Sei sulla pagina 1di 108

Chinese Whispers - The Secret History of the New Studio Album

Whatever can be said of Chinese Democracy, the man himself spoke the greatest truth of them

To say the making of this album has been an unbearably long and incomprehensible journey
would be an understatement. - W. Axl Rose

The lofty goal of Chinese Whispers is to document this journey as well as possible with whatever
factual information available. This has meant spending long hours going through various articles,
message board posts and other tidbits to place every other comment into proper context; what
year were the people interviewed involved, and how do their opinions correspond with the stage
at which both the band and the album were at that point.

While it tries hard to provide answers, it does not attempt to serve as the absolute truth on all
things GNR following the Use Your Illusion world tour. What it does offer, however, are interesting
snapshots in time which illustrate Axl and his crew laboring over a myriad of songs with various
producers, hoping to complete their work to a satisfying degree, only to find release plans foiled
time and again for reasons that often remain undisclosed to this day.

It is a tale of madness, obsession and creative endeavor of gigantic proportions. While the light in
which the core players are represented may not always be flattering towards them, one thing is
certain: everyone involved tried very hard to make the best album possible, despite almost
unsurmountable pressure from the record company, the music press and most importantly, the
long-suffering fanbase.

At the end of the day, the music will speak for itself. However, as the story behind the music has
no equal in the history of rock, Chinese Whispers will hopefully provide with some entertainment
value while waiting for that Best Buy exclusive and Axl Rose's own, unabridged account of what
truly happened.

This is not the truth.

This is the story as we know it so far.


07/17/93: GNR played the last show on the Use Your Illusion world tour in Buenos Aires,
Argentina. The following day, all band members are confirmed to have returned to Los Angeles.


August 93: Axl sued Stephanie Seymour, "claiming she had 'kicked and grabbed' him during the
party at the Malibu home they shared and that she refused to return more than $100,000 worth of
jewelry he'd given her as gifts." (People Magazine, 07/18/94)

08/23/93: Axl testified against Steven Adler in the Los Angeles Superior Court. During the
testimony Axl reveals that Steven couldn't play due to his drug abuse and that his drumtrack on
"Civil War" had to be edited from over 60 takes. (HTGTH)

09/14/93: Duff's solo band went on a European tour with The Scorpions.

09/24/93: GN'R made a $2.5 million dollar out-of-court settlement payment to Steven Adler in
respect of his October 1991 lawsuit. (HTGTH)

"At first, the drummer's lawyers asked for an out-of-court settlement of $350,000." (Icon
Magazine, 10/97)

09/28/93: Duff's solo album, Believe in Me, was released by Geffen Records. He's been recording
it on and off since the UYI sessions in 1990.


October 93: Stephanie Seymour countersued Axl. "Seymour claimed it was Rose who attacked
her, giving her a black eye and bloody nose. Angry because she had held the party after he had
wanted to cancel it, he had slapped and punched her and kicked her down a flight of stairs, said
Seymour, 25. When other defensive measures failed, she admitted, she 'may have
even...grabbed his testicles.'" (People Magazine, 07/18/94)

10/21/93:: Axl reached an out-of-court settlement with a St. Louis fan who claimed he was hurt in
a scuffle with Axl during the St. Louis 1991 concert. William (Stump) Stephenson received an
undisclosed amount of money and Axl's autograph in his scrapbook. Stephenson said he was
injured when Axl jumped off the stage and attacked him for taking pictures of the band. The show
ended in a riot with about 65 people injured. (HTGTH)


11/23/93: "The Spaghetti Incident?", a collection of punk covers, was released by Geffen

11/23/93: Duff played his last solo show in the UK, following a lengthy tour with The Scorpions.
He subsequently plays on Gilby's solo record.

"Heavy Mental: When I spoke to Duff McKagan last winter he said that you asked him to put bass
on one song when you were in New York but that it ended up with him doing everything. You were
said to been too lazy.

Gilby: [laughs] Well, you know Duff... We were in New York and were doing a song by Clash. It
was obvious that he was going to play bass, but I was really impressed by Duff's drumming style
on his solo album so I had him play drums also. Duff and I played in the studio and when the
drums were recorded I said "fuck it, why don't you do the guitars too... by the way, you can sing
too!" But only the bass and drums came on the album because Frank Black who was in Pixies
came down and did the guitar." (Heavy Mental, 06/94)


Come Together (as a Band)

Up until January '94, Slash delivered various tapes of guitar riffs (and to a degree, recorded jams
with at least Gilby and Matt) to Axl, which he intended for the band to work on with the next studio

"We're aiming at '96 and we'll probably be doing a lot of recording, and trying to put a lot of things
between now and then. [...] We may work with Brian May on a project upcoming... [...] And we're
hoping to pull that one off. We get along with Brian really well." (Axl, Rockline, 01/03/94)

"We're really into letting Matt go more off on his own in terms of drumming for GNR. [...] When he
goes off on his own creative sense it's pretty amazing. I want to facilitate that getting out. I want
Matt to just explode on the next record." (Axl, Hit Parader, 1993)

"We really haven't really sat down to collaborate on songs yet. [...] I've just been working on
where my head's at on things so I can approach the next record in a way that lets me go to farther
extremes. [...] I wrote and recorded a new love song that I want on the next record called This I
Love, that's the heaviest thing that I've ever done." (Axl, Hit Parader, 1993)

"This I Love' is actually an old GN'R song that the original GN'R wrote and recorded for the
'Illusion' records. I like that song a lot.. it took a couple of weeks to find all the tapes because they
finished recording 'Use Your Illusions' on the road and one tape was in Paris another in London
and another in Sydney, I believe." (Dave Dominguez, Sp1at, 04/21/05)

Dominguez may be a bit mistaken as for This I Love originating as a UYI song (the albums were
released on 16th and 17th of September, 1991). Comparing tour dates with studio time, GNR
played in London on 08/31/91 and 04/20/92, Paris on 06/06/92, and Sydney on 01/30/93.
Therefore, it's more likely the song was originally recorded around the same time as the bulk of
'The Spaghetti Incident?'.

On 01/20/94, Axl appeared at Elton John's Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He
also performed The Beatles' Come Together with Bruce Springsteen. It was to be his last public
performance for several years.

The Snakepit Demos

"Slash has been working on a lot of things, working on a lot of riffs with the band. [...] Other than
that, we're not even sure how we're gonna approach writing for this next album." (Axl, Hit
Parader, 1993)

"Initially I was just writing what I thought was cool. I was a kid in a toy store. I had a studio in my
house. Get up in the morning. Literally. Press "on." Plug in your guitar and go. I don't look at stuff
from the concept of writing the quintessential hit record. Just guitar riffs. [...] It's our band. So if I
write something, my first and foremost priority would be to dedicate it to Guns." (Slash, Rolling
Stone, 04/95)

"Slash: I just delivered my last tape to Axl. My latest tape to Axl.

Steve Downs: Just minutes ago.
Axl: I've been eagerly awaiting." (Axl & Slash, Rockline, 01/03/94)

"We just jam a lot, you know. We just get together and play and all our musical roots and all that
kinda shit are still intact. You know what I mean. So, like... We've been working on songs for the
next record and all we do is like, jam up at my house. Well, up until the earthquake. The studio is
now down. [laughs]" (Slash, Canadian radio, 01/94)

"The coolest omen," says Slash, "was the night I recorded three songs and mixed them that night,
which I normally wouldn't do. I went to bed with the DAT in my hand, all 14 songs. [...] And it was
like Godzilla came to town. [...] The time was 4:31 a.m., Jan. 17, 1994. The Godzilla in question
was L.A.'s 6.7 earthquake." (Slash, Rolling Stone, 04/95)

"But, we've got 14 songs done, at this point and as soon as I get back to LA from Canada, I'm
gonna rent a place to live next to the rehearsal studio and then we'll just go in there and start
jamming. And that's how we hang out. That's what we do." (Slash, Canadian radio, 01/94)

Axl's Solo Album

"Nick: Yeah, I was wondering, since Duff did his solo album and Slash, you worked on that Jimi
tribute album, is anyone else gonna do any solos or work on any other albums?
Slash: Um... Tell you truth, Duff's solo album... Gilby's doing one, it's pretty much finished. That's
basically it. I don't have any plans to do... I don't think Axl... You do have one.
Axl: I'm hoping to... I'm trying to put a project together that is kind of a top-secret weapon right
Steve Downs: Oh, really?
Axl: Yeah." (Axl & Slash, Rockline, 01/03/94)

"Hit Parader: You mention the idea of working with other musicians. If you had your choice, who
would you really like to work with on a project?

Axl: Trent Reznor from NIN is one, and Dave Navarro from Jane's Addiction is another guy I want
to work with. I've talked to Trent about working with me on an industrial synth project, at least on
one song, and I definitely want to work with Dave on something. I've always been curious what he
would sound like working with Slash on something." (Axl, Hit Parader, 1993)

"But there was a point there where Axl goes: 'I'm gonna do a solo record, and I'm gonna get Trent
Reznor and Dave Navarro, and the drummer from Nirvana...' and so on. And it's like, he doesn't
even know half of these people. He's just pulling them out of the sky. And I was like, 'Cool! Do
your thing. That way you'll get it out of your system, and when you get back we'll just be Guns N'
Roses.'" (Slash, Metal Hammer, 11/95)

"At one point he said he was gonna a solo project, then he decided his solo-project he could do
with Guns, which I was like, after doing all those videos and this and that and the other, I was like:
"No". [laughs] No, I don't wanna get involved in any kind of Stephanie Seymour ballads or any of
that shit." (Slash, Canadian Radio, 04/20/95)

"Aftonbladet: You, Duff McKagan, Gilby Clarke... The most people in the band have made records
outside Guns. Isn't Axl going to do a solo-record soon?
Slash: Axl thinks that Guns is his solo-project." (Slash, Aftonbladet, 04/02/95)

Snakepit - Rejected!

In early '94, Slash met with Axl on the demo songs that would eventually surface as Snakepit

"I started hanging out with Matt and recording demos of that stuff just for fun, and Mike Inez from
Alice in Chains and Gilby started to come around and play with us. The three of us just got into a
groove of jamming and recording every night. We didn't know what it was going to be. At some
point I played it for Axl, who took a pronounced disinterest in it." (Slash, Autobiography)

"On the first Snakepit-record I used some ideas which were really planned for the next GN'R-
record, but Axl and I disagreed on the future direction of the band. I played Axl a demo with some
of my ideas for songs, and all he said was: "I don't feel like playing this kind of music." I
answered: "But this could be a excellent Gunner-record, hundred percent in GN'R style." He
didn't really care 'cause he only wanted to play industrial and Pearl Jam-sounding crap." (Slash,
'Rock Hard' Magazine, 03/00)

"The Snakepit album could have been the new GNR album, but Axl didn't think it was good
enough." (Matt, 1996)

"Kerrang!: How's the next GN'R album progressing?

Gilby: "There is no 'next GN'R album'!"

K!: EVER?!
G: "I don't know about ever. For now. We started working on one, and it got canned."

K!: How come?

G: Well, it's an Axl thing. He just wasn't into what we were doing, so he's kind of rethinking what
he wants to do. He just kind of threw a wrench into everything that me, Slash and Matt had
worked to. And then Duff came in. Duff and Axl have an idea what the album should be, and the
rest of us have another idea." (Gilby, Kerrang, 05/24/94)

"What people don't know is, the [Slash's] Snakepit album, that is the Guns N' Roses album. I just
wouldn't do it. [...] Duff walked out on it, and I walked out on it, because I wasn't allowed to be any
part of it. It's like, "No, you do this, that's how it is." And I didn't believe in it. I thought that there
were riffs and parts and some ideas, I thought, that needed to be developed. I had no problem
working on it, or working with it, but you know, as is, I think I'm with the public on that one." (Axl,
MTV, 11/08/99)

Axl v. Erin Everly

In March, Axl's legal issues would take yet another turn.

"[Erin] Everly, 28, is indeed hoping to see Rose, 32, at least one more time—in court. In March
she filed suit in Los Angeles, charging that he had subjected her to physical and emotional abuse.
[...] Everly launched the suit after being subpoenaed in a court action by Rose's former girlfriend,
model Stephanie Seymour [who filed her suit in October, 1993 - as a counteraction to Axl's
August 1993 lawsuit]. In that case, Rose and Seymour exchange similar charges of physical
abuse. Now waging legal battles on at least two fronts, Rose reportedly plans to take time off
from Guns N' Roses, whose last album, The Spaghetti Incident, sold far less than its
predecessors and whose fortunes appear to be fading." (People Magazine, 07/18/94)

First real sessions with Gilby

According to Slash's autobiography, the Sympathy for the Devil sessions in October were the first
the band undertook in the seven months, dating their last visit to the Complex to March/April.
Also, Axl's fax to MTV, dated 10/30/96, suggests April was the last time the album was seriously
worked on during this initial era.

"The members of the band - what was left of it - reconvened at the Complex, a Los Angeles
studio, in a massive soundstage with a pool table and a Guns N' Roses-themed pinball machine,
to prepare for their next album, which Geffen executives expected to release some time the
following year. But they quickly began suffering from an ailment that has proved fatal to bands
from time immemorial: boredom. 'They had enough money that they didn't have to do anything,'
said a longtime observer of the band. [...] 'You couldn't get everyone in the room at the same
time.'" (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"Duff, Axl, Matt, Gilby and I got together on and off to try and write new material, which didn't
prove inspiring at all. By that point, the support group I'd always enjoyed to help me deal with Axl
was gone - Izzy was the last one in the band who'd been able to get through to him creatively.
Between Duff and me... we just didn't have the proper tools to communicate with him effectively."
(Slash, Autobiography)

"We started going to Slash's house. [...] He has a little studio there and we had a batch of songs.
But, ya' know what? Without Izzy, we just weren't writing the old way. We had a bunch of great
songs, but the way we used to write wasn't all sitting in a room and trying to force ourselves to be
a family. We just were. But there was a point up there where it was looking good and we started
cranking out songs, but it just started falling apart." (Duff, Metal Edge, 06/99)

"We don't know if we're gonna be writing with Gilby or somebody else. We know we want to play
with Gilby, but we're not sure about the writing." (Axl, Hit Parader, 1993)

"My last conversation with [Axl] was when he called me and was trying to explain what he wanted
to do. And, basically, it was: I want to change the sound of the band. You know, I want to go more
into a current direction. You know, I want to use, you know, more industrial type things. You know,
he was really into bands like Jane's Addiction, Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails. And I just kinda
laughed and said: You know, look - I want to play guitar in a loud version of The Rolling Stones,
you know?" (Gilby, Spin, 07/99)

"I had known for a long time that Axl was going to change the direction of the band. I knew the
end was coming," he said. "That's why I dug deep into my solo career. There were days when Axl
would call Slash and go, "Fire Gilby - he doesn't fit in with my plan," but he would never tell me.
That was going on for a long time." (Gilby, Daily Trojan, 04/14/99)

"'As you are aware, Gilby has been fired at least three times by the band in the past month and
has been rehired at least two times,' Clarke's lawyer Jeffrey Light wrote in an April 14th, 1994
letter to GN'R lawyer Laurie Soriano." (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

Duff-Man Down

"[On 05/10/94], Duff McKagan found himself near death in a Seattle hospital - his pancreas had
exploded. Years of alcohol and drug abuse had taken a massive toll on the deteriorating body of
the bassist for notorious hard rock band Guns N' Roses. [...] 'I was in my house in Seattle when a
small pain became acute. It was so bad that I couldn't pick up the phone to call anyone,' he said.
'Luckily, my best friend happened to come over to my house, and I got to [the emergency room].'
At the hospital, McKagan said, his personal physician told McKagan that he was unlikely to live.
When McKagan was released eight days later, the doctor warned him that even one drink could
kill him." (Duff, LA Times, 11/27/98)

Firing Gilby

In June '94, Gilby released his solo album, Pawnshop Guitars.

"After a few months during which everyone did their own thing and we got nothing done when we
met, Axl fired Gilby without consulting anyone. His rationale was that Gilby had always been a
hired hand and that he couldn't write with him." (Slash, Autobiography)

"The whole Guns N' Roses situation with Gilby wasn't as cut and dry as it seems. He wasn't really
fired officially. Axl just didn't wanna write with him. He never even got a chance to write with us."
(Slash, Canadian Radio, 04/20/95)

"For a while there, I contributed a lot [to the would-be Snakepit demos]. But now, I don't know
how much I'm going to contribute. Like I said, Axl pretty much threw a wrench into everything. He
didn't like what we were all doing." (Gilby, Kerrang, 05/24/94)

"And so, I told Gilby that that was going on. So he didn't hear it from somewhere else. Because if
you know, in this business, leaks are like crazy. And it's just best to be upfront and honest about
thing. So I told him what was going on. Then he had words with Axl and then in turn he had words
with Duff. And that sort of cemented the, you know, the relationship, the departure. Whatever you
wanna call it." (Slash, Canadian Radio, 04/20/95)

"Matt: When it was Gilby, humm, when I learned that he was fired, it was difficult. There was
Slash, Duff and Axl, the 3 original members of the band and they said they had to tell me. I didn't
knew what to say. It's their band and I didn't knew how to react. I said OK.

H.R.: You didn't care?

Matt: Absolutely not! He's a great guy. But I don't know if he was the good guy to write the new
album with us. We did some songs together, but Axl thought it was not good enough." (Matt,
Mid/late '94: Snakepit recorded

In no later than around August/September '94, Slash returned to the studio to flesh out the demos
refused by Axl into an album that would become It's Five O'Clock Somewhere.

"With Mike Clink producing, and Matt and Mike Inez playing, I properly recorded the demos we'd
done. We found ourselves a singer - Eric Dover of Jellyfish - who fit bill well enough at the time.
He and I wrote the lyrics to all twelve tracks and I think it's pretty easy to tell which songs he
wrote and which ones I wrote: all of my songs are directed at one person... though no-one picked
up on it at the time. I used the record as an opportunity to vent a lot of shit that I needed to get off
my chest." (Slash, Autobiography)

"Altogether It's Five O'Clock Somewhere took 26 days to record. During that time they also had
time to mix the album. And write all the lyrics." (Slash, Aftonbladet, 02/04/95)

Sympathy for the Devil

GNR were scheduled to record a cover of Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil for the film
soundtrack of Interview with a Vampire in October, 1994.

"[Who Wants to go to Heaven is] a solo song [Jay Aston of Gene Loves Jezebel] wrote for the
1994 film version of Anne Rice's "Interview With the Vampire. 'The song is about the character of
Lestat,' Aston says. 'But [producer David] Geffen replaced it with 'Sympathy for the Devil' by Guns
N' Roses at the last minute.'" (Chicago Tribune, 02/21/08)

"I know Guns 'N Roses got it because it was a Geffen picture. And we weren't on Geffen
anymore. I think Guns 'N Roses would have won through because they were struggling a bit after
The Spaghetti Incident." (Jay Aston, 80s Music Central, 1997)

"Tom Zutaut arranged the whole thing and it was a great idea: it's an amazing, classic song, the
movie was going to be huge, theoretically, it would get us all in the same room working again, and
it would give the public "product" to tide them over. We weren't touring The Spaghetti Incident and
we had no plans to start writing a new album, so Tom was being practical - this might be our only
new release for a while. [...] The only upside I saw to to signing off on it was that it would
accomplish what we'd been unable to do to any degree in the past seven months: it would
actually get all of us into the studio." (Slash, Autobiography)

"It didn't work," Slash says. "We didn't all show up at the same time in the studio - put it that way.
And that was pretty indicative of what I didn't want to happen." (Slash, Rolling Stone, 04/95)

"Once [Axl] got around to listening the track, he had some constructive criticism. Via a lot of
communication between middle people, I was told that I needed to rerecord my guitar solo so that
it sounded more note for note like the Keith Richards original. Now that really pissed me off, most
of all because the message reached me three times removed like we were playing a game of

[...] A week or so after that I heard that Axl had finally scheduled time to go in and record his vocal
tracks, so I went down to see him in person. I waited for three hours. When he finally showed up,
he came into the lounge and proceeded to talk to me from behind a magazine, without looking me
in the eye, for about fifteen minutes... I couldn't deal with all that, so I took off.

When I got a DAT of the song with Axl's vocals on it, I noticed that there was another guitar
layered on top of mine in the solo. Axl had gotten Paul Huge to double over me. In other words,
that guy copied what I was playing on another track and they layered them. It was like really bad
plagiarism." (Slash, Autobiography)

"In a 1995 interview for a TV show [Metal Express] in Paris, Slash spoke at length about how
there was a pretty severe communication breakdown between him and Rose, and how he
couldn't stomach working with Paul Huge, the rhythm guitarist Axl had just brought in to replace
Izzy Stradlin." (Icon Magazine, 10/97)

"Paul's just a friend of Axl's. He brought Paul in without telling me. I got really angry, 'cause the
main thing is the band, getting the band together. So, it's not like you hire a bunch of session
people and make Guns N' Roses, it doesn't work that way." (Slash, Metal Express, 1995)

"That's one of the biggest, most personal things that Axl and I have gone through - to bring in an
outside guitar player without even telling me." (Slash, Q Magazine, 2001)

Releasing the Snakepit album

"I played Snakepit to Zutaut, [Geffen Records] agreed to put it out, and that was all I cared to
hear. [...] Looking back, I realize that while they thought I was putting the future of Guns in
jeopardy by pursuing Snakepit, they decided it was more important to humor me." (Slash,

"All of a sudden, after the album was finished, [Axl] goes: "Remember those tapes I have. You
know, I want to..." He didn't know we'd finished the record. And he goes: "This song, this song,
this song, this song and this song." And I went: "Dude, we finished it already. It's gone". And he
goes: "You couldn't have done an album in two weeks." I said: "Oh yeah. I can". You can do that.
And it turned into a big fight." (Slash, Canadian Radio, 04/20/95)

"G: Was it true about Axl wanting to sue you over use of songs?
S: Yeah. At one point he didn't like the songs, and all of a sudden he wanted them and the
[Snakepit] record was already done. That set me off. What the is that? It turned into a bit of a
fight." (Slash, Metal Edge, 10/95)

"Anyway, when I took off, we had an agreement, so we came to terms with the whole situation."
(Slash, Canadian Radio, 04/20/95)

"So Geffen released and supported It's Five O'Clock Somewhere. They publicized it, and they
gave us financial tour support. [...] We booked ourselves a tour across the United States, Europe,
Japan an Australia. [...] Everything was in place and we were ready to take Snakepit on tour, had
it not been for the fact that Matt and Mike Inez weren't able to go." (Slash, Autobiography)

"Axl asked me not to go on tour with Slash. [...] If I toured with Snakepit, it could have cause
serious consequences. It could have divided GNR. And I have to be honest, the Snakepit album
won't change the music world! So, if a band as important as GNR would have broke up because I
toured with Snakepit, I would have to flagellate myself! I was in between, there was Slash "Come
on, man, tour with us", but I told him "Slash, for 4 months, we will fuck GNR up". So I stayed at
home and I worked a bit with Axl and Duff. I'm sure I took the good decision." (Matt, 1996)

"If I'd taken Matt with me, that would have just been starting a fight, basically. Which I don't wanna
do." (Slash, Canadian Radio, 04/20/95)

"Let's put [Matt's absence] to politics, put it that way. I think that would have further accentuated
the situation between Axl and I had I done that. It was financial reasons as well." (Slash, Metal
Edge, 10/95)
"I enlisted Brian Tichy and James LoMenzo, who are in Zakk Wylde's band [Pride & Glory], and
rounded out the lineup with Gilby Clarke." (Slash, Autobiography)

On December 10th, 1994, Pride & Glory played the last show of their tour in Los Angeles (with
LoMenzo having already left the band in November and replaced by John DeServio). Slash joined
them onstage to perform the Hendrix songs Voodoo Child and Red House. As a sidenote, Pride &
Glory and GNR were both managed by Doug Goldstein's Big FD Management at the time.
Therefore, the next turn of events was no coincidence.


Zack Off

In January '95, the band regrouped for rehearsals with a new candidate for the vacant guitar spot.

"Axl asked Zakk Wylde to come down to rehearse with us." (Slash, Autobiography)

"Zakk is just a good friend that we jammed with, because now that Gilby's not in the band, Axl's
like: 'What about Zakk? You like Zakk, right?'" (Slash, Metal Express, 1995)

"He probably thought I'd like the idea because Zakk was a friend of mine and I respected him as
a guitarist, but that really didn't seem like an answer to me. I brought up the option of rehiring
Gilby, but that idea was flatly rejected. [...] I wasn't sure what to expect from Zakk Wylde but I
hoped for the best." (Slash, Autobiography)

"Axl called me up when we were doing the Ozzmosis album. They were down in rehearsals - it
was me, Slash, Axl, Duff, Matt and Dizzy. (Zakk Wylde, MyGNR)

"When Zakk Wylde arrived at the Complex, where Axl was rehearsing, he was slightly surprised.
'There were never any melodies,' Wylde recalls. 'There were never any lyrics.'" (Rolling Stone,

"I'd say 'Dude, did you come up with any lyrics yet?' And he's just like, 'Dude, I got people suing
me right now.' He's on the phone with his lawyers 24-7. He was, like, 'I can't come up with any
lyrics right now - they'd be about every other lawsuit I got going.'" (Spin, 07/99)

"Wylde felt sorry for Axl. 'The poor fuckin' guy's got every fuckin' cunt trying to sue his ass,' Wylde
says. 'I'd be on the phone with him. He'd be telling me about all these strategic moves his lawyers
were making. I was listening to him playing Axis and Allies on the fuckin' phone.'" (Rolling Stone,

"So we jammed together for just over a week, we jammed over a whole bunch of shit and came
out with three pretty cool ideas." (Zakk Wylde, Kerrang!, 01/28/95)

"One of the riffs ended up on the first Black Label Society record [Sonic Brew], [on the track]
'Rose-Petalled Garden'. The stuff that I wanted to do, eventually, would have been like GNR on
steroids, man." (Zakk Wylde, MyGNR)

"Even when Zakk Wylde and Slash played together, there were a couple of songs in which there
was a natural progression and they were very rocking. You can imagine, they were really hard
songs. As hard as I like them, yeah! But I can't tell you what they sounded like, there was not a
definite sound." (Duff, Popular 1, 07/00)

"[Zakk and I] don't sound right. It's doesn't sound right with two heavy-league guitar players.
Usually, Guns N' Roses has an off-rhythm and a main riff. So, now me and Zakk just play the
same thing. But that's just because we're both lead guitar players, so as much as I love Zakk, we
haven't made any decision." (Slash, Metal Express, 1995)

"When we jammed down at the Complex, it didn't make any sense to me. It wasn't the two-guitar-
player team that GNR always was. We were two lead-guitar players going at the songs on
opposite sides of the stage and it was overbearing. I was used to working with and playing off of a
more low-key rhythm player. If Zakk and I were to do this, it would be a whole new trip... more like
Judas Priest or something. Even he felt that the concept was wrong." (Slash, Autobiography)

"And we tried out different guitar players, did that whole bullshit thing with Zakk (Wylde)... Just to
get that story straight, it's nothing against Zakk, it was just not the right... I love jamming with Zakk
on his own, as a separate entity, but in Guns N' Roses it doesn't sound right." (Metal Hammer,

"I tried putting Zakk Wylde with Slash and that didn't work. It brought out some interesting things
in Slash but it was a different approach that ended up being overpowering and didn't bring out the
best in Slash. It brought out some interesting things and it would've worked to do some songs."
(Axl, 2002)

The situation with GNR caused a rift between Zakk and Ozzy Osbourne. Zakk played on Ozzy's
album Ozzmosis (rel. 10/23/95), but remained uncertain on whether he could participate on the
Retirement Sucks tour, with a warm-up date on 09/06/95 and a full tour starting in August.

"I asked Zakk to come and play on the record [Ozzmosis], and he did. And he played great. But
then this whole Guns N' Roses thing happened. So I said to him one day, 'Zakk, before you hear
it from somebody else, I want you to know that I will be auditioning guitarists to do the tour with
me, because I guess you're not coming back. So don't be alarmed if you hear about it.' That night,
he called Sharon and said, 'What's the matter, doesn't Ozzy like my playing anymore?' So I said
to him, 'Zakk, are you gonna play with me?' And he couldn't give me a straight answer." (Ozzy,

"Then Ozzy was like, 'Zakk, you gonna do the tour?' and I said, 'Oz, I don't know the fuck's going
on with the Guns guys.' And I told Axl, 'Dude, can't be dickin' Ozzy around. You guys gotta let me
know what the fuck's goin' on?'" (Zakk, 99)

"I told Axl, 'I'm gonna be touring 'til August with Snakepit. We'll talk about [Zakk] when I get back."
(Slash, Metal Express, 1995)

"Finally, Doug Goldstein, Zakk's manager, called Sharon and said, 'Okay, Zakk's in for the tour -
send us the contract.' And I go, 'Yes!' Soon after that, Doug called my wife and said that Zakk was
still negotiating with Axl Rose. And I thought, 'What the fuck is going on?!' What I gathered was
that Zakk was using me as a bargaining chip with Guns N' Roses, and that really got me upset. It
wasn't fair because I had always been on the level with Zakk. So I called him and said, 'I want to
know what you're going to do.' And he said, 'Just give me the rest of the day.' But he never
called." (Ozzy, 95)

"So I finally told Ozzy, 'Oz, I don't know what the fuck is going on with these guys' and he said,
'Zakk, I gotta get somebody else' and I was 'All right, dude, I understand' but after that, you know,
the Guns thing kinda ... nothing, nothing really ... it didn't end ... nothing." (Zakk, 99)

"The next day, I said to Sharon, 'That's it - he's gone. It's over.' And it wasn't because I was
jealous - hey, if he joins Guns N' Roses and makes a million dollars, fine. All I wanted was a
straight answer from him-but he didn't show me that respect. (Ozzy, 95)
"But you know, once you get all the f**king lawyers involved and that bullsh*t, you know. I saw Axl
not so long ago, and I said 'What the f**k happened?' And Axl goes, 'Well Zakk, I heard you
wanted two million up front and your own tour bus.'" (Zakk, MyGNR)

Slash leaves town

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere by Slash's Snakepit was released on 02/14/95. Slash embarked on
a promotional tour in early February. Snakepit played their first show on 03/31/95 in Memphis,

"When I left town, Axl and Matt and Duff and I had worked on new material. I hadn't heard Axl
sing anything, but he was there while we were fucking around jamming." (Slash, Metal Hammer,

"We did do some... like, off-the-wall kind of writing and recording and this and that and the other.
And they're still trying to work on things." (Slash, Canadian Radio, 04/20/95)

"We've got tapes of what Axl considers great songs, which from my point of view is just me
playing the guitar! I haven't heard any lyrics or any vocals, so I don't know what a song is until
then." (Slash, Metal Hammer, 11/95)

"We've been jamming a bit, but there isn't any actual songs. [...] Right now there seems to be a
fucking confusion about what "a good Guns-record" is." (Slash, Aftonbladet, 04/02/95)

More on Axl's legal problems

The lawsuit to which Stephanie Seymour subpoenad Erin Everly to participate in March '94 was
met with a litigation over a year later.

"[Oklahoma] was inspired by a court date with ex-wife Erin Everly. 'I was sitting in my litigation
with my ex-wife, and it was the day after the bombing, [April 20th, 1995]' Rose remembers with a
wince. 'We had a break, and I'm sitting with my attorneys with a sort of smile on my face, more
like a nervous thing - it was like, 'Forgive me, people, I'm having trouble taking this seriously.' It's
just ironic that we're sitting there and this person is spewing all kinds of things and 168 people
just got killed. And this person I'm sitting there with, she don't care. Obliterating me is their goal.'"
(Axl, Rolling Stone, 2000)

Izzy's back

Long gone rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin was also reintroduced to the fold.

"In April, 1995, Duff calls me again: 'I'm trying to compose new songs for the guys in GN'R. Come
and give me a hand.' It made five and that I'd left Guns but I said myself: 'Well shit, after all, why
not?' Duff and I wrote ten pieces in the space of week. We even recorded them as demos."
(French Izzy interview, 2001)

In the same month, on 04/27/95, Izzy also appeared onstage with Slash's Snakepit in The Metro
in Chicago.

"Once in 1995, I went to ring the doorbell at [Axl's] place, and he opened the door. (Izzy, Hard
Rock, 07/01)

"And I go up and he's got security gates, cameras, walls, all this shit, you know. So I'm ringing the
buzzers, and eventually somebody comes and takes me up and there he is. He's like, 'Hey, man!
Glad to see you!' Gives me a big hug and shows me round his house. It was great.
Then, I don't know, probably a month later, one night he calls me [and] we got into the issue of me
leaving Guns N' Roses. I told him how it was on my side. Told him exactly how I felt about it and
why I left. [...] But, I mean he had a fucking notepad. I could hear him [turning the pages] going,
'Well, ah, you said in 1982... blah, blah, blah...' And I'm like, what the fuck - 1982? He was
bringing up a lot of really weird old shit. I'm like, whatever, man. But that's the last time I talked to
him. (Izzy, Classic Rock, 2001)

"F: There's rumors about Izzy getting back...

S: Izzy agrees with writing stuff but he's not interested in touring... He doesn't want to deal with
Axl y'know? The Rockstar thing... Like me, he just wanna play... We never thought GNR would
become so big..." (Slash, Sao Paulo Journal, 07/21/95)

Outsiders Rising

On 07/28/95, Duff and Matt play a benefit show at the LA club Viper Room with Steve Jones of
The Sex Pistols and John Taylor of Duran Duran. The group is dubbed Neurotic Outsiders. In
September, due to populary demand, they begin to play weekly shows there.

"I was still in Guns when the idea started to take shape, but we were idle. I used to go to our
practice place, me and Matt would play for a while, but no one else used to show up. Slash was
having trouble with Axl and, well, you know the story already. Axl would finally show up like at 4
a.m., oh well, fuck it! I realized I didn't want to wait until 4 in the morning to practice anymore".
(Duff, Popular 1, 07/00)

"They were supposed to keep working while I was gone. That's why Matt didn't come on tour with
us, because he was supposed to help keep that foundation for them to jam. Well they only
jammed like twice since I was gone, so no one had really been doing anything." (Slash, Metal
Hammer, 11/95)

"A frequent visitor to the studio says. 'When Stephanie Seymour's birthday [July 23rd] came
around, Axl seemed to shut down for weeks. A lot of this record is about Stephanie: She was his
perfect woman, at least his image of what she should be.'" (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

Snakepit recalled

On 07/25/95, Slash's Snakepit played the last show of their continuous world tour in Sao Paulo,

"Everything rolled on: the record sold, the tour was fine; I was on the road with no end in sight.
We were in the midst of booking another leg [in Australia] when I was informed by Geffen that
they'd sold a million copies of It's Five O'Clock Somewhere and had turned a profit so they saw
no reason for me to continue the tour." (Slash, Autobiography)

"We are going to meet in August after we've toured with Snakepit. Then we'll see what happens."
(Slash, Aftonbladet, 04/02/95)

"I wanted to keep the tour going [geographically] beyond Japan; I wanted to take it to Australia, I
wanted to finish what I set out to do. [...] In case I objected, [Geffen] made it clear that the
financial support for Snakepit was over. [...] I was to return to L.A. because Axl was ready to begin
working on the next Guns N' Roses record." (Slash, Autobiography)

"[Slash] has not been musically involved with Guns N' Roses since [...] a 2 week initial period [...]
in the late fall of '95." (Axl, 10/30/96)
"After I'd been paid by the insurance company for the house that had been totaled in the
earthquake [on 01/17/94], [Renee and I] shopped for a new one and found it in Beverly Hills on
Roxbury Drive. [...] All that mattered to me was that it had a basement - the perfect place for a
recording studio.

[...] We rehearsed with Huge and I tried to write some new songs at my home studio with him and
it only grew more tense in every way. [...] It was so uncomfortable and awkward there that Duff
and I actually got into it, which had never happened in the studio ever.

And that was the last straw for me: the next morning I told Doug to let everyone know that we'd
have to rehearse elsewhere because there would be no more getting together at my studio. Axl
was disappointed and a bit pissed off. The next time I saw him he confronted me. [...] That was
the last time Axl and I spoke for a while." (Slash, Autobiography)

On 08/25/95, Slash's Snakepit played a one-off appearance at Monsters of Rock in Donington,

UK, possibly due to contractual obligations. Axl had a little homecoming present waiting.

What's in a name?

"[Axl acquiring the band name]'s something that happened, Slash said this week from his L.A.
home. "I was blindsided by it, more or less a legal faux pas. I don't know what he's gonna do, as
far as that goes. But I'd be lying to say I wasn't a little bit peeved at that." (Slash, Addicted to
Noise, 01/30/97)

"I didn't really know what else to do after Axl sent a letter on August 31, 1995, saying that he was
leaving the band and taking the name with him under the terms of the new contract. After that we
tried to put it back together." (Slash, Autobiography)

"This will serve as notice [that] effective [...] Decemeber 30th 1995, I will withdraw from the
partnership. [...] I intend to use the name 'Guns N' Roses' in connection with a new group which I
will form." (Slash & Duff v. Axl lawsuit document, 2004)

"On, or around September 1, 1992, Axl, Slash and Duff entered into a written partnership
agreement defining the rights of the Original GNR partners, and obligations entitled
"Memorandum of Agreement". [...] Among other things, the Agreement provided that Axl would
own the rights to the name "Guns N' Roses" if he was expelled or voluntarily withdrew from the
partnership." (Slash & Duff v. Axl lawsuit document, 2004)

"The contract stated that Axl would retain the rights to the band name and was allowed to start a
new band that he could call Guns N' Roses. Of course Duff and I could be members... but only on
his terms, which felt to us like we were being defined as hired hands." (Slash, Autobiography)

"In 1992, Geffen's corporate predecessor entered into a new recording agreement with Messrs.
Hudson, McKagan and Rose dated September 1, 1992 (hereinafter the "Recording Agreement")."
(Greatest Hits lawsuit document, 2004)

"The perception I have of what Axl's doing at the moment is that he's basically making a solo
album but retaining the GN'R name so that he can get at the major contractual advance that's
waiting at Geffen for a new Guns N' Roses-titled record. I can't give you the exact figure but I will
tell you it's in the multi-million-dollar range. This renegotiation was effected just before I was
fired." (Alan Niven, Icon Magazine, 10/97)
"GN'R began work on a new album of original material, drawing from a Geffen advance thought to
be around $10 million - Madonna kind of money." (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

"Axl had hired an attorney to push this through, so Duff and I did as well, and the three of them
started haggling, having those attorney feasts that do nothing but cost their clients money. Doug
Goldstein was also there helping "facilitate" the whole thing." (Slash, Autobiography)

As the contract negotiations dragged on, Slash silently fell out of Guns N' Roses.

"He (Slash) has been 'OFFICIALLY and LEGALLY' outside of the Guns N' Roses Partnership
since December 31, 1995." (Axl, 10/30/96)

"Slash QUIT Guns N' Roses after his solo projects flopped. Geffen Records President Eddie
Rosenblatt literally begged Axl to keep the door open for Slash." (Del James, Mudkiss, 2008)

Big Deal

On 09/11/95, twelve days after Axl'd sent out his letter, Duff and Matt begun appearing at the
Viper Room on a weekly basis with Steve Jones and John Taylor.

"I was still in Guns when the idea started to take shape, but we were idle. [...] Slash was having
trouble with Axl and, well, you know the story already." (Duff, Popular 1, 07/00)

This implies that Duff agreed to new partnership agreement sooner than Slash.

During this time, the album work was apparently grounded, as Axl wanted to ensure the next
GNR album would written and recorded under the new partnership agreement, effective as of

In late October, Neurotic Outsiders signed a record deal with Maverick Records. Between the
06/28 benefit show and the further shows ranging from 09/11 to 10/29, they'd played a total of
twelve shows so far.

"'Someone at Maverick was coming to the shows and told us he wanted to make a record,' says
Taylor. 'It wasn't really anything that we had talked about as a group.'" (John Taylor, Hypno
Magazine, 1996)

"We went out and we secured a million-dollar record deal, just out playing the Viper Room every
Monday night." (Duff, Frontline, 02/06/04)


In related news, David Geffen, founder of Geffen Records, ended his term in the company. MCA
Records had acquired the company in 1990 and since then, Geffen himself had been
contractually employed. His leaving coincided with Seagram Company acquiring 80% of
MCA/Geffen and finding Universal Studios and Universal Music Group. Geffen Records was
maintained under the UMG umberella.


If we do this right, we won't have to make another album for five years! (laughs) But it's not so
much like five years to sit on our ass. It's like, five years to figure out what we're gonna say next,
you know? (Axl on Use Your Illusion, Kerrang, 04/21/90)
Working with Paul

After the new contract came into effect on 12/31/95, Axl set up shop in the Complex. Apparently,
Slash's relationship with the band was at a standstill for some time since the new contract
negotiations began in August '95.

"We were in the recording studio next to [Axl] in 1996. They had been renting the studio for over a
year (at $3,000 a day) and had not even pressed "RECORD". Axl would drive himself to the
studio every night in a pickup truck with a camper shell. [...] Nice guy though, in person very low
key." (, 01/13/06)

"When the Sex Pistols were rehearsing for their 1996 reunion tour [set to begin on 06/21/96 in
Finland], Pistols mainman John Lydon claimed to have heard 'some folky nonsense' emanating
from the next room, only to discover it was actually Axl and co hard at work." (Kerrang, 08/21/99)

"Dizzy's got a monstrously cool keyboard set up. Macintoshes and pro-tools and sequencing.
Drum beats and loops. They'd sample Matt's drums." (Chris Vrenna, Spin, 07/99)

"I had produced [techno songstress] Poe [album Hello, released in 1995] and there were drum
loops in the songs, and Axl wanted that." (Matt, Spin, 07/99)

"They're using some modern technology. Axl's really excited about sampling. He loves the DJ
Shadow record and Nine Inch Nails." (Moby, Icon Magazine, 10/97)

"There's a huge closet filled with DAT tapes, but there isn't one final song for the record," notes
someone close to the band. "Everybody brings their sketches, but the person who is most
concerned with refining things is Axl. But he wants other people to bring a lot to the table too - he
loves the fact that Dizzy is down there every night working with him. Axl gets agitated when
people don't show up and contribute." (Icon Magazine, 10/97)

"Axl then insisted on hiring Paul Huge, this guy he knew from Indiana who, for whatever reason,
also calls himself Paul Tobias. They had history: the two of them co-wrote Back Off Bitch among
other songs." (Slash, autobiography)

"I was down in a rehearsal studio recording ideas with a couple other guys, a guy named Paul
Huge who was in the band for a little while, and basically that's what I did five days a week. Five
or six days a week, I was just down there recording ideas. A lot of great songs came out of that.
It's all still there. Something will happen with that stuff eventually. That was a very cool creative
period and it was great working with Paul." (Dizzy, Rock Journal, 07/11/04)

"Paul and Axl go back to Indiana. He's kind of like the guy that's always there every night. They
record all their jams and study them. I remember Paul spent like a month going through
thousands of hours, just compiling. He was the guy who was making sure everything got done."
(Chris Vrenna, Spin, 07/99)

Axl's distractions

"I went to Japan for two weeks [in early April] with Nile Rodgers and the original lineup of Chic.
(Slash, autobiography)

Around the night Slash began his trip to the Orient, Axl went out to check out Dave Navarro and
his post-Jane's Addiction band. Axl had championed Navarro to replace Izzy in GNR some five
years earlier.

"[On 04/04/96, Axl] turned up backstage at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at the LA Forum.
'He'd cut his hair short and grown a beard', recalled Chilis drummer Chad Smith. 'I didn't
recognize him.'" (Kerrang, 08/21/99)

Both Slash and Axl also witnessed deaths by those near them at the time.

"[Following] the very last night of the [Chic] tour [04/18/96], [...] [band member Bernard Edwards]
was found dead on his [hotel room] couch as a result of severe pneumonia." (Slash,

"Axl was distracted by events tragic, potentially tragic and strange. His mother, Sharon Bailey,
died in May 1996 at the age of fifty-one. Wildfires nipped at the edges of Axl's Latigo Canyon
property the same year." (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

In the summer, Slash also worked on a film soundtrack during his GNR downtime.

"When Miramax asked me to do [...] the soundtrack to the Quentin Tarantino-produced film
Curdled, [...] I immediately agreed. [...] I put hours into working out the music, which is
instrumental, all acoustic, eclectic, and flamenco-influenced. I recorded the instrumental stuff with
Jed Leiber, who is a great engineer I know from LA. I flew out to New York, where Nile Rodgers
produced the electric versions of a few tracks. Then he and I flew out to Spain to have this major
Spanish star, Martha Sanchez, do vocals." (Slash, Autobiography)

"How long did it take to record your part of 'Curdled'?

Slash: One night for the electric version and two nights for the acoustic version." (Slash chat,

Curdled premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on 09/06/96, featuring some of Slash's work.

Luring Slash back

In around July, Axl approached Slash to return to the fold.

"Axl and I have been meeting recently and everythings progressing." (Slash chat, 07/30/96)

"One time [Axl] called me for a private meeting at his favorite Italian restaurant in Brentwood. [...]
As far as I can remember, the meeting was basically an attempt to coerce me into accepting the
arrangement he and his lawyers were pushing, but in a lot less heavy-handed manner.†(Slash,

"Axl and I are having a very civil relationship as we speak." (Slash chat, 07/30/96)

"There were another couple of meetings like that in Doug Goldstein's office. Then, of course,
there were endless meetings with the attorneys going over and over this thing. [...] [Axl] pushed
this contract issue on us with so much pressure to the point that Duff and I just gave in." (Slash,

"I really have no idea what's goin on with the next GNR cd. I still haven't played with them yet."
(Slash chat, 07/30/96)

"'I've been going to see Axl a little bit to try and get things rolling again,' says McKagan. 'Matt's
gonna start coming down, and we'll see how it works out. It's always kind of like that, trying to
start.' Note: an insider source says that Axl Rose has apparently done a few practices since this
interview. (Hypno Magazine, 1996)
"Axl and I could've done this sooner, if we'd just made a few compromises. But I guess that when
bands get so big indecision becomes everything." (Slash, Kerrang, 09/21/96)

"We signed some document that we'd agree to have put in escrow for a certain amount of time to
see if we could work things out. But if we didn't agree to put the terms into effect by certain point,
the contract would be null and void, so I signed and let it go. [...] I was forced into a secondary
role, while Axl was now offically at the helm if I officially let the escrow contract become effective."
(Slash, Autobiography)

Slash suggests he was put on a 'trial period' as a contracted employee in the new GNR
partnership, and if he'd continue to work with the band beyond that time, the contract would turn
into a long-term commitment.

Gearing up for rehearsals

In August, the full band were scheduled to return to the studio to write and record new songs.

"We'll see where it goes. I haven't rehearsed with them, or even been in the same room with
them, since before the Snakepit record came out (in ´95)." (Slash, Kerrang, 09/21/96)

Slash did share the stage on some songs with Neurotic Outsiders on 09/30/95 (The Joint, Las
Vegas) and 10/20/95 (Irving Plaza, New York) before the conduction of the above interview. Slash
mentions leaving for Hungary in a day or two, referring to his appearance at the Pepsi Island
Festival on 08/14/96.

"I got this call from a promoter to do [Pepsi Island Festival], all expenses paid, in Budapest,
headlining the jazz festival there. I agreed immediately; it was the kick in the ass I needed to go
out and form a band. [...] After that, the calls rolled in for us to do more gigs, and before we knew
it, we became a touring band [Slash's Blues Ball], doing whatever gigs we were offered as much
for the money as for the beer." (Slash, Autobiography)

"[Slash] also enthuses about the new material Guns N' Roses have been writing. Apperently, the
band members are currently trading tapes amongst themselves [before the actual recording
sessions]. "It's amazing stuff," he says." (Slash, Kerrang, 09/21/96)

"The majority of things are done on the phone, until we actually get in the studio. A lot of things
over the phone and sending tapes back and forth. And we've done this for years." (Axl, Rockline,

"Axl is rhythym guitar on his own songs for the time being." (Slash chat, 07/30/96)

"I can't really play guitar too well, I only play the top two strings." (Axl, Rolling Stone, 08/10/89)

"For the last couple of years, [Axl] started to go, 'Okay, I'm going to play guitar and actually learn
what these notes are.' It's an innocent guitar, not unlike Izzy (Stradlin, ex-GN'R guitarist) was, but
Axl's got a lot more musically than Izzy ever did.'" (Duff, Addicted to Noise, 08/30/96)

"Right now, he's playing guitar and it's like he plays that instrument for 10 years." (Matt, 1996)

"As far as I know, Axl's intention is not to be the rhythm guitar player." (Slash, 10/18/96)

It is known that Circus of Power member Gary Sunshine has taught Axl to play guitar, although it's
debatable at what point they began working together.
At the Rehearsals

"Doug had set us up at a studio called the Complex, which we later dubbed the Compound. [...]
Axl and I hadn't spoken directly at all since my return, either by phone or face-to-face: I got my
working orders from Doug. I showed up at the scheduled time and found my tech, Adam Day;
Duff's tech, McBob; Duff, Dizzy Reed and Matt and Paul Huge. Axl was nowhere in sight. I got
down there that first night around eight p.m. [...] My memories of it are hazy at best because I did
everything I could to forget. I do remember going to the studio and rehearsing with no direction."
(Slash, autobiography)

"Guns N' Roses is back working together again, according to bassist Duff McKagan. [...] "We've
been in for two weeks as a full band with Slash and Axl (Rose) and me ([...] Dizzy Reed is also
back [...]), and we go from midnight to five in the morning," McKagan said from L.A." (Duff,
Addicted to Noise, 08/30/96)

"We'd show up at different times every evening, but by eight p.m. generally everybody in the band
would be there. [...] I got down there that first night around eight p.m., [...] and found my tech,
Adam Day; Duff's tech, McBob; Duff, Dizzy Reed and Matt and Paul Huge. Axl was nowhere in
sight. [...] We'd spend each night in the studio maybe writing music or jamming... most nights
we'd sit around frustrated, waiting to see if Axl would show - which he did, usually [...] around one
or two; [...] after most of us had left for the night. [...] After a few days, I chose to spend my
evenings at the strip bar around the corner, with orders for the engineers to call me if Axl decided
to show up." (Slash, Autobiography)

"With Guns, there's no problems with material. The problem has always been getting us in the
same room. So now that we're in there, it's rockin'." (Duff, Addicted to Noise, 08/30/96)

"And when [Axl] did show up at rehearsal, he never sang. [...] We were supposed to jam and jam
until he said, "I like this", or, "I like that." [...] We'd play for an hour or more and then finally get
bored and go home, leaving him in the studio. [...] Generally I'd get home about three a.m."
(Slash, autobiography)

"It's fun and the energy is there," [Duff] said only hours before joining Axl Rose, Slash, Matt
Sorum and rhythm guitarist Paul Huge at a GN'R rehearsal and writing session." (Duff, Metal
Edge, 11/96)

"Sorum reports in the last week that Slash has been rehearsing with G N' R bassist Duff
McKagan (who plays guitar in Neurotic Outsiders), Rose, Reed and "an anonymous guitar player"
who may or may not be Clarke's replacement, and Sorum. 'It sounds like the band again.
Everybody's in good shape and Duff's looking really good and healthy. It was good that we took
the time off, because at the end of the tour Duff was one foot in the grave. I mean it was like we
were all drugged out. We just all stepped back out of the whole rock and roll debauchery for a
while and just sort of mellowed.'" (Matt, Toronto Sun, 09/04/96)

"[Gilby's replacement is an] unknown. But I can't tell you his name because I don't know if he will
tour with us." (Matt, 1996)

"Now whether or not Paul was going to be officially on the album or on the tour that really wasn't
an actual consideration at the time. It was in the air as a possibility." (Axl, press release, 08/14/02)

"The staff was hospitable and robotic as a bunch of bellboys at a five-star hotel.
"So what do you want to play on?" I remember some guy asking me.
"What do you mean?"
"We have a wide selection of guitars here," the guy said. "Which would you like to use?"
"I brought my own," I said. "I'd like to play on that."

[...] I must say, though, that the gear was set up nice [...] literally a room full of synths - as well as
an arsenal of Pro Tools recording rigs that Axl had rented." (Slash, autobiography)

"Axl brought in a showroom full of guitars and effects. "It's a musical-instrument convention," one
observer says. "He has more knobs and keyboards and strings and wire and wood in there than
you could possibly imagine could even be manufactured." Of Axl's guitar setup, [Dave]
Abbruzzese recalls, "You could hunt buffalo with his rig. It had a lot of lights, a lot of blinking
lights, a lot of things that you stepped on. It sounded like a freight train that was somehow
playable." (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

New Direction

"The songs are really good, and I have a good vibe about it. I wouldn't want to go out and do a
bad Guns N' Roses record." (Slash, Kerrang, 09/21/96)

"We have been doing mostly Axl's material." (Slash chat, 10/16/96)

"Even if we don't sell any copy of the next album, I will be very proud of what we did. But I don't
worry about it, I know that what we are doing right now is great. [...] We are working on rock
songs that last only 4 minutes (laughs). We already did 7 songs and we will write 7 others. [...] It
will be a single album with 10 or 12 songs." (Matt, 1996)

"There will be a new Guns N' Roses 12 song minimum recording with three original "B" sides."
(Axl, MTV fax, 10/30/96)

"The record will be all up-tempo rock songs ("No ballads," McKagan said firmly) and it will be just
12 songs, with a release planned for next spring." (Duff, Addicted to Noise, 08/30/96)

"It's gonna be an angry record, but that's what we were built on." (Kerrang, 09/21/96)

"This is not as sophisticated as Illusion, but not as wild as Appetite. It's in the middle. Maybe more
groovy. Musically, we are all better. I never heard Duff play like that." (Matt, 1996)

"I would like it to be hard-edged like Appetite, but at this moment in time I have no idea what
direction it's going in." (Slash chat, 10/16/96)

"The first batch of material I heard definitely had an industrial thing about it, but the direction could
well have taken another swing since then. Axl could go anywhere with this album." (Slash,
Kerrang, 12/00)

"I originally wanted to make a traditional record or try to get back to an "Appetite [For
Destruction]" thing or something, because that would have been a lot easier for me to do. I was
involved in a lot of lawsuits for Guns N' Roses and in my own personal life, so I didn't have a lot of
time to try and develop a new style or re-invent myself, so I was hoping to write a traditional thing,
but I was not really allowed to do that." (Axl, MTV interview, 11/08/99)

"So, I opted for what I thought would or should've made the band and especially Slash very
happy. Basically I was interested in making a Slash record with some contributions from
everybody else." (Axl, press release, 08/14/02)
"Axl treated the situation as if he and I were the two most important factors in the whole thing. He
tried to convince me it was all good, that it was something he and I were doing as partners. He
was trying to draw me into his world, to show me his version of things in his way, which is a very
nice way, but I just didn't go for it." (Slash, Autobiography)

"3 years ago, I had a real role to play. Now it's between Axl and Slash. It's working well, so it's
cool." (Matt, 1996)

"The band managed to do a little bit of jamming and come up with some things. A couple of the
ideas I had come up with Axl apparently liked and they were recorded onto Pro Tools and stored
for him to work on later." (Slash, autobiography)

"I think that some of the riffs that were coming out of [Slash] were the meanest, most
contemporary, bluesiest, rocking thing since Aerosmith's Rocks. The 2000 version of Aerosmith
Rocks or the 1996 Aerosmith Rocks by the time we would have put it out. [...] I feel that some of
the recordings we did in that limited amount of time had some of the best playing that Slash had
done at least since Illusions. I was there. I know what I heard and it was pretty exciting." (Axl,
press release, 08/14/02)

Neurotic goes on tour

On 09/10/96, Maverick Records released the self-titled album by Neurotic Outsiders. Sex Pistols'
Filthy Lucre reunion tour was put on one-month hiatus for September, so that Steve Jones would
be able to do a brief promotional tour with Neurotic.

"The plan," announces Slash, "is for Duff (McKagan, bass) and Matt (Sorum, drums) to take off
their band, Neurotic Outsiders, for a while [to a tour that would span from 09/05/96 to 09/28/96],
leaving me and Axl to write stuff. If that spark gets rolling, then great. If it doesn't and we get into
a fight, I'll just carry on playing gigs and jamming - with Snakepit or whatever. It's not complicated.
At least, I don't see it that way." (Slash, Kerrang, 09/21/96)

"H.R.: Guns N' Roses is supposed to be in rehearsal and you're in Paris [NO played there on
09/23/96]. Not really convenient...
Matt: Axl is real cool with the Neurotic, he loves the album and he doesn't say it to be polite."
(Matt, 1996)

"Rather than having the Neurotic Outsiders spell death for that band, apparently Sorum and
McKagan are now set to return to the Gunners' fold hoping to complete a new disc by years end."
(Hit Parader, October 1996)

"H.R.: Duff told us that the deadline is for Spring 97...

Matt: Absolutely! We want to tour next summer. [...] And now, we work together and an album will
be released in 97." (Matt, 1996)

"We're definitely getting geared up to do another record," says Sorum, who brings his all-star side
band, Neurotic Outsiders, to the Warehouse on Sunday. "We're already starting to make tour
plans. We've got a possible tour starting in South America in January and then we're going to
stop and finish the record and probably tour next summer." (Matt, Toronto Sun, 09/04/96)

"Steve Downs: Steve, any chance of the tour going beyond the dates you're doing in September?
[...] Steve: Yeah, maybe December or January." (Steve Jones, Rockline, 09/09/96)

The Sex Pistols tour ran until 12/07/96, while GNR was planned to tour South America in January
'97 (much in the vein of their Rock in Rio II apperance in January 1991), taking a brief time-out
from the album work. Possible Neurotic shows would've therefore had to be balanced in between
the GNR studiotime / tour and Steve Jones' obligations. His response gives the impression of an
either/or situation, depending what'd happen with the 'priority' bands.

"Me and Duff are flying back to LA 'cause we're rehearsing with GN'R every night. [...] And now
that we got this band together, GN'R decides: "Ok, we're gonna do a record". So, hopefully, you
know, we're gonna come out with a GN'R record soon as well. It's kinda thrown a little bit of a
quality problem in the Neurotic Outsiders because, you know, we got a lot going on, me and Duff.
And... [...] [Neurotic Outsiders] is single most responsible for putting GN'R and the Pistols back
together, maybe." (Matt, Rockline, 09/09/96)

"I think Neurotic Outsiders is single-handedly responsible for Guns N' Roses being reunited,"
says Sorum. "It seems like every time something good starts happening, I get a phone call from
Axl, `We're going to start rehearsing tomorrow.' But seriously, when Axl heard that me and Duff
had gone out and gotten this multi-million-dollar record deal and we're going to go out on the
road, he started getting a little nervous." (Matt, Toronto Sun, 09/04/96)

"McKagan understands the skepticism that surrounds the word that Guns N' Roses are finally
about to complete a new album. He even shares some of that attitude. 'I hope it happens, and I
think it will,' he said. 'But I've gotten my hopes up before only to see everything kind of crash in
around me. But I honestly believe that everyone wants to make a new Guns N' Roses album now,
and I think that everyone knows that if we don't do it now we may not get the chance.'" (Hit
Parader, October 1996)

Slash leaves

"Slash came back for some writing down at the studio, totally negative and belligerent, quits the
fucking band and then publicly spins it into somehow he got pushed out." (Del James, Mudkiss,

"One of the few times I actually spoke with Axl about how it was going, it was pretty clear that we
were coming from very different places. I was trying to get through to him once again about how
working with Huge was a chore and a creative dead end in my opinion.

"You don't have to be friends to make a record," Axl said.

"Maybe not," I said, "but you do need to have some kind of mutual respect, you know."

We might as well have been talking about the two of us." (Slash, autobiography)

"The Stones were in town during this period; they were staying at the Sunset Marquis and
recording at Don Wass' house, working on Bridges to Babylon." (Slash, autobiography)

"Mick Jagger and Keith Richards began devising new numbers together in the summer of 1996
with demos to follow at the end of the year." (Wikipedia)

"One particular evening, after they were done for the day, I went [...] to dinner at Chasen's [with
Keith Richards.] [...] I'd been at the studio rehearsing all day, so when the conversation swung
around to my band, I let it all out. Keith took it all in, and then looked me deep in the eye. 'Listen,'
he said. 'There's one thing you never do - you never leave.' [...] Keith inspired me; I felt like I had
to try harder. The next day I tried to refocus my outlook and I showed up at The Complex ready to
make it work at all costs. [...] Axl never showed up to rehearse and the attorneys' negotiation of
our 'employment contracts' had taken a really insulting turn." (Slash, autobiography)
"The original intentions between Paul and myself were that Paul was going to help me for as long
as it took to get this thing together in whatever capacity that he could help me in. So when he first
was brought into this, he was brought in as a writer to work with Slash." (Axl, press release,

"Imagine you and I grow up together and you're my best friend. OK, I'm in Guns N' Roses and I
tell the rest you're going to join the band. "OK, Slash, Axl, Matt, guys, this guy is in the band".
"Duff, you got a minute?" "No, he's in the band" "Well, no. Everyone in the band has to vote it,
Duff, so no way!" "Fuck you, this guy is in the band! I'm not doing anything unless this guy is in
the band" "OK, you know what? We'll try and play with him, since you're that much interested in it.
Hey Duff, the guy can't play" "I don't care" "Well that's not very reasonable." (Duff, Popular 1,

"I tried to stick with it, but I wasn't alone in feeling like we were being force-fed some guy with no
innate qualities who didn't deserve and couldn't handle the gig. But it was hopeless, we couldn't
talk Axl out of it at all. I did what I could: I tried several times to have a one-on-one with Huge to
see if I was missing some deeper spark in his character that Axl had seen..." (Slash,

"Paul was one of the best people we knew who was both available and capable of complimenting
Slash's style. You could bring in a better guitar player than Paul. You could bring in a monster. [...]
Paul was a friend trying to help us and he had a huge respect for Slash." (Axl, press release,

"It was like talking to a wall, a wall with a bad attitude. He was totally arrogant and gave off the
vibe that he was Axl's boy, that he was in, and that everyone else had to deal with it. In a word,
his vibe was "I'm great, fuck you!" And my response was "Yeah? Whatever!" (Slash,

"Paul was only interested in complimenting Slash, laying down a foundation of a riff or something.
That would accent or encourage Slash's lead playing." (Axl, press release, 08/14/02)

"By September 1996, Slash was so miserable that he swore, 'I'm going to confront it. Either Paul
goes, or...' (Q Magazine, 05/01)

On 09/16/96, Slash shared the stage with Neurotic Outsiders in Phoenix, Arizona. Three days
prior, Duff and Matt had returned to the road after a few days of in-between jamming with GNR.
Slash's appearance might've marked the end of the Axl/Slash/Paul Huge/Duff/Matt/Dizzy -lineup.

"Right now, Axl and I are deliberating over the future of our relationship. [...] I have only been back
in the band for three weeks and my relationship with Axl right now is sort of at a stand still." (Slash
chat, 10/16/96)

"[i] called our management office, BFD, and told Doug that I wouldn't be coming back. [...] Later
that night, I called Duff, Matt, and Adam Day and let them know. Duff accepted my decision
without any question, and Matt wasn't surprised either." (Slash, autobiography)

"The reality was that I was basically going to do most of Slash's songs in particular, and work on
those with him, but basically, anytime we got anything that would be halfway near something that
was gonna be either successful because it completely kicked ass or was just strong in any way,
then it was backed away from, and I believe that this has a lot to do with trying to keep the
material down." (Axl, WRIF, 11/21/02)

"Had Slash stepped up and written what we captured glimpses of, it would have created an
environment that was beyond Slash's ability to control. He did not want to do that or put himself
through the rigors of taking the band to that level even if he was capable of writing it. Was he
capable of doing it? Absolutely 100%. [...] Slash and his ex-wife Renee and his security guy and
closest confidant at the time, Ronnie Stalnacker, could not live with that." (Axl, press release,

"Axl contacted those closest to me, telling them I should change my mind. He called my dad, my
security guard, my wife, Renee, and told each of them that I was making the biggest mistake of
my life. He said that I was pissing away so much money because of my decision." (Slash,

On 10/30/96, Axl sent a fax to MTV, announcing that there will be a new GNR studio album, yet
Slash is no longer in the band. And as for the day after...

"Axl throws a costume party every Halloween for friends and their families. Enormous pumpkins
ring the swimming pool, and spider webs hang in the trees. Specially built mazes and forts rattle
with squealing children. Almost as excited as a child, Axl himself has been known to dash around
and toy with every attraction. One past guest gets the impression that Axl is trying to re-create his
own childhood, albeit one better than his actually was. The Halloween scene in the past few
years hasn't been what it once was. 'His parties have been getting smaller and smaller,' recalls
one recent guest. 'The ever-shrinking universe.'" (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

Party's over

The plans for the new album were altered, and a decision was made to start again from a
different angle.

"I am [in GNR] & everything is going to be cool as far as that is concerned. [...] Guns is doing a
record so of course Matt & I will be in the studio for at least 3-4 weeks in February. [...] We have
song titles, but no album title. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag. [...] We progress naturally.
As far as the rumor that one person wants us to change, that's just not true." (Duff chat, 12/17/96)

"[The 1996 tracks are] not something I would want to approach (without Slash), because, at the
time, there was only one person that I knew who could do certain riffs that way. [...] That's the
reason why that material got scrapped." (Axl, press release, 08/14/02)


Without You

"To tell you the truth, none of the people in Axl's camp believed I was really gone for the next
couple of years. I was kind of taken aback by their deep sense of denial: I never behaved as if I
intended to return, but that didn't matter to them." (Slash, autobiography)

"'Axl and I have just not been able to have a meeting of the minds of such that we can actually
work together,' Slash admitted. 'We've been through this a dozen times. It seems like a big deal
now, but to me it's more of the same. I haven't really gone anywhere. I haven't officially quit the
band. It's just that we're not seeing eye to eye on where Guns should be going. It's just such a
pain in the ass.' His plan, he said, is to wait, 'let the smoke clear and maybe we can talk about it
later.'" (Addicted to Noise, 01/30/97)

"'If Axl was to break down and finally realize what the meat and potatoes of Guns N' Roses
always has been, I'm only a phone call away,' [Slash] said." (Sonic Net, 02/01/99)

Matt's situation turned out to be uncertain as well, as the frequent Prince collaborator Michael
Bland auditioned for the drumstool in January.
"MD: Did I hear that you auditioned for the 'new' Guns N’ Roses?

Michael: Yes, I auditioned for them in '97. I think Josh Freese was originally supposed to do the
gig. I went to the NAMM show [on 01/16-19/97], and I ran into Axl at the Anaheim Convention
Center in California, and then I went to the audition later that night. He was very cool to me. He
didn’t seem at all like the person the press makes him out to be. The audition went well, but I
knew they weren’t going to hire me, with them being a bunch of skinny white
dudes...[laughs]" (Drummerworld, 09/06)

It took almost a decade, but Axl did eventually hire the black dude.

Moby with King Dick

The rebooted recording sessions were originally scheduled for February. However, long-time
producer Mike Clink seemingly fell short in shepherding the revamped GNR flock.

"Long-time G n' R collaborator Mike Clink [...] sat in on rehearsals for a few months before
ducking out of the project. 'Axl is trying to define his direction and trying out a lot of different
collaborators,' Clink says of the delay and direction of the forthcoming Guns album. 'I've heard
some of the material Axl has written and it's phenomenal, but he's a perfectionist and he needs
everything to be just perfect. He needs the music to move him.'" (Rolling Stone, 11/14/98)

A new producer was now sought after to accommodate whatever ventures Axl'd choose to

"In 1997, Todd Sullivan, who was then a talent executive for the company, sent Mr. Rose a
sampling of CD's produced by different people, and encouraged him to choose one to work on
'Chinese Democracy.' Mr. Sullivan says he received a call informing him that Mr. Rose had run
over the albums with a car." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"Whenever I hang out in Guns N' Roses' studio - it's in some big warehouse in Los Angeles - the
atmosphere there is just so nice. Everyone involved really likes one another." [...] [Moby] is
describing the three or four preproduction sessions he's recently attended for the forthcoming
Guns N' Roses release." (Moby, Icon Magazine, 10/97)

Moby entered talks with Axl in late February.

"[Moby and Axl] are said to have gotten along famously during meetings over the past three
weeks and have "seen eye-to-eye on a lot of things." [...] Rose has met with several producers
about handling what will undoubtedly be a labor-intensive project, but 'he hasn't gone this far with
any other producers,' according to a Guns N' Roses spokesperson.

[...] 'At the risk of sounding like a sleazy music biz guy, I met with Axl last week to hear their new
demos,' said Moby while he was discussing the future of electronica on a panel at Austin, Texas'
South by Southwest Conference. 'They're writing with a lot of loops, and believe it or not, they're
doing it better than anybody I've heard lately.'" (Moby, Allstar, 03/18/97)

One of the demos Moby might've been presented with was the work-in-progress track, Oh My
God. Mentioning Matt suggests the song existed in some form in February/March '97.

"Musically the song was primarily written by Paul Huge [in early 1997], with Dizzy Reed writing
the musical hook of the chorus. Former member Duff McKagan as well as former employee Matt
Sorum failed to see its potential and showed no interest in exploring, let alone recording the
piece." (Axl, Press Release, 09/22/99)

"'I don't think this new music is just a vehicle for him as a solo performer. He wants this to be a
band where everyone contributes,' says Moby. 'On the music I've heard, you can hear everyone's
distinctive voice coming through. [...] The music they're working on has a very dramatic quality to
it. They're using some modern technology. Axl's really excited about sampling. He loves the DJ
Shadow record and Nine Inch Nails. The stuff I've heard is much more concise than, say,
'November Rain.' Not bombastic. Very stripped down. Very intense. It's not hard-rock music in the
way that 'Welcome to the Jungle' was.'" (Icon Magazine, 10/97)

"The story goes that Moby [...] went in to soak up some music compiled on nearly 300 DAT tapes
that the band had filled with what the source described as 'ideas, loops and sketches,' and was
duly impressed with what Rose and crew had come up with." (Addicted to Noise, 03/19/97)

"'I found it difficult to chart a linear development of the songs that they were working on,' recalls
Moby. 'They would work on something, it would be a sketch for a while, and then they'd put it
aside and go back to it a year, six months later. He became a little bit defensive when I asked him
about the vocals. He just said that he was going to get to them eventually,' Moby continues."
(Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

"Most of the stuff he had played me was just sketches, Mr. Sullivan recalled. I said, 'Look, Axl, this
is some really great, promising stuff here. Why don't you consider just bearing down and
completing some of these songs?' He goes, 'Hmm, bear down and complete some of these
songs?' Next day I get a call from Eddie [Rosenblatt, the Geffen chairman], saying I was off the
project." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"'They've asked me to be the producer,' Moby says, 'but I'm not sure I'm capable of doing that
because, if nothing else, making this record is going to be a long, long process.'" (Icon Magazine,

"The group have brought in several guitarists to lay down what was described as 'sketches and
ideas for guitar parts on the demos,' including a young, unnamed fresh face Rose has apparently
taken a shine to." (Addicted to Noise, 03/19/97)

Axl's Boy Wonder

"Matt Sorum introduced Rose to former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck, advising that he
would make a great foil for Slash - who could then be restored to the line-up." (Q Magazine,

"The lead guitar spot remains open and Slash's return is not out of the question. However,
according to our source, the guitarist and Rose haven't spoken at all this year." (Addicted to
Noise, 03/19/97)

"I told Axl to see him and he said 'That's our guitar player,'" says Sorum. "I said, 'Bring in Robin to
play alongside Slash,' but Axl said, 'I want him to play lead.'" (Spin, 07/99)

"I got a call from Axl Rose [while in Cirque du Soleil], who I never met at the time. He invited me
to the studio as he was writing and recording songs. It was an invitation for a casual listen.
Eventually, after about eight weeks, we started playing together." (Robin Finck, 2000)

Axl called Robin no later than mid-January, as he was already playing with the band when Moby
came aboard. From 01/29/97 onwards, Cirque du Soleil's Quidam was based in Orange County,
between their two stays in Santa Monica, enabling Robin to divide his time between GNR and the

"We played some of my songs and finally I left the circus and was doing records with Axl, Josh
and Tommy, and what would have been a new Guns N’ Roses, if you will." (Robin Finck,

"I played with Robin a few times and he's a great guy." (Duff, Hard Force, 07/99)

Former Employee

The inclusion of Robin proved out to be Matt's last significant contribution for the band.

"[Axl] fired me two or three times and he called me back... [...] We all have been fired at least one
time! You never heard about it? (laughs) Seriously, it's true that he sometimes goes too far.
Sometime I open my mouth and I say 'Ok, Axl, fuck off!', then he fires me. So? I know he will call
me the next day. I feel I'm in security and I know I will be the GNR drummer for a long time."
(Matt, 1996)

"Duff: [...] Matt was never a full member of the band, he was on an ejector seat and Axl said :
'I’m gonna fire him.' I answered that this decision required more than one person to be taken
since we were a band, that he alone didn't own the majority. All of this because Matt told him he
was wrong. The truth is, Matt was right, and Axl wrong indeed.

Hard Force: Wrong about what?

Duff: About schedules and the way Axl was late for the next album." (Duff, Hard Force, 1999)

"We weren't getting along. (laughs) We weren't playing live. I wanted to get out and play. But no
one else wanted to play so we..." (Matt, Lost Rose, 11/21/01)

"'Paul Huge walked into the studio and made a bad comment about Slash,' says Sorum. I said,
'You don't say that when I'm in the room.' Then Axl laid in, I argued with him and it was over. Huge
followed me out into the parking lot and said, 'Come back.' I said, 'I can't come back, he's fired
me. Do you feel good about breaking up one of the greatest bands that ever lived?'" (Q
Magazine, 05/01)

"I came home, and I said 'I've just been fired'. I remember what time of the year it was... I think it
was summer time. Might have been April... March or April. I think so, 1997." (Matt, Lost Rose,

"'I've phoned Axl 4 times to let him know I'm still here,' Matt rues, 'but Axl, he's a... private...
person.'" (Matt, UK Teletext, 08/25/01)

The Dol-drums

Another NIN alumni, Chris Vrenna, was approached to replace Matt Sorum.

"April of '[97], right after Matt Sorum left the band, [...] I got a call from those guys about going
down and jamming. [...] Duff was still in it. [...] They had already gotten Robin Finck. [...] [Axl] is
super well-listened. He was always a big Nails fan. [...] They wanted the option of experimenting
with electronics. [...] My role was supposed to be drumming and programming. They sent me a
contract to continue to work with the band. [...] They wanted to guarantee that people would do
the album and commit to the tour. With the shake-up that [the] band [had], I think Axl was just
looking for a little stability." (Chris Vrenna, Spin, 07/99)
"'They were trying to get ideas together, see who was compatible with who as far as a band vibe,'
says former Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna, who came in for a few sessions in the spring
of 1997 when lateÂnight jams (10 P.M. to 6 A.M.) were still taking place at the Complex. Vrenna
turned down a drumming spot in GN'R to work on a record of his own. 'It was going to be a long
commitment,' Vrenna says. 'There was no firm lineup. Axl had a definite direction he ultimately
wanted to head toward, but at the time there wasn't even a song yet.'" (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

Next to try out the drum stool was former Pearl Jam member Dave Abbruzzese.

"Dave Abbruzzese (ex-Pearl Jam) has been rehearsing with GN'R in Los Angeles." (MTV Brazil,

"Matt confirmed that both Chris Vrenna (ex-Nine Inch Nails) and Dave Abbruzzese (ex-Pearl Jam)
has been/is working with GN'R (according to Matt, Dave is now in the studio with the band). He
also confirmed that Moby was working with them." (Allstar, 05/13/97)

On 05/29/97, Cirque du Soleil relocated to Oakland, CA; this would be the last city on the initial
run, and Robin was likely contractually obligated for it - the extended run would begin on 07/31/97
in San Jose, CA.


Meanwhile, the work went on, with a temporary drummer and a surprising guest vocalist.

"At one point in April 1997, Shaquille O'Neal took a break from his own recording session in the
same building and rapped over some Guns music. 'I saw Guns N'Roses listed on the bulletin
board in the lobby of the studio so I stuck my head in to check it out,' says Shaq. 'They asked me
to join them, so I started freestylin' over their track. It was the first time I ever performed with a
rock group, and it felt good.'" (Spin, 07/99)

"I jammed with Shaq. At one point I was down at [...] this rehearsal place in Santa Monica writing
songs with Paul [Tobias]. And my friend Syd was playing drums - just drumming for us. We were
basically just writing and recording stuff [...] constantly, just basically waiting for everyone else to
basically show up. And there are these satellite recording studios around that soundstage and [...]
[Shaq] was doing a Taco Bell commercial [...], so he heard that we were next door so he wanted
to come say hi...

[He] starts playing this polysynth sound, this riff on my keyboards, and it was really cool. And so, I
look over at the drummer and motion for him to [...] get a hiphop beat going, and Syd goes into
this groove, and Shaq started vibin' on it and Paul started playing guitar, and Shaq looks over at
me and like this magic thing happened - he says 'take over', and so I watch what he's playing and
I sat down and started playing it. And he got this groove [...] going and he and his buddies
grabbed the mic and started doing this rap. And our engineer Tommy was rolling tape the entire
time, so [...] that's probably where that story comes from." (Dizzy, 01/29/06)

Axl out temporarily - Duff & Izzy; permanently

In the midst of revising the band, Axl got out of the house every once in a while. His looks hadn't
apparently changed much since he was spotted in a Chili Peppers show in April '96.

"Such was his anonymity that when Rose attended a Radiohead show [on 07/26/97] he had to
undergo a thorough body search by the venue’s doorman." (Kerrang, 08/21/99)
"Axl was hanging out backstage at a Radiohead show in Los Angeles in 1997. 'The thing that
struck me was how unrecognizable he was,' says a concertgoer. 'The door guy was patting him
down.'" (Spin, 07/99)

Meanwhile, Robin was signed to a 2-year contract with GNR, ranging from 08/01/97 to 08/01/99.
Duff left around the time.

"I left the band two weeks before my daughter Grace (she is two now) was born [August 27th
1997]. It was not fun. That's the reason. The reason why I stayed in the band was to be a bridge
between Axl and Slash. [...] I went to dinner with Axl and his manager. He was a manager of
GN'R and still Axl's. [...] Me and Axl were getting along well and we had very good conversation.
[...] I said 'Axl, we had very [much] fun together, but it's your own band now. I'm not interested in
you as a dictator. I didn't come here to talk about the money advanced for next record. You can
have it.'" (Duff, Burrn Magazine, 12/99)

"I told them I had changed. I said if they needed help, they could just call me. I told Axl this was
his band, he had ignored everyone and had hired [Paul Huge,] his best friend for the band. I
couldn't play with [Paul]." (Duff, 2000)

"I was offered a lot of money to stay in Guns N' Roses, and I was very honored by that." (Duff,

"At one point, we were offered a huge sum of money to play a concert in Germany. I thought : 'I
never played for money and I’m not gonna start now!' I’ve got a house, I’m secure
financially." (Duff, 1999)

"Everybody was trying to persuade me to stay in the band for money." (Duff, Burrn Magazine,

In November, Izzy was formally out of the GNR partnership in all its forms.

"When I left the group my lawyers negotiated a deal which said that I was to be given a certain
percent on everything the group earned until November 1997." (Izzy, Expressen, 03/20/98)

"In December 1997, Axl was reputedly seen at the Universal Film Studios in Los Angeles with a
child and a Hispanic woman." (Kerrang, 08/21/99)


New Beginnings

In early 1998, Geffen Records dispatched A&R man James Barber to work with the band.

"Nothing else had worked, so Geffen figured they’d send me in to talk to Axl after I moved to
Los Angeles. [...] No expense was spared; they were the biggest band in the history of the label
and, even though everyone except Axl was gone, Geffen Records lived and breathed for another
GNR album. [...] We desperately wanted the new album for Christmas 1998 and I had a year to
get it finished." (James Barber, Poptones, 10/16/05)

"'In 1998 and 1999 you start getting a little bit nervous,' Mr. Rosenblatt, the executive who led
[Geffen Records] after David Geffen's departure, said delicately. 'Edgar Bronfman [CEO of parent
company Seagram] picks up the phone more than once. He wanted to know what was going on.
You unfortunately have got to give him the answer, you don't know. Because you don't.'" (New
York Times, 03/06/05)

On 02/10/98, Axl was arrested on a Phoenix airport on disorderly conduct. He'd missed his
birthday party, apparently in order to visit Sharon Maynard, his physic advisor. Having gotten back
to Los Angeles after the airport incident in Phoenix, Axl was business as usual.

"[Doug] Goldstein told Rolling Stone that [GNR] have recorded more than 300 hours' worth of
material, and 'they each take a CD home, listen for cool parts, pick them out, and that's how they
build songs.' He estimates that Axl and Co. are 'three to five months away from actual recording'
but says not to expect a record until 1999. [...] As for bassist Duff McKagan, Goldstein reports that
the GN'R bass slot will be held open until McKagan - who's recently become a father - decides on
his future plans." (Rolling Stone, 02/20/98)


"[On 26th/27th of] March 1998, he was spotted on the balcony of the Hollywood Palladium,
watching Tool." (Kerrang, 08/21/99)

One of Axl's recent enlistings was in fact Billy Howerdel, who'd worked with Tool on their tour as a
guitar tech and in the Aenima sessions as a Pro Tools technician. Tool was doing a four concert
minitour at the time, so Axl might've been observing specifically Howerdel's input.

"I came in there initially to program some guitar sounds, and then wound up hitting it off with Axl,
and then my job kind of migrated into the computer guy. I don't know what you would call me
exactly. I kind of was there all night with Axl as he would work. The band came in during the day
with a producer and would work most of the day, and then I would come in ten o'clock at night,
say goodbye to those guys, Axl would show up later on, and then we'd do our thing all night and
then do it the next day." (Billy Howerdel, Blabbermouth, 02/04/08)

Howerdel was also responsible for introducing a future band member to Axl.

"[In early '98], I had been invited down to their studio to meet and hang out with the guys, the
purpose being, as [Billy Howerdel] explained, they were looking for a producer or collaborator,
and someone to bring some 'modern' sounds to the mix." (Chris Pitman, official website)

"I was introduced to them through Billy Howerdel, he worked for Tool for awhile. Billy’s just a fun
guy, he was way into computers and stuff before many people were. He was doing recordings
and playing a bunch of instruments, and was like myself, and he turned Axl on to the Lusk record,
and Axl was way into the guitar sound and the orchestration we did." (Chris Pitman, Talking Metal,

Ready to Rumbo

"Around the start of 1998 Mr. Rose moved the band that he had assembled to Rumbo Recorders,
a three-room studio deep in the San Fernando Valley where Guns N' Roses had recorded parts
for its blockbuster debut, 'Appetite for Destruction'. The crew turned the studio into a rock star's
playground: tapestries, green and yellow lights, state-of-the-art computer equipment and as many
as 60 guitars at the ready, according to people involved in the production. But Mr. Rose wasn't
there for fun and games. 'What Axl wanted to do,' one recording expert who was there recalls,
'was to make the best record that had ever been made. It's an impossible task. You could go on
infinitely, which is what they've done.'" (New York Times, 03/06/05)
"The recent edition of Metal Hammer reported that Axl had rented out the entire Rumbo recording
studio in Hollywood because he became paranoid that others would hear the new GN'R stuff. He
shelled out 2 million dollars to keep everyone away. To top it all of he never showed up even
though he had his band come every day. As the magazine said, this is just a rumor..." (Metal
Hammer, 07/04/99)

"I was a staff engineer at Rumbo Recorders. [...] Guns was coming in to do their next record, and
they had no producer or engineer and [they] needed someone with experience, so I said 'yes',
and [the studio manager] also said they would be writing for two months and then recording for
two months and they would be it (haha) seven months later. [...] During that time they interviewed
quite a few producers, and I had to give them a technical rundown of what was going on, which
was pretty elaborate and insane." (Dave Dominguez, Sp1at, 02/07/05)

"Four producers are being considered for the project - which Goldstein describes as an 'updated
nineties-rock sound with a little more technology thrown in' - including Scott Litt (R.E.M.), Steve
Lillywhite (U2), Mark Bell (Bjork) and Youth (The Verve)." (Doug Goldstein, Rolling Stone,

Send in The Replacements

Soon after their relocation to a new studio, Axl seriously began to round up a proper band.

"L.A. session drummers are fervently hoping there's truth to the rumor that Josh Freese has
accepted or is about to accept an offer from Guns N' Roses. Freese is one of the most desirable
skin beaters on the market and certainly one of the busiest. [...] Sources close to Freese confirm
that he's been joining Axl Rose in the studio late at night while continuing to do his regular
sessions in the daytime." (MTV, 03/06/98)

"When I got the call to go down and audition for Guns N' Roses, I was at a rehearsal place in LA,
doing preproduction for a record, and I had a message on my phone from their manager and
thought 'What?' I called him back and he asked me if I wanted to audition. But it seemed too big,
like a bigger than life band. He was persistent and a couple of days later he said come and meet
Axl and the guys.

I went down and auditioned for them, sick as a dog - I had eaten some dodgy seafood in London
right before that, gotten on a plane and auditioned that night. I was vomiting all the way top the
rehearsal. Axl was totally cool though, and very open-minded about music. He said: 'I hear you
played with Devo; I really liked Devo and when I liked them, you got beat up for liking them.'

I thought this guy is really cool, it became obvious that he really listens to music, he was talking
about artists all over the map. They invited me back again and from the beginning Axl was so nice
and we got along and had a good time. He was completely open, so I decided to join." (Josh
Freese, Modern Drummer, 03/03)

"'There's a market for people that work well and fast and can adapt quickly in the studio,' [Freese]
says. 'I think a lot of drummers might be in a band and be great drummers, and what they do well
is play that music. But they might not be able to step in and within an hour of meeting people, sit
down and record a record and make it sound like a band. And make it sound comfortable.'" (Josh
Freese, 2001)

"'They're paying Josh an obscene amount of money for two days of rehearsal a week,' says a
source close to the musician. '[But] Josh has kind of an "I don't give a fuck" attitude about it.'"
(Spin, 07/99)

"When I started with them I said, 'I'm going to work three days a week,' and they said, 'four.' Well,
they said, 'five,' I said, 'three,' they said, 'four,' we compromised." (Josh Freese, Launch,

"If all goes according to the current plan - which is not a sure bet in the world of Guns n' Roses -
Axl Rose will be going into the studio with with Killing Joke bassist Youth, the co-producer of The
Verve's "Urban Hymns." [...] There may even be a chance that Tommy Stinson will lay down some
bass tracks. Stinson, formerly of the Replacements, has adamantly denied to press sources his
ongoing involvement in the project but insiders confirm he's been hanging out in the studio."
(MTV, 04/22/98)

"I was doing a session with a friend of mine who played drums for GN'R at the time, Josh Freese.
[...] He was joking about them needing a new bass player. I laughed and said I'd play bass. The
next day, they called." (Tommy, Plain Dealer, 11/22/02)

"The former Replacements bassist 'hadn't worked in a long time' when Rose called, according to
a source close to Stinson. 'Tommy didn't get nickel one from the Replacements,' the source says.
'[So] he bought a used copy of Appetite, and learned the bass lines.'" (Spin, 07/99)

"I learned about four or five songs. A day or so after the audition, they called and said, 'If you want
it, you're in.' And I took it." (Tommy, Plain Dealer, 11/22/02)

"Another source says there's tension between him and [Paul Huge] because Huge 'has the whole
Guns attitude but he's never toured.'" (Spin, 07/99)

"Youth and the band are still months away from recording, however. Rose and cohorts are
reportedly still in writing mode with no completed songs at this time." (MTV, 04/22/98)

New Deal

On May Day '98, Geffen Records officially acknowledged the departure of Slash and Duff from

"Since 1992, [GNR and Geffen Records] have executed various amendments to the Recording
Agreement, including most notably, two amendments dated as of May 1, 1998.

One of these amendments [...] confirmed Slash's and Duff's departure from the band and their
status as "Leaving Members" under the 1992 Recording Agreement, thereby relieving them of
charges against their royalty accounts for the enormous recording costs and other expenses
being incurred by Axl Rose in connection with the recording of the new Guns N' Roses studio
album. Slash and Duff, like Stradlin and Adler before them, retained a royalty interest in masters
created under the Recording Agreement prior to their departure from the band.

In the other May 1, 1998 amendment, [...] Axl Rose agreed, among other things, to deliver that
new studio LP (which was even then long overdue under the Recording Agreement) no later than
March 1, 1999 and received a substantial advance from Geffen in return." (Greatest Hits lawsuit

"The label paid Mr. Rose $1 million to press on with the album, with the unusual promise of
another $1 million if he delivered "Chinese Democracy" by March 1 of the following year." (New
York Times, 03/06/05)

This I Love Revisited

Axl was looking into breaking his silence by releasing This I Love (a song he'd first mentioned in
1993) on a film soundtrack. The film was called What Dreams May Come, and it premiered on
09/28/98. The soundtrack was released on 10/13/98, with (obviously) no new GNR tune in the

"'This I Love' was supposed to be for a soundtrack to a Robin Williams movie awhile back. Thats
the only reason any old track was even thought about by Axl, that track was never going be on
the record." (Dave Dominguez, Sp1at, 02/07/05)

"Dawn Soler, the musical supervisor for the film "What Dreams May Come", [...] assured me that
Axl 'was really into the film' and rather interestingly suggested that he 'wrote the song for it'. This
contradicts an interview from 1994 where Axl said he had already written the song, which many
fans speculated was about Dylan, the son of Axl's one time partner, Stephanie Seymour. However
the film did not make the final cut despite Dawn's fondness of the Guns n Roses track, the reason
she gave Sp1at was that 'the director was a pill and didn't get how cool it would be'." (Sp1at,

While the original recording might've featured the TSI lineup, Axl quite possibly had the new
lineup re-record the tracks. He would soon go on to more drastic measures than that.

Fountain of Youth

"'When I walked into the studio, they were rehearsing the old songs to record for a greatest hits
package,' says Youth. 'They were gonna do them exactly the same way. So my first project was to
sort of dissuade Axl from doing that.'" (Spin, 07/99)

"I have re-recorded 'Appetite' [with] Josh Freese on drums, Tommy Stinson on bass, Paul Tobias
on guitar, [...] and Robin Finck was on lead guitar, [...] with the exception of two songs [Anything
Goes and You're Crazy], because we replaced those with 'You Could Be Mine,' and 'Patience,'
and why do that? Well, we had to rehearse them anyway to be able to perform them live again,
and there were a lot of recording techniques and certain subtle styles and drum fills and things
like that that are kind of '80s signatures that subtly could use a little sprucing up... a little less
reverb and a little less double bass and things like that." (Axl, MTV, 11/08/99)

Axl also recruited some outside help to modernize the sound.

"Engineer, mixer and remixer Critter is currently working in the studio with Guns N' Roses as a
programmer. [...] He's previously worked with such acts as Filter, Liz Phair, the Cure, Marilyn
Manson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and [Chris] Vrenna's former group Nine Inch Nails." (MTV,

"It was at Ocean Way Studios with Jordan recording 'Below the Sliding doors' when I got the call
from GNR. This was May 1998, and I had a friend who was working with Guns at the time. He
said that Axl was a fan of LUSK and was really into the wierd guitar sounds, and Orchestration we
did. There i met Axl, who was very gracious, respectful dude with that larger-than-life persona
he's got, and would make you feel like you had been part of the family for years.

We sat in the control room all night listening to tons of songs and jam tapes that they were
working on. Axl, along with Paul Tobias and Dizzy Reed were the core writers of the band at the
time, and were writing some incredible stuff, you could tell they were in the right place exploring
and reaching for the stars, so to speak." (Chris Pitman, official website)

Axl saw the re-recording of AFD as a sort of 'dress rehearsal' for writing a new GNR album with
the lineup he'd only recently secured.

"At the beginning [the new band] didn't want to play [the old songs] [laughs]. They didn't want to
play [them] that much, because they are musicians in themselves. They had a punk attitude like
the old Guns N' Roses. But later it became fun for them, they began to appreciate the songs and
enjoy playing them." (Axl, Rock & Pop FM, 01/22/01)

"Learning the old Guns songs and getting them up, you know, putting them on tape, really forced
everybody to get them up to the quality that they needed to be at. [...] I don't know what I'm going
to do with [the re-recorded AFD], exactly, when I would be putting that out. But you know, it has a
lot of energy. [...] Once the energy was figured out by the new guys, how much energy was
needed to get the songs right, then it really helped in the writing and recording process of the new
record." (Axl, MTV, 11/08/99)

"We hadn't written songs or recorded for many years. There were band changes and there were
many changes in the record company. [...] When we tried writing songs in the old style of Guns N'
Roses, they sounded too old, they didn't sound so alive. We could not make that. And I think that
that also passed with the old Guns N' Roses. The songs composed by the boys for another album
many years ago, everything sounded old. Then we tried to explore to maintain the band alive."
(Axl, Rock & Pop FM, 01/22/01)

"[Youth] had "four or five" spells working with Rose in [1998]. [...] 'I went to his house and we
started writing songs, strumming guitars in the kitchen', says Youth. 'That was a major
breakthrough because it got him singing again which he hadn't done for a long time.' (Q
Magazine, 05/01)

"He hadn’t been singing for around 18 months. I think the record had turned into a real
labour. He was stuck and didn’t know how to proceed, so he was avoiding it." (Youth, The
Times, 03/18/05)

Alluding that Axl hadn't recorded new vocal tracks for the '98 Appetite as of yet.

"Axl Rose has finally scheduled studio time in early August to begin recording with the revamped
version of Guns 'N' Roses." (, 07/10/98)

"Rose is laboring over a song with the working title 'Prostitute', according to Youth, but past
successes weigh heavily on him." (Spin, 07/99)

"He had some brilliant ideas, but they really were just sketches. He really wanted to leave the
past behind and make a hugely ambitious album, like Led Zeppelin’s Physical Grafitti crossed
with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon." (Youth, The Times, 03/18/05)

"'They sold millions of records in a few years,' says the producer. 'He had a big crew of people in
the studio... and I think that kind of pressure chokes creativity.'" (Youth, Spin, 07/99)

Axl opted for a more intimate studio setting before embarking to Rumbo.

"[In around June] I got the buzz, 'Hey, me and Sean are just finishing up putting a studio together
up in Axl's guest house, and he wants you to come hang out", 'Yeah... and do what exactly?!' 'You
know... just do what you do, recording, playing whatever!' 'Cool.... When do you want to do this?'
'You can come up tonite if you want to hang.'" (Chris Pitman, official website)

"He invited me up to his house, like a guest house that was made into a studio, and we wrote
music there for like three years just me and him. It was a great neutral zone without people
bugging you and a lot of great stuff came out of there." (Chris Pitman, Talking Metal, 11/08/08)
In CD's liner notes, Youth is credited for some preproduction work on Madagascar. Sure enough,
that track had come about by then.

"I was up at his house for about a week or two, and I was setting up rack mounted samplers, and
you had your fake orchestra with synthesizers. One would be the strings, one would be the brass,
and I was setting that up for him, and I was going "now this module here, we’re going to us this
for brass instruments and here you have horns…", and he was playing while I was switching the
sounds, and I switched the sounds to French horn sound and he was playing this chord
progression and I went to another sound, and he goes "oh no, go back to that one".

We went back and it was the French horn sound and he kept playing this progression and it
sounded really cool and I turned around and turned on the tape machine and that ended up being
the very intro for the song "Madagascar". And that’s just how that evolved and he just had this
chord progression and all of the sudden it married with the French horn and it was their super-
moody song and that was the start of that song. We actually recorded it really quickly up there at
his house and he just sang unbelievably on it." (Chris Pitman, Talking Metal, 11/08/08)

"As the far as the songs go: 'Oklahoma' was pretty much written by the time they got to the
studio. Axl wrote that with inspiration from the Oklahoma City bombing (more as a tribute to those
who died, if I’m not mistaken). 'Ides of March' was a working title of one of the songs that
came from a loop name that Dizzy came up with: I think they kept the name, but it’s been
years so I’m sure everything has changed by now." (Dave Dominguez, Sp1at, 02/07/05)

"Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, Guns N' Roses have not yet begun recording their
much-rumored comeback album. Axl Rose and associates are scheduled to go into a Los
Angeles studio later this month to begin tracking the album with one-named producer Youth at the
helm." (, 09/03/98)

"Geffen also offered [Youth] extra royalties if the recording came in before [03/01/99]." (New York
Times, 03/06/05)

"When Youth ushered Rose back into the studio, progress ceased: So I said, 'Next time I come
over I want to record the songs', and he said, 'You're pushing me too fast.' I had to pull out." (Q
Magazine, 05/01)

"Axl was deeply unhappy. I sensed he was clinically depressed because he only worked from
9pm to 9am. He was living a hermit lifestyle. In the end, he told me he wasn’t ready. He was
trying to get to some spiritual level that would make him happy." (Youth, The Times, 03/18/05)

"Sources close to the GNR camp confirmed that [...] things just 'didn't work out' with [...] Youth,
their last producing candidate. No details were available regarding his dismissal." (Rolling Stone,

CD Mk. 1 in the works

After Youth'd tried and failed to get things rolling, a new producer was recommended for Axl by
Robin and Billy Howerdel.

"According to insiders, [Sean] Beavan has been asked by Rose to get involved in the project, and
the producer has accepted in principle, although details and contracts have yet to be worked out."
(Rolling Stone, 09/20/98)
"My friend Billy Howerdel (guitarist of Perfect Circle) was Axl's guitar tech and he and Robin Finck
(NIN, GNR) approached me about producing Axl's record. They were great friends and it was
good to work with them. I also met Tommy Stinson there (Replacements and GNR bassist) and
we became great friends." (Sean Beavan, Fabryka, 08/15/06)

"Recording and programming has been administered by Critter [aka Jeff Newell], an
engineer/remixer, who's recently remixed material for Manson, God Lives Underwater and Sheryl
Crow. Critter is expected to remain on board once the sessions get underway, assuming they
actually do, but, like Beavan, his exact role has yet to be determined." (Rolling Stone, 09/20/98)

"Axl Rose [...] is scheduled to enter a Los Angeles studio with [...] with Marilyn Manson and Nine
Inch Nails producer Sean Beavan [...] this weekend. [...] [According to Geffen publicist Bryn
Bridenthal,] Rose's motivation to roll up his sleeves and grind out new music may be stronger
than ever now because he hopes to revisit the nation's arenas and stadiums with new material
next summer." (Rolling Stone, 11/14/98)

Not to mention he had a due date on the album set for 03/01/99. A&R man James Barber saw his
one-year working relationship with the band come to an end without an album, although he
maintains one existed by then - even if there'd virtually been no producer on the material prior to
inclusion of Beavan late into the year.

"The Robin Finck/Josh Freese/Tommy Stinson/Billy Howerdel/Dizzy Reed version of the album
that existed in 1998 was pretty incredible. It still sounded like GNR but there were elements of
Zeppelin, Nine Inch Nails and Pink Floyd mixed in." (James Barber, Poptones, 10/16/05)

"There's nothing out there right now that has that kind of scope. Axl hasn't spent the last several
years struggling to write Use Your Illusion over again. [...] An artist [like Axl], who's had as much
success with Guns N' Roses as he has, gets to a point in his career where he can settle into one
sound and do it over and over again, usually with diminishing returns. Axl is determined not to do
that. There's a sort of ruthlessness about pushing Guns N' Roses to grow, and to find some depth
in their music, and to evolve." (James Barber, Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

"The record just needed a lead vocal and a mix. [...] If Axl had recorded vocals, it would have
been an absolutely contemporary record in 1999." (James Barber, Poptones, 10/16/05)


The Perfect Crime: Geffen merges with Interscope

In 1995, as David Geffen was relinquishing power of the company he'd founded, their parent
company for the past five years, MCA Records, acquired yet another label, Jimmy Iovine's
Interscope Records. Around this time, MCA Records itself was acquired by Seagram and was
renamed Universal Music Group, maintaining control over Geffen and Interscope, among others.

"[On 12/10/98], Seagram's $10.4 billion acquisition of Polygram from Philips [...] became official.
[...] In the process of consolidating Seagram's Universal Music Group with Polygram's music
holdings (which jointly account for some 25 percent of the United States and European music
markets), Seagram executives have pledged to unload enough assets to save $300 million a
year. [...] Under Universal's restructuring plan, two labels founded as artist-friendly havens but
sold by their owners over the past decade -- David Geffen's Geffen Records and Herb Alpert and
Jerry Moss's A&M -- will be collapsed into Interscope.

[...] Despite the anxiety the changes are causing for bands and staff, there is a reason these
labels are getting trimmed. A&M and Geffen, in particular, have both suffered from budget
crunches and unproductive band signings over the past few years; neither of them have any
records now in the Billboard top 40. Many of the acts being transferred say they may be going to
a better place, one willing to spend more money and time to help them grow." (New York Times,

"[Geffen Records]'s dry spell lingered, making them more dependent than ever on new music
from their heavy hitters. 'The Hail Mary that's going to save the game,' the recording expert who
spoke on the condition of anonymity explained, 'is a Guns N' Roses record. It keeps not coming
and not coming.'" (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"While things look bad for rock bands, they look slightly better for rock bands whose singers have
just gone through an emotional breakup [...] than singers who have lost interest in what they are
doing. [...] Executives at Universal said that they were relying on a lot more than album sales
figures to make their decisions, despite claims by bands and managers to the contrary.

They said they would listen to a group's records multiple times, check out current studio
recordings, talk to band managers and artist-and-repertory executives, meet with group members
and even try to see a show when possible to make sure no potential hit slips through their hands."
(New York Times, 12/21/98)

"In January 1999 Seagram orchestrated a massive restructuring of its music division, firing 110
Geffen employees, including Mr. Rosenblatt [as well as Tom Zutaut, the A&R Man who'd originally
signed the band and worked with them on every other release], and folding the unit into the
corporation's bigger Interscope Records division. [...] Mr. Rose was said to be crushed by the
departure of his Geffen contacts. [...] The unfinished album was placed in the hands of
Interscope's chairman, Jimmy Iovine." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

In retrospect, the merger shook the music world to the core and by no means a minor feat.
Numerous artists were dropped from their respective labels altogether, including Duff and Izzy,
who had, at the time, record deals in place with Geffen. Duff's solo album, Beautiful Disease, was
one of the casualties of the merger.

Much was at stake with Axl and Chinese Democracy as well, as the project undoubtedly faced
more scrutiny than ever before, due to the fact that Jimmy Iovine at Interscope needed to get on
top of things. But Axl had planned ahead. He'd taken control of the band name and assets in late
August 1995, four months after David Geffen had left the building. This resulted with him claiming
a degree of untouchability within the band, as the GNR name could not exist without him. In May
1998, seven months before the Seagram-PolyGram-merger, Axl managed to amend the record
deal with Geffen, relinquishing Slash and Duff from the contract. Axl was Guns N' Roses and
anyone who wanted a GNR record had to deal with him.

"Sources close to Geffen Records say that Rose is back in the studio after a Christmas break
working on a new Guns N' Roses album, and that tape is now rolling with producer Sean Beavan
at the helm and engineer Critter at the controls. [...] Insiders say fans can expect a strong album
with a big sound." (MTV, 01/09/99)

Tour a little tour for me

The rumors that Axl would like to complete the album by the summer of '99 and have GNR
headline various festivals were strengthened with the band's passing interest to appear at
Lollapalooza. What also may lend credence to it is the fact that festival is organized by Jane's
Addiction frontman Perry Farrell. Axl is a stern supporter of Jane's Addiction and at one point,
personally campaigned for Geffen Records to sign them. Founding members Dave Navarro and
Dave Abbruzzese had also been both approached on joining GNR. Not to mention Lollapalooza
was facing its second cancelled year, largely due to the lack of a major headliner.
"Though discussions are in early stages, the G n' R camp has been contacted about [...] signing
up to headline Lollapalooza.; the news comes one year after the ground-breaking festival was
cancelled for the first time since it began eight years ago. [...] According to a source close to G n'
R, Lollapalooza organizers at the William Morris Agency approached the band's management
about joining the tour and, though "there's nothing firm about it," the two parties are discussing
the possibility. The negotiations alone signal that the band may actually have a new album out
some time this summer. "We wouldn't be discussing it if we didn't think they could [get it out in
time for the tour to start]," says the source. An additional source says Guns n' Roses have also
been contacted to appear on the annual OzzFest tour." (Rolling Stone, 01/17/99)

Soon however, album work apparently overrode any desire to tour.

"Lollapalooza took another blow against a possible return when the Amelia Earhart of rock & roll,
Guns n' Roses, officially ended negotiations with tour organizers to headline the summer festival.
"It just doesn't coincide with our schedule," said a source close to the band. "It's not a no on
necessarily a conceptual side. The time they were to start the thing [July or August] doesn't really
fit what's going on for us." The source added, however, that the Gunners will be on the road some
time this year." (01/27/99)

The rumor mill then began to grind on an appearance at the ill-fated Woodstock '99.

"It looks like Axl Rose's refurbished Guns N' Roses is apparently all set to sign on as a headliner
for Woodstock '99, the three-day 30th anniversary "celebration" of the legendary 1969 rock
festival. While there's been no official confirmation of GNR's signing (the band's label did not
immediately return phone calls seeking comment), a source familiar with the upcoming concert
said the band was close to inking a deal." (eonline, 04/02/99)

"Despite reports elsewhere, Marilyn Manson and Guns n' Roses will not be performing. [...] G n'
R, according to the same source, simply won't have an album ready for release in time for the
festival." (Rolling Stone, 04/04/99)

"The big question on everyone's minds right now is whether or not Axl Rose can get his act
together in time for Woodstock '99 at Griffiss Park in Rome, New York July 23-25. The chances of
the new Guns N' Roses apprearing on the already star-studded affair, which celebrates
Woodstock's thirtieth anniversary, are now '50/50,' according to Michael Lang, one of the
concert's producers. Agreeing that it would be quite the coup to land the highly sought-after act,
Lang says, 'It would depend on how well they are coming along with the recordings and whether
they're ready to do it. They very much want to.'" (Allstar, 04/09/99)

Just Another Soundtrack

As the touring rumors were born and died down, the band went back into releasing a new song
on a film soundtrack. Rather conveniently, the first rumors surfaced the day after GNR had
missed their contracted deadline of 03/01/99.

"[Daily Variety] reports that eighties rock icon Billy Idol has official signed on as a voice actor in
the upcoming animated movie F.A.K.K.2. [...] The article also indicates that Idol will contribute
songs to the movie's soundtrack. Other contributors are Axel Rose, Sammy Hagar (who sang
"Heavy Metal" on the soundtrack to the first Heavy Metal movie) and the Stone Temple Pilots."
(Daily Variety, 03/02/99)

The finished film was delivered to the studio, Columbia Tri-Star, as late as in late August, at which
point GNR had back off from any potential association. However, a few months later, in a feat
similar to offering This I Love to What Dreams May Come, a mash-up of the Live Era SCOM and
the '98 re-recording was included in the Adam Sandler film Big Daddy. The film premiered on

"Guns N' Roses return [...] with a re-recorded version of 'Sweet Child O' Mine', used at the end of
the new Adam Sandler comedy Big Daddy. The track uses a live version of the song recorded on
the band's last European tour before going into a new version recorded by the new G'N'R lineup.
The band - which is essentially just Axl Rose without any original Gunners - are still supposed to
release their long overdue album, provisionally entitled '2000 Intentions' before the end of the
year." (06/30/99)

"As we previously reported, Sheryl Crow's cover of the band's 1987 hit "Sweet Child O' Mine"
appears on the "Big Daddy" soundtrack album. But that's not the only version of the track that can
be heard in "Big Daddy." In theaters, moviegoers can hear what appears to be a live version of
the song by Guns N' Roses played over the movie's end credits. (The song is not included on the
soundtrack CD.) [...] The sessions were produced by Sean Beavan and engineered by Critter.

[...] [Music supervisor] Lori Lahman says that the initial part of the song features the near-original
group (Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan, Gilby Clarke, and Matt Sorum) recorded live at a concert
in Paris. More than halfway through that rendition, the new band - presumably Rose, guitarists
Robin Finck and Paul Huge, drummer Josh Freese, bassist Tommy Stinson, and keyboardist
Dizzy Reed - kicks in with tracks of the same song recently recorded in the studio. The tune's
intro also includes a voice repeating the word, "Figaro," which was a last-minute addition "for fun,"
courtesy of Rose, says Lahman." (MTV, 07/11/99)

Live Era

The SCOM mash-up was no coincidence and worked as a precursor for the next project, again to
soothe Interscope.

"Slash has also confirmed that the GN'R live album is coming out! But the release date is not
known at this moment." (Dust N' Bones mailinglist, 05/26/99)

"'The guys starting fooling around with this a few years ago, seeing if there was anything worth
releasing,' said Tom Maher, manager for ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash (born Saul Hudson)
and a onetime member of the GNR management team." (Music News of the World, 10/16/99)

"Del James worked for a couple of years off and on going though every single show we did on
DAT tape from the 'Use Your Illusion' tour and then every available tape, and finding tapes, and
finding people that have recorded things, so he could have in his mind what was recorded best
from the entire time Guns N' Roses was together." (Axl, MTV, 11/08/99)

"At first Geffen Records was bought up. Axl, Slash, and I were still partners of GN'R. Seagram
was buying up everything and put them together. Contract, master tapes, everything. I still had
one live album to release in that contract. I had the tape in my hand, but I was expected that
somebody will use the right." (Duff, Burrn Magazine, 12/99)

"[Slash's manager Tom] Maher said the project was derailed for a while by the merger last year of
Geffen Records parent company Universal with PolyGram. 'Once the merger was over they
starting working on it again, and the guys sent tapes back and forth between the different camps,'
Maher said." (Music News of the World, 10/16/99)

"The original idea came of course from the record-company, who slowly starting panicking, since
Axl hadn't give them any new material since the band fell apart." (Slash, 'Rock Hard' Magazine,
"Estranged guitarist Slash is telling his official fan Web site that sessions relating to Guns N'
Roses' long-rumored live album will be getting underway with mixer Andy Wallace sometime in
July. Wallace's management company confirms that the studio veteran is booked for the sessions
from July 12 through to the 29th." (MTV, 07/09/99)

"[Axl's] even given his new bandmates [...] the month of July off, which is when work on the live
disc is supposed to be done." (Rocktropolis, 07/16/99)

"Slash was responsible for most of the work on the album. He and Axl worked the hardest. Stevie,
Izzy and the others were all involved in one way or another." (Duff's official website, 11/29/99)

"Me and Andy Wallace were in the studio and mixed the album every day in last August. He is
great. Slash called me up and asked me how the sound was like, because he was busy working
on his record." (Duff, Burrn Magazine, 12/99)

"Slash says the album will have to meet the approval of the GN'R members before it's ready for
production. He is working on mixing it, and sometimes Duff will come in and help out." (Dust N'
Bones mailing list, 08/08/99)

"This album is supposed to be sent to Axl. [...] [Last contact I had with Axl was] a year ago. That
means we haven't talked since he was putting live album together. Our managers talk each other
or FedEX it back and forth." (Duff, Burrn Magazine, 12/99)

At one point, Axl might've even contemplated on using the re-recorded AFD material on Live Era,
to which the Big Daddy SCOM would've been a teaser to.

"On the Guns' horizon is [...] a live record featuring mostly "Appetite For Destruction"-era material.
This will include a revamped version of the classic "Sweet Child O'Mine", which incorporates a
live version dating back several years which has been embellished with guitar parts from Finck
and Huge." (Metal Hammer, 08/14/99)

"A few months before [Live Era's] release, Sorum was quoted expressing his concern that Rose
was 'being taken advantage of' by hippy healers he visited in Arizona." (Q Magazine, 05/01)

"Axl got metaphysical and started spending a lot of time in Sedona, Arizona. These people were
taking advantage of a guy with millions to blow on lunacy." (Matt Sorum, Spin, 07/99)

"Rose made no public reply, but when Sorum saw a proof of the album sleeve, his heart sank: he
was listed only as an 'additional musician.'" (Q Magazine, 05/01)

"'Additional musician? Suddenly I’m the tambourine player,' he said, angrily." (Matt Sorum,
The Times, 03/18/05)

'That hurt', he says. 'It was the biggest dig he ever took at me. But Axl said he wouldn't release
the album if it was changed. That's how spiteful he got. I didn't mean what I said badly. I felt sorry
for him.'" (Q Magazine, 05/01)


When the album was finally released on 11/23/99, the reception was lukewarm.

"Finally released last November after long delays, Live Era was not the blockbuster everyone had
hoped it would be. Sales have been underÂwhelming: 403,000 units as of early April. Promotion
of the record was limited to television and print advertising. There was barely a peep from any of
the old band members - following, some believe, an Axl decree." (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

Things Falling Apart

With the studio band on holiday for July while Axl was working on Live Era, Robin Finck had the
time to consider his options.

"Rumbles of Finck's decision had been going around for just a week, but it couldn't be made
official because his two-year contract with GNR wasn't up until Saturday (Aug. 1). [...] A label
spokesperson says, 'Robin finished recording several albums worth of material with Guns N'
Roses. Axl is now working on the vocals for the album.'" (, 08/04/99)

Robin's former employer and band mate Trent Reznor had just recently completed work on the
Nine Inch Nails album, The Fragile, set for release through Interscope on 09/21/99. Robin's re-
appearance with NIN came to on 09/09/99 at the MTV Video Music Awards, with a full tour
beginning in the following month.

"I'd helped write and arrange and recorded enough songs for several records. [...] Honestly, we
recorded so many different song ideas and completed so many different types of songs; from
quiet, very simple traditional piano songs to 16 stereo tracks of keyboard blur and everything in
between. [...] Most of the stronger songs that ended up on A-lists when I was there were huge
rock songs, built for the masses, really guitar-driven." (Robin, Wall of Sound, 05/00)

"We wrote and rehearsed and argued and laboriously recorded several records worth of musical
material, which to the best of my knowledge Axl is still finishing. But my work was through. We
had dozens of finished songs, as far as I was concerned, and we were waiting for Axl to complete
the songs." (Robin, 2000)

"It was great for a while, but then it became terribly frustrating not seeing anything completed
because no lyrics were finished. [...] No one song was ever completed and I was there for two
and a half years." (Robin, Wall of Sound, 05/00)

"I was excited about the material - the band sounded good. But we'd get a song done to an extent
and wait for Axl to write a lyric and/or song. I couldn't work on songs with titles like 'Instrumental
34' anymore." (Robin, Kerrang, 12/99)

"I write the vocals last, because I wanted to invent the music first and push the music to the level
that I had to compete against it. That's kind of tough. It's like you got to go in against these new
guys who kicked ass. You finally got the song musically where you wanted to, and then you have
to figure out how to go in and kick its ass and be one person competing against this wall of
sound." (Axl, MTV, 11/08/99)

"There's a whole album of vocal parts [in late '99]. In fact, there's two albums worth that they've
got there, at least." (Brian May, Radio One Rock Show, 05/10/00)

"'As far as I can tell,' says GnR's manager Doug Goldstein, 'we are now 99% musically done and
80% vocals done [in November '99]. I see the record being done Feb or March for a summer
release.'" (Rolling Stone, 01/00)

"Adding to the frustration was that Finck had passed on the chance to work with Trent Reznor on
NIN's latest, The Fragile, in order to do the Rose sessions. 'It's one of the reasons I'm not there
anymore. [...] When he finishes the lyrics, I assume [the songs] are going to be released. [...]
There's not a release date right now, not that I'm aware of, [...] And I would know. [...] I hope [the
songs] turn out great. There's a lot of potential there.'" (Robin, Wall of Sound, 05/00)
"Robin's departure was abrupt, sudden, you know, not expected [...] but at the same time, it's
turned out to be a good thing. We've been able to push some of the guitar parts a step farther,
that had he been here, it's not something that would have been considered, and I wouldn't have
been rude enough to attempt to do that. [...] Robin's guitar will stay on some [of the re-recorded
AFD tracks], but not all." (Axl, MTV, 11/08/99)

"Axl was feeling he that was in a difficult place, because the guitarist he'd been working with on
this new album, [...] that'd done most of the tracks, had departed and Axl had a real emotional
attachment to what he'd done, and yet [...] he didn't really want him to stay on the album because
he'd disappeared, you know." (Brian May, Radio One Rock Show, 05/10/00)

"There were tuning issues that needed to be addressed [...] and this was no fault of Robin's." (Del
James, 04/25/08)

Only One in the Game Whose Lost is You

Soon after Robin left to tour with NIN, the band began working on a new song to be included for
the soundtrack of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film End of Days. The song they'd work on was an
old track, originally written by Paul Huge and Dizzy in 1997, around the time when Moby was
considered to produce the album.

"Once the opportunity was presented, the song was given priority in our recording process. As the
verse, performance and lyrics were decided on, for us (that especially includes Interscope
chairman Jimmy Iovine) the choice became obvious. We were more than pleased Mr. Roswell
(the film's music supervisor) agreed!" (Axl, Press release, 09/22/99)

"'It's absolutely classic Axl,' says the film's music supervisor, G. Marq Roswell, of the Gn'R
offering, 'but it has a lot of new elements. It fits the movie really well.'" (Rolling Stone, 09/11/00)

First to be modified were the guitar parts recorded by Robin.

"Robin's part was written by Paul and extensively manipulated by our producer, Sean Beavan.
Robin was not involved in the writing of the final recording though did participate in the
arrangement." (Axl, Press release, 09/22/99)

"Dave [Navarro] came in and did something great on "Oh My God," and we've had a few other
people come in, so [Robin's departure] was a setback for a while, but then it's turned out to be a
good thing." (Axl, MTV, 11/08/99)

"'There's no story,' Navarro recently told MTV News of how he came to hook up with the reclusive
Rose. 'We didn't hook up at, like, The Rainbow and said, 'Hey, let's get together and do a song.'
They just called me up, and I went down to the studio. I spent about an hour and a half there. I
played a guitar solo, and that's it.

'It was an existing track,' Navarro added while backstage at the ARTISTdirect Online Music
Awards [on 10/07/99]. 'I played a guitar solo on it. There really wasn't much direction to give me. I
think that that's why they called me, because they figured they wouldn't have to give me any
direction.'" (MTV, 11/13/99)

"[Navarro] said Axl would call the studio [during his work on Oh My God] and from the
speakerphone Axl would tell him to 'play with more feeling'." (Camp Freddy radio show, 04/30/04)
"When we finally got 'Oh My God' where it needed to be, then I got the right words to it. With
'Appetite,' I wrote a lot of the words first, but in, like, 'Oh My God,' I wrote the words second, but
the music was written like 'Appetite.' We kept developing it until it we got it right." (Axl, MTV,

"Mr. Rose fussed over the song so much that he, Mr. Iovine and studio technicians stayed up until
nearly dawn adjusting the final mix, according to people involved." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

A snippet of the song was featured in an advert at the MTV Video Music Awards gala on
09/09/99, which suggests the studio team laboured over it through the month of August. The
soundtrack was released on 11/09/99, while End of Days premiered on 11/16/99.

CD & sibling

In late September, the new studio album was offically christened within the GNR camp.

"[Doug Goldstein] verifies that the new GN'R studio album, due out sometime next year, will be
called Chinese Democracy. He adds that the title has been a done deal for at least six weeks."
(Allstarmag, 11/09/99)

"Loder: You're going to call this album 'Chinese Democracy.' What is the meaning of that, since
there is no Chinese democracy, of course?
Rose: Well, there's a lot of Chinese democracy movements, and it's something that there's a lot
of talk about, and it's something that will be nice to see. It could also just be like an ironic
statement. I don't know, I just like the sound of it." (MTV, 11/08/99)

A follow-up album was also seemingly in the cards.

"Guns N' Roses are preparing to end their lengthy silence, as they finish up work on two new
studio albums, both of which are being produced by Sean Beavan and expected to be released
simultaneously in October. The two, as yet untitled, albums feature the new line-up of vocalist Axl
Rose, guitarists Robin Finck and Paul Huge, keyboard player Dizzy Reed, drummer Josh Freese
and bassist Tommy Stinson. One source close to the band describes the new material as being,
"Cleaner and fatter, but completely Guns N' Roses. Despite the rumours, there's no hint of any
techno or industrial influences." (Metal Hammer, 08/14/99)

"[Axl expects to get] another record out of the hours and hours of material he's committed to tape,
possibly one that's even more industrial and electronica-influence than Chinese Democracy."
(Rolling Stone, 01/00)

Going in Circles

Following the completion of Oh My God, Josh Freese and Billy Howerdel now found themselves
with some spare time from the rigorous working schedules.

"Mr. Rose's visits to the studio had become so irregular, according to several executives and
musicians involved with the band, that an engineer working with him, Billy Howerdel, and the
band's drummer, Josh Freese, found time during that period to start their own project, the band A
Perfect Circle, and to begin recording an album, 'Mer de Noms,' which went on to sell 1.7 million
copies." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"'We'd used to just get together once in while and just record on a weekend," said Freese. [...]
'Then it became more of a consistent thing [from September/October '99 onwards].'" (Josh
Freese,, 03/28/00)
While Freese's downtime could be explained with the drum tracks being recorded, Howerdel's
gardening leave was somewhat more alarming.

"At night the band, the crew and the producer would go off and I would come in and work with Axl
on the guitars and sometimes the vocals. And the music sounded great then and so I’m
curious to hear it like everyone else is today too. I can’t imagine what they’ve done since
then. What I did on that record isn’t going to be anything significant though. The only thing
that I did that was of significance was work on things that were so obscure I don’t even know
if they’d made the record." (Billy Howerdel, Total Guitar, 06/05/08)

This implies Howerdel was no longer actively in the studio with Axl, working on either vocals or
guitar parts. Either the vocal tracks were indeed done, or Axl was simply busy finding ways to
manoeuvre around the absence of Robin.

An educated guess is that by now, the album was almost done, with some vocal tracks and final
mixes to be completed. The soundtrack contributions and a live album were readied to heighten
the public interest and test the waters and all that now remained was to assess the situation and
get the job done.

Meeting old friends - or not

At this time, Axl gave his first interviews in five years, to MTV reporter Kurt Loder (calling into the
studios on 11/07/99, the eve of the first airing of the new Welcome to the Jungle video) and
Rolling Stone correspondant David Wild.

"In late November, Axl Rose plays nearly a dozen tracks from the long in the works Guns N`
Roses album for Rolling Stone, [...] occasionally getting up to whisper details about what still must
be done to complete the tracks - 'I gotta put some guitar here!' [...] Imagine Led Zeppelin's
Physical Graffiti remixed by Beck and Trent Reznor, and you'll have some sense of Axl's new

[...] Song after song combines the edgy hard rock force and pop smarts of vintage Guns N Roses
with surprisingly modern and ambitious music textures. In addition to the album's almost grungy
title track, tentative song titles include 'Catcher in the Rye,' 'I.R.S,' 'The Blues', [...] 'Oklahoma' -
heard tonight only as an instrumental, [...] and 'TWAT,' which he says stands for 'there was a
time.'" (Rolling Stone, 01/00)

Another track readied, and possibly previewed, was If the World.

"That track was particularly good to work on - it was a track that was recorded quickly." (Chris
Pitman, Daily Music Guide, 10/24/08)

"[Axl] appears to view the album as a final offering-up of his side of all his myriad battles - notably
with his estranged band mates and, even more painful, with his one-time fiancee, supermodel
Stephanie Seymour, with whom he had an ugly split. He speaks of his desire for Seymour's son
to someday be able to come across the new record. 'I hope he'll hear it when he grows up, if he
ever wants to know the story, to hear the truth,' Rose says a little quietly." (Rolling Stone, 01/00)

Meanwhile, Izzy came back to ring Axl's doorbell, which may have been the first of those since

"To tell the truth, [Izzy] visited Axl's house about two weeks ago." (Duff, Burrn Magazine, 12/99)

"[Axl] casually mentions that a while back his security camera caught an unannounced visit by
Izzy Stradlin to his front gate, but quickly adds that he had no interest in getting together with the
old school buddy and former collaborator, whom he originally followed to Los Angeles from
Indiana. 'It wouldn't be healthy for me,' Rose explains." (Rolling Stone, 01/00)

"Somebody told him that Axl is not there answering over the interphone at the gate. First he said
'Wait a minute' and he came back and said 'He is gone.' Izzy said 'OK' and went back. There is
always emotional thing with GN'R. At least the old GN'R." (Duff, Burrn Magazine, 12/99)

Brian May Care

Following Dave Navarro, Axl enlisted another old favorite to step in and contribute.

"We're still hoping to have Brian May come in and do some tracks, and I got a fax today that he's
coming in." (Axl, MTV, 11/08/99)

"I heard most of the tracks back in 1999 at a dinner at Axl's house with Brian May of Queen - he
was adding some guitar tracks. The songs were phenomenal." (Craig Duswalt, Splat, 04/06/05)

"They played me everything. Axl actually sat down and made me listen to everything (laughs) and
there's some wonderful stuff there." (Brian May, Radio One Rock Show, 05/10/00)

"Queen guitarist Brian May spent a week recording with Axl and returned to England." (Rolling
Stone, 01/00)

"[Axl] said, 'Brian can you come and do stuff which I will like and I won't feel too bad about
ditching this other stuff?'. So I did. I went over there and I think I played on three tracks and
messed around on various other things. But it worked out pretty well, as far as I can tell." (Brian
May, Radio One Rock Show, 05/10/00)

"[Working with Brian May] was one of the biggest joys of my life. He's the greatest guitarist in the
world to me. To meet him and see what a sweet fellow he is was great. He came in and just
played these solos that just ripped up everything we were doing - you would expect nothing else
from him." (Chris Pitman, Daily Music Guide, 10/24/08)

"[Axl] liked it, but he wanted to get into every single take of every single note and, you know, from
one day to another Axl would've been in there like from 5 o'clock in the morning 'till 7 o'clock in
the morning comping little bits of my solos and saying, 'can you get Brian to try this'. You know,
he's utterly meticulous." (Brian May, Radio One Rock Show, 05/10/00)

One of the tracks May worked on was Catcher in the Rye.

"'Catcher in the Rye' is a great track. [...] My guitar is there, nice and crisply recorded. It was a
blast doing the sessions. I had flown out to L.A. specially to play on the record for Axl. [...] I like
the track a lot and always did... and it still sounds very fresh." (Brian May official site, 03/02/06)

Hen for Robin

Others would follow on Brian May's heels to substitute Robin. Former Marilyn Manson guitarist
Zim Zum (who, incidentally, played on their Sean Beavan-produced album, Mechanical Animals),
was possibly approached.

"At the end of Zim Zum's tour of duty as guitarist in Marilyn Manson he entered into self-imposed
exile for a year in his Chicago home. He turned down offers to join a band which he describes as
having 'an appetite for destruction'." (Chart Attack, 11/05/00)
Stevie Salas (who'd go on to work on Mick Jagger's Goddess in the Doorway) did a brief try-out
with GNR in November.

"Oh, just a while ago, I jammed with the new Guns N' Roses in the studio in Los Angeles. They
sounded really great and powerful. We played at a full volume, it must have been the loudest I
ever played!" (Stevie Salas official website, 11/26/99)

"Stevie jammed with the new Guns N' Roses line-up at a recording studio in Los Angeles. They
played such classic songs as 'Welcome To the Jungle,' 'Its So Easy,' 'Sweet Child O' Mine,'
'Paradise City' and 'You Could Be Mine.' The jam session went on for about 5 hours and
reportedly they really rocked!" (Stevie Salas official website, 12/06/99)

"I spent an evening jammin with a band that was called Guns N' Roses, five hours at 300db. It
was loud!!! But it wasn't the real Guns. There can't be a Guns without Slash! Keith and Mick
(Rolling Stones) Steven and Joe (Aerosmith), Axl and Slash... That's the way it is! But Axl's new
music was taking chances and I have to respect that." (Stevie Salas, RockReunion, 09/00)

"When we jammed, they had each guy with a Pro Tool rig adding hours of little things... you know,
bells and whistles and the concept was, at least to my understanding, that they would shift
through hours of music to search for one section that perhaps would be a great part of a song
then they would take that piece of music and start the process over?? i thought they were all
mad..." (Stevie Salas, 09/02/04)

Also trying out was future Marilyn Manson member/Sulpher frontman, Rob Holliday.

"It's a long story that involves Nine Inch Nails - Robin Finck, myself and various other people I
know. Billy Howerdel from A Perfect Circle was working on it, Sean Beavan was working on it - all
these people came and went. I ended up being asked over, yes it's true. It was a strange
situation." (Rob Holliday, Vagabond Hearts, 2004)

''Axl had been a fan of Curve and liked the Sulpher stuff he heard, so he invited me over to LA to
lay a bunch of guitar parts down. He has had a whole load of guitarists involved from Dave
Navarro to Brian May, so I don't know if any of my parts have survived.'' (Rob Holliday, Metal
Hammer, 12/01)

"I'm not sure what Axl is doing right now but when I was there, he had around 40 songs... I'm not
sure this record will ever see the light of day." (Rob Holliday, Vagabond Hearts, 2004)

"But if you want tales of megalomania, you'll have to go somewhere else. 'Axl was really cool,
genuinely a nice guy, very focused on what he wants,' says Rob." (Metal Hammer, 12/01)

One other guitarist was also considered.

"I first got a call [from GNR] like three years ago. [...] Tommy [Stinson]'s one of my best friends,
and he has been for a while. We've done loads of recording sessions together. [...] Before that
audition happened, Axl saw Buckethead play, and he decided to go with him instead." (Richard
Fortus, Times Union, 11/21/02)

"When Brian Carroll first got a call from Axl Rose inviting him to join Guns N' Roses, he was
nonplussed at first. He knew the band, of course, but it wasn't really... his kind of thing, right? Axl
persevered, though. At Christmas he invited Brian over to his house. It hadn't been a happy
Buckethead holiday up to that point: he'd really, really been hoping that someone would give him
a certain hard-to-find Leatherface doll he'd been coveting as a gift, but no one had." (MTV,

"Got invited to Axl's on Christmas night; never met him before. Sad about not getting the doll but it
is ok, but still sad. Get to Axl's, he presents this box wrapped up. The Michael Myers version has
been out for a while, knew it was the same box. Figured it was Michael Myers and opened it up.
There was Leatherface." (Buckethead, NoneFerYouDear, 11/00)

"Brian took this as a sign ('He must understand me somehow'), and he joined the band." (MTV,

"[GNR] has been fun like a ride never been ridden. Every turn is new, it will be interesting to see
where this ride goes." (Buckethead, NoneFerYouDear, 11/00)

Another year had passed.


Fin de Siecle

The new millenium proved to be a slow starter in the GNR world. On 01/19/00, music website published a brief comment from Axl regarding the live version of Coma (available on
the Japanese issue of Live Era), which had been made available at their website. As time passed,
however, news began to trickle. The innocent sideproject by Howerdel and Freese started to pay

"Drummer Josh Freese has left [GNR] after nearly two years, according to a source. Freese, who
appears on the debut album from Perfect Circle (the side-project of Tool lead singer Maynard
James Keenan and former Guns N' Roses guitar tech Billy Howerdel) will now tour with the band
as well. [...] Now, [Robin] Finck and Freese will be touring mates when Perfect Circle opens for
Nine Inch Nails on their U.S. tour, kicking off April 12 in Cleveland." (Allstarmag, 03/14/00)

The timing supports the notion that both Freese and Howerdel were on a two-year contract with
the band like Robin was.

"I just said, 'This is just going to be for a month or two,' and it wound up being two-and-a-half
years. So you know, goods: I got to learn a lot of stuff. Bads: I could have stayed there forever,
and I was there a little longer than I wanted to be." (Josh Freese, Launch, 05/20/00)

"According to G N' R manager Doug Goldstein, Freese had already completed the drum tracks
for the forthcoming album. He expanded to, 'I'm hearing these rumors, and nobody
has officially told me anything....[Freese] hasn't had an attorney or manager tell me he's out of the
band.'" (VH1, 03/18/00)

"'Josh can only talk to Axl through his layers now,' laughs Joe [Escalante, Vandals bassist]. 'He e-
mailed his resignation because he didn't want to sit around waiting another year, so he joined A
Perfect Circle with a couple of his bald friends.'" (Kerrang, 09/25/00)

"When they finish the record and when it comes time to tour we've kind of left the door open,
where if they feel like calling me, and if they still want me involved, I'm going to do it with them."
(Josh Freese,, 03/28/00)

"I believed in it at the time, but there comes a time where you have to follow your dream, I guess."
(Josh Freese, Launch, 05/20/00)
Queen for a Day

In April, a new producer was brought into the fold.

"With Queen, I have my favorite: Queen II. Whenever their newest record would come out and
have all these other kinds of music on it, at first I'd only like this song or that song. But after a
period of time listening to it, it would open my mind up to so many different styles. I really
appreciate them for that. That's something I've always wanted to be able to achieve. It's important
to show people all forms of music, basically try to give people a broader point of view." (Axl,
Rolling Stone, 08/89)

The album was produced by one Roy Thomas Baker.

"A spokesperson for Guns N' Roses confirms that noted producer Roy Thomas Baker is currently
in the studio with Axl Rose. Baker has only just met the singer, the spokesperson cautioned, and
at this stage, he is only supplying additional production which may or may not make it onto the
next GN'R album.

[...] Best known for his production work with Queen, Baker follows in the wake of guest guitar
tracks that Queen guitarist Brian May recorded for GN'R with Beavan last Christmas. [...]
Meanwhile Buckethead, Rose's most recent guitar cohort, is currently concentrating on his other
projects." (MTV, 04/29/00)

"Mr. Beavan, who was said to have tired of the project, soon bowed out." (New York Times,

"Antiquiet: Was there any sense that Chinese Democracy was nearing completion back then?
Sean: I thought there was. (laughs) I think we worked on thirty-five songs or something. But the
guy just continually creates, and as people changed into and out of the band, a lot of things got
re-tracked. I'd love to see the record come out soon, but we'll see." (Antiquiet, 08/13/08)

Brain Shreds

Soon after Josh Freese left the building, Buckethead lured his frequent collaborator Brain in for
the vacant drummer stool.

"At the moment [Primus] are on an indefinite hiatus and have parted ways with drummer Brain
who is rumored to now be playing in Guns N Roses." (, 10/25/00)

"The way it happened was that I was with Primus on an Australian tour when I talked to
Buckethead and he mentioned that he was going to join Guns. He and I have done stuff together
for years and we try and get each other involved in what we're doing. So he said I should go
down and see what was going on.

At that point Josh [Freese] was doing the gig and I was like 'Yeah, whatever'. But around that time
the whole Primus thing kind of fell apart because it wasn't really working out." (Brain, Rhythm
Magazine, 01/05)

Last show of the Australian leg was on 04/29/00.

"And then Bucket called again and told me Josh had quit." (Brain, Rhythm Magazine, 01/05)
"Freese has no idea how many tracks he cut with Guns 'N Roses before having to leave to fulfill
other obligations. When he did, the door swung open for Brain to enter the project on a referral by
new Guns guitarist Buckethead, who worked with Brain in a number of different scenarios." (Two
Drummers Who Can't Talk About Guns N' Roses, 2001)

"So I went down and met the guys and Axl, and everyone was super cool. The whole Guns thing
really excited me and I think the record's incredible - it could be their Led Zeppelin II. I really have
that feeling and I just hope it comes out." (Brain, Rhythm Magazine, 01/05)

"Unlike Freese, though, Brain has always considered himself to be more of a band member rather
than a hired studio gun. 'I like to join bands,' Brain says. 'I play better when I get to vibe with the
people. It takes me a while to get into the vibe of it. With each situation I kind of have to become
friends with the people, and as I become friends with them and get to know them and relax more,
I play a lot better.'" (Brain, Two Drummers Who Can't Talk About Guns N' Roses, 2001)

The Phantom and the Ghost

While the album release was still up in the air, Axl did resurface soon enough, with his first public
apperance since the Phoenix airport incident in February, 1998.

"The reclusive Axl Rose resurfaced Thursday night [06/22/00] in West Hollywood to sing with his
former Guns N' Roses bandmate Gilby Clarke, much to the shock of both Clarke and 250-odd
audience members. The event marked Rose's first public performance in seven years.
Management for Guns N' Roses confirmed to MTV News that Rose made an appearance at an
L.A.-area nightclub after attending a concert by Roger Waters. According to club co-owner and
drummer Slim Jim Phantom (of Stray Cats fame), Clarke was heading up a jam session with the
pair's sideband, The Starf***ers, at the intimate Cat Club on Sunset Boulevard." (MTV, 06/24/00)

"'I guess he ran into some friends of mine at the Roger Waters show at Universal Amphitheater,
and they told him that we were playing down there and he came by,' Clarke later explained to
Rolling Stone. 'Maybe he just wanted to have some fun.'" (Rolling Stone, 06/27/00)

"Phantom didn't spot [Axl]. Rose had become so reclusive nobody really knew what he looked
like anymore. But the bartender advised his boss that the fellow with the baseball cap leaning on
the bar was indeed the legendary hellion. 'I wasn't sure,' Phantom tells Q. 'So I took Gilby over
and tapped the guy on the shoulder. He turns round and Gilby says, 'That's not him!' But Axl grins
and says, 'Hey, Gilby, how're you doin'?'" (Q Magazine, 05/01)

"Phantom told MTV News that he and Clarke approached Rose at the bar, said hello, and then
took the stage. "We did a couple of songs, and then looked at Axl," Phantom recalled, "and he
came up. He didn't need any prompting." Rose and Clarke shared a mic for duets of two Rolling
Stones songs, "Wild Horses" and "Dead Flowers." The latter was included on Clarke's 1994 solo
album, "Pawnshop Guitars," with a vocal and piano track courtesy of Rose." (MTV, 06/24/00)

Somewhat ominously, Dead Flowers and Symphathy for the Devil, another Stones cover, were
the two last released studio tracks Axl completed while the old lineup was still together.

"According to Phantom, although Clarke was obviously surprised by the proceedings, he and
Rose began talking as if they had just seen each other 'yesterday,' in Phantom's words. 'I left at
3:30 a.m., and they were still talking up a storm,' he noted. Clarke told MTV News that he and
Rose mostly discussed Rose's new band and album. 'He was really excited about it,' Clarke said.
'He was explaining it to me. We didn't rehash anything. We had a good time.'" (MTV, 06/24/00)
"[Gilby and Axl] talked until 4am, [...] Clarke hasn't heard a word from him since." (Q Magazine,

"'[Axl] was psyched,' recalled one person who worked with the band at Rumbo. 'It seemed like it
boosted him again, people still want to hear him.'" (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"He should just go out and play a couple of new songs, then do the family favourites like The
Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd do. Sometimes you can over-think these things." (Slim Jim
Phantom, Q Magazine, 05/01)

'Three good songs'

In the fall, a new A&R man was hired to help bring the project into completion. He was someone
specialized in providing the 'final push' for albums nearing completion. Interscope'd recently relied
on him on one of their other top acts, hooking him up with Trent Reznor to provide the 'flow' to the
tracklist of the Nine Inch Nails double album, The Fragile.

"Bob Ezrin - best known for producing Pink Floyd's The Wall - has signed on as A&R man for the
project." (Allstarmag, 10/30/00)

"To this day, really good songwriters that are ready to finish an album call me up and go, 'Do you
have Bob Ezrin's number?' [...] Bob's not going to be a yes man. He's going to go in there and tell
you how many (decent) songs you actually have. [...] He did it with Guns N' Roses." (Alice
Cooper, King County Journal, 10/15/04)

"Axl was a definite perfectionist. Almost to the point where you wanted to say, 'At some point, Axl,
it's gonna be good enough.' [...] Rock and roll isn't supposed to be perfect. I'm afraid of it
sounding too perfect. I mean, Bob Ezrin recorded Pink Floyd's The Wall three times. [...] You
never know if a person is not happy with it or if they're afraid of the material. [...] As an artist, you
gotta know when the painting is done." (Alice Cooper)

"I know Axl called him up and said, 'I want you to listen to 'Chinese Democracy' and tell me what
I've got (that's good).' Bob listened to it and said, 'Three songs.' This is after seven years (of
songwriting)." (Alice Cooper, King County Journal, 10/15/04)

In mid-September, retailers were notified that Chinese Democracy was projected to be released
in November, which does seem to support the notion that the record was essentially done, and
Ezrin was called in for some final pre-release tweaks.

CD Mk. 2

"Mr. Baker decided that much of what the band had needed to be re-recorded." (New York Times,

It was probably at this point when Baker moved the band to Village Recording Studios in Western
LA. The studio team would also be revamped with Pro Tools engineer Eric Caudieux (and,
presumably, new main engineer Caram Costanzo).

"Eric Caudieux, our rhythm guitarist/keyboardist, had an offer to produce Guns'n'Roses, and we
wouldn't let him turn it down!" (Joe Satriani, 08/11/00)
Axl went back to the demo tape Duff and Izzy prepared in 1995.

"In '95, Duff and me recorded songs for the band. We made a tape that went nowhere. Then, a
couple of months ago I have a message on my answering machine: 'Yo! It's Axl, I need a copy of
the songs that you did.' There was one called 'Down by the Ocean' or 'Down by the Sea', they
may have used it, I haven't come back to know nothing." (Izzy, Popular Magazine, 2001)

This I Love is another old track that might've been drawn back into the mix in 2000, after it last
surfaced in 1998, as a possible inclusion to the What Dreams May Come soundtrack. Howard
Karp worked on the song at that time as an assistant engineer to Caram Costanzo and producer
Roy Thomas Baker.

"I only worked with Axl, no one else, it was a solo piano piece. I heard nothing else. Axl was cool,
two short evenings, nothing too eventful." (Howard Karp, 01/19/04)

"It was very boring, sorry to say, just Axl and his piano (no singing) and a bunch of idiots running
around catering to him and stroking him. I don't know if they'll ever release anything... shame."
(Howard Karp, 03/13/04)

Another track which might've been brought up in response to Ezrin's hardline comments could've
been Shackler's Revenge.

"The basic song structure was written by Bucket and Brain. Big B did a score for a film of the
same name (never released) From what I can gather Axl liked the plot/ideas of the story and
crafted lyrics behind the music (which is not from the score). It's supposed to be a pretty guitar
driven rocker of a song with an amazing hook/bridge." (Saul, 07/08/08)

The original song, simply called Shackler, featured Buckethead and Bootsy Collins, and has been
released on the DragonBall Z soundtrack, The History of Trunks on 212/12/01. It was
subsequently featured on Buckethead's Secret Recipe DVD in 2005, labeled under the year

Shackler's Revenge was originally written by Buckethead, Brain and Pete Scaturro. Once GNR
had been mulling over it, Axl, Robin and Caram Costanzo all received additional credits.

The working relationship with Ezrin seemingly proved tiresome to Axl, as he later confided to Tom
Zutaut, the next A&R man, that work on the album had effectively halted in around August 2000,
either corresponding with Ezrin's blunt opinion on the material - or creating a situation which Ezrin
had been summoned to mend.

"I need you here to move forward, 'cos I've been spinning my wheels for at least six months!"
(Axl, Classic Rock, 04/08)


In late October, GNR were finally announced to play live.

"Roberto Medina, head of the Rock in Rio festival, told Brazil's Globo television network on
Wednesday (October 25) that reclusive GN'R frontman Axl Rose has agreed to play the massive
South America event Rock in Rio 3 in January with his new lineup." (MTV, 10/26/00)

"According to [Medina], after 6 months of negotiations, last Tuesday Axl signed the contract with
the organization of the show." (Dust N' Bones mailing list, 10/26/00)
"Guns N' Roses' management company, Big F.D., has officially confirmed that Buckethead and
former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck are handling noodling duties for the band."
(Allstarmag, 10/30/00)

"O Globo reports that the group's decision to perform at Rock in Rio ties into their desire to launch
the album in January. There was much talk about the album being finished in time for release this
summer (fueled by Rose coming out of hiding to talk about it with both Rolling Stone and MTV),
but it never materialized." (Rolling Stone, 10/27/00)

Once again, Axl was spotted at a rock show.

"Axl Rose turned up at a benefit gig put on by System of a Down on the weekend to raise money
for Armenian Genocide recognition. Members of the band thanked the audience, which included
Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose, for their support in this cause that is very personal to all four band
members, who are all of Armenian decent and lost family members in the Armenian Holocaust."
(Radio Undercover, 11/10/00)

A warm-up gig was now being planned, and the band begun to rehearse as an eight-piece in
early December (or a seven-piece, as Axl admitted in the warm-up show that he'd sung his first
set with the lineup on 12/28/00).

"This band has played only been together for six weeks before Rio. [...] The bassist, Tommy
Stinson, worked very well taking the band through the rehearsals. [...] It is still very new for them
to play together as band, with Robin (Finck) and Buckethead. That was a surprise. Obviously, that
was the correct decision to make, but it was not originally planned to have three guitarists." (Axl,
Rock & Pop FM, 01/22/01)

"This band did not come together by a bunch of guys meeting each other in a bar or down on a
corner in their old neighborhood, so it's taken a long time to pull these guys together and then
have them develop a chemistry with themselves. When we did our first show in Vegas, Robin and
Buckethead didn't know each other at all. You've got two lead guitar players trying to kill each
other with their abilities. [...] I think they can be cordial to each other, that whole kind of thing, but
when they're actually playing, it gets that kind of alpha male thing going, like 'Who's the real lead
guitar player?'" (Axl, WRIF, 11/21/02)

"Seven years after their last live performance, Guns N' Roses are expected to debut songs from
their perpetually in-progress new album at a Las Vegas New Year's Eve concert, according to
organizers." (MTV, 12/06/00)

"According to HoB's Senior VP of Entertainment Kevin Morrow, the show is confirmed and tickets
go on sale this Saturday. The House of Blues had already booked the Goo Goo Dolls into the
venue for the New Year's Eve show, so when reps for Guns n' Roses called, the HoB had to
improvise. 'To tell you the truth, when they first called, I thought it was a joke. I said to myself,
'There is no way this can be real,'' Morrow said. Morrow contacted the Goos, who were more than
willing to share the spotlight with the fragmented Los Angeles band." (MSN, 30/12/00)

"But the show - the first for the band's current lineup - will most likely focus on Guns N' Roses
classics. 'I heard them in rehearsals... [The old material] sounds substantially more powerful,'
GN'R manager Doug Goldstein said Wednesday (December 6). 'With two lead guitars, it just
sounded so powerful. [...] We've been rehearsing and recording - we just wanted to blow some
smoke,' Goldstein said. 'What better place to do that than New Year's Eve in Las Vegas?'" (MTV,
A tour and record release were also in the cards.

"According to the official Rock Am Ring site, GN'R will be playing at the German festivals next
summer. The festivals take place June 1st-3rd." (Rock Am Ring official site, 12/11/00)

"[The] early "wish-list" of organizers [of Ozzfest 2001, ranging from June 8th to August 12th] not
only includes Ozzy Osbourne, but is also said to include the new lineup of Guns N' Roses [...], so
says a source within one of those groups' camps." (Allstarmag, 12/08/00)

"On Monday (Dec. 11th), Guns n' Roses manager Doug Goldstein of Big FD Management told
listeners on Los Angeles radio station KROQ that Gn'R's long-awaited new album, Chinese
Democracy, could be available as early as next June, to coincide with a summer tour." (Rolling
Stone, 12/12/00)

You could say that again...


Inauguration of a live band

Starting at 3.35am on 01/01/01 at the House of Blues, Las Vegas, Guns N' Roses played their
first official live show since 07/17/93 and the wrap-up of the Use Your Illusion world tour. New
songs from the CD sessions included Chinese Democracy, The Blues, Rhiad and the Bedouins
and Silk Worms, along side the '99 single, Oh My God.

"'I have traversed a treacherous sea of horrors to be with you here tonight,' Mr. Rose told the
crowd, which received him with roars of approval. Warm reviews followed." (New York Times,

On 01/15/01, GNR played a late-night set in front of an audience of 190,000 in Rock in Rio 3,
Brazil. The 140-minute set included an animated intro, guitar solos, Axl's trademark rants, and all
the new songs played in Vegas, along with an exclusive number, Madagascar.

"We'll be here next summer with a whole bunch of new songs." (Axl, Rock in Rio 3, 01/15/01)

"With 18 songs, the group's next album [...] which will be released in June [...] is a collection of
songs, which, in Axl's opinion, are as good as 'November Rain'. Among them 'Madagascar',
included in the show on Sunday. The CD will include a tribute to John Lennon [Catcher in the
Rye], and another [song] about child abuse." (O Globo, 01/16/01)

"Hopefully we will put out a new single [...] sometime this spring, and then the record [is] gonna
be done in June or shortly thereafter." (Axl, Radio Rock And Pop Chile, 01/01)

From Rio De Janeiro, Axl continued to Buenos Aires, Argentina on 01/20 and from there to
Santiago, Chile on 01/22. A brief tour had been planned to take off at RIR3.

"The idea was, I wanted to play Buenos Aires and Santiago. [...] For some reasons that did not
work out right now." (Axl, Radio Rock And Pop Chile, 01/01)

"Although the possibility existed that [GNR] would play at the Buenos Aires Hot Festival [on
January 16th-18th, 2001], [Axl] preferred to wait for the band to be more "oiled". Also transcended
that the group requested a high price to play (in Rio, the organizers paid them more than a half
million dollars)." (Clarin, 02/01)

"It's very possible that we will play [in South America] in [...] November this year or January of
next year." (Axl, Radio Rock And Pop Chile, 01/01)

"Guns N' Roses [...] will arrive in Buenos Aires in November [2001] to play a concert at the
second [annual] edition of the Buenos Aires Hot Festival." (Clarin, 02/01)

"We wanted to play in Buenos Aires and Chile but we won't really be on tour until in five months,
because this is very new for us." (Axl, Radio Rock & Pop FM, 01/22/01)

Zoot 'em up

After Axl got back to LA, little over three months after Bob Ezrin was officially named the new
A&R Man, a replacement was sought, implying an abrupt end in his working relationship with the

"It's February 2001, and, somewhere in New York city, Tom Zutaut's phone is ringing. On the line
is Jimmy Iovine, founder of Interscope and head of Geffen and A&M Records and he's asking
Tom - a man that Geffen sacked two years previously [likely during the Seagram merger in
January '99] - the most unlikeliest of questions: if he'll come back to work. For Guns N' Roses. [...]
'No-one can wrangle a fucking record out of 'em but you! Would you do it?'"

[...] [Axl] had a vision and wanted to make the best record that had ever been made. And we
talked and he said, 'I go to the studio, I tell 'em what I want, and they tell me that they've got what
I want and then, when I listen to it, I'm bummed out. [...] Nobody seems to understand my
language.'" (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"'[In studio work,] there's definitely a need for people skills and figuring out what they want to
hear,' [Freese] says. 'Someone might try to explain something and even though he's not
explaining it well, just by knowing his music and by talking to him I can kind of tell what he
wants.'" (Josh Freese, 2001)

Brain Surgery

"The first task set to [Zutaut] by [Axl] was to help with the drum sound for the album's title track.
Axl had told the studio guys that he wanted the same drum sound as Dave Grohl on Nirvana's
Smells Like Teen Spirit. The production crew would claim they had it, but Axl wouldn't be
satisfied." (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"We replaced a lot of drums: because of Axl's belief that the record is supposed to be the energy
of the people involved in creating it, we had to replace Josh Freese's drumming. And his
drumming was spectacular." (Tom Zutaut, Classic Rock, 04/08)

"Basically how it started was, Josh Freese was the drummer before and he had basically played
drums on about 30 songs and when he had left Axl really liked my 'feel', so he was like 'Well I
really liked what Josh played but I want your 'feel'." (Brain, EQTV, 10/08)

"I would not have wanted to be in Brain's shoes. Basically we were saying to him; 'We have got a
brilliant performance of this and now we need you to recreate it.'" (Tom Zutaut, Classic Rock,
"I was like, 'OK, so I’ll learn these songs and go in and re-play 'em' and [Axl]was like 'NO, I
really LIKED what Josh played but I want your feel.' And I’m like, 'Well what does that mean?'
and Roy was the producer at that time and he’s like, 'Well, basically what you are gonna have
to do is play exactly what Josh played. Exactly note for note but you play it like how..." (Brain,
EQTV, 10/08)

"[Brain had] to do a massive amount of studying and learning and recording different feels with
the same song structure. He really [had] to put his fingerprint on this thing and it would be a lot of
work." (Gersh, GNR drum tech, 2001)

"So I’m like, 'So, I’m gonna have to transcribe every like 30 something songs?!' and
I’m like, 'Pfft, oh man, I’m not getting paid enough for this.' So I’m like, 'I don’t
mind doing that but you’re gonna have to get someone else to transcribe it', so I went to the
head transcriber at Sony Studios and I brought him 2 CD's worth of like 30 songs and I said,
'Dude, I want, note for note, for you to transcribe everything that’s on this drum-wise!'

So about a month later [the transcriber] calls me and I get back, I go and pick it up at Sony
Studios I get like … it must have been like that thick (holds hands about a foot apart) of sheet
music and it was every song written out note for note and these were some seven minute songs.
With like, at the end, Josh doing soloing. Actually, like (starts air drumming) Ba-budda-bah-pssh-
budda-bash. Like every note was written out and he had like the exact solo of the end of 'There
Was A Time', maybe that was like literally … I dunno … like 2 minutes of the vamp at the end of
Josh just going crazy. All written out!

[...] When I opened the charts, there were like one page, two page, three, four, fi... like six pages!
[...] So each song we had up, like, we had this like this huge like banner made where we could
have the whole chart across. So I would look at it from like here all the way to like, like almost like
a 90 degrees (Points high left side and swings arm around to high right side). I would just see this
huge chart. And I learned every song for like, I dunno, maybe 2 weeks." (Brain, EQTV, 10/08)

"I like to listen to the song as long as I can. If I can I'll ask for songs a week in advance or two
weeks in advance, I'll live with them, and listen to the lyrics. Sometimes I'll write them down.
Sometimes I'll think about it and go, 'Okay, what kind of energy do I want to bring to this?'" (Brain,

"I went in and I heard the room, uh, in the 'Studio C' and I was like 'Well, y’know this is cool
but, y’know we’re making like, the Guns N’ Roses Album! C’mon, we can’t
just be in the studio where like, everybody else records. You gotta have something better than
this!' And the owner, Jeff [Greenberg], was like, 'Well, we have an auditorium that used to be a
Masonic Temple upstairs.'

I’m, 'Well there ya go! Now we’re talking ya’know, like Led Zeppelin! We’re
getting into somethin’ here!', so we go to the top and it’s all cold up there, it’s like
ya’know just... really eerie feeling... and, and I’m like, 'This is it, this is where we, I’m
recording all the drums', so we basically ran everything up to the top of this, of this Village
Recorders and we set up the drums in this auditorium, and so it really just had a huge kinda
Bonham-esque sound.

[...] Learned all the parts, I sat there and like got it down like I, like it was orchestrated. Like I just
practiced until I got it. Then I would say 'Roy...' and while everybody down at the studio, and
it’s $2,000 a day studio, would just be sitting there like watching, like, cartoons or The
Exorcist or something..." (Brain, EQTV, 10/08)

"[Brain] would prefer recording with the whole band at once rather than punching parts over
existing tracks. 'I always pretend that the band is right there,' Brain says. 'I haven't noticed a
difference in my playing. The only thing I miss is the band isn't playing to my feel, so I have to
convert to something that's already there." (Brain, 2001)

"Brain is a great groove drummer, whereas Josh is a very linear, straight-ahead punk rock
session player. Josh is known for going in there, listening to a song, memorizing it immediately,
and nailing straight to click. Brain is more of a hip-hop feel creative weird guy." (Gersh, GNR drum
tech, 2001)

"I can't do [...] a laid-back feel, a heavier feel [...] as much when I record to an existing track,
because I have to play to where their guitars are, or where their bass is. I still try to just play my
feel and lay it back, but sometimes there are just conflicts. If it's a super busy part, it might be like,
'You can't lay back there, Brain. Check it out. It's flamming all over the place.'" (Brain, 2001)

"Roy didn’t want me to do it in sections. So it wasn’t like, 'OK, here’s the verse and
I’m playing it'. Its like, 'No, you gotta play it as one piece.' [...] "I’m upstairs practicing and
I would call downstairs and be like, 'Uh, yeah man, I think I got it so... maybe we should try it. Two
weeks have gone by I think I got it'. We’d try to record... track it for 2 days until I got the
'perfect' take... one song done. 'Ok let’s start the next one!' About seven to eight months later
I was done. And that’s how that album was recorded." (Brain, EQTV, 10/08)" (Brain, EQTV,

"[Doing multiple varying takes] was hard at first. That's why I say, 'Look, you get three takes and
then I'm done.' I usually shoot for that first one, where I'm fresh. I've practiced the song in my
brain and physically 30 or 40 times, and I come in and go, 'This is it. I'm going to play this. I'm
going to give everything I've got for this first take.'" (Brain, 2001)

"Back in the studio, [Zutaut, producer Roy Thomas Baker and the studio engineer Caram
Costanzo] compared [Smells Like Teens Spirit and Chinese Democracy] and set to work making
the GNR drummer sound exactly like Grohl." (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"Ironically, [Brain] settled for a fairly standard five-piece setup. But that was only his starting point.
At any time Brain can choose from an enormous selection of drums that he keeps on hand in the
studio at all times. He alters his setup for every new track he records, customizing his kit to suit
each song. Why does he do it? For the same reason that dogs lick their genitals - because they

'I have an idea of what I want when I go in,' he says. 'And since there are 50 snare drums and 40
kick drums, or whatever, you know it's kind of like, 'Well, this song would be great if we start with
a 26" kick, 14", 16", 18" toms, because it's a huge sound - a very slow, huge, grunge-type of
sound. Let's get some big hi-hats in there. Where's that really deep snare? Let's get a 7" or an 8".
Let's try it.' It usually works right away." (Brain, 2001)

"Per Baker's request, engineer Caram Costanzo has close to 30 mics on the drums alone - using
four on the snare and two on each tom." (EQ Magazine, 2001)

"They sent the finished thing over to Axl who called Zutaut straight away: 'I've been only asking
that for, like, six fucking months!'

[...] 'I have heard the a leaked version of Chinese Democracy that had some really weird
keyboards on it and I didn't like the sound of that at all,' [Zutaut says]. 'The stuff we worked on
back in '01 smoked its ass.'" (Classic Rock, 04/08)

Made glorious summer

Ever since 01/08/01, a week after the Vegas show and a week before the Rio performance, GNR
had added European dates for the June tour itinerary.

"[The album] will be released in June or July. They already have 48 songs and the record
company is selecting the material." (Beta Lebeis, Brazilian Journal, 03/12/01)

"Robin Finck shed some light on the groups (GnR's) upcoming plans. He stated that the new
album, 'Chinese Democracy', is looking for a June release through Interscope [...] with a single
hitting radio earlier in the Spring [...] while the band will be doing a European tour in May and
June." (Finck Tank, 03/03/01)

Finck also confirmed that the plan was to continue from Europe to the US in the next month.

"When the band returns to North America in July, they plan to embark on 'a 2 month U.S. stadium
tour and yes, I will be on tour with GnR. I have not left NIN and I hope to tour with them again. I
am looking forward to bringing the new GnR lineup to stage.'" (Finck Tank, 03/03/01)

"'Yeah, I miss playing gigs,' Brain says. 'What I miss about playing live these days is just the
interaction, I mean, I did play one of the biggest shows of my life, Rock in Rio, with this new
situation, and it was awesome. It was one of the best things I've ever experienced. It was so huge
and such a great experience that when I came back I was kind of depressed for a while, because
I was kind of like, 'Wow! What's next?' I went to the tenth floor.'" (Brain, 2001)

Show Me the Money

"'One of the things that Interscope wanted me to do was have a look at the budget,' [Zutaut] says,
'and try to figure out where all this money was going. So you know, it took me about a month.'"
(Tom Zutaut, Classic Rock, 04/08)

"One internal cost analysis [by Zutaut, no doubt] from the period pegs the operation's monthly tab
at a staggering $244,000. It included more than $50,000 in studio time at the Village, a more
modern studio where Mr. Baker had moved the band.

[...] [Zutaut's calculations] included a combined payroll for seven band members that exceeded
$62,000, with the star players earning roughly $11,000 each. Guitar technicians earned about
$6,000 per month, while the album's main engineer was paid $14,000 per month and a recording
software engineer was paid $25,000 a month, the document stated." (New York Times, 03/06/05)"
(New York Times, 03/06/05)

"One area where there was an astronomical amount of money being spent was in rented gear.
[...] My recollection is that we were able to shave around $75,000 a month off the budget..." (Tom
Zutaut, Classic Rock, 04/08)

With $50,000 on studio time, $62,000 for the band members, $14,000 for main engineer Caram
Costanzo, $25,000 for Pro Tools engineer Eric Caudieux, and $18,000 for three guitar
technicians, the total costs amount to $169,000. Add in $75,000 for unnecessary gear rental and
you'll end up with the numbers Zutaut found.

"The crew rented one piece of specialized equipment, for example, for more than two years - at a
cost well into six figures - and used it for perhaps 30 days, according to one person involved with
the production." (New York Times, 03/06/05)
"It's a bit of a luxury to have a '59 Les Paul at however many thousands dollar a month when it
isn't even being used. Maybe one day three years ago they needed this piece of gear, but now
the track it was used on isn't even being considered, the gear is still sitting there and the rental
company is still making the money. We'd paid enough in rental for it that we could have bought
it!'" (Tom Zutaut, Classic Rock, 04/08)

Up in the Bucket

"By the time Zutaut joined the Chinese Democracy project, Buckethead had left, frustrated by
what he saw as the band's inactivity. Axl wanted him back. So Zutaut arranges a meeting with
Brian/Bucket at a deli in LA and listens as the guitarist explains why he left: he doesn't get on with
Roy Thomas Baker, he's frustrated at the whole situation - at coming in to the studio everyday
when Axl's not even there, playing the same parts over and over.

[...] 'There was a bit of creative tension with Roy Thomas Baker,' says Zutaut. [...] It could well
have been, what with Roy being an eccentric, flamboyant, British rock god producer and
Buckethead being, well, a chicken.

[...] 'You've just told me how you don't feel right in the studio,' [Zutaut] says. 'What if we build a
chicken coop in the studio for you to record your guitar-parts?' [...] 'If I could have my own chicken
coop in the studio,' says Buckethead, 'my own world to live in, I could play a lot better.' Two days
later, [...] 'We built the coop and then he brought in all his props and toys and put straw on the
floor! You could almost smells the chickens.'" (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"What I've noticed about playing in the studio for the last three months doing it, whatever you
give, it comes out on tape," [Brain] says. [...] When I give more and I feel like I'm into it and I have
a vibe you can hear that, too. So I bring the vibe. I bring all my inspirations. Like I bring pictures of
Bruce Lee, and hang them up all around the drums. For me it's everything. It just adds that extra
energy. [...] And then I would play better." (Brain, 2001)

"As the weeks went by, the [chicken coop] joke started to wear thin. [...] 'So Bucket comes and
says he needs a TV so he can sit in his chicken coop and watch porn,' says Tom. 'And that
seemed to really inspire him to record some great stuff.' [...] One evening Axl turns up for the
session. '[He] sees that Bucket is running this porn - and it is pretty hardcore stuff [...] and Axl is
really disturbed by it.'

[...] "[So Axl] takes Bucket outside for a talk. [...] He said [to Zutaut], 'I really can't have the vibe of
a dirty, depraved porn being a part of my record - it is really not what this record is about, you
know?' [...] 'Then Axl left and Bucket was pretty despodent [...] because of the emotional
implications that Axl brought up to him: that it wasn't right to be inspired by shit like that,' [...] says
Zutaut." (Classic Rock, 04/08)

Sanctuary... or an ossuary?

On 04/24/01, Doug Goldstein's Big FD Management was announced to be merged into Sanctuary
Group. GNR had a 14-date European tour now in place for June and things looked good on the

"Sanctuary today continued its expansion in the United States music market with the
announcement that rock superstars Guns N' Roses and their long time manager, Doug Goldstein,
are to join the Group. Goldstein, who has been with the band since its first album and over its
75,000,000 record sales, will become Co-President of Sanctuary Music Management based at
the company's new Los Angeles offices which are due to open in mid-May." (Dust N' Bones
mailing list, 04/24/01)
Of course, practically the first thing Goldstein had to announce was that problems in the studio
were beginning to affect the touring possibilities.

"Guitarist Buckethead has suffered hemorrhaging and has missed rehearsals, according to Helter
Skelter, the band's European management agency. [...] With the deadline looming to ship the
band's equipment overseas, and given the rehearsal time required for a band that's only
performed together twice, the situation was deemed unworkable, according to a source close to
the band. [...] Doctors have been unable to determine the hemorrhaging's cause, though the
guitarist is going through extensive testing in California." (Sonicnet, 05/10/01)

"It's thought that the guitarist is being treated on an outpatient basis at home in Southern
California and is not currently hospitalized. According to a note from the guitarist's official
webmaster, 'Buckethead is OK at this point in time. The problem is still being looked into.'"
(, 05/10/01)

"Guns N' Roses has begun rescheduling the summer European tour canceled due to health
concerns relating to guitarist Buckethead. Merck Mercuriadis of Sanctuary Music Management
tells that Buckethead has been diagnosed as having a gastric ailment by one
doctor and tuberculosis by another, and that the shows will not resume until the winter to allow
Buckethead adequate time to recover." (Billboard, 05/31/01)

Axl obviously had a very brisk chat with Goldstein over potential touring while completion of the
album was still in the air. As can be read from the article above, Sanctuary's North American CEO
Merck Mercuriadis was first on the case, as he was no doubt concerned over the moods of his
newly-gained client.

"Contrary to the popular rumor, Axl Rose has not fired manager Doug Goldstein of Big F.D.,
although they are 'taking a break from each other.' According to Goldstein, no legal steps have
been taken to dissolve their relationship. He admits that the pair did have (yet another) falling-out
over touring issues." (CDNow, 06/30/01)

Plans for the US tour seemingly began soon after the Big FD/Sanctuary merger. Goldstein and
Mercuriadis were able to secure a veritable promoter, Clear Channel, which would be necessary
for a nationwide arena tour. In the course of the year, Axl was also granted a $1 Million advance.
The amount of expectations and the money involved kept the deal under wraps for a fair amount
of time as the European tour was delayed.

Extracurricular activities

While CD was supposed to have been already released, and Buckethead was clashing with the
studio crew and the GNR camp was arguing over touring with Doug Goldstein, Axl found the time
for basketball.

On 06/13/01, Axl went to Philadelphia to attend the fourth NBA final game between the LA Lakers
(featuring one-time GNR guest vocalist Shaq O'Neal) and Philadelphia 76ers.

"Rose was dining at [Buddakan,] the upscale Asian eatery [in Philadelphia] with two companions
Wednesday before the Sixers-Lakers basketball game. When [owner Stephen] Starr approached
to say hello, the hard rock hero recognized him. That's because before becoming one of Philly's
restaurant mavens, Starr worked as a music promoter. 'I promoted their show at the Trocadero
about 10 years ago, and then another one at the Spectrum.'" (On the House, 06/30/01)
Moving away from promoting GNR in Philly would turn out well for him. In the following game, Axl
was interviewed by NBC at the Wachovia Center. Another strange coincidence in the world of
GNR was the interviewers remark: 'Now Axl, you've sat out there, you experienced the
Philadelphia fans... [...] People say it's a tough crowd, it's a rough crowd - what did you think?' His
response: 'Mellow'.

It was to be Axl's last confirmed visit to Philadelphia to this day.

In April/May, Robin and Buckethead contributed to the soundtrack of the John Carpenter film,
Ghosts of Mars. Most of the albums basic tracks were cut by Anthrax in mid-March, with
additional contributions by Steve Vai. Robin played on four (out of six) Anthrax tracks [Love
Siege, Fight Train, Power Station and Ghost Poppin']. Buckethead was featured on Love Siege as
well, along with the fifth Anthrax track, Kick Ass. He also played a solo number, Fightin' Mad.

Suddenly, Finck was keeping himself busy with soundtrack work.

"Clint Mansell recently completed a score featuring Danny Lohner and Robin Finck for the film
'Rain,' which is scheduled for release towards the end of 2001. There's no word on the
soundtrack release at the moment, but more information will be provided by the official site
[] in the not to distant future." (Seems Like Salvation, 08/09/01)

While the soundtrack has never been released separately from the film, Mansell's website
provides some samples.

Go the distance

Beta, Axl's personal assistant was visiting Brazil in late June.

"Axl calls [Beta, during her visit to Brazil,] to ask advices, to speak about the recording of the new
album that it should be ready before Christmas, to negotiate of accounting problems and, mainly,
to guarantee that she will return even on this Monday [07/02/01]. After that, Beth only will return
again between February and March of next year, when [Guns N' Roses] intends to begin the new
tour in South America. [...] [The album] will 'be 12 or 18 songs, they are still coming to a
conclusion. He composes lot by himself, other times with the other members of the band.'" (Beta,
Brazilian Journal, 07/01/01)

The Buenos Aires Hot Festival in November was apparently already out of the question, as the
album needed to be completed. Speaking of which...

"Axl's irregular time-keeping was also causing its own problems." (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"Producer Greg Wattenberg was hired to work on Axl's vocal tracks, which seemed to be Chinese
Democracy's final stumbling block. Greg Wattenberg waited six excruciating weeks to meet Axl,
and then was granted only a twenty-minute interview in the studio, at four in the morning.
Wattenberg went home." (Watch You Bleed, 2008)

"'[Axl]'d come to the studio once or twice a week,' says Zutaut, 'and then we might be there for
two weeks because he stays to work on stuff.' [...] A nocturnal worker, Axl was sent a stack of
tracks that they'd worked on during the day for him to listen to during the night." (Classic Rock,

"[Roy Thomas Baker] sometimes spent as long as eight hours on a few bars of music. [...] [Axl]
had the crew send him CD's almost daily, sometimes with 16 or more takes of a musician
performing his part of a single song." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"There's so many great players in the band now and there are so many great parts that have
been laid down now for all the songs, unfortunately its impossible to put them all on there. The
obvious thing would be to have a couple versions of each song. [...] I have heard several versions
of some of the cooler songs, and they all sound great." (Dizzy, Rock Journal, 07/11/04)

"95% of Zutaut's job was to listen to all the songs. 'There were probably 50 or 60 songs on four or
five CDs with 12-15 songs a piece. I had to go through those songs and then sit with Axl and work
with him directly to pick and choose which songs would be worth finishing.'

[...] One song causing problems was Madagascar, which samples Martin Luther King's famous 'I
have a dream' speech - a sample for which they didn't have clearance during Zutaut's time on the
album. 'Axl feels that particular speech is at the core of the message that he is putting across at
that song,' says Zutaut, 'and he told me that if the Martin Luther King estate would not give
permission for that to come out on the final record, that track would not be on it without it.'

[...] When [Axl] got up at two or three in the afternoon, he would call Zutaut or RTB and go
through what he liked and what he didn't like. [...] 'Musicians, engineers, Pro Tools guys, assistant
engineers - in all honesty, these fucking people are getting paid shitloads of money and they're
sitting on their arse doing nothing because Axl's not coming to the studio and they can't get him
on the phone, [...] they're inventing ways to stay busy.'" (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"Sometimes we get bored and we're like, 'Let's set up in that corner up in the balcony and get a
little baby kit. Let's get an 18", and a 12" snare, and 12" hi-hats, just for something to do. Let's put
it in the chorus.' This is probably one of the most creative things I've been in, because I've just
been allowed to experiment so much." (Brain, 2001)

The Gospel of Yoda

As one advisor came back home, Axl felt the urge to see another, for sound reasons.

"[In July 2001,] mid-way through Zutaut's time there, Axl decided that [the two of them] were
surrounded by negative energy and should go to visit Sharon Maynard [Axl's Sedona-based
psychic advisor]. [...] 'This was actually quite perceptive on [Axl's] part as the studio crew was
making fun of him behind his back when he wasn't there.'" (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"MTV Brazil is reporting that Guns N' Roses' guitarist Buckethead has left the band." (CDNow,

"After news leaked that Buckethead had indeed left the Guns N' Roses building, a little birdie told
us that he's now back at the negotiating table with Axl Rose." (CDNow, 08/02/01)

"[Axl] accompanied Buckethead on a jaunt to Disneyland when the guitarist was drifting toward
quitting, several people involved recalled." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"Buckethead is still in the band, he tried to quit but Axl talked him into coming back. On the
condition that he only has to play/record with the band 3 days a week. They are in the still in the
studio recording two full albums, so when they finally release the first one, they can tour for a year
and then release another one without going back into the studio." (HTGTH, 10/23/01)

The Dog-Shit Boys

Even when Bucket agreed to come back and try working things out with Baker and the studio
crew, there was undoubtedly a good deal of tension in the air. Events upon his return to the fold
certainly give a different meaning to 'a breath of fresh air'.

"'Axl,' says Zutaut, 'had a couple of wolf dogs'. [...] When Zutaut's daughter came to the studio,
Axl offered to give her a puppy as she'd recently lost her dog." (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"In the dawn of Thursday [06/28/01], when Axl was calling up to 8:30 of the morning [re]counting
details of the birth of [a] couple of [wolf dog puppies] that he maintains at the house which they
live, in Malibu [...] 'He said that they are two, but I think more were born and he is hiding, with fear
that I don't want to be with them in the house.'" (Beta interview, Brazilian Journal, 07/01/01)

As wolf dogs are most keen to make contact with strangers between six and eight weeks of age,
Axl likely introduced the Zutauts to his pup in late August.

"A couple of days later he brings in a puppy. [...] 'It goes into the chicken coop and takes a dump.
[...] So Bucket shows up later to work on his parts and he is mic-ed up so he can record and we
hear through the speaker, 'Oh, I love the smell of dog poop, [...] leave it right there, don't let
anybody touch it.' Three days later, the studio stinks to high heaven of dog poop, and finally the
studio could not bear it and had it cleaned up.'" (Classic Rock, 04/08)

And if Bucket was only in the studio three days a week, he must've gotten an insane giggle out of
Baker & co inhaling the dog-poop odors all week long.

"'When Bucket came in the next day, he was like 'Where is my dog poop, man?' [...] [He] was
generally bummed out [...], [it] had inspired him for a few days to do some great work...' Zutaut
never did get the puppy - it had three months of weaning to go and he was off the project before
then." (Classic Rock, 04/08)

Sanders' Last Stand

Meanwhile, the studio was installing new equipment, temporarily holding off the recording

"When Jeff Greenberg, CEO of The Village recording studios, heard the new Neve 88R analog
console, he was not the only one who had to have it. A top rock act in mid-production lock-out at
the well-known West L.A. recording venue had to have it too. The result was what Greenberg
called 'an outstanding effort' to install the new console in record time.

'The band halted recording at 2 a.m. on [10/07/01],' said Greenberg. 'By the end of the next
weekend, the studio was up and ready with the Neve 88R. That's seven days! Neve deserves a
lot of credit for pulling together an amazing team to make the installation happen.'"
(ProSoundWeb, 2001)

Less than twenty hours after holding off the recording process, at 9.30pm (PDT), the United
States launched its attack against Afghanistan. The GNR studio crew were interested as anyone,
particularly with the downtime they were currently experiencing.

"According to sources close the band, due to the 'global situation' and not being able to replace
departed guitarist Buckethead, Guns N' Roses are in the throws of cancelling their end of year
European tour." (Metal Hammer, 10/03/01)
Buckethead had already returned, but was painfully aware of the global situation.

"On October 12, 2001, a month after the September 11 attacks on America, and five days after
the first coalition bombs dropped on Afghanistan, [members of the band] sat in front of a TV in a
Los Angeles recording studio and watched the news. [...] 'Thousands of Islamic militants fought
with the police in the Pakistani city of Karachi, setting fire to cars, buses and an outlet of Kentucky
Fried Chicken. Let's go over to our Foreign Affairs Correspondent...'

But [Buckethead] was already on his feet. [He] wasn't going to take it any more. 'That's fucking
IT!' he was yelling, as the screen showed images of the Karachi KFC with flames licking out of its
windows. 'They've gone too far now! I'm joining the fucking army! They are not going to hit KFC,
no fucking way! That's it - I can't record anymore. I'm joining the army - now we really are at war!'
And with that, he grabbed his KFC bucket hat, collected some things from his specially built
chicken coop in the studio, and left. Some of the guys stayed on a while, but not a lot got done
that day." (Classic Rock, 04/08)

The TV hours were soon over, though.

"On [10/14/01,] the day I dropped in, [Village] had a great energy buzz going, [...] the installation
of a Neve 88R analog console into Studio D. [...] For several months prior to the new install, Guns
N' Roses had been locked in D with producer Roy Thomas Baker, and there was only a one-week
window to pull the existing Neve VR SP and commission the 88R. A heroic effort by Neve, Village
chief tech Mitch Berger and their respective crews pulled off the feat; on the day I visited, the
band was loading back in for more tracking." (Mix Online, 12/01/01)

And as for what were they doing with such haste, exactly...

"'We were finishing tracks [in October],' confirms Tom. 'Doing overdubs with Buckethead and
Robin Finck and some stuff with Tommy Stinson. I felt we had a well finished version of The
Blues, Madagascar, Chinese Democracy. Atlas Shrugged was pretty good.'" (Classic Rock,

'Even friends seem out to harm you'

In November, the cat and mouse game finally ended, as Doug Goldstein canceled the
rescheduled European tour.

"Following the euphoria of Rock in Rio, I jumped the gun and arranged a European tour as our
plan was to have the new album out this year. Unfortunately, Buckethead's illness not only
stopped the tour but it also slowed down progress on 'Chinese Democracy'. As a result, touring
right now is logistically impossible. [...] I made a plan and unfortunately it did not work out." (Doug
Goldstein, press release, 11/08/01)

The producers of Black Hawk Down had also by then approached the GNR camp for the
inclusion of WTTJ to the films soundtrack. Unfortunately, Axl's reaction wasn't as rosy as it was
back in '94, when Zutaut arranged GNR to contribute to the Interview with a Vampire soundtrack.

"[In November], Axl sacked Tom Zutaut at an advance screening of Ridley Scott's movie Black
Hawk Down. The director wanted to use Welcome to the Jungle in the movie, and negotiations
started to see if the movie people would accept a re-recorded version by the new line-up.
[...] 'Part of Axl's induction process for his new band [in 1998] was that they re-record every song
off of Appetite,' [Zutaut] says. 'So we just had to spend a day mixing it.' [...] Axl had requested a
private screening of the movie (a standard request). When he turned up to find strangers there,
he felt that Zutaut had misled him over the nature of the screening.

[...] Zutaut, meanwhile, claims to have been set-up by someone looking to discredit him - an
accusation denied by the Axl Rose camp." (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"[Black Hawk Down]'s music supervisor, Kathy Nelson, confirmed to allstar that her company had
been dealing unsuccessfully with Guns N' Roses' reps to include that song in the soundtrack. [...]
'I found out that it's incredibly difficult to license Guns N' Roses songs,' says Nelson. 'We tried for
the rights to the original masters, and then a re-recorded version. We came close, but it just
wasn't going to happen.'" (Allstar, 01/08/02)

"In the faint red light of the Rainbow Bar and Grill, Tom Zutaut sips at his drink and spills a bit of
regret. [...] 'I really thought I could get [Axl] to deliver the record,' said Mr. Zutaut, who spent nine
months trying. 'And we got close.'" (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"By the time I left, I felt there were probably 11 or 12 tracks that just needed final mixes. [...] I
would've given it another three months for a few more overdubs and three for mixing. [...] We
could have had a record out for September 2002 [...] and worst case scenario out Spring of '03."
(Tom Zutaut, Classic Rock, 04/08)

Love's Labour Lost

In December, the band regrouped in a live setting, announcing two New Years shows in Las

"Guns N' Roses will be playing the Joint at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas on December 29
and December 31, 2001 (New Years Eve). [...] A quote from Axl: 'We've been cooped up in the
studio for so long, that we have to release some energy. Since we had so much fun playing
Vegas last year, we've decided to do it again.'" (GNROnline, 12/03/01)

'Cooped' is an interesting choice of words when considering Buckets makeshift working

environment. Regardless on whether Axl made an inside joke or a Freudian slip, the past year
had been rather stressful for the band and live shows were thought to come not a moment too
soon to enable the band to have fun again and start the following year with a clean plate.

Genesis associate Paul Whitehead had been decided upon to create the artwork.

"Whitehead is currently involved in a number of projects, including the intriguing possibility of

creating the sleeve design for Guns N' Roses' long awaited and much-anticipated 'Chinese
Democracy' album. 'I met just last week with [producer] Roy Thomas-Baker, so hopefully I'll be
meeting again with Roy and Axl and it all gets tied up,' he says." (Classic Rock, 01/02)

The first night was plagued with uneven Front of House and the most dubious Axl rants of the

"During a 10-minute mid-concert apologia [on 12/29/01], Rose rambled semi-coherently on how
the record company, the studio, the producers, and everyone in the band "dropped the ball" in the
last year until 'we didn't know what the ball was.'" (Allstar, 01/02/02)
"[Album cover designer Paul Whitehead] was taken aback to learn that for the past three months
Axl has been working on just one track." (Classic Rock, 01/02)

Axl seemed to have again slipped to the perilous neighborhood which he'd occupied the year
before, spinning his wheels, as he put it.

"[Axl's] story [on the tour] follows the press release that was given to the press when they
canceled it. Turns out the record label wanted to make some money so they booked the shows
without Axl's knowledge. He said that he was not ready for the shows and instead of canceling it,
they postponed it to later dates because they had already made a lot of money off of it (they sold
out most of the venues according to Axl) and did not want to give a refund." (Fan review on the
12/29/01 show)

Therefore, the early part of Axl's speech refers to the June shows, towards which he felt ready
and able to commit after RIR3. They were hardly booked without his direct consent - or,
alternatively, he was at least informed of them no later than in January.

"Rose claimed to have learned about Guns' cancelled European tour via the Internet, to which
someone in the audience screamed: 'Aw, bullshit! Get a manager!'" (Allstar, 01/02/02)

Which alludes to Axl learning about the December shows on the Internet. I guess you can say
taking a break from Goldstein put Axl into situation where he learned the ongoing matters of his
band from the web.

"Slash [...] was in Vegas on vacation, [...] made some calls and got on the guest list for the
December 29 show. [...] Slash said a representative from the band's management company,
along with hotel security officers, came to his room and told him to stay away from the show, 'to
spare me the embarrassment of being turned away at the door.'

[...] The prevailing concern, they relayed, was that his attendance might 'freak Axl [Rose] out'. [...]
Guns N’ Roses’ manager, Doug Goldstein [...] told the Los Angeles Times: '[...] Axl was
really nervous about these shows. We decided on our own not to take any risk.' [...] [Slash
conculed,] 'It shouldn't have been a big deal. And if, even after all this time, if Axl had wanted to
do a song, any number of our old GN'R songs, it would have been way cool.'" (01/05/02,

While the second night was generally considered a much more firm effort, a reunion wasn't in the

Like other A&R men before him, Zutaut had lasted a year. But was there an album to be


The Desperate Trail

In January, Paul Westerberg contacted Tommy Stinson on a minor reunion for their former band,
The Replacements.

"Last winter the Internet was alight with rumors of a Stinson/Paul Westerberg tour '” one that
would, in typically perverse fashion, have retraced the steps of 1959's tragic Buddy Holly/Ritchie
Valens/Big Bopper 'Winter Dance Party' package." (Metro Times Detroit, 08/20/03)
Historically, the Winter Dance Party is divided in half due to the tragic plane crash midway. The
full lineup performed in between Jan 23rd and Feb 2nd, while the remaining dates ran from Feb
3rd to 15th. In a moment of morbid ingenuity, The Replacements would've probably hit the road
on 02/03/02.

"[Westerberg hints] that some very influential someone kiboshed the surprise Replacements
reunion he tried assembling in February, a just-for-kicks tour that would have retraced Buddy
Holly's unfinished steps on the ill-fated Winter Dance Party jaunt of 1959. 'I think Tommy was
advised not to do it, if you can make sense of that,' Westerberg tells us. 'When I called him, he
was anxious and interested in a wild idea like that, and then suddenly had a change of heart. So
go figure.'" (CDNow, 04/16/02)

"'It got as serious as one kind of funny phone call,' recalls Stinson of the Westerberg-proposed
jaunt. 'We joked about it and I came back and said, 'I really don't have time to do it right now, but
thanks anyway.' And that was the end of it.

Then somehow that turned into 'Axl wouldn't let him do it!' and all this bullshit that [Paul] put out in
the press. It was really fucked. I can't say it made me real happy; it didn't make Axl very happy
either. But in reality it never got any further than the one conversation.'" (Metro Times Detroit,

Whatever the truth, the tour would've been deceptively close to certain someone's birthday, and
he had other things to worry about already.

A Man Alone

The details surrounding RTB's dismissal are sketchy, as some have suggested he was fired 'by
accident', after an apparent misunderstanding. His line was said to be that he'd be 'fired only
once'. Whatever the reason, sources close to the band have said he was kept on the payroll for
months after he'd walked out, with hopes of him returning and finishing the job.

"Around Christmas, [Axl] ousted both Mr. Baker and Mr. Zutaut (who said there had been a
miscommunication). It would be weeks before the singer would even allow an Interscope
executive to visit him in the studio, according to people involved with the production." (New York
Times, 03/06/05)

The news of the dismissal would therefore become public as soon representatives were allowed
in the studio again, which could've well been in mid-February.

"Maybe turning 40 is getting to him, but we hear that Axl Rose (who passed that age milestone on
Feb. 6) has been on a firing spree, the latest victim being producer Roy Thomas Baker. Assuming
he stays fired, RTB (best known for his work with Queen) can put this one in the win column
regardless. [...] A spokesperson for RTB offered up the usual 'no comment,' followed by a cryptic,
'You know how these things are, it's cool.'" (CDNow, 02/12/02)

Around this time, a management spokesperson visited the studio and in the following month,
informed Classic Rock of the overall status.

"I went to the studio 3 weeks ago [in mid-February] and heard 41 songs [...] from the 60 or 70
[Axl]'s working on... You're gonna be blown away when you hear them. All this stuff in the papers
is rubbish. Axl's got himself together and he's making an incredible, important record." (Kerrang,
"Needless to say, the label wants the record done. They've been pouring millions into the project
for years, the only saving grace being their books technically didn't start showing the loss until
they inherited the already multi-million dollar old project from Geffen, whose share was written off
when the label was folded into Interscope/Universal." (CDNow, 02/12/02)

"Interscope dispatched a senior talent executive, Mark Williams, to oversee the project." (New
York Times, 03/06/05)

Williams, the latest A&R Man, had a notable gap in his otherwise productive resume in around
2002. After leaving the project, he would launch the solo career of No Doubt vocalist Gwen
Stefani, sign M.I.A. to Interscope and be selected the #1 in the World 100 A&R chart by
HitQuarters in 2005. The album was now allegedly scheduled for the second half of 2002. From
the looks of things, they were still keeping within Zutaut's estimate for a September release.

Fall for Grace

In late April, the band announced three shows, all four months away. August 17th and 18th were
set for appearances at the Japanese SummerSonic festival, while the 23rd was for Carling Leeds
Festival in the UK. Rumbling was ongoing as for the album.

"An insider at the band's management company, Sanctuary, has told Metal that
work on the new GN'R album 'Chinese Democracy' has been completed. 'An album exists,' said
the source, 'and we expect to have it released before the end of the year. Word is that it's an
awesome record.'" (Metal Hammer, 04/25/02)

In May, the guitar player who was approached in late '99 to replace Robin was called to replace
Paul Huge.

"I had done a few sessions with Tommy Stinson (bassist from The Replacements) and Brain (ex-
drummer from Primus). Tommy and I had been pretty good friends for awhile so when they were
looking for someone, Tommy called and asked if I wanted to audition.

At the time I was on the road in Europe [with Enrique Iglesias] so I had to fly from London to L.A.
and then back to Ireland during a two-day break [May 17th-18th, 2002]. Got off the plane and
went straight to the audition and then got back on a plane!" (Fortus, Anderson Guitars, 04/20/03)

In mid-June, more dates were announced. A US tour was now rumored to take place.

"Guns n' Roses will begin an overseas tour on August 14th in Hong Kong, which will include the
Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo and Osaka. The band will then head to Europe to play the
Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium, the Carling Festival in Leeds, and two additional shows in London.
G n' R are then planning to return to the U.S. for a tour to run from September to December."
(Rolling Stone, 06/14/02)

The Leeds show would remain in doubt as the organizers experienced difficulty in obtaining the
necessary licenses. Controversy seemed to follow GNR to their first European show in nine
years, even though this was to be counted into non-related instances.

However, the album was said to have a release date - and lo and behold, it did indeed match
Zutaut's prediction. It also matched the previous reports that the band would embark on a US tour
in September, conveniently to tour behind the album.
"Guns 'n' Roses 'Chinese Democracy' has been rescheduled for release September 2, almost
three years after the original release date. Axl Rose has recorded over 70 songs for this record
with various producers." (Undercover News, 06/24/02)

"Guns N' Roses' record company and management has told Launch that rumors that the band's
forthcoming album, Chinese Democracy, was to be released Labor Day weekend are untrue. A
spokesperson for Interscope/Geffen spoke to the band's management, who replied to the
unsubstantiated rumor, 'Where are they getting this from?'" (Launch, 06/25/02)

So, Axl speaks to his management, who speak to the label representatives, who comment to the
press? Do it the hard way. But as it turned out, the state of the release was sketchy at best.

Finishing touches

In the summer, orchestrations were ordered for a total of eight tracks.

"Marco [Beltrami] recently was asked to provide orchestral arrangements for the upcoming Guns
N Roses album." (Marco Beltrami official site, 10/17/02)

"[GNR] was sort of just work for hire. [...] I met with Axl and he played me these songs, asked me
my ideas about them, and I told him what I thought they needed. They gave me four songs to
orchestrate. [...] A song called 'Seven,' which is the one [...] I actually wrote a guitar part [on].
There was one called 'Thyme,' one called 'The General,' one called 'Leave Me Alone.'" (Marco
Beltrami, IGN, 07/20/03)

If the Illusion records are anything to go by, back then Axl begun recording the lyrics and adding
the orchestrations and whatnot to the songs after the basic tracks had been recorded.

"They had finished tracks [...] and then I added orchestral stuff on top of it. [...] A couple of them I
did more than orchestrating, I actually wrote some melodies and stuff. [...] The music was eclectic
and at the time that I was doing it [...] they pretty much had the band tracks down, [but] there
were no lyrics on the songs that I was working on. [...] I thought [the album] was coming out [in]
September [2002]." (Marco Beltrami, IGN, 07/20/03)

As Beltrami says he assumed the album would come out in September, he most likely worked in
the project during July at the latest. Amusingly, he seemed to get the same release date
information as others. And he wasn't the only one.

"Paul Buckmaster, a British arranger [...] met Rose in July at LA's Village Recorder studio
complex. 'Axl was supposed to be there at 3pm, but turned up at 5,' says Buckmaster. [...] 'Axl
[had] recently returned from Malaysia or Indonesia. [...] He [...] ran me through four songs that he
wanted to put strings over. [...] We'd be listening to a guitar part and he'd say, 'That's not nearly
loud enough'. Anyone else would have said that it was the loudest guitar sound ever recorded.'"
(The Times, 03/18/05)

"According to Buckmaster's official discography/list of credits, which can be viewed at this

location, he has served as the arranger and conductor on the tracks 'Blues', 'TWAT',
'Madagascar' and 'Prostitute'." (Blabbermouth, 11/23/04)

"Prostitute is a mid-up, kind of biting, aggressive rhythm section; the way I wrote for the string
section (32-piece, consisting of ten 1st Violins, eight 2nd Violins, six violas, and eight cellos) gives
the song another dimension of, ice and fire, kind of powerful." (Paul Buckmaster, Sp1at, 05/29/05)
As with the UYI's, Axl appeared to be nearing the finishing line as the tour crept closer. Once
again, he seemingly had no qualms in possibly dropping the album while on the road.

"If Mr. Rose appeared more remote, his vision of the project became more grandiose, people
involved with the band said. [...] He now spoke of releasing not merely one album but a trilogy.
And he planned one very big surprise." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"The 2002 MTV Video Music Awards has announced its first batch of performers and presenters
for its Aug. 29 show at Radio City Music Hall in New York. While the much rumored Guns N'
Roses performance is not on that list (at least not yet), P. Diddy and Shakira are." (CDNow,

In between late June and mid-July, the second London date (08/27/02) had been wiped away
before it was officially confirmed. It would certainly seem feasible that this was done in order to
accommodate the band's overseas traveling schedule, as the VMA's would occur on 08/29.

Nevermind September

As the tour start grew nearer, plans were put in doubt once again.

"It doesn't look like Guns N' Roses will be touring North America in September after all. According
to a report out of Indonesia, the band will be performing there in late September, following a tour
of Australia. Indonesian promoter Tommy Pratama told the local digital publication Detikcom that
he's had to reschedule the concert three times, from Sept. 7 to Sept. 13 to the current date of
Sept. 29, but he is optimistic the booking is now firm. He noted that the group was expected to be
in Australia Sept. 11-25, and in Korea on the 27th. The popular rumor had been that a U.S. tour
would be kicking off Sept. 2." (CDNow, 08/05/02)

It would seem the plan so far had been to finish up the album, do a minor warm-up tour in Asia
and Europe (starting fittingly in China), return to the States for the Video Music Awards, celebrate
the album release and begin a full tour in the midst of the CD release. Now, they were about to
detour through softer markets, buying themselves at least another month before the assumed
return to the US. But what for?

"Promoter Tommy Pratama has confirmed to Undercover News that he is in negotiations to bring
G'n'R to Indonesia and that it will happen after their Australian tour. Pratama says he was initially
talking about touring the band next month, but they have decided to move dates to January /
February 2003 to promote the album Chinese Democracy.

[...] The comments confirm news early this year that the long awaited Chinese Democracy is
indeed ready for release. Gunners had hoped to release the album in September but the record is
now scheduled for November, according to Pratama." (Undercover News, 08/12/02)

In a week, the September slate was wiped clean. On the day the September cancellations were
made official, Axl had already arrived to China. His cohorts would put out a press release
following the performance in Hong Kong. All bets were off and the tour hadn't even begun.

"[This is] a warm up, so we can have an understanding of how to start our Fall tour. And that's a
warm up for the Spring tour. This thing is starting now and much like Use Your Illusions that went
for two and a half years, this thing is going to go off and on for the next two or three years, and
we'll see how it goes.
[...] Paul [Huge] helped us a lot in the writing and the recording of this record and to me was a
vital part of not only the band but also my life. The world tour really wasn't his cup of tea whereas
he's much more comfortable in a studio setting.

[...] This is our tour. This is a collection of performances I've agreed to. That I have personally
authorized - not someone else's good intentions gone awry, or a reckless promoter's personal
agenda." (Axl, GNROnline, 08/15/02)

As Axl had been vocal about the 2001 cancellations being the record company's fault, it's
certainly good to hear he'd now gotten abreast of the matter and personally agreed to tour. At this
point, there's no doubt whether he personally wanted to release the album in September to
accommodate a long road trip. It also alludes that Richard Fortus was hired as first and foremost
a touring member, as Huge seemingly wouldn't had wanted to spent a good while of the next few
years traveling with the band.

"Guns N' Roses will go back into the studio immediately following the [August] dates to put the
final touches on the forthcoming 'Chinese Democracy' album. 'I gave into a lot of pressure on
Illusions both internally in Guns and externally in the press, those albums suffered as a
consequence, it's not something I'm too excited to have to live with again.

There are a lot of new songs that were just done in the last year that we feel that 'okay, well that
bumps a lot of stuff off the previous list'. [...] I think that we'll go on to write some very interesting
things with Richard and he's already done some rhythm work and some leads on the album, [...]
but it's time to stop [adding new songs] now and wrap up the baby..

[...] It feels right, the timing, and a lot of things. We've sorted it down to what songs are on the
record. What the sequence of the songs is. The album cover art is ready. Blah, blah, blah. If
you're waiting...don't. [...] Now that we feel that we have clarity as to the album we're trying to
make, we're wrapping it up. We've had every obstacle and every strange occurrence that you can
have and for us to be playing Hong Kong in a few days is a big step.'" (Axl, GNROnline, 08/15/02)

Certainly, the album was supposed to be ready at that point. However, as there is still work to be
done, Axl seemed rather defensive and sounded as if he'd answered same question more than
once already. His stance seemed to be that he would not be forced by the management, the
record label or any other party to finish up beforehand.

Rather than to cancel the already-booked performances at the VMA's and in North America, Axl
then agreed to press on. One question remained: Could the album be completed in September?

Made in Hong Kong

On 08/14, at the tour opener in China, Axl proved the cover art was indeed ready.

"Before [GNR] played [CD], [Axl] told a little anecdote why the new album is called 'Chinese
Democracy'. He said it was because he saw a photo taken in Hong Kong, which he's using as the
new album cover. And then he showed it on the video screens, and it was a black and white
picture of a bicycle with a basket, and in the wall behind it, someone had grafittied 'Guns N'
Roses'!!! He said 'I didn't paint that myself, so one of you motherfuckers out there must have did
it!'" (Fan review)

"At one point, that was going to be the cover of the record - I'm not sure if it's now. This one guy...
he was my keyboard tech at the time... Michael... and I mean he was in China at the time and he
saw that and took a picture and showed it to Axl." (Dizzy, Metal Sludge, 01/29/06)
By 08/23, the first European show at the Carling Leeds Festival, controversy would raise its ugly
head again.

"Guns N' Roses show at Leeds Carling Weekend was delayed by over an hour last night resulting
in a 'very substantial overrun' for festival organisers to deal with. The band were due headline the
Main Stage, due on at 10pm following The Prodigy [who'd end at 9.30pm]. However, the stage
was running approximately half an hour late." (NME, 08/24/02)

"From the first band all the way through the day, the set changes kept getting longer and longer.
Prodigy was supposed to go on until 9.30pm, but didn't end up leaving the stage until 10.10pm.
[...] We had out normal 45-minute set change." (Doug Goldstein, NME, 08/27/02)

Goldstein omitted the detail that GNR, like The Prodigy, were scheduled for a 30-minute set
change. Therefore, GNR should've originally been able to take the stage at around 10.40pm. With
nine bands in the lineup before GNR, an overall forty minute delay in set changes meant
approximately five extra minutes per change.

"The running delay was further compounded by the vast amount of equipment between [The
Prodigy and GNR]. As a result the Guns N’ Roses crew were not able to take control of the
stage until 10.30 pm to begin their preparations for the band's set." (GNROnline, 08/27/02)

"[GNR arrived] after 11pm - over an hour behind schedule. The Gunners then played a set
running to almost two hours, not finishing until just before 1am." (NME, 08/24/02)

Apparently, the intended curfew time was at 12.00pm, which equalled a two-hour set, a generous
amount of time for a festival headliner.

"Eyewitnesses claim that at about 12.15am, just before 'November Rain', Axl announced the
council and promoters wanted him to finish the show." (NME, 08/24/02)

"Festival organiser Melvin Been [...] risked going to jail [...] if he did not shut down the show.
Myself and my partner Merck, and our production manager were in his office during the GN'R set,
and I saw this man, who had been a gentleman to us from the inception of our committing to play
the event, in great emotional turmoil and unrest." (Doug Goldstein, NME, 08/27/02)

"Melvin Benn [...] said in a statement: "It was a very unusual night which due to technical
problems resulted in a very substantial overrun. We took a good number of steps to minimise the
impact this would have on the local environment and we do not expect this to happen again. In
view of the many thousands of fans that had waited diligently for the first Guns N' Roses
appearance in nine years, and the potential consequences of that meant an overrun became the
only option." (NME, 08/24/02)

A potential disaster had hurled in the air above the band and their UK debut.

On 08/26/02, during the last European show in Docklands Arena, London, the album issue was
brought up again.

"There's been some concern. That if we play five or six new songs, then there can't that many
more on the album. Au contraire, mon frére. We're just playing the songs we're not considering
putting out as singles or anything. So, you'll get 18 songs, and about 10 extra tracks. And when
that, when the record company feels that has run its course, then you'll get it all over again. By
that time, I should be done with the third album. So we'll see if all goes well boys and girls." (Axl,
Docklands, 08/26/02)

A total number of around 60-70 songs was said to have been in the works at the time, with 41 of
them A-listed. Axl's numbers implied that after CD would be out along with the extra tracks,
there'd be around 13 tracks left on the A-list, with another 20-30 on the B-list. Another album
(without another EP) with the same amount of material would've left 15-25 songs in reserve,
which would've been sufficient for three separate albums.

The B-sides weren't exactly a new idea for Axl.

"I want five B-sides [for Use Your Illusion] - people never listen to B-sides anymore - and that'll be
the back of another EP. We'll say it's B-sides, you know, plus there should be four extra songs for
an EP, if we pull this off." (Axl, Kerrang, 04/21/90)

'Fucked up and out of place'

On 08/28/02, the band went through a secret rehearsal at the Radio City Music Hall, New York,
gearing up for the VMA's.

"We didn't have what we were doing on stage worked out until [...] the day before the show." (Axl,
WRIF, 11/21/02)

The original idea would've likely been to play the first single off CD, as the album release
would've occurred within a week.

"At MTV's annual awards show [on 08/29/02], publicists buzzed through the audience whispering
about a big finale." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"The day of the show, they didn't let us go down that street. I had to get out of the car, run past
the police, and they're telling me I have to stop, and I'm like, 'I've gotta sing.' And the best part
was, as I'm running down the street, I had to run past all the people lined up to get into the
building, and they're going, [puts on dumb rock fan voice] 'Hey, there goes KID ROCK.' I thought
that was pretty funny. [...] I had, like, police chasing me down the street, and then our security and
MTV had to clear it with them, but... It was very interesting." (Axl, WRIF, 11/21/02)

"And with just minutes to go in the broadcast, a screen lifted away to reveal the band and Mr.
Rose, in cornrows and a sports jersey, looking strikingly young. The musicians burst into
'Welcome to the Jungle,' one of the original band's biggest hits, and the crowd went wild. But on
television Mr. Rose quickly seemed out of breath and out of tune. He ended the performance,
which included the new song 'Madagascar' and the original band's hit 'Paradise City' in a
messianic stance, raising his arms and closing his eyes. He left the audience with a cryptic but
tantalizing message: 'Round one.'" (New York Times, 03/06/05)

"Axl Rose brought Guns N' Roses back to the MTV Video Music Awards Thursday night for the
first time in 10 years, but the frontman indicated that the wait for a new album from the band will
continue. 'You'll see [the album], but I don't know if 'soon' is the word,' Rose explained to [Kurt
Loder] immediately after unveiling the current GN'R lineup to an American television audience for
the first time. 'It will come out, and we'll do some more recording and start the American leg of the
tour,' he promised." (MTV, 08/30/02)

"Guns N' Roses will begin a 40-plus date North American arena tour in late October in the
Northeastern U.S., according to sources. This will be the band's first full-blown U.S. tour since
playing 29 shows in 1993 that grossed $13.7 million." (Billboard, 08/30/02)
Plan B was still in the works. Do the mini-tour and the VMA's, head back to the studio, and
complete the album for a November release. The return to the road would happen in October,
which would also be a slight necessity, as the record company requires roughly eight weeks to
set the release up properly after the album is turned over. Hence, late-September completion
equals late-November release.

'They only did it 'cos of fame'

"Recording [of Paul Buckmaster's orchestrations] began on September 13. Rose, though, was
absent. Like many others on the project, Buckmaster has yet to hear if his contribution will see
the light of day." (The Times, 03/18/05)

"I joined a few months back. We did the tour of Europe, and when we got back, I recorded my
parts for the album." (Fortus, Times Union, 11/21/02)

And then, the inevitable happened; Axl was granted more time. At first, it was merely two-three

"Guns N' Roses are rumored to have set December 10th (December 9th in Europe) as the
release date of their long-awaited new album, Chinese Democracy, through Interscope/Geffen
Records. If the unconfirmed reports are to be believed, the album's first single, "Catcher In The
Rye", is scheduled to surface on November 25th with an accompanying video to be filmed in the
next four weeks prior to the start of the band's U.S. tour, which is said to have a late October kick-
off date. [The Blues is] said to have been tentatively tapped as the album's second single, to be
released sometime in early 2003." (Blabbermouth, 09/16/02)

On September 26th, a North American tour was announced, set to begin in Vancouver, BC on
11/07/02. Two days later, the shows in Chicago (11/18), Boston (12/02), New York (12/05) and
Philadelphia (12/06) went on pre-sale, with the NY show in Madison Square Garden selling out in
15 minutes. The band was said to even looking into taking the tour to Montreal, where they hadn't
played since the 1992 riot.

The tour start might've been slipped to November so that it would coincide with a single launch.
That is, if there was a single.

The Catcher Shanghai'd

The rumors of GNR taking a trip to Shanghai to film a new video kept coming, zeroing in on early
October. Meanwhile, the rumored release date crept up a notch, now landing on 12/03, just
before the show in Madison Square Garden, New York.

"Axl Rose was spotted in Shanghai on Tuesday (October 8). Was the Guns N' Roses mastermind
taking Chinese Democracy to the streets instead of the studio? Who knows ... there's still no
release date in sight." (MTV, 10/09/02)

"Guns N' Roses were apparently [...] in Shanghai [...] last week [...] recording a video for the
track 'Catcher In The Rye', which is taken from their forthcoming new album 'Chinese
Democracy'." (Metal Hammer, 10/20/02)

"We had the following sent to us from a DJ at a radio station. They are doing an interview with Axl
and his management sent over the following info to them:

3. The interviewer should ask about:

d) He spent some time in China and wrote songs there - what was it like?" (Metal Sludge,

"Bach: And than you were telling me the other day that you lived in China for three months?
Axl: Yeah, we went and stayed in China for about three months, Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian."
(Eddie Trunk show, 05/05/06)

As Paul Buckmaster mentioned Axl'd just returned from the Middle-East in June, it's possible he
made at least two separate trips there in the space of six months, instead of one three-month trip.
The trips would've occured on both sides of the Eurasian mini-tour.

"Trunk: That inspired the name of the album at all?

Axl: No, [the name] was before that, but then I just thought I should go. I wanted to go before they
banned me. So, you know, I mean Chinese Democracy that doesn't quite work for the
government over there." (Eddie Trunk show, 05/05/06)

Maybe Next Year

The deadline to turn in the finished album in order to meet a 12/03/02 release date would've been
in early October, a time which Axl was said to be in Shanghai. Therefore, around Halloween,
trouble was about.

"Apparently GN'R was slated to be in record store ads for the first week in December. But the ads
were pulled at the last minute. That means that if the album comes out on Dec. 3rd, it won't be in
the ad circulars in your local Sunday newspaper. At least not during that weekend." (HTGTH,

"I've heard [the album]'s coming out in March -- but then again I've heard a lot of things, so you
never know." (Fortus, Times Union, 11/21/02)

"'Chinese Democracy' should be in stores by June, according to keyboardist Dizzy Reed. 'There
are just a few odds and ends left to do - a couple of finishing touches, a couple of vocals'” and we
need to mix it,' he said." (Plain Dealer, 11/22/02)

As the record company would've required two months to set up a release, the album would've
been turned over by April. Had they kept touring from North America to Australia, South Korea
and Indonesia, studio work would've continued in February '03. In any case, Dizzy's assumption
was that CD was only 2-4 months away from completion.

"We come up with new ideas that we're working on as we go, and it is a really, really slow
process, because it's kind of left more to ourselves in trying to figure it out. [...] It doesn't seem
like there's a lot of support [from the record company] for bands that have been around. That's my
experience. So in putting this thing together, in a lot of ways, I've had to do way more jobs in it
than I'm supposed to ... I've had to be manager, A&R man, producer, sole lyric writer, and a lot of
[other] things.

[...] This is a collaborative effort with the players, but the players aren't exactly sure what it should
be to try to win over the world Guns N' Roses style. So that's kind of my responsibility. It took a
long time, but now it's working, and I think we'll have the right record, and when we do drop the
record, the plan is to drop the record, have a bunch of extra tracks, about a year or so down the
road drop another record and drop a third record. This is a three-stage thing and we'll be touring
for a real long time." (Axl, WRIF, 11/21/02)
A trilogy of albums was in place, then - if only in Axl's mind at the moment.


On November 7th, after over two months of delays, the North American tour was scheduled to
start in Vancouver, BC.

"Thursday was supposed to be a very big night for Guns N' Roses fans: the long-awaited launch
of the group's first U.S. tour in nine years." (MTV, 11/08/02)

"The band rehearsed Wednesday in GM Place without Rose, who rarely rehearses with his
band." (Canoe, 11/08/02)

"According to Guns' management, [Axl's] flight's departure from L.A. had been delayed by
mechanical troubles. He had been scheduled to take the stage with Guns N' Roses at 9:30."
(MTV, 11/08/02)

"The trouble began when the venue doors didn't open as scheduled at 6:30 p.m. [...] Ticket sales
wickets were shut down." (Canoe, 11/08/02)

"The manager of the building said that the doors wouldn't open until he had confirmation that we
were wheels up, that the plane was in the air." (Axl, KISW Seattle, 11/08/02)

Flight time between LAX and YVR is approximately 2hrs 40mins. Additionally, the distace
between YVR and GM Place is around 7 miles, equaling to about 20-30mins driving. Had Axl left
LAX at 6.30pm, he'd arrived at YVR at around 9.10pm, while arriving to GM Place, at the earliest,
between 9.30pm-10pm.

"The official announcement [on the show having been cancelled] came over the loudspeakers at
7:40 p.m." (Canoe, 11/08/02)

"I was in the air. I was in a plane on the way to the show. [...] As soon as [the building manager]
had that confirmation, he cancelled the show without telling anybody. [...] Before [the rioting]
started, [the manager] had police at the airport, trying to find out what was going on with me."
(Axl, KISW Seattle, 11/08/02)

Axl left LAX in between 6.30-7.40pm. Assuming he left at 7.30pm, his estimated time of arrival to
YVR would've been at 10.10pm, with an arrival to GM Place at around 10.30-11pm. Give or take
perhaps 30 minutes of preshow preparations at the venue, the show might've started at around

"Though common sense says it would have been smart to be in Vancouver early in the day, like
the rest of the band, for the start of the tour, Rose's manager, Merck Mercuriadis, said backstage
Friday that Rose prefers to arrive at the arena just before show time. In this case, Rose's itinerary
would have put him at the GM Place in time to go on at 10 p.m., as scheduled, but he was
delayed in getting to the airport by traffic, the manager said. He added that the plane would have
been in Vancouver in time for Rose to go on by 11 p.m., and that he tried to convince arena
officials to let the show start late, with Rose covering overtime costs." (LA Times, 11/09/02)

"The building manager just decided, and in our opinion, prematurely, that the show was just
cancelled. And he didn't discuss it with anyone. He just announced it over the P.A, we found out,
my guys found out over the Public Address system." (Axl, KISW Seattle, 11/08/02)
"The members of Guns N' Roses were [...] bummed about the show's cancellation. Bassist
Tommy Stinson, loitering by a backstage buffet table, said, 'Axl is gonna be pissed.'" (MTV,

"I didn't even know what the hell was going on. Tommy and Dizzy were doing an interview
backstage with Kurt Loder from MTV, and they heard the announcement that the show was
canceled coming over the PA system in the arena. No one could believe it. And it was Robin's
birthday, too. It was such a drag." (Richard, Times Union, 11/21/02)

"Within 15 minutes of the cancellation announcement, the crowd - estimated at 9,000 - began
rioting. Ticket sales windows at GM Place were smashed and when police were called in to quell
the mob, rocks were thrown at them." (Pollstar, 11/08/02)

"After about 20 minutes of all this, a phalanx of cops waded in with attack dogs, and things got
really ugly. Those fans who escaped the police onslaught with nothing more than a faceful of
pepper spray might be said to have been the lucky ones. Wielding their riot batons with seeming
abandon, the cops walloped legs, arms, heads, whatever available extremity presented itself.
They ganged up to pummel people even after they'd fallen to the ground. One young man was
smashed in the face and had his teeth knocked out ... he stumbled away in a daze, holding them
in his hands, with blood pouring from his mouth." (MTV, 11/08/02)

"At 9 p.m., a dejected looking posse that included a masked Buckethead and other band
members was ushered out of the building." (CDNow, 11/09/02)

"'We could have easily played that show,' Stinson said of the concert, pulled by the producer. 'We
got the short end of the stick on it.'" (Tommy, Quad City Times, 11/17/02)

Like Axl, the tour was still up in the air.

Out in Style

The tour begun properly on 11/08/02 in Tacoma, Washington. The seating arrangement was set
to accomodate around 12,000 concert-goers, with around 7,000 tickets sold. The band took the
stage before 10pm, within 20-50mins (accounts vary) after scheduled time. While attendance was
meek, the response was positive and the reviews generally fair.

In the ensuing shows, Axl inexplicably abandoned his VMA outfit of bandanna and leather
trousers for various over-sized jerseys and sweatpants. On 11/21/02, at The Palace of Auburn
Hills, Minnesota, the show ends abruptly after Patience as the band misses a beat, forcing Axl to
go through one verse all over again. He storms offstage mid-song, returning to end it. After that,
the show is over.

On 11/27/02, at the Pepsi Arena in Albany, NY, Axl ranted onstage on the behaviour of his former
band mates. It was no doubt the most vitriolic commentary so far, which was curious considering
how the recent shows had reportedly shown an enthusiastic band with even Axl visibly enjoying

Starting from a concert in Toronto on 11/29/02, the band enjoyed a string of five shows with the
most favorable reviews of the North American tour with venues always sold mostly if not
completely to capacity.

"There was a sense that the entire existence of Guns N' Roses--a tenuous entity if ever there was
one--hung in the balance on December 5, 2002. It was the day of New York City's first major
snowstorm of the season, and the evening of GN'R's sold-out performance at Madison Square
Garden. And 10 p.m. was make-or-break time for the winter of Axl Rose's discontent.

[...] And for the first time since...well, since forever, Guns N' Roses went onstage early and played
real fucking rock music for two fucking hours (19 songs, three of them new). Against seemingly
unfathomable odds, the reinvented Guns N' Roses were remarkably awesome.

[...] They rocked extremely hard. And then they were no more." (Spin, 06/26/03)

'Pretty mellow crowd'

The following show was to take place on 12/06/02 in Philadelphia.

"According to Philadelphia news stations, the opening act at the First Union Center date
performed for two hours before the show was called off. [...] 'We were informed around 8 p.m. or
so that Axl Rose was still in Manhattan and a helicopter was being sent to get him,' explains Peter
Luukko, president of Comcast-Spectacor Ventures and chairman of Global Spectrum,
management company for the First Union Center." (Billboard, 12/21/02)

"With a helicopter waiting on the rooftop of his hotel to take him on a brief 40-minute flight to
Philadelphia for that night's show at the First Union Center, a dispirited Rose refused to budge."
(Blender, 02/10/03)

"I went to the Guns N' Roses show tonight at the First Union Center in Philly, it was sold out and
everything. Well, I got there at around 8:30 and Mix Master Mike was still on stage. He kept
saying how Guns N' Roses would be on in a minute, yet never left the stage for another 30-45
minutes. Everyone started kidding around saying that Axl wouldn't show up again. Well, Mix
Master Mike ended at around 9:15-9:30." (Blabbermouth, 12/07/02)

"Things went awry shortly after the opening act, Mix Master Mike, ended its set about 9:45.
Witnesses said about a half-hour later, fans began to realize something was amiss when
stagehands began packing up their equipment and leaving." (, 12/07/02)

"At 10, no sign of the show starting. Word was spreading that Axl hadn't arrived yet. Then we
found out that the First Union Center had put a stop on all beer sales ... kind of odd for them to do
so before the main act went on. So it got to be 10:30, and still no band - people were starting to
see what was coming. In between every song that was being played, the booing got louder and
louder, and chants of 'asshole' began that were really loud. At that point, you knew Guns N'
Roses wouldn't be playing." (Blabbermouth, 12/07/02)

"Promoter Clear Channel and venue managers Comcast-Spectator set a firm deadline of
10:45pm for Rose to say whether or not he would show up to play. Rose's longtime manager,
Doug Goldstein, reached at Rose's New York hotel room, glumly reported, 'He's not coming.'"
(Blender, 02/10/03)

"Basically we were in touch with band management as to what the progress was, and at 10:45 we
were informed [Rose] wasn't coming." (Billboard, 12/21/02)

"Matt Cord, a DJ for Philly modern-rock station Y-100 and a longtime friend of bassist Tommy
Stinson, says the band members [...] minus Rose, were in Philadelphia Friday night and ready to
play. Then the show's local promoter informed them that their singer was feeling ill and wouldn't
be joining them." (, 12/13/02)

"It was not Axl's fault. He will tell you later. He was late to the concert and it got canceled by the
promotion people who were scared that there would be another riot. It was silly because there
was a riot anyway." (Fernando Lebeis, O Globo, 07/09/03)

"Venue representatives boosted security to avoid a repeat of the riot that occurred when GN'R
failed to turn up for their opening-night show in Vancouver on November 7." (Blender, 02/10/03)

"'At that point a decision was made to make an announcement at 11:15, giving us a half-hour to
get security in place and police backup from the city of Philadelphia,' Luukko says." (Billboard,

"Finally, when people saw the soundboard guys cover up their equipment, all hell broke loose.
People started ripping binoculars off the seats and throwing them down on the floor, people were
chucking their drinks and food at security around the stage as they took the equipment away,
people rushed the stage, a fight broke out, folding chairs were turned into launching pads."
(Blabbermouth, 12/07/02)

"At 11:15, the 15,000 strong audience was told the show was not going to happen 'due to illness
in the band.' Fans were asked not to take their anger out on the staff or the facility. Some of them
threw chairs and attacked the lighting, sound, and video crews, but no arrests or injuries were
reported." (Blender, 02/10/03)

"An announcement FINALLY came on at around 11:15 saying that the show had been cancelled
due to 'health reasons' and that tickets were valid whenever the show would be rescheduled."
(Blabbermouth, 12/07/02)

"'It's very simple. We were informed Axl was ill and wasn't going to appear in the building, and we
made an announcement,' said Peter Luukko, president of Comcast Spectacor Ventures, which
owns and operates the center." (, 12/07/02)

"That really set people off, and chairs started flying at the soundboard and up on stage. It was not
a pretty sight. However, a good amount of people did leave and outside seemed to be quite calm
in comparison to what was happening inside. There was a large police presence outside, but
thankfully they were not instigating anything with angry fans. Who knows what happened, but I
can tell you while I'm shocked, I'm certainly not surprised. I also think Philadelphia fans handled
the situation quite well considering the circumstances and the past history with riots."
(Blabbermouth, 12/07/02)

"We did have some chairs thrown and some damage in the building, but all in all, considering the
difficulty of the situation, we were able to get people out with no major injuries." (Billboard,

And that was it, really.


"The band, with the exception of Rose, was still lodged at the Ritz Carlton in Center City [the
following] afternoon." (, 12/08/02)

There were reasons for them not to skip town as of yet.

"Guns N' Roses will attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records in Philadelphia, PA,
when they become only the second act to play back-to-back shows at the First Union Center
(December 6) and trek 758-feet, nine-and-a-half inches across the parking lot to the neighboring
First Union Spectrum (December 8)." (First Union Spectrum, press release, 11/11/02)

The second Philadelphia show was canceled, with further dates also disappearing from the tour
itinerary. Soon, the promoters sent out a brief statement.

"The remainder of the Guns N' Roses concert dates promoted by Clear Channel Entertainment
have been canceled. Refunds will be available at point of purchase." (Clear Channel, 12/12/02)

"Rose and Clear Channel could end up locked in a costly legal battle. The five-day delay in
announcing the tour's cancellation (individual dates were nixed along the way) may have signaled
a reluctance from both the band and the promoter to take responsibility for pulling the plug,
according to [Pollstar editor Gary] Bongiovanni, who says that whoever made that decision could
end up owing the other side money. ''I think lawyers are talking to lawyers,'' he says. One thing is
clear: The promoter incurred financial losses from Rose's two no shows." (, 12/12/02)

The fact that there were monetary claims surrounding the cancellations that could go either way
may partially explain why the band never officially commented the abrupt end of the tour. Then
there was the lucrative advance from Clear Channel...

"The tour, more than a year and a half in the planning [dating back to the Sanctuary/Big FD
merger], was hobbled before it started by the failure of band leader Rose to deliver "Chinese
Democracy," the tie-in album that has been promised for years. [...] In recent days, all involved
have huddled to broker the messy cancellation. Among the issues: The $1-million advance given
to Rose last year to secure the tour.

[...] The Vancouver fiasco reminded fans of Rose's consistent inconsistency as a performer and
instantly sapped any tour momentum. [The second Philadelphia] show was put on sale within
days and was greeted by frosty fan interest. Only half of the tickets for the hometown venue had
been sold.

[...] Fan safety and mounting financial risk haunted the tour's key players, as did the erratic ways
of Rose, who would pop in a different city than scheduled in the hours before some shows." (Los
Angeles Times, 12/14/02)

With $1 million already given to Axl in advance, it turned out to be difficult for Clear Channel to
make profit. The Vancouver riot might've already caused additional expenses which they, as
promoters, would've then shouldered in order for the tour to carry on.

"According to Pollstar, GN'R's North American tour was at number 75 on the top 100 tours of
2002. The tour grossed $6.5 million in ticket sales." (Pollstar, 01/04/03)

"Attendance at other venues was underwhelming according to figures reported to Pollstar, ticket
sales for the tour's first 10 dates averaged 7,344 a night for arenas that hold between 15,000 and
20,000." (Blender, 02/10/03)

"Several shows did come off, albeit to mixed critical and commercial reception. Nine shows
reported to Billboard Boxscores grossed $3,228,311 and sold 70,086 tickets out of a possible
118,611 capacity, topped by $733,525 from 13,639 at Allstate Arena near Chicago." (Billboard,

It is speculated that the uneven ticket sales and the aftermath of Vancouver made Clear Channel
to ask for the advance to be returned as collateral. True enough, the matter would remain in a
legal hold-up behind the scenes in the years to come.

"Regarding the 2002 tour Tommy says: 'There was a problem with the promoting aspect of that
tour... They pulled the plug on it and I can't really go into it.'" (Tommy, Q104.3, 01/31/05)

"'We owe Philly [a new show],' Stinson said. He wouldn't elaborate about the [2002 riot]. 'That's all
still in litigation.'" (South Philly Review, 01/20/05)

Meanwhile, the band disbanded for an earlier-than-expected Christmas holiday.

"[A GNR spokesperson] wouldn't give any details surrounding the reasons that Clear Channel
and Guns N' Roses ended their tour affiliation, but did say GN'R is very much intact. The band
and its members, vocalist Axl Rose, guitarist Buckethead, drummer Brain, bassist Tommy
Stinson, guitarist Robin Finck, et al, are currently on vacation. They will return to the studio in
January to put the finishing touches on Chinese Democracy, which the band is releasing in the
spring." (Yahoo, 12/20/02)


Meet you guys in...

A Dust N' Bones listmember met Richard Fortus at Don Hill's in New York in mid-March.

"When asked about GN'R's plans, Richard said 'Yeah, we're starting up again in May.' To the
question regarding the Chinese Democracy album and whether it will come out or not, he said
'Yeah, Axl is finishing it up now, doing vocals - overdubs. It's great.'" (Dust N' Bones, 03/20/03)

As Dizzy said in November 2002, the album supposedly had 2-4 months of work left in it. Starting
out in May therefore seems to hint the album was scheduled to be completed at that point.
Retailers seemed support that notion, as on 15/02/03, CDNow customer services responded to
inquiries that the provisional release for CD was currently on 07/01/03.

Also, soundtrack rumors were abound (again).

"It's looking likely that [Arnold Schwarzenegger] will have a song from the long time coming G'n'R
'Chinese Democracy' album included on the soundtrack for Terminator 3. [...] Terminator 3 : The
Rise of the Machines will be released on July 2, 2003." (Undercover, 01/07/03)

As with End of Days, the track would've likely been tied into the films ad campaign, allowing an
album release a fair share of additional publicity.

In April, Fortus implied that dates had slid in the past month.

"[The new GNR tour is] probably not going to start till early Fall when the record is released."
(Fortus, Anderson Guitars, 04/20/03)

Tommy'd spent the spring recording a solo album, and by the time he got around to tour, the get-
together phase was pushed - again.

"On break from Guns N' Roses until September, [...] Stinson is currently putting the finishing
touches on 16 new songs for an upcoming solo record. Primarily recorded over two months in a
studio owned by friend Charles Thompson (aka Frank Black), [...] the untitled album is currently
being shopped to labels." (Press release, 06/27/03)

Almost there?

In June, the official website was updated with an ominous message.

"Stay Tuned for news and information on Chinese Democracy coming soon." (GNROnline,

Axl was also spotted at the Led Zeppelin DVD release party that month.

"On [06/13/03], antiMUSIC co-hosted a viewing/release party for the new Led Zeppelin DVD [...]
at the Cat Club in Hollywood. GNR frontman, Axl Rose was among those who showed up for the
party. [...] [Axl] seemed hopeful that patient fans would finally have the album by the end of the
year. He elaborated a little bit that he was co-producing the CD and eluded to the fact that he
wants to make sure it is a perfect as possible before it is released." (AntiMusic, 06/17/03)

"Axl says he wants to release the album in the middle of October and I think he will because the
album is almost finished now and Axl is happy with it. [...] He wants to start touring when the
album is released. He says he might tour America again first, but I tell him to do South America
first as they are his biggest fans and his friends." (Fernando Lebeis, O Globo, 07/09/03)

With everyone promising a fall release for the album, Axl, for his part, appeared to be content with
the album as well.

"Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose wandered into the Crazy Horse Too in Las Vegas Wednesday
morning (July 16) and treated the nearly empty strip club to a preview of tracks from his band's
long-delayed Chinese Democracy album. In addition to blasting new cuts over the club's PA
system, Rose also visited the VIP room, ordered champagne and signed autographs, according
to an employee." (MTV, 07/17/03)

Return to Geffen

"One thing that may bear in the equation [of CD's release] is the recent changes with Geffen
Records. Last week MCA Records was effectively folded and most of the roster was moved over
to Geffen. Word on the street is Geffen will be reorganized and in effect become once again a full
self-standing record company (over the past few years Geffen was ran as part of Geffen /
Interscope / A&M). What that means is there will be more muscle behind a new GNR release
when the time comes." (AntiMusic, 06/17/03)

"It is hoped that the merger of Geffen and MCA's staff will bring Geffen back to its former glory.
[...] If the plan, which is still being negotiated, comes to fruition, it is expected that the majority of
MCA's staff will be brought under Geffen, thus transforming Geffen into a full-service label again,
sources said. Jordan Schur, president of Geffen Records, is negotiating a new contract to helm
the new Geffen." (Billboard, 05/20/03)

Schur had been the head of the label throughout the drought years of Geffen, and was no doubt
eager to capitalize on one of their biggest artists.

"In August 2003, when label executives announced their intention to release a Guns N' Roses
greatest-hits CD for the holidays." (New York Times, 03/06/05)
"Rose was originally informed by letter dated August 6, 2003 that UMG intended to release the
Guns N' Roses GHLP, and of the specific tracks to be included on that album and their
sequence." (Greatest Hits lawsuit document, 2004)

'Call the President'

"[In or around 08/08/03], New York Met's catcher, Mike Piazza, was sorting through fan mail when
something caught his eye. It was a cd that had 'Guns N' Roses, I.R.S.' written on it." (Eddie
Trunk, 08/31/03)

"The rest of the CD was also cool. It sounded like a total of 3 songs, with instrumental versions of
each of the 3, making a total of 6 tracks (I think). The last track, which I did not play, was the best.
A great rocker, with tons of shredding guitar from Buckethead." (Eddie Trunk, 09/02/03)

"[On 08/29/03, Mike] Piazza appeared on [...] 'Friday Night Rocks... with Eddie Trunk,'. [...] He
persuaded Trunk to play [IRS] at 12:15 a.m. Saturday morning. Almost immediately the station
was flooded with calls. [...] One of the calls, however, was from GNR's management.

[...] Because Trunk deals with [Sanctuary Artist Management] often and has a professional
relationship with them, a simple phone call took the place of any legal cease-and-desist letter. [...]
So adamant was the GNR camp to retrieve the disc, they arranged to meet with Trunk, to whom
Piazza had given the CD, as soon as possible. And that just happened to be at Shea Stadium on
Sunday [08/31/03]." (MTV, 09/03/03)

Piazza and Trunk both had ties to GNR at that point, as they were confirmed to be present in the
backstage of the Madison Square Garden show on 12/05/02.

Third's the charm

"It's closer to the end of the record being completed than it is the beginning. And we start back up
in rehearsal mode in the middle of September, which is a good sign to me that the record's going
to be ready to come out soon, and we'll be out on the road again touring behind it soon after that.
[...] Hopefully, [the album]'ll be out sometime before the end of the year." (Tommy, Albany Times
Union, 08/22/03)

Apparently, the original intention with Axl and the band was to have him finish up album and have
them reconvene for rehearsals for a new tour in mid-September. Tommy's comments and the two-
month time window the record label requires would've placed the album release into late

However, mid-tour Tommy seemed to have received word that things had, once again, changed.

"According to Tommy Stinson, there will be more recording done as soon as here enters the
studio in about a week. Rehearsal will start in October, and the release of Chinese Democracy
has been delayed again until early 2004." (The Perfect Gentleman Newsletter, 09/06/03)

"After [09/13/03] Middle East gig [...] Stinson rejoins Axl and company for what he says is the last
bit of work on Chinese Democracy. 'There's definitely a record, and it's definitely close to being
done. [...] So hopefully the GNR album will be out early in the new year.'" (Boston Phoenix,

This would support the allusions that the album work was gradually started all over again mid-
year. It would mark the third great overhaul in the project, following Slash's resignation in October
1996, and Bob Ezrin's dismissal of the mostly Sean Beavan produced album in the fall of 2000.
This time, however, the makeover wasn't likely as sudden as it had been before.

"The band, our two engineers [Caram Costanzo and Eric Caudieux], myself, [and] most
importantly, Axl [...], have been working on the actual album for the last two years." (Merck,

Call or Fold

On 10/15/03, Geffen Records formally announced the release of Welcome to the Videos, a DVD
compilation of all GNR's officially released live and promotional videos. Almost certainly an olive
branch handed by Axl's people to Geffen, so that they might benefit from the sales of a new GNR
product in the absence of a studio album.

A few days later, Amazon listed a new GNR album in their catalogue, with the release set for
11/25/03. The album was soon revealed to be the Greatest Hits release. The listing disappeared
on 10/22/03, mere days after the title was revealed.

"The band's representatives managed to hold [the plans for a GHLP] off with yet another promise
to deliver 'Chinese Democracy' by the end of the year." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

On 11/07/03, GNR were confirmed to perform at Rock in Rio-Lisboa on 05/30/04. The

announcement came over six months before the planned event. On 11/10/03, the German MTV
indicated the band was putting together a European tour for the summer. Later in the month,
Rock Am Ring organizer Marek Lieberberg was said to be in negotiations with GNR to headline
the festival in June.

As the tour rumors were began at such an early stage (with one show already unveiled), a
thought that springs to mind would be GNR signaling Geffen that they were serious about
releasing the album in or around June, and were setting themselves for a summer tour.

But, as usual...

"December 31, 2003 came and went without delivery of the studio LP, as had so many previous
deadlines." (Greatest Hits lawsuit document, 2004)

"At the end of last year, Buckethead became fed up with Guns' inability to complete an album or
tour and stopped working with them, his manager said." (MTV, 03/17/04)


The Village People of Roanoke

While the New Year deadline had been passed, the work went on without a hitch.

"2004 is off to a busy start at The Village Recording Studios in West Los Angeles, where the
synergy of pop, rock, commercial and film music making continues hot. [...] Guns N' Roses
camped out cutting new tracks with producer/engineer Caram Costanzo and Pro Tools engineer
Eric Caudieux." (The Village Recorder, 02/01/04)

The people at Geffen, however, were displeased.

"In January 2004, Geffen resumed its plans to release the GHLP. At that time, Mr. Hoffman asked
Ms. Lori Froeling to send another notice to Guns N' Roses pursuant to the Recording Agreement,
informing Guns N' Roses that the GHLP would be released on March 23, 2004 in the United
States and Canada, and on March 15, 2004 in other international territories. Ms. Froeling sent
such a notice on January 22, 2004. The January 22 notice also indicated that the previously
approved track listing and sequence had not changed." (Greatest Hits lawsuit document, 2004)

It appears Geffen got a response out of Axl, likely concerning the future prospects of CD and his
general opinion over a Greatest Hits compilation. Accordingly, they responded.

"The release dates were in fact confirmed in a subsequent letter to Plaintiff Rose dated February
2, 2004." (Greatest Hits lawsuit document, 2004)

"'Having exceeded all budgeted and approved recording costs by millions of dollars,' the label
wrote in a letter dated Feb. 2, 2004, 'it is Mr. Rose's obligation to fund and complete the album,
not Geffen's.' The tab at Village studio was closed out, and Mr. Rose tried a brief stint recording at
the label's in-house studio before that too was ended. The band's computer gear, guitars and
keyboards were packed away." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

On 02/11/04, various retailers were reporting that the Greatest Hits compilation would be released
on 03/23/04.

"'Every year there's been a new reason why Axl is not done with the record,' the source told
Reuters, adding that Geffen went ahead with the greatest-hits package only because Rose failed
to come through with 'Chinese Democracy.' 'Had he delivered this record like he promised seven
years ago, this would not be happening right now.'" (Reuters, 03/16/04)

The Bucket Kicks Back

"Buckethead appeared on the green carpet at the Grammy Awards [on 02/09/04]. [...] By that time
Buckethead had already told Guns frontman Axl Rose he no longer wanted to be in the band,
[Buckethead's] manager said." (MTV, 03/17/04)

On February 12th and 13rd, Buckethead played shows with Bill Laswell's band Material in
Belgium and France, respectively. On first date, Laswell apparently confirmed to a fan that
Buckethead wouldn't be joining GNR for Rock in Rio-Lisboa.

"In February, we got word from Brain that Bucket had called him and said he was back in Guns!?
Apparently, according to Bucket, he had been 'Gone' but had turned himself around and was
really excited to do Rio-Lisbon and a European tour." (Axl, press release, 03/30/04)

On 03/01/04, Buckethead's official discussion forum removed their dedicated GNR section. When
queried, the webmaster replied that 'the ride is non-operational and non-functional', apparently
describing Buckethead's current relationship with GNR.

"Somewhere in the following month things changed once again [with Buckethead]. [...] The band
has been put in an untenable position by [...] his untimely departure." (Axl, press release,

One can only wonder whether the problems Axl was facing with Geffen had anything to do with it.

"The after-show for [the] Yngwie [Malmsteen] [concert] was held [Sunday night, March 14] at the
Cat Club. The band that was playing that night was a cover band featuring Dizzy Reed on keys.
[...] [Dizzy] confirmed that [Buckethead] is unofficially out of the band." (Blabbermouth, 03/16/04)

On 03/14/04, Buckethead was announced to open for Particle on their American tour in between
03/31/04 and 04/16/04. A few days later, his representatives made the departure official.

Exile on Main Street

During this time, as was rumored, Axl had plotted a legal action against Geffen.

"W. Axl Rose is joined by former [Guns N' Roses] members Slash and Duff McKagan in [...] a
lawsuit against Geffen Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc., to stop the unauthorized
release of a Greatest Hits package by the band. [...] The band has not been given the opportunity
to approve the choice of songs, the artwork, the release date or the re-mastering done on the
tracks included on this compilation.

[...] W. Axl Rose is concerned that not only will their audience be misled into believing that the
planned compilation is an authorized release, but that it will hinder the release of the band's long
awaited new studio album Chinese Democracy." (Sanctuary Group, press release, 03/15/04)

"U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer denied [the] request for a temporary restraining order, allowing
Geffen to issue the [GHLP] as planned next Tuesday. A hearing on a motion for a preliminary
injunction was set for next month." (Yahoo, 03/16/04)

"Plaintiffs' Application is based entirely on the belief that the GHLP contains remastered songs. In
fact, none of the songs on the Guns N' Roses GHLP were remastered, nor were they edited,
mixed, remixed or otherwise altered. [...] The sole basis for Plaintiffs' incorrect assertion that the
album was remastered (and, in turn, the sole basis for this application) is a single reference on
the website of CD Universe.

[...] In connection with the release of the Guns N' Roses GHLP, Geffen has already paid $1 million
dollars in advances. [...] Rose has received an advance of $257,545 for the GHLP; Slash and
Duff have received an advance of $568,565 for them to split; [...] plaintiffs did not file this suit until
after they received these advances, and none of the three [...] has offered to return it." (Greatest
Hits lawsuit document, 2004)

"'Their lawsuit is meritless,' Universal Music spokesman Peter LoFrumento said. 'Fortunately,
since the court has denied their application for a temporary restraining order, the album will be
released as scheduled on March 23.'" (Yahoo, 03/16/04)

"Released in March of 2004, [Greatest Hits] turned out to be a surprisingly strong seller, racking
up sales of more than 1.8 million copies even without any new music or promotional efforts by the
original band." (New York Times, 03/06/05)

On 03/30/04, Axl canceled GNR's scheduled performance in Rock in Rio-Lisboa, citing

Buckethead's departure as the reason behind the decision.

"Rather than dwelling on the negative, Guns will be moving forward and surprisingly (without
giving away any details) this unfortunate set of circumstances may have given us the opportunity
to take our recording that one extra step further. [...] We greatly appreciate Bucket's contributions
and remain open to "discussions" as there are obviously several issues to resolve." (Axl, press
release, 03/30/04)
Axl's wording and tone was deceptively similar to his account on Robin leaving to tour with Nine
Inch Nails in late '99. Brian May had stepped and recorded over some of Robin's parts, due to Axl
wishing to replace some of Robin's work due to his resignation mid-way. However, Buckethead
was said to have been kept in the band payroll for the remainder of the year.

In closing, Axl alluded the album might be completed for a fall release.

"We hope to announce a release date within the next few months." (Axl, press release, 03/30/04)

Coming to a Courthouse near you

On 05/04/04, Slash and Duff were announced to sue Axl over control of the GNR back catalogue,
also demanding a compensation $1 million for financial damages caused by Axl's denial to
license the music.

"In the suit, Duff and Slash claim Rose doesn't have any controlling interest in the songs, but they
say he killed deals that would have put their tunes in a half dozen movies, including 'Just
Married,' 'We Were Soldiers,' 'Death to Smoochie' and 'Old School.' And you won't hear the
band's huge hit, 'Welcome to the Jungle' in the movie 'Black Hawk Down,' because, according to
the lawsuit, Axl wouldn't let the producers use it. Instead, he wanted to re-record it, thereby
allegedly cheating his ex-band mates out of the licensing fee." (Celebrity Justice, 05/04/04)

And so, the Tom Zutaut-era incident with Black Hawk Down would come back to haunt Axl. The
foundations of the suit lie in the disbanding of the old GNR partnership on 12/30/95. Slash and
Duff were likely inspired to the case by a court remark in the Greatest Hits suit.

"Plaintiffs' own filings indicate that the Guns N' Roses [trade]marks are registered to the Guns N'
Roses Partnership. The Guns N' Roses Partnership is not a party to this litigation. Rather, this
action was brought by Plaintiffs in their individual capacities. Accordingly, Plaintiffs lack standing
to assert a claim of infringement and cannot, therefore, show any possibility of success on the
merits." (Greatest Hits lawsuit document, 2004)

The legal issues didn't end there.

"Rose had sought an injunction against the release of the album entitled 'Hollywood Rose - The
Roots Of Guns N' Roses' [...] [by] Los Angeles-based independent record label Cleopatra
Records. [...] The five original tracks were purchased by Cleopatra from guitarist Chris Weber [in
November 2003], who performed on the record and who paid for the recordings back in 1984."
(Blabbermouth, 07/08/04)

According to the Cleopatra lawsuit document, the claims similar to the Greatest Hits release had
been going back and forth since April, which suggests Slash and Duff came around suing Axl
midway to their collaboration on the Hollywood Rose case. Furthermore, the legal team was now
trying to do damage control by acknowledging and even supporting the GH release.

"GNR also argues that the release is timed strategically to capitalize on consumer interest in the
Guns N' Roses Greatest Hits release and it will unfairly reduce sales of that album. However,
GNR's evidence as to the reduction in sales - the unsupported statement of Guns N' Roses
manager - utterly lacks foundation." (Hollywood Rose lawsuit document, 2004)

It was, however, to no avail.

"On Tuesday, July 6, United States District Court Judge Gary A. Fees denied the motion of [Axl,
Slash and Duff] for a preliminary injunction against [Cleopatra]." (Blabbermouth, 07/08/04)


The production was moved out of Village Recording Studios, and work soon resumed.

"Axl Rose has taken over production duties for the album, Stinson said, [...] [and] thinks the
record is finally almost done, and the only thing that's holding back its completion is legal issues."
(MTV, 06/10/04)

"Mr. Rose is reportedly working on the album even now in a San Fernando Valley studio." (New
York Times, 03/06/05)

The studio was eventually revealed to be Curt Cuomo's Woodland Ranch.

"While [Jazan Wild was] recording in Curt Cuomo's studio [in April 2004], other musicians working
there included Axl Rose / Guns N' Roses and Desmond Child. [...] Before Jazan Wild could finish
the album, he had to move on to another studio as Curt Cuomo became too busy with Axl Rose
working in his studio." (Kiss News, 11/17/04)

"Even the recent departure of guitarist Buckethead isn't slowing anything down. 'As far as I know,
he hasn't been replaced. [...] Buckethead will be on the record, too. I really have no idea why he
decided to leave, but it didn't come out of left field because he's always come and gone. Even
when I do see him, I don't know what he thinks.'" (Tommy, MTV, 06/10/04)

"Brain is putting percussion on the album as I write." (Merck, 08/05/04)

"I have this bag where I keep a nice DAT machine with a nice mike, or I have those toy samplers
that you buy at Toys R Us. And I just sit there after whatever session I'm in, whether I'm even at
the rehearsal space or at the studio, and I just hit my drums, make weird sounds, make weird
loops, and then I take them home. I get home at about 2:00 in the morning and from 2:00 until
4:00 in the morning I sit at my laptop, cut up all my beats, make more beats, more sounds, and
then bring them into the producer and say, 'Hey, check this out. Are you into this?' That's what I
spend most of my free time doing." (Brain, 2001)

A new guitar player was looked for in the late summer, perhaps not yet for touring, but to lay down
guitar tracks in Bucket's absence.

"I was asked to join Guns N' Roses two months ago. [...] Have yet to speak with Axl - spoke to
their engineer about when to come out and lay geetar tracks on the album, spoke to their
manager about lotsa stuff, their keyboardist Chris, but that's all that's been goin' on so far."
(Bumblefoot, official site, 09/30/04)

"[They were] tellin' me there would be contracts to sign, wanting to have me come record with
them in mid-Sept, all that stuff. [...] It was actually [Joe] Satriani that recommended me to them
(thanks Satch)." (Bumblefoot, 10/01/04)

"GN'R's Pro Tools engineer 'French' Eric Caudieux has worked a lot with Satriani and Satch
recommended Bumble to French Eric." (Del James,, 10/31/06)

Ron's position would've therefore likely been similar to that of Dave Navarro and Brian May;
recording some additional parts which could be used to replace Buckethead's work.

All Mixed Up

In July, VH1 documentary delivered the update Axl'd promised three months earlier.

"Axl's album, Chinese Democracy, is finally slated for release in November of 2004." (GNR:
Behind the Music, VH1, 07/04/04)

While the band management were quick to debunk the rumor, the timing felt deceptively apt. At
the time, several tracks were apparently entering mixing stage.

"Originally we had a fucking whole lot of songs we were working on. We kinda rolled around them
and just kinda kept molding them as we went along. [...] When you're working on 35 or so pieces
of music that you're trying to finish, [...] it's really hard to decide, because out of 35 things, we
might all like parts and bits of 30 songs. So then you gotta further narrow that down, and you
know. It just takes a while." (Tommy, HTGTH, 10/10/04)

"I have heard several versions of some of the cooler songs, and they all sound great. [...] Its an
unenviable task for whoever is going to mix it. But they better put my shit in the mix!" (Dizzy, Rock
Journal, 07/11/04)

"Stinson also says that he listened to the final mixes recently and 'added his two cents,' noting
that the songs were mostly quite long and epic, but 'mind-blowing and fucking huge.'"
(Braveworlds, 09/11/04)

"'My two cents was very much like a cent and a half,' he says. 'It's like, all the stuff I heard was
phenomenal. I didn't get a chance to listen to all of it, because I was pressed for time. But also I
wanted to hear the things I hadn't heard yet. Some of the stuff had been done a while ago and
hadn't changed much; I didn't really bother with that.

But I wanted to hear all the new stuff and I heard about six things that I hadn't heard finished yet,
that were really mind-blowing. A few of the songs are pretty epic in length, but that's always been
GN'R's thing, hasn't it? I don't think it's a particularly long album, but I think the six I heard are
pretty epic. I mean they are just... fucking huge, you know [laughs]. I think pretty much all of us in
the band have some songwriting credits on just about everything." (Tommy, Chart Attack,

Tommy even went to suggest some of the material dates back to the UYI lineup, referring likely to
This I Love, originally recorded during the UYI world tour, and perhaps even the '96 lost album.

"The undertaking was pretty much a large collaboration between eight people, even a couple
others who aren't around anymore, but maybe started with pieces of the old band or whatever.
But yeah, there is probably a lot to go around with that one." (Tommy, Chart Attack, 09/15/04)

"There's a record coming - sooner rather than later - and six or seven of the songs are earth-
shattering. We'll be touring the world the beginning of the new year." (Tommy, Boston Globe,

"Chinese Democracy is very close to coming out. I've heard a few of the tracks and it sounds
amazing. There are a few more things to do then it'll be ready. They were originally shooting for
November, but it may be February now. It's gonna be great." (Dizzy,, 09/18/04)
Amusingly enough, this more or less corroborated the VH1 release date information from July.

"'I would imagine they would start mastering it some time in October, November, somewhere in
there,' says Stinson vaguely." (Tommy, Chart Attack, 09/15/04)

A release in February, a year after the label had cut funding..


Yet Another Big Deal

"Sanctuary Music Group has signed Axl Rose to a publishing deal. Until recently, Warner
Chappell published the Guns N' Roses frontman's works." (Sanctuary Group, 01/24/05)

"The notoriously unpredictable Axl Rose signed with Sanctuary [...] in a deal believed to be worth
£10 million [...] after months of negotiations through his lawyers. [...] Deke Arlon,
Sanctuary’s head of publishing, said: '[...] We spent years trying to find the right deal.' [...]
Although rival publishers are believed to have offered more, Rose felt more comfortable with
Sanctuary's business plan." (The Times, 01/26/05)

"Guns N' Roses' manager Merck Mercuriadis, who just so happens to be CEO of Sanctuary
Group, said he didn't want to comment beyond the announcement of the deal. Industry experts
have valued the 20-year deal at about $19 million." (Yahoo, 02/01/05)

Axl would've therefore leased his share of the GNR back catalogue (1/3 since the band formation
up to 05/01/98 and 100% of whatever music released under the band moniker ever since) up to
the year 2025. He would be 63 years old when the rights would revert back to him.

"The deal covers both future material and catalogue. Rose's contribution to such hits as 'Sweet
Child O' Mine,' 'Paradise City' and 'November Rain' are covered under the deal, as are dozens of
new tracks Rose has recently recorded for Universal Music." (Sanctuary Group, 01/26/05)

"[Sanctuary Group] revealed unexpected losses of £13.5 million just two days before it was due
to release its annual results. The admission, which appears to have followed a row between the
company and its auditor, Baker Tilly, knocked 15 per cent off the share price and will wipe out
most of the group’s profits for this year. [...] Sanctuary said that it did expect to generate
about £50 million from exploiting Guns N’ Roses hits through film soundtracks, cover
versions and their use in advertisements." (The Times, 01/26/05)

Interestingly, Axl's ownership of these very publishing rights was contested by Slash and Duff in
their 2004 lawsuit.

"McKagan's lawyer, Glen Miskel, expressed surprise when told of the Sanctuary deal. He said
Rose, Slash and Duff were part of a partnership and 'neither Sanctuary nor Axl Rose have
provided the remaining partners with a copy of that agreement.' He added Rose is trying to
transfer copyright interests in songs which 'are not owned by Mr. Rose.'" (Yahoo, 02/01/05)

April Fools Rush In

"[The music's] been done... For a while." (Tommy, Q104.3, 01/31/05)

"Guns N' Roses bassist Tommy Stinson told the Pioneer Press earlier this week that the long-
awaited new GN'R album 'Chinese Democracy' is being finished as we speak." (Pioneer Press,

"They're finishing up the mixing right now. Sorting out what songs are going on it and artwork and
shit. And hopefully sooner than later, it'll come out. I understand there's probably some European
dates booked in the summer." (Tommy, Creative Loafing Atlanta, 02/06/05)

"We have three CDs worth of songs. Everyone contributed and it all goes into the mill. [...] (Rose
is) working hard to finish our first record in quite awhile." (Dizzy, Sentinel and Enterprise,

"Next, [Tommy] says, Guns N' Roses is gearing up for a late spring CD release, hopefully
followed by touring." (WCF Courier, 02/11/05)

"[Tommy] promised that GNR would be on the road this year after the release of Chinese
Democracy in April." (South Philly Review, 01/20/05)

In late February, online retailer HMV UK began listing a 25/04/05 release date for CD.

Lex Axl

"According to, a lawsuit filed by former Guns N' Roses members Slash (guitar) and
Duff McKagan (bass) against the band's lead singer, Axl Rose [...] has been delayed by an "ex
parte" application until November 8, 2005.

The case, which was originally due to finalize this May, is expected to last five-seven days and
could possibly feature court appearances from all the parties in person. The delay allows [...]
Guns N' Roses to continue planning for the release of the their long-awaited new album, 'Chinese
Democracy'." (Blabbermouth, 03/04/05)

While taking a break from their reciprocal court case, Axl, Slash and Duff continued to wage war
against Cleopatra Records and their Hollywood Rose release.

"In November 2004 and April [13th] 2005, the court made two related rulings in favor of Cleopatra
and against Rose on all of his other claims, and entered summary judgment in favor of Cleopatra.

[...] On May 23, 2005, Judge Gary Allen Feess, Judge of the United States District Court for the
Central District of California, awarded Cleopatra Records' request for attorneys' fees and costs in
the amount of $24,176.38." (Blabbermouth, 05/27/05)

Following the publishing deal with Sanctuary, Axl took steps to provide them with the means to
license the back catalogue.

"[Axl] notified ASCAP on or around May 26 that he was switching over the publishing from Guns
N' Roses to Black Frog Music Publishing (which he owns) and Kobalt Songs Music Publishing
(which is a joint venture with and handles the administration of Sanctuary's publishing)." (MTV,

August Moon Rising

"[The Times reporter Burhan Wazir] mentioned that he had spoken to Sanctuary [while
researching for his article on GNR, published on March 18th], who indicated that the new Guns N'
Roses album would definitely be out later in 2005, probably around September." (Splat, 03/18/05)
A September release would indicate work on the album to be completed in the summer, in July
the latest.

"Axl is still finishing up vocals on the record and I’ve heard rumours that it will be released
before the end of the year." (Fortus, 06/23/05)

Harpist Patti Hood, who'd worked with Pitman's former band Lusk and toured with them for three
months in 1997, was revealed to work on the project.

"I'm on a song called "This I Love". It is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever
heard." (Patti Hood, 11/26/07)

"I did the session about 2 and a half years ago. Axl was not present at the session." (Patti Hood,

"I actually didn't meet Axl until well after I did the session." (Patti Hood, 11/26/07)

"Axl Rose has now moved out of Curt Cuomo’s studio and Jason Evigan of the After Midnight
Project has moved in." (GNRWire, 07/04/05)

"The release of 'Chinese Democracy', the much vaunted new album by Guns n'roses, is drawing
ever closer, and could see a release as early as November/December of 2005. July of 2005
should see Caram Costanzo and Merck Mercuriadis meet up to decide the final credits on the
completed 'Chinese Democracy' album." (Splat, 07/29/05)

Sure enough, in August Axl did come around as if he'd completed his chores, only to backtrack
before September rolled in.

"[A&R Man] John Kalodner is one of only a few people who have met Axl recently: 'I saw him in
the Sanctuary office a month ago. This guy walked by and says: 'Hello, John'. It was Axl. And he
looked great - like Axl The Rock Star again'." (Classic Rock, 09/05)

"John 5 has confirmed to us that he is being considered for the vacant guitarist slot in Guns
N’Roses. He is yet to be interviewed though." (GNRWire, 05/21/05)

"Axl was seen driving in the direction of Curt Cuomo's Woodland Hills studio last month, at a time
when the album was supposed to be done. [...] Horns were seen in the studio, instruments that
are known to be on the new Guns n Roses, 'Chinese Democracy'." (Splat, 08/30/05)

"As of today, Sp1at understands that band members will find out at the end of August/start of
September whether they can continue their solo exploits until the end of the year." (Splat,

"Splat has learnt that Richard Fortus, guitarist with Guns N' Roses, has found out this week that
he will now be able to do the November Nena dates, and that he is not required back in the GN'R
camp this November." (Splat, 08/30/05)

Just Sue Me

The fourth separate lawsuit involving all Axl, Slash and Duff within one and a half years [the
previous ones being ones on the Greatest Hits release, the GNR partnership, and Hollywood
Rose] surfaced as Axl was coming out of hiding.

"Slash and Duff McKagan filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles on [08/17/05] [against Axl for]
changing the publisher of the group's copyrighted songs without their consent and pocketing the
royalties. [...] Though the Sanctuary deal was reported on by the press, Slash and Duff claim they
weren't aware of the scope of Rose's dealings — which they say he "omitted and concealed" —
until their expected royalty payments for the first quarter of 2005 [...] — some $92,000 — [...]
didn't arrive in the mail." (MTV, 08/23/05)

"Howard Weitzman, Rose's lawyer, said the singer had asked to receive only his portion of
royalties, and that the overpayment was due to a clerical error by the society. Weitzman said
Rose had returned the extra funds to the organization." (LA Times, 08/26/05)

"Attorney Glendon Miskel has told Splat that Slash and Duff will be pursuing their new lawsuit
against Axl Rose, despite the singer’s recent response. Miskel told us, 'The money was
returned to ASCAP. However, Axl has not withdrawn his claim that he has the right to control a
portion of the songs which are registered to Guns N’ Roses Music.'" (Splat, 09/08/05)

"The lawsuit was a nightmare that had gone on too long. For fear of further litigation, the easiest
way to explain it is to say that since 2001 we were involved in a lawsuit over the rights and profits
stemming from licensing and merchandise. It was a typical broken-up-bands litigation, where one
party complains of underpayment by another party." (Slash, Autobiography)

As the partnership lawsuit didn't come about before May 2004, Slash may be referring to the
WTTJ/Black Hawk Down incident, which might've spurred him and Duff to look into the finer
points of the existing licensing deal.

Goes Around / Comes Around

"In October of 2005, [...] not appearing to be under the influence, [...] Slash made an
unannounced 5:30 AM visit to Axl Rose's house." (Howard Weitzman, press release, 03/06/06)

"I did go by his house but I was drunk - Perla wasn't and she was driving. I walked up the door
and delivered a note that said something like 'Let's work this out. Call me. - Slash.' But I didn't
give it to Axl, I gave it to his assistant." (Slash, Autobiography)

"I was the one whom Slash spoke with when he came to Axl's house in 2005 and expressed his
negative comments regarding the others in his new band." (Beta Lebeis, 05/09/07)

"Slash came to inform Axl that: 'Duff was spineless,' 'Scott was a fraud,' that he 'hates Matt
Sorum' and that in this ongoing war, contest or whatever anyone wants to call it that Slash has
waged against Axl for the better part of 20 years, that Axl has proven himself 'the stronger.'"
(Howard Weitzman, press release, 03/06/06)

The visit later became a much-publicized event, even though Slash never apparently met or
spoke with Axl.

Greatest Hits Revisited

As in August 2003, Geffen Records apparently contacted Axl again to discuss another
compilation release to fill in for the absence of a new studio album.
"I'm told there may be news on the GNR front coming soon, but til it's formal and written in at
least pencil my lips are sealed." (Tommy, official site, 09/18/05)

"As far as 'Chinese Democracy' itself goes, it appears that Guns N' Roses have been set yet
another November deadline by Universal, not in a threatening tone though. Basically, if Chinese
Democracy is not released, then a Greatest Hits II package will be put together and pushed out
next March. Jim Urie, President of Universal Distribution, has said that the situation regarding to
the two albums 'should be clarified in a couple of weeks'." (Splat, 11/07/05)

"Brendan Morris, a tape researcher at Universal credited on the first Guns N'Roses Greatest Hits
album, has confirmed to Splat that Universal are looking to put together a second Guns N'Roses
Greatest Hits package." (Splat, 10/28/05)

"[Slash and I] discuss the two versions of Guns N' Roses Greatest Hits Vol II. One is done by
Axel's management. Slash says the track listing is good but the politics from Axel's management
leave a lot to be desired. The other is done by Universal. Slash tells me he hasn't approved
either, so who knows what'll come out." (Ross Halfin, 11/19/05)

The GH2 release was up in the air for a good while, not unlike its 2003 predecessor, before being
shifted off the Christmas slate altogether.

"I expected the before mentioned date for Geffen's Guns & Roses Greatest Hits, Volume 2 to shift
from originally scheduled December 6 to another date." (Musictap, 10/27/05)

"Although the track list has yet to be announced, Geffen has set a Dec. 20 release date for the
double-disc set 'Welcome to the Jungle - The Very Best of Guns N' Roses.'" (Billboard, 11/17/05)

"According to Kjell Petter Askersrud, head of Universal in Norway, the new GN'R Greatest Hits
album will be released in March 2006." (Splat, 10/27/05)

As Geffen had been preparing for a late 2005 release, it's certainly feasible to assume the album
was mastered into the year. The following mention was later found amongst Sterling Sound's
senior mastering engineer George Marino's projects.


In the past, Marino has mastered all GNR album releases, aside GNR Lies and Greatest Hits.

As GH2 unceremoniously ended up being canceled in favor of CD, one of those informed
would've likely been Slash, who'd already been kept in the loop in regards of the track listing.

"Axl's got got a record coming out, Guns I guess you call it, I think in March. Which is sorta cool,
you know it's gonna be interesting to hear it. After all this time and after all this talk what's going
on with him. [...] Judging by, I think Axl's record is finished." (Slash, WMMR, 01/04/06)

The (Next) Year of Guns N' Roses

While GH2 was canceled for the year, Axl did seem to be on brink of finishing the album.

"I recorded a little bitty thing [for CD] last week, for like a, sort of a quick little interlude to another
song. [...] We did most of the music as a total collaborative effort a while back, most of the music
was recorded four years ago. In the last seven years, in the last four years, it's been pretty much
done. [...] It's been through a couple of producers' hands, some have been good, some have
been bad." (Tommy, Rhinocast, 01/16/06)

As Tommy mentions a recent Soul Asylum show, the interview was likely conducted in late
October/early November 2005.

"Richard Fortus has told members of (in person) that he will be flying
to Los Angeles after his last Nena gig (07/12) to do some more work on Guns N'Roses
forthcoming album, 'Chinese Democracy', which is still unfinished." (Splat, 12/05/05)

While Merck had alluded that 2005 would be the year of Guns N' Roses, it wasn't the year of
Chinese Democracy. While it had been an eventful year, all things considered, Axl was still to

Maybe next year.


The Hear Year

On 01/13/06, Axl visited Korn's tour launch party at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary, and gave
his first comments to a member of the press in over three years.

"'People will hear music this year,' says Axl Rose, puffing on a cigar in the early hours of Saturday
morning at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. 'We're working on thirty-two songs, and twenty-six
are nearly done,' he says. Of those, thirteen are slated for the final album. [...] Among Rose's
favorites are 'Better,' 'There Was a Time' and 'The Blues.'" (Rolling Stone, 01/18/06)

Among the first to hear music that year were some Chelsea nightclub owners.

"Stereo nightclub owners Barry Mullineaux and Mike Satsky were closing up their Chelsea
hotspot at 5:30 a.m. [on 02/10/05] when they encountered elusive Guns 'N' Roses frontman Axl
Rose at the front door." (NY Post, 02/12/06)

"Rose and a handful of his friends [had] been booted from another club at the standard New York
watering-hole closing time of 4 a.m." (MTV, 02/23/06)

During the evening, Axl had attended Victoria's Secret early Valentine's party at the 41st Street,
where Richard Fortus just happened to be one of the performing artists.

"The braided rocker was with bandmates and a bevy of beauties wanting to keep his 44th
birthday bash going. Rose was so eager to get inside the club that he offered the owners a little
bribe - an exclusive listening party for his yet-to-be released album, 'Chinese Democracy.'" (NY
Post, 02/12/06)

"As a sign of his gratitude, Mullineaux said Rose sent someone to his hotel room to retrieve two
CDs, each one containing 10 tracks. [...] Mullineaux, who said he manned the DJ booth and spun
the discs for Rose, said several of the tracks reminded him of classic GN'R, with moments of
uncharacteristic heaviness. Axl 'kept telling me to put back track #3 — I guess that was his
favorite song,' he said." (MTV, 02/23/06)
Was track #3 perhaps Better, There Was a Time, or The Blues?

"'He wanted to play that one over and over, like six times. He was really getting into it and rockin'
out. Everybody was surprised at how good it sounded. And that third track, that was the song
where his voice sounded the best; the smoothest.'

[...] 'He said this album will show everyone who was the main ingredient from GN'R. He was
freely answering questions about his work, the band, what happened with the split, the direction
he's headed in — and the music sounded great.'" (MTV, 02/23/06)

Further listening parties were underway, with Axl also letting people in on his gameplan.

"The Big Damn Band, an Indianapolis-based roots blues trio, served as the supporting act for the
Derek Trucks Band Feb. 23 at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. Rose caught Trucks in
action, and then hit a VIP party at upstairs bar On the Rox. Big Damn Band members the Rev.
Josh Peyton, Breezy Peyton and Jayme Peyton also attended the party.

Beyond the high-profile gig on the West Coast, the arrival of Jayme's birthday at midnight gave
the group reason to celebrate. [...] Jayme says the party eventually moved to Trucks' tour bus,
where Rose produced a CD and previewed some of 'Chinese Democracy' - which the singer said
will be sold as a 3-disc collection." (Celebratedsounds, 03/02/06)

Best Laid Plans

All the while, Axl had big business to deal with.

"We planned the tour in February, just after Axl's birthday and we were supposed to finish the
album in May, before it started." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"When I agreed to do our recent North American tour, I did it with the understanding that my
manager, Merck Mercuriadis, and I were in full agreement regarding our strategy and touring
plans and, most important, that any and all things needed to release the album by Dec. 26 at the
latest were in place." (Axl, 12/15/06)

Starting on 02/20/06, various European festivals announced that GNR had been added to their
respective lineups. This included the Rock in Rio-Lisbon festival in late May and the Download
festival in the UK in June. The Download announcement was quick to gather controversy.

"I have to write some copy this weekend on Guns 'N Roses for a feature to go with my photos.
[...] If you tell the truth it sets off too many wars, or egos way out of control. The original line-up is
supposed to play Download in June with their metal chums, Metallica, if Lars can be bothered to
turn up." (Ross Halfin, 02/04/06)

"[The GNR reunion] almost happened. The pens were ready to sign. With the 'Greatest Hits',
there was a possibility [of a reunion], but there was too much stuff being said. But it was a close
call." (Scott Weiland, Classic Rock, 04/08)

Where Do We Go Now

On 03/06/06, Axl's lawyer Howard Weitzman released the infamous press release, where he
stated that Slash had badmouthed his VR band members during his visit to Axl's house in the
past October. The press release itself was a curious one, as it was sent out on the pretext of
responding to a lawsuit filed by Slash and Duff, apparently the one concerning unrewarded
ASCAP royalties. However, the lawsuit in question was filed on 08/17/05, spurring the original
response from Weitzman in less than two weeks.

Duff was notably unbiased throughout the aftermath.

"McKagan told Launch that he would rather not get involved in the situation at all. 'I think, you
know, a lot of it's really unfortunate, very difficult,' he said in an interview conducted last Friday
(March 10). 'I've always just wanted to make great music and that's what I plan on doing. As far
as a rebuttal to what he said, or what Slash has said, I won't get involved in a war of words, you
know. People say all kinds of stuff and I'm not going to be one of them.'" (Blabbermouth,

Matt, on the other hand, didn't seem to mind at all.

"Last night I went to a club called 6 and 8s. [...] Inside there was Axl Rose. Oh my God. I hadn't
seen him in at least 6 years. [...] Later that evening I ended up in a loft somewhere in the East
Village, where Axl was again.

We spoke for quite sometime. And it was nice to clear somethings up. I told him how great of a
frontman he was while I was in the band and no hard feelings from me at all. [...] After the party
ended, Axl gave me a ride back to my hotel in his suburban." (Matt, official site, 04/13/06)

The Freshman

In mid-April, four warm-up shows in the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, were announced. The
shows would occur in between May 12th and 17th. Meanwhile, a replacement was sought for

"Prior to the European tour, auditions were held in Los Angeles, but the band did not find the right
guy to replace Buckethead. Truth be told, the band was hoping that Buckethead would come
back and made very effort to make that happen. When it was apparent that Bucket would not be
re-joining, the band had to move forward." (Del James,, 10/31/06)

"Boston-based guitarist Joshua Craig was called to audition for Guns N' Roses last week —
presumably as the replacement for Buckethead, who quit the group in early 2004. In a statement
sent to, Craig expressed his 'complete admiration and repect for the
opportunity to audition for such a great orginazation where everyone was the most polite and kind
musicians and crew.'" (04/20/06)

Axl appeared in Eddie Trunk's radio show, known for its IRS leak in 2003, in early May, and
touched the subject of the new guitar player.

"Trunk: And you can't announce who the new guitar player is, or you don't have one yet?
Axl: No, we have one, but I'm not announcing him." (Eddie Trunk show, 05/05/06)

CD 2½: The Smell of Fear

After four shows at the Hammerstein Ballroom with the induction as Bumblefoot as the new
guitarist, Axl appeared on KROQ radio, and announced that the band would appear at the Inland
Invasion festival on 09/23/06.

"DJ: The cd is coming out later this year?

Axl: Yes, absolutely." (KROQ, 05/19/06)
Meanwhile, studio work was set to continue.

"We were supposed to finish the album in May, before [the tour] started. We sent our engineers to
New York, where we all waited, for over a month, for the muse to come but she never arrived."
(Merck, 12/15/06)

"There's two records that the majority of the music's done, and the majority of the vocals are
done. And there's another half of a record that's being worked on.

[...] There's songs we're still shuffling around, I mean we recorded about two and a half, three
albums worth of material. So, there's still stuff that's gonna bounce between one and two." (Axl,
Eddie Trunk show, 05/05/06)

Some songs were, however, seemingly locked down for the first album.

"Over the four nights [at the Hammerstein Ballroom], audiences were also treated to nearly half of
the band's upcoming new album, Chinese Democracy, with live performances of 'Chinese
Democracy,' 'Better,' 'There was a Time,' 'Madagascar,' 'IRS' and 'The Blues.'" (GNR, press
release, 05/22/06)

"We were actually working on a song a little bit tonight that's not even on the first two records."
(Axl, Eddie Trunk show, 05/05/06)

In the Old World

The band overtook a successful European tour, aside the Axl's occasional scuffles with the
authorities. The most notable shift in dynamics occurred in late June.

"Guns N' Roses have been forced to postpone their show in Zurich at the Hallenstadion this
evening the 21st of June, 2006. Their drummer Brain aka Bryan Mantia has had to return to San
Francisco earlier than scheduled to be with his pregnant wife. The band have been travelling with
understudy drummer Frank Ferrer. [...] It is expected that Brain will return to the tour in
approximately 2 weeks time." (GNR, press release, 06/21/06)

Brain was now scheduled to return on around July 5th. His wife was reported to have given birth
to their daughter on the day before his assumed return.

"[Frank Ferrer] came into the fold through guitarist Richard Fortus. [...] When GN'R were making
arrangements for someone to fill in for Brain, both Richard and bassist Tommy Stinson knew what
the perfect fit would be when they recommended Frank. After one rehearsal, everyone else in the
band knew they were 100 percent in the right." (Del James,, 10/31/06)

As it was back at the Leeds-Carling festival in 2002, a big deal was made of the Newcastle show
during the UK tour on July 19th, as the band closed the show after playing their regular set due
objects thrown to the stage. However, the body of the tour remained intact, with the most
memorable change coming up in the very end.

"Guns N' Roses completed their European Tour last night with their second consecutive sold out
show at London's Wembley Arena. [...] The final show at Wembley almost didn't come to fruition
as vocalist Axl Rose was diagnosed with low blood pressure and low blood sugar Sunday
morning. He became ill after performing two concerts on Saturday night - [...] the second an
unannounced surprise semi acoustic set.

[...] Rose became ill a couple of hours after the 75 minute performance ended, with a doctor
being called to his hotel room. [...] He made it through the two hour performance to the final song
of the evening - Nightrain - before collapsing. The mic was handed to his friend, Sebastian Bach,
who completed the performance with an encore of Paradise City." (GNR, press release, 08/01/06)

The first full-fledged European tour in nearly fifteen years was over.

The Invasion postponed

"We then scheduled sessions in London in August and had our engineers meet us there at the
end of the English tour. August came and went and once again the muse did not show." (Merck,

Meanwhile, warm-up shows were scheduled into Las Vegas and San Francisco, with additional
California dates following in tow of Inland Invasion. There was a tour beginning. Axl was also
announced as a presenter at the annual MTV Video Music Awards on 08/31/06, his first
appearance there since the uneven performance in 2002.

"[The album release] was confirmed by Axl in numerous interviews - most famously at the MTV
Video Music Awards." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"[The CD release] is this year!" (Axl, 08/31/06)

"We postponed our proposed radio date of Labour Day [09/04/06] for the first single and we came
back to LA and tried to finish before the San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles shows but
yet again she eluded us.

[...] Axl then asked me to postpone the North American tour which was due to start on 24th of
September by a month." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"We'll start the tour around October 24th, but we're doing some shows before that." (Axl,

These shows (Inland Invasion and its warm-ups) would once again feature Brain on drums.

"Prior to the U.S. run, Brain asked if he could sit this one out so he could be with his newborn
baby. Had it come down to not being able to do it without him, Brain would have done the tour but
management and the band support his decision to be with his family." (Del James, 10/31/06)

The formal announcement for the postponements took a good while to appear, even if Axl himself
had apparently aware of them before the VMA's.

"GN'R have postponed the US dates that were to take place between September 27th and
October 5th. The dates have been moved to fit into the main body of the tour, which starts on
October 20th in Jacksonville, FL at the Veterans Memorial Arena. The rescheduled dates will take
place later this year or early next year (depending on show)." (HTGTH, 09/23/06)

As it was following the VMA's in 2002, the band was set to return to the studio and complete the
album before touring the US.

Sanctuary Compromised

All the while, Merck was clearing his desk at Sanctuary Group. Former GNR manager Doug
Goldstein might've already jumped ship at that point.

"Sanctuary Group's artist management unit, the independent music company's cornerstone asset,
is bracing itself for a structural sea change, well-placed sources tell Billboard. The departure of
longtime high-level executive Merck Mercuriadis from the music firm is imminent and will be
announced within the next couple of weeks, sources say.

The company's co-founder and worldwide head of artist relations Rod Smallwood may also be on
the way out, taking with him the company's oldest management client, Iron Maiden, according to
executives close to the situation. [...] Smallwood and [...] Andy Taylor founded [...] Sanctuary
Group in 1976. [...] As previously reported, Taylor was axed from Sanctuary May 26, following a
rocky financial period that nearly sank the company." (Billboard, 09/23/06)

"In February, [Sanctuary auditor] Baker Tilly said Sanctuary had understated losses for 2005 by
£15.9m. [...] The [dismissal of Taylor] followed a review of the company's 2005 financial
statements in response to questions raised by accounting oversight body the Financial Reporting
Review Panel. [...] Sanctuary reported losses of £142.6m in 2005, up from £26.7m a year
earlier. The group, which has run into problems after expanding too quickly, narrowly avoided
bankruptcy thanks to a £110m rescue plan this year." (Guardian UK, 05/26/06)

"Mercuriadis is expected to join mega-managers Irving Azoff and Howard Kaufman at Front Line
Management. Sources say he will continue to manage some of his acts, including Morrissey,
Guns 'N Roses and Joss Stone." (Billboard, 09/23/06)

Just Another Listening Party

"Following Guns' headlining gig [at Inland Invasion] in San Bernadino, California, on September
23rd, Axl threw a party at his mansion." (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

"When it hit midnight and officially became my birthday [09/25], I was over Axl's house enjoying a
wonderful barbeque with the band, crew, friends, family." (Ron, 09/27/06)

"[Axl] played the full album in his poolroom for visitors, including his friend Sebastian Bach, former
singer of Skid Row." (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

"Last thing I remember was having a hot-pepper eating contest with Caram (Chinese Democracy
studio engineer) and playing pool with Baz..." (Ron, 09/27/06)

"'It's a very cool album. [...] There's this one song called 'Sorry' that's almost like doom metal with
Axl singing really clean over this grinding, slow beat that is fucking mean,' says Bach. 'I cannot
get it out of my head.'" (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

The reception seemed to spur Axl onwards.

"Finally, early in that period after the euphoria of Inland Invasion, Axl made a break through and
got two or three very productive days under his belt." (Merck, 12/15/06)

The Nevermind Mix

"Veteran engineer Andy Wallace, who mixed Nirvana’s Nevermind, is working on the project,
according to a source close to the band. 'We’re absolutely delighted with the mixes,' the
source says." (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

Knowing Axl's fondness towards Dave Grohl's drumming on Smells Like Teen Spirit, lead single
and opening track of Nevermind, there may be more to Wallace's employment than simply his
impressive track record.

"We have been in the final stages of renegotiating our deal with our record label and it has been a
long slow process. [...] The discussion started over a year ago but did not become serious until
they started hearing the mixes. [...] The record company refused to conclude the renegotiation
until we were ready to hand over the finished album." (Merck, 12/15/06)

The mixing itself doesn't usually take too long.

"[November Rain] was a very long process. That mix was on the board for a good week, ten
days." (Bill Price, Mix Online, 11/01/00)

"[In early October] we were very excited as Axl's feeling was that we had two or three days of
work left to tidy things up and we still had three weeks before the tour started, so we were in good
shape." (Merck, 12/15/06)

The situation seemingly reminded the mixing of the Use Your Illusion albums in 1991.

"What happened was, having got my way through about 20 songs, I was then in the position of
waiting for the next song to be finished. [...] They still hadn't finished the album when their
massive 18-month world tour started. So the last half a dozen songs were recorded, overdubbed,
vocal'ed and guitar'ed, what have you'ed, in random recording studios dotted about America
when they had a day off between gigs." (Bill Price, Mix Online, 11/01/00)

"Unfortunately the muse disappeared just as fast as she came. [The three weeks preceding the
tour were] a break through period as Robin, Bumblefoot and Frank had all made important
contributions to the album that made it even stronger." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"Recently, Bumblefoot and Frank played on a few tracks that will appear on Chinese Democracy."
(Del James, 10/31/06)

"[Shackler's Revenge] was one of the first songs we worked on. I played all the solos - the
fretless solo followed by the fretted solo, the end tapping stuff and the bends over it - also the
rhythms throughout the song with all the riffing in them." (Ron, Rock Brigade, 10/08)

During the UYI days, concurrent recording was a bit hazardous to the mixing process.

"They got Bob Clearmountain to mix [the UYI's] in one studio whilst Axl was still doing vocals in
another studio and Slash doing guitars in a third. Which was, quite obviously, a recipe for chaos. I
think Bob mixed about 20 songs, but he had absolutely no contact with the band, because they
were recording other stuff in other studios." (Bill Price, Mix Online, 11/01/00)

13 Tuesdays

"Guns N' Roses has reportedly licensed music to Harley-Davidson for a TV spot entitled 'Black
Sheep'. The standard version, which launched nationally on October 8, features the track
'Paradise City'." (Blabbermouth, 10/20/06)

"The tour started with no single at radio to support it and the album still needing two or three days
of work." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"The alternate version [of 'Black Sheep'], launching late October, premieres the new, previously
unreleased Guns N' Roses track "Better" from the band's new album, "Chinese Democracy",
which will hit stores later this year. [...] GNR frontman Axl Rose viewed the spot himself and
quickly agreed." (Blabbermouth, 10/20/06)

The original plan was therefore likely to coincide the new Black Sheep commercial with the tour
launch. However, the album was not finished by then.

"As for Guns N' Roses forthcoming "Chinese Democracy" album the only comment at this time is
that there are 13 Tuesdays left between now and the end of the year." (Press release, 09/29/06)

"The album will come out this year. There are ten Tuesdays left before January – it will come
out on one of them." (Merck, Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

"A friend of ours with a retail source has told us that the long awaited Guns N’ Roses album,
Chinese Democracy, has gotten a firm release date of November 21st." (Rolling Stone, 10/05/06)

"'I don’t know that we will announce a release date,' [Mercuriadis] says. 'You just might walk
into your record shop one Tuesday and find it there.'" (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

"I apologize to all the fans irked by my facetious comments regarding the release date to Rolling
Stone magazine. They were meant to poke fun at a magazine that had announced a definitive
release date, causing us all lots of grief, when none had been set." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"The band and I, along with our record company, [...] believe [...] the '13 Tuesdays left' and 'It may
just appear in your record store' approach offered by management [...] may have been used as a
tool by management to sell this latest tour to the various promoters, and if this was the case, this
was obviously unfair to them." (Axl, 12/15/06)

"[In early October] I seriously considered postponing the start of the tour, again, as the album was
of paramount importance but [...] we needed the money to be able to complete the album and
keep the band alive." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"GNR was supposed to kick off the Southern leg of its “Chinese Democracyâ€ tour Oct. 20 in
Jacksonville, but that show got rescheduled for Oct. 31. Then its Nashville stop Sunday was
canceled altogether.

But those changes weren’t because of poor ticket sales or Axl Rose’s mood, said John
Stoll, president of West Palm Beach promoter Fantasma Productions, Inc. The head Gunner just
got hung up in the recording studio.

'He was putting the finishing touches on the new album,' Stoll said. 'But now Axl’s in town (in
Miami), and he has been rehearsing for two days.'" (The News-Press, 10/24/06)

"Additional U.S. dates will be added in early 2007, and the band will return to the States in the
summer as well, [Mercuriadis] says." (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)
Therefore, even the European tour might've been necessary to gather funds in advances to
complete the album work, which would explain why the band did so in the first place.

Better Off

"Some time last week, GN'R flew into Florida for production rehearsals at Miami Arena [on 10/23].
The place was sweltering hot and somehow we managed to temporarily lose one out of the two
band buses en route." (Del James, 10/31/06)

Elsewhere on October 23rd, at the eve of the tour, the Harley-Davidson website did in fact launch
the Better version of the Black Sheep commercial at their website, only to swiftly recall it and
reinstate the Paradise City counterpart. This quite conveniently matched with H-D's initial press
release, which dated the launch to late October.

"We were doing a commercial with Harley-Davidson. Harley was going to do a version using
'Paradise City' and another version using 'Better'. Their web site even had a version up for like
one day with 'Better', but the version of 'Better' that they had was an unfinished, unapproved
demo. That's why it was removed. The version that's getting airplay is that same demo." (Dizzy,, 03/12/07)

"Our understanding of how that happened is that an experimental edit using 'Better' in place of
'Paradise City' was somehow accidentally mislabeled as the 'Paradise City' Harley-Davidson
video/commercial and was inadvertently released on the internet. We believe the 'leak' came from
this source tape and someone with access to it." (Dizzy,, 03/12/07)

What Dizzy seemed to forget is that the Harley ad ran at one minute, making it impossible to
feature the entire track.

he Set List

Meanwhile, the band took a point to address the stale setlists.

"A few songs that fans haven't heard in a while have been worked up and when the time is right,
may be added to the set." (Del James, 10/31/06)

Setlist for the show in Estero, Florida on 10/27/06. Options include Rhiad and the Bedouins,
Perfect Crime, If the World, Prostitute, Nice Boys and Down on the Farm.

Aside from Down on the Farm, none of the options were ever taken up and put to good use
during the tour.

The Last Days

"We scheduled sessions in New York and once again sent the engineers there for the first two
weeks of November while the tour was based there - but the hectic touring schedule meant
nothing got done." (Merck, 12/15/06)

The band had three days off in around their show at Madison Square Garden on 11/10/06. The
premiere of the Black Sheep commercial had been pushed back to November, likely with these
very sessions in mind.

"The "Black Sheep" commercial, featuring "Paradise City," will air [from] October 8 [to] November
19. An alternative version, launching early November, premieres the new, exclusive, unreleased
Guns N’ Roses track "Better" from their new album, "Chinese Democracy," which will be
released later this year." (Harley-Davidson, press release, 11/06/06)

Obviously, the Better commercial never reappeared.

"The last show Merck came was Halifax, Nov/20. [...] Merck was let go before Thanksgiving
[11/23]." (Beta, 12/17/06)

In mid-December, Merck sent an e-mail to Axl and his cohorts.

"I believe it is important for an announcement on the album to be put out this week and at the
same time cover the cancellation of the 5 shows in January." (Merck, 12/12/06)

On that day, the band canceled their performance in Fresno, California for the following day. The
show was originally scheduled for 09/27/06, making it the first show following KROQ Inland
Invasion. No reason was ever given.



Axl relocated to Vegas soon after the Christmas holidays, appearing at the Playboy Club's New
Year's Party.

"Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose is putting the final vocals down on a new album that he has
been working on at the Palms recording studios." (, 01/07/07)

At this point, Axl was supposed to have done in the few remaining days of studio work that had
been hanging in the air ever since Inland Invasion in late September. Also, as the album release
required eight weeks of preparation with the label, this was the time when he would've had to turn
the finished product in to meet the March 6th release date.

However, Axl then moved the base of operations to New York, compromising the tentative release
date in favor of additional recording.

"In January, I went to Electric Lady [studios in New York City], and I sang the chorus of this song
'Sorry', and it came out really, really amazing." (Baz, Total Guitar, 08/20/07)

"[Bach] reported that he’s heard 'at least four albums' worth' of finished Guns n’ Roses
tracks, recalling a night in January 2007 when Rose rolled out new songs from midnight to 6 a.m.
at New York’s Electric Lady studios." (Rolling Stone, 06/25/08)

"One of my favorite songs is this song called 'The General', which is so... it's by far the heaviest
metal tune I think ive ever heard Axl do, this slow, grinding riff with these high, piercing vocals,
screaming vocals. [...] [Axl] goes, 'Well, this comes out on the third record. It relates to this song,
it's a trilogy, this goes with this lyrically.'" (Baz, Metal Edge, 11/06/07)

"[Bach] says Rose told him that a slow, grinding track called 'The General' is 'the sequel to [Use
Your Illusion II’s] 'Estranged,' that goes to the parable that Del James wrote of the trilogy'
(James penned the short story that inspired the 'November Rain' video)." (Rolling Stone,
"Bubbles got caught in a snowstorm on the way back from New York. He was down there with Axl
Rose, watching him record his new record." (Trailer Park Boys, The Tyee, 01/22/07)

"Bumblefoot did use my Les Paul in his final recording session for the next Guns N Roses album.
The sessions took place last month here in New York City. All his gear was out in California and
he specific needed a Les Paul for the album." (Mark Strigl, Talking Metal, 02/10/07)

"One week ago we recorded a bunch of the songs off of our record acoustically at Electric Lady
Studios in NYC. This was an absolute honor. Axl Rose was going to be recording in the A room
that night, and I got to play one of Jimi Hendrix pianos." (Dropping Daylight, MySpace, 02/07/07)

Arguably, more recording on the album was done within a space of a month than in the entire
past year.

Into Thin Air

Before the recording process would be complete, Axl'd lose one more person from his sphere of

"In February 2007, the newsletter of the Kelowna Buddhist Temple in British Columbia, Canada,
was one of the few publications to acknowledge the death of one of the people closest to Axl
Rose. In a piece headed 'Sharon Moved Lives In A Beautiful Way' the newsletter commented:
'The memories of the love and the hearts she touched throughout her short life endure. An
eloquent lady, the late Sharon Midori Tanemura Maynard - formerly of Kelowna - passed away in
Sedona, Arizona, on January 18 2007'. Yoda was dead." (Classic Rock, 04/08)

"Though nobody knows precisely how he got involved, people who know him say Axl started
visiting Sedona in the early nineties, sometimes travelling with Beta, his housekeeper, or Earl, his
bodyguard." (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)

"There was sort of like a medium/therapist that did past life, regressive, transgressive therapy -
whatever. And she took Axl on a journey through his past lives, if you believe in that kinda stuff."
(Tom Zutaut, Classic Rock, 04/08)

"I've done regression therapy all the way back, just about to the point of conception. I kind of
know what was going on then. [...] It's major, and it's legit, and it all fits together in my life.
Everything is stored in your mind. And part of you is aware from very early on and is storing
information and reacting. Every time I realize I have a problem with something, and I can finally
admit it to myself, then we go, 'Okay, now what were the earliest stages?' and we start going back
through it." (Axl, Rolling Stone, 04/02/92)

"And then that led to Axl meeting Sharon Maynard, the infamous woman who looked at pictures
of people and told Axl whether or not he should work with them..." (Tom Zutaut, Classic Rock,

"A rather plain Asian woman of middle age, Maynard stands about five feet five and has a
medium build and dark, curly hair. Since 1978 she has run a not-for-profit business in Sedona
called Arcos Cielos Corp., which loosely translated from the Spanish means "sky arcs."

The company, with assets of $241,602 in 1998, lists itself as an "educational" enterprise. Arcos
Cielos operates out of Maynard's rural home in Sedona, which she shares with her husband,
Elliott, a gently gray-haired man. "Dr. Elliott and Sharon Maynard" are both thanked in the Use
Your Illusion liner notes." (Rolling Stone, 05/11/00)
Axl's last known visit to Sedona occurred in mid-2001 with Tom Zutaut. Whether she participated
on the tours, as she occasionally did in the early 90's, is not known.

Radio Edit

From February onwards, the mixing was apparently done at Radio Recorders, the California
studio in which Elvis recorded Heartbreak Hotel. Axl's tenure there lasted until April.

"There is no official release date, as the band is currently mixing, but after some delays and
scheduling difficulties, things appear to be moving along." (Del James,,

"Drummer Jay Space revealed [A Place to Bury Strangers] have been working on five new songs
with producer John O'Mahoney, who is dividing his time between [the group] and a certain Los
Angeles rock band. Space said: 'He's doing the new Guns N' Roses record in the midst of doing
ours, so he's going back and forth from LA to New York.'" (NME, 15/02/07)

"The good news is that all of the recording for the album has been completed. Drummer Frank
Ferrer and guitarist Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal integrated themselves into the recordings seamlessly
and will have their presence felt." (Del James,, 02/22/07)

"To my knowledge I’m still on 90% of the album." (Brain, GNR Daily, 05/21/08)

"We've done so many songs and not all of them will be on the album. [...] I played a lot of rhythm
parts to the stuff - To me, it felt like a lot of the rhythm tracks seemed a little mechanical and just
didn't have that kinda sleazy thing that GNR always had... Also, I was pretty much given a
hundred guitar solos for each song to find the thing that's gonna work best - we made sure that
every possibility was there." (Ron, Maximum Threshold, 04/13/07)

Andy Wallace had most likely been let go in November at the latest. While details of his departure
may never be fully disclosed, he has commented past situations which may have been similar.

"Anytime you're working with an intense artist [...] you're going to have frustrating moments. [...]
It's difficult for me when I have a mix that I know is sounding good and the artist and the producer,
or whoever is appropriate, starts getting too involved in little things that really don't make a big
difference; they're not making a better mix out of it, they're just changing things.

[...] The Pro Tools thing is a mixed blessing. The younger guys who have never had to cut tape or
edit by bouncing on analog have a different perspective and are more easily caught up in over-
editing. Not so much to the detriment of the material, although that can certainly happen, but just
taking up too much time. Editing stuff to a degree that doesn't matter. You're never going to hear

[...] If it gets almost endless — you know, where they just can't let go and need to keep changing
things — then I feel like I'm just doing damage control, trying to keep the thing from eroding.
Sometimes that'll happen. [...] Then I really can't just pop back into it and repair it all. I mean, I
can repair it all by recalling settings and such, but as far as the mind thing, I'm out of it.

I've also had a kind of a thing where it's sort of like breaking up with a girlfriend or something like
that — where, after getting into a thing for a couple of mixes, you realize that you're not the right
guy for the job and that you're not giving them what they want. I may not agree with what they
want, but it's their record. [...] That's happened a few times. It's usually mutually felt by all of us
that we're not nailing it." (Andy Wallace, Mix Online, 10/01/05)
March of the White Elephants

In early February, GNR announced they'd appear at the South African My Coke Fest in May.
Previously, a tour had marked to begin some ten days before the album would drop.

"The touring [...] would start [...] on this basis in Dubai [Desert Rock Festival on March 9th-10th]
just before the album's release [on March 20th]." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"According to my informants, another European tour is 'in the making' for February, starting on the
24th in Moscow, Russia. Please keep in mind that this is nowhere near confirmed and plans can
still change." (, 12/26/06)

Tour dates were soon to trickle, as the Japanese promoter Creativeman confirmed shows in
between April 14th and 22nd. Ten days from the tour start would put the album release now on
April 24th, just after the Japanese tour.

"The rock n' roll machine known as Guns N' Roses have announced that they will be hitting the
road starting in April. The first leg of the Chinese Democracy World Tour 2007 will see GN'R
performing in Japan, Thailand, South Africa, South America, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand.
[...] GN'R are scheduled to headline the My Coke Festival taking place in Johannesburg on April
27th and Cape Town on May 1st." (5FM, 02/11/07)

Rumors of shows in Brazil and Mexico had been going on for a while in the local presses, but
none had yet been announced. However, as the Japanese shows preceded My Coke Fest, it's
possible that a Thailand date was planned in between April 22nd and 27th.

From South Africa, the band would've likely embarked on a tour in Brazil and the rest of South
America for the duration of May. June would see them move up north for the Mexican shows
before leaving for the Oceanian leg. Mexican newspaper El Universal went on to say the band
was planning to play a total of 70 shows, with United States following up after Oceania.

The only problem was that in case the band was eyeing on an April 24th release, the album
should've been turned over to the record company around the time when Del James announced
recording had been completed and mixing was underway - again.

Bullet-train Derailed

As the album work went on, the previously announced tour itinerary began to change.

"We talked alone with the people who is in the business to bring the band to Brasil - Porto Alegre
and other cities. Well, those people says they have 85% of getting Guns N' Roses to play in Porto
Alegre in April or May. [...] Since the negotiation is almost done, only Axl Rose could make it not
happening." (ClicRBS, 01/29/07)

"Due to all the recent rumors regarding GN'R's visit to Brazil, the Brazilian promoter Mondo
Entretinemento has issued a statement saying that there are no confirmed Brazilian dates at this
moment. The dates will not happen in May 2007 like it's been rumored. As soon as the dates are
finalized, more information will be announced by the promoter." (Mondo Entretinemento,

The Oceanic tour seemed to be in a healthier state.

"Axl Rose is returning to Australia for the first time in 14 years with his new incarnation of Guns N'
Roses. Promoter Paul Dainty has scored the coup for Australia. The GNR Chinese Democracy
tour will play Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in June." (Undercover News,

In case the album release would've now been targeted for June, canceling the already-
announced dates in Japan and South Africa would'nt have made much difference, as the album
would've been had to turn in during April. However, shows get canceled for health issues all the
time. Keith Richards fell from a coconut tree the year before, resulting in a spree of 'Stones
cancellations, closing with two shows in Germany which GNR was tapped to open.

"We had our last rehearsal a few days ago and shipped the gear to Japan. [...] I accidentally fell
down a flight of stairs. I put my hand down to break my fall and heard a loud 'pop.' The next
morning my hand looked like a balloon. I went to see my doctor and while the good news is that
it’s not broken, the bad is news is it’s severely sprained and I may have done some
ligament damage." (Tommy,, 04/11/07)

The Japanese dates, which would be rescheduled, were just announced to have been sold out. A
few after the news broke out, three June concerts in Mexico were confirmed by a local television
network. The dates were set prior to the tour in Australia and recently added shows in New
Zealand, matching with the originally planned tour itinerary.

"'Only the Japanese dates have been changed,' [Australian promoter Paul Dainty] tells
Undercover News. 'They have 70 dates this year and they are airing on the side of caution.'"
(Undercover News, 04/12/07)

"Dainty also reports there will be no issues with Tommy Stinson by the time the tour is due in
Australia. 'I've had a medical certificate from the doctor. He will be fine,' Paul tells Undercover
News. 'There was a concern at one stage but he will definitely be okay by the time the Australian
tour rolls around.'" (Undercover News, 04/26/07)

On the same day, the Japanese shows were announced to have been moved up to mid-July.

Scorched Earth

While the tour eventually commenced in Mexico in June without a hitch, the now-existing gap in
the touring schedule in July fueled speculation over a possible appearance at Live Earth on

"Guns N' Roses are rumoured to perform at the Live Earth event which takes place at various
locations around the world on July 7th. The event will be hosted by Al Gore. According to
Hamburg Magazin and Radio Hamburg Guns N' Roses are rumoured to perform at the German
location of Live Earth which takes place at the AOL arena in Hamburg." (GNR Daily, 05/08/07)

"According to the Brazilian website Babado, Guns N' Roses are in negotiations with the
organizers of Live Earth Brazil. GN'R was recently rumoured to perform at Live Earth Germany
but was not listed when the artist lineup for Hamburg was revealed. Here's a rough translation of
the text: 'Lenny Kravitz and Good Charlotte confirm presence in the show Live Earth Brazil. [...]
According to information of the column of Patricia Kogut in the periodical the Globe, Jay-Z, Nelly,
Carlos Santana and Axl Rose are in negotiation phase.'" (GNR Daily, 06/10/07)
"I was asked to perform individually with Lenny Kravitz [...] at Rio Live Earth. [...] Guns N' Roses
or I were not asked to play anywhere else such as Japan or Australia (as we are already in the
regions on tour) and in which we have formally offered to perform but the offer of our involvement
was declined. [...] Lenny unfortunately became injured and temporarily canceled his involvement
from the event. According to the promoters, by the time they had reconfirmed Lenny's
performance, there wasn't enough time to arrange flights for myself to Brazil and then to Japan
for our upcoming shows." (Axl,, 07/06/07)

For the record, the fate of the entire Live Earth Brazil concert was hanging by a thread in between
July 5th and 6th, as the show was first announced to have been canceled by court injuction for
security reasons and then admitted to proceed again. Therefore, they likely had other things in
mind than sorting out Axl's flights.

On 07/21/07, the 20th anniversary of the AFD release, GNR played the final show of their
Japanese tour, which was also the final show of the entire year.

Singer Down

In late July, Baz finalized a new record deal for his new solo album.

"I got this record deal and came out to finish my record a couple of months ago. And I just texted
Axl at LAX just walking around baggage claim and I go 'Hey, when are you going to sing on my
record.' [...] Then one word comes on my phone, When." (Baz, Ultimate Guitar, 10/26/07)

"Baz asked me to sing on his new record, "Angel Down," and I agreed and came down to his
studio where he played me the tracks. [...] Baz really wanted me on "Bitchslap," and I got to try
my own ideas on it. We're not saying much about the second track, as it may be taken a bit
further." (Axl,, 08/21/07)

By that, Axl referring to the possibility of Steven Tyler contributing additional vocals to the
Aerosmith cover, Back in the Saddle.

"Axl called Steve Tyler while we were recording [Back in the Saddle]. He just goes (does Axl
impression) 'We gotta call Steven' and he just dialed the number in his cell phone and handed me
the phone. I had been screaming all day and my voice was really high and Steven said
'Sebastian, at least you haven't lost your high end!'" (Baz, Komodo Rock, 07/23/08)

"It took him about two hours to do "Back in the Saddle" and "(Love Is) a Bitchslap," and then he's
like, 'Right on, OK, it's like 2, 3 in the morning.' I said, 'Dude, you gotta take one whack at this
song 'Stuck Inside,'' and he kinda got a little sniffy. I go, 'Would ya just do the one f---ing shot?' He
very carefully wrote the words he was gonna sing and came in with this f---ing vocal at the end
when he goes to this high part of this high harmony above the ending chorus. It's astonishing."
(Baz, Reuters, 11/09/07)

"When Baz played the third track, "Stuck Inside," he suggested a kind of call-and-answer part.
They allowed me the freedom to write my own words and melodies, and although it's only a
couple of lines, it really felt great." (Axl,, 08/21/07)

Angel Down was released on 11/20/07. It contained the first officially released songs with Axl's
vocals since Oh My God in late 1999.

Mission Accomplished

As for the other album...

"I know Axl was very serious about putting something out before Christmas. He was talking to me
about it. He was talking about finishing liner notes. I don't know what happened." (Baz, Rock My
Monkey, 12/02/07)

"About 60 people lost their jobs at Interscope and Geffen Records on Thursday when both labels
merged into one. According to sources, a budget of $18 million was spent in making and
promoting the Will.I.Am, Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Doll) and Eve albums - all were bombs
and two aren't even out yet." (Kings of A&R, 12/17/06)

"'The album was completed before Christmas,' [Beta] says, 'but everyone knows that. We're in
negotiations now with the record company...'" (Classic Rock, 02/08)

A new GNR studio album had been in the works ever since Slash began recording his Snakepit
demos fourteen years prior. The project had since then outlasted its originally intended record
company twice.