It was 1987 when one of the milestones of hard rock music, ‘Appetite For Destruction’ was released, making Guns N’Roses one of the most known bands of the history of Rock music. ‘Appetite for Destruction’ not only sold more than 30 million copies in the world up to this day, but it was considered by Billboard as one of the most successful debut albums in the history of music itself.
The album can be seen a turning point for rock music in the late 1980’s, working a bridge between commercial rock typical of the decade, and the “alternative music of the following decade”, all thanks and due to its rawness, its punkiness, its lyrics and its seeping spirit of rebellion, as Marc Carter, photographer and former friend of the band, also confirmed during an interview in 2007.
But how did it all start? How was a debut album able to legitimize its place in the empire of Rock music, turning into an icon of the genre? Let’s start from the beginning
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Guns N’Roses were born out of two childhood friends from Los Angeles, Steven Adler and Slash who met with drummer Duff McKagen from Seattle (USA). Initially Slash and Adler played with McKagan in a band known as Road Crew, who also worked for a while with Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin ‘s band, Hollywood Rose. Guns N’Roses was born out of a brief merging between Rose’s Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns, a band whose frontman was Tracii Guns. However, just after a couple of months, Tracii Guns was replaced by Slash as a guitarist.
The band signed to Geffen Records in March 1986, but ‘Appetite For Destruction’ was not an easy album the release. Indeed, the first issue was to find a suitable producer. Initially the task was given to Kiss’s guitarist Paul Stanley, who however, despite seeing potential in the band, decided to propose to modify some of the songs, the band didn’t like his ideas and this resulted in Stanley being fired in a way. The task of producing ‘Appetite for Destruction’ was later given to a far younger and less experienced, but patient and open-minded producer, Mike Clink (who will later produce albums by Megadeath, Mötley Crüe, Metallica and Whitesnake).
Guns N’Roses entered the Rumbo Recorders in California in January 1987 with Clink working patiently, trying to accommodate the band’s requests, and sources say that he even worked 18h a day as Slash preferred to play in the afternoons and evenings, whereas Axl preferred to sing from evening to dawn. Another issue however, was Slash not being able to find the right sound, but eventually after accidentally plugging a Gibson Les Paul into a Marshall amp, he found the perfect sound.
For what concerns the writing sessions instead, ‘Appetite For Destruction’ ‘s ones were quick, as many of the songs were written before the band’s actual debut. This was in fact the case of ‘Anything Goes’, ‘It’s So Easy’, ‘Rocket Queen’, and ‘Think About You’. If one were to describe the lyrics’ character of the album however, ‘Appetite For Destruction’ is more a mix between issues encountered by youngsters with drugs, with the law or with fast living, as in the case of ‘Out Ta Get Me’ or ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and romance, as in the case of ‘Rocket Queen’, ‘My Michelle’ and ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’.
Perhaps, what contributed as well to legitimize Guns N’Roses place in the empire of hard Rock music was even ‘ Welcome to the Jungle’ ‘s music video which aired on MTV on the 28th September, 1987 at 4AM. The video was a huge success, which not even MTV was expecting it (see the odd airing time), to the point that it resulted in MTV being inundated of requests for the song to be aired on other music networks and radios.
‘Appetite for Destruction’ was released on the 21 July 1987 resulting in a gradual and huge success, standing to this day as one of the album symbol of Rock music.