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Axl Rose - From Rags To Riches

Updated on March 14, 2014

From Rags To Riches


"Maybe A Greyhound Could Be My Way"

When William Bruce Bailey known today as Axl Rose left Indiana at the age of 17 he probably never thought in a million years he’d end up being one of the biggest rock stars the music industry has ever known.

A destined trip on a greyhound bus Los Angeles bound is what marked the beginning for the soon to be frontman of Guns N Roses. Living the lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock n roll, he literally went from rags to riches before signing onto Geffen Records with the band Guns N Roses.

Before Guns N Roses

William Bailey grew up in a strict religious household in Lafayette, Indiana. He developed his vocal range while playing in the church choir with his brother and sister under the name The Bailey Trio. Later on in high school, William took up piano lessons and studied choir before dropping out of high school completely.

During his teen years he accidentally stumbled upon some paper work that revealed the identity of his true biological father whom he never met. His fathers name was William Bruce Rose. He was apparently murdered by a criminal associate and his body has never been recovered.


Delinquency in Indiana

During his teen years William had many run ins with law enforcement officials leading him to eventually skip bail and head to Los Angeles on a greyhound bus. Out to search for his high school buddy Jeff Isbell also known as Izzy Straden, Bill and Izzy finally met up and played in several bands together including Rapidfire, L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose before forming the band Guns N Roses. The original line up of Guns N Roses included Axl Rose, Izzy Straden, Slash, Steve Adler and Duff McKagan. William legally changed his name to W Axle. Rose before signing onto Geffen Records.

The Rock N Roll Life Style

Like all bands starting off playing in clubs and bars wasn’t very rewarding at first until they started getting noticed by record label talent scouts. Many executives shied away from signing them on because of their tendency to party out of control, but eventually Guns N Roses got their big break with Geffen Records and that’s just what they needed to hit it big. After many tour dates and the successful video release of Sweet Child O’ Mine, Guns N Roses became known as one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Their first album Appetite for Destruction sold 28 million copies worldwide.

Guns N Roses Breaks Up

Axls short temper on and off stage coupled with his tendency to be late for shows caused a lot of hardship for Guns N Roses throughout the years. Other band members were getting out of control in their own way with heavy alcohol and drug abuse and eventually their rock n roll lifestyle took its toll. In 1996 Slash finally left the band followed by Duff McKagan who was the last surviving member to leave. All rights to the band name have been turned over to Axl Rose who currently tours under the name Guns N Roses with his own line up.

Paradise City


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    • Anthony Moreau profile image

      Richard de Mey 3 years ago from Scottsdale, Arizona

      Thanks Sandy, Axl Rose was definitely one of those guys you can say was "saved by Rock N Roll".. literally

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Good history on Axle Rose.

    • Anthony Moreau profile image

      Richard de Mey 3 years ago from Scottsdale, Arizona

      Thanks Bk42.. yeah I've always been fascinated about celebrity backgrounds, G&R being amongst one of my favorite bands, I just had to do the research and learn more about their lead singer.

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      Interesting hub. I always liked G&R but never knew much about Axl Rose's background. Voted interesting.