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Bumblefoot -- the stage name of Ron Blumenthal, which is sometimes expanded to Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal -- is best known as the guitarist in the 21st century incarnation of Guns N' Roses that Axl Rose shepherded before reuniting with Slash in 2015. Although he'd been a known name in shredder circles since the mid-'90s, he joined GNR in 2006 and stayed with them through 2014, a span of time that included the release of the long-awaited Chinese Democracy and several international tours. During these years, he also released several solo projects, all exhibiting his fleet-fingered virtuosity, and after departing Guns N' Roses, he joined both Art of Anarchy and Sons of Apollo while maintaining his own career.
Ron Thal fell in love with music after hearing Kiss' Alive! as a child, picking up the guitar when he was five. From that point forward, the guitar was an obsession. He recorded homemade tapes and played live gigs, developing a dense, complicated style inspired by straight-ahead hard rock and eccentric solos. His penchant for the latter brought him to the attention of Mike Varney, the head of Shrapnel Records, who wrote up Thal's demo tape in a 1989 issue of Guitar Player. Varney would later sign Thal to his guitar-specialty label in 1995. That year saw the release of The Adventures of Bumblefoot, which was followed in 1997 by Hermit, both credited to Ron Thal. Once he left Shrapnel in 1998, Thal formed a group called Bumblefoot and released Hands on his own Hermit Inc. imprint.
Bumblefoot the band stayed active through 2001 but Thal decided to go his own way in 2002, adopting the appellation as his solo name starting with the 2002 release of Uncool. Thal continued to tour and record over the next few years, polishing outtakes for 2003's The Forgotten Anthology and releasing the full-length Normal in 2005; he was then recruited to join Guns N' Roses in 2006. While he assisted in the completion of Chinese Democracy, the long-promised GNR album that finally arrived in 2008, he continued with a variety of projects, including recording, scoring TV and film, teaching, philanthropy, producing artists, and recording his own music. He'd continue to divide his time between these activities and Guns N' Roses until 2014, when he left the group to focus on his own music.
By that point, he had formed a band called Art of Anarchy with Disturbed's John Moyer and John and Vince Votta, recruiting Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots to sing on an album that eventually saw release in 2015. A year after the first Art of Anarchy record, Creed's Scott Stapp joined as a full-time vocalist and this lineup released The Madness in March 2017. By August of that year, Bumblefoot formed Sons of Apollo -- a supergroup featuring bassist Billy Sheehan, vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, drummer Mike Portnoy, and keyboardist Derek Sherinian -- and recorded an album called Psychotic Symphony that came out in October. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
- Brooklyn, NY
- Sep 25, 1969
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