Skip to main content

Watch Axl Rose and Tracii Guns play Led Zeppelin's 'Rock and Roll' onstage in 1986

The pair joined L.A. rockers Shark Island at Gazzarri's on the Sunset Strip

While Shark Island is a band that is remembered by only the most devoted ‘80s hard rock fans these days, back in the middle of that decade they were a hot ticket on the Sunset Strip, and counted musicians like Axl Rose and Tracii Guns, who played together in early versions of both L.A. Guns and Guns N' Roses, among their fans (additionally, Guns and Black later joined forces in the short-lived supergroup Contraband).

Now, Guns has posted a clip on his Instagram page of he and Rose joining Shark Island onstage during a 1986 gig at Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip to play the Led Zeppelin classic, “Rock and Roll.”

You can check out Guns’ Instagram post below, as well as a YouTube video of the full performance, which has been floating around the web for several years, above.

The video was shot by Marc Canter, a longtime friend of Slash’s, who also served as Guns N’ Roses’ unofficial chronicler in their earliest days.

A few years back, Shark Island vocalist Richard Black gave an interview to website Misplaced Straws in which he addressed long-standing rumors that Rose appropriated some of his stage moves, including the shimmying "snake dance," and incorporated them into his own performances. Said Black:

“I went over to Axl’s pad one time, like some kind of an after-party or something. And he had a TV going in the living room area and on top of the TV, there was I don’t know, eight or 10 VHS tapes, all marked with Shark Island. He taped some shows verbatim, boom, and one playing as I walked in on TV, no bones about it, nothing was hidden. Well, you know, my heart sank when I saw that. Because I already knew at that time that Guns N’ Roses were getting down with David Geffen and that whole thing. And I knew that the person with the biggest mouthpiece is going to be able to claim whatever, so what can I do? You know, what can I do? He wasn’t able to do anything nearly as good as what I was doing. I’m not trying to boast or anything, but truly."

Black continued, “So what happened is the first song that came out is ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ right? The video of ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ even by Guns N’ Roses’ standard, is largely different than what came after that for them. For Axl, for everybody. It was very much a different vibe, he was dressed differently, more glamour, after that and they decided to try to look like Hell’s Angels or something. They kind of shifted gears to that. And I was never into that. I was more into, like, elegance and decadence and a trifle raunchy. That’s what I kind of tried to be. That was like what my intent was. So if you look, if one were to look at ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and one were to remember the Gazzarri’s-era time, then the whole similarity is very obvious.”

For his part, Canter has commented on the Richard Black/Axl Rose rumors over the years as well. In 2012, he wrote on mygnrforum.com: “First off that video with Axl and Tracii was from April 26th 1986 and I shot it. The reason I was there is because I knew Axl was going to be going up on stage with them and I was filming everything Axl did because I knew it was important to have it. Since I was there I shot the whole show. I gave Axl a copy of it and that’s why it ended up in Axl's apartment."

He continued, “Axl had plenty of moves before he had even heard of Shark Island. Axl liked Richard and thought the band was very professional because they used to play 200 gigs a year. The snake move was something that Richard did do and Axl must have been a bit influenced by it and picked up on it and at some point worked it in with all his other moves. It doesn't mean that Axl ripped him off. Lots of Rock Stars get influenced by something they see and use it somehow. Mick Jagger got a lot of them from Tina Turner. Axl is ver[y] natural and is mostly one of a kind in everything he does but I'm sure some of what he does came from something he saw somewhere and just starting doing something like it because it felt right. Joe Perry took a lot from Jeff Beck, Slash took a lot from Joe Perry that's Rock N' Roll and there are kids out there that took something from Slash. No big deal.”