Daren Jay "DJ" Ashba (born November 10, 1972) is an American musician, producer, songwriter and CEO of Ashba Media. He is one of the co-lead guitarists in Guns N' Roses (along with Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal) and the lead guitarist in Sixx:A.M. He is also known for his work with hard rock bands BulletBoys and Beautiful Creatures. Ashba has worked with various artists including Mötley Crüe, Drowning Pool, Marion Raven, Aimee Allen and Neil Diamond.
Ashba was born in Monticello, Indiana and was raised in rural Fairbury, Illinois by his mother, a classically trained pianist, who began teaching him about music as a toddler. D.J. performed in his first piano recital at the age of five, where he played Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." Ashba's next ambition was to learn the drums. He built kits out of garbage cans and pots and pans, until he finally acquired a real set at the age of six. When he was eight, D.J. took a job detasseling corn in the fields in order to earn enough money to buy his first guitar out of the Sears catalog. He would ride to his job in the corn fields on the bus with a guitar player from a local band, who would teach him a new chord each day on a "fret" that they had carved into the back of a bus seat with a pocketknife. His friend would take the knife and make three holes in the fret and say, "That's an A chord, go home and practice." D.J. sometimes spent 17 hours a day practicing guitar in his bedroom as a teenager. For his 16th birthday, Ashba's father took him to his first concert, the Mötley Crüe Girls, Girls, Girls tour and his life was forever changed. "The crowd, the music, the lights! It was the night I realized that no matter what it takes, I was gonna be on that stage one day." At the age of 18, D.J. packed up his possessions and set out for Hollywood to make it as a rockstar.
Solo, BulletBoys (1991-2002):
Eventually, he joined the group Barracuda and toured with the band for two years. In 1996, he released his debut instrumental album titled, Addiction to the Friction. In 1998, Ashba joined BulletBoys as part of the band's new lineup. It was during his time with the band that he met Joe Lesté of Bang Tango. In 1999, he departed the group to start a new band with Lesté.
Beautiful Creatures (1999-2002):
In 1999, Ashba began piecing together the band that would become Beautiful Creatures with Bang Tango frontman Joe Lesté. They added former Shake The Faith and No. 9 bassist Kenny Kweens and session drummer Anthony Focx, who performed in the 1992 film Wayne's World appearing as the drummer in Tia Carrere's club band. Focx became the group's second guitarist and Glen Sobel, another session drummer, was brought in to take over drums. This was the first lineup under the moniker Beautiful Creatures. Prior to naming, the band opened one show in Houston, Texas for Kiss during their reunion tour after Ted Nugent pulled out. The band then signed with Warner Bros. and released their self-titled debut Beautiful Creatures, produced by Marilyn Manson cohort Sean Beavan, on August 14, 2001. Album track 1 A.M. was featured in the soundtrack for the 2001 horror film Valentine and TV series Smallville. Ride was featured on the soundtrack to the 2002 remake of Rollerball. Despite appearing at Ozzfest, the Rolling Rock Tour the band was dropped from their label due to poor album sales. It's important to note that the record was not available in the stores yet while they toured Ozzfest. On February 13, 2002, the band announced that Ashba had left the group and the band found a replacement and continued on.
He formed another solo band, simply titled ASHBA after his departure from Beautiful Creatures where he added former Tuff guitarist Michael Thomas, who was Ashba's replacement in BC but left the group in 2003, bassist John Younger and drummer Blas Elias rounded out the groups lineup. Also in 2003, Ashba was invited to participate in the group Brides of Destruction with Nikki Sixx and Tracii Guns but turned it down to focus on his solo project. In 2005, a small controversy was caused when it was suggested that neither Tommy Lee nor Mick Mars played on the new tracks for Mötley Crüe's compilation album Red, White & Crüe (duties were supposedly handled by Vandals' drummer Josh Freese and Ashba as well as Mick being replaced by Ashba on their reunion tour. Ashba hit back at the rumors:
'Just want to set the record straight. As much as I would love to play on tour with Mötley, it's simply not true...it's a rumor. I'll be in the studio and playing shows with ASHBA. I have all the respect in the world for Mötley Crüe and I can't wait to see Mick kick ass, as always.'
A VH1 documentary of the band reuniting would later show that Lee did indeed play on some of the tracks.
In 2006 Ashba set up Funny Farms Studios with Nikki Sixx. They began writing and producing, and performing music together which included collaborations with singer Marion Raven, whom Sixx had worked with before, on her Heads Will Roll EP and album Set Me Free. James Michael also is credited on the albums. In March 2007, Sixx penned Reason I'm Alive for Drowning Pool's new album Full Circle with both Sixx and Ashba co-producing the track.
Ashba released the critically acclaimed album The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack after collaborating with Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx and producer James Michael under the name Sixx:A.M. in August, 2007 serving as a soundtrack to Sixx's autobiography The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star. The single Life is Beautiful reached #2 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. Originally the group stated they had no intention of touring. After constant support for the band and interest in a tour, they held a nationwide vote for tour dates. The tour was scheduled to start in spring 2008, but had been postponed to the summer due to unforeseeable circumstances. On April 15, 2008, Sixx:A.M. announced they would be touring as part of Mötley Crüe's Crüe Fest, along with Buckcherry, Papa Roach and Trapt. The tour began on July 1, 2008, in West Palm Beach, Florida. During Crüe Fest, Papa Roach drummer Tony Palermo served as a touring drummer for the band. A deluxe tour edition of The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack was released on November 25, 2008, which included a bonus live EP entitled Life Is Beautiful which features recorded performances from the band's summer tour. In April 2009, both James Michael and Nikki Sixx confirmed that the band is currently in the studio, recording new material. Sixx added that the new material is "inspiring. it feels like we may have topped ourselves on this album coming up, and can't wait for you to hear what it sounds like." On May 3, 2011 the current Sixx:A.M. album "This Is Gonna Hurt" was released.
Guns N' Roses (2009-present):
On March 23, 2009 Ashba was announced as the new lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses replacing Robin Finck, who had left the band to rejoin Nine Inch Nails. He first toured with the band as part of the Chinese Democracy Tour where on December 11, 2009 Guns N' Roses played in Taiwan. He is currently on tour with the band as part of its 2013 Australian Tour.
In 2003 Ashba founded Ashba Media, Inc. This creative agency was announced the Agency of Record for Virgin Entertainment. AMI designs the look and feel of every Virgin Megastore. They also have other clients, such as Ovation guitars, Royal Underground and many more. Daren owns two corporations, Ashba Media, Inc. which handles the art side of things and Ashbaland, Inc. which handles the music side of things. Ashba contributed to Mötley Crüe's 2008 album Saints of Los Angeles penning all tracks with the exception of This Ain't a Love Song. The title track Saints of Los Angeles was nominated for a Grammy the same year.