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Axl Outgunned in Court

Figures. Guns N’ Roses reunites and then things go kabooey.

Axl Rose reteamed with original Gun mates Slash and Duff McKagan for the purpose of a lawsuit against Geffen Records. The trio was trying to halt the label from releasing a greatest hits collection.

In their lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the Gunners sought a preliminary injunction against Geffen, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, accusing the company of failing to consult with the band on the tunes, artwork and remixing of Greatest Hits.

But a federal judge on Monday deep-sixed Axl & Co.’s call for an injunction, clearing the way for Greatest Hits to be released as scheduled next Tuesday. But U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer did not toss out the suit altogether, he set another hearing for next month.

“Their lawsuit is meritless,” says Universal Music Group spokesman Peter LoFrumento. “Fortunately, since the court has denied their application for a temporary restraining order, the album will be released as scheduled.”

The big beef for Rose, who controls the band’s name, was the timing of Greatest Hits, which he says will force a delay in Guns N’ Roses’ forever-in-the-works album Chinese Democracy. He had hoped to finally release the album this year but does not want to compete against himself.

Slash and McKagan, who have no rights to the Guns N’ Roses moniker and have openly feuded with Rose, joined the suit because they had no input into the compilation.

“Not only will audiences be misled into believing that the planned compilation is an authorized release, but [Greatest Hits] will hinder the release of the band’s long-awaited new studio album, Chinese Democracy,” Guns N’ Roses’ management says in a statement.

“There has been a massive outcry among the band’s loyal audience against the Greatest Hits record,” the band’s statement continues. “[The fans] believe the track selection is fundamentally flawed, does not reflect the band’s best work and is clearly not the ultimate package that would be selected by the band of their fan base if they were given the opportunity.”

An insider at Geffen close to the dispute says the label ran out of patience with Rose for taking so long to deliver Chinese Democracy, especially after giving him $13 million in production money and years in the studio to complete the record. If he did what he was supposed to do, the insider said, the two sides wouldn’t be in the legal Gun-fight now.

Rose is the lone original member of Guns N’ Roses in the band’s current lineup. He has assembled a group of sidemen to work on Chinese Democracy and play live gigs. The newly reformed Guns N’ Roses (derisively nicknamed Guns N’ Posers by fans) launched their comeback with the Chinese Democracy Tour in 2002, the band’s first in more than a decade. Like the album, the Chinese Democracy tour stalled due to Axl’s antics and was never completed.

After taking 2003 off from the road, Rose returned to the studio to wrap up Chinese Democracy. While there’s still no word when the album will be hitting stores, the revamped Guns N’ Roses are scheduled to take to the stage at a May 30 gig at the Rock in Rio-Lisbon festival in Portugal.

As for Slash and McKagan, they have formed a new band, Velvet Revolver, with Stone Temple Pilot frontman Scott Weiland. Their debut album, Contraband, is due out May 18.

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