Clash gazes into its crystal ball to follow Axl's fortunes

While it’s often true that great things come to those who wait, the adage doesn’t quite hold when it comes to Guns N’ Roses.

‘Chinese Democracy’, GN’R’s sixth studio album, has taken 17 years to come out (and it does on Monday, November 24). That’s how long has passed since Axl Rose and company released the two volumes of ‘Use Your Illusion’ and were, frankly, The Biggest Rock Band On The Planet. But times change, and with Rose the only founding member on board, ‘Chinese Democracy’ is a mess of an album, never scaling the heights its core protagonist once reached.

Reviews like the one here on won’t stop the album selling millions of copies worldwide – the GN’R fanbase is too massive for ‘Chinese Democracy’ to not be a commercial success. A critical flop maybe, but few at the label will mind if it recoups some of the $13 million spent on it.

But what next? Touring, presumably… maybe. Axl’s braved the live arena in the past few years, even headlining the Leeds Festival in 2002 (and rumoured to return next summer), but with the album awash with pronounced digital edits, how can it ever be properly translated? We’ll just have to be patient, again. Or…

Or, we could have some fun. The next 17 years of Guns N’ Roses, as seen through the Clash crystal ball (no, you can’t have a go)…

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November 24, 2008

Axl Rose awakens to discover that his album is finally out. The release of weight from the aging rocker’s shoulders is so immense that for a second or two he experiences anti-gravity. Promptly begins to dream of a concept record based on this.

November 25, 2008

Axl awakens certain that an anti-gravity-themed seventh album is a sure-fire success, and begins making notes on the back of a bedside beermat. Over his morning cornflakes he has another epiphany: a record about cornflakes. Seventeen years of struggle and now ideas come in a flood. He smiles, checks the first-day sales of ‘Chinese Democracy’, allows himself a laugh, and then goes back to bed.

April 23, 2009

Axl awakens and realises he’s accidentally hibernated for the winter – LA might be a sunshine-blessed city, but as Axl ingested far too many ‘cocktails’ down at the Viper Room in ’94 he can’t feel heat as you or I do, and wrapped himself up for a lie down only to slip into a slumber far deeper than usual. Forgetting what he’d envisioned for the follow-up to ‘Chinese Democracy’ – a number one album in Slovakia, Thailand and Micronesia – he elects to head to the studio with an empty head. Perhaps the sound of silence will be all the inspiration he needs.

July 2, 2009

With nothing doing on the creative juices front, Axl gets the ‘Chinese Democracy’ crew together to jam. The group proceed to replay the solos from ‘Appetite From Destruction’ and elect to hit the festival circuit over sticking it out in the studio. On the phone to management, Axl remembers that he’s left the gas on. Since 1987. Luckily he moved out in 1989, but that might explain ‘Lies’.

August 28, 2009

Guns N’ Roses play Reading.

August 30, 2009

Guns N’ Roses play Leeds.

August 31, 2009

Guns N’ Roses announce that they will be cancelling the remainder of their festival dates to concentrate on the writing of what has the working title ‘Blancmange Escapades’, a nod to Axl’s adoration of gelatin. It is quite the thickener.

October 14, 2009

‘Blancmange Escapades’ hits the skids as it’s revealed that Buckethead, returned to the fold after his pre-‘Chinese Democracy’ exile, is actually a vegetarian and won’t have anything to do with a record based on animal-sourced thickening agents. He still wears the bucket on his head, mind.

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Classic GN'R - 'November Rain'

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October 14, 2010

Marks a year since anyone last heard about Guns N’ Roses. In an interview with GMTV, Slash tells presenter Dermot O’Leary that he’s worried about Axl’s state of mind, commenting: “I remember just before we were to release ‘The Spaghetti Incident’, he totally blew up on pasta… scoffed it day and night, with meat from rare animals. I fear he’s gone crazy on blancmange and crème caramel, and now looks like John Candy.”

October 15, 2010

A work-experience boy at a local ITV newsroom announces with surprise that John Candy is dead. He is executed for his idiocy, immediately. This is normal in 2010, you know.

March 27, 2011

Axl Rose spotted in a 7-Eleven in Boise, Idaho. He buys a packet of nachos, a can of Mountain Dew and a small slave boy shipped to the States from Mali. This is normal in 2011, you know.

March 28, 2011

Slavery is again banned in the United States; 7-Elevens nationwide are inundated with refund requests. Axl releases his boy, who he named Eric, into the wilderness of central Los Angeles. He shacks up with Snoop Dogg and the pair eventually move to Florida to breed ‘gators.

May 13, 2019

The last person still interested in the fortunes of W Axl Rose is discovered. She, one Mary-Anne Wilson of Basingstoke, has tattoos of Rose on both bum cheeks: one, from 1987, the other 2008. She’s been single since 1987.

October 23, 2020

After promising a selection of new, solo recordings to his eleventh no-mark label in as many months, the 58-year-old Axl hands in one side of an antique C90 cassette filled entirely by the noise of his cat, Mittens, purring. The Wire gets its hands on a bootleg and calls it a work of genius.

February 2021

The Wire’s one remaining subscriber dies and the magazine finally closes down, the last of its kind. Mittens is struck by a newfangled ‘bio-drive’ car – a new development by the monopoly-holding Ford manufacturer using human sweat to power the vehicle along – and dies instantly. Axl goes into a period of mourning.

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Classic GN'R - 'Welcome To The Jungle'

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January 4, 2022

‘Mittens’ is leaked onto the internet by a 43-year-old accountant from Ohio who mistakes the files he stumbles across for previously-unheard Eagles tracks. The eleven songs meet with unanimous approval from the aging Eagles fanbase, but upon the revelation that they're actually the work of Axl Rose, representing quite the change of direction, the guilty party immediately takes the files down, citing that "he'd be the laughing stock of too many people" if they were to remain available. He's later found dead at home, alone, with a giant poster of Don Henley draped over his going-grey cadaver. The verdict: death by embarrassment.

April 13, 2025

Now 63, Axl reveals ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ to the world, dedicated to Mittens and Buckethead, who choked on a rather al dente piece of penne six months earlier. Launched at a special anti-gravity party on the side of Mount St Helens, something strikes our weathered protagonist… Something about a concept album… About… No, it’s gone. He drops down to earth at 10pm, where his carer meets him and takes him back to the home. ‘All My Friends Are Dead’, a 74-minute suite of atonal noise, is heralded as the album of the year in December. It has to be: nobody in the world has made an album since the summer of 2023, after World President Chris Martin outlawed the format, citing that there’d not been a good one since Coldplay’s 2012 masterpiece ‘Bono Homo Erectus’.

January 22, 2026

Guns N’ Roses’ entire back catalogue – every last copy of every record they’d ever made – is sent into space aboard a special ‘reach-out’ vessel, in the hope that alien species will learn of human culture through ‘Welcome To The Jungle’, ‘Get In The Ring’ and ‘Back Off Bitch’. It is misguided into the sun by a NASA work experience kid (who is suitably exterminated), triggering a chain reaction of explosions that ultimately rip the galaxy apart. Axl’s last words are not noted for posterity due to the general doomsday scenario that unfolds, but extra-terrestrial explorers will one day find a heap of compact discs hidden in a desert bunker in California, each with ‘Chinese Democracy’ and a date marked on it. They consider the version of April 26, 1997 to be the best, and go about their business.

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‘Chinese Democracy’ is released on Monday, November 24. Read the Clash verdict HERE.


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