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Rapidfire Guitarist Kevin Lawrence Dead at 51

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Guitarist Kevin Lawrence, whose band Rapidfire was fronted by Axl Rose in the early ’80s, has died at the age of 51.

Lawrence’s cause of death has not been made public, but his passing has been confirmed by the Rapidfire Facebook account, where a memorial post thanks fans for their ongoing support in recent years.

“Kevin loved you all. He was constantly inspired by your interest, your enthusiasm and your encouragement,” reads the post in part. “He was as genuine a person as can be, uniquely creative and insatiably imaginative. He was also an extremely generous and good natured man, truly caring for his loyal friends and his beloved dogs. … Fearlessly, Kevin did always what he wanted to do, to the end. He was a true rock ‘n’ roller. He leaves us with his giant grin, encouraging us all to give the rest of the world a giant, extended middle finger.”

Lawrence had recently released Ready to Rumble, an EP’s worth of Rapidfire recordings culled from Rose’s stint with the band, and told fans he’d sold out of physical copies while waiting to strike a deal with a larger distributor. (Ready to Rumble remains available to purchase on digital formats.) As previously reported, he’d had to endure a fair amount of legal wrangling to get the EP out — at one point even being hit with a takedown notice from Rose’s lawyers for a YouTube clip.

“Fans around the world have been contacting me asking about them for over 10 years,” Lawrence said in a 2015 interview. “It was really cool stumbling across the tapes and then everyone who happened to hear the first mixes were really impressed. It seemed like almost everyone wanted them released. Almost, I repeat. And it’s fun, it was an awesome time to be a part of and it’s a thrill to publish them for the Gunners.”

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