When Guns N' Roses catapulted to stardom, Axl Rose developed as much a reputation for his elusiveness and mercurial behavior as for his striking, air-raid siren vocals.

That reputation persisted when the band became inactive for much of the '90s and '00s, with Rose making sporadic and seemingly unrelated performances both live and on record.

Fans may wring their hands over the glacial pace at which Rose has released music, but when he does commit to a track — whether his own or somebody else's — the results are always electrifying, and his indelible sandpapery rasp adds something special to the song. Even when he's not singing, his baritone Midwestern drawl is unmistakable.

Check out some of Rose's most eclectic performances below in our list of 10 Rare Axl Rose Performances Only Hardcore Fans Know.

1. "Alice Cooper, "Under My Wheels" (featuring Axl Rose, Slash and Izzy Stradlin)
From: The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years soundtrack (1988)

Penelope Spheeris chronicled the Los Angeles metal scene in the debauched, hilarious second installment of The Decline of Western Civilization, featuring local up-and-comers and renowned rock icons. Alice Cooper makes a brief appearance as one of the genre's elder statesmen, and he re-recorded his classic 1971 song "Under My Wheels" with several members of the ascendant Guns N' Roses for the soundtrack.

 

2. Don Henley, "I Will Not Go Quietly"
From: The End of the Innocence (1989)

Don Henley and Guns N' Roses were both signed to Geffen Records in the late '80s, so it made for a synergistic collaboration when Rose lent his backing vocals to the defiant The End of the Innocence track "I Will Not Go Quietly." Henley returned the favor shortly after the recording when he sat in with GN'R to play "Patience" at the 1989 American Music Awards.

 

3. Steve Jones, "I Did U No Wrong"
From: Fire and Gasoline (1989)

Former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones influenced an entire generation of rock musicians, so he was able to call in several favors on his sophomore solo album Fire and Gasoline. The album features contributions from the Cult's Ian Astbury (who also co-produced), Billy Duffy and Mickey Curry, and Nikki Sixx wrote the lyrics for "We're Not Saints." Rose also lends his one-of-a-kind raspy howl to the hard-rocking "I Did U No Wrong."

 

4. Gilby Clarke, "Dead Flowers"
From: Pawnshop Guitars (1994)

With Guns N' Roses effectively on hold by 1994, the band members had plenty of time to pursue solo projects. Guitarist Gilby Clarke, who'd replaced Izzy Stradlin in 1991, released his debut solo album Pawnshop Guitars in 1994. He and Rose apparently maintained a cordial enough relationship up to that point that Rose agreed to sing on Clarke's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers," which Guns covered routinely on the 1993 leg of their Use Your Illusion tour.

 

5. The Outpatience, "Anxious Disease"
From: Anxious Disease (1996)

Longtime Guns N' Roses friend and co-writer West Arkeen formed his own band, the Outpatience, in 1995. Their debut album, Anxious Disease, was released in Japan in 1996 and featured contributions from Rose, Slash, Stradlin and Duff McKagan. The former two appear on the album's title track, which blends the bluesy hard rock of GN'R's heyday with the slithering alt-rock that dominated the mid-'90s. Sadly, the Outpatience's reign was cut short when Arkeen died of a drug overdose in 1997.

 

6. DJ Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith, K-DST
From: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)

After toiling in seclusion for years, Rose made an unconventional comeback in 2004. Instead of releasing the long-gestating Chinese Democracy, he lent his talents to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, voicing DJ Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith for the K-DST radio station. It might not have been the return fans wanted, but it certainly got Rose heard by a large audience, as San Andreas sold over five million copies in the United States in 2004 alone and has since sold more than 27 million copies total.

 

7-9. Sebastian Bach, "Back in the Saddle," "(Love Is) a Bitchslap," "Stuck Inside"
From: Angel Down (2007)

As Chinese Democracy inched tantalizingly closer to completion, Rose blew off some steam by collaborating with ex-Skid Row frontman and longtime friend Sebastian Bach on a trio of tracks for Bach's first solo studio album, Angel Down. Both rockers trade lines on a raucous cover of Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle," and Rose makes key contributions to two of Bach's original songs, the sleazy "(Love Is) a Bitchslap" and the aggro-metal "Stuck Inside."

 

10. "Rock the Rock"
From: New Looney Tunes (2018)

After Rose, Slash and McKagan launched their massive Guns N' Roses semi-reunion in 2016, fans waited with bated breath for new music. "New" songs eventually arrived, but first, Rose made another typically offbeat cameo in New Looney Tunes. Rose and the gang teamed up to stop an asteroid from destroying Earth in the season 3 episode "Armageddon Outta Here," and Rose performed his first new song in a decade, titled "Rock the Rock."

Every Guns N' Roses Song Ranked Worst to Best

Multiple narratives emerged when compiling the above list of Guns N' Roses Songs Ranked Worst to Best. All entries by Eduardo Rivadavia except where noted.

Gallery Credit: Eduardo Rivadavia

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