Above: Which one of these guys is totally wasted? In a 4-1 vote, drummer Steven Adler, second from right, was kicked out of Guns N’ Roses for being the biggest junkie in a band full of druggies. As he explains in his tell-all book, things only got worse from there.

By Metal Dave

As the original drummer for Guns N’ Roses, Steven Adler crashed at the crossroads of Paradise City and Paradise Lost.

As he admits in his book, “My Appetite for Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns N’ Roses,” the wreckage would have been a little less twisted if Adler spent more time looking over his shoulder and less time chasing the dragon. Then again, such details are a pain in the ass when you’re blinded by fame and the glow of the crack pipe at the reckless young age of twentysomething.

Without exaggerating, Adler was completely off the deep end by the time he was 25. Even with Mr. Brownstone acting as the loaded Guns’ unofficial sixth member, it was Adler who took the fall for being the biggest mess of the bunch. Wow!

Booted out of GN’R through either conspiracy or complacency (or both), Adler was a “has-been” before his 27th birthday. In a tailspin of despair, self-doubt and alienation, his drug addictions got deeper and darker until suicidal tendencies, emergency room visits and paranoid madness joined Adler’s festering party. He landed in jail (more than once), entered and exited rehab, ignored the oozing sores that were rotting his flesh and, of course, had the drug-induced stroke that permanently left his face half-lopsided. By the end of the book, his desperate mother is racing him to another rehab facility as Adler sits shotgun huffing one last crack rock. Let that sink in for a minute!

Among the book’s interesting take-aways is Adler’s portrayal of singer Axl Rose. As Adler tells it, Axl has been a self-centered, volatile control freak since the band’s club days. In fact, Adler claims Axl was a no-show when GN’R got its first big gig opening for Alice Cooper! The other guys had to wing the vocals and walk off stage with their tails between their legs (fortunately Alice was OK with the whole debacle). Fame may have amplified Axl’s notorious self-importance, but Adler says the singer’s true colors have always been blinding (a rare exception being the time Axl left a movie set and was the lone and most unlikely Gun to visit Adler in the hospital as he recovered from a broken arm).

Also of note is the book’s closing credits in which Adler thanks all of his former Guns N’ Roses band mates except for his high-school buddy, Saul “Slash” Hudson (who late in the book makes a physical, if not emotional, appearance to coax Adler into another round of rehab). Hmmm. Slash’s absence among the “special thanks” is a glaring omission after the book leads you to believe the guys have grown somewhat cordial and that Adler has come to terms with their love/hate brotherhood. Wishful thinking?

It’s painfully apparent Adler has a hopelessly addictive and destructive personality, yet his smiling, boyish naivety makes him contagiously endearing. Rather than being an arrogant jerk (at least from his own perspective), the reader is left with the feeling that Adler is just a guy who likes to party, albeit to dangerous extremes. And unlike Axl Rose, Adler is a “more-the-merrier” kinda guy. Overall, you get the impression you’d like to party with him (and he’d be happy to have you along), but it’s pretty clear you’d be well advised to run like hell after a few beers.

By book’s end, Adler claims to be living more right than wrong thanks in large part to his loving wife. He also makes it perfectly clear he’d be the first to arrive at rehearsal if Axl and Slash reunited GN’R — and his motives seem to have little to do with the paycheck. In fact, you’re reminded throughout the book that Adler is not financially savvy enough for money alone to be his incentive. More than anything, he just wants to rock out and party with his fans.

All told, you can’t help but feel Adler was screwed by his GN’R bandmates either through their outright abuse or conspiring blind eyes. At best, they let him fall. At worst, they planned it.

Adler’s book is a great read (in a trainwreck kinda way) and as the drummer contiunally reminds, there is no denying the greatness of GN’R’s “Appetite for Destruction” and the band’s teetering, tumultuous reign. They may have ultimately stabbed each other in the back, but GN’R left behind a killer album, and at least for now, there is still no corpse.

  1. Danny says:

    Well written as always. You should convince some of these rock icons you know to have you write their biographies. It’s time you get into the publishing racket! If you could co-author someone’s biography with them, who would it be?

    • metal dave says:

      Thanks, Danny! Most of the bios I’d wanna write have already been done (Keith Richards, Lemmy, Iggy, Nikki Sixx, Roth, Slash, Dee Dee Ramone, Gene Simmons, etc.). However, if I had the time to write a book and there was an offer, I’d love to author Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Axl Rose, Ace Frehley and probably many others. That’s a tough question!

  2. Stacie says:

    WHAT?!?! Axl Rose is a self-centered control freak? Say it aint so! 🙂 I fell in love with Steven Adler on Celebrity Rehab-he was on for two seasons. No surprise there. I hope he can overcome his demons. It seems he’s a likeable guy with a good heart. Another great article, Dave. I agree w/Danny!

  3. Pat Idle says:


    I loved the part of the book where Adler said they were playing farm aid when the band decided to do the UK SUBS song Down here on the farm and he had never heard it. Here is the link. He gets through it. Look the guy got a raw deal plain and simple. GnR has to have those 5 guys in it for me to care. They fascinate me as a band unit. 4 hopeless drug addicts and one crazy dictator running the whole thing.

  4. Steven Blackmore says:

    Very interesting what he has to say, Slash say’s something different in his book, I guess who do you believe?? Sad that he ended up how he has…
    Duff was on stage with AXL on Thursday at the O2 Arena in London, they did 4 song. This was the first time in 17 years. Maybe one day they might all get back together. AXL kept the crowd waiting for well over 1 hour in London, crazy way to treat the fan’s he’s being for so long now!

  5. Dave A. says:

    There is a market and many books still to be written. Keef’s book is #2 on Amazon…the demand is there.

    Your day will come, MD!

  6. Lisa Madsen says:

    I’ve seen Adler live and it matches what he says repeatedly in his book – the man LOVES to play and has a F**king great time! He is good to his fans (ahem, Axl?), great to his band members (whom we’ve met) and overall, is a genuine person. I hope he can continue to do good & overcome his addictions. I was left under-whelmed by Slash’s last performances I’ve seen – is he ever going to do something – new? Different? Touring with Ozzie? Why?

  7. Bob Stubbs says:

    Great outline of Steven’s book!I was there in the beginings of the band when I was drumming with Social Distortion and was also around a little during the Cathouse and Scream club days.I saw a band then that was constantly changing musically and personally.A band I drummed for called Lip & the Smoochers even got to open some shows for “the Drunk Fux”(which was GnR under a different name)and they always made sure they were connecting with their audience at all times no matter what was going on in the band.Steven’s departure for me ended my personal interest in the band because I kind of knew then that it was close to the end for Guns.That show the band did on the american music awards in 1989 was evidence of that.I am glad Steven is back playing drums again and I hope it will keep him on the right track.I quit all my personal demons(drinking,drugs,etc)back in 1989 and am better for it.I am sure one day Guns & Roses will reunite,but until then at least we have the music and our memories.