What Happened To L.A. Guns?

Goth rockers go soft in this week's Forgotten Video
  • L.A. Guns frontman Phil Lewis in "The Ballad Of Jayne"
September 08, 2010 -- 3:44 pm PDT
GRAMMY.com

Welcome to Forgotten Videos. Well, for some forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or, we'll be giving a fresh look at a video that deserves to be collecting dust. We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.

L.A. Guns
"The Ballad Of Jayne"
1989

L.A. Guns were one of many top-selling rock bands to emerge from the legendary Sunset Strip rock scene of the mid- to late '80s. (A little bit of trivia: the band's first incarnation featured a vocalist named Axl Rose, who would go on to jungle-like adventures with some rough-and-tumble characters named Duff, Izzy and Slash.) While the band's look combined an atypical mix of glam and Goth with a hint of punk, L.A. Guns had more than plenty of the usual Hollywood-style rock fare — try "Electric Gypsy," "Malaria," "Never Enough," "Rip And Tear," and "Sex Action" on for size. But every rocker is liable to have a soft side (well, except maybe Lemmy) and L.A. Guns showcased theirs with the lighter-inducing "The Ballad Of Jayne." The story of the apparent death of Jayne complemented by lead vocalist Phil Lewis' somber wailing, a subtle back beat, acoustic guitars, and an understated Strat-worthy solo courtesy of Tracii Guns pushed the song to No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990 — the only time these guns would shoot past the Top 40. In another atypical move, an eerie, subtle Goth theme seems present in the song, evidenced by lyrics such as "Now she's breaking hearts in heaven" and "I still hear of us in the wind," that suggest dark mysteries. (As to what really happened to her, the answer may have lied in the whispering wind that blew those rose petals or the antique-style book Lewis carted around.)

Today, "The Ballad Of Jayne" is breaking hearts in the set lists of two bands. Guns and Lewis, now adversaries following an acrimonious breakup in 2002, lead their own separate incarnations of L.A. Guns. In a 2007 interview, Lewis commented on the Guns-led incarnation saying, "You know, my opinion of it is that it's terrible." Two versions of L.A. Guns. Seems funny, kinda like a dream. What a shame.


 
Do you know what happened to Jayne? Got a Forgotten Video recommendation? Leave us a comment.

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