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Guns N’ Roses’ Videos, Ranked Worst to Best

Axl in a straitjacket, Slash driving off a cliff and those unforgettable dolphins — our guide to all 17 GN’R clips

Guns N Roses; Best videos; 2015

Marc S Canter/Getty

There will never be another collection of music videos like the ones made by Guns N' Rosessoon to reunite in some form of their classic incarnation. Their height of fame was in the late Eighties and early Nineties, when MTV still played music and making a video for every single was pretty much mandatory for rock bands. They had access to absurd budgets — and they had a lead singer, W. Axl Rose, who didn't just want to make a big splash on the Dial MTV countdown: He was committed to working out his manifold psychological issues with a multimillion dollar canvas.

"It was like Spinal Tap with money," director Andy Morahan said of the Guns N' Roses video trilogy he directed ("Don't Cry," "November Rain" and "Estranged"). "I've been asked by students about the metaphorical imagery in those videos, and I'm like, 'Fuck if I know.'"

Setting aside full-length concert films (and random excerpts from those shows), Guns N' Roses made 17 official clips. We've ranked them all, worst to best, as videos. This means that while the music is an important component of their appeal, the visual entertainment matters just as much, whether that comes from the sweaty energy of a great performance or from special-effects insanity like dolphins swimming down Sunset Boulevard.

Guns N Roses; videos

Marc S Canter/Getty

11

‘Since I Don’t Have You’

This cover of a 1958 doo-wop song was the only video released from "The Spaghetti Incident?" and the last video GN'R made with McKagan and Slash. It also, bizarrely, starred renowned actor Gary Oldman as a demonic figure (hair spiked up and skin painted red) tormenting Axl Rose, laughing as he pushes the singer's car off a cliff. (In 1993, Oldman also appeared in True Romance and Romeo Is Bleeding.) Rose got tortured, burned and drowned in this video; the other band members just lounged around on the beach while hot, oiled-up models hung onto them (and each other).

Weirdest moment: Rose, bound and gagged, looking peaceful and introspective.

Guns N Roses; videos

Marc S Canter/Getty

10

‘It’s So Easy’

The big-hair era of Guns N' Roses: The band played an Appetite for Destruction song at the Cathouse (the Hollywood club owned by MTV VJ Riki Rachtman), while the editors riffled through as many early photos of the band as they could find. David Bowie (who had dated Slash's mom many years earlier) showed up at this video shoot; when Axl Rose thought Bowie was flirting with his girlfriend, Erin Everly, he punched out the rock legend. This primitive but high-energy video was shot in 1987 and would have been the band's first promo clip, but it was shelved until 2010.

Weirdest moment: the picture of Rose gazing into a cracked mirror.

Guns N Roses; videos

Marc S Canter/Getty

9

‘Yesterdays’

An underappreciated mid-tempo rocker got an elegant black-and-white treatment: The band rocked out in an empty warehouse, with some photos of their early years cut in (which actually goes against the anti-nostalgia lyrics, but whatever). Slash hopped around; Rose was at his most charismatic. It was an effective palate cleanser that lacked the visual excess of the other Use Your Illusion videos, which is why people don't remember it.

Weirdest moment: the appearances of departed band members Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler.

Guns N Roses; videos
8

‘November Rain’

At the time (1992), this was the most expensive music video to date, with a price tag of around $1.5 million. It went over the top about 15 seconds in, and then it stayed there for the next nine minutes. The plot: Rose marries Stephanie Seymour (wearing a wedding dress designed to show off her legs); best man Slash goes to the New Mexico desert to play a guitar solo; it rains at the reception and everybody dramatically runs for cover, with one guest hurling himself into the wedding cake; Seymour dies (from the rain? unclear); Slash shows up at her funeral with his shirt unbuttoned to the navel.

Weirdest moment: Rose attending his bachelor party wearing a leather jacket with a portrait of Madonna painted on the back.

Guns N Roses; videos
7

‘Garden of Eden’

A punk-rock song, filmed in one intense take, with no cuts or camera movement for its 166 seconds. There were two versions of this video, one of which was an alternate take that added confetti blowing through the air. The confetti-less clip originally featured the lyrics crawling on the bottom of the screen, with a bouncing ball guiding the viewer — Beavis and Butt-head comment on that version here. The two guys dancing in the background, by the way, were keyboardist Dizzy Reed and harmonica player Teddy "Zig Zag" Andreadis.

Weirdest moment: the roadie physically moving Slash into place at the beginning of the video.

Guns N Roses; videos

Marc S Canter/Getty

6

‘Estranged’

Director Andy Morahan said (in the book I Want My MTV), "By the time we got to 'Estranged,' Axl had split up with Stephanie Seymour, and he said, 'I never want a girl in a video again. I'd rather go out with a dolphin.' Which is why I put dolphins all over the video." Aside from the dolphin infestation, this 10-minute video featured Rose in a Charles Manson T-shirt; an ethereal version of Rose leaving his body for a trip on the astral plane; LAPD officers in all-white uniforms; Rose jumping off an oil tanker into the Pacific Ocean; Slash with his hair in a towel; and a plethora of images of depression, suicide and rebirth.

Weirdest moment: Slash emerging from the ocean like Venus on the half-shell to play a sopping-wet guitar solo. In a video full of unintentional comedy gold, that sequence was 24-karat hilarity.

Guns N Roses; videos
5

‘Patience’

An acoustic ballad found Rose at his emotionally warmest and gentlest — but doing his trademark serpentine dance anyway. This 1989 song was as sensitive as he ever got: After this, his vulnerability would always be paired with bluster and aggression. We saw a montage of beautiful women in lingerie getting into bed with Slash — who only cared about his pet snake. Meanwhile, the band played in a studio decorated like a Moroccan brothel, as drummer Steven Adler, with nothing to do, looked bored in a hotel lobby.

Weirdest moment: Duff McKagan, in his least rock-star move ever, dutifully returning a room-service tray to the hotel's front desk.

Guns N Roses; videos
4

‘Welcome to the Jungle’

This 1987 video, which introduced the world to Guns N' Roses, starred at least three versions of Axl Rose: the impossibly fresh-faced farm boy fresh off the bus in Hollywood, the big-haired rock star and the screaming psychotic in a straightjacket. With a tribal breakdown set to the beat of A Clockwork Orange, this clip trumped everything else on TV and told us to get ready for a lead singer with major-league issues.

Weirdest moment: the continuity error where Rose fell to his knees onstage and briefly lost his shirt.

Guns N Roses; videos
3

‘Paradise City’

Director Nigel Dick had a great eye for the small details of a rock concert: the twitchy security guard or the couple oblivious to the music because they were sucking face. This video was built around two shows: a big one at the now-demolished Giants Stadium in New Jersey, and an enormous one at the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington in England. The footage from that August 1988 show was awe-inspiring, as 100,000 people gave in to total hysteria. But since dozens of fans were trampled during that set, and two of them died, anyone watching this video was watching a snuff film. "Paradise City" was simultaneously thrilling and hideous.

Weirdest moment: Rose flashing an "Access All Areas" backstage pass that featured the logo for the SS (the Nazi military corps), complete with swastika. How did that ever get on the air?

Guns N Roses; videos
2

‘Don’t Cry’

In just five expensive minutes, Axl Rose gave fans a tour of the strange nooks and crannies of his mind. He wandered through a snowstorm wearing an outfit that made him look like a refugee from the Civil War or a circus; he fought with a girlfriend for possession of a revolver; he had a picnic in a cemetery; he found himself trapped underneath his own gravestone; he had a session with a therapist where he was so upset that he was shaking. Plenty of rock bands made videos with surreal, disconnected images — but this one felt like Rose was trying to exorcise his demons in public, which meant that viewers couldn't turn away. And the clip featured Slash winning an argument with a screaming girlfriend by driving his car over a cliff, and then playing a guitar solo over the wreckage.

Weirdest moment: the encounter between three different Axls in a doctor's office, one all in white, one in a plaid kilt and one in a plaid jacket — who flashed a peace sign before walking through a wall, with no explanation. It was like Orphan Black, if all the clones were unhinged rock stars.

Guns N Roses; videos
1

‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’

Guns N' Roses' greatest song got a video that showcased the music: just the band playing their hearts out, surrounded by their girlfriends and a camera crew. (There was also an alternate version, mostly in black and white, with some different footage from the same shoot.) Axl was glowing with charisma, but Slash was the real star here: acting mysterious underneath his mop of hair and his top hat, but playing a guitar solo that smoldered until it caught fire.

Weirdest moment: also the sweetest moment — while all the other band members were nuzzling with their girlfriends at the video shoot, guitarist Izzy Stradlin brought his dog.

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