Apparently all we need is just a little more patience...At least when it comes to Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy.

Despite repeated promises that the near-mythical, decade-in-the-works comeback album would be out by year's end, Axl Rose has for the umpteenth time pushed back the release date.

In a lengthy open letter published last Thursday on the Gunners' Website, the flaky frontman announced that the band was scrapping four dates on their current tour to return to the studio to put the wraps on his magnum opus, which he claims will now drop in the spring.

Just a little patience...

"Because of the scheduling of these particular shows, valuable time needed by the band and record company for the proper setup and release of the album, Chinese Democracy, would be lost," the 44-year-old singer said. "Rather than delay the album yet again, all involved have decided to remove these shows from G N R's schedule. We hope our fans understand and we apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused."

The canceled gigs are Jan. 10 in Sacramento; Jan. 11 in Bakersfield; Jan. 13 in Reno; and Jan. 16 in San Diego.

Rose also announced he had fired Merck Mercuriadis—the band manager who played an instrumental part in G N' R's reemergence in recent years and spearheaded the band's current tour, which kicked off in October—blaming him for much of the delay.

"When I agreed to do our recent North American tour, I did it with the understanding that my manager, Merck Mercuriadis, and I were in full agreement regarding our strategy and touring plans and, most important, that any and all things needed to release the album by Dec. 26 at the latest were in place," Rose wrote. "Unfortunately, it turned out that this was not the case, and I regret to say that the album will not be released by the end of the year."

Rose continued: "Although many things went extremely well and were very exciting, there were, in our opinion, unnecessary and avoidable complications on our tour having to do with the tour routing, scheduling and album and video plans that wreaked havoc on all involved. This was compounded by an overall sense of a lack of respect by management for the band and crew...that has resulted, unfortunately, in the end of both Guns' and my managerial involvement with Merck Mercuriadis."

In his own statement Monday, Mercuriadis suggested that the delay had less to do with logistics and more to do with Rose's creative struggles. The deposed band manager said he had booked recording time in several cities during the tour, including New York, Los Angeles and London, "but the muse did not show."

He also defended his decision to launch a tour without new material. "We needed the money to be able to complete the album and keep the band alive," he said.

Mercuriadis also defended Rose.

"Until you have walked a mile in his shoes, you cannot begin to comprehend the pressure he is under," the ex-manager said. "In the end the album will speak for itself, but our relationship could not survive the pressure."

Rose, meanwhile, chalked up the latest postponement to his desire to give Chinese Democracy the "proper setup and promotion."

While apologizing for the considerable stress the situation has been for himself, the band and fans, Rose did announce Mar. 6 as the tentative street date for Chinese Democracy—the first time the album has ever had a firm release. A notorious micromanager and perfectionist, Rose has been tinkering with the album for more than 10 years. A handful of new tracks were leaked earlier this year—to tepid fan and critical reaction—and the band has been previewing new material in concert, but there's no word on which of those songs, if any, will make the cut.

"In the end, it's just an album, but it's one that I, the band, our record company and all involved believe and feel is a true Guns N' Roses album," Rose concluded. "Ultimately the public will decide, and regardless of the outcome, our hearts, lives and our passion has been put into this project every step of the way. If for no other reason, we feel those elements alone merit your consideration. We do hope you can hold on just a bit longer, and if not, please take a break and we'll be more than glad—if you so choose—to see you again later."

Speaking of breaks, founding guitarist Izzy Stradlin, who quit Guns N' Roses in 1991, rejoined Rose and the new crew onstage for five songs during the band's Sunday stop in Los Angeles. Stradlin, whose relationship with Rose became estranged during the Use Your Illusion sessions, hadn't played with the band since 1993, when he briefly filled in for his replacement, Gilby Clarke.

Stradlin accompanied Rose on "Think About You," "Used to Love Her," "Paradise City," "Nightrain" and, aptly enough, "Patience."


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