No one will ever actually know what happened between the members of Guns N’ Roses in the ’90s except for the members of Guns N’ Roses themselves. However, Slash recalls how he felt when fellow guitarist Izzy Stradlin left the group in 1991.
Stradlin grew up in Lafayette, Ind. with frontman Axl Rose, and the pair reconnected in Los Angeles years later, officially forming GN’R with Slash, Duff McKagan and Steven Alder in 1985. Despite the chemistry the five of them felt while writing 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, no one quite knew just how big the group was going to get. Adler was fired in 1990, and Stradlin quietly quit the following year.
“At that time, the fact that he quit wasn’t an issue,” Slash told Classic Rock. “There was no judgement about any of that. I don’t think anybody judged anybody else on how they behaved outside of being able to show up and do the gig.”
“I was admittedly resentful of that whole trip with Izzy leaving, because whatever had gone on for him that forced that sudden change, I was like, man, I died eighteen times prior to that! It didn’t faze me!” the guitarist continued.
“But when he quit, he was looking at us going, ‘These guys are gonna fucking die!’ My whole attitude was like, ‘I’ll get on with it. Don’t fucking worry. I’ll manage.’ So there was a certain kind of resentment there – of not really understanding or appreciating where Izzy was coming from. In hindsight, I still sort of feel the same way, I guess, about that. Like, don’t worry about me.”
When Guns were announced as the headliners for Coachella in early 2016, it marked the official reunion of Rose, Slash and McKagan. Their massive “Not in This Lifetime” tour was publicized shortly after, and it was unclear whether Stradlin or Adler would make any appearances throughout the run.
Adler did, in fact, play a couple of songs with his old bandmates in 2016, but Stradlin didn’t. Later that year, he opened up about the topic, and stated that the band “didn’t want to split the loot equally.” Then in 2018, GN’R’s former manager Alan Niven claimed that Stradlin soundchecked with the group one night for a midwestern show, but pulled out of it.
“I haven’t really talked to [Stradlin] since then,” Slash added of Stradlin’s change of heart in the aforementioned interview. “There were a lot of different issues that I’m not really going to get into. We wanted it to work out, but we couldn’t seem to meet eye to eye on the whole thing. So it just never happened.”