Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

The Complete A-Z of Guns N' Roses

To celebrate the upcoming Guns N’ Roses concerts, TimeOut put together this complete A-Z full of factoids, trivia and nonsense worth knowing about the hard rock legends.
Velvet Revolver was a supergroup formed by ex-Guns N' Roses members Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum. Photo / Supplied
Velvet Revolver was a supergroup formed by ex-Guns N' Roses members Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum. Photo / Supplied

A Appetite for Destruction is not only one of the best-selling albums of all time, it is also America's best-selling debut of all time. The classic album has sold more than 30,000,000 copies worldwide.

B Buckethead, the critically acclaimed but totally weirdo lead guitarist who played with the band from 2001-2004 and famously wears an expresionless mask and a KFC bucket on his head at all times, recorded his Chinese Democracy parts in a specially built chicken coop inside the studio. He decorated it with dismembered rubber chickens and streamed hardcore porn all day until Axl cut the cord.

C Chinese Democracy, the sixth Guns N' Roses studio album, cost $13,000,000 and took 10 years (1997-2007) to record. This makes it the most expensive rock album ever produced. Axl is the only original member on the album.

D Don't Cry, a power ballad which reached No.2 in the NZ charts, was released in three different configurations; a single version and a version for each Use Your Illusion album. Musically all are exactly the same, the only differences occurring in the verse vocals.

E Eighteen minutes is the running time of a scrapped version of the orchestral power ballad November Rain, according to Slash.

F "F**k You, St Louis!" appears in the "Thank You" notes of the Use Your Illusion records. This refers to 1991's "Rocket Queen Riot", when, during a performance, Rose jumped into the crowd and punched a fan who was taking photos. The singer then stormed out of the venue, cutting the gig short and sending the crowd into a frenzy. Rose would be charged with inciting a riot though the charges would later be dropped in court.

G Get in the Ring, from the album Use Your Illusion II, is a diss track, with Axl lashing out at rock critics and various publications he had beef with. He challenges them all to a fight but warns, "I gonna kick your ass, oh yeah!".

H Heads of Amazon was a rejected band name. As, thank goodness, was AIDS.

I Izzy Stradlin, the original rhythm guitarist, is responsible for writing or co-writing many of GN'R's greatest hits. Having kicked drugs he chose to leave the band during the Use Your Illusion tour, saying, "When you're f**ked up, you're more likely to put up with things you wouldn't normally put up with." A thinly veiled dig at Rose's atrocious timekeeping on the tour and increasingly dictatorial ways.

J Joke songs appear sporadically in the GN'R oeuvre. Our pick, Used To Love Her from Lies features the earnest lyric, "I used to love her, but I had to kill her". The album's notes reveal it as, "a joke, nothing more," with Slash saying, "People think it's about one of our old girlfriends, but it's actually about Axl's dog."

K Knockin' on Heaven's Door, a Bob Dylan cover, was originally recorded for the soundtrack of 1990's Tom Cruise car racing drama Days of Thunder. The band later whacked it on to Use Your Illusion II and released it as a single. It spent 22 weeks in the NZ charts and peaked at No 2.

L Live and Let Die is the other cover from the Use Your Illusion records. Originally recorded by Paul McCartney's group Wings for a James Bond film, the Gunners version took out the No.1 spot in the New Zealand charts. The music video of a live performance is the last Gunners appearance of rhythm guitarist, founding member, and possessor of the greatest nom de plume in rock history, Izzy Stradlin.

M Mr Brownstone, Appetite for Destruction's grooviest song, was written by Izzy Stradlin and Slash and is an autobiographical run-through of their typical day as junkies. Brownstone is street slang for heroin.

N Nikki Sixx, bassist for Motley Crue, owes his life to original drummer Steven Adler. After stepping out to shoot up, the junkie Adler returned to the hotel room where he'd been partying with Sixx and Slash, only to find the guitarist gone and Sixx lying purple and unconscious on the floor overdosing on cocaine. Adler dragged Sixx to the shower, drenched him in cold water and slapped him back to life before calling an ambulance.

O One in a Million from the album Lies was the first solo Rose composition to appear on a GN'R record. It's also their most controversial song with Rose being accused of homophobia and racism due the offensive nature of the song's lyrics. The Lies cover anticipated the backlash and includes a written apology "to those who may take offense".

P Punching music icon David Bowie isn't cool. But then again neither is hitting on someone's girlfriend in front of them. Let's hope both Bowie and the short tempered Rose learned a valuable life lesson that fateful day on the set of the It's So Easy music video.

Q Q Magazine placed Appetite for Destruction at No. 10 in their "40 Best albums of the 80s" list.

R Robert Williams's painting Appetite for Destruction not only gave Gn'R the title of their debut, it was also intended to be the cover artwork. Retailers, however, refused to stock the album due to the controversial nature of the violent illustration that depicts a robot rapist, his unclothed victim and some kind of red demon thing leaping over a fence.

S Shaquille O'Neal, the famous basketballer, had a cameo as a guest rapper on the Chinese Democracy album. "I saw Guns N' Roses on the bulletin board of the studio, so I stuck my head in," Shaq said. "They asked me to join them so I started freestylin' over their track." The song did not make the final cut of the record.

T Ten weeks is how long Chinese Democracy stayed in the New Zealand charts. The long-delayed album reached No.1.

U Use Your Illusion II was more popular than Use Your Illusion I. The albums were released simultaneously with II reaching No.1 and I reaching No.2 on the NZ charts.

V Velvet Revolver was a supergroup formed by ex-Guns N' Roses members Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum along with Wasted Youth rhythm guitarist Dave Kushner and Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland.

W W. Axl Rose is the songwriting credit Rose uses. The W. is short for William, his birth name.

X X-rated shenanigans occur on Appetite's track Rocket Queen. Over the bridge of the song you'll hear Rose and drummer Steven Adler's ex-girlfriend bumpin' uglies. Their romp was recorded in the studio specifically for the song.

Y Yoda is the (behind-the-back) nickname of Rose's former professional psychic Sharon Maynard. Everyone involved in recording Chinese Democracy had to supply a black and white photo for Maynard to give psychic approval to.

Z Zodiac Killer symbols appear on the front artwork of the band's covers album The Spaghetti Incident. The code has since been deciphered and reads "f**k 'em all".

• Guns N' Roses play Auckland's Western Springs Stadium, Saturday Feb 4. Tickets available from today.

- NZ Herald

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