The past year or so I’ve been mining the list of artists I’ve seen more than once but we’re (unbelievably) slowly running out of artists. This week I’m turning to Guns N Roses who featured in Song Lyric Sunday #4.
Guns N’ Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, formed in 1985 comprising vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler.
Their debut album, Appetite for Destruction (1987), reached number one on the Billboard 200 a year after its release, on the strength of the top 10 singles Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City and Sweet Child o’ Mine, the last one being the band’s only single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The album has sold approximately 30 million copies worldwide, including 18 million in the US, making it the country’s bestselling debut album and eleventh-bestselling album.
Their next studio album, G N’ R Lies (1988), reached number two on the Billboard 200, sold ten million copies worldwide. Their next albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, recorded simultaneously and released in 1991, debuted at number two and number one on the Billboard 200 respectively and have sold a combined 35 million copies worldwide.
The Illusion albums included the lead single You Could Be Mine, covers of Live and Let Die and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, and a trilogy of ballads which featured notably high-budget music videos. The records were supported by the Use Your Illusion Tour, a world tour that lasted from 1991 to 1993. The covers album The Spaghetti Incident? (1993) was the last studio album to feature Slash and McKagan before their initial departure.
During the hiatus, Slash worked on his own projects (Snakebite, Velvet Revolver), he’s also released five solo albums, as well as collaborating with a number of other artists, most notably Michael Jackson and Lenny Kravitz (above). Slash has received much critical acclaim and is considered one of the better guitarists in history.
Work on a follow-up G N R album stalled due to creative differences between band members; by 1998 only Rose and Reed remained from the Illusion-era lineup. Rose, wanting to expand the band’s sound with industrial and electronic elements, enrolled an eclectic lineup of musicians.
After a decade of work, Guns N’ Roses’s long-awaited sixth studio album, Chinese Democracy (2008), was released, featuring the title track as lead single. At an estimated US$14 million in production costs, it is the most expensive rock album in history. It debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, but undersold industry expectations despite a mostly positive critical reception.
Slash and McKagan rejoined the band in 2016 for the Not in This Lifetime… Tour, which became the third-highest-grossing concert tour on record, grossing over US$584 million by its conclusion in 2019. They’re currently touring in Asia.
Guns N’ Roses was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, in its first year of eligibility. The group have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling acts in history.