Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy was one of the most anticipated releases of the 20th century. Eventually, people assumed it would never come out.
The album achieved legendary status in those years because essentially nobody had any idea what the hell was going on with the record. Did it actually exist? Were Guns N' Roses renting a studio with Necrophagist? Who was even playing in the group during the sessions?
Well a lot of questions were answered on Jun. 18, 2008, when one writer, Kevin “Skwerl” Cogill, over at Antiquiet.com inexplicably got a hold of Jimmy Iovine's mixes of the record and leaked them to the public.
From there on out it was a slew of phone calls, interviews, intense legal action, police raids, the whole nine yards. Skwerl goes in to detail on how he got a hold of the tracks from a friend he refers to as "Steve":
I forget exactly what Steve’s message said. Something to the effect of, “Are you a Guns N’ Roses fan?” And of course I said yes. He started sending me a file, roughly the size of an album. This was completely unexpected. Why me? I don’t know. Maybe Steve had read this editorial I had published on June 6th, predicting the album would leak. I knew that the album was done. And just sitting around. But in that moment, I didn’t let my mind go any further than verifying what I thought I was receiving. I didn’t think Steve was bullshitting, but this was a unicorn with a couple of holy grails up its ass. I was… skeptical.
But he sent me nine tracks that were without question the bulk of Chinese Democracy. I had heard most of them, in one form or another, but nothing had sounded so close to finished. The story I got from Steve was that a year prior, a friend of his, a courier of some kind, walked into Jimmy Iovine’s office, and walked out with a CD. Ten tracks; these nine, plus another version of Better that I never bothered to get from Steve. These mixes were done by Andy Wallace. It was never clear if Steve’s friend stole the disc outright, or conned an assistant into trusting him with a copy. Steve seemed to think it was the former. I assumed the whole story was bullshit. Who knows. Hearsay.
He then mentioned how he got the word out:
At 2PM, I sent two brief emails out, to Maura Johnston, who was at Idolator at the time, and to Wookubus at ThePRP.com. I knew that’s all I needed to do to get that shit splattered over every music site on the internet. According to the FBI, I threw a link up on Digg as well. Fair enough.
Within a matter of minutes, Idolator and ThePRP linked the post, and the news spread like a nuclear blast across the whole internet. Antiquiet buckled under the traffic almost immediately. I had to reboot our poor little server just to have a chance of logging into it, and the only way I could bring Antiquiet back to life was to disable a ton of features, and remove the audio player & GNR tracks.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. We highly recommend reading the entire three-page story retold in amazing detail.
I figured the repercussions for a leak of that magnitude would be pretty terrible, but holy hell I had no idea. What a read!