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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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The Hear Year

On 01/13/06, Axl visited Korn's tour launch party at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary, and gave his first comments to a member of the press in over three years.

"'People will hear music this year,' says Axl Rose, puffing on a cigar in the early hours of Saturday morning at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. 'We're working on thirty-two songs, and twenty-six are nearly done,' he says. Of those, thirteen are slated for the final album. [...] Among Rose's favorites are 'Better,' 'There Was a Time' and 'The Blues.'" (Rolling Stone, 01/18/06)

Among the first to hear music that year were some Chelsea nightclub owners.

"Stereo nightclub owners Barry Mullineaux and Mike Satsky were closing up their Chelsea hotspot at 5:30 a.m. [on 02/10/05] when they encountered elusive Guns 'N' Roses frontman Axl Rose at the front door." (NY Post, 02/12/06)

"Rose and a handful of his friends [had] been booted from another club at the standard New York watering-hole closing time of 4 a.m." (MTV, 02/23/06)

During the evening, Axl had attended Victoria's Secret early Valentine's party at the 41st Street, where Richard Fortus just happened to be one of the performing artists.

"The braided rocker was with bandmates and a bevy of beauties wanting to keep his 44th birthday bash going. Rose was so eager to get inside the club that he offered the owners a little bribe - an exclusive listening party for his yet-to-be released album, 'Chinese Democracy.'" (NY Post, 02/12/06)

"As a sign of his gratitude, Mullineaux said Rose sent someone to his hotel room to retrieve two CDs, each one containing 10 tracks. [...] Mullineaux, who said he manned the DJ booth and spun the discs for Rose, said several of the tracks reminded him of classic GN'R, with moments of uncharacteristic heaviness. Axl 'kept telling me to put back track #3 '” I guess that was his favorite song,' he said." (MTV, 02/23/06)

Was track #3 perhaps Better, There Was a Time, or The Blues?

"'He wanted to play that one over and over, like six times. He was really getting into it and rockin' out. Everybody was surprised at how good it sounded. And that third track, that was the song where his voice sounded the best; the smoothest.'

[...] 'He said this album will show everyone who was the main ingredient from GN'R. He was freely answering questions about his work, the band, what happened with the split, the direction he's headed in” and the music sounded great.'" (MTV, 02/23/06)

Further listening parties were underway, with Axl also letting people in on his gameplan.

"The Big Damn Band, an Indianapolis-based roots blues trio, served as the supporting act for the Derek Trucks Band Feb. 23 at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. Rose caught Trucks in action, and then hit a VIP party at upstairs bar On the Rox. Big Damn Band members the Rev. Josh Peyton, Breezy Peyton and Jayme Peyton also attended the party.

Beyond the high-profile gig on the West Coast, the arrival of Jayme's birthday at midnight gave the group reason to celebrate. [...] Jayme says the party eventually moved to Trucks' tour bus, where Rose produced a CD and previewed some of 'Chinese Democracy' - which the singer said will be sold as a 3-disc collection." (Celebratedsounds, 03/02/06)

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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Best Laid Plans

All the while, Axl had big business to deal with.

"We planned the tour in February, just after Axl's birthday and we were supposed to finish the album in May, before it started." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"When I agreed to do our recent North American tour, I did it with the understanding that my manager, Merck Mercuriadis, and I were in full agreement regarding our strategy and touring plans and, most important, that any and all things needed to release the album by Dec. 26 at the latest were in place." (Axl, 12/15/06)

Starting on 02/20/06, various European festivals announced that GNR had been added to their respective lineups. This included the Rock in Rio-Lisbon festival in late May and the Download festival in the UK in June. The Download announcement was quick to gather controversy.

"I have to write some copy this weekend on Guns 'N Roses for a feature to go with my photos. [...] If you tell the truth it sets off too many wars, or egos way out of control. The original line-up is supposed to play Download in June with their metal chums, Metallica, if Lars can be bothered to turn up." (Ross Halfin, 02/04/06)

"[The GNR reunion] almost happened. The pens were ready to sign. With the 'Greatest Hits', there was a possibility [of a reunion], but there was too much stuff being said. But it was a close call." (Scott Weiland, Classic Rock, 04/08)

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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Where Do We Go Now

On 03/06/06, Axl's lawyer Howard Weitzman released the infamous press release, where he stated that Slash had badmouthed his VR band members during his visit to Axl's house in the past October. The press release itself was a curious one, as it was sent out on the pretext of responding to a lawsuit filed by Slash and Duff, apparently the one concerning unrewarded ASCAP royalties. However, the lawsuit in question was filed on 08/17/05, spurring the original response from Weitzman in less than two weeks.

Duff was notably unbiased throughout the aftermath.

"McKagan told Launch that he would rather not get involved in the situation at all. 'I think, you know, a lot of it's really unfortunate, very difficult,' he said in an interview conducted last Friday (March 10). 'I've always just wanted to make great music and that's what I plan on doing. As far as a rebuttal to what he said, or what Slash has said, I won't get involved in a war of words, you know. People say all kinds of stuff and I'm not going to be one of them.'" (Blabbermouth, 03/14/06)

Matt, on the other hand, didn't seem to mind at all.

"Last night I went to a club called 6 and 8s. [...] Inside there was Axl Rose. Oh my God. I hadn't seen him in at least 6 years. [...] Later that evening I ended up in a loft somewhere in the East Village, where Axl was again.

We spoke for quite sometime. And it was nice to clear somethings up. I told him how great of a frontman he was while I was in the band and no hard feelings from me at all. [...] After the party ended, Axl gave me a ride back to my hotel in his suburban." (Matt, official site, 04/13/06)

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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The Freshman

In mid-April, four warm-up shows in the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, were announced. The shows would occur in between May 12th and 17th. Meanwhile, a replacement was sought for Buckethead.

"Prior to the European tour... the band was hoping that Buckethead would come back and made very effort to make that happen... When it was apparent that Bucket would not be re-joining, the band had to move forward... Auditions were held in Los Angeles, but the band did not find the right guy to replace Buckethead." (Del James,, 10/31/06)

"Boston-based guitarist Joshua Craig was called to audition for Guns N' Roses last week - presumably as the replacement for Buckethead, who quit the group in early 2004.'" (Blabbermouth, 04/20/06)

"Then they reached out and said, "Can we work this out?"  (Bumblefoot, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)

"[In late April,] I got a call from Guns N' Roses to join the band and start rehearsing the next week for a comeback tour starting the week after. I had my first rehearsal with Guns on May 3rd, our first show was 9 days later." (Bumblefoot, Official Site, 01/18/11)

"We got together in New York and we jammed. Did like three songs and got together and it was like, "Alright, cool. We'll get tomorrow night and do another three." We jammed seven times and hit the road and that was it."  (Bumblefoot, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)

"[Axl] was really nice to me from the first time we were in a room jamming together." (Bumblefoot, HTGTH, 10/10/13)

"[Axl] came down to a rehearsal and we jammed to the song "Riad" and he was yelling in my ear, "This part of the song reminds me of 'Hey Bulldog' from the Beatles." I was like, "Yeah, you're right." Eating some burgers and it was just totally normal." (Bumblefoot, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)

"He was always good to me... [The others] did not want me in the band. And it's not me - they just didn't want a third guitar player." (Bumblefoot, HTGTH, 10/10/13)

"Without sounding belittling, I wasn't thinking of it like a huge deal. I was thinking, "Alright, these are just another bunch of guys. We're gonna jam and go out and do some stuff and have some fun." (Bumblefoot, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)

"It was a set of circumstances... The way I was brought into it, and the things that transpired in the beginning - and even previous relationships that I inherited... A lack of communication from the management that was there... ‘Cause at the time, they had worked it out for [Robin and Richard]. Then suddenly [manager Merck Mercuriadis] hits them up one day, and the tour was, like, two weeks away. He said, “your new guitar player is coming down”. And they're like, “what the hell - who the fuck is this?” " (Bumblefoot, HTGTH, 10/10/13)

"I figured we would be playing - I didn't know where we'd be playing - the House of Blues-type places. The next thing you know we go to Europe and festivals for 100,000 people where we're headlining. We're like, "What the hell? Alright, it is what it is." I didn't think it was at that level but obviously I was wrong. It was an experience." (Bumblefoot, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)

"I realized that they would have treated anybody [badly]... and I showed up, and they wouldn't even look at me." (Bumblefoot, HTGTH, 10/10/13)

"Even when I had to learn the songs to start touring in the very beginning when I was first joining the band, they wouldn't give me the music to learn. So I had to learn all the stuff on "Chinese Democracy" we were gonna play live, I learned it with a pen and paper and headphones on the road manager's laptop in a half-hour just writing while the band was taking a break from rehearsal in the next room." (Bumblefoot, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)

"For that first tour, you know, I was treated like shit. Like absolute shit. They wouldn't really talk to me. If I spoke, they'd roll their eyes and walk out of the room. I was made to feel as unwelcome as possible. Until, finally, I had to get a little violent. And then they started realizing that I'm not gonna leave. They're gonna get hurt... Physically." (Bumblefoot, HTGTH, 10/10/13)

Axl appeared in Eddie Trunk's radio show, known for its IRS leak in 2003, in early May, and touched the subject of the new guitar player.

"Trunk: And you can't announce who the new guitar player is, or you don't have one yet?
Axl: No, we have one, but I'm not announcing him." (Eddie Trunk show, 05/05/06)

 Rep: 150 

Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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CD 2½: The Smell of Fear

After four shows at the Hammerstein Ballroom with the induction as Bumblefoot as the new guitarist, Axl appeared on KROQ radio, and announced that the band would appear at the Inland Invasion festival on 09/23/06.

"DJ: The cd is coming out later this year?
Axl: Yes, absolutely." (KROQ, 05/19/06)

Meanwhile, studio work was set to continue.

"We were supposed to finish the album in May, before [the tour] started. We sent our engineers to New York, where we all waited, for over a month, for the muse to come but she never arrived." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"There's two records that the majority of the music's done, and the majority of the vocals are done. And there's another half of a record that's being worked on.

[...] There's songs we're still shuffling around, I mean we recorded about two and a half, three albums worth of material. So, there's still stuff that's gonna bounce between one and two." (Axl, Eddie Trunk show, 05/05/06)

Some songs were, however, seemingly locked down for the first album.

"Over the four nights [at the Hammerstein Ballroom], audiences were also treated to nearly half of the band's upcoming new album, Chinese Democracy, with live performances of 'Chinese Democracy,' 'Better,' 'There was a Time,' 'Madagascar,' 'IRS' and 'The Blues.'" (GNR, press release, 05/22/06)

"We were actually working on a song a little bit tonight that's not even on the first two records." (Axl, Eddie Trunk show, 05/05/06)

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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In the Old World

The band overtook a successful European tour, aside the Axl's occasional scuffles with the authorities. The most notable shift in dynamics occurred in late June.

"Guns N' Roses have been forced to postpone their show in Zurich at the Hallenstadion this evening the 21st of June, 2006. Their drummer Brain aka Bryan Mantia has had to return to San Francisco earlier than scheduled to be with his pregnant wife. The band have been travelling with understudy drummer Frank Ferrer. [...] It is expected that Brain will return to the tour in approximately 2 weeks time." (GNR, press release, 06/21/06)

Brain was now scheduled to return on around July 5th. His wife was reported to have given birth to their daughter on the day before his assumed return.

"[Frank Ferrer] came into the fold through guitarist Richard Fortus. [...] When GN'R were making arrangements for someone to fill in for Brain, both Richard and bassist Tommy Stinson knew what the perfect fit would be when they recommended Frank. After one rehearsal, everyone else in the band knew they were 100 percent in the right." (Del James,, 10/31/06)

As it was back at the Leeds-Carling festival in 2002, a big deal was made of the Newcastle show during the UK tour on July 19th, as the band closed the show after playing their regular set due objects thrown to the stage. However, the body of the tour remained intact, with the most memorable change coming up in the very end.

"Guns N' Roses completed their European Tour last night with their second consecutive sold out show at London's Wembley Arena. [...] The final show at Wembley almost didn't come to fruition as vocalist Axl Rose was diagnosed with low blood pressure and low blood sugar Sunday morning. He became ill after performing two concerts on Saturday night - [...] the second an unannounced surprise semi acoustic set.

[...] Rose became ill a couple of hours after the 75 minute performance ended, with a doctor being called to his hotel room. [...] He made it through the two hour performance to the final song of the evening - Nightrain - before collapsing. The mic was handed to his friend, Sebastian Bach, who completed the performance with an encore of Paradise City." (GNR, press release, 08/01/06)

The first full-fledged European tour in nearly fifteen years was over.

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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The Invasion postponed

"We then scheduled sessions in London in August and had our engineers meet us there at the end of the English tour. August came and went and once again the muse did not show." (Merck, 12/15/06)

Meanwhile, warm-up shows were scheduled into Las Vegas and San Francisco, with additional California dates following in tow of Inland Invasion. There was a tour beginning. Axl was also announced as a presenter at the annual MTV Video Music Awards on 08/31/06, his first appearance there since the uneven performance in 2002.

"[The album release] was confirmed by Axl in numerous interviews - most famously at the MTV Video Music Awards." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"[The CD release] is this year!" (Axl, 08/31/06)

"We postponed our proposed radio date of Labour Day [09/04/06] for the first single and we came back to LA and tried to finish before the San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles shows but yet again she eluded us.

[...] Axl then asked me to postpone the North American tour which was due to start on 24th of September by a month." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"We'll start the tour around October 24th, but we're doing some shows before that." (Axl, 08/31/06)

These shows (Inland Invasion and its warm-ups) would once again feature Brain on drums.

"Prior to the U.S. run, Brain asked if he could sit this one out so he could be with his newborn baby. Had it come down to not being able to do it without him, Brain would have done the tour but management and the band support his decision to be with his family." (Del James, 10/31/06)

The formal announcement for the postponements took a good while to appear, even if Axl himself had apparently aware of them before the VMA's.

"GN'R have postponed the US dates that were to take place between September 27th and October 5th. The dates have been moved to fit into the main body of the tour, which starts on October 20th in Jacksonville, FL at the Veterans Memorial Arena. The rescheduled dates will take place later this year or early next year (depending on show)." (HTGTH, 09/23/06)

As it was following the VMA's  in 2002, the band was set to return to the studio and complete the album before touring the US.

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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Sanctuary Compromised

All the while, Merck was clearing his desk at Sanctuary Group. Former GNR manager Doug Goldstein might've already jumped ship at that point.

"Sanctuary Group's artist management unit, the independent music company's cornerstone asset, is bracing itself for a structural sea change, well-placed sources tell Billboard. The departure of longtime high-level executive Merck Mercuriadis from the music firm is imminent and will be announced within the next couple of weeks, sources say.

The company's co-founder and worldwide head of artist relations Rod Smallwood may also be on the way out, taking with him the company's oldest management client, Iron Maiden, according to executives close to the situation. [...] Smallwood and [...] Andy Taylor founded [...] Sanctuary Group in 1976. [...] As previously reported, Taylor was axed from Sanctuary May 26, following a rocky financial period that nearly sank the company." (Billboard, 09/23/06)

"In February, [Sanctuary auditor] Baker Tilly said Sanctuary had understated losses for 2005 by £15.9m. [...] The [dismissal of Taylor] followed a review of the company's 2005 financial statements in response to questions raised by accounting oversight body the Financial Reporting Review Panel. [...] Sanctuary reported losses of £142.6m in 2005, up from £26.7m a year earlier. The group, which has run into problems after expanding too quickly, narrowly avoided bankruptcy thanks to a £110m rescue plan this year." (Guardian UK, 05/26/06)

"Mercuriadis is expected to join mega-managers Irving Azoff and Howard Kaufman at Front Line Management. Sources say he will continue to manage some of his acts, including Morrissey, Guns 'N Roses and Joss Stone." (Billboard, 09/23/06)

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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Just Another Listening Party

"Following Guns' headlining gig [at Inland Invasion] in San Bernadino, California, on September 23rd, Axl threw a party at his mansion." (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

"When it hit midnight and officially became my birthday [09/25], I was over Axl's house enjoying a wonderful barbeque with the band, crew, friends, family." (Ron, 09/27/06) 

"[Axl] played the full album in his poolroom for visitors, including his friend Sebastian Bach, former singer of Skid Row." (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

"Last thing I remember was having a hot-pepper eating contest with Caram (Chinese Democracy studio engineer) and playing pool with Baz..." (Ron, 09/27/06)

"'It's a very cool album. [...] There's this one song called 'Sorry' that's almost like doom metal with Axl singing really clean over this grinding, slow beat that is fucking mean,' says Bach. 'I cannot get it out of my head.'" (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

The reception seemed to spur Axl onwards.

"Finally, early in that period after the euphoria of Inland Invasion, Axl made a break through and got two or three very productive days under his belt." (Merck, 12/15/06)

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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The Nevermind Mix

"Veteran engineer Andy Wallace, who mixed Nirvana's Nevermind, is working on the project, according to a source close to the band. 'We're absolutely delighted with the mixes,' the source says." (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

Knowing Axl's fondness towards Dave Grohl's drumming on Smells Like Teen Spirit, lead single and opening track of Nevermind, there may be more to Wallace's employment than simply his impressive track record.

"We have been in the final stages of renegotiating our deal with our record label and it has been a long slow process. [...] The discussion started over a year ago but did not become serious until they started hearing the mixes. [...] The record company refused to conclude the renegotiation until we were ready to hand over the finished album." (Merck, 12/15/06)

The mixing itself doesn't usually take too long.

"[November Rain] was a very long process. That mix was on the board for a good week, ten days." (Bill Price, Mix Online, 11/01/00)

"[In early October] we were very excited as Axl's feeling was that we had two or three days of work left to tidy things up and we still had three weeks before the tour started, so we were in good shape." (Merck, 12/15/06)

The situation seemingly reminded the mixing of the Use Your Illusion albums in 1991.

"What happened was, having got my way through about 20 songs, I was then in the position of waiting for the next song to be finished. [...] They still hadn't finished the album when their massive 18-month world tour started. So the last half a dozen songs were recorded, overdubbed, vocal'ed and guitar'ed, what have you'ed, in random recording studios dotted about America when they had a day off between gigs." (Bill Price, Mix Online, 11/01/00)

"Unfortunately the muse disappeared just as fast as she came. [The three weeks preceding the tour were] a break through period as Robin, Bumblefoot and Frank had all made important contributions to the album that made it even stronger." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"Recently, Bumblefoot and Frank played on a few tracks that will appear on Chinese Democracy." (Del James, 10/31/06)

"[Shackler's Revenge] was one of the first songs we worked on. I played all the solos - the fretless solo followed by the fretted solo, the end tapping stuff and the bends over it - also the rhythms throughout the song with all the riffing in them." (Ron, Rock Brigade, 10/08)

"When we were doing the "Chinese..." stuff it was songs I never heard before. They wouldn't give me any listen ahead of times to get to know the songs and to think about them. To get to know the song and grow with it and learn everything else that's going on in it so that I could really find my own voice within it all." (Ron, Ultimate Guitar, 07/02/14)

During the UYI days, concurrent recording was a bit hazardous to the mixing process.

"They got Bob Clearmountain to mix [the UYI's] in one studio whilst Axl was still doing vocals in another studio and Slash doing guitars in a third. Which was, quite obviously, a recipe for chaos. I think Bob mixed about 20 songs, but he had absolutely no contact with the band, because they were recording other stuff in other studios." (Bill Price, Mix Online, 11/01/00)

 Rep: 150 

Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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13 Tuesdays

"Guns N' Roses has reportedly licensed music to Harley-Davidson for a TV spot entitled 'Black Sheep'. The standard version, which launched nationally on October 8, features the track 'Paradise City'." (Blabbermouth, 10/20/06)

"The tour started with no single at radio to support it and the album still needing two or three days of work." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"The alternate version [of 'Black Sheep'], launching late October, premieres the new, previously unreleased Guns N' Roses track "Better" from the band's new album, "Chinese Democracy", which will hit stores later this year. [...] GNR frontman Axl Rose viewed the spot himself and quickly agreed." (Blabbermouth, 10/20/06)

The original plan was therefore likely to coincide the new Black Sheep commercial with the tour launch. However, the album was not finished by then.

"As for Guns N' Roses forthcoming "Chinese Democracy" album the only comment at this time is that there are 13 Tuesdays left between now and the end of the year." (Press release, 09/29/06)

"The album will come out this year. There are ten Tuesdays left before January - it will come out on one of them." (Merck, Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

"A friend of ours with a retail source has told us that the long awaited Guns N' Roses album, Chinese Democracy, has gotten a firm release date of November 21st." (Rolling Stone, 10/05/06)

"'I don't know that we will announce a release date,' [Mercuriadis] says. 'You just might walk into your record shop one Tuesday and find it there.'" (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

"I apologize to all the fans irked by my facetious comments regarding the release date to Rolling Stone magazine. They were meant to poke fun at a magazine that had announced a definitive release date, causing us all lots of grief, when none had been set." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"The band and I, along with our record company, [...] believe [...] the '13 Tuesdays left' and 'It may just appear in your record store' approach offered by management [...] may have been used as a tool by management to sell this latest tour to the various promoters, and if this was the case, this was obviously unfair to them." (Axl, 12/15/06)

"[In early October] I seriously considered postponing the start of the tour, again, as the album was of paramount importance but [...] we needed the money to be able to complete the album and keep the band alive." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"GNR was supposed to kick off the Southern leg of its 'Chinese Democracy' tour Oct. 20 in Jacksonville, but that show got rescheduled for Oct. 31. Then its Nashville stop Sunday was canceled altogether.

But those changes weren't because of poor ticket sales or Axl Rose's mood, said John Stoll, president of West Palm Beach promoter Fantasma Productions, Inc. The head Gunner just got hung up in the recording studio.

'He was putting the finishing touches on the new album,' Stoll said. 'But now Axl's in town (in Miami), and he has been rehearsing for two days.'" (The News-Press, 10/24/06)

"Additional U.S. dates will be added in early 2007, and the band will return to the States in the summer as well, [Mercuriadis] says." (Rolling Stone, 10/18/06)

Therefore, even the European tour might've been necessary to gather funds in advances to complete the album work, which would explain why the band did so in the first place.

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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Better Off

"Some time last week, GN'R flew into Florida for production rehearsals at Miami Arena [on 10/23]. The place was sweltering hot and somehow we managed to temporarily lose one out of the two band buses en route." (Del James, 10/31/06)

Elsewhere on October 23rd, at the eve of the tour, the Harley-Davidson website did in fact launch the Better version of the Black Sheep commercial at their website, only to swiftly recall it and reinstate the Paradise City counterpart. This quite conveniently matched with H-D's initial press release, which dated the launch to late October.

"We were doing a commercial with Harley-Davidson. Harley was going to do a version using 'Paradise City' and another version using 'Better'. Their web site even had a version up for like one day with 'Better', but the version of 'Better' that they had was an unfinished, unapproved demo. That's why it was removed. The version that's getting airplay is that same demo."  (Dizzy,, 03/12/07)

The Andy Wallace mix of Better?

"Our understanding of how that happened is that an experimental edit using 'Better' in place of 'Paradise City' was somehow accidentally mislabeled as the 'Paradise City' Harley-Davidson video/commercial and was inadvertently released on the internet. We believe the 'leak' came from this source tape and someone with access to it." (Dizzy,, 03/12/07)

What Dizzy seemed to forget is that the Harley ad ran at one minute, making it impossible to feature the entire track.

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Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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The Set List

Meanwhile, the band took a point to address the stale setlists.

"A few songs that fans haven't heard in a while have been worked up and when the time is right, may be added to the set." (Del James, 10/31/06)

Setlist for the show in Estero, Florida on 10/27/06. Options include Rhiad and the Bedouins, Perfect Crime, If the World, Prostitute, Nice Boys and Down on the Farm.

Axl's setlist rant in Puerto Rico on 10/29/06

Aside from Down on the Farm, none of the options were ever taken up and put to good use during the tour.

 Rep: 150 

Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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The Last Days

"We scheduled sessions in New York and once again sent the engineers there for the first two weeks of November while the tour was based there - but the hectic touring schedule meant nothing got done." (Merck, 12/15/06)

The band had three days off in around their show at Madison Square Garden on 11/10/06. The premiere of the Black Sheep commercial had been pushed back to November, likely with these very sessions in mind.

"The "Black Sheep" commercial, featuring "Paradise City," will air [from] October 8 [to] November 19. An alternative version, launching early November, premieres the new, exclusive, unreleased Guns N' Roses track "Better" from their new album, "Chinese Democracy," which will be released later this year." (Harley-Davidson, press release, 11/06/06)

Obviously, the Better commercial never reappeared.

"The last show Merck came was Halifax, Nov/20. [...] Merck was let go before Thanksgiving [11/23]." (Beta, 12/17/06)

In mid-December, Merck sent an e-mail to Axl and his cohorts.

"I believe it is important for an announcement on the album to be put out this week and at the same time cover the cancellation of the 5 shows in January." (Merck, 12/12/06)

On that day, the band canceled their performance in Fresno, California for the following day. The show was originally scheduled for 09/27/06, making it the first show following KROQ Inland Invasion. No reason was ever given.

 Rep: 150 

Re: 2006: Chinese Whispers

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'In the end, it's just an album'

On 12/15/06, Axl posted an open letter to the official GNR website, in which he openly accused Merck for various issues.

"An overall sense of a lack of respect by management for the band and crew and each individual's particular expertise [...] has resulted, unfortunately, in the end of both Guns' and my managerial involvement with Merck Mercuriadis." (Axl, 12/15/06)

"I read 'An Open Letter To The Fans From Axl' this evening with much interest. About half way through it occurred to me that [...] I had written the blueprint for it in an email for Axl's attention two days ago." (Merck, 15/12/06)

"[The band and I, along with our record company] feel that this record deserves the proper setup and promotion. [...] There were, in our opinion, unnecessary and avoidable complications on our tour having to do with the tour routing, scheduling and album and video plans that wreaked havoc on all involved." (Axl, 12/15/06)

"[The record company] refused to prepare a marketing campaign or commission video treatments until they had [the finished album] in their hands." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"It takes approximately eight weeks for an album to hit the shelves once it has been turned in to the record company. For whatever reasons, it appears that it may have been mistakenly inferred by management that this time period could be condensed to three weeks." (Axl, 12/15/06)

"I have thought about the album release date taking into account the issues between Axl and myself and my view is that the album should be set for release on the 20th of March rather than the 6th of February." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"We do wish to announce a tentative release date of March 6." (Axl, 12/15/06)

"[The March 20th release] allows for three months to set it up properly around the world without unmanageable pressure and for it to be well imbedded in the market place before the summer lull sets in. It also allows for the deal to be done with the label and any change in Management etc which may be made." (Merck, 12/15/06)

"In regard to a release date for the album itself, certain minor [...] additions, as well as contract negotiations, need to be completed." (Axl, 12/15/06)

"We've done about 80 shows with Guns N' Roses all over the world. At Christmas we did three nights [Dec. 17th-20th] at Universal Ampitheater in Hollywood... Axl had a Christmas party, we were playing pool." (Baz, 93.3 WMMR, 11/02/07)

"[Axl] was playing me the new "Chinese Democracy" album '” actually, there's more than one; there's, like, four '” but he was playing a song called "Sorry", which is a very heavy, grinding kind of riff and we were partying and stuff and I started singing a high harmony on the chorus of this song and he flipped out, and he goes, 'That sounds great.' He goes, 'I want you to sing that on the record.'" (Baz, Blabbermouth, 08/17/07)

"So we booked a studio session at Electric Lady in New York the very next week. I was like 'Dude can I have some time off for Christmas, man?' He's like 'January 1st, be there!' You don't mess with the artistic process of Axl." (Baz, Ultimate Guitar, 10/30/07)

Don't mess with Axl's artistic process. Truer words have never been spoken.

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