Guns N’ Roses (parfois abrégé GN’R) est un groupe de rock américain originaire de Los Angeles. Le groupe a vu le jour suite à la fusion de 2 autres groupes: L.A. Guns, toujours en activité, et Hollywood Rose.
Guns N’ Roses is an American hard rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1985. The band has sold an estimated 90 million albums worldwide, including 39 million in the United States. Their 1987 major label debut, Appetite for Destruction, sold over 26 million copies worldwide and reached #1 in the United States.
Guns N’ Roses, c’est l’histoire d’un groupe phare de la fin des années 1980 et du début des années 1990 qui se poursuit toujours aujourd’hui sous une nouvelle formation et un album Chinese Democracy prévu de longue date.
Ils connaissent un succès fulgurant avec leur premier album, Appetite for Destruction (1987), qui s’est écoulé à plus de 27 millions d’exemplaires à travers le monde.
Pour un premier album, un tel succès était inédit dans l’histoire du rock. On peut l’attribuer à la qualité musicale exceptionnelle et à la réputation déjà sulfureuse du groupe.
« Appetite For Destruction » est suivi en 1988 par un EP intitulé G N’ R Lies, qui comprend huit chansons dont quatre tirées d’une démo sortie en 1986, Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide et 4 autres accoustiques. Cet album connait également un succés important mais il faut attendre 1991 pour que les véritables succésseurs d’ ‘Appetite soit confirmé, par les deux albums Use Your Illusion I et Use Your Illusion II qui deviennent de véritables phénomènes de société.
Les Use Your Illusion I et II, soutenus par des tubes planétaires tel qu’ « You Could Be Mine » (B.O. de Terminator 2), « Don’t Cry« , « Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door » ou encore « November Rain » gravent le groupe dans la légende et s’écoulent à près de 35 millions d’exemplaires (combinés) à travers le monde.
Le groupe remplit alors les stades du monde entier, le succès est colossal. Musicalement, le groupe explore des univers musicaux très vastes. Très vite, le duo Axl Rose et Slash, les 2 personnages les plus médiatiques et les plus charismatiques du groupe, devient le symbole de toute une génération comme le furent Mick Jagger et Keith Richards, ou encore Jimmy Page et Robert Plant en leur temps.
Guns N’ Roses est alors le grand groupe de Rock de son époque. En 1993, le groupe sort un album de reprises intitulé The Spaghetti Incident? pour montrer aux fans du groupe la musique qui les a inspirés.
Vient alors une longue période de déclin, marquée par les frasques de certains membres du groupe et en particulier du chanteur Axl Rose et le départ de plusieurs membres du groupe. Slash, Duff McKagan et Matt Sorum finiront par fonder Velvet Revolver en 2002. Geffen sortira tout de même un double album live en 1999 intitulé Live Era: ’87-’93 qui contient des chansons du groupe enregistrées lors de différents concerts, puis en 2004 Greatest Hits, l’album Greatest Hits se plaça directement en tête des Charts dans le monde entier (#1 dans de nombreux pays), devenant l’un des records de longévité dans les Charts depuis le 21è siècle. En effet, l’album est toujours dans les Charts dans plusieurs pays!!
C’est en 2006 que le groupe marque un vrai retour, avec plusieurs concerts à New York puis une tournée européenne qui sera suivie d’une tournée américaine. Seuls deux membres du line-up original sont présents (Axl Rose et Dizzy Reed) mais un troisième, Izzy Stradlin, participe sur quelques dates.
L’album Chinese Democracy, qui est annoncé depuis des années, devait normalement sortir dans le courant de l’année 2007. Brian May, le guitariste du groupe Queen, a participé à 3 morceaux écrits par Axl mais pour l’instant, seule la présence de l’un d’eux (Catcher in the Rye) a été confirmée sur l’album.
La tournée européenne de l’été 2006 s’est arrêtée au POPB à Paris le 20 juin. Le concert de Zürich du 21 juin a dû être annulé à la dernière minute car la femme de Brain (batteur du groupe) a accouché plus tôt que prévu. Il a donc dû repartir aux États-Unis d’urgence et a été remplacé par Frank Ferrer pendant environ deux semaines.
Axl Rose a été interrogé par la police suédoise et poursuivi en justice le mardi 27 juin 2006 en rapport avec un incident survenu tôt le matin quand il a été arrêté à Stockholm pour conduite violente et dommages dans le salon de l’hôtel. Il aurait insulté et mordu à la jambe un gardien de sécurité.
À l’automne 2006, la formation confirme qu’ils partiront en tournée à travers l’Amérique du Nord. Les dernières dates de tournée sont prévues pour le 16 janvier 2007. Les billets pour les concerts se vendent en seulement quelque minutes après la mise en vente. Frank Ferrer est alors officiellement dans le groupe sans toutefois que Brian Mantia soit renvoyé.
Le 28 juillet 2007, la formation Adler’s Appetite, mettant en vedette Steven Adler, offre un concert en l’honneur du 20e anniversaire du disque Appetite for Destruction au Key Club, à Los Angeles. Dans une entrevue le drummeur promet que tous les membres originaux seront présent à l’exception d’Axl Rose. Dans son cas, Steven à expliqué qu’il l’a rencontré à Las Vegas récemment qu’il y’a une possibilité qu’Axl soit là. Finalement, le concert a eu lieu sans Axl et Slash. Izzy et Duff sont montés jouer Mr. Brownstone puis Izzy est demeuré pour 3 autres titres, Tijuana Jail, Mama Kin et Paradise City.
Le groupe n’a plus sorti d’album studio depuis 1993.
Dès 1994, Axl Rose commence à travailler sur un nouvel album, dont on apprendra le titre quelques années plus tard : Chinese Democracy. Depuis cette période, sa sortie a été de nombreuses fois annoncée puis repoussée. Selon un article du New York Times, il s’agirait de l’album le plus cher de tous les temps.
En effet, des centaines d’heures de studio ont déjà été payées. On ne compte plus le nombre de collaborations de stars internationales dont le travail sera mis en suspend pour des raisons encore inconnus. Cet album a fait couler énormément d’encre en dix ans environ de « fausses alertes » concernant sa sortie…
En 2006, Axl Rose promet la sortie prochaine de l’album. Selon un article du magazine Rolling Stone, l’album aurait du sortir le 21 novembre 2006…
Récemment, une version démo d’une chanson issue de l’album a fait son apparition sur le web. On y retrouve notamment la collaboration de Brian May, guitariste de Queen à la guitare.
Le vendredi 15 décembre a été annoncé par Axl Rose en personne dans une lettre ouverte aux fans que Chinese Democracy, l’album attendu depuis plus de 10 ans par tous les fans de Guns N’Roses dans le monde, sortira le 6 mars 2007.
C’est une date de sortie provisoire, car il n’est pas sûr de pouvoir tenir ses promesses. Mais il essayera par tous les moyens de respecter cette date, pour l’honneur de ses fans. Pendant ce temps, le nom de l’album le plus célèbre avant sa sortie est passé dans le langage courant ! De nombreuses figures du Rock ayant travaillé avec Axl et sa bande confirment l’existence de vrais titres de qualité, dans la digne continuité des Use Your Illusion 1 et 2, avec une texture moderne s’inspirant notamment de « The Wall » ou encore « Achtung Baby« .
Selon de nombreuses sources, Chinese Democracy promet d’être l’un des plus grands albums de Rock jamais enregistré.
Le « Chinese Democracy World Tour » débuta le 12 mai 2006 à New-York pour 4 concerts complets au Hammerstein Ballroom, de nombreuses personalités furent apperçues à ces concerts marquant le grand retour du groupe, dont notamment Liam Gallagher d’Oasis, Lenny Kravitz ou encore Kid Rock, Dexter Holland du groupe Offspring, Fred Durst du groupe Limp Bizkit ou encore Lindsay Lohan, fan inconditionnel du groupe depuis son enfance et qui eu par la suite une aventure avec le chanteur Axl Rose.
La tournée passa ensuite par l’Europe et les Etats-Unis, en repassant notamment à New-York pour un concert remarqué au Madison Square Garden, ainsi qu’à Las Vegas ou encore Cuba.
La tournée 2006 comporta une série de 70 concerts et le groupe a joué devant plus de 1 million de personnes au total.
A l’été 2007, le groupe reparti en tournée au Mexique puis en Océanie (Australie, Nouvelle-Zélande) ainsi qu’au Japon pour des concerts affichant une nouvelle fois complet.
Au départ, Guns N’ Roses était un groupe qui avait 5 membres.
Avec le temps, de nouveaux postes se sont créés…
Un clavier s’est ajouté en 1990 avec Dizzy Reed, Ensuite, en 1999, un autre clavier s’est ajouté avec Chris Pittman et finalement en 2000, un troisième guitariste, Buckethead, maintenant remplacé par Ron « Bumblefoot » Thal. Ce qui était un groupe de 5 est maintenant un groupe de 8. Avant de commencer la tournée de 2002, Paul Tobias est remplacé par Richard Fortus mais Paul Tobias va demeurer dans l’entourage. Pendant la tournée mondiale 2006, Brian « Brain » Mantia a quitté le groupe pour rejoindre sa femme qui accouchait. Depuis ce moment, Frank Ferrer est le batteur officiel du groupe sans que toutefois Brian « Brain » Mantia soit dehors du groupe officiellement.
Ventes d’albums (estimation mondiale)
* Appetite for Destruction (1987) – 27 millions
* G N’ R Lies (1988) – 12 millions
* Use Your Illusion I (1991) – 17 millions
* Use Your Illusion II (1991) – 18 millions
* The Spaghetti Incident? (1993) – 5 millions
* Live Era: ’87-’93 (1999) – 2 millions
* Greatest Hits (2004) – 7 millions
* Chinese Democracy (Prévu pour 2008) –
On estime que les Guns N’ Roses ont vendu près de 90 millions d’albums dans le monde, dont plus de 40 millions rien qu’aux États-Unis.
* Guns N’ Roses 1985-1995, par Christian Lamet (1995 – éditions La Sirène)
Foundation – L.A. Guns/Hollywood Rose merge
Guns N’ Roses was founded in Los Angeles in March 1985 by Axl Rose and guitarist Tracii Guns, as an informal merger of Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns, both of which Axl Rose had been a member, and the second of which Tracii Guns had been a member.
The original Guns N’ Roses lineup included other members from both bands: from Hollywood Rose, Rose’s longtime friend rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, and from L.A. Guns, Guns’s former bandmates bassist Ole Beich and drummer Rob Gardner. The band’s unique style integrated hard rock, heavy metal, sleaze rock, blues and punk rock.
When Tracii Guns and Rob Gardner could not appear at one of the band’s first shows in Seattle, Stradlin and Rose recruited guitarist Slash and drummer Steven Adler for the performance.
In early 1986 the pair joined full-time, fixing the lineup as Axl Rose (lead vocals and keyboards), Slash (lead guitar), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), Duff McKagan (bass guitar) and Steven Adler (drums). On the way back to Los Angeles, they wrote the lyrics for « Welcome to the Jungle« , which became one of their signature songs.
After witnessing a Guns N’ Roses show at the Troubadour, Tom Zutaut, a Geffen Records A&R executive, falsely warned other scouts « they suck » so he could have more time and leeway to sign them.
Axl Rose demanded, and received, a $75,000 advance from Zutaut before revealing that he had promised an A&R executive from Chrysalis that the band would sign with her if she walked naked down Sunset Boulevard. For three days, Zutaut nervously watched from his office window for a naked A&R executive before he could close the deal.
Alan Niven was subsequently hired as the band’s manager, and the team set out to record the band’s full-length debut album.
Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide
In December 1986, the band released a four song self-produced EP entitled Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide on their own UZI Suicide label. It opens with bassist Duff McKagan screaming « Hey fuckers, suck on Guns N’ fucking Roses! ».
Designed to gauge public opinion of the band outside of Los Angeles, the record contained covers of Rose Tattoo’s « Nice Boys » and Aerosmith’s « Mama Kin », along with two original compositions: the punk anthem « Reckless Life » and the classic rock inspired « Move to the City« , both of which were co-written by Hollywood Rose’s founding member Chris Weber. Despite having the look and sound of a live album, band members have admitted that the tracks were actually studio recordings with a live audience overdubbed.
Only 10,000 vinyl copies of the album were produced, and even though the tracks were re-issued verbatim two years later as part of the GN’R Lies EP, the original Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide has been a valuable and sought after collector’s item among fans since the late 1980s.
Appetite for Destruction
The band’s first album, Appetite for Destruction was released on July 21, 1987. In the US, « Welcome to the Jungle » was issued as its first single with an accompanying music video. Initially, the album and single did not perform well, but when Geffen Records founder David Geffen was asked to lend support to the band, he obliged by personally convincing MTV executives to play « Welcome to the Jungle » during their after hours rotation. Even though the video was initially only played one time at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, rock and punk fans took notice and soon began requesting the video and song en masse.
In the United Kingdom, « It’s So Easy » was released prior to the album itself. The band quickly gained popularity through radio airplay and via a rousing performance at London’s famous Marquee Club on June 28, 1987. The 12-inch single for « It’s So Easy » included Marquee Club performances of « Shadow of Your Love » and « Move to the City« .
Overseas, countries were often treated to material that never saw release to the US market, and went unexposed to US fans. The original UK « Welcome to the Jungle » single was backed with the Marquee Club performance of AC/DC’s classic « Whole Lotta Rosie » and a 12-inch single included live renditions of « It’s So Easy » and the Bob Dylan classic « Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door » (which would later be covered by the band in the studio on Use Your Illusion II).
In Japan, an entire EP entitled Live from the Jungle was issued, containing the album version of « Sweet Child o’ Mine » and most of the Marquee Club recordings. European and Asian single releases were often accompanied by interviews with Slash or Axl Rose, a common practice in those countries.
The album underwent an artwork change after the original Robert Williams cover design (a surrealist scene in which a dagger-toothed monster vengefully attacks a robot rapist) spawned complaints from religious groups and caused some record stores to brown bag, obscure, or refuse to sell the album.
The revised cover was gleaned from a tattoo that Axl Rose had recently commissioned featuring skeleton faces of the five musicians arranged on a cross. Rose later insisted that the Gold and Platinum plaques issued by the RIAA be set using the original cover. The artwork from the original cover can be found in the booklet of the CD release.
« Sweet Child o’ Mine » was the album’s second US single co-written by Axl Rose as a poem for his girlfriend and future wife, Erin Everly. Due to the growing grassroots success of the band and the cross-gender appeal of the tune, the song and its accompanying music video received heavy airplay on both radio and MTV, and became a smash hit during the summer of 1988.
« Welcome to the Jungle » was then re-issued as a single, with new pressings of records and tapes and new artwork. The UK re-release was backed with an acoustic version of « You’re Crazy« , recorded much earlier than the one featured on the G N’ R Lies EP.
By the time « Paradise City » and its video reached the airwaves, the band’s touring success and fame had catapulted the album to #1 on the Billboard charts. « Welcome to the Jungle« , « Sweet Child o’ Mine » and « Paradise City » were all top ten singles in the U.S. To date, Appetite for Destruction has sold over 26 million copies.
Touring success and controversy
Guns N’ Roses began opening shows for major acts, but as their fame began to take hold, a world tour in support of Appetite for Destruction was scheduled. The band traveled across the United States, and in spring 1988 were invited to the notorious Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donington in Leicestershire, England, where they shared the bill with groups like KISS and Iron Maiden.
At the start of the Guns N’ Roses set, the capacity crowd of over 100,000 began jumping and surging forward. Despite Axl Rose’s requests that the crowd move away from the stage, two fans were trampled to death. The media largely blamed the band for the tragedy, and reported that the band had continued playing even when there were dangerous crowd conditions.
In fact, the final report on the Donington incident filed by the head of security at the venue noted that the band had not been aware of the extent of fan injuries, had immediately halted their set when requested to do so, and had attempted to calm the crowd.
Nonetheless, events such as these during the Appetite for Destruction tour earned the group the title of « the world’s most dangerous band« .
In addition, the behavior of the band members also garnered negative attention from the media. McKagan, Slash, Stradlin and Adler were often seen intoxicated both on and off stage. Members of the crew at the time stated that Slash often had to be carried onstage by a group of people and would sometimes pass out after the concert ended. When touring in England in 1987, the bandmembers were treated poorly by the press with Slash being referred to as « Slosh », « Slug » and « Slush ».
Also during this tour, the band recorded five of the six songs that would be released on their live album simply entitled EP, better known as Live from the Jungle. Ironically, the track « Welcome to the Jungle » does not appear in the track listing. Released in 1987, the album never attracted much attention, mostly because it was only released in Japan and also because their full-scale album Appetite for Destruction was released around the same time.
The band’s next release was the G N’ R Lies EP in 1988, which reached #2 in the Billboard music charts. The album included the four Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide recordings on one side and four acoustic songs on the other. The song « One in a Million« , which included the words « niggers » and « faggots » among other such profanities, led to controversy in which critics accused the band, and specifically Axl Rose, of racism and homophobia.
Rose responded by saying the claims were unfounded, particularly considering Slash himself is half black. He stated that by the term « nigger » he was referring to low-lifes in general and did not mean to offend anyone from a specific country or of a specific racial heritage. He went on to explain that the song reflected racial and prejudicial problems within society, rather than promoting them. Rose also cited that he idolized gay singers like Freddie Mercury and Elton John. The band had played gigs alongside the all-black group Body Count, and lead singer Ice-T said in his book The Ice Opinion that Axl had been « a victim of the press the same way I am ».
After the release of GN’R Lies, Slash and McKagan appeared on the nationally televised American Music Awards, visibly intoxicated and using profanities. Geffen Records executives asked the band to curtail their behavior. The members finally took steps to deal with their addictions after Rose threatened to end the band if they continued with their heavy drug abuse. He even spoke publicly about the situation, specifically the heroin addictions, while opening for The Rolling Stones at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1990.
Use Your Illusion
In 1990, Guns N’ Roses returned to the studio to begin recording their most ambitious undertaking yet. During the recording session of « Civil War« , drummer Steven Adler was unable to perform well due to his struggles with cocaine and heroin addiction. While the band had played « Civil War » with Adler live once with no problems, his difficulties in the studio caused the band to do nearly 30 takes.
As a result, Adler was fired in July 1990, and was replaced by former Cult drummer Matt Sorum. A few months prior, keyboardist Dizzy Reed became the sixth member of the group when he joined as a full time member. The band fired their manager, Alan Niven, in May 1991, replacing him with Doug Goldstein. According to a 1991 cover story by Rolling Stone magazine, Rose forced the dismissal of Niven (against the wishes of some of his bandmates) by refusing to complete the albums until he was replaced.
With enough music for two albums, the band released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II on September 17, 1991. The tactic paid off when the albums debuted at #2 and #1 respectively in the Billboard charts, setting a record as they became the first and only group to date to achieve this feat. The albums spent 108 weeks in the chart.
Both prior to and after the release of the albums, Guns N’ Roses embarked on the 28-month-long Use Your Illusion World Tour to support them. It became famous for both its financial success and the many controversial incidents that occurred at the shows.
The tour included a Slash guitar solo incorporating The Godfather theme, a piano driven Axl Rose cover of « It’s Alright » by Black Sabbath and an extended jam on the classic rock inspired « Move to the City » where Rose showcased the ensemble of musicians assembled for the tour.
Many of the successful performances during the tour were equally matched, and often overshadowed in the press, by riots, late starts and outspoken rants by Rose. While the band’s previous drug and alcohol issues were seemingly under control, Axl was often agitated by lax security, sound problems and unwanted filming or recording of the performances. He also used the time in between songs to fire off political statements or retorts against music critics or celebrity rivals.
On July 2, 1991, at the Riverport Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis during a performance of « Rocket Queen », Rose jumped into the audience and tackled a fan who was recording the show with a video camera. After being pulled out of the audience by members of the crew, Rose said: « Well, thanks to the lame-ass security, I’m going home! », slammed his microphone on the ground and left the stage.
The sound the microphone made caused some fans to think he shot someone, so Slash quickly told the audience, « He just slammed his mic on the floor. We’re outta here. » The angry crowd began to riot and dozens of people were injured. The footage was captured by Robert John, who was documenting the entire tour for the band. Rose was charged with having incited the riot, but police were unable to arrest him until almost a year later, as the band went overseas to continue the tour. Charges were filed against Rose but a judge ruled that he did not directly incite the riot. In his defense, Rose stated that the Guns N’ Roses security team had made four separate requests to the venue’s security staff to remove the camera, all of which were ignored, that other members of the band had reported being hit by bottles from the audience and that the venue’s security had been lax, allowing weapons into the arena and refusing to enforce a drinking limit.
Consequently, Use Your Illusion’s artwork featured a hidden message amidst the Thank You section of the album insert: « Fuck You, St. Louis! »
During this time, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin quit the band due to differences with both Rose and Slash. He was replaced by Los Angeles based guitarist Gilby Clarke. During many shows throughout the tour, Rose introduced Clarke and had him play « Wild Horses« , a Rolling Stones cover. In late 1991, Rose added a touring ensemble to the band which included a horns section and several background vocalists.
In 1992, the band appeared at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, performing a two song set. Slash later performed Tie Your Mother Down with the remaining members of Queen, while Axl Rose performed We Will Rock You and duetted with Elton John on Bohemian Rhapsody.
Later in the year they went on the mini-GNR-Metallica Stadium Tour with American heavy metal band Metallica. During a show in August 1992 at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, Metallica frontman James Hetfield suffered severe burns after stepping too close to a pyrotechnics blast. Metallica was forced to cancel the second hour of the show, but promised to return to the city for another show.
After a long delay, during which the audience became increasingly restless, Guns N’ Roses took the stage. However, the shortened time between sets did not allow for adequate tuning of stage monitors, resulting in musicians not being able to hear themselves.
In addition, Rose claimed that his throat hurt, causing the band to leave the stage early. The cancellation led to another riot by audience members, reminiscent of the rioting that had occurred in St. Louis one year earlier. Rioters overturned cars, smashed windows, looted local stores and set fires. Local authorities were barely able to bring the mob under control. This can be seen on video in A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica.
The Use Your Illusion Tour is also notable for the many videos the band released to support it, including « Don’t Cry« , « November Rain » and « Estranged » – some of the most expensive music videos ever made. The hit ballad « November Rain » became the most requested video on MTV, eventually winning the 1992 MTV Video Music Award for best cinematography. During the awards show, the band performed the song with Elton John accompanying on piano.
In May 1993, Gilby Clarke broke his wrist in a motorcycling accident and the band needed a replacement for some dates in Europe. Izzy Stradlin returned briefly for a string of five shows.
The historic tour ended in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 17, 1993. The tour set attendance records and lasted for 28 months, in which more than 200 shows were played. The show in Buenos Aires marked the last time original members Slash and McKagan as well as newcomers Clarke and Sorum would play a live show with Rose.
« The Spaghetti Incident? »
On November 23, 1993, Guns N’ Roses released a collection of punk and glam rock covers entitled « The Spaghetti Incident?« . Despite protests from Rose’s bandmates, an unadvertised cover of the Charles Manson song « Look at Your Game Girl » was included on the album at his request.
Years later, Rose said he would remove the song from new pressings of the album, claiming that critics and the media had misinterpreted his interest in Manson. However, as of 2007, the song is still on the album. The Spaghetti Incident? did not match the success of the Illusion albums and tension increased within the band.
Axl Rose began work on a new album of original material in 1993, writing a song called « This I Love« . The album’s producer was supposedly Mike Clink. Nothing came out of the rumors, and Guns N’ Roses remained on hiatus. In 1994, Gilby Clarke was released from the band as Axl felt his songwriting skills were inadequate for their future projects.
That same year, a cover version of The Rolling Stones’s « Sympathy for the Devil » was recorded for the movie Interview with the Vampire. The addition of Axl’s friend Paul Tobias in place of Clarke did not sit well with remaining band members. During recording, Tobias recorded an echo of Slash’s solo at Axl’s request. Slash was infuriated when he heard the song’s final mix and discovered that Tobias’ guitar had been placed on top of his.
In early 1995, Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde told Kerrang that he had joined the band for a week’s worth of rehearsal and jamming on Rose’s personal request. While Wylde considered the experience as a highly positive one, he was ultimately frustrated by the time consuming contract negotiations, opting to go on tour with Osbourne.
Slash then drifted in and out of the band for the next year or so, beginning a side project called Slash’s Snakepit. In August 1996, the band regrouped with Rose temporarily acting as the rhythm guitarist. At the time, Sorum hinted that the band were considering a new, unknown player for the slot, possibly referring to Paul Tobias.
After two weeks of jamming and song writing, McKagan and Sorum began touring with their sideproject, Neurotic Outsiders, returning to work with Rose and Slash mid-tour for a week in early September. After that, Slash and Rose were left alone to continue working. The guitarist commented on the situation in October, saying « 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. »
A few weeks later, Rose announced Slash was no longer a part of the band.
Slash was replaced by former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck. The next year, Sorum was fired from the group following a verbal dispute with Rose regarding negative comments Paul Tobias had made about Slash. In mid 1997, McKagan opted out of his contract and officially left the band in early 1998. This left Rose as the only remaining member from the groups heyday. Slash, McKagan and Sorum later formed rock supergroup Velvet Revolver with former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland and guitarist Dave Kushner. They released their first CD, Contraband, in 2004, to a good reception.
In 1998, Axl formally returned to the studio accompanied by guitarist Robin Finck, rhythm guitarist Paul Tobias, bassist Tommy Stinson (formerly of The Replacements), drummer Josh Freese (of The Vandals), keyboardist Dizzy Reed and effects man Chris Pitman. In that same year, the clean (i.e. any profanity removed) compilation album Use Your Illusion was released (in the USA only), mainly so the album could be sold in Wal-Mart and K-Mart stores.
In 1999, the band released one new song, « Oh My God« , which was included on the soundtrack of the film End of Days. The track featured additional guitar work by Dave Navarro and Gary Sunshine, Axl’s personal guitar teacher. The song’s release was intended to be a prelude to their new album, now officially entitled Chinese Democracy.
Geffen also released Live Era: ’87-’93, a collection of live performances from various concerts during the Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion tours.
Also in 1999, during an interview with Kurt Loder for MTV, Axl said that he had re-recorded Appetite for Destruction with the then-new band, apart from two songs which he had replaced with « Patience » and « You Could Be Mine« .
In 1999, guitarist Robin Finck departed the band in order to rejoin his former band, Nine Inch Nails, on tour. In 2000, avant-garde guitarist Buckethead joined Guns N’ Roses as a replacement for Finck. Drummer Josh Freese was replaced with Bryan Mantia (formerly of Primus). Robin Finck returned to Guns N’ Roses in late 2000, to complement Buckethead on lead guitar.
The New Guns N’ Roses
The revised lineup finally made a public appearance in January 2001, with two well-received concerts, one in Las Vegas and one at the Rock in Rio Festival in Rio de Janeiro. The band played a mixture of old hits as well as new songs from their forthcoming album. During their Rock in Rio set, Rose made the following comment regarding former members of the band:
« I know that many of you are disappointed that some of the people you came to know and love could not be with us here today. Regardless of what you have heard or read, people worked very hard (meaning my former friends) to do everything they could so that I could not be here today. I say fuck that. I am as hurt and disappointed as you that unlike Oasis, we could not find a way to all get along. »
The new lineup played a further two shows in Las Vegas at the end of 2001. In 2002, rhythm guitarist Paul Tobias left the band because of his frustrations with life on the road. He was replaced by Richard Fortus (formerly of The Psychedelic Furs and Love Spit Love). The band then played several shows in August 2002, headlining festivals and concerts throughout Asia and Europe. They made their way to New York for a surprise appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards in September.
In 2002, the band’s first North American tour since 1993 was organized to support Chinese Democracy. However, the opening show in Vancouver was cancelled by the venue, and a riot ensued. This tour was met with mixed results. Some concerts did not sell well, while shows in larger markets such as New York sold out in minutes. Due to a second riot by fans in Philadelphia, tour promoter Clear Channel cancelled the remainder of the tour.
The band went on hiatus until they were scheduled to play at Rock in Rio IV in May 2004. However, Buckethead left the band in March of that year, causing the band to cancel. Also in March 2004, Geffen released Guns N’ Roses’s Greatest Hits, since Rose had failed to deliver a new studio album in more than ten years. Rose expressed his displeasure with this album as its track listing was established without his consent and went as far as trying to block its release by suing Geffen. This failed, however, and the album went triple platinum in the USA.
In February 2006, demos of the songs « Better« , « Catcher In The Rye« , « I.R.S.« , and « There Was a Time » were leaked on the internet through a Guns N’ Roses fan site. The band’s management requested that all links to the MP3 files and all lyrics to the songs be removed from forums and websites. Despite this, radio stations began adding « I.R.S. » to playlists, and the song actually reached #49 on the Radio & Records Active Rock National Airplay chart in the final week of February – the first time an internet leak has done so.
On May 5, 2006, Axl Rose appeared on the Friday Night Rocks with Eddie Trunk radio show (during an interview with Sebastian Bach) and said that the new Guns N’ Roses album would be released before the end of the year. Later in May, the band launched a European tour, headlining both the Download Festival and Rock In Rio – Lisbon. Four warm-up shows preceded the tour at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City and became the band’s first live concert dates since the aborted 2002 tour. The shows also marked the debut of virtuoso guitarist and composer Ron « Bumblefoot » Thal, replacing Buckethead. During the tour, former bandmate Izzy Stradlin and ex-Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach made frequent guest appearances.
Five warm-up shows before a 2006 North American tour were held in September 2006. The tour officially commenced on October 24 in Miami. Drummer Frank Ferrer replaced Bryan Mantia, who took a leave of absence to be with his wife and newborn child. Coinciding with the tour, the song « Better » was featured in an internet advertisement for Harley-Davidson beginning in October 2006. That same month, Rolling Stone published an article revealing that Andy Wallace would be mixing the final album.
In December 2006, Axl Rose released an open letter to fans announcing that Merck Mercuriadis had been fired as the band’s manager. He revealed that the last four dates of the North American tour would be cut so the band could work on postproduction for Chinese Democracy. He also set a tentative release date for the album for the first time since the album’s announcement: March 6, 2007.
On February 8, 2007, the band played a two-song set at the Rodeo Drive’s Walk of Style ceremony, held on February 8 in Beverly Hills, California. The band, with Chris Pitman on bass, blazed through « Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door » and « Sweet Child o’ Mine » to close the event, which honored Gianni and Donatella Versace.
On February 23, 2007, Del James announced that Chinese Democracy’s recording stage was finished, and the band had now moved onto mixing the album. However, this proved that the March 6 release date would be impossible to achieve, and the album once again had no scheduled release date.
On May 4, 2007 three more tracks leaked from Chinese Democracy; an updated version of « I.R.S.« , « The Blues » and the title track. All three tracks had previously been played live. Guns N’ Roses embarked on the 2007 leg of the Chinese Democracy World Tour in Mexico on June, followed by dates on Australia and Japan. The songs Nice Boys and Don’t Cry were played for the first time since the Use Your Illusion Tour. The tour ended on high on the twentieth anniversary of Appetite for Destruction, in Osaka. During the tour announcement, the band was listed as Axl Rose, Robin Finck, Ron Thal and Richard Fortus on guitars, Tommy Stinson on bass, Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman on keyboards and Frank Ferrer on drums.
On August 20, 2007, Rose announced that he would be a guest performer on Sebastian Bach’s new album, Angel Down, to be released on November 20, 2007. In an announcement on Guns N’ Roses website, Rose mentioned how « the timing couldn’t be better », and stated the material he worked on from Bach’s album was different from the « upcoming Guns N’ Roses record ».
The music of Guns N’ Roses is a fusion of punk rock, heavy metal and classic rock and roll, presented in a layered fashion. More recently, Guns N’ Roses have showed industrial influences, similar in style to bands such as Nine Inch Nails (former Nine Inch Nails Live guitarist Robin Finck plays with the band).
In the 1990s, the band integrated keyed instruments (played by either Rose or Reed, and accompanied on tour by Teddy Andreadis) into the band, and for roughly half of the Use Your Illusion tour, added a horn section to the stage. While Reed has remained on some of the Chinese Democracy demos, tours since 2002 have not included wind instruments, though the band has employed synthesized horns on some of their new songs.
A heavy influence on both the image and sound of the band was Finnish band Hanoi Rocks (singer Michael Monroe and Rose have collaborated on various occasions). Rose has stated that the band was massively inspired by bands like Queen, The Rolling Stones, Rose Tattoo and AC/DC, and also that the sound of Appetite for Destruction was influenced by Aerosmith and AC/DC. The stage moves and vocal stylings of Rose have been attributed to Shark Island lead singer Richard Black.
Appetite for Destruction, 1987
G N’ R Lies, 1988
Use your Illusions I, 1991
Use your Illusions II, 1991
The Spaghetti Incident, 1993
Live Era : ’87-’93, 1999
Greatest Hits, 2004
* Axl Rose – lead vocals, piano (1985 – present)
* Dizzy Reed – keyboards, piano (1990 – present)
* Robin Finck – lead and rhythm guitar (1997 – 1999, 2000 – present)
* Tommy Stinson – bass (1998 – present)
* Chris Pitman – keyboards, programming (1998 – present)
* Bryan Mantia – drums (2000 – present, has been on hiatus since September 2006)
* Richard Fortus – rhythm & lead guitars (2002 – present)
* Ron « Bumblefoot » Thal – lead and rhythm guitar (2006 – present)
* Frank Ferrer – drums (2006 – present)
* Tracey Amos – backing vocals (1991 – 1993)
* Teddy Andreadis – harmonica, keyboards, backing vocals (1991 – 1993)
* Roberta Freeman – backing vocals (1991 – 1993)
* Diane Jones – backing vocals (1991 – 1993)
* Anne King – horns (1991 – 1993)
* Lisa Maxwell – horns (1991 – 1993)
* Cece Worrall – horns (1991 – 1993)
* Fred Coury – drums (1987 – 1988 – eight performances)
* Don Henley – drums (1989 – one performance)
* Izzy Stradlin – rhythm guitar (1993 – five performances)
* Frank Ferrer – drums (2006 – twenty-five performances)
* Chris Pitman – bass (2007 – one performance)
* Vince Neil – vocals (1988 – one performance)
* Matt McKagan – horns (1989 – four performances)
* Shannon Hoon – bongos, vocals (1991 – 1993 – nine performances)
* Sebastian Bach – vocals (1991, 2006 – thirty five performances)
* Lenny Kravitz – guitar, vocals (1992 – one performance)
* Steven Tyler – vocals (1992 – one performance)
* Joe Perry – guitar (1992 – one performance)
* Brian May – guitar (1992 – 1993 – two performances)
* Elton John – piano, vocals (1992 – two performances)
* Ronnie Wood – guitar (1993 – two performances)
* Michael Monroe – vocals (1993 – one performance)
* Izzy Stradlin – guitar (2006 – twenty performances)
* Kid Rock – vocals (2006 – one performance)
* Del James – vocals (2006 – two performances)
* Lars Ulrich – drums (2006 – one performance)
* The Trailer Park Boys – Singing Comedy (2006 – one performance)
* Angry Anderson – vocals (2007 – three performances)
* Bubbles (2007 – five performances)