Home Music Music Lists

10 Insanely Great Guns N’ Roses Songs Only Hardcore Fans Know

Hear B sides, alternate versions and other crucial rarities from resurgent hard-rock gods

Guns n Roses

Kevin.Mazur/INACTIVE/Getty

When classic-era Guns N' Roses members Axl RoseSlash and Duff McKagan kicked off a massive stadium tour with an explosive L.A. gig last week – their first together in decades – it marked the reunion of some of hard rock's best (and most dangerous) hit makers. Even in the band's earliest days in 1985, they were writing anthemic rockers ("Welcome to the Jungle"), heartfelt ballads ("Don't Cry") and multi-part epics ("Rocket Queen"). They've put out five albums and an EP since first terrifying rock radio and MTV with 1987's vicious Appetite for Destruction hits, but along the way, several would-be great songs have fallen by the wayside, languishing on demo tapes, floating around on concert bootlegs and occupying the grooves of long-forgotten B sides. For every regrettable "One in a Million," "Don't Damn Me" and "My World" that made it onto one of their records, there exists a soaring "Goodnight Tonight," poppy "Just Another Sunday" and ripping "Shadow of Your Love" that could have been a smash. Here, Rolling Stone collects the best of the rest.

Guns N Roses

“Catcher in the Rye” (Brian May Demo)

One of Chinese Democracy's inarguable high points, "Catcher in the Rye" contains every Axl Rose hallmark: swirling production, Taupin-esque lyrics ("On an ordinary day/Not in an ordinary way/All at once the song I heard/ No longer wouldn't play") and outrageous girth (runtime: nearly six minutes). But it's a shame he second-guessed the demo version he cut, which was buoyed by an ebullient solo from Brian May. The Queen guitar ace provided a soothing counterpoint to Rose's mercurial energy — it wasn't the first time the two collaborated, having played together at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992 — but the head Gun ultimately chose to excise May's contribution. During an online message-board chat in 2008, he said the final solo (played by Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal) was nonetheless inspired by May. "It's entirely constructed from edits based around one specific note Brian hit in a throwaway take," Rose wrote. "And though Brian seems to have warmed a bit to it, at least publicly, he was unfortunately none too pleased at the time with our handiwork. I remember looking at Brian standing to my left and him staring at the big studio speakers a bit aghast saying, 'But that's not what I played.'"