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You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1 -13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.

Taking us back to the Paradise City

Formed in 1985 by Axl Rose and then lead guitarist, Tracii Guns, and taking its name from its two founding members, the hard rock band Guns and Roses reached heights of success that few could or would have ever predicted. Having sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, 46 million in the States alone, to date, the band that came to symbolise the hedonistic rebelliousness of the 1980s and 90s punk-rock period has, after much speculation, resurrected itself for one more assault on the music charts. GNR, as the band has come to be known, has just begun a new world tour. And as it embarks on another chapter of its journey, we take a look back at the colourful and often controversial history of the band.

1985 -1986

The band line-up underwent many changes in the early days. Founding member Tracii Guns’ failure to attend rehearsals led to him being replaced as lead guitarist by Slash. And once Rob Gardner, the band’s original drummer quit for personal reasons, Slash brought his close friend Steven Adler into the fold. With the band members now settled and the line-up complete, Axl Rose (vocals), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), Duff McKagan (bass), Slash (lead guitar) and Steven Adler (drums) embarked on their first tour, nicknamed ‘Hell Tour’. It was here on the road that the band established its chemistry and though it only managed to release one four-track EP, Like a Suicide, during this period, the seeds of success were being sown as the band quickly earned a reputation for its impressive live performances.

1987 - 1989

On July the 21st, 1987, the band released its first album, Appetite for Destruction. But success wasn’t by any means instant; the album lingered low in the charts for almost a year before the band’s agent managed to convince MTV executives to play Welcome to the Jungle, the first single off the album, during their afternoon rotations. Rock and punk fans soon took notice and began requesting the video en masse. Sweet Child of Mine was the album’s second US single and, thanks largely to growing grassroots support, the song and its accompanying music video received regular airplay and shot to the top of the US charts. A world tour and invitations to appear at major international rock festivals followed. The band was now well on its way to achieving fame and fortune.

1990 - 1993

Band members lived life on the edge and, unfortunately, drummer Adler’s lifestyle got the better of him. The extent of his dependence on drugs was so bad that he could no longer perform with the band and was fired in July, 1990, to be replaced by Matt Sorum. A sixth member of the group was also added as Dizzy Reed became the band’s keyboardist. And, having gotten rid of its old management team as well, the band now launched its most ambitious project to date, releasing two albums, Use Your Illusion 1 and Use Your Illusion 2, at the same time. The gamble paid off spectacularly with the albums shooting to numbers one and two in the charts respectively - GNR was the first band ever to achieve such a feat. But though they were riding the crest of a wave, controversy was never far from the band members, especially vocalist Rose who was, among other things, charged with assault and accused of inciting a riot that led to several fatalities. That said, the Use Your Illusion Tour ended on a high, registering record attendances and lasting an incredible 28 months.

1994 - 2008

But just when it seemed that the band could do no wrong, things slowly began to unravel. Rose and Slash had personal issues and the band went on a hiatus, not recording or touring together for the best part of two years, before Slash officially quit in 1996. Most of the other band members followed Slash out and, though Rose replaced them, it was a full nine years before a much-touted comeback gig was played in Las Vegas. The band’s promised new album, Chinese Democracy, never materialised and tour schedules were interrupted and often cancelled altogether. It wasn’t until 2008, with Rose now the only remaining member of the original band, that Chinese Democracy was finally released. 2009 - Present

A new world tour followed the release of Chinese Democracy and, although it received largely positive reviews, the band has continued to be plagued by controversy; Rose is notorious for arriving late for performances and his onstage behaviour has led to much criticism. But when all’s said and done, there’s no denying the enduring appeal of GNR. Loyal fans still line up in their thousands to get tickets for every new tour date, just as they did all those years ago at the height of the band’s success. The only difference is that today they are more hoping for than expecting a great performance, but then that’s rock and roll baby

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