Tales from the Road – Backstage with Steven Adler

Fans who saw Guns N’ Roses coming into their own on the Sunset Strip knew they were on to something special. They labeled the group the World’s Most Dangerous Band and guitarists Izzy Stradlin and Slash both credit drummer Steven Adler with giving the band its signature sound.

Since parting ways with GNR, Steven has had an incredible solo career. He is one of those musicians who is a total joy to play alongside. So, it’s no surprise that he’s always in demand.

The list of players who long to jam with the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame drummer is endless. Steven has played and recorded with artists including Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots; Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers; John 5 of Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Mötley Crüe; and Tom Morrello of Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and Prophets of Rage.

To keep things interesting, right now Steven is touring the country faithfully recreating the electric energy and animalistic intensity of the Hollywood club scene and the release of GNR’s most iconic album – Appetite for Destruction.


As Steven’s publicist, I have a unique perspective on what drives him as he takes the stage for each performance. He loves the fans and because of the energy that he gets from them, he loves playing live.

And Steven doesn’t half-ass things. He is on the road to do one thing – thrill the fans. And to do that he has surrounded himself with an remarkable band featuring lead guitarist Michael Thomas, rhythm guitarist Alistair James, bassist Cristian Sturba, and vocalist Ari Kamin.  

Seeing this band of brothers play live with Steven driving the beat is a mind-blowing experience – as witnessed by the recent crowds at Summerfest in Milwaukee. There, the band blew the crowd away alongside killer sets from glam rockers Autograph, the exquisitely beautiful and talented ladies of Vixen, and progressive metal legends Queensrÿche.

As the band tore through all the classics from Appetite from Destruction at the World’s Largest Music Festival, I tried to imagine how to describe the wall of distorted guitars, thumping bass, and unmistakable drums of Steven Adler to people who haven’t seen these guys rock the house.

Ari Kamin has a voice and delivery that is as close to Axl Rose as anyone I have ever heard. The coolest thing is that it’s not an imitation. He doesn’t try to sound like Axl. He just has an incredibly similar voice.

Honestly, Ari has this intensity in his voice that can fill a stadium and make every single person in attendance feel the emotion of each song. And his range is out of the world, He effortlessly hits every note Axl ever laid down in the studio.


Capturing the Guns N’ Roses guitar sound is something very few lead guitarists can do. Yet, Michael Thomas makes it seem like child’s play.

Michael cut his teeth touring the world with Faster Pussycat – who in my personal opinion is a completely underrated member of the metal community. And his record of success doesn’t stop there. Check out recordings from Engines of Aggression and Beautiful Creatures and you’ll be floored by Michael’s licks. He also has some great solo songs that he recently released with more to come. Two of his best solo tunes are Take Me and Hammer of a Gun.

From recordings, you can tell that Michael Thomas is an exceptional guitarist, but experiencing him at a live show is almost otherworldly. He knows just when to shred, when to hold a note for maximum effect with the audience holding their bated breath, or when to hit the spotlight and strike a pose that every would-be-rocker in the house will be jealous of.

Alistair James, or AJ as he is known in the band, has that crafty vibe that Izzy Stradlin and Gilby Clarke always brought to GNR. From Quiet Riot to Hollywood Vampires, AJ has worked with some of the biggest names in rock as a guitarist, engineer, and producer and you can tell recreating the magic of the Sunset Strip with Steven is something he loves to do.

When a player loves what they do, the audience can tell. You should see the fans as they are almost hypnotized by AJ and Michael. Witnessing the two of them intertwining their notes on stage is one of the highlights of any concert experience.


Before joining Steven Adler’s band, bass player Cristian Sturba was a fixture at the Whisky A Go-Go, perhaps the most well-known of the clubs on the Sunset Strip. Cristian absolutely slays the driving bass parts that Duff McKagen pioneered as a part of GNR’s rhythm section alongside Steven.

And then there’s the icon himself: Steven Adler.

Before the show, Steven spends some time on his own, getting psyched up to put on the kind of amazing show that fans crave. Steven knows that music lovers could be spending their time and money to see any artist they want; so he is so incredibly honored that they choose to spend the evening with him and the boys in the band. And there is no way he will disappoint them.

But Steven isn’t a method actor by any means. He is one of the nicest guys in the industry and also enjoys catching up with the other acts on the bill before each show. And you should see the smiles on the faces of the people he meets. He has the ability to touch people’s lives.

Important to mention: keeping the gang on point at all times at every show is the incomparable Steve Sprite – the best tour manager in the business. You would be amazed at the work that goes into making a show seem effortless.

Onstage, the way Steven makes his drums speak is an incredible thing to witness. It is not surprising that he can pound out the rhythms of any rock anthem with the best of them, but he also has this amazing dexterity and sense of timing that lets him create grooves that no other drummer has been able to replicate.

Watching from the wings with members of Vixen and Autograph as Steven, Michael, AJ, Ari, and Cristian masterfully painted the air with sound I could feel the evening coming to a climax.

The stage shook from the power of Steven’s drums and Cristian’s rocksteady bass. The crowds were eating up every note that Michael and AJ threw at them. And Ari was hitting mind-blowing notes that it would be hard to imagine any other singer being able to sustain.

It was a magical night. But that’s what fans can expect with every Steven Adler show – magic.


On the ride back to the hotel through the streets of Milwaukee after the show, Steven and I talked about the city’s history. One of the things Milwaukee is known for is its number of breweries. Pabst, Old Milwaukee, Miller, and Schlitz are all brewed there.

As Steven laughingly pointed out, television’s Laverne & Shirley was set in Milwaukee and featured the fictional Shotz Brewery where Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams’ characters worked. In terms of a music connection, what a lot of people don’t realize is that Michael McKean who played Lenny on Laverne and Shirley was also one of the stars of Spinal Tap – everyone’s favorite heavy metal parody band. (Although I have to give a shout-out to the other great parody metal bands like Steel Panther and The Zeros who keep the genre fun).

The subject of all the beers brewed in Milwaukee brought up a memory for Steven of when he was 11 years old and some older kids got him to pound six Old English 800 malt liquor bottles. He was too drunk to ride his bike home, so his friends walked him there. Once he staggered inside the home, he immediately threw up in the middle of his mother’s suburban housewife Tupperware party. It was not a good scene.

The insult of the intrusion into her picture-perfect housewife party so angered Steven’s mother, that the very next day he was sent to live with his grandmother. Rejection from a parent can have its effects on any child – it’s part of being human.

Steven is quick to point out, however, that drinking is something he left behind him a long time ago. That is something we share in common.


“I don’t drink anymore, but when I did, I was a professional,” I confessed to Steven. Indeed, my drunken escapades were the stuff of legends including affairs with the late Anna Nicole Smith and a host of adult film actresses. I mean, honestly, who hasn’t woken up in a dirty bar in Mexico after a weeklong bender?

“I was a pro too,” nodded Steven. But instead of there being any sorrow over the dangers that wild nights of drinking and other forms of debauchery brought to his life before getting sober, Steven has a relaxed, fresh, and happy take on things now. The past is the past. Today is a new day to celebrate.

“I’m in love with life,” said Steven, with a twinkle in his eye. “I have a beautiful wife, I have three dogs that I adore, and I get to rock with some of the greatest musicians ever for the best fans in the world. Life is good.”

Steven Adler is a one-of-a-kind talent. He’s an astoundingly great drummer and a prince of man.

If you only see one rock show this summer, make sure it’s a Steven Adler concert. The raw power that Steven and the band deliver is a thing all rockers should experience at least once in their life.

I should warn you though that the shows are so good that you might get addicted. In fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed. But then again – as far as addictions go, a dependence on Steven Adler’s music is a pretty good one to have.

Upcoming dates include:

  • 7-21-23 Mid Summer Music Festival (Menahga, MN)
  • 7-28-23 Sterling Fest at the Dodge Park Amphitheater (Sterling Heights, MI)
  • 7-29-23 Dragway 42 Music Festival (West Salem, OH)
  • 8-04-23 Golden Nugget Casino (Las Vegas, NV)
  • 9-02-23 Rocklahoma (Pryor, OK)

All of these shows are expected to be absolutely astonishing. The August 4th concert in Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino is a destination event that GNR fans from around the world are planning to fly and drive in for.  You should too!

The Golden Nugget features rates on rooms and suites that will convince you that a trip to Sin City is the perfect way to celebrate summer. Please join us – August 4th is only a short time away and Steven is in heaven when he gets to meet fans at events like this.

For the most up-to-date information on Steven Adler and the band, visit the Official Steven Adler Facebook Page.

So, what do you think? Would you like to hear more Tales from the Road with Steven Adler and the band? Keep an eye on www.LifeandTimes.biz – I’ll let you know when you can expect more news, reviews, and tales from the road.

Photos courtesy of Bailee Logan Photography https://baileeloganphotography.mypixieset.com/

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta


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