History & BiographyL.A. Guns was initially formed in the glam Mecca Los Angeles in 1983 and went on to have two albums certified as 'gold,' but the band is better known for once featuring Axl Rose who would go on to join Guns 'N Roses. Tracii Guns formed the band with aid from singer Michael Jagosz. Axl Rose briefly replaced the latter before Jagosz would return from the county jail to reclaim his post. Also part of the group is Ole Beich on bass and drummer Rob Gardner. The group recorded a demo called Collector's Edition #1 on Raz Records, which would later be reissued as Hollywood raw. Jagosz would soon leave and Tracii and Axl would join forces again, this time combining Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns. Paul Black would soon take over the vocals and the band would begin demoing material. Paul Black was replaced by a famous name (some say it was drug problems) in the form of former Girl singer Phil Lewis. With Kelly Nickels on bass, the band would record its debut for Polygram. Nickey Alexander had recorded the album, but was replaced by former W.A.S.P. drummer Steve Riley for the tour and subsequent second album.
Cocked & Loaded went gold in the USA and the band issued a video. The line-up was steady for another two years until the departure of Riley in 1994. When the band was dropped by Polydor Lewis and Mick Cripps would depart. They would be replaced by Chris Van Dahl and guitarist Johnny Crypt of the band Boneyard. When Nickels decided to leave however Crypt switched to bass guitar. This line-up recorded the relatively heavy American Hardcore, which was issued by the hard rock upstart CMC International. A year later, the band recruited a new singer, Ralph Saenz. The new man would quit in the midst of the Rock Never Stops US tour. Next in was Love/Hate’s Jizzy Pearl. This line-up issued the oft-criticized Shrinking Violet album. The album was produced by former Guns 'N Roses man Gilby Clarke. A few months later Johnny Crypt would use the revolving door.
Pearl would be asked to leave when in 1999 L.A. Guns reunited with Tracii Guns, Phil Lewis, Steve Riley, Kelly Nickels and Mick Cripps. The reunion yielded a live album for the year 200. Nickels and Cripps left a year later however. A tour with Warrant was cut short with the band blaming the promoter. The band signed to the East Coast label Spitfire Records and issued Man In The Moon in 2001. Waking The Dead featured a new name, Adam Hamilton on bass guitar. Tracii would join forces with Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx in 2003 in Brides Of Destruction. The new project would prove transitory when Sixx would recommit to a reunited Crüe. In the meantime, L.A. Guns would be led by Riley and would recruit guitarist Stacey Blades. The new band issued Tales From The Strip. When Brides Of Destruction was discontinued Tracii Guns reassembled a new L.A. Guns featuring Paul Black and drummer Nickey Alexander resulting in two bands touring and recording with the same moniker. One version of the band fired Adam Hamilton in early 2007 in favour of Scott Griffin. Lewis’ version of the band announced a tour with Warrant. Marty Casey, a former contestant on the US TV show Rock Star: INXS, was named the singer for the Tracii Guns version of L.A. Guns in 2008. Tracii Guns version of the band was shopping a band reality show to different television distributors. The band’s name was to be changed because of obvious legal reasons. Singer Jizzy Pearl would rejoin the Tracii Guns’ version of L.A. Guns for that band's 2009 summer tour. There were again two versions of the band on the road. The Phil Lewis version of the band lost bassist Scotty Griffin and replaced him with Kenny Kweens of Beautiful Creatures. Griffin’s The King Mixers had found a year-round gig at Sunset Station Casino in Las Vegas. In February 2010, Tracii Guns’ L.A. Guns signed a deal with Steve Vai's new label, Favored Nations (sic), to release a Deluxe Reissue of Shrinking Violet, which was a L.A. Guns album featuring singer Jizzy Pearl. The album was repackaged with new artwork and five live bonus tracks. Tracii Guns' L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat and John Corabi came together for The Triple Threat Tour, which ran from mid-July through late August of 2010 in the USA and Canada.
The Phil Lewis version of L.A. Guns lost bassist Kenny Kweens. Scotty Griffin returned to the band. L.A. Guns’ singer Phil Lewis joined the reformed Heavy Metal Kids in 2011 and would appear live with the group. Favored Nations issued Acoustic Gypsy Live by Tracii Guns’ L.A. Guns on September 27th. Singer Jizzy Pearl left the Tracii Guns-led version of L.A. Guns again in September of 2011.
Just two months after recruiting Dilana Robichaux as the band's singer, L.A. Guns parted ways with the former Rock Star: Supernova reality-TV show participant and replaced her with former Blacklist Union singer Tony West.
L.A. Guns version with Phil Lewis, Steve Riley, Scotty Griffin and Stacey Blades signed a contract with Cleopatra Records to start 2012. A record was due that summer. L.A. Guns would release a DVD, called Live In Concert, on February 12th, 2013 through Cleopatra Records. The video features footage of the band's M3 Rock Festival performance from May 12th, 2012 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. L.A. Guns had already parted ways with new guitarist Frankie Wilsey (Sea Hags, Arcade, etc.), and replaced him with Michael Grant from Endeverafter. All My People is the name of the single from Devil City Angels, which was the new 2014 band of singer and guitarist Brandon Gibbs (Cheap Thrill), guitarist Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns), drummer Rikki Rockett (Poison) and bassist Eric Brittingham of Cinderella. In the late summer of 2014, L.A. Guns’ bassist Scotty Griffin was fired and replaced by former member Kenny Kweens. Griffin claimed he was never warned. Former guitarist Stacey Blades had a new 2015 project called Atomic Radio. The group also featured Michael O'Mara of Talon on lead vocals. L.A. Guns’ singer Phil Lewis and original guitarist Tracii Guns would record a new album for release in June 2017 through Frontiers Music. The reunited act was also to tour. Phil Lewis announced he has left the band. He and guitarist Tracii Guns had announced an album for the band for 2017 through Frontiers. The label and guitarist subsequently insisted that Lewis was leaving the other version of L.A. Guns that had been in action in parallel to this line-up. L.A. Guns had a sampler called Fistful Of Guns in early 2017. L.A. Guns — featuring Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns — would release a new album called The Missing Peace on October 6th 2017 through Frontiers Music. L.A. Guns had a 2018 CD and DVD called Made In Milan. Guitarist Michael Grant was fired from L.A. Guns and would focus on Michael Grant & The Assassins. The man later claimed it was all a surprise to him. The band had issued a statement claiming the man had quit. The Made In Milan DVD was released through Frontiers. The band recruited Johnny Monaco of Enuff Z'nuff. The band co-headlined the Hull Metal Festival, alongside Sven Gali, in the UK in September 2018. Yet another project: Tracii Guns and Stryper's Michael Sweet had a project called Sunbomb and a deal with nostalgia label Frontiers. In the meantime, L.A. Guns lost drummer Shane Fitzgibbon and replaced him with Scot Coogan (Lita Ford, etc.). The drummer would work in the studio and session. The two versions of the band was still making competing appearances. Steve Riley's version of L.A. Guns signed a deal with Golden Robot Records in late 2019. An album was expected in the spring. The existence of two LA Guns was coming to a head with the launch of a lawsuit by singer Phil Lewis and guitarist Tracii Guns who had gone to court against former bandmates bassist Kelly Nickels and drummer Steve Riley at the end of 2019. The complainants were also suing for unpaid payments. The L.A. Guns’ parties reached a settlement out of court in April 2021. Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis would continue to use the L.A. Guns’ monicker, while drummer Phil Riley would use the Riley's L.A. Guns monicker and employ a new logo. L.A. Guns, of the Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns variety, would release a live album called Cocked & Loaded Live through Frontiers in July. L.A. Guns announced a new album, entitled Checkered Past, through Frontiers for November 2021. The album featured Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis. Tom Keifer, L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat announced a tour of the USA using the Sonic Slam monicker starting June 1st 2022. The act hired drummer Shawn Duncan to replace Shane Fitzgibbon in 2022. As support to the Checkered Past of 2021 the band was touring the USA this summer and autumn. Fitzgibon’s wife was pregnant.
L.A. Guns has announced Black Diamonds as the title for its next record. The band appeared at another Kiss Kruise and played more US concerts to close the year. The band was booked for the M3 Rock Festival in the USA for 2023. Tracii Guns and Adam Hamilton and Todd Kerns (Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators) has a new side-project and it was called Blackbird Angels. They aimed to issue an album called Solsorte in September 2023. Steve Riley died at the age of 67 in November 2023. He had contracted pneumonia and was hospitalised before his death.
L.A. GUNS - SHRINKING VIOLET (DELUXE REISSUE) - FAVORED NATIONS
I am not sure why Steve Vai’s new label has decided to reissue this L.A. Guns album, but either way Shrinking Violet remains one of the band’s weaker efforts. The band circa 1999 featured Jizzy Pearl on vocals. He is a good singer (says many a Love/Hate song) and has attitude to spare, but the music here was unfocused, dithering between hard rock, rock, blues and ballads, and the production (courtesy of someone called Gilby Clarke) was muffled and uncomplimentary.
This Deluxe Reissue is surely aimed at the band’s hardcore fans with its new packaging, of which there should still be many, but as an absolute entity on its own the release is a surprisingly odd choice for a new imprint establishing itself. The main value of the Deluxe Package, going back to that, is the five live bonus songs which have a clearer sound, more heart and a live vigour that comes through the audio recording. The live songs themselves are better too hailing from the ”˜80s.
The Tracii Guns version of L.A. Guns needs to come out with a smoking album of new attitude-ridden material. If the band can pull that off the re-issues and re-packages will take care of themselves. No more 'An Acoustic Night With L.A. Guns' as I saw on a Hollywood marquee two months ago. It is time to lift the sub-genre by doing some Rip And Tear. - Ali “The Metallian”