The Queen guitarist composed a guitar track for the song “Catcher in the Rye” in the mid-’00s and attended a series of recording sessions to lay it down. But Axl Rose – who at that time was the only original Guns member in the lineup – was hardly ever present, and May’s contribution was later abandoned.
“It was an odd experience,” he told Classic Rock in a recent interview. “I think it was about midway through the whole thing. By that point, Axl was pretty much a recluse. … He was working in his house, and I was working in the studio at the bottom of the hill with his engineer at the time, and he only rarely came down. Now and again he would call in and get all enthusiastic and talk a lot, and then he’d be gone again. I don’t think any of what I played actually got onto the album.”
Chinese Democracy was released in 2008 after more than 13 years of production amid a series of lineup changes, legal battles and artistic rethinks. May discovered his input wasn’t used when a fan wrote to let him know. “Well, it is a shame, perhaps,” he responded at the time. “I did put quite a lot of work in and was proud of it. But I could understand if Axl wants to have an album which reflects the work of the members of the band as it is, right now. I do have mixes of the tracks with my guitar on, work tapes at the time, but they will remain private, out of respect for Axl.”
Guns N’ Roses Lineup Changes: A Complete Guide (We Think)
Few bands have impacted rock ‘n’ roll the way they have, and even fewer have weathered as many changes.