Unveiled in 1992, "November Rain" was Guns N' Roses grandiose short-film of a video that became a definitive moment in GNR's history. Currently sitting at 1.26 billion views, the video was an ambitious effort to uphold the hit nine-minute song, weaving together interpolated moments of a wedding extravaganza, an isolated white chapel in a desert, and even a staged rainstorm.
The promo video was the most expensive of its kind at the time, costing the label about $1.5 million, and $150,000 just to construct the chapel in a desert. The scene of a cigarette smoking, leather jacket on bare skin Slash walking through the dusty wind and ripping a guitar solo is a priceless moment that made the extravagant production cost worth it.
As depicted in the closing seconds of the video, "November Rain" is based on Del James' short story, "Without You," available in his book "The Language of Fear: Stories." The story revolves around a rock star mourning the death of his on-and-off girlfriend after she commits suicide, a dramatization of the complicated relationship between Axl Rose and Erin Everley.
"To tell you the truth, I have no idea [what 'November Rain' is about]," Slash confessed to Marc Lamont Hill. "It was a concept. The song itself is pretty self-explanatory, but the video is so complex."
"I [wrote] my own scene...and I never paid attention to the rest of the whole production. So at the end of the day, I never really knew."
Winning an MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography that same year, the "November Rain" milestone is a testament to the lasting power of the GNR song and video, as well as the global draw of the band. Given the streaming powerhouse capacities of Latin America (that have also propelled music videos like "Despacito" to the billion view milestone), it is worthwhile to note the significant reach of the band in Central and South America and the frequent touring of the band in these regions.
Another shining star in the GNR trophy depot is the 1987 "Sweet Child O' Mine" YouTube video, currently sitting above 1 billion views.
Well done, GNR fans, looks like "Don't Cry" is next in the line...