Born William Bruce Rose Jr and raised as William Bruce Bailey, fans know the electrifying singer better as Axl Rose. The singer rose to prominence for his distinct high-intensity vocals and for his off-stage party boy antics. Leading Guns N’ Roses to stardom, Rose became a prominent figure of the 80’s rock music.
Over the years, Rose hasn’t been without his controversies. But to celebrate his birthday, we’re looking back at some of the singer’s best moments. (We apologize “Chinese Democracy” fans, but that album isn’t one of them). Take a look back at Rose’s career highlights.
Axl Rose Challenges Motley Crue’s Vince Neil to a Fight
Back in the ’80s, there was Guns N’ Roses and then there was Motley Crue. Both became known for their antics off-stage as much as on-stage. Of course, they were either going to be best friends or mortal enemies. And nemesis it was towards the end of the decade. Rose wasn’t afraid of Motley Crue’s Vince Neill. In fact, he challenged the singer to a fight.
The feud started because Neil laid the smackdown on Guns N’Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin. The altercation happened at a club in Los Angeles. Stradlin started talking to Neil’s wife, and the singer didn’t like his advances so he hit Stradlin. Afterward, Rose called out Neil, and the two started slinging threats at each other publicly.
Unfortunately, fans never got to see who would win this battle of the rock stars.
Axl Covers Freddie Mercury
In 1991, music lost one of its greats when Freddie Mercury passed away from complications related to HIV. A year later, Rose and Guns N’ Roses honored the late singer at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. The rock star took the stage alongside Elton John at Wembley Stadium.
Together, the duo took on Mercury’s masterpiece “Bohemian Rhapsody” for 72,000 fans. And while no one can ever replace Mercury’s operatics, Rose’s version was definitely a highlight. The singer gave the normally softer lyrics a harder edge. But he also showed his tender side during the tune’s calmer moments.
Over the years, Rose has enjoyed covering some of the music’s other greatest hits. For instance, in 1994, he brought his vocal talents to honor John Lennon by singing “Come Together.” This time he dueted with Bruce Springsteen.
Axl Rose Joins AC/DC
The Axl Rose of the 2000s and 2010s was not the same as the one of the 80s and 90s. The musician lost some of his star power. And the long-gestating “Chinese Democracy” ended up both a critical and commercial disaster. But come 2016, Rose managed to capture a bit of that groove back. He joined AC/DC on tour as the lead singer.
AC/DC’s singer Brian Johnson stepped out due to hearing loss. The singer had damaged his inner ear from years of exposure to loud music. Many fans were upset by the change. But Rose managed to silence all doubters when he proved himself to be a worthy successor. It also offered one of rock music’s great team-ups, putting parts of AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses together.
The Singer Reunites With His Band
Everyone knows the narrative of the rock band. A rock band rises to fame, then the riches of success causes the band to splinter apart. Guns N’ Roses followed that trajectory almost to a tee. The band’s founding members all left in the late 1990s, leaving Rose as the sole remainder.
In particular, Rose and guitarist Slash had a long-running feud.
But in 2016, the original band came back together to perform at the Troubadour. Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan reunited to properly melt people’s faces off. It was the first time the band had performed together since the 1993 “Use Your Illusion” tour. And the musicians brought many of their classics back.
Axl Rose Forms Guns N’ Roses
One of Rose’s greatest moments may be just forming Guns N’ Roses to begin with. The band became such a staple and defining acts of their generation that it’s hard to imagine a different world without them. When Rose left Indiana for Hollywood, he performed for both bands Hollywood Rose and the L. A. Guns.
Rose would play an instrumental role in merging the two bands together. The singer was among the founding members which included Tracii Guns and Izzy Stradlin. The newly formed band took off to greater heights than its two predecessors ever dared dream.
Guns N’ Roses Releases ‘Appetite For Destruction’
In 1987, Guns N’ Roses released their seminal “Appetite For Destruction” album. It was the band’s debut, but also arguably their best. The album featured classic anthems like “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Paradise City,” and “Welcome to the Jungle.”
The singer got the lyrics for the latter while visiting New York City. One homeless man told him, “You’re in the jungle, baby. You’re going to die.” Rose decided to incorporate the lyrics into the song.
The album would put the band on the map, and for many, the album is considered one of the genre’s best. It remains one of the biggest highlights in Rose’s career.