Ex-Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan dismisses ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ similarity to 1981 song

Former guitarist Gilby Clarke also denies suggestions band copied 1981 song

Former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan has dismissed claims that the band copied their 1987 hit ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ from Australian band Australian Crawl’s 1981 song ‘Unpublished Critics’.

The case came to light this week when Australian blog Max TV highlighted similarities between the song. Australian Crawl singer James Reyne said the two songs were undeniably similar, but that he had no intention of suing Guns N’ Roses. The two songs can be heard below.

McKagan told American radio show Opie Radio: “At that point, Guns were trying to be so original and different to do our own thing. There’s just no way we would have referenced anything. So if there’s any similarity, it’s complete happenstance.” He added that it was inevitable that some songs sound the same.

He said: “Any bands I’ve been in, you do the small check for comparisons. You always run into ‘Free Fallin’’ by Tom Petty. It’s always some Tom Petty song, right? He’s the master for anything with three chords. It’s always a Tom Petty track or a Stones song.”

Former GN’R guitarist Gilby Clarke echoed McKagan’s comments that the band were determined not to copy other artists. He told Florida radio station The Gater: “Obviously, when I heard the songs back to back, it’s definitely ‘Wow.’ But, in all honesty, there definitely isn’t a connection. The band was always about being orginal, being the first. So it’s really not in the DNA to have been part of something like that.”

Reyne, who is now a solo singer, told The Daily Mail that his former band’s song was similar to ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. He said: “It’s not inconceivable that there are similarities between the two songs. But it’s also not inconceivable that Guns N’ Roses wouldn’t have been aware of certain Australian songs. God forbid that I had an active publishing company to investigate the possibility. But I’m not about to take on the might of the Guns N’ Roses lawyers.”