With the release of Appetite For Destruction in 1987, Guns N' Roses managed to change the hard rock musical climate overnight and became major sensations with little in the way of suspense! The members had met sporadically and finally came together following Seattle transplant Duff’s introduction of the Road Crew guys to Axl and vice-versa. Duff’s old band was also on the same bill as one of Izzy’s former bands when the latter was a drummer. The band signed with Geffen, forgoing a bigger advance by Chrysalis, in order to maintain its artistic freedom. An ostensibly independent EP called Live Like A Suicide was issued in 1985, but it really was a Geffen record. The record had a false live audience track from Texxas Jam on it. The band then played club after club for two long years. Geffen asked them to stop in order to create pent-up demand and so the band climbed the stage as Fargin Bastydges.
MTV gave the single/video Welcome To The Jungle a major push about a year after the debut album’s release and the band was everywhere, seemingly going from openers to The Cult and Iron Maiden to the world's biggest rock act in the blink of an eye. The band had a sleazier image, despite clear glam leanings and roots, than their Los Angeles brethren and was staffed by several Los Angeles scene veterans. Racist and misogynistic lyrics and statements did nothing but further feed the flames of controversy and by extension popularity.
Guns N' Roses won an American Music Award for best metal band, but all was not well. Different members were in the grip of drugs of different varieties. With all the band members abusing drugs, and some like Izzy being former dealers, it was no surprise that Duff found himself on his near-death bed in May of 1994. Things became even bigger when four years after the last album the Guns released not one, but two albums simultaneously. Use Your Illusions I and II were massive exercises in ego stroking and extravagance. The magic was still there and the fans gulped it up. Still, main songwriter Izzy would soon leave the fold. A press release would site excessive touring as the reason for his departure. Others believed the guitarist's different addictions to be the cause. Former Kills For Thrills man Gilby Clarke replaced him. The band toured USA and Canada with Metallica in 1992.
Then egos, management and musical differences began to take over and the band became consistent tabloid fodder. Soon the only remaining member from 1987 was frontman Axl. Members, producers and deadlines came and went. The next album dubbed Chinese Democracy proved as elusive as the title and was played, recorded, staffed and produced at least a dozen times in the ‘90s. The band re-emerged with its latest line-up to play a New Year's eve show in Las Vegas in 2001 and the Rock In Rio festival in Brazil, but the end of 2002 meant nary a new song in ten years save a lone contribution to the End Of Days movie sound track.
The band's original vinyl demo Live ?!*' Like A Suicide is a major collectors' item and the label saw fit to release 'clean' versions of the bands' albums over the years.
The end of 2002 meant the first strings of dates for Guns' N' Roses in over a decade. With Axl not punctually arriving for the first night of the tour in Vancouver, a riot ensued. Two weeks later the remaining tour dates were cancelled amid a barrage of accusations and counter-accusations between band and promoters as to the reasons why. In the meanwhile, ex-Guns N' Roses members, Slash, Duff McKagan, Izzy Stradlin and Matt Sorum had assembled in Los Angeles to audition singers in order to record together once again. Velvet Revolver, the new band of Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland and Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, performed its debut in California in the spring of 2003. The band was also heard on the Hulk soundtrack that summer and signed with RCA. In the meanwhile, drummer Matt Sorum released his debut solo album, Hollywood Zen, viahttp://www.mattsorum.com/. The release of the band's new album was consistently pushed back in 2004.
In the spring of 2005, according to Cleopatra Records, for the third time in twelve months, the label prevailed in court against Axl Rose, who tried to sue the label in June 2004 for releasing an album entitled Hollywood Rose: The Roots of Guns 'N' Roses. Judge Gary Allen Feess awarded Cleopatra Records' request for attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $24,176.38. In the meanwhile, rumours claimed the band's album would be out in late autumn. Former members Steven Adler and Tracii Guns were playing shows in Asia as Guns N' Roses Revisited. Axl Rose would claim in a spring interview that Chinese Democracy would appear in the autumn. Former bassist Duff McKagan was a guest guitarist on select shows of Alice In Chains’ 2006 live dates. The group was scheduled to join The Rolling Stones in Germany in the summer of 2006 for two shows before the latter band’s tour was cancelled, but the band went ahead and conducted its own tour of the continent. Sebastian Bach Of Skid Row sang the last two songs (Night Train and Paradise City) of the band’s set at the Wembley Arena in London, England on July 30th, 2006 after singer Axl Rose was taken ill and could not finish the show. Axl later appeared on Bach’s solo album. Rumours of the album’s appearance persisted with a report in 2008 claiming Axl wanted the album’s rights moved to a new record label. The band’s long-rumoured album, Chinese Democracy, was eventually out on November 23rd through Geffen. The band’s first album since 1991’s Use Your Illusion I and II was available exclusively through the Best Buy chain in the USA. Musicians on the album were, beside Axl and Dizzy Reed, guitarist Bumblefoot (a.k.a. Ron Thal), guitarist Richard Fortus, guitarist Robin Finck, bassist Tommy Stinson and drummer Bryan Mantia. One of the new tracks, called If The World, was heard on the end credits of the Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe film Body Of Lies. Soft drink producer Dr. Pepper, had earlier in 2008 promised a can of its pop to every American except Slash and Buckethead, if Chinese Democracy were to be released in 2008. The state run official Chinese media was slamming the new Guns N' Roses album, Chinese Democracy, soon after its release as insulting to China. The album, which was charting everywhere including number two in the USA on its first week, was not to be issued in China. In the meantime, the band was threatening a lawsuit aimed at Dr. Pepper for inadequate promotional prowess. Between December 11th and 19th of 2009 Guns N’ Roses was performing in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Former guitarist Gilby Clarke was hospitalized on Sunday, January 10th after being the victim of a hit-and-run motorcycle accident. He injured both his legs and had to undergo surgery. Guns N' Roses played a surprise show on Thursday, February 11th of 2010, followed by another, at a private party for fashion designer John Varvatos at his New York City store at the old CBGB location as part of NYC Fashion Week. Reportedly, Axl Rose was three hours late to the show. A March 12th Guns N’ Roses show for a moneyed crowd in a Sao Paulo club turned into a riot when the band was a no-show. The crowd trashed the club after finding out that the band will not be appearing. The March 14th Guns N' Roses show in Rio De Janeiro at Apoteose Stadium was also cancelled due to the stage collapsing because of heavy rains. Guns N’ Roses singer Axl subsequently interrupted an arena show in Brazil the day after to announce the band will leave and not play should a bottle throwing incident continue. In the meantime, Los Angeles’ Front Line Management Group filed a lawsuit against Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose claiming it is owed $1,870,500 from the revenue the band made during recent world-wide tours. Reportedly, Doc McGhee (Kiss, etc.) now managed the band. Paul Stanley of Kiss soon denied reports that Kiss manager Doc McGhee was also managing Guns N' Roses! The latter band had parted ways with Irving Azoff last year and was in litigation with said management. A show in Costa Rica was cancelled next. Axl Rose and Guns N Roses missed two shows in England in September next. The band was late for both the Reading and Leeds Festivals with the delays being attributed to singer Axl Rose being asleep. Axl Rose reportedly sacked his entire tour crew after the band’s Reading slot went late and earnt the band a fine. Apparently, the singer was not woken up as the crew was under strict orders not to. The crew was rehired for the next show as Guns ‘N Roses could not find alternates in time. Sebastian Bach weighed in saying that Axl needs to rest his voice before a show. Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal was recovering from minor injuries following a car accident in June of 2011. Thal was driving his Toyota on Tuesday, May 31st when he was hit by a SUV. Elsewhere, Guns N' Roses and former manager Irving Azoff had settled a lawsuit concerning commissions and concert touring. Former Guns N' Roses and present Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum, using the Baron Von Storm alias, had a new project in 2011 called Diamond Baby. Guns N' Roses was playing at the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City on October 18th following a performance at Rock In Rio on October 2nd. The band was also touring the USA and South America. Duff Mckagan's Loaded, featuring ex-Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan, opened for Guns N' Roses in Seattle and Vancouver in December of 2011. Guns N' Roses was to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on April 14th, 2012 in Cleveland. Axl disappointed many by not appearing. He subsequently wrote and open letter explaining his decision. Guitarist Izzy Stradlin joined his former band-mate on stage on July 21st to play at a last-minute concert at a private wedding in Saint-Tropez, France. Guns N’ Roses became a Las Vegas residency band at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino this autumn. A series of 12 shows started October 31st, 2012 and wrapped up November 24th. Guns N' Roses would make its first live appearance in Jakarta, Indonesia on December 15th, 2012 at the Lapangan D Senayan. This would be the band's only one show in Southeast Asia. Guns N' Roses, ZZ Top and Rose Tattoo were touring Australia in March of 2013.
In mid-2014, the band returned to Las Vegas this spring for its second residency at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. In mid-2014, former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff would be filling in for the band's current bassist, Tommy Stinson, for the South American shows. Stinson was playing with his original band, The Replacements, in mid-April and was unavailable to Guns N’ Roses. Project Rock (formerly called Rockstar) was completing its debut album. The band was singer Tim "Ripper" Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, etc.), guitarist Keri Kelli (Ratt), bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot), drummer James Kottak (Scorpions and Kingdom Come) and piano man Teddy "Zig Zag" Andreadis of Guns N' Roses. Guns N' Roses would release Appetite For Democracy 3D: Live From The Hard Rock Casino - Las Vegas on July 1st, 2014 through Universal Music. The show was filmed on November 21st, 2012 during the Appetite For Democracy tour to commemorate of twenty-five years of Appetite For Destruction. Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose had a cameo in 2014 in a new Budweiser Beer World Cup commercial. Canadian Conservative politician Stephen Harper conducted vocals and keyboards on a cover version of Sweet Child O' Mine at the Conservatives' annual Christmas party in Ottawa on Tuesday, December 9th 2014. He was backed by his new band the Van Cats. Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and Napalm Death singer Mark "Barney" Greenway had written separate letters to the Indonesian president Joko Widodo in 2015 to appeal for the lives of convicted drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who were identified as the leaders of the so-called Bali Nine group, who were arrested at Denpasar airport in April of 2005 and convicted of drug charges. An appeal was also made for the life of fellow drug smuggler Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso. Chan and Sukumaran were executed. In July of 2015, Guns N' Roses lost guitarist D.J. Ashba. The guitarist was in the band for six years and would instead focus on Sixx: A.M. In August, Speaking to Aftonbladet television in Sweden Slash affirmed that he had reconciled with Axl Rose. Axl, who had the rights to the band’s monicker, had previously called Slash a cancer and refuted any possibility of a band reunion with its early line-up. Reunion rumours were abounding. Former members were fuelling the fire as they pleaded ignorance. Ash Hudson, brother of former guitarist Slash, apologized to singer Axl Rose and the fans for calling the vocalist a "fat bastard." He had opined that a reunion of the band would not recreate the magic. In his apology, he also noted that Axl was on a diet. Not ironically, Axl Rose contacted Google to remove a photo of him looking fat from the Internet in the summer of 2016. Swedish casino games developer NetEnt released a Guns N' Roses-themed slot machine, which would have the band’s imagery and music. US magazine Billboard was reporting that it has confirmation that the band would headline 2016’s Coachella Music And Arts Festival, set for April 15-17 and April 22-24 in Indio, California, USA. The band was apparently also booking a North American tour. The band’s website was displaying the band’s early logo and nothing else. The line-up, should the report be correct, was unavailable at press time. Singer Axl Rose was to appear on US talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! to address the situation. He cancelled the appearance due to supposed unforeseen circumstances, but the band and members did affirm that Slash, Axl and Duff have reformed and playing the aforementioned festival. The band would play two Las Vegas shows on April 8th and 9th before proceeding to California for the Coachella Festival on April 16th and 23rd. A couple of Mexican dates were also booked. Guns N’ Roses announced a 21-date tour of North America although not all cities’ dates or venues were immediately known. The Cult would open select shows. Former drummer Matt Sorum had also played in The Cult. A rumour had it that Axl was also replacing Brian Johnson in AC/DC and had been part of rehearsals in Atlanta, USA. In the meantime, the band played a one-off show at the Troubadour club in Los Angeles. Rose officially joined AC/DC to front the band for US and European shows as of April of 2016. Axl Rose broke a bone in his foot after slipping on stage during the band’s show at the Troubadour club. He had an inserted plate and screws, but the band was not cancelling any shows despite Axl being in a cast for four weeks. Rose had joined AC/DC for its touring line-up and was performing sitting down. Original drummer Steven Adler rejoined the group on Wednesday, July 6th 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA and played on the tracks Out Ta Get Me and My Michelle. This was the first time Adler has played with the band since 1990. It was reported that Adler could not join his erstwhile band due to back surgery. More than thirty people were arrested on Saturday July 23rd at the band’s concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA. Apparently a woman attacked a cop, a few were smoking up and so forth. The band had a gun seized by Canada Border Services on tour upon entering Canada in July for a Toronto concert. Apparently, it did not belong to one of the members. Co-founder and former guitarist Izzy Stradlin chimed in regarding his absence from the band’s reunion tour that he was not given an equal share of the revenue. He was reacting to singer Axl Rose’s assertion that Stradlin was unpredictable. Izzy had indeed rehearsed with the band. Former member Chris Pitman has filed a lawsuit against lead singer Axl Rose claiming unpaid debt for performing with the band. Pitman claimed to have a $125,000 note from Rose, which had gone unpaid. Drummer Steven Adler rejoined the band on stage Friday November 4th and Saturday November 5th 2016 at River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Former keyboardist Chris Pitman settled a lawsuit against Axl Rose over an unpaid debt for work he provided to the group for years. He claimed he was owed $125,000 (US) by Rose and the band. Former band drummer Steven Adler’s Adler's Appetite was planning to embark on a tour commemorating the 30th anniversary of the former band’s Appetite For Destruction album in 2018. He would perform the entire album. The band’s concert in the United Arab Emirates was cut short on November 25th 2018 as singer Axl Rose was "severely ill." He told the crowd he had been on IV and vomiting. The band pulled off 45 minutes’ of music nevertheless. Axl was again criticizing Donald Trump elsewhere. Steven Adler was taken to a hospital after stabbing himself at his house in July 2019. Accounts differed on whether the incident was an accident or a suicide attempt. Guns N' Roses was to co-headline Lollapalooza festivals in Chile, Brazil and Argentina in 2020.
GUNS N ROSES - CHINESE DEMOCRACY - BLACK FROG/GEFFEN
Finally seeing the light of day so many years after the Use Your Illusion albums it is little wonder that Chinese Democracy is 14 songs (and 72 minutes) long. That the songs were written and/or ready long before the release is probably more a negative than a positive. Negative because some of them are just not good enough and Axl Rose has been sitting on songs and testing fans' patience and eventually delivering less. The opening title track is just that, a typical yet forgettable hard rock song. In Shackler's Revenge Axl's vocals are more recognizable, the music is hard rock with a beat and a somewhat catchy chorus. Better features nice guitar work and stronger vocals. Street Of Dreams is the first mandatory ballad with piano and takes the listener back to late 80's MTV. If The World is different, it features Flamenco guitars and doesn't really go anywhere the listener would expect a hard rock song to go. There Was A Time is 6:41 long and is a bit different too, it is almost an orchestral ballad. Catcher In The Rye is not wholly different from the song before it. Sometimes these two latter songs have the feel of European bands doing ballads, the kind of thing that may appear on Frontier Records' catalogue. Scraped starts off with Axl testing his vocal pitch. The song is not a ballad. Riad N' The Bedouins is probably closer to Welcome To The Jungle than any other so far. Sorry is 6:14 long, no prize in guessing what kind of song it is. I.R.S. is pop-ish to start, catchy for most of the rest of its four and half minutes. Madagascar is a better structured ballad-y song, it is easily accessible too. This I Love could frankly be confused with a Kamelot-type ballad if it wasn't for Axl's vocals. Prostitute is a bit more like Guns N' Roses again but not wholly so.
It feels odd comparing songs on a Guns N' Roses album to more current or contemporary and certainly unassociated bands but Chinese Democracy is difficult to dissect and sometimes seems confused. - Anna Tergel