While Guns N’ Roses initial era was legendary, there were some pretty impressive players that played in the group in the period where Axl Rose mostly fielded an entirely new lineup. And there were even some stellar players that auditioned but never ended up in the group. According to Richard Fortus, one of those outstanding players that left an impression but ultimately did not get the gig was Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake’s John Sykes.
Fortus, who was part of the Chinese Democracy years and has remained part of the group during the “Not in This Lifetime” reunion, told Tone-Talk (seen below) that Sykes came in to see about filling the vacancy that eventually went to DJ Ashba around 2009.
“We auditioned a bunch of people and John Sykes was incredible,” recalled Fortus. The guitarist added, “I remember Tommy Stinson came in, and we walked into rehearsals, and we see John there. Tommy turns around to the tour manager, and he goes, ‘Man, send him home. Why are we doing this? Axl’s not gonna go for this.’ And [the tour manager] is, like, ‘It’s John Sykes, man. He learned the songs. The least you can do is listen to him.’ So Tommy was, like, ‘All right. Fine.’ So we go in the room, and within two minutes, Tommy is looking over at me, like, ‘Oh my God!’ I mean, it was incredible — incredible. And he just plugged straight into the amp, and just killed it. His tone was incredible. Our jaws were on the ground, for sure.”
While the audition impressed, Fortus stated, “John’s reputation does precede him. But I personally got along great with him, and I kept in contact with him. Actually, I kept in contact with him pretty regularly until I got the Thin Lizzy gig [as a touring guitarist], and then he didn’t call me anymore. [Laughs] But I thought he was great.”
Sykes split from Thin Lizzy in 2009 and earlier this year the guitarist released “Dawning of a Brand New Day,” which is part of a solo record expected to arrive later this year. Check it out below.
Guns N’ Roses’ Richard Fortus Speaks With Tone-Talk
John Sykes, “Dawning of a Brand New Day”