On This Day In Rock History: Steven Adler Gets Kicked Out of Guns n' Roses!

Sure, history will portray him as the drug-addled fuck-up who managed to strangle the golden goose, but the truth of the matter is that Guns n' Roses would not have changed the music world, if you will, without Steven Adler.  If it had been any other drummer...say, Matt Sorum, for example...GNR might have still landed a deal, but they'd have gotten no further than the Bang Tangos and Trixters of the time.

The first time I heard Appetite For Destruction, I hated it.  Mind you, it was just a home-taped cassette copy that a girlfriend played for me.  No cover art, no song titles, all I had to go on was what I was hearing, which sounded amateurish.  I'll be the first to commend Axl Rose for turning an okay Ethel Merman impersonation into a 30-year career in a hard rock band, but he's no Robin Zander.

The rest of what I heard sounded like the hair metal bands in L.A. were starting to integrate more left-of-center influences to differentiate themselves from the 8,000 other hair metal bands slapping flyers on light poles along the Sunset Strip.

And then I heard "Sweet Child O' Mine".

Now, I still don't think the song is all that great, but, rather, a case where Adler's drumming turned a non-Top 40 hit for Firehouse into a career-defining smash for a bunch of L.A. misfits.  Of course, it took me awhile to stop laughing at the TSOL t-shirt Adler was wearing in the video (to say nothing of Duff's CBGB's tee).  "Pfft, right," I remember saying, "like any of those guys could name three TSOL songs."

Of course, that's what great about drummers; it doesn't matter what bands they listen to in their own time as long as they've got that swing and Adler had that swing.  I've listened and listened time and time again trying to figure out what Adler does that elevates the song and the closest I can get is that its all in his foot.  His kick drum patterns aren't that different from what any other drummer might play, but they always seem to be pushing the tune, even as the rest of him is playing behind the beat.

The best example of this is on "Welcome To The Jungle", where Adler is just digging the deepest groove he can while the rest of the band is going insane around him.  In all of this sonic mayhem, Adler remains unfazed and anchored to the groove.

Of course, offstage, he was a complete mess, ultimately succeeding in getting kicked out of a band renowned for for their legendary drug and alcohol intake.  In fact, it was on this very day in 1990 that Adler got the call, found out he was out of the band, and went on a ten-day heroin bender during which he actually showed up for a scheduled GNR photo shoot because he forgot (or didn't believe) he'd been booted from the band.


Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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