Doug Goldstein called me into the office about two weeks later. He wanted me to sign some contracts. I was told that every time I did heroin, the band would fine me $2,000. There was a whole stack of papers, with colored paper clips everywhere for my signatures. What these contracts actually said was that the band were paying me $2,000 to leave. They were taking my royalties, all my writing credits. They didn't like me anymore and just wanted me gone. That's why I filed the lawsuit – to get all those things back.
American Music Awards
Billboard Touring Awards
MTV Video Music Awards
Revolver Golden Gods
World Music Awards
Guns N' Roses' late 1980s shows were often eventful for more than just the band's performance. During a November 1987 show in Atlanta, Rose assaulted a security guard and was held backstage by police, while his band mates continued playing with a roadie singing. Riots nearly broke out during two August 1988 shows in New York State. At England's Monsters of Rock festival, held that same month, two fans were crushed to death during the group's set by the slam-dancing crowd. During the first of four October 1989 dates opening for the Rolling Stones at the L.A. Coliseum, Rose announced that the shows would be the group's last if certain members of the band did not stop "dancing with Mr. Brownstone," a reference to the band's song of the same name about heroin. Events such as these helped earn Guns N' Roses the moniker "The Most Dangerous Band in the World."
In 1984, Hollywood Rose member Izzy Stradlin was living with L.A. Guns member Tracii Guns. When L.A. Guns needed a new vocalist, Stradlin suggested Hollywood Rose singer Axl Rose. Guns N' Roses was formed in March 1985 by Rose and rhythm Guitarist Stradlin, along with lead Guitarist Tracii Guns, Bassist Ole Beich, and Drummer Rob Gardner of L.A. Guns. The band coined its name by combining the names of both previous groups. Rejected names for the band included "Heads of Amazon" and "AIDS". After a short time, during which the band reportedly played two or three shows, Beich was fired and replaced by Duff McKagan. Tracii Guns left the band after an argument with Rose leading to his replacement by Rose and Stradlin's one-time Hollywood Rose bandmate, Slash. Gardner quit soon after and was replaced by another former Hollywood Rose member, Steven Adler. Slash had also previously played with McKagan and Adler in Road Crew.
The band's "classic" lineup was finalized on June 4, 1985 when Adler and Slash officially joined. After two days of rehearsals, the band played their first show with the lineup on June 6, 1985. Two days later, the band embarked on a short, disorganized tour of the West Coast, from Sacramento, California, to McKagan's hometown of Seattle, Washington. The band drove in a separate van and had to abandon their gear when both vans broke down on the way to Seattle, forcing them to hitch-hike up the coast and back home to LA with only their guitars. The so-called "Hell Tour" settled the band's first stable lineup, with McKagan later commenting, "This trip had set a new benchmark for what we were capable of, what we could and would put ourselves through to achieve our goals as a band." Through the band's increasing presence on the Hollywood club scene – playing famed bars such as The Troubadour and The Roxy – Guns N' Roses drew the attention of major record labels. The group signed with Geffen Records in March 1986, receiving a $75,000 advance. They had turned down an offer from Chrysalis Records that was nearly double Geffen's, due to Chrysalis wanting to change the band's image and sound and Geffen offering full artistic freedom.
Guns N' Roses toured extensively in support of their debut album, embarking on the 16-month-long Appetite for Destruction Tour. In addition to headlining dates in Europe and the U.S., the band opened North American shows for The Cult, Mötley Crüe, and Alice Cooper throughout the second half of 1987. During the 1987 tour, Drummer Steven Adler broke his hand in a fight, and was replaced for 8 shows by Cinderella Drummer Fred Coury. Bassist Duff McKagan missed several shows in May 1988 to attend his wedding; Kid "Haggis" Chaos from The Cult filled in. Don Henley of the Eagles played drums for the band during the 1989 AMA show while Adler was in rehab.
Guns N' Roses' next album, G N' R Lies, was released in November 1988. It included the four recordings from the band's 1986 EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, as well as four new acoustic tracks. "Patience", the only single released from G N' R Lies, peaked at No. 4 in the U.S., while the album itself reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The album cover, a parody of tabloid newspapers, was modified after initial pressings to remove the headlines "Wife-beating has been around for 10,000 years" and "Ladies, welcome to the dark ages".
Guns N' Roses signed with a major record label within eight months of the band's inception, and topped national sales charts weeks after garnering late hours airplay on MTV. Appetite for Destruction is the highest-selling debut album of all time in the United States. Peers of the band in the music industry often spoke highly of the band. Joe Perry stated that the band was the first group to remind him of Led Zeppelin. Ozzy Osbourne stated that Guns N' Roses could have been "the next Rolling Stones" if the classic lineup stayed together. Country musician Steve Earle stated in 1989 that "Guns n' Roses are what every L.A. band pretends to be".
In 1990, Guns N' Roses returned to the studio to begin recording the band's most ambitious undertaking yet. Drummer Steven Adler was briefly fired from the band over his drug use, but he was reinstated after signing a contract in which he vowed to stop taking drugs. During the recording session of "Civil War", Adler was unable to perform well due to his struggles with cocaine and heroin addiction, and his difficulties in the studio caused the band to do nearly 30 takes. Adler claimed at the time he was sick from taking opiate blockers to try to kick his addictions. Adler was fired on July 11, 1990 as a result, and later filed a lawsuit against the band.Adler recalled the reason for the lawsuit and recapped his firing in a 2005 interview:
During many shows throughout the tour, Rose introduced Clarke to the audience, and Slash and Clarke would then play "Wild Horses", a Rolling Stones cover. In late 1991, the band added a touring ensemble, which included a horns section and several background vocalists. In 1993, Clarke broke his arm in a motorcycle accident during the tour, and was replaced for several weeks by Stradlin.
Later in the year, Guns N' Roses went on the Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour, with American heavy metal band Metallica, being supported by Faith No More, Motörhead, and Body Count. During a show in August 1992 at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, Metallica's lead singer James Hetfield suffered second degree burns to his hands and face after malfunctions with a pyrotechnics blast. Metallica was forced to cancel the second hour of the show, but promised to return to the city for another performance. 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 members of G N' R 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 audience riot, with three police officers and 10 rioters injured. Police made at least a dozen arrests related to the incident.
Rose claimed "the reason we didn't list that song on our album is we wanted to downplay it. We don't give any credit to Charles Manson on the album; it's like a hidden bonus track." The band considered removing the song from new pressings of the album, and David Geffen stated in a phone interview, "I would hope that if Axl Rose had realized how offensive people would find this, he would not have ever recorded this song in the first place. The fact that Charles Manson would be earning money based on the fame he derived committing one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th Century is unthinkable to me". Slash mentioned that the song was "done with naive and innocent black humor on our part". Rose stated he would donate all performance royalties from the song to a nonprofit environmental organization. Slash stated that the group intended to remove the song before the band decided to keep it after learning that royalties from the song would be donated to Bartek Frykowski, the son of Wojciech Frykowski, a victim of Manson during the Tate Murders. Geffen Records released a statement mentioning that the label's share of royalties would be donated to the Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau. Years later, Rose said the song would be removed from new pressings of the album, claiming that critics and the media had misinterpreted his interest in Manson. Rose can be seen wearing a Manson shirt in the video for "Estranged" and during a concert in Milton Keynes, England, in 1993. Rose explained wearing the shirt as "trying to make a statement" because "a lot of people enjoy playing me as the bad guy and the crazy. Sorry, I'm not that guy. I'm nothing like him." Despite the statement that the track would be removed, "Look at Your Game, Girl" is still featured on pressings of the album.
A new Guns N' Roses album had reportedly been in the works since 1994, with Rose the only original member still in the band. Moby was reported to be producing with Guns N' Roses in 1997, with work that sources described as "sounding different from the sound you know ... definitely electronic influenced." Mike Clink, who had previously produced every Guns N' Roses album, was also attached to produce in May 1997. In April 1998, Moby was replaced by Youth, and the album was still in the writing stages. In July 1998, Journalist Neil Strauss indicated that an 'electronica influenced' album by a new Guns N' Roses lineup was due in 1999. Rolling Stone stated that the label planned for the album to be released in late 1999. By August 1999, the band had recorded over 30 songs for the album, tentatively titled 2000 Intentions. September 1999 saw Youth being replaced by Producer Sean Beaven.
Gilby Clarke's contract was not renewed and he was gone from the band by 1995. Slash stated in his book that Rose fired Clarke without consulting anyone, claiming he was a "hired hand". Clarke was not involved in the recording of 'Sympathy for the Devil': "I knew that that was the ending because nobody told me about it. Officially I was in the band at that time, and they did that song without me." Clarke mentioned that before the final show of the Use Your Illusion Tour, Rose told him "Hey, enjoy your last show". Clarke later sued the band over the use of his likeness in Guns N' Roses Pinball.
The recording of "Sympathy for the Devil", coupled with tension between Slash and Rose, led the former to quit the band officially in October 1996. Rose sent a fax notifying MTV of the departure, and Slash responded: "Axl and I have not been capable of seeing eye to eye on Guns N' Roses for some time. We tried to collaborate, but at this point, I'm no longer in the band." Slash stated, "Axl's whole visionary style, as far as his input in Guns N' Roses, is completely different from mine. I just like to play guitar, write a good riff, go out there and play, as opposed to presenting an image."
Josh Freese was ultimately hired to replace Sorum on drums, joining in the summer of 1997. By the end of 1998, a new version of Guns N' Roses had emerged: Rose, Bassist Tommy Stinson, Drummer Josh Freese, lead Guitarist Robin Finck, rhythm Guitarist Paul Tobias, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Pitman.
Geffen released an edited single disc version of the Illusion albums in 1998, entitled Use Your Illusion. In November 1999, the label released Live Era '87–'93, a collection of live performances from various concerts during the Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion tours. Former Guitarist Slash described the selection of songs of the album as a "very mutual effort", further adding "the live album was one of the easiest projects we all worked on. I didn't actually see Axl, but we communicated via the powers that be."
The music of Guns N' Roses is a fusion of punk rock, blues rock, heavy metal, hard rock, and hair metal. The Illusions albums saw the band branching out into art rock, while "The Spaghetti Incident?" saw the group blend hard rock with punk rock. Since the group's 1999 revival, the band has retained hard rock features while also experimenting with industrial rock and electronic rock. 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.
In an interview with Rolling Stone in February 2000, Rose played several songs of the upcoming album to reporters, including "Chinese Democracy", "Catcher in the Rye", "I.R.S.", "The Blues", "There was a Time" and "Oklahoma". Rose mentioned that part of the delay of the new album was him 'educating himself about the Technology that's come to define rock', stating that "it's like from scratch, learning how to work with something, and not wanting it just to be something you did on a computer." Rolling Stone described the album as "Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti remixed by Beck and Trent Reznor. Rose mentioned that the expense of the record would be negated by the recording sessions yielding multiple albums, including a record that is "more industrial and electronica-influenced than Chinese Democracy". At that point, the album had gone through multiple producers, including Youth, Moby, Mike Clink, Roy Thomas Baker, Eric Caudieux. At the time, Sean Beavan was producing, but Caram Costanzo and Axl Rose became the final credited producers on the album. The album had been completely re-recorded several times with varying Musicians and producers. In a 2001 interview, Rose described the album as having "all kinds of styles, many influences as blues, mixed in the songs" and said that it was "not industrial".
Eight years after the previous Guns N' Roses concert, the band 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 both songs from previous albums and songs from then-unreleased Chinese Democracy. During the band's Rock in Rio set, Rose made the following comment regarding former members of the band:
In 2002, Q magazine named Guns N' Roses in its list of the "50 Bands to See Before You Die". The television network VH1 ranked Guns N' Roses ninth in its "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock" special, and also 32nd on its "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". Appetite for Destruction was ranked 62nd greatest album of all time in Rolling Stone magazine's special issue "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Guns N' Roses No. 92 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". "Paradise City" has also been voted 9th-best "Best Hard Rock Song" out of 100 candidates by VH1.
The band went on hiatus in 2003. While on hiatus on September 1, 2004, baseball player Mike Piazza leaked a previously unheard track, "I.R.S." on the Eddie Trunk radio show. The band management heard about the nationwide leak, and obtained a cease and desist order for all stations that had a copy of the track. The band's hiatus continued until it was scheduled to play at Rock in Rio Lisboa in May 2004. However, Buckethead left the band in March of that year, causing the band to cancel. Buckethead reportedly left the band because of the "inability to complete an album or tour", according to his manager. Rose claimed "the band has been put in an untenable position by Guitarist Buckethead and his untimely departure. During his tenure with the band, Buckethead has been inconsistent and erratic in both his behavior and commitment, despite being under contract, creating uncertainty and confusion and making it virtually impossible to move forward with recording, rehearsals and live plans with confidence. His transient lifestyle has made it impossible for even his closest friends to have nearly any form of communication with him whatsoever."
By 2005, Geffen had taken Chinese Democracy off of its release schedule and pulled funding, stating "Having exceeded all budgeted and approved recording costs by millions of dollars, it is Mr. Rose's obligation to fund and complete the album, not Geffen's." Around then, manager Merck Mercuriadis stated that "The 'Chinese Democracy' album is very close to being completed". According to a 2005 report by The New York Times, Rose had allegedly spent $13 million in the studio by that point. Mercuriadis rejected the budget claims made by the New York Times article and claimed that the newspaper's sources had not been involved with the project for "six to nine years". The $13 million makes the album the most expensive rock album ever produced.
In November 2006 shows in Portland, Maine, were cancelled, with the band claiming it was "due to limitations imposed by local fire marshals". Rose later apologized in a statement, stating "We have chosen to take the public heat for these events in order to have another shot at the Future today with a new album."
Also in February 2007, the 'final' version of "Better" leaked online to positive reviews. 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 in June, followed by dates in Australia and Japan. The songs "Nice Boys" and "Don't Cry" (appearing as an instrumental Bumblefoot solo) were played for the first time since the Use Your Illusion Tour. The tour ended on the twentieth anniversary of Appetite for Destruction's release date, in Osaka. During this tour, the band featured vocalist 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.
Chinese Democracy, the band's sixth studio album and its first since 1993's "The Spaghetti Incident?", was released on November 22, 2008, in Europe and Australia, in North America on November 23, 2008, and in the United Kingdom on November 24, 2008. The album had an estimated $14 million in production costs, making it the most expensive rock album to ever be produced in music history. It debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 but undersold industry expectations, despite generally positive critical reception.
In October 2009, Ulrich Schnauss's record labels Independiente and Domino sued Guns N' Roses, alleging that the band had committed copyright infringement by using portions of Schnauss' compositions in the track "Riad N' the Bedouins" on the album Chinese Democracy. The band claimed the samples "were provided by a member of the album's production team who has assured us that these few seconds of sound were obtained legitimately." Chinese Democracy was banned in the People's Republic of China, due to perceived criticism in its title track of the Government of the People's Republic of China and reference to the Falun Gong. The Chinese government said through the media that it "turns its spear point on China".
Former Bassist Duff McKagan joined the band on stage for the first time since leaving the band on October 14, 2010 at The O2 Arena, in London, England. He performed four songs with the group: "You Could Be Mine", "Nice Boys", "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", and "Patience". The appearance was said to be a spur-of-the-moment decision, as he and Rose happened to be staying in the same hotel. Rose told the audience, "There was this guy at the end of my hallway playing all this loud music and shit. What the fuck? Oh — it's Duff!". McKagan later joined Guns N' Roses on part of its tour for two Seattle shows in December 2011, as well as having his band Loaded open for Guns N' Roses.
On December 7, 2011, it was announced that the classic Guns N' Roses lineup was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with several other acts, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Faces. Commenting on his Twitter, Rose stated "I'd like to thank the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame and our fans. This is your victory". Commenting on the induction during his That Metal Show interview he said "I don't know what it means in terms of me with the old band and the old lineup,"... "If we were to be invited, I don't know what they would ask of me. It's up in the air." Slash also commented, saying, "Thanks for all the R&RHF mentions, It's quite an honor to be inducted. Cheers! Iii|; )" He went on to say, "I have no idea how that's supposed to go. If Axl, Duff, Izzy and myself start communicating, it could go one way. If we don't, God knows."
Guns N' Roses was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012 in its first year of eligibility. The group is one of the world's best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide, including shipments of 45 million in the United States. The U.S. release of the PlayStation game Mega Man X5 had the names of the game's bosses changed in honor of the band.
In August 2013, a new song titled "Going Down" was leaked online. The track features Bassist Tommy Stinson on lead vocals, with Rose providing back up vocals. Bumblefoot confirmed the song to be legitimate on his Twitter. Spin described it as "a country-tinged, mid-tempo lighter-raiser with lyrics about how "you've got nothin' good to say / Keep your mouth shut."
Reed mentioned that the next album was 'close to being done' in July 2014, adding it was "just a matter of picking out which songs will be on it" and that the band had a "shitload of songs, enough to make up another record or two". Later that month, Fortus discussed the band working on new material and taking a break from touring. A year later, Fortus discussed a potential 2016 tour and mentioned that the next album "should be out" by then. Reed responded by saying "When will it come out? We just don't know yet. Only Axl knows, and he's very secretive. Be patient."
On December 29, 2015, several days after a Guns N' Roses related teaser was released to movie theaters, Billboard reported that Slash was set to rejoin the band and a "reunited" lineup will headline Coachella 2016. Rose was set to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live! the following week to talk about the Future of the band, but his appearance was cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances". Guns N' Roses was officially announced as the headliner of Coachella on January 4, 2016, with KROQ reporting Slash and Duff McKagan are rejoining the band. The Coachella festival confirmed via press release that McKagan and Slash were rejoining. The band's first scheduled concerts with Slash and McKagan took place at the newly opened T-Mobile Arena on April 8 and 9, 2016. On March 25, 2016, the band announced 21 cities as part of a North American tour, dubbed the Not in This Lifetime... Tour. Additional legs of the tour were added for Latin America, Asia and Oceania through 2017. Later on, a second North American Leg was added for 2017. A 2018 European leg was added in November 2017.
During the band's show of July 6, 2016, in Cincinnati, former Drummer Steven Adler joined the band on drums for "Out ta Get Me" and "My Michelle". It was the first time since 1990 that Adler performed with the group. Adler was originally going to take part in the show at April 1 show at the Troubadour, but had to pull out after having back surgery. Adler would later join the band at shows in Nashville, Los Angeles, and Buenos Aires. The tour featured additional guest performers, including Sebastian Bach, more appearances by Angus Young, Angry Anderson, P!nk, Billy Gibbons and Dave Grohl.
The tour so far has been a financial success, grossing over $480,000,000 by December 2017 and currently listed as the fourth highest-grossing concert tour of all-time. Guitarist Richard Fortus discussed the band's plan to make new music in a July 2017 interview, stating that members had been recording individual and collaborative ideas but have yet to head to the studio as a band.