Steve Darrow Says Axl Rose Once Freaked Out Over Slash’s Joe Perry-Inspired Outfit
Former Hollywood Rose bassist Steve Darrow recently recalled the time when Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose lost his temper over Slash wearing a flannel after being inspired by Aerosmith’s Joe Perry.
Before the formation of Guns N’ Roses, Hollywood Rose was established by Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, and Chris Weber in 1983. Steve Darrow also joined the band’s live performances as their bass player. However, the continuous line-up changes brought the end of the band.
In 1984, L.A. Guns member Tracii Guns was looking for a new vocalist, and his roommate Stradlin suggested Axl Rose. This introduction ultimately resulted in the formation of Guns N’ Roses in 1985 by Rose, Stradlin, Guns, Rob Gardner, and Ole Beich. Later, Beich was fired, and Duff McKagan joined the band. Then Guns were also replaced by the former Hollywood Rose member Slash.
During a recent interview, Darrow opened up about Axl Rose’s attitude as a leader after Stradlin joined London. As he stated, he initially observed Rose’s aim to change the style and direction of the band. According to the rocker, Rose tried to embrace a more street rock-metal-oriented genre in their sound. He was inspired by bands like Hanoi Rocks and Mötley Crüe and attempted to create an image like Thin Lizzy and Nazareth.
Steve Darrow said the following when asked whether Axl Rose changed his leadership after Izzy Stradlin:
“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 denim and leather Thin Lizzy/Nazareth type image and slightly less glam.”
Darrow also shared a memory of them before a gig in Chinatown. Everything was going as planned regarding the sound checks that day. They had planned to take some photos of the members hanging out in Chinatown, and during the photoshoot of the new line-up, Slash wore an Aerosmith’s Joe Perry-inspired flannel. As Darrow revealed, Axl Rose freaked out over this outfit and ‘disappeared into the busy Chinatown alleys’ filled with anger.
“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 as Joe Perry wore on the Aerosmith Live Bootleg record cover, but Axl didn’t have 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.”
The band members could not understand Axl Rose’s unexpected negative reaction that day. However, Rose had already stood out in the band with his bossy attitude and was known to have a more strict style of leadership. Maybe the rocker gave such a reaction to Slash’s style because he was a leader that wanted their band to develop an original style rather than copying existing acts.