his record label.
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