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On the morning of November 23rd, 2008 I purchased my first Guns N' Roses album. I left work that morning so I could get to my local Best Buy and be one of the first people to get my hands on the highly anticipated Chinese Democracy. I had been a fan of Guns N' Roses since the beginning, and owned many of their songs through burned cds and mp3s, but this was going to be the first album I paid american currency for. I had heard many of the tracks leaked online, and I was pumped. Chinese Democracy was set to be the greatest album of my generation. Over the last decade all music fans were waiting for this album. Early reviews were positive. I drove around in my car listening to Chinese Democracy from beginning to end. I was happy, yet I was also underwhelmed. Their greatness was still not to be questioned.
Guns N' Roses torched the horrendous glam rack scene with their debut album Appetite for Destruction. The Whitesnakes, Ratts, and Poisons of the world were finally going to be wiped away from my MTV. G N' R was making raw, hard rock popular again. The opening riff of "Sweet Child o' Mine" was the "Satisfaction" of my generation. Slash was about to give generation x our greatest guitarist. Axl Rose's wail was lyrical and animalistic. Duff McKagen, Steven Adler, and Izzy Stradlin (who I always thought was the live version of Steve Dallas) rounded out a band that would usher in a golden age of American rock. Guns N' Roses was a fast living, hard rocking, antidote to the squareness of Reagan's america. The greatest american band was born in fire and burned extra bright.
Guns N' Roses had great music, and they also had a Spinaltapness to their lives. Drugs, groupies, and other general debauchery cemented G N' R as the new rock gods. During the summer of 1991 I was working landscaping at the neighborhood I was living at in St. Louis. One of my older colleague's brought me to his apartment and showed me his framed ticket from the July 2nd Guns N' Roses show at Riverport Amphitheater. This show was famous because Axl Rose jumped into the crowd to beat the hell out of fan with a camera. Security was lax at the show, the band stormed off, and a riot ensued. I learned in my landscaping partners apartment that day that Axl may hate St. Louis, but G N' R fans in St. Louis love the band. Riot be damned. A band that can tear apart your stadium, and still be loved, is a band that kicks ass.
I immediately started to borrow G N' R albums from my friends. I knew there was some awesome filthiness in a song like "Rocket Queen". Epics like "Don't Cry" and "November Rain" just kept building into magnificent pieces of music. Even covers like "Knocking on Heaven's Door" carried the distinct mark of Guns N' Roses. All the turmoil and overexposure of being the world's greatest rock band seemed to not slow Guns N' Roses down. America once again ruled the rock landscape, and it was only going to get better.
This is the part in "Behind the Music" where the screen goes to black and white and the music becomes slow, because all of Guns N' Rose's success was about to come crashing down. The band had been fracturing for years, but when Slash officially left, G N' R seemed to be finished. Like all epic rock band stories, drugs, women, and creative differences ended the success of america's greatest band. So it seemed.
The end of the road was not in sight for Axl Rose. The decade long hype for Chinese Democracy was proof of our appetite for Guns N' Roses. The early 2000's were filled with embarrassing performances from Axl and his latest incarnation of Guns N' Roses. The internet was filled with false starts for Chinese Democracy. Even Dr. Pepper was caught in the crossfire of the debacle. Axl and Slash refused to play together at their 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction. The glory days for G N' R seemed long gone, yet the band continues to make top music news anytime we hear their name.
There are still rumors of new Guns N" Roses music. Whenever it seems like their best days are gone, Axl Rose can still command attention just by using the cred built up by G N' R's golden age. Epic debauchery, band infighting, and kick ass music easily makes Guns N' Roses The Greatest American Band. Their best stuff may be twenty years old, but when the newest delayed album drops in ten years, I will be at Best Buy when the doors open.
RD is the Head Editor for SeedSing. He wants to hear from you what kind of music rocks. Write for us.