GUNS N' ROSES
Written by Michael Oshust
Guns N' Roses Greatest Hits album was released on March 23, 2004. The album was a filler because of the delay in the making of Chinese Democracy by Geffen Records.
Did you know that the album was subject to lawsuits by band members in an attempt to block its release due to its tracklisting?
Axl Rose immediately tried to block the release by suing Geffen, saying it would ruin his focus on Chinese Democracy and if he were to get the album finished and released sooner, the Greatest Hits album would be selling more, leaving Chinese Democracy unnoticed. Rose stated "The band has not been allowed to approve the choice of songs, the artwork, the release date or the remastering done on the tracks included on this compilation. The track selection was fundamentally flawed and did not reflect the band's best work." Slash and Duff McKagan both helped Rose file the lawsuit against Geffen, although they did not speak to each other in person. This failed, and the album was released under Geffen Records' rights.
The album had little promotion, it reached #3 on the Billboard 200 charts. The record has proven a favourite seller, selling over six million copies in the United States by 2018.
Fans waited over 10 years since Guns N' Roses covers-filled The Spaghetti Incident. The Greatest Hits found a collection featuring key songs from the band's smash 1987 debut Appetite for Destruction ("Sweet Child o' Mine," "Welcome to the Jungle," "Paradise City"), the big hit from 1989's GN'R Lies ("Patience"), favorites from the Use Your Illusion albums ("Don't Cry," "November Rain") and a cover of "Sympathy for the Devil."
Greatest Hits arrived during a low point in the band's relationship with Geffen Records, as the Rose-led group (only original member left in the band) continued long-delayed work on Chinese Democracy. Their label decided to issue this set as a stop-gap measure, both to stoke interest in Guns N' Roses after a series of defections and also to recoup some of the staggering expenses associated with ongoing album sessions.
Guns N' Roses (Axl Rose) had already gone through several roster changes, four producers and at least three recording studios, racking up a reported $13 million in production costs for Chinese Democracy. Eventually, Geffen Records declined to continue paying for Chinese Democracy and focused instead on completing Greatest Hits. "Having exceeded all budgeted and approved recording costs by millions of dollars," Geffen wrote in a letter, "it is Mr. Rose's obligation to fund and complete the album – not Geffen's."
Ultimately, Rose needn't have worried about Greatest Hits hampering sales of a new Guns N' Roses album. Chinese Democracy, which was eventually considered one of the most expensive albums ever made, didn't arrive for four more years.