Merck Mercuriadis, worldwide CEO for the Sanctuary Group and manager of GUNS N' ROSES, has responded to The New York Times article entitled "Success, excess and a music industry phantom" about GUNS N' ROSES' long-awaited "Chinese Democracy" album, which was dubbed by the paper "probably the most expensive recording never released." Mercuriadis' letter to The New York Times reads as follows:
"Sir, I find it remarkable that the New York Times — a newspaper of some repute — has chosen to run an article on the making of the forthcoming GUNS N' ROSES album, 'Chinese Democracy', without even bothering to talk to anyone who has actually been involved in the making of the album. You quote five people on the record, all of whom, with the exception of Tom Zutaut, have been out of the picture for between six and nine years, and like the author of your article, have never even heard the album! Tom Zutaut himself has not been involved for three years and has heard virtually none of the actual record.
"Your journalist Jeff Leeds — is this the return of Jayson Blair under a pseudonym? — contacted us last Thursday the 24th of February to inform us he had been working on an article about the 'process' of making the album. I explained that it was not possible for him to write such a story as he had not spoken to the band, our two engineers, myself or most importantly, Axl, all of whom have been working on the actual album for the last two years and enquired how he could write an investigative report with any integrity without doing so. I also asked why if he was reporting on the 'process' why we were the last people he was contacting, as it was obvious from the discussion that he had been working on this for a number of weeks.
"Contrary to his blatant lie that he was told by 'management' that W. Axl Rose 'could not be reached for comment,' I made it clear that we could not consider his request for an interview with either Axl or myself until we knew who the other people involved in the article were, as we were not going to lend credibility to an article that was based on hearsay from people that have not only had nothing to do with the album but whose only agenda was to recapture their 15 minutes of fame in an industry that had cast them aside and left them unemployed many years ago. Mr. Leeds told me he would call this week once he had considered our position so that we could discuss it further. This past Monday the 27th at 6 pm he left a message with my office saying that his deadline to file the story was 12 pm the following day. I called him immediately on receipt of the message the following morning and reminded him that we had made an agreement that he would consider whether he was going to divulge the people involved in the article following which I would then contact Axl and we could consider whether to participate and asked why he had not mentioned that he was working to a tight deadline when we had previously spoken. I also made the point that this piece was not 'news' nor was it 'fragile' and that surely if his article was to genuinely be about the 'process'" then he must speak to someone who was involved. After much discussion with Mr. Leeds it was clear that both the writer and the Times had its own agenda and that it was not only not interested in presenting an accurate view but both he and his editor refused my request for 24 hours to discuss the situation with Axl despite the fact that the story was scheduled to run six days later! It should also be mentioned that during our initial conversation the writer was offered the opportunity to hear the album in the studio when it was finished and talk to people who were directly involved and declined in favour of the article you have chosen to run.
"As one of the few people involved in the making of this album I can tell your readers the following: W. Axl Rose is not interested in fame, money, popularity or what the New York Times or any other paper for that matter might think of him. His only interest is making the best album he is capable of so that it can have a positive effect in 2005 on people who are enthusiasts of music and interested in GUNS N' ROSES. His artistic integrity is such that he has chosen to do so without compromise at great personal sacrifice, which makes him a soft target for the sort of rubbish you have chosen to print. I believe he will have the last laugh."