Ex-Hollywood Rose bassist Steve Darrow recalls witnessing Axl Rose “personality issues” for first time

Ex-Hollywood Rose bassist Steve Darrow recalls witnessing Axl Rose “personality issues” for first time

Former Hollywood Rose bassist and Axl Rose bandmate Steve Darrow was recently interviewed by Andrew DiCecco for Vinyl Writer MusicDarrow played in Hollywood Rose back in 1983 and/or 1984 including in a line-up that at one point included future Guns N’ Roses members, Axl Rose (lead vocals), Slash (lead guitar), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar) and Steven Adler (drums).

Eventually, Stradlin left Hollywood Rose, and Darrow was asked whether he observed any measurable changes in Rose‘s leadership and direction within the band. Darrow replied:

“Well, quite a bit actually, but it wasn’t really extreme yet. He just seemed a little more levelheaded and driven. Less flashy or schmoozy than Izzy. Iz had a way of charming anybody he talked to and was able to handle the business/social part naturally. I think the first thing I noticed with Axl is that he was looking to change the image and direction just a bit, make it a little more street rock-metal oriented and less glamour/flash. He’s still dug Hanoi Rocks, Crüe, and those bands, but was fine going for more of a denim and leather Thin Lizzy/Nazareth type image and slightly less glam.

The first time I (or maybe any of us, sans Izzy) witnessed any personality issues, was before a gig at Madame Wong’s East in L.A.’s Chinatown. Everything seemed fine the day before, and even at sound check in the late afternoon the day of the show. We had planned on taking some photos of the band hanging out in Chinatown after soundcheck, but before the show, a friend of Slash and Marc Canter‘s named Jack [Lue], was a photographer and had a good camera. He wanted to do some legitimate band photos with the new lineup. But Slash put on a flannel shirt as part of his stage photo image outfit. Axl sort of freaked out over that. He thought flannel was much too ordinary or something. Even though he had decided that a less glamorous image for the band was the way forward, a flannel shirt was just too, I don’t know, working class? Lumberjack? I think Slash just wanted to wear something like Joe Perry wore on the Aerosmith Live Bootleg record cover, but Axl wasn’t having it. So, he just got up and walked away and disappeared into the busy streets/alleys of Chinatown, which was pretty crazy back then. It was in a very crowded and somewhat dangerous Asian neighborhood in downtown L.A., before the gentrification.

He didn’t show up for a long time, maybe one or two hours. And afterward, he was very sullen and moody. He even stated that he “didn’t need this,” he didn’t need a band, he could move back to Indiana and go to recording school or something like that, and do something important with his life if Slash, or any of us for that matter, weren’t on the same page as him. But I’m sure he didn’t really mean that, and it was probably the last thing he wanted to do at that point in his life. But after a few hours, it was all over, he settled down, we played the gig and it was excellent. But there were only about four or five people in the room; Tracii Guns, my girlfriend (now wife), Marc, Jack, and the bartenders. So, not many people would know how excellent it was.”

You can read the rest of the interview with Steve Darrow at Vinyl Writer Music‘s website.