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Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses
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Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,925 ratings  ·  144 reviews
From the "New York Times" bestselling author, the complete story of the last rock supergroup? from their drugfueled blast-off in the 1980s to the turbulent life of legendary singer Axl Rose and his fifteen-year, multi-million dollar effort to make the perfect hardrock album.
With 90 million of the band's records sold worldwide since 1987, Guns N? Roses prolonged rock music
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Gotham (first published January 1st 2008)
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 ·  1,925 ratings  ·  144 reviews

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Jan 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: music-film
I have a tendency toward hyperbole, but believe me when I say that this is the most amateurish, poorly written book that I've ever read in my entire life. This includes novelizations of video games. No, I don't expect Joycean prose in a Gun's N' Roses biography, but I do expect a little talent and professionalism from the author. The only reason to read this book is if you are a moron or if you really want to know how many times Izzy accidentally ejaculated on Slash's leg.

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Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
this band was a big part of the development of my identity when i was 12. i was listening to Appetite for Destruction the first time i ever got drunk (and subsequently very hungover). To this day, i still feel the tinge of a hangover whenever i hear "Nightrain."

with the release (and inevitable disappointment) of Chinese Democracy, my obsession with "Guns" has somewhat been reawakened--part nostalgia-trip, part sincere appreciation for them as probably the last great rock band (as cheesey as
Jan 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Not the most accurate book. It was interesting getting some back story on Axl. But it seems like the author simply wrote down the VH1 Behind the Music transcript, magazine articles, and MTV interviews. As a fan, I didn't learn anything new which was disappointing. At the end of the book it seems very rushed as if he just wanted to get it over with and out the door to make a quick buck. This book could have been a lot shorter and without the play by play of old concerts which was annoying because ...more
Michael Edwards
May 08, 2011 rated it liked it
It would have been nice to read an unauthorized, uncensored biography of the last truly great rock n roll band by someone who actually regarded them as such. Stephen Davis didn't seem to be a fan, or even an admirer of Guns. It is almost as if he'd written the entire thing after getting scorned like a wimp photographer who got kicked out of the dressing room before a show. He sure implemented many of his own personal evaluations of their work, stating that Appetite for Destruction was the only ...more
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Appetite for Destruction. 1987: My art-school friend, a skinhead named Katrine, & I went to NYC on a whim & were hanging out in a nearly deserted nightclub, that despite the lack of people, had a very heavy druggie atmosphere. No one was to be found because they were all going into the bathroom to do coke! Anyway, the dj put Appetite on continual rotation. It played over & over & over again, all night, while everyone was ...more
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
90% gleaned from secondary research. if you are any kind of gunners fan, you will have read all of this in creem or hit parader back in the day. now take that one to heart. huh!
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Very comprehensive book at least from the band formation to the early nineties which is both a bad and a good thing. You would probably struggle to find another book about GNR with anywhere close to that amount of information. It often gets down to the level of detail where it describes, for a particular concert, what each person is wearing on stage, what songs they played, what tantrums Axl threw, how many hours late they were, how the crowd reacted etc. This can be a bit tedious although some ...more
Kevin Summers
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult
I was really disappointed by this book. Here are two of the major problems with this book: 1. The quality of writing is poor; and 2. Davis seems to have cobbled together information from a variety of publicly available sources for almost all of the details in this book--anyone with average writing and research skills could have written a book of such below-average quality.

Sample quote: "Both albums [Use Your Illusion I and II] bore black parental advisory stickers, because Guns' new songs
Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Very good book about a great band, but there were quite a few mistakes. Makes me question the sincerity of the whole thing...?
Dec 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Didn't know much about these guys. I guess I know something now. I am not quite sure that all the details of 'The Saga Guns & Roses' are reliable
Mark Glover
Guns n Roses were a BIG part of my formative years providing the soundtrack to my teenage years of truanting, underage drinking, smoking cigarettes and other stuff that I thought rebellious but now look back on with a wry smile realising just how tame they were. Still many an impromptu road trip was made with either Appetite for Destruction or one of the Use Your Illusion albums blaring from the tape deck, GnR were dangerous, widely touted as the most dangerous band alive and any one looking for ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting book on a band that was in some ways out of time...the Glam metal scene they burst from was already dying as their star ascended making way for bands with little in common with GnR in many ways..the speed metal and grunge scenes kind of bookended their career peaks.
although Guns n Roses possibly shared very little with the eighties scene being more of a classic seventies rock sound with punk sensibilities...this book ends with a career dip recalling the Spaghetti incident covers
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: still-own
I really found it difficult to rate this, and I'm still undecided as to whether to keep it. I finished it, I read amusing bits out loud to my boyfriend, and I could not avoid listening to all the music it put into my brain. So I guess it scraped out three stars, but I really considered giving it just two.

I enjoyed Stephen Davis's books on Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith and still have both. But in those books, you get a feel that Davis cared about the bands -- you don't get that feeling in this book.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm a big fan of Guns N' Roses so choosing to read this book and learn about their self-destructive history was pretty natural. I knew Axl Rose was nuts but this showed exactly HOW nuts!! The history lessons in the book were pretty good for the most part, but I gave it two stars because Stephen Davis screwed up some really basic rock and roll history facts that severely damage his creditability. For example, according to Davis, Scorpions is an English band. Not true. They're from Germany. Also, ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was hugely disappointing as the writing was horrible. It attempts to present “situational happenings” in chronical order. You end with an incident in January 1989 and then in the next chapter you are reverted back to December of 1988. It seems to be a giant collection of random articles put together in the best order possible. And throw in some added over the top dramatic description of music from the author and you are left wanting to vomit. Now, in fairness, I finished the book so it ...more
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I read some of the reviews prior to embarking on this book and saw where several people took issue with the fact that the author appears to how interviewed a minimal amount of people and depended on already published information to compile this publication. I say big whoop. Die hard GnR fans might have an issue with that though. I don't consider myself a huge fan but I do like their music. My husband found this book (literally) and thought I would enjoy it and brought it home. I thought the book ...more
Christian Muller
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
A comprehensive review of the band's beginnings through to their fallout in the mid-nineties. Stephen Davis presents an uncompromised and unpretentious look at how Guns N' Roses rose to the top of the rock n' roll world and how they subsequently cam crashing down, splintering into the solo projects of the various band members. He doesn't get tied up in the either of the band members private dealings or go down unnecessary tangents. Everything is clearly outlined and easy to follow even if you ...more
Douglas Ogurek
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Did you ever wish that you could do and say whatever you wanted? The fellows in Guns N' Roses built their reputation on this. Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses is a fascinating read about the band that created the heavy metal masterpiece Appetite for Destruction. It details the outrageous parties, the on-stage antics, and the excessive drug use, as well as the personal demons and rage-induced behavior (particularly of frontman Axl Rose, who seems to be the primary reason of the band's ...more
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
An average music biopic that reads like a uni dissertation. The run up to Appetite and the year that followed are the most interesting, (but with factual errors), but the end to the book is too hastily finished. “Then they went to this place and played, and then here and then here etc.”

Too many quotes taken from magazine articles and not enough genuine interview / insight. That said, very interesting story and a decent way to get a better understanding of the run up to the release of the last
Whitney Lee
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I know this is a dark, seedy read but I clung to every word Stephen Davis poured out! Having a life so different than the ones these band mates had, I found every unsavory and somewhat disturbing experiences fascinating. How anyone could live through what these guys did and turn out to be okay humans, is a miracle. Davis captured these guys lives in a way that kept me both horrified and entertained!
James Traxler
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not sure why I read this as I am in no way a fan of these guys.
I noticed it at the library and I idly read a few pages.
Then I ended up reading the whole thing over the last week or so.
It feels like it was quickly banged out rather than crafted.
This book does at least confirm what is doubtless true about A. Rose: he should have used the name A. Hole or A. Spoilt Child.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every member of Guns N Roses is a story in itself so when you first pick up this book get ready for a massive sensory overload. You won't be disappointed.
Jeez, just imagine being there - Some how they made it - i wouldn't have.
Books Sunny
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
Love it!
It details the very beginning of the band, to their rise to fame. There's also insights into the band and their first band "manager" Vicky that I haven't heard before, and I've been a GNR fan since I was 12. A really good book, and a must-have for any GNR memorabilia collector.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Everything you need to know about this overly long book, full of redundant rock n roll debaucheries and overblown adulation, is summed up in the author's description of German speed metal band Helloween. That band is nothing like KISS. Nothing at all.
Anton Reiter
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good book. Very well written and entertaining. Stephen Davis seems to be a powerhouse when it comes to classic rock biographies.
David Kateeb
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You probably wont like Axl Rose after reading this.
Matthew Reel
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book really shines during the early years of Guns n' Roses, the second half is good too.
bruce davidson
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
interesting read if you are a fan of the band. guns never stopped being druggies, the swearing in the book wore thin. skimmed through a lot of it
Tom Gase
Nov 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was a little surprised how bad this book was while I was reading it, and then I finished it and realized I shouldn't have been shocked. Stephen Davis has written good books with "Hammer of the Gods" on Led Zeppelin and "Walk This Way" about Aerosmith. But the fact is, time has done a lot to the myth that is Guns N Roses. They just weren't THAT good.

I picked up this book for a buck in the bargain section and thought, heh, why not? I've always wondered what happened to most of these guys
John Branney
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book reads like a poorly written comic book. I was surprised the author did not use "POW" and "BAM" to describe the various drug and alcohol related exploits of the band members. The author's use of hyperbole and metaphor to describe Slash's guitar playing was laughable, "Hendrixique riff", "squeezed off notes like tracer rounds", "spewing 'atomic hyper-crunch guitar riffs'". Who writes or speaks that way, anyway???

There were so many factual errors in the book (other reviewers have
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Stephen Davis is is a rock journalist and biographer, having written numerous bestsellers on rock bands, including the smash hit Hammer of the Gods. He lives in Boston.

Librarians note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.