Rose was born William Bruce Rose, Jr. in LafayetteIndiana, the oldest child of Sharon E. (née Lintner), then 16 years old, and William Bruce Rose, then 20 years old. When Rose was two years old, his father abandoned the family. His mother remarried to Stephen L. Bailey, and his name was changed to William Bruce Bailey. He has two younger siblings—a sister, Amy, and a half-brother, Stuart. Until the age of 17, Rose believed that Bailey was his real father. He never met his biological father as an adult; William Rose, Sr. was found murdered in Illinois in 1984.

The Bailey household was very religious; Rose and his family attended a Pentecostal church, where he was required to attend services three to eight times per week and even taught Sunday school. Rose later described his upbringing as oppressive, stating, “We’d have televisions one week, then my step dad would throw them out because they were satanic. I wasn’t allowed to listen to music. Women were evil. Everything was evil.” In 1992, after undergoing past life regression therapy, Rose claimed he had uncovered memories of being sexually abused by his biological father at the age of two. He also stated that his stepfather had physically abused him and his siblings, as well as sexually abused his sister. Rose found solace in music from an early age. He sang in the church choir from the age of five, and performed at services with his brother and sister under the name the Bailey Trio. At Jefferson High School, he participated in the school chorus and studied piano. A second baritone, Rose began developing “different voices” during chorus practice to confuse his teacher. He eventually formed a band with his friends, one of whom was Jeff Isbell, later known as Izzy Stradlin.

At the age of 17, while going through insurance papers in his parents’ home, Rose learned of his biological father’s existence, and he unofficially readopted his birth name. However, he referred to himself only as W. Rose, because he did not want to share a first name with his biological father. (Four years later, after moving to Los Angeles, he became so engrossed in his band AXL that his friends suggested he call himself Axl Rose; he legally changed his name to W. Axl Rose prior to signing his contract with Geffen Records in March 1986. Following the discovery of his true family origins, Rose became the local juvenile delinquent in Lafayette; he was arrested over 20 times on charges such as public intoxication and battery, and served as long as three months in jail. After Lafayette authorities threatened to charge him as a habitual criminal, Rose moved to Los Angeles, California in December 1982.

Shortly after his arrival in Los Angeles, Rose joined the band Rapidfire, with whom he recorded a four-song demo in May 1983. After the group’s disbandment, he joined the first line-up of L.A. Guns, before forming the band Hollywood Rose with his childhood friend Izzy Stradlin, who had moved to Los Angeles in 1980. In January 1984, the band recorded a five-song demo featuring the tracks “Anything Goes“, “Rocker”, “Shadow of Your Love”, and “Reckless Life“, which were released in 2004 as The Roots of Guns N’ Roses. While struggling to make an impact on the Hollywood music scene, Rose held down a variety of jobs, including the position of night manager at the Tower Records location on Sunset Boulevard. Rose and Stradlin even smoked cigarettes for a scientific study at UCLA for the reported wages of $8 per hour.

In March 1985, Rose and his former band mate Tracii Guns formed Guns N’ Roses by merging their respective bands Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns. By June, after several line-up changes, the band consisted of Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. The line-up debuted at The Troubadour in Hollywood and proceeded to play the L.A. club circuit, eventually building a devoted fan following. The band attracted the attention of several major record labels, before signing withGeffen Records in March 1986. The following December, they released the four-song EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide on the Geffen imprint UZI Suicide.

Led Zeppelin

In 1966, Jimmy Page joined the blues-influenced rock band, The Yard birds, to replace bassist Paul Samwell-Smith. Page soon switched from bass to lead guitar, creating a dual lead-guitar line-up with Jeff Beck. Following the departure of Beck in October 1966, The Yardbirds began to wind down. The Yardbirds played their final gig in July 1968 at Luton College of Technology in Bedfordshire, England.

Drummer Jim McCarty and vocalist Keith Relf authorised Page and bassist Chris Dreja to use “The Yardbirds” name to fulfil the band’s obligations. Page and Dreja began putting a new line-up together. Page’s first choice for the lead singer was Terry Reid, but Reid declined the offer and suggested Robert Plant, a Stourbridge singer for The Band of Joy and Hobbstweedle. Plant eventually accepted the position, recommending former Band of Joy drummer John Bonham. When Dreja dropped out of the project to become a photographer (he would later take the photograph that appeared on the back of Led Zeppelin’s debut album), John Paul Jones, at the suggestion of his wife, contacted Page about the vacant position. Having known Jones from his session days, Page agreed to let him join as the final member.

The four played together for the first time in a room below a record store onGerrard StreetinLondon. Page suggested that they attempt “Train Kept A-Rollin'”, originally a jump blues song popularised in a rockabilly version by Johnny Burnette, which had been covered by The Yardbirds. “As soon as I heard John Bonham play”, recalled Jones, “I knew this was going to be great …

The band completed the Scandinavian tour as The New Yardbirds, playing together for the first time in front of a live audience at Gladsaxe Teen Clubs inGladsaxe,Denmark, on 7 September 1968. Later that month, they began recording their first album, which was based upon their live set. The album was recorded and mixed in nine days, and Page himself covered the costs. After the album’s completion, the band were forced to change their name after Chris Dreja issued a cease and desist letter, stating that Page was only allowed to use the New Yardbirds name for the Scandinavian dates. One account of how the new band’s name was chosen held that Keith Moon and John Entwistle suggested that a super group containing themselves, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck would go down like a “lead balloon”, a British idiom for disastrous results. The group dropped the ‘a’ in lead at the suggestion of their manager, Peter Grant, so that those unfamiliar with the phrase would not pronounce it “leed”. The word “balloon” was transformed into “zeppelin”, perhaps an exaggeration of the humour, and to Page the name conjured the perfect combination of heavy and light, combustibility and grace

Some Rock and Roll Deaths

Jimi Hendrix, Age 27, September 18, 1970 London, England Asphyxiation on vomit

Jim Morrison (The Doors), Age 27, July 3, 1971 Paris, France Heart failure (disputed)

Elvis Presley, Age 42, August 16, 1977 Memphis, Tennessee, USA Heart attack

John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Age 32, September 25, 1980 Windsor, England Asphyxiation on vomit

John Lennon (The Beatles), Age 40, December 8, 1980 New York City, New York, USA Shot to death by Mark David Chapman

Stevie Ray Vaughan, Age 35, August 27, 1990 East Troy, Wisconsin, USA Helicopter accident

Steve Clark (Def Leppard), Age 30, January 8, 1991 London, England Accidental overdose of painkillers, anti-depressants, and alcohol

Freddie Mercury (Queen), Age 45,  November 24, 1991 London, England Complications due to AIDS

Frank Zappa, Age, 52 December 4, 1993 Los Angeles, California, USA Prostate cancer

Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Age 27, April 5, 1994 Seattle, Washington, USA Suicide

Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), Age 34, April 5, 2002 Seattle, Washington, USA Speedball overdose

Johnny Cash, Age 71, September 12, 2003 Nashville, Tennessee, USA Complications from diabetes

Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd), Age 60, July 7, 2006 Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England Pancreatic cancer

Michael Jackson, Age 50, June 25, 2009 Los Angeles, California, USA Cardiac arrest

Les Paul, Age 94, August 13, 2009 White Plains, New York, USA Pneumonia

Ronnie James Dio (Dio & Black Sabbath), Age 44, March 8, 2011 Salt Lake City, Utah, USA Prescription Drug Overdose