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"Very" interesting tidbits from GNREvo about the mid 90's GNR period. Tl;DR alert! Axl got the first solo band line up with some random sleaze rock dudes, lol The Axl Rose Band was supposed to be an all-star lineup, a supergroup in any sense of the word. Dave Navarro would play lead, Trent Reznor would man synths / computers, Dave Grohl would be in the drums. With Axl on top, the sound would've been an interesting mix of eclectic styles - if it would work, it would gel into something that was not there before; a unique sound, totally on the pulse of the music nation. That is, as far as the music magazines would be concerned. The funny thing is, this band happened. Only with a different host of people. The details are ambiguous as to when exactly this Shadow Company* took place. An easy way to start their gradual inauguration would be in October '94, during the Sympathy for the Devil recording sessions. Axl brought in his old mate from Indiana, Paul. There's been some confusion, as the guitarist known as Paul Huge has also been referred to as Paul Tobias. Tobias is his mothers maidenname. Why the switch? Maybe, the desire to stay low-key despite working for Guns - or being the butt-end of one size joke too many. It's pronounced 'hoo-gie', anyway. For some background, we need to go back into the halcyon days of the UYIs. Brace yourselves, this may get hairy. * With apologies to Shane Black. Vicki James Wright had his start in the UK band Tokyo Blade, in an age almost as tender as Tommy was when he joined The Replacements. Wright quit after their debut album and moved to LA. It was 1987, he went to the Troubadour to see his first show. Guns N' Roses were playing. Wright liked what he saw and decided to stick around. In the space of a few years, he was enlisted into the new heavy metal band Johnny Crash. They released a debut album, which included a minor MTV hit. Within the scope of this expedition, their next album's more interesting, tho. Johnny Crash Mk II: Vicki James Wright, vox. Chris Stewart, gtr. JJ Bolt, gtr. Andy Rogers, bass. Matt Sorum, drums. Dizzy Reed, keys. In 1991, Johnny Crash soldiered through lineup changes; in the midst of recording, they found themselves short of a drummer. As luck would have it, the instrumentals for the UYIs had been completed for a while and Matt Sorum was mainly hanging around, waiting for Axl to wrap up the production so they could hit the road. For a long time. Vicki James Wright wrote: As for Matt Sorum playing on the album, all I can say is that it was a pleasure playing with such an amazing drummer... I know him and [Johnny Crash guitarist] Chris Stewart are old friends. His playing on the second album was probably the best recorded stuff he's ever done. Ask him, I think he'll agree... And as for Dizzy, he did some great keyboards on [the second album]. You may have never heard of Matt or Dizzy featuring on Unfinished Business, the second Johnny Crash album. Even in the studio, bad luck was ongoing. Founding member and bassist Andy Rogers died of heroin overdose shortly after completing his parts. With the drums recorded, Matt returned to Guns. He was substituted by Sid Riggs, who used to be in The Wild with JJ Bolt and Dizzy. Finally, as insult to injury, Johnny Crash's record label, Epic, shelved the album, despite featuring two current members of the biggest band in the world. Unfinished Business was eventually reacquired and released - in 2008, the CD year. But right now, we're taking the album that was dropped and going for the band that melt down. We're not talking about the Guns, but the Real McCoys. The Real McCoys: Vicki James Wright, vox. Chris Stewart, gtr. JJ Bolt, gtr. Krys Baratto, bass. Sid Riggs, drums. Dizzy Reed, keys. Vicki James Wright wrote:The Real McCoys was the band after [Johnny Crash]. JJ Bolt was the guitar player... He formed The Real McCoys with me... [Dizzy] also played with me in the Real McCoys... We did two sets of demos with [producer] Andy Johns, but nothing was ever released. The Real McCoys was similar in musical style to [unfinished Business], straight ahead sleazy rock with slide guitar and harmonica. The lineup was rounded by the new bass player, Krys Baratto, and the final Johnny Crash drummer, Sid Riggs. The band were said to have gotten close to a record deal, but this never happened. The Real McCoys broke up, Dizzy left to tour with Guns for a few years, Krys Baratto joined RATT guitarist Robbyn Crosby's band, Secret Service. This band would, again, spend a good two years writing music before folding. It's hard to make a living in music, which is why Baratto must've blinked when Dizzy called in about Guns N' Roses. The Shadow Company: Paul Huge, gtr. Krys Baratto, bass. Sid Riggs, drums. Dizzy Reed, keys. Axl had been going on about his solo project since early '94. Somewhere down the line, Trent Reznor had turned into Dizzy Reed. Dave Grohl had become Sid Riggs. For Dave Navarro, there was Paul Huge. Baratto joined in, and the second generation iteration of Johnny Crash would record under the GNR contract. There are two main ways this lineup could've been originated. The first one is that Axl had it doing the preproduction for his own album while Guns struggled through Snakepit, Gilby, Duff's pancreas and the Devil sessions. The second one is that Axl specifically rounded up the new band around Paul Huge following the Devil sessions and the loss of the Snakepit demos. Another minor clue to the history of the Shadow Company is given by Baratto. Keep in mind, Sid and I were recording on demos. Paul was involved... We were all a part of putting tracks down on the demos. So, it was never a "version" of the band. It was fun though... Across the mixer were such people as Slash, Zakk, Matt, Duff, Dizzy, and a host of others. (Krys Baratto, Sp1at, 04/15/05) Zakk Wylde jammed with the band little over a week in January '95. The sessions were more likely a publicity stunt orchestrated by both Guns' and Zakk's manager, Doug Goldstein, than an effort to kickstart the band, but that's another story. This occured three months after the '...Devil' sessions, suggesting Axl had gathered the Shadow Company rather quickly to have them in full swing by that time. So, ultimately, solo album or not, they ended up as employees of Guns. Baratto would recall that Axl was never there in the studio during his time in the ban.., erm, organization. They had one more than fleeting conversation, during a Halloween party in the Malibu Mansion. Axl complemented the bass lines and asked if the salary was coming in on time. Whether or not Paul and Dizzy were involved in the Axl solo project, Baratto was self-admittedly just doing his job. Worth noting in this juncture is Slash's "two-week initial period with Guns N' Roses in the late fall of '95", as Axl put it in his MTV fax. Snakepit tour dates help place this fortnight in August; between the final date of the Snakepit tour (07/25/95) and a one-off appearance in Monsters of Rock, Donington UK (08/25/95). Corroborating evidence is the date of the partnership resignation letter by Axl (08/31/95), which, effectively, killed off any progress. Looking back, this was an important moment in Guns' breakdown, but Axl made good of his word; he really wanted to work on the album. Slash had left town six months earlier, still bummed over how the '...Devil' sessions had gone down. We had this friend of Axl's, Paul, who really couldn't play that well. He played on 'Sympathy for the Devil.' Fuckin' asshole. I hate that guy. He didn't work out, so I am not really sure where the fuck that shit's headed. I'll deal with it when I get off the road. (Slash, The Michigan Daily, 04/95) In no time at all, Axl put Paul in a room with Slash. Naturally, the two of them came from very different places. Slash had it in for him, as he saw Paul as Axl's lackey. Duff was there, too. He was probably a bit easier on Paul, given that Slash recalls having an argument with Duff during that time, which broke the camel's back. As it was with Gilby, things boiled to the point of quarrel with Slash, at which point the sessions were off. That Freestyle session: Shaq, vox. Paul Huge, gtr. Sid Riggs, drums. Dizzy Reed, keys. The Shadow Company would have its most well-publicized session with NBA basketball player Shaquille O'Neal. Paul, Dizzy and Sid were in rehearsals, business as usual, rolling tape. Shaq was next door, doing a Taco Bell commercial - he'd been making them since July '95. Shaq had words with Dizzy, and played a few chords on the keyboard. Dizzy took over, the rest of them got into the groove. That's when Shaq and his homies began to freestyle. Tape was being rolled and a story took off. Again, the exact date of this session can be called into question. Through a distance of few years, Spin Magazine dated it at April '97 (reports indicate the Taco Neck advert was completed in the previous month). However, Dizzy later underlined Shaq was still a member of Orlando Magic instead of the LA Lakers, which would place the session to no later than his previous TB advert in February, '96. These are small potatoes in the grand scale, but they become peculiar when considering the political situation surrounding the Shadow Company. As we look closer, another small mention from the era turns into yet another possible sighting of the Shadow Company. This time, it was by no less than Johnny Rotten/Lydon from the Sex Pistols/Public Image Ltd. fame. When the Sex Pistols were rehearsing for their 1996 reunion tour [set to begin on 06/21/96 in Finland], Pistols mainman John Lydon claimed to have heard 'some folky nonsense' emanating from the next room, only to discover it was actually Axl and co hard at work. (Kerrang, 08/21/99) Rehearsal bootlegs indicate the Pistols were rehearsing in LA during May/June. At that point, Axl and Slash were still mulling over their disputes regarding the new partnership deal, which makes it unlikely the main lineup was present. Did Axl and Lydon meet? Doubtful. Axl was never there in Krys Baratto's time, and Lydon could've gotten the information without stepping in Guns' space. I saw Guns N' Roses listed on the bulletin board in the lobby of the studio so I stuck my head in to check it out. (Shaq, Spin, 07/99) Hence, a plausible chain of events is that in May/June '96, Lydon heard 'some folky nonsense' from the adjoining rehearsal space and found it was reserved for Guns. He might've been surprised to open the door and find the Shadow Company therein, with Axl nowhere in sight. Thus, with some confidence, we can assert the Shadow Company was laying the groundwork for Guns from Oct '94/Jan '95 to May/June '96. Slash came back into the fold for a trial period in August '96, and this may have spelled the end of the Shadow Company as it was. They had a bunch of songs, or sketches of songs, in the can. This was Axl's contribution to the '96 album; what he felt would've made a good Guns album if coupled with Slash's guitar parts. We have been doing mostly Axl's material. (Slash chat, 10/16/96) We are working on rock songs that last only 4 minutes (laughs). We already did 7 songs and we will write 7 others. (Matt, 09/23/96) The songs are really good, and I have a good vibe about it. (Slash, Kerrang, 09/21/96) The strangest thing is how Axl promoted Paul Huge into the lineup not once, but twice. By these later sessions, he was already running the GNR empire from a judicial point of view. Any other way would've kept Paul as Axl's closet musician, as - let's face it - he had a terrible track record on working with Slash. The Sympathy sessions had put Paul in an unfair situation between Axl and Slash, and Paul and Slash never appeared to have a mature conversation on the matter. They were just ushered into a room [possibly meeting in the flesh for the first time in the process] and when it didn't work out, Axl decided that was it - and set in motion the acrimonious partnership split. By August '96, it was clear Axl felt Paul had a real role to play in writing the next album. As said, Axl having everybody else as an employee was the only way to keep Paul onboard. Axl could've wised up and thought, 'Oh, well. I'll just get someone Slash likes to get the ball rolling.' The way things were going, one has to wonder whether Axl deliberately pushed Slash to act up by repeatedly enlisting Paul, so that another round of disciplinary moves could come to play. In the end, Axl got what he wanted; most of the early CD songs were a three-way split between him, Dizzy and Paul. http://www.gnrevolution.com/viewtopic.php?id=13280