Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

Today (November 24) sees the release of Guns N' Roses' 'Chinese Democracy' - 14 years after Axl Rose began working on it. The album has already received well over 3 million plays on Myspace - although fans in China have been unable to pre-order the album, since the website www.chinesedemocracy.com has been blocked by the country's Communist government.

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

Buckethead was a member of Guns N' Roses from 2000-2004, contributing guitar parts to 'Chinese Democracy'. When he quit, Axl Rose responded with a public statement slamming Buckethead as "inconsistent and erratic". Ozzy Osbourne then offered him a job. "I asked him to work with me but only if he got rid of the fucking bucket," recalled Osbourne. Buckethead refused. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

Guns N' Roses fans waiting for the band to take the stage at Leeds Festival 2002. They were in for a long wait: Guns N' Roses' set was delayed by 90 minutes, beginning at 11pm. However, their first UK gig since 1993 was well-received, ending with an explosive version of 'Paradise City'. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

Queen guitarist Brian May, pictured here on stage with Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, recorded guitar parts for 'Chinese Democracy' in 1999, on the track 'Catcher'. However, it's not known if his parts have survived in the final mix. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

Slash, pictured here on stage with Michael Jackson, quit Guns N' Roses in 1996 when 'Chinese Democracy' was still in its early stages. However, he has given the album his blessing. In 2006, he said: "When I left [the band] I was pretty pissed off for having to leave in the first place. I'm just waiting for the record to come out, so I'm glad where it's got to the point that that's happening." Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

'Chinese Democracy' is the most expensive album ever made, by a huge margin. According to a March 2006 'New York Times' article, the total cost of recording the album exceeds $13 million. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

In December 2006 Axl Rose posted an open letter on Guns N' Roses' website blaming then-manager Merck Mercuriadis for the endless delays in releasing 'Chinese Democracy'. Mercuriadis responded the next day, pointing out that he had booked a number of recording sessions which Rose had failed to attend. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

In theory, the release of 'Chinese Democracy' entitles everyone in America to a free can of Dr Pepper. In March 2008, the fizzy drinks brand promised to give a can to everyone in the country (apart from ex-G'n'R guitarists Slash and Buckethead) if the album emerged in 2008. Axl Rose gave his blessing to the marketing stunt, issuing the statement: "We are surprised and very happy to have the support of Dr. Pepper with our album 'Chinese Democracy'." Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

Sessions for 'Chinese Democracy' have involved a vast array of musicians - including ex-Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach, two noted orchestral composers and a top harpist, Patti Hood (although sadly not Elton John, pictured here). Bizarrely, basketball star Shaquille O'Neal rapped with Guns N' Roses at one point, although his contribution will not appear on 'Chinese Democracy'. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

'Chinese Democracy''s 16-year genesis has been plagued by online leaks, with Guns N' Roses' management taking a tough line on piracy. Kevin Cogill, 27, faces five years in prison if found guilty of violating copyright laws, having been caught uploading nine tracks from 'Chinese Democracy' on his website. Axl Rose is pictured here being arrested in 1990 after allegedly assaulting a neighbour with a wine bottle. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

In September 2008, one track from 'Chinese Democracy' - entitled 'Shackler's Revenge' - was released via the video game 'Rock Band 2'. In another licensing deal, the track 'If The World' is to play over the end credits of forthcoming Russell Crowe thriller, 'Body Of Lies'. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

Many big-name producers have worked on 'Chinese Democracy', including Mike Clink, Bob Ezrin, Roy Thomas Baker and, more recently, 'Nevermind' engineer Andy Wallace. Axl Rose also approached Moby and 'Urban Hymns' producer Youth, but they turned him down. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

In February 2007, 'Better', a track from 'Chinese Democracy', leaked online. Keyboardist Dizzy Reed blamed motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson for the leak: Guns N' Roses had supplied them with the song for an advert, which they then posted on their website. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

In America, 'Chinese Democracy' will be available exclusively through the superstore Best Buy. This was the idea of Guns N' Roses' manager Irving Azoff, who engineered a similar deal with The Eagles' 'Long Road Out Of Eden' in 2007, to great effect. Available only from Wal-Mart, the album was a runaway hit, selling over three million copies in the US alone. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

A total of 10 guitarists have worked on 'Chinese Democracy', including former Jane's Addiction man Dave Navarro, and Buckethead, who quit in 2004 to be replaced in 2006 by session man Bumblefoot. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

In April 2003, The Offspring announced a plan to steal Guns N Roses' thunder by calling their forthcoming album 'Chinese Democracy (You Snooze, You Lose)'. However, it turned out to be an April Fools' joke, and the album was eventually titled 'Splinter'. Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

One thing that has remained constant during 'Chinese Democracy''s 16-year gestation is the scorn held for Axl Rose by fellow rocker Jon Bon Jovi. In 2006 he said: "You know what pisses me off? That motherfucker hasn't made a record in 13 years and he gets all that attention. You know what I've done in 13 years? A lot. But he's a recluse. That makes him interesting, right?" Photo: PA Photos

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Guns N Roses: the history of 'Chinese Democracy'

When Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash quit the band in 1996, he was eventually replaced with Buckethead. The eccentric axeman, famous for wearing a KFC bucket on his head, insisted on having a giant chicken coop built for him in the studio. Former Guns N Roses A&R man Tom Zutaut described the coop thus: "No one was allowed to go in there - you could not destroy the karmic vibe of the coop, his personal retreat." Photo: PA Photos

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