Axl Rose and Slash weren’t quite on speaking terms when the producers of Interview With the Vampire approached them about recording a cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” for the soundtrack. It was the fall of 1994 and the group had recently wrapped a 192-date world tour that stretched across two-and-a-half years and left a trail of riots and shattered relationships in its wake. They were attempting to record a new album, but Axl recently made the unilateral decision to fire guitarist Gilby Clarke and replace him with his childhood buddy Paul Tobias.
Slash strongly disagreed with the personal change, but he wasn’t wiling to give up on the band quite yet. He was also a fan of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire book and checked out an early screening of the movie. He hated it and ruled out recording the Rolling Stones cover. Axl went to a separate showing, loved the movie and was eager to get to work on the song. “I couldn’t have been more disappointed, pissed, frustrated and confused,” Slash wrote in his memoir. “The only upside I saw to signing off on it was that it would accomplish what we’d been unable to do do any degree in the past seven months: it would actually get all of us into the studio.”
The sessions were an absolute nightmare. Axl was never in the studio the same time as the band, who contributed what Slash calls a “very uninspired track.” Through handlers, Axl insisted that Slash redo his guitar solo so it sounded more like the Keith Richards original. “That was the last thing I wanted to do,” Slash wrote. “Keith’s playing is so awesome on that song that I didn’t want to even come near it, but I did. And doing so left me feeling even more pissed and put out than ever.”
If all that wasn’t bad enough, when Slash was handed a finished copy he realized that Axl had Paul Tobias play identical guitar parts on top of his. For Slash, it was the final blow. He wouldn’t officially leave Guns N’ Roses for another two years, but this was really the end. “If you’ve ever wondered what the sound of a band breaking up sounds like,” Slash wrote, “listen to Guns N’ Roses’ cover of ‘Sympathy for the Devil.’ If there is one Guns track I’d like to never hear again, it’s that one.”