Guns N’ Roses set the bar high for heavy metal following their debut album, Appetite For Destruction (1987). At first, the album received little attention. It wasn’t until MTV agreed to play the music video for “Welcome To The Jungle” that the album finally gained some recognition. Within a year after its release, Appetite For Destruction became a commercial success. There are little things that stand out to me like the fat bass riff in “It’s So Easy,” the brilliant talkbox playing in “Anything Goes,” and most notably the opening riff to the band’s only number 1 US single, “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” However, it’s the stories behind the songs that stood out to me the most!
Most of the songs on the album reflect the band’s personal experience. Frontman Axl Rose wrote the lyrics for “Welcome To The Jungle” when he visited his friend in Seattle. He was describing the scenery and vibe of the place. The iconic “You know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby. You’re gonna die,” came to Rose after encountering a homeless man in New York City who screamed those same words to him.
Guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin wrote, “Mr. Brownstone” based on their heroin addictions. “My Michelle” came about while listening to Elton John’s “Your Song,” where a friend of the band, Michelle Young, mentioned that she always wanted a song written about her. Rose wrote two versions of “My Michelle.” The first being sweet and not entirely true, the second describing Young’s life more honestly and brutally. Guns N’ Roses went with the second version, of course!
The guitar tone for “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is so smooth and impeccable, and it makes sense why people have tried to learn that riff for years. However, my favorite track on the album is “Paradise City” because of the heavy drums and how simple the chorus is.
“Rocket Queen” would have to be my second favorite for two reasons: The rhythm section by bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler, and the story behind the recording the bridge for it. Rose and Adler’s then-girlfriend went into the recording booth and “messed around” a bit. The result was “Rocket Queen.” I had the song on my Spotify playlist about a year ago, but then I took it off for some reason. Guess I’ll have to put it on my playlist again, haha!
For what it is, Appetite For Destruction is a great album, and it represents the peak of Guns N’ Roses. I’m curious, though, if the band was able to maintain their success after that album. I know they went through plenty of lineup changes as well, so how did that affect them throughout their career?
Let me know your thoughts on Appetite For Destruction in the comments below!
Take care and see ya real soon!