What Every Ex-Member Of Guns N' Roses Is Doing Today

Since its formation in 1985, Guns N' Roses has existed in some shape, form, or way. As one might assume from a group that has rocked the world's faces for three and a half decades, there have been a few lineup changes over the years. In fact, at this point, the group's only constant member has been singer Axl Rose. Every other position in the band has been a revolving door of new, returning, and briefly visiting faces, to the point that apart from their active, early 2020 lineup, there are no less than 16 people (plus assorted touring members) who have been a part of the Guns N' Roses story. Some of them you might be very familiar with, others you might know from very different circles, and others still you might be hearing about for the first time. 

So who are these ex-Roses, and what are they up to these days? Let's take a look at what every former member of Guns N' Roses is doing today.

Rob Gardner, international man of mystery

As Ultimate Classic Rock tells us, the original 1985 lineup of the band called Guns N' Roses was more than a little different from the classic lineup of the 1990s: Axl Rose, Tracii Guns, Izzy Stradlin, Ole Beich, and Rob Gardner. Some of these names are decidedly more obscure than others, and Rob Gardner definitely qualifies in the "wait, who?" category. 

In an interview with Ultimate Guitar, fellow early band member Tracii Guns notes that Gardner was indeed the first drummer of Guns N' Roses, but his train to stardom was quickly derailed when love intervened. According to Guns, Gardner's girlfriend did not much care for him being in the band, so she forced him to quit the band early on. Unfortunately, she subsequently left him, and Gardner has not found his way back in the limelight since, despite Guns pointing out that he was a "great drummer."

Tracii Guns has his own successful band

Fans of hard rock are probably quite familiar with Tracii Guns. As Allmusic tells us, he was the original Guns N' Roses guitarist, and Ultimate Classic Rock points out that he's also the "Guns" in the band's name — the "Roses" obviously being Axl Rose. Guns was initially a member of the L.A. Guns, which joined with the band Hollywood Rose to become Guns N' Roses. Guns left after just two months, though, and the L.A. Guns had a second life. As AL.com notes, as of 2019, Guns' three and a half decades as a musician have left him with his own share of hard-rocking hits and no less than 12 studio albums with L.A. Guns. Apart from that, Guns has also worked with several notable artists, including Motörhead, Johnny Thunders, Poison, and WASP. 

Successful as Guns became in his own right, Guns N' Roses weren't exactly stabbed in the heart by the talented guitar slinger's departure. After all, he was soon replaced with a certain frizzly-haired top hat aficionado known as Slash. 

Ole Beich drowned in Denmark

Out of all original members of Guns N' Roses, the Danish bassist Ole Beich cuts perhaps the most tragic (and arguably the most obscure) figure. According to Ultimate Guitar, former GN'R member Tracii Guns describes his old bandmate as a metal guy who had already played with Mercyful Fate and (possibly) King Diamond. As such, Beich soon grew frustrated with the glam-tinted hard rock direction Guns N' Roses were taking, and he was the first — but far from the last — member to leave the band.

According to Guns, Beich was about a decade older than him, and a nice, helpful guy who was quite serious, yet had a wonderful sense of humor. Unfortunately, Beich went on to lead quite a tragic life. He struggled with depression, and ultimately met a tragic end when he drowned in his native Denmark in the 1990s. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​. 

Izzy Stradlin just won't return to the band

Izzy Stradlin was a founding member of Guns N' Roses, but as Ultimate Classic Rock tells us, he eventually started feeling that his role in the band was diminishing. The public first discovered the situation in 1991, when the "Don't Cry" music video featured a sign that asked "Where's Izzy?" instead of the man himself. Stradlin left the band soon after this. 

Slash has stated that his former band member grew weary of touring and left the rest of the band hanging. Meanwhile, Stradlin says he was frustrated by the lax attitude of his band members, and his old friend Axl Rose's "growing tyranny" in particular. Regardless of what his real reasons were, the rhythm guitarist has remained a semi-elusive figure ever since. According to Blabbermouth, Stradlin's only band after his GN'R tenure was the short-lived Izzy Stradlin & The Ju Ju Hounds, after which he released 10 solo albums (the last of which came out in 2010). More recently, he has been in the spotlight because his negotiations to rejoin the "classic" Guns N' Roses lineup keep falling apart. Even Rose has remarked that Stradlin is a notoriously tough guy to negotiate with.

Steven Adler took a strange turn

As the BBC tells us, drummer Steven Adler joined Guns N' Roses in time for their "disastrous" 1985 tour that involved a broken van and a stint at hitch-hiking. He was around during the band's rise to success, but developed an addiction to both cocaine and heroin, and started having problems with his playing. For this, he was ultimately fired in 1990 — though Adler himself has argued that the band deliberately made him play a song he hadn't rehearsed with them to make him sound like "an ill-equipped, crappy drummer" and have a reason to throw him out. 

Adler wasn't too happy about the decision and filed a lawsuit against the band in 1991 — earning a $2.25 million settlement from the band, per GNR Central. According to Loudwire, Adler has made bitter comments about his dismissal as recently as 2019. However, he has remained friends with Slash, and even took the stage with the band for a few gigs in 2016. Apart from that, Loudwire tells us he's been making moves with his own band, Adler's Appetite, which is ... basically a Guns N' Roses cover band. Ouch. 

Matt Sorum has been keeping himself busy

Throughout the years, Guns N' Roses has gone through enough drummers to make Spinal Tap proud. Matt Sorum sat behind the drum kit after Steven Adler was fired, and according to Blabbermouth and Alternative Nation, he too was eventually shown the door in 1997, courtesy of Axl Rose. However, Sorum wasn't about to start resting on his laurels. He has played with Velvet Revolver, The Cult, and Hollywood Vampires, and Loudwire notes that as of 2019, he was working with Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler on a project called Deadland Ritual. As Forbes tells us, in 2018 he also founded a "crypto-based" concert hosting platform called Artbit. 

Apart from his various ventures and successes, Blabbermouth reports that Sorum has also seen his share of the shadier side of life, and as of 2020 is going to tell the world all about it in Double Talkin' Jive, his autobiography that he claims is "the juiciest of the juiciest of the GN'R books."

Gilby Clarke is exploring a solo career

Gilby Clarke's Guns N' Roses stint was a roller coaster, to say the least. As Ultimate Classic Rock tells us, he took guitarist Izzy Stradlin's spot in 1991 after the founding member left the group. In 1994, he discovered that he was no longer a part of the band in a strange way: First, his because his paychecks simply stopped coming, and Slash informed him that Axl Rose didn't want him in the group anymore. Then, Slash assured Clarke that he was still in the band — but the paychecks never returned, so Clarke took the hint.

Despite the odd manner of his dismissal, Clarke says he holds no grudges. He has collaborated with Slash on his Slash's Snakepit project, and as Blabbermouth reveals, he has recently kept himself busy with his solo career. In February 2020, he released a solo single called "Rock n' Roll Is Getting Louder," and is reportedly working on his first solo album in over 15 years, called The Gospel Truth.

Paul "Huge" Tobias' disappearing act

Rhythm guitarist Paul "Huge" Tobias replaced Gilby Clarke in Guns N' Roses, which Ultimate Classic Rock tells us had huge implications for the band. Slash was not thrilled with Axl Rose's insistence on bringing Tobias on board and his views about the new man's abilities were, to put it diplomatically, less than enthusiastic. This controversy played a part in Slash's departure from GN'R in 1996.  

As Blabbermouth notes, "Huge" and Rose were childhood friends, which may have been a factor in the singer's insistence to bring him in despite Slash's protests. Unfortunately for Tobias, even old friendship couldn't make him a permanent fixture in the band, and in 2002 he was replaced by current GN'R member Richard Fortus. After Tobias' departure, mentions of him have been few and far between. In November 2018, GN'R Central reported that an old song from his other band, Mank Rage, had "leaked" online.

Robin Finck became a Nine Inch Nail

As Rolling Stone reports, Robin Finck first played guitar for Guns N' Roses from 1997 to 1999. He was part of a peculiar "recording" lineup that included Axl Rose, Paul Huge, Dizzy Reed, Josh Freese, and Tommy Stinson, and though his time with the group was comparatively brief, a spokesperson of their label said that he recorded "several albums' worth of material" with them. Indeed, Ultimate Guitar tells us he was one of the "main contributors" on 2008's Chinese Democracy. 

As NME tells us, Finck later rejoined the band, only to leave again in 2008. His departure came as something of a shock to Guns N' Roses, though Guitar FX Depot notes that he had a pretty decent reason to leave Rose's troops behind. See, Finck happens to be a long-serving guitarist for a little band called Nine Inch Nails, who were about to commence on a tour. As of September 2019, he's still holding the six-string fort for Trent Reznor. 

Josh Freese has played with everyone

For some people, playing with Guns N' Roses is the highlight of their life. For Josh Freese, it was a Tuesday. As the Drummers' Journal tells us, Freese is a noted session drummer who had a two-year contract with GN'R from 1998 to 2000, but chose not to renew it because the band was pretty much buried in the studio abyss at the time. 

Instead of devoting his professional career to Axl Rose, Freese chose to work with ... well, pretty much everyone. He has been a prominent member of A Perfect Circle, and has at various points of his career drummed for Queens of The Stone Age, Bruce Springsteen, Weezer, The Replacements, Chris Cornell, Avril Lavigne, Selena Gomez, Katy Perry, Michael Bublé, and Miley Cyrus ... among others. As Modern Drummer notes, he has several world tours with Sting under his belt, and keeps up with his punk side as a member of The Vandals. Oh and just in case the hat didn't tip you off, he's also a longtime member of Devo. Axl who? 

Tommy Stinson has his own thing going

As Blabbermouth reports, Tommy Stinson held the bass player position in Guns N' Roses from 1998 to 2014, when he semi-accidentally quit the band due to his failing marriage and hectic home life forcing him to withdraw from touring. However, he says that he doesn't particularly miss his time with the band. Though he was just fine with the people involved, he says that he's happy to have moved on. 

To be fair, Stinson has had his fair share of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, even without the whole GN'R gig. He is arguably better known for his lengthy tenure with alt-rock icons The Replacements, where Rolling Stone tells us he played from the ripe old age of 11. Since moving on from that group as well, he has resurrected his old band, Bash and Pop. Oh, and according to Ultimate Classic Rock, he was also in Soul Asylum from 2005 to 2012.

Chris Pitman sued Axl Rose and disappeared from the map

As Loudwire tells us, Chris Pitman joined Guns N' Roses as a backing vocalist, second keyboardist, and second bass player in 1998. However, he fell out with the band (read: Axl Rose) over money. By 2012, Rose reportedly owed Pitman about $125,000 for a year's worth of work, and when Rose failed to pay on time, Pitman took him to court for $163,000. They eventually reached a settlement in 2016, though TMZ reports that the money Pitman actually received was significantly less than what he was seeking. 

Though Pitman was supposedly set to rejoin the band on its 2016 tour featuring classic era members Duff McKagan and Slash, his place was ultimately taken by current member Melissa Reese. This may or may not have something to do with the various acidic and extremely public remarks about said tour as "a money grab" and "an oldies reunion."

Buckethead's had a rough few years

Buckethead, the prolific guitarist who famously wears a mask and a KFC bucket hat onstage, spent four years as a Guns N' Roses member, but Rolling Stone tells us he left to do his own thing in 2004. (Blabbermouth says this may have had something to do with his frustration with the band's "inability to complete an album.") The masked guitar slinger has gone through some pretty tough times since. In 2017, the man, whose real name is Brian Carroll, gave a surprisingly honest out-of-character interview for the Coming Alive podcast (via Spin). He revealed that he had gone through a roller coaster of difficulties, involving the death of his parents, a nasty back injury, and a condition that caused his heart to beat out of rhythm. 

Fortunately, Rolling Stone reveals that judging by his recent musical output, Buckethead seems to be more or less back on track, seeing as he's been collaborating with his musical hero, the legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins. In October 2019, they released a manic funk-metal cover of "Monster Mash," of all things.

"Brain" Mantia makes music for video games and commercials

Drummer Bryan "Brain" Mantia is one of those guys who have played with pretty much everyone. According to Drummer World, he tends to work with cult characters such as Tom Waits, Primus, Godflesh, Praxis, and the aforementioned Buckethead. However, his accolades also include a six-year stint with Guns N' Roses: According to Blabbermouth, Axl Rose invited the drummer in the band in 2000, and he performed with them until 2006. 

Though Mantia is well-known for his tenure with GN'R, it by no means characterized him. A drummer's drummer and "one of the premiere drummers in contemporary music," he is an advanced music (and music theory) enthusiast who has released instructional DVDs and written columns for Drum! Magazine. Oh, and you've almost certainly heard his work, even if you've never knowingly listened any artist he's played with. He's a member of Brain and Melissa, a musical duo responsible for a wide array of music from all walks of culture. The pair has contributed to B-movie soundtracks, NFL and MLB original game music, various high-profile commercials, and even video games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4, not to mention and the upcoming The Last of Us 2 and Cyberpunk 2077. It's "Brain" Mantia's world of sound, the rest of us are just living in it.

Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal has a line of award-winning hot sauces

As Blabbermouth tells us, guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal first joined Guns N' Roses in 2006, and though he says he doesn't want to dwell on the negative sides of the job, he found it difficult to fit in the group and even had to "get a little violent" to gain respect at first. He remained with the band until 2014, and though Louder notes that his departure was never officially announced, he says that the decision to leave was an extremely difficult one and at least partially fueled by the knowledge that some of the best-known band members were planning a reunion. 

After leaving the GN'R ship behind, Thal's official website reveals that he has focused on solo work, running music camps, and playing in a supergroup called Sons of Apollo. Interestingly, he also has a line of award-winning hot sauces. Chowhound ranks his "Bumblef**ked" ginger-ginseng-caffeine sauce among the spiciest in the world.

DJ Ashba moved from Axl Rose to Nikki Sixx

DJ Ashba joined Guns N' Roses in 2009 and, as Billboard reports, quit his tenure with the band in 2015. He said that he wants to spend more time with his family and his other musical ventures, though, as Loudwire tells us, it may be worth noting that Slash's return to the band was announced that very same year. 

After he left the GN'R solo guitar spot open for the more famous hat-wearing shredder's grand comeback, Ashba has remained quite busy. He plays guitar in Mötley Crüe main man Nikki Sixx's Sixx:A.M., and his official website reveals that he has his spoon in many other soups as well. Apart from the occasional TV appearance and his upcoming band Pyromantic, he owns a company called Ashba Media, which "specializes in the build of thematic designs and scenic fabrications for the entertainment, hotel, and hospitality industries and a wide range of other commercial clients."