Ex-bandmate Stradlin joins Rose at Guns show

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Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose gave fans an early Christmas gift on Sunday, when he brought out former bandmate Izzy Stradlin for five songs during the rock group's concert in Los Angeles.

Stradlin, who quit Guns N' Roses in November 1991 and has lived a fairly reclusive existence ever since, looked like a Blues Brother, decked out in dark suit, fedora and shades. He played guitar and contributed harmonies to "Think About You," "Used to Love Her," "Patience" and "Nightrain," and returned for the final tune, "Paradise City."

Stradlin has made a handful of surprise appearances at Guns shows this year, beginning last May in New York, and continuing during the European swing over the summer. Until this year, he had not played with the band since 1993, when he briefly subbed for his injured replacement, Gilby Clarke.

The other former Gunners, guitarist Slash, bass player Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum (a 1990 replacement for the fired Steven Adler), left during the mid 1990s after giving up hope that the increasingly tyrannical Rose would ever record a follow-up to 1991's two-volume set "Use Your Illusion." In 2003, they started their own group, Velvet Revolver.

Stradlin saw the writing on the wall during sessions for "Use Your Illusions" when he became increasingly estranged from Rose, his old Indiana buddy. He wrote or co-wrote a dozen tracks, including "You Could Be Mine" and "Don't Cry," and got out just as the albums were released.

Sunday's concert at the Gibson Amphitheatre near Hollywood was the first of three at the venue. The final performance, on Wednesday, will also mark the end of a two-month North American tour for Rose and his largely unknown bandmates. Rose will then focus on getting the long-awaited "Chinese Democracy" album out in stores by his target date of March 6.
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