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Axl Rose.

Read any interview with a current member of Guns N' Roses and you'll probably find two things; one: the interview isn't with singer and sole remaining founding member, Axl Rose, and two: who ever it is with, ends up having to defend Rose (which kind of explains the first thing).

So when I got all of 10 minutes with Dizzy Reed, the Guns N' Roses keyboardist and only remaining member (other than Rose) from the band's Use Your Illusion period, I was interested in his journey and how he somehow survived what must surely be one of the most amazing support roles in modern rock history.

The common knowledge about Reed taking up keys at a young age is true but the stories which suggest he spent time at home learning the piano as an escape from childhood bullying, seem to be, for want of a better word, bollocks.

"I keep hearing that," Reed laughs. "It actually appeared in one of our tour programs and I said, 'Where in the hell did that come from?' I don't know if they were having a laugh or what but I was never bullied because my band was always so cool that no one bullied me. I would like it if we could quash those rumours."

While Reed clearly wasn't the victim of the neighbourhood thugs, it seems there was some adolescent trauma in his life; trauma he was able to overcome through his blossoming passion for performance.

"I was shy when I was in school," the jovial Reed admits. "I had a speech impediment but when I was on stage, when I sang in the band and when I played I had no problem in front of people. It's an amazing phenomenon.

"I was in a bad accident when I was a kid and I knocked out all my teeth so once they fixed that all up … I obviously overcame my speech impediment."

Taught to play the piano from an early age by his grandmother, Reed was working in bands by 13. By the mid-80s, the starry-eyed musician had moved from Colorado to Los Angeles, a move that would shape the rest of his life.

In 1985, while jamming with his band, the Wild, Reed met and befriended rehearsal room neighbours, Guns N' Roses. After keeping in touch over the next few years, Reed received a call from Gunners frontman Axl Rose to join the rock juggernauts for the Use Your Illusion recordings.

The rest, as they say, is history.

For all the fame and acclaim over the past 23 years, Reed has also watched friends and foes fall, chewed up and spat out by the City of Angels.

The keyboardist joined Guns N' Roses at the height of their international fame and has been part of an outfit infamous for infighting, splits and one of the most expensive and drawn-out albums in history, 2008's Chinese Democracy.

These days the Gunners may not be the whisky-fuelled sex machine that they were two decades ago but they remain a powerful and talented beast. The fans seem to be at peace with the band as it is today and, for the most part, no longer mourn the band they were.

Reed has ridden the rock'n'roll rollercoaster and lived to tell the tale.

"It took a certain kind of person to survive Hollywood, in the 1980s especially, and you saw people come and you saw people go," he says. "Unfortunately a lot of them didn't make it … I've seen a lot of them have passed away recently."