West Arkeen

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West Arkeen
West Arkeen.jpg
Background information
Birth nameAaron West Arkeen
Also known asWest Arkeen
Born(1960-06-18)June 18, 1960
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
OriginLos Angeles, California
DiedMay 30, 1997(1997-05-30) (aged 36)
Los Angeles, California
Genresrock, Hard rock, blues rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1981-1997
LabelsReality Entertainment
Associated actsGuns N' Roses, The Outpatience, Drunkfuxs, Duff McKagan, Brother Cane, Phantom Blue, Asphalt Ballet, Back Alley Sally, Femme Fatale

Aaron West Arkeen (June 18, 1960 – May 30, 1997), was an American musician best known for co-writing several Guns N' Roses songs. He died in Los Angeles as a result of a drug overdose.[1]

Early life[edit]

Aaron Arkeen was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France and grew up in San Diego, California. He was the grandson of Russian-Jewish immigrants and the son of a US Army sergeant, Morris Arkeen. As an infant, he suffered from craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which the skull grows irregularly, often constricting brain growth. The condition required surgery that left an ear-to-ear scar over the crown of Arkeen's head.[2]

Arkeen began playing guitar when he was 14 years old. Though he took a single guitar lesson, he was largely a self-taught musician. Arkeen cited John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, and Ted Nugent as musical influences from his youth.

Arkeen worked in the oil industry in Texas and as a slot machine repairman in Las Vegas, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a music career at age 21.

Music career[edit]

After several years of struggling to find success as a musician, Arkeen befriended a group of musicians in Los Angeles which would soon rise to international fame as Guns N' Roses. Arkeen lived in an apartment next to Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan and 1960's funk pioneer Sly Stone, and he and McKagan quickly formed a friendship and began writing songs together.[2] Though never a member of the band, the group's vocalist Axl Rose considered adding him as a third guitarist, primarily for his prolific songwriting abilities.[2] Arkeen would ultimately leave his mark on the band by co-writing the songs "It's So Easy," "Crash Diet", "Bad Obsession", "The Garden", "Sentimental Movie" and "Yesterdays" with Rose. Arkeen also penned "Make Your Play" and "Pressure" for Birmingham, Alabama band Brother Cane, as well as co-writing "My Misery" for Phantom Blue.

After working on other songs with the band for their double set Use Your Illusion I and II, Arkeen started his own project in 1995, The Outpatience. Featuring vocalist Mike Shotton, bassist James Hunting, guitarist Joey Hunting, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and keyboardist Gregg Buchwalter, the band released their debut album, Anxious Disease in 1996 in Japan. The album has connections to Guns N' Roses: Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan appear as guest artists and Izzy Stradlin co-wrote one of the songs.[2]

Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan are most closely associated with Arkeen. The trio played in The Drunkfuxs' side project together and Arkeen co-wrote two of the songs on McKagan's debut solo record, Believe in Me.


On May 30, 1997, Arkeen was found dead in his Los Angeles home at 36 years old. Arkeen had been at home recovering from severe burns from his indoor barbeque that exploded. His death was ruled an "accidental opiate overdose."[2]

Legacy and influence[edit]

Duff McKagan credits Arkeen with teaching him about alternate tuning on guitar.[3] Slash stated that Arkeen was "the only one that always came through when any of us needed anything; for a long time he literally was the only one we could trust"[4] The Guns N' Roses album Live Era: '87-'93 was dedicated, in part, to his memory.


  1. ^ "Details Released In Death Of Guns n' Roses Songwriter". MTV. June 3, 1997. Retrieved June 22, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Wake, Matt (July 19, 2017). "The Unsung Songwriters Who Helped Make Appetite for Destruction a Classic". LA Weekly. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  3. ^ McKagan, Duff (2011). Stacy Creamer (eds.). It's so Easy (and other lies). Collaboration by Tim Mohr. Touchstone. p. 45. ISBN 978-1451606645.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Slash; Anthony Bozza (30 October 2007). Slash. HarperCollins. pp. unknown. ISBN 978-0-06-135142-6.