When Guns N’ Roses assembled members of their classic lineup in April 2016 for a small club show in Hollywood, they knew it would be a big deal. What they didn’t realize was just how momentous the ensuing reunion tour would be.
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That April 1 gig at the Troubadour launched Guns N' Roses' Not in This Lifetime … Tour, a trek so named because of a quote from frontman Axl Rose. Just four years earlier, he shot down the notion of Guns N’ Roses’ classic lineup – also including Slash and Duff McKagan – ever sharing the stage again. Yet, there they were, ready for an undertaking that rock fans had eagerly anticipated for decades.
At first, Guns N' Roses were careful about how many dates they agreed to play. Officially opening the tour April 8 in Las Vegas made sense, and following with Southern California’s trendsetting Coachella festival was a must, but they only signed up for a total of 24 gigs. The caution was understandable: Guns N' Roses had enough fighting and drama in their history for the members to be gun shy (pun intended). Still, the early dates went well, and with each successful show performed in front of raucous fans, the group felt more confident about extending its tour.
What eventually transpired was a trek of epic proportions. The Not in This Lifetime … Tour spanned more than three years and shattered records – and bank accounts – in the process.
Here’s a look at Not in This Lifetime by the numbers.
Number of Performances: 175
Running from April 1, 2016 through Nov. 2, 2019, Not in This Lifetime became the third longest tour in Guns N’ Roses history in terms of total number of shows. The band’s longest trek remains the Chinese Democracy tour, which totaled 239 concerts from 2001-11. Their second longest was the famous Appetite for Destruction tour, which ran from August 1987 to December 1988. That trek featured 176 shows, just one more than Not in This Lifetime.
Number of Opening Acts: 59
A wide range of acts scored coveted opening slots for Guns N’ Roses during Not in This Lifetime. First out of the gate was Alice in Chains, who opened both of 2016 concerts in Las Vegas. They returned for later stops, playing a total of eight GNR dates. Other notable openers throughout the trek included the Cult, Lenny Kravitz, Zakk Wylde, Deftones, ZZ Top and the Who. Some newer groups got in on the fun as well, including Wolfmother, the Struts, Royal Blood, the Darkness, the Kills, Greta Van Fleet and Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown. There were even a few openers from genres outside of rock: Country singer Chris Stapleton opened Guns N' Roses’ 2016 gig in Nashville, and electronic DJ Skrillex opened their show in Houston.
Total Gross: $584,200,000
It’s not like the GNR guys were hurting for cash, but Not in This Lifetime made sure their bank accounts will remain healthy for a long, long time. By averaging $3.7 million per show, the tour took in more than half a billion dollars, making it the third highest-grossing tour of all time. U2 holds second place on the list, thanks to their hugely successful 360 tour, which ran from 2009-11 and earned $736,421,584. In first is pop star Ed Sheeran, whose “÷” tour took in a whopping $776.2 million from 2017-19.
Number of Fans Who Attended: 5,371,891
More than 5.3 million people turned out to see Guns N’ Roses during their Not in This Lifetime tour, an average of 40,000 fans per show. Only five tours in history have had a higher total number of people attend: Ed Sheeran (8,796,567 for the “÷” tour), U2 (7,272,046 for the 360 tour), Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood (6,443,727 for their World tour), the Rolling Stones (6,336,776 for the Voodoo Lounge tour) and Coldplay (5,389,586 for their Head Full of Dreams tour).
Number of Special Guests: 7
Sebastian Bach was the first surprise guest of the tour, jumping on stage with GNR to perform “My Michelle” during the concert on April 9, 2016 in Las Vegas. Angus Young appeared at the most shows of any special guest. The AC/DC guitarist performed with GNR at the Coachella festival, three shows in Australia, and single stops in Germany and the Netherlands. Young delivered the same two songs at all six shows: “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “Riff Raff.” Most exciting for Guns N' Roses fans, Steven Adler rejoined the group for a total of five performances during Not in This Lifetime. Their former drummer performed “Out Ta Get Me” and “My Michelle” during stops in Cincinnati, Nashville and Los Angeles. He then joined the band for a pair of shows in Buenos Aires, Argentina, performing “Out Ta Get Me” on Nov. 4 and “My Michelle” on Nov. 5, 2016. Singer Angry Anderson (Feb. 11, 2017), ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons (Nov. 10, 2017), Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl (Nov. 14, 2017) and pop singer Pink (Oct. 11, 2017) each made single special appearances during the tour.
Number of Different Songs Played: 46
On most nights, GNR played anywhere from 22 to 26 songs during their set. Over the course of their Not in This Lifetime … Tour, they delivered 46 different songs, only eight of which were played on all 175 dates: “Chinese Democracy,” “Double Talkin' Jive,” “It's So Easy,” “Mr. Brownstone,” “Rocket Queen,” Sweet Child o' Mine” and “Welcome to the Jungle.” Six other songs fell just short, appearing on 174 setlists of the tour. “Paradise City,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “Live and Let Die” and “Nightrain” weren’t played at the band’s Nov. 25, 2018 performance in Abu Dhabi, which was cut short because Rose was “severely ill.” “Estranged” and “November Rain” weren’t played at the band’s Troubadour show, which (unofficially) started the Not in This Lifetime … Tour. Conversely, the band’s rendition of the Rose Tattoo song “Nice Boys” was played only once during the entire trek: Feb. 11, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.
Number of Countries Visited: 41
During their Not in This Lifetime … Tour, Guns N’ Roses played at least one show on every inhabited continent (sorry, Antarctica). Unsurprisingly, most shows took place in the U.S.A., a total of 79, which is roughly 45% of the tour. Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Australia were the next most frequented countries (in order), though none hosted more than nine GNR dates.
Number of Trucks Used to Haul the Show From City to City: 78
For each performance, the Not in This Lifetime setup required 20 production trucks. On top of that, they had three fleets of 16 trucks each hauling steel rigging to and from tour stops. The setup went something like this: While one fleet of 16 was at the show taking place that night, another would be breaking down a previous performance, while the third was setting up for the next one.
Number of Crew Members: 250
The tour employed 125 crew members tasked with everything from sound, lighting and production setup. Additionally, the team would hire an additional 125 local crew in each city they stopped in to help with the massive undertaking of erecting and later breaking down the gargantuan stage.
Number of Thrones Required: 1
Rose broke the fifth metatarsal in his foot in the days leading up to Not in This Lifetime's start. Rather than canceling or postponing, he determinedly soldiered on – with the help of Dave Grohl. The Foo Fighters frontman had been through a similar injury, breaking his leg after falling off stage at a gig in Sweden. Refusing to be slowed down, Grohl had a custom throne built so that he could continue performing while seated on stage. That throne came in handy for Rose, who borrowed it for early dates on the Not in This Lifetime… Tour. Rose was sure to thank Grohl for the chair, joking on the first night of the tour: “I could see how you could get used to this.”