Former GUNS N' ROSES manager Merck Mercuriadis has issued the following "open letter" to the group's fans:
"Along with all of the other GUNS N' ROSES fans around the world 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 read much of this before. In fact, I had written the blueprint for it in an email for Axl's attention two days ago which I have copied below.
"The reality is all of this year's touring was planned and agreed between Axl and myself, with a view to the album being in the stores before the 31st of December '06. This was confirmed by Axl in numerous interviews — most famously at the MTV Video Music Awards. We planned the tour in February, just after Axl's birthday and we were supposed to finish the album in May, before it 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. 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. We postponed our proposed radio date of Labour Day for the first single and we came back to L.A. 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 and finally, early in that period after the euphoria of Inland Invasion, Axl made a breakthrough and got two or three very productive days under his belt.
"At this point 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. Unfortunately the muse disappeared just as fast as she came and the tour started with no single at radio to support it and the album still needing two or three days of work. Despite this, it was a break through period as Robin, Bumblefoot and Frank had all made important contributions to the album that made it even stronger. By the way none of the above is meant as a criticism of Axl. It is the reality of trying to create something special under incredible pressure from the public — that wants and DEMANDS the record — and the record industry — that NEEDS it. The creative process is not something you can dictate and Axl is a true artist.
"At this time I seriously considered postponing the start of the tour, again, as the album was of paramount importance but the reality was that our historic track record left us with very little good will with you, the fans, and we needed the money to be able to complete the album and keep the band alive. 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. The record company refused to conclude the renegotiation until we were ready to hand over the finished album and refused to prepare a marketing campaign or commission video treatments until they had it in their hands. This is still their position as of this week.
"At this point despite the success of many of the dates on the tour the pressure on all of us became unbearable. While some of Axl's letter is disappointing — As John Lennon once asked Paul McCartney 'How Do You Sleep?' — until you have walked a mile in his shoes you cannot begin to comprehend the pressure he is under. I know I sleep well at night in the knowledge that when 'Chinese Democracy' hits the streets in March that it is in large part down to my efforts over the last almost 5 years. I found the money and the motivation to keep Axl and the band alive and get the record made when everyone else had given up and walked away. We worked as a team united to make 'Chinese Democracy' a reality. In the end the album will speak for itself but our relationship could not survive the pressure.
"I have no regrets. I believe 'Chinese Democracy' is one of the best albums ever made, Axl Rose is one of the greatest vocalists and frontmen and the new GUNS N' ROSES (which kicks the shit out of the old) is one of the greatest bands. What we accomplished in 2006 only hints at what is to come.
"I believe in Axl Rose. I am the artist's manager and it is my responsibility and job to take the heat. I promise you 'Chinese Democracy' is worth it and you should keep the faith. I will walk away knowing I have done my best and that next year will see Axl recognized not only as a great singer and rock icon but as one of the greatest artists of all time.
"Merry Christmas and all the best to you for 2007!
"P.S.: 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. Unfortunately many of you took them to heart and for that I am sorry."
"Begin forwarded message:
From: Merck Mercuriadis
Date: 12 December 2006 14:11:02 GMT-08:00
Subject: Album Press Release
"Regardless of the issues that exist between Axl and myself, 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. Further to this 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. March 20th is the first day of spring and a positive day. This 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 to be made as well as detailed meetings on the touring which on this basis would start in Dubai just before the album's release. The note will be most effective if it comes from Axl as he will then be seen as the good guy who is giving people the information they want. Having said that it could come from either Howard or myself or both of us. I have presented two options the first not giving a release date and the second one stating it. The message would be posted as the lead story on gunsnroses.com and we would then point all of the media there. I would appreciate it if you would all let me know your thoughts on all of this keeping in mind that this is a work in progress.
"Merry Christmas To You All
"We are into the last week of the tour and Christmas is almost here so I wanted to take the time not only to wish you Merry Christmas but to also explain why 'Chinese Democracy' is not under your tree or in the stores as we wanted it would be. We read the papers and we know you want — demand! — news. We have been in the final stages of renegotiating our deal with our record label and it has been a long slow process — not unlike making the record! The discussion started over a year ago but did not become serious until they started hearing the mixes. Everyone involved has worked hard to get the deal completed so we could get the record out this month but a few weeks ago it became obvious that was not going to happen. We then held out as we wanted to at least be able to give you the release date before Christmas but unfortunately we are still not there yet. This is not meant to spark a hate campaign on the label. This is an unusual and complicated situation as we have worked a long time on this album and it is important to us to make sure that everything including the deal is right. At the same time it is a business that has to work for everyone involved. We have all — you included — waited a long time for this and this is not the time to compromise. The first news you will hear from us in 2007 will be to announce the album's release date. Without the album out it does not make sense to do the 5 shows we have scheduled for January in isolation so they are being cancelled and we will focus on getting the album out. Until that time we want to thank you for all of your support in 2006 and wish you all the best for the holidays and a happy new year.
"W. Axl Rose
"Merry Christmas To You All
"We are into the last week of the tour and Christmas is almost here so I wanted to take the time not only to wish you Merry Christmas but to also explain why 'Chinese Democracy' is not under your tree or in the stores as we wanted it to be. We read the papers and we know you want — demand! — news. We have been in the final stages of renegotiating our deal with our record label and it has been a long slow process — not unlike making the record! The discussion started over a year ago but did not become serious until they started hearing the mixes. Everyone involved has worked hard to get the deal completed so we could get the record out this month but a few weeks ago it became obvious that was not going to happen. We have all — you included — waited a long time for this and this was not the time to compromise. We then held out on making an announcement as we wanted to at least be able to give you the release date before Christmas so here it is. 'Chinese Democracy' will be released on the 20th of March in the US and Canada — the first day of spring and a time for new beginnings! — and on the 19th of March everywhere else in the world. Without the album out it does not make sense to do the 5 shows we have scheduled for January in isolation so they are being cancelled and we will focus on getting the album out. We want to thank you for all of your support in 2006 and wish you all the best for the holidays and a happy new year. We look forward to seeing you in 2007!
"W. Axl Rose"