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Artist of the Week: Guns N' Roses

Axl Rose and his current lineup of Guns N' Roses will be making their Rock on the Range debut this May. While all rock fans would rejoice at seeing the original band together again; it's pretty clear by Axl's snubbing of their Hall of Fame induction that that will probably never happen. With that being said, it isn't as if he hasn't surrounded himself with a talented bunch of musicians to carry the GNR name forward.

Axl Rose performing with Guns N' Roses
Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Rose, who is one of the most prominent lead singers in rock history, really needs no introduction. With classic songs like November Rain to his credit, everyone at the festival will be anticipating quite the show from him and the rest of the band.

Long time fans of the band will probably recognize Dizzy Reed as being the only remaining member of the band from their peak years of success. Reed has been with the band since 1990 and has contributed to the group on keyboards, piano, percussion, and backing vocals.

A trio of guitar players now play the roles of former stars Slash and Izzy Stradlin. Replacing them is obviously no small feat, but DJ Ashba and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal share lead duties and are definitely no slouches when it comes to the guitar. Richard Fortus also provides rhythm guitar for the band. Ashba formerly played with the BulletBoys, another hard rock group from the same era as GNR. Bumblefoot's prior experience also includes playing for Lita Ford while Fortus has also played with Thin Lizzy.

Tommy Stinson, formerly of Soul Asylum, now holds the bass playing duties since the departure of the legendary Duff McKagan. Gone also is Steven Adler, who has been replaced by Frank Ferrer on drums and Chris Pitman rounds out the band by contributing in several ways. He plays keys, bass, drums and even is an active song writer in the group.

The original band was formed in 1985 and exploded in 1987 with the release of Appetite for Destruction. The album was a massive hit at a time when hard rock and heavy metal were getting lost in excess. Guns N' Roses burst onto the scene by combining the sleaze of Motley Crue with the rawness of Bon Scott era AC/DC and the live energy of Aerosmith. While their joyride was relatively short lived and virtually blown up by 1994, few bands have ever reached the level of popularity in a small time frame as what GNR accomplished. As always seems to happen, the excesses of the bands that they replaced became the excesses of their own lifestyles. Egos grew, tempers flared, and in 1994 the Guns N' Roses that conquered the world were one by one dismantled. All of the members of the glory days era of the band have gone on to have successful solo careers and have formed new bands. Slash, especially has been just fine as he has forged on with Velvet Revolver and as a solo artist.

Between then and now Rose has added to his legacy. Multiple line up changes and Axl's penchant for showing up late or not at all for concerts has earned him and the new band a negative reputation. When you throw in the fact that the much hyped Chinese Democracy seemingly took 47 years to be released, a lot of fans have grown impatient with Rose or have ceased to be fans all together. I liked the album, actually, but I don't think it reached its potential because so many people refused to give it a chance after the 15 year long wait.

Hopefully with the negatives in the past, Guns N' Roses will live up to their billing as one of the headliners for America's largest rock festival at Crew Stadium. All of that lies on the shoulders of Axl and his band. The music stands up. Time hasn't softened the appeal of those old songs. If the band shows up and consistently delivers, the Guns N' Roses reputation will begin to creep back up towards the level of their music.

The following links are my Top 20 Essential Guns N' Roses songs. Do you agree with me? Disagree? Tell me what you think.

1. November Rain 1991

2. Welcome to the Jungle 1987

3. Paradise City 1987

4. Don't Cry 1991

5. Civil War 1991

6. Sorry 2008

7. You Could Be Mine 1991

8. Sweet Child O' Mine 1987

9. Patience 1988

10. Knocking on Heaven's Door 1991

11. Live and Let Die 1991

12. Night Train 1987

13. Used to Love Her 1988

14. One in a Million 1988

15. Yesterdays 1991

16. My Michelle 1987

17. Madagascar 2008

18. Anything Goes 1987

19. It's So Easy 1987

20. Hair of the Dog 1993