Original Guns N’ Roses drummer, Steven Adler, has the dubious distinction of being the first member of the band to have been fired by singer/leader Axl Rose (touching off a trend that would continue until Rose was the only remaining original member left in attendance by the late ’90s). Born January 22, 1965, in Cleveland, OH, Adler was entirely self-taught on the instrument, inspired by such ’70s hard rockers as Kiss and Aerosmith. After relocating to the Los Angeles area, Adler befriended a fellow musician, Saul Hudson, who would eventually adopt the nickname Slash — as the duo formed a musical bond and played together in an outfit called Road Crew (named after a Motörhead song). By the mid-’80s, Roadcrew had split up, while Adler and Slash had joined forces with other members of the Sunset Strip metal/glam/punk scene — Rose, bassist Duff McKagan, and rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, to form Guns N’ Roses. The story of G N’ R is a well-known one, as the quintet issued one of the best-selling rock debuts of all-time, 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, whose raw, stripped down approach (both musically and visually) was a welcome break from the overwrought glam pop bands that were ruling the airwaves at the time.
But with success, came increasing internal difficulties within the band, as most of its members became addicted to hard drugs and seemed hell-bent on imploding before they could offer a sophomore effort (in addition, Adler had to sit out a spell of the album’s tour when he broke his arm during a spat with a bouncer at a club). G N’ R offered a stopgap mini album, 1989’s Lies, to temporarily satisfy their fans, but sessions for a proper follow-up seemed to drag on for an eternity. In 1990, Adler was fired from the group (replaced by former Cult drummer Matt Sorum), and slid even deeper into drug abuse, resulting in such health problems as a heart attack and a pair of strokes. Adler has made several attempts at re-entering the rock world since his exit from G N’ R, with such obscure outfits as Freaks in the Room and a new version of Road Crew, as well as a brief spell as the drummer for ’80s Van Halen-disciples the Bulletboys. Adler’s biggest publicity during the ’90s wasn’t musically based, however — as he successfully sued G N’ R for “wrongful termination,” as well as doing jail time for assaulting two women (in separate cases). By the early 21st century, Adler was supposedly at work on a book detailing his tenure with Guns N’ Roses (with a working title of No Bed of Roses), playing shows with different L.A. bands, and trying to get the ball rolling for a reunion of the original Guns lineup.