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Meeting L.A. Guns

After reading my recently posted Guns and Roses Concert Review, my friend Kevin mentioned L.A. Guns. I also met L.A. Guns once, back in the late 90s. Here’s that story.

While living in Spokane back in the late 90s, Susan and I began our own music-related magazine. In-Tune Magazine printed around 1,500 copies a month. We gave all the copies away, and paid for our printing costs by selling advertisements to local businesses. The magazine ran for four months, but in retrospect it seems like years. During that time I got to meet dozens of local bands, went to dozens of free shows, and received dozens of free cassettes and CDs. I also got to see and meet a few national acts during these shows. L.A. Guns was one of those bands.

L.A. Guns is really only known for two things. The first is that the band’s founding member, Tracii Guns, was one of the original members of Guns and Roses — which got its name after L.A. Guns combined with Axl Rose’s band, Hollywood Rose. The other thing the band is best known for is their hit single, “The Ballad of Jayne.”

I suppose if there’s a third thing, it’s that I don’t think any two L.A. Guns albums have the same lineup. Seriously, skim through the band’s Wikipedia page. Almost every member got either got fired or quit between every album. For several years, Tracii Guns wasn’t even in the band, and then for several years after that, there were two completely separate bands using the name L.A. Guns at the same time.

In late 1996 a local band (the name escapes me) invited Susan and I to come to their concert. We were about to say no when the band informed us that they were opening for L.A. Guns. We quickly changed our tune. We showed up around 5pm for a show that was scheduled to start at 9pm or 10pm.

It had been a few years since I had heard any news regarding L.A. Guns. Shortly after The Ballad of Jayne was released, the band’s drummer was fired. A few years later everybody else quit, and Tracii Guns hired the old drummer back along with ex-Boneyard members Chris Van Dahl (vocals) and Johnny Crypt (bass).

For what it’s worth, I got to meet and hang out with both Chris Van Dahl and Johnny Crypt for a couple of hours before the show. I sat at a table with the two of them and we talked about music for a long time. Johnny and I also talked about computers for a long time. At that time he had just set up the L.A. Guns website and the two of us talked quite a bit about HTML coding. We even e-mailed each other a few times after the show.

When I asked about Tracii Guns I was told that he stayed on the tour bus until the show started. That’s exactly what happened. An hour or two before the show began the band did a sound check, which we got to watch. Three of the band members, along with a roadie standing in for Tracii, blasted through a few of the band’s current songs. Later that night when it was time for the band to perform, we literally saw Tracii Guns step off the tour bus, walk up on stage, pick up his guitar and start playing. When the show was over, he did the opposite and went directly from the stage to back to the bus.

Chris Van Dahl and Johnny Crypt performed on the 1996 L.A. Guns album American Hardcore. Shortly after that album was released, Van Dahl was replaced. Crypt performed on a second L.A. Guns album, Shrinking Violet in 1999, before being replaced. I met two members of L.A. Guns that nobody knows and nobody remembers.

But I remember them. They were a couple of cool dudes who gave a no-name, self-employed writer the time of day for a couple of hours. That’s pretty metal, in my book.

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5 comments to Meeting L.A. Guns

  • Zeno

    I don’t have any strong opinion about L.A. Guns one way or the other, but I’ll always remember the one and only time I saw them when they opened up for Iron Maiden in Albuquerque back in 1988. The Guns were booed off the stage after only 3 songs, and I clearly remember that fella in the hat getting hit with a lighter, among other objects being thrown onstage. New Mexican Iron Maiden fans are a fanatical bunch* and they simply don’t have the patience for anything other than that band playing any given gig.

    * – As a white concertgoer, you’ll never feel more threatened for your life during an Iron Maiden show where the crowd which is 60% full of Navajos and the band starts playing “Run To The Hills”.

  • I actually liked L.A. Guns back in the day and also had the opportunity to meet the band when I worked at a rock metal radio station.

    You mention the single “The Ballad of Jayne” however I would like to submit the song “Never Enough” which I think it a little more rocking m/ just saying :)

  • Scott

    Was it you and I that went to see them at kinetex in like 88/89? It was a great show. “Electric Gypsy” still finds itself on my ipod.

  • lethargic

    I would still say Cocked and Loaded is one of my favorite albums of all time. Which is weird because every other L.A. Guns album is terrible.

  • It’s all about the self titled 1st album. Such an awesome record, L.A. Guns is great! Talk about love!!!!!!