back in the lineup and Black writing most of the songs, the band landed a deal with Polygram Records
and made plans to record a debut album. Black was replaced by former Girl
frontman Phil Lewis
before L.A. Guns could enter the studio, though, and the rest of the lineup shifted as well, eventually solidifying around Guns
, drummer Nickey Alexander, bassist Kelly Nickels, and guitarist Mick Cripps.
In 1988, L.A. Guns released their self-titled debut album, featuring a raunchy, Aerosmith
-influenced sound and a number of songs that had been written by ex-member Paul Black. Former W.A.S.P.
drummer Steve Riley
joined the lineup during the tour that followed, and L.A. Guns quickly returned to the studio to bang out a second album, Cocked and Loaded. Released in 1989 and propelled by the Top 40 single "The Ballad of Jayne," Cocked and Loaded went gold, giving the band a minor stake in the hair metal explosion that Guns N' Roses
had helped spark. Released two years later, Hollywood Vampires managed to hold the audience's attention by peaking at number 42. Nevertheless, the guys laid low for four years, waiting for grunge to fade away.
When L.A. Guns released their fourth album, Vicious Circle, in early 1995, they retained a core group of followers but failed to capture the mainstream's attention. It was their weakest-selling album to date and set off a chain of lineup shifts, with Johnny Crypt taking over bass-playing duties, Chris Van Dahl assuming the frontman role, and Guns
serving as the band's sole guitarist. Polygram
dropped the band in the wake of Vicious Circle's slow sales, and 1996's American Hardcore introduced the band's new lineup but fared no better.
Greatest Hits & Black Beauties, a collection of re-recorded favorites and new material, followed in 1999 after a succession of new vocalists that included Ralph Saenz (on 1998's Wasted EP) and Love/Hate
singer Jizzy Pearl
. That same summer, the group released a Gilby Clarke
-produced collection of new material, entitled Shrinking Violet, with Pearl serving as lead vocalist. For 2001's Man in the Moon (again produced by Clarke
), Phil Lewis
and Mick Cripps returned to the lineup, joining Guns
, former Pretty Boy Floyd
member Keff Ratcliffe and new bassist Muddy
. Waking the Dead followed a year later, and founder Tracii Guns
left the group to form Brides of Destruction
with Nikki Sixx
' departure, Phil Lewis
took over as lead singer for L.A. Guns. This iteration of the band would go on to release four full-length albums, Rips the Covers Off (2004), Tales from the Strip (2005), Covered in Guns (2010), and Hollywood Forever (2012). During that time, Tracii Guns
was operating under the moniker the Tracii Guns Band with former L.A. Guns members Paul Black and Nickey Alexander, along with Brides of Destruction
live bassist Jeremy Guns. To make things even more confusing, Tracii Guns
owned the rights to the L.A. Guns name, so between 2006 and 2012, there were two bands operating under the moniker.
In 2016, Guns
buried the hatchet and performed together for the first time in 14 years. They played a series of live shows which culminated in the release of the aptly named The Missing Peace, L.A. Guns' 11th studio long-player released by Frontiers Records
. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Andrew Leahey, Rovi