Tracii Guns is an American guitarist popularly known as the founder of the 1980s’ American hard rock band ‘L.A. Guns’. He was also part of the founding group of the hard rock supergroup ‘Brides of Destruction’ as well as ‘Contraband’. In addition, he was one of the first line members who formed the American hard rock band from Los Angeles, ‘Guns N' Roses.’ However, he soon left the group and was replaced by the legendary guitarist Slash. Interested in music from a young age, he was just six years old when he first listened to the legendary Jimmy Page, member of the English rock band ‘Led Zeppelin’ while traveling with his mother in her car. He was influenced by Page’s style of playing and was later taught to play guitar by his uncle Ron Ulrich. Over the years Tracii became popular for his signature guitar playing, reminiscent of early Aerosmith and Van Halen. He is also known for his contribution as a composer/songwriter on more than 135 titles. Tracii has contributed to over twenty albums in his career so far and has also done several separate projects with various artists as well as bands including ‘Poison’, ‘Quiet Riot’, Steven Adle, and Italian band ‘J27’.
Childhood & Early Life
Tracii Guns, named Tracy Richard Irving Ulrich at birth, was born in Los Angeles, California on January 20, 1966 to non-observant Jewish parents. Not much about his childhood and early life is known to the media.
He became interested in music as a little boy. He was deeply inspired by the legendary guitarist of the rock band ‘Led Zeppelin’, Jimmy Page, after hearing his song ‘Whole Lotta Love’ on the radio for the first time.
Later, his uncle taught him to play the guitar, further fueling his inherent passion for music. When he was twelve years old, he formed his first band with his friends and used to play around the city.
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Career with L.A. Guns
Tracii Guns formed his first major band in 1983 with bassist Ole Beich, vocalist Michael Jagosz, and drummer Rob Gardner. However, the members could record only one EP titled ‘Collector's Edition No. 1’ before Jagosz left the band and was replaced by Axl Rose as the lead singer of the band.
In a similar turn of events, the band soon witnessed another exit. Rose left the group soon after joining to form his own band, Hollywood Rose, with guitarist Chris Weber and childhood friend Izzy Stradlin.
In 1985, Guns and singer Paul Black reformed the band by recruiting other members, such as Nickey "Beat" Alexander on drums and Mick Cripps as the bassist. In 1988, the band released their eponymous first album on Vertigo Records which ranked at No. 50 on the Billboard 200. A year later, the band released their second album ‘Cocked & Loaded’, which became even more popular, reaching the 38th spot on Billboard 200.
The band released their third album ‘Hollywood Vampires’ in 1991 and released eight more albums in the ensuing years, ‘Vicious Circle’ in 1995, ‘American Hardcore’ in 1996, ‘Shrinking Violet’ in 1999, ‘Greatest Hits and Black Beauties’ in 1999, ‘Cocked & Re-Loaded’ in 2000, ‘Man in the Moon’ in 2001, ‘Waking the Dead’ in 2002, and ‘The Missing Piece’ in 2017.
Tracii Guns left the band in 2002 only to return in 2005. Later in 2013, he took another break and returned in 2016. Over the course of his association with the band, he contributed to eleven albums in total.
Career with Guns N' Roses
In 1985, after Axl Rose joined and then left L.A. Guns to form his own band Hollywood Rose, both Tracii and Rose decided to merge their respective bands to form a new one named ‘Guns N’ Roses’, combining their own names.
The newly formed band had Axl Rose performing vocals, Tracii Guns as the lead guitarist, Ole Beich on bass, Rob Gardner on drums, and Rose’s long-term friend Izzy Stradlin on rhythm guitar. But within a year Tracii, along with his former L.A. Guns members Ole Beich and Rob Gardner, left the band due to a dispute with Rose.
They were later replaced by the former band mates of Rose, the legendary guitarist Slash, Steven Adler, and Duff McKagan. Tracii didn’t release any albums with the band; however, he did write a couple of songs while being associated with the group.
Formation of Brides of Destruction
In 2002, after taking a brief break from the L.A. Guns, Tracii Guns formed a new band named Brides of Destruction with former member and co-founder of ‘Mötley Crüe’, Nikki Sixx. The band featured singer London LeGrand and drummer Scot Coogan along with the Guns and Sixx.
In 2004, the band released the album ‘Here Come the Brides’ which ranked at No. 92 on the Billboard 200. After Sixx left the band later that year, Tracii brought Scott Sorry as his replacement and also recruited Ginger as the second guitarist. The new lineup then started working on their second album ‘Runaway Brides’. The album, released in 2005, featured the popular track ‘Dimes in Heaven’, which was dedicated to the recently deceased ‘Pantera’ guitarist Dimebag Darrell.
Tracii Guns' League of Gentlemen
In 2012, Tracii Guns formed the blues-rock band ‘Tracii Guns' League of Gentlemen’ which featured former band member of L.A. Guns, Scott Foster Harris, as well as John Bird and Doni Gray. The band released two albums with Shrapnel Records and received very positive reviews from the critics.
Tracii Guns has also played alongside several other artists in special collaborations. He worked with former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke to stage a show in California. He recorded a live album titled ‘99 Live’ that featured the two along with Stefan Adika on bass guitar and Eric Singer on drums. Later in 2002, he featured on Gilby Clark’s fourth solo album ‘Swag.’
Over the course of his illustrious career, Tracii Guns has formed and played with several bands. However, it was during his time with the band L.A Guns that he reached new heights in his career and established himself among the elites in the music industry. One of his best works is undoubtedly the album ‘Cocked & Loaded’ which was certified gold and was ranked at No. 27 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 50 Greatest Hair Metal Albums of All Time.
Tracii Guns is a very private person who doesn’t like to share details of his personal life with the media. He is reportedly engaged to a lady called Kristen.