As stated by Axl Rose in an interview with Geffen Records for a video collection, this song pre-dates the band. Before Guns N' Roses formed, Rose wrote it with guitarist Izzy Stradlin after they each fell for the same girl. She wouldn't make a choice and told Axl while he was sitting on a park bench, "Don't Cry Bill," which provided the title.
Shannon Hoon, who was lead singer of Blind Melon, sang backup on this track. Hoon and Axl Rose both grew up in Lafayette, Indiana. Hoon also sang on "November Rain."
Guns N' Roses tried recording this for their first album, 1987's Appetite for Destruction, but they couldn't get the sound they were looking for (this was before they earned huge budgets for their projects). It wasn't until 1991 that it finally appeared on an album. The band performed the song live in their early years, but stopped once they recorded Appetite. Bootleg recordings of the song were floating around, however, and Shannon Hoon had one - when he was in a cover band he would sometimes play it. Finally, in 1991, Guns N' Roses issued the song on an album after keeping it dormant for four years.
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