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Hey Gilby, Where's Izzy?

gilbyclarke.jpgIzzy Stradlin is best known as the original rhythm guitarist for Guns n' Roses. He was also a main songwriter, giving the band that great, gritty sound we all love on Appetite for Destruction. Like all members of Guns n' Roses, Izzy dabbled in drugs.

On this day (December 2) back in 1991, Gilby Clarke replaced Izzy in the band. Izzy left to protect his sobriety and was replaced within a month because of the band's Use Your Illusion Tour. While the autobiography Slash talks about Izzy suddenly going sober, many details that led to that life-changing decision are left to the imagination.

Whatever the case, the band's sound was changed immensely after the firing of original drummer Steven Adler and departure of Stradlin.

For better or worse, Clarke was in, with little or no fanfare. I always thought this was weird that a major band could have such a dramatic change without much media scrutiny.

The band publically made light of Izzy's departure in the "Don't Cry" video, with the "Where's Izzy?" sign. I wonder if that sign made Clarke feel uncomfortable? After all, he was in and Izzy was out...I'm sure the awkward position wasn't ideal for Clarke from the beginning.

In 1994, Axl Rose decided Clarke wasn't a good songwriter, so he was out of the band.

The new Slash autobiography talks about Izzy working with Velvet Revolver during the search for a singer. Izzy jammed with the other members, and even suggested touring without a singer. I can't help but wonder if Axl Rose destroyed Izzy's drive to be in a national band. While he's continued to make several solo records, it just doesn't seem like he has the desire to be on top of the world like he was during the Appetite for Destruction hey day.

I wasn't one of the lucky ones to see Guns n' Roses on their massive Use Your Illusion tour. From everything I've read, it seems like it was a quite a show. It makes me sad that rock bands just don't put on massive stage performances these days. I'm sure such spectacles are cost prohibitive, but sure would be great fun.

Photo credit: Gilby Clarke official Myspace page.

Reader Comments (5)

I was lucky (or UNlucky if you will) to be at the age of seeing GnR BEFORE Apettite hit big. A record store that has since gone to the beyond thanks to the bigger retail chains of the day carried all the new ROCK for years. One record that this woman gave to me (sorry I don't even think we exchanged names over the years of my patronage and her services LOL) dropped a bomb on me...a little glampunk band called Guns N Roses. It was AFD and I still have the little "GnR tattoo" sticker that came in the album. She had TWO versions for me to pick from due to the PMRC, there was the "rape" version and the one that we all have. I took both cuz she only steered me wrong ONE time out of all the bands she turned me on to.
From the moment I dropped the needle on that record I was HOOKED! But it seemed like every really killer song had the F bomb dropped in and would keep it from being on the radio hahahha.
I got to see GnR with Lita Ford and I THINK Black N Blue at the Agora in Cleveland. It's a bit hazy cuz it was the pinacle of the 80's partying for me hahahaha.
Those guys kicked ass, it was something I'd always THOUGHT was possible, but never saw in a band till then. I met the guys that night and was just blown away at how cool they were and happy that I was such a FANatic LOL.
THey were like the "old" Motley Crue in the way that they were a gang (not the hit machine that was Dr.Feelgood). Every member had their part and every member contributed to what they were. IT was sleazy, it was sexy, it was loud, it was sloppy, it was...Guns N Roses. At the time I never suspected they would blow up the way they did, I just thought they were gonna be MY cool UNDERGROUND band. Guess you just can't keep THAT kind of secret for yourself.
Saw them on every tour with the original line-up and then the boot dropped. Izzy and Steven were gonzo...I could SEE that Gilby had that cock n roll swagger, but I never got Matt. To this day Matt was the most arrogant ass I'd ever met, which is strange considering he wasn't a "name" yet. Sure he had the Cult, but unlike most of my glam clan, I never liked them and was far from ever being impressed. Perhaps it was because I am a diehard MORRISON fan and the comparisons just turned me off on Astbury. Although much less when years later I saw him with the remaining Doors members hahahaha sick I am.
After I saw the "new" version with Gilby and Matt, I felt that somehow Gilby just didn't fit. He didn't seem comfortable from my seat in the stadiums. It was almost as if he deliberately stayed in Slash's shadow...very UN rock n roll.
For some reason the rock press accepted him as THE guitarist with no reason to take swipes...he had the chops, he had the looks, but to me...close just no cigar.
It probably had something to do with the money machine that became GnR. Back then money, management, etc could keep the press at bay...can you see payolla???? THAT may be a strong word, but "favors" seems not harsh enough. They definitely did some spin doctoring though with the UYI I and II band.
I saw the POST GnR on several ocassions and it seemed MUCH less a spectacle than previously. My friends who never listened to me about GnR and missed out on some killer shows caught a few of the "NU" GnR and loved it. Me? It was like the change with Gilby and Matt, didn't cause enough emotion for me to care anymore. Sad, cuz GnR really could have been USA'S answer to The Rolling Stones or Zeppelin and been even LARGER than they already were. For a brief moment they were, then natural balance took the helm.
December 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Lou.
On a DVD about the UYI records, someone stated that Izzy was never interested in all the fame to begin with, even before AFD hit it big. So it wasn't that big of a surprise for those in the band when he left. Personally I love Izzy's solo records, every one of them, but Gilby is really a hit-and-miss case. There are a few good songs on each album, but the skip button is going to be used quite a bit too.
December 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJason
I like Matt with the Cult, hate Velvet Revolver & it ain't no reunion unless Adler & Izzy are in it.
January 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPepsi Sheen
I saw GNR in Oct 06. Never saw them in their heyday, but other guys at the concert had. One told me this concert far surpassed the Illusions tour he saw. I was blown away by the concert, awesome! Still get goosebumps thinking about it. To me, as much as I love Slash, anyone can play drop D, but only one person can sing like Axl.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterthechamp55
As for me, true GnR was only with Izzy & Steven. Of course I respect the work of Matt's & Gilby's. No matter what, they ARE professionals in what they do, but let's face the fact that they both were just replacements. I don't want to sound rude, but original is always better than the substitute. May this situation is no exception. Appetite For Destruction is the real sound of Guns n' Roses, the one and only, and no other guys can ever sound as good as these five guys back in the mid 80's. Love them till death, I tell you.
About Velvet Revolver I have only one thing to say. Steven would sound/look/feel like 100 times better than Matt in that band. Especially now, when Scott's gone..

[Gilby in that pic looks like he's dying in pain for not finding Izzy..]
July 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDovile

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