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Battle Royale: L.A. Guns

Things are getting ugly once again in the dueling L.A. Guns camps. As you probably know by now, there are two versions of the band: one featuring guitarist Tracii Guns, the other featuring vocalist Phil Lewis.

I'm continually torn by this on-going brouhaha. I love Phil Lewis because of Girl, but I think any L.A. Guns featuring Tracii is the real version.

At any rate, Tracii's version is set to hit the road for a winter jaunt, and they'll be coming to Dayton, Ohio. Not surprisingly, I'll be in the crowd.

The other day, Phil Lewis sent a not-so-nice Myspace bulletin berating Tracii Guns and his version of L.A. Guns. I didn't feel like getting in the middle of things by posting here, but since Tracii finally responded, I think it's O.K. to give my opinion on things. By the way, Tracii said he's disappointed in Phil and he thinks both versions should have the opportunity to make a living.

So, what do I think? I think it's very unprofessional for Phil Lewis to run down Tracii Guns. Both men are talented glam artists, so why sling mud? It's pretty clear a reconciliation isn't happening any time soon, so fans get two versions of the band. In some ways this is great: two versions mean twice as many chances to see a band I love.

People know I'm a fan of Paul Black, an original L.A. Guns vocalist who is now back with Tracii. Critics say Paul can't sing, but the problem is this: those critics don't get it. Paul Black is an entire package. When Tracii's L.A. Guns take the stage everyone has a good time. That's the point of going to a rock show in the first place.

Here's Paul Black and Tracii Guns version of L.A. Guns, performing "Wheels of Fire" live in the U.K.

Now, here's the Phil Lewis fronted version performing "Rip and Tear" at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles.

I'm equal opportunity, so I like them both. Which version do you prefer?

Reader Comments (24)

I have never seen either version live, but likely I would prefer Tracii's version.
November 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMetal Mark
Tracii IS LA Guns, but, that being said, Paul Black isnt half the singer that Phil Lewis is. Stick with the Phil version if you are picking sides. But why pick sides? Go to both shows people.
November 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Ozz
Here is my take. Tracii is an excellent guitar player, Phil Lewis a great singer. I don't agree with the mud slinging, but it will continue to happen until one of the two camps decide to change the name of their band. (probably wont happen.) The name L.A. Guns will draw more people in than a completely different moniker all together. Until Steve Riley or Tracii Guns sells off their half of the name, we will be stuck with two different bands, with the same name.

Paul Black may be the original singer, but to me he is far from the best one.

The Phil Lewis L.A. Guns sounds more like the band that you hear on 99% of the band's recorded music. I agree with Tracii's comments that both bands have the right to earn a living, however I think most people going to an L.A. Guns show would expect to hear Phil sing.

Its a real catch 22. I have seen Phil's version of the band earlier this year, and will catch them again in January.

I can't go to the Dayton show, but I would also watch Tracii's version too.
My understanding of the whole mess is that Tracii left for BoD, then when Bod folded, LA Guns wouldn't take him back. I see why Tracii needs to make a living, but the whole situation seems down to poor choices that Tracii made.

IMO in these situations, either proposition is little more than a cover band, but I'd rather hear the original singer than the original guitarist. Change the singer and it will sound like a cover band. Change the backing band, and it sounds the same. I walked out of the GnR show b/c it annoyed me, but there's no denying that with Axl singing, it sounded like GnR, even if it was not.
November 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus
I got two lines into the Paul Black version and had to shut it off. Yikes. I support Tracii's right to make a living under trying circumstances, but man do they sound TERRIBLE (in my opinion) without Phil Lewis.

Bottom line, I think they both have a right to exist but if I had to pick one incarnation to see live it would definitely be Phil's.
November 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterScondo
I've never seen the Phil Lewis LA Guns but I did catch Tracii's incarnation earlier in the year, and on the back of seeing them bought some of the albums. With some bands it is the singer that is the key figure, but not having paid much attention to LA Guns before I couldn't have told you who the singer (or any of the other players come to that) was on any of the albums without looking it up. I went to see them because it was Tracii Guns, I wanted to see him. I might go and see the Phil Lewis version if they're in the UK, but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to do so.
November 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCinnamon
paul cant sing worht a shit i had to turn it off it was so bad i do agree both bands have a right to make a livin but should try to find a way to make it work they seem to have before on a few occasions, great singer and great musicians make a great band
November 16, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterglam rocker archie
Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of L.A. Guns. I like some of their material. To my memory, I've never seen them live. I will be seeing the Phil Lewis version in Cincinnati next year, but only because ZO2 is opening for them. :) If it weren't for ZO2, I probably wouldn't go to that show either.
November 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJason
I've seen both version of the bands (uh.. and played as support band of the Tracii version), I can say both bands worth the money of the ticket, but I prefer the Phil's one, the sound is more similar to the studio recordings I've loved for many years. Tracii BTW is a great musician and nobody can play L.A. Guns solos like the guy who has written 'em
November 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFuture Bomb
Well as a promoter of the Tracii Guns version of L.A.Guns in Pittsburgh in December, I am a little dismayed at the way Phil Lewis has handled the situation. Not only with his ill-advised email, but leaking a horrible YouTube clip of a lackluster LAG Mach II version from 2006. This stunt has not only reflected poorly on himself, on Tracii, but has affected us financially.

As much as Phil would have you believe his version of L.A.Guns is out there playing to packed theaters and carrying the banner high for LAG fans; it's a bit deceiving. Yes, THAT version of LAG is playing bigger venues for the most part, BUT it's part of a package that LAG isn't even HEADLINING. It would be like me getting an opening slot on the Bon Jovi tour and saying that I'm selling out arenas. It would be both true AND false. Yes my name would be on the bill, yes the shows would be selling out, yes my fans would be buying tickets, but as a would be Bon Jovi and the rest of the package actually selling the shows out. Same goes with Phil's LAG when playing with Warrant/Firehouse/and LAG.

Phil took this whole situation to the NEXT level. I have kept my mouth shut for the most part on the situation because of how pissed off I am with his emails. He stated in the emails to fans, promoters, clubs, and bands having ANYTHING to do with Tracii's version of LAG that the shows we are bringing are FAKE. Not fake in the sense that he and Steve aren't playing them, fake in the respect that WE (the promoters/clubs) purchased a bogus LAG, fake in the respect the FANS aren't really going to SEE L.A.Guns. A basis of truth? Yes AND no, its more semantics. My problem being a smaller independent promoter is the ticket buyers. Now they think they are going to see 4 complete idiots who are CALLING themselves L.A.Guns. They're believing it's more like seeing "Adam Hamilton's L.A.Guns." Like it's a minor player in all that MADE LAG what we grew up and loved. (I mean no disrespect to Adam with that comment either he is one HELL of a musician).

I have been barraged with emails from people who bought tickets and want their money back. I got emails from people saying I am ripping off the public bringing a "fake" cover band in. Not to mention the people I HAVEN'T heard from that think L.A.Guns isn't coming to town and just won't show up. Add to the mess that our building permit STILL hasn't come in to do construction on the bar to put in a proper stage, etc in time for this event (if all things stay the same for this show-it will be a very INTIMATE evening with Tracii and the fans will LOVE it, they might not like playing so close to the crowd,but as a fan it will be dynamite!)...I am taking the proverbial ASS BEATING.

The fans ARE going to see L.A. Guns or at least a version with a KEY PLAYER. Tracii was/is a contibuter to what MADE LAG; as well as Phil. Tracii was and IS L.A.GUNS, it's HIS name that put the "GUNS" in LAG (yes, it's also his name that put the "Guns" in Guns N ROSES too LOL). Phil in my opinion is L.A.GUNS too, it his VOICE that comes across the turntable when I pop in "Cocked and Loaded" or "Hollywood Vampires." To put out the bulletin that Phil did is UNEXCUSABLE. I don't give a damn about who owns what, he ulluded to the fact that this version is FAKE WITHOUT stating it's the FOUNDER and ORIGINAL GUITARIST and SONGWRITER of LAG! I understand his (Phil)feelings towards Tracii's version out on the road, but for the love of God why kill everything in it's path getting back at an ex bandmate and causing a ripple effect to promoters, venues and MOST IMPORTANTLY the FANS!! His only concern is MONEY NOT the MUSIC as he would have you believe. My concern is BOTH...I am a FAN first, but also a business person who had to recoup the guarantee and expenses of this show. If LAG with Phil was playing in our town, I wouldn't book Tracii's version the same day, the same week or even the same MONTH, BUT I would book them the following month or so and NOT use tactics as Mr. Lewis has. Sorry for rambling, but YES I AM PISSED not only as a "promoter" that Mr. Lewis stated in his emails..."was fooled into purchasing a 'FAKE' LAG", but a FAN of BOTH Tracii Guns AND Phil Lewis. It's sad that with the state of rock being what it is, a band would pull a stunt that tears an already small community of fans apart and wants them to choose sides. In Tracii's defense, he hasn't come out on record and slagged Phil for this. He has kept quiet, either choosing not to do battle in public or (my guess>>>he's used to the way Phil acts and reacts to situations. My apologies for taking so much space here, but since I was going to blog it and you had this up first hahahaha YOU guys get the brunt.
Peace, love and rock n roll!
November 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Lou
Although like faster pussycat i feel the originals should just tour together.

I preffer phil lewis, only because i prefferh is voice and he is english so...a bit of english pride happening here haha.

But still, tracii guns, id love to see him at the same time with phil, as they are LA guns for me. paul black means nothing to me, Its like saying the real guns n roses is with tracii in them as he was there first.
November 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMrlee
Paul Black is 'a package'?? Come on, he should be singing on stage, not act like a fruitcake. This dude is one of the worst singers I have ever heard, if u like his singin u must be tone deaf. U can have all the fun u want at a show but I want a decent band with decent musicians and a real singer. Lewis' version is on a way higher level musically then Tracii's hired guns (original line-up my ass). Even Tracii admits Black isnt a good singer, but he needs him and the LAG name for $$$, while he bailed out on em. Still love his playing and enjoy watching him perform despite all this shit.
November 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSam
I'm gonna have to go with Phil Lewis. I think that he is one of the best singers of that whole scene. I have to agree with the last poster. Traci Bailed and thats his problem. Hes only out to make money. Although i have never heard Paul Black i would have to say Phil is better becuase there arn't too many people with whom i think are better period. Besides Phil Lewis is better looking. lol He even still is.
November 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChey
guns N roses was named after axl and Tracii. lol i find that ironic that he bailed on Guns too.
November 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChey
This is the first of have heard Paul Black sing and talk about sucking? That is really not good. Give me Phil Lewis anyday.
November 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKixRules
Traci left LA Guns to be in Brides of Destruction. As far as I'm concerned, that version of the band remains the true version. Traci just can't start a new version and claim it to be the true one when he walked out of the real one. As for what Phil did... whatever... who cares? It's not like these groups are filling stadiums.. they're playing rinky dink little clubs.
November 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTyk
I just watched those video clips. Paul Black is GOD AWFUL. Whole package? Sure, if you ignore that fact his first duty is to SING.
November 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTyk
Good post Sweet Lou!

Tracii Guns IS LA Guns

But, I would see Phil's version, too. The more shows, the better!
November 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
Wow, you definitely smacked the hell out of the glam beehive with this one Allyson.

A couple weeks ago I had an entertaining conversation with Stacey Blades, guitarist for "Phil's Version" of LAG. Stacey and I talked in depth about the confusion the two bands are causing and he stated that when Tracii left LAG several years ago he told Phil "I want nothing to do with the band, I'm doing Brides (of Destruction) with Nikki (Sixx)."

I think Tracii is a great guy and an amazing artist, I have enjoyed speaking with him in the past, but I think what he is doing is profiting from false advertising. The average LAG fan knows only Phil as the vocalist since all the hits feature his pipes and they would have a right to feel deceived if they paid good money to see the "commercially succesfull" LAG only to find Paul Black on vocals.

This is a hard stance for me since I have immense respect for Tracii and Paul, and they have every right to try and make a living utilizing their talent. But I don't agree with Tracii tarnishing the publics perception of LAG just because Brides of Destruction fell through.
November 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHairball John
Phil Lewis has a better voice, is better looking, and has way more charisma. He IS who any L.A. Guns fan is familiar with as being the singer.

I was a L.A. Guns fan back in the day, loved their videos, etc - and had lost track of them over the years. Upon seeing an ad that L.A. Guns was performing, I excitedly attended. Yes, it was advertised as Tracii's lineup with Paul Black. And I wanted to see L.A. Guns. BUT I was not aware there were TWO versions of the band til a few months ago. I remember wondering why Phil left the band, and to now find out he in fact did not...and that I could've spent my money seeing his version...thats where I feel cheated.

I dig Tracii's guitar playing...but it was hard to watch Paul Black perform. He makes these odd arms movements and twist, LOL.
Phil's L.A. Guns has new material and new albums that Tracii didn't record on.
November 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterL.A. Rokker

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