Hello, Goodbye: Izzy Stradlin and Guns N' Roses

It started out on Highway Five, freezing to death in LA clothes. It ended when Axl told him to get off the property. This month, cool beginnings and a warm welcome end for...

Izzy Stradlin and Guns N' Roses

By Jon Bennett

Mojo Magazine - Jun. 2001


APRIL 1985 I'd been in a garage band with Axl in Indiana, but he was so insecure he'd sing maybe one song then leave - always a little temperamental. I moved to LA when I was 18, he eventually moved out and we got together.

We went through a lot of line-ups and eventually it's five years later and I'm still living in a box so I said, "We've got to make this work." We ran an ad. Slash and Stevie [Adler] turned up but when we rehearsed it didn't look good. All I had was a Les Paul and a tiny Peavey practice amp and Slash had two Marshalls. I thought, "Rich cunt, I'm living in a box." I wanted to kill Stevie. He'd just dropped acid, couldn't play, and I thought, "What a complete fucking idiot." Duff [McKagan] lived opposite me so I asked him to play bass. He was the final piece that made it work. He'd been in a punk group who'd toured Canada so he knew how to get gigs. A week later he's like, "I've got us five shows in Seattle."

We broke down two hours out of LA next to a red onion field. We were starving so I started biting into the onions but then I started experiencing heroin withdrawal for the first time. I felt pretty funny. We got picked up by this truck driver who'd been up way too long. We got to the mountains in Oregon and he said, "You gotta get out, I need to sleep." It was snowing, we were dressed in LA clothes and after two hours we thought we were going to freeze to death. We stopped these girls, God bless them. They were moving from LA to Seattle - a little pick-up carrying their life - but they squeezed us in.

So we hitchhiked about a thousand miles to play these shows and no one came (laughs). But after that there was a chemistry, everybody was serious.


JANUARY 1993 I knew that it was the beginning of the end as soon as Steven was legally voted out for doing drugs. That from a band that spent years doing groupies and being idiots! But I did Use Your Illusionand the tour. I'd quit drinking and drugs and been through a year's probation. I had my own bus because I had a girlfriend and dogs, and there's nothing worse than waiting on somebody - their jumbo jet would sit on the runway for three hours while Axl blow-dried his hair.

Everything had become magnified - egos, drug habits, indulgence. It wasn't about music. We did fucking multi-million drama videos, like what happened to five guys playing rock n roll? Helicopters, supermodels, it was the lamest thing. The final straw was Axl, who was like Adolf, had a contract drawn up for me so he could lower me down the totem pole. It said my wages should be reduced because I didn't move about enough on-stage. When I heard that I was like, "Fuck this guy." We came from the same place, helped each other, now he thinks he's the king. I told them to do the papers so I could leave. He rang and said, "Will you still write with us?" and asked me to come over to his house.

I walk up and he comes out screaming, "Get off my property!" I thought, "You fucking little hayseed redneck trailer trash son of a bitch." What a dick. I drove away feeling like a mountain had been taken off my back.