Blow up the balloons, pull the party poppers, unleash the streamers, and break open the beer kegs: Guns N’ Roses’ are back in action! And so accordingly, we’re donning our party hearts and celebrating with a list of 25 things you might not have known about Axl and co’s first seedy, sleazy and debauched offering unto the world. Read on…
1. The original artwork for ‘Appetite For Destruction’ was a stomach-turningly gruesome affair: an image based on the Robert Williams painting of the same title, that depicts a girl with her pants round her ankles, a robot rapist, and a metal avenging angel about to take revenge…
2. … But the band’s label, Geffen, had to whip up an alternative when several retailers refused to stock it. They settled for the famous cross and skulls design instead, with each skull representing one of the five members.
3. In 2011, meanwhile, Axl said he had originally had another idea for the cover: a picture of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding in 1986. Geffen, thinking it was in bad taste, knocked his proposal on the head.
4. Initially, Kiss’s Paul Stanley was being lined up for production duties, but the idea was nixed when Axl and co got the hump after he proposed making changes to several of the songs.
5. In his autobiography ‘The Heroin Diaries’, meanwhile, Motley Crue hell-raiser Nikki Sixx claimed that he was begged several times to be the knob-twiddler on the LP. He refused, though, and the band eventually settled for Mike Clink instead.
6. Axl might take aeons to turn up to his gigs, but the band had a knack for writing songs at super-speed. Slash claims that ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ was penned in just three hours…
7. The lyrics to ‘Mr Brownstone’, meanwhile – with its none-too-subtle heroin allusions – were roughly jotted down on the back of a grocery bag.
8. Classic tear-jerker ‘November Rain’ could have easily appeared on ‘Appetite For Destruction’, but the band decided to save it for a later LP as they already had ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and didn’t want to include more than one ballad.
9. Other iconic Guns N’ Roses songs that could have ended up on the album include ‘You Could Be Mine’, ‘Back Off Bitch’ and ‘Don’t Cry’.
10. Speaking of ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’, Guns N’ Roses have been pretty scathing about arguably their best-loved song over the years: in addition to claiming that it started life as “a joke” – they’ve also denounced it as “filler” and “circus music”, too.
11. Axl loathed the radio version of the song, too, telling Rolling Stone in 1989: “I hate the edit of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’… There’s no reason for it to be missing except to create more space for commercials, so the radio-station owners can get more advertising dollars.”
12. ‘You’re Crazy’, meanwhile, was originally penned as an acoustic ditty before it was turned into a snarling rock beast. The slower, stripped-down version later resurfaced on ‘G N’R Lies’.
13. ‘Anything Goes’ is one of the oldest songs in the band’s canon – in fact, it goes back to 1981, used to be called ‘My Way, Your Way’ and was originally written when Axl and guitarist Izzy Stradlin were still in their old group Hollywood Rose.
14. Who’d have thought that Guns N’ Roses would be influenced by Elton John? But according to Slash, ‘My Michelle’ was written as a tribute to his and Axl’s friend Michelle Young, after the three of them heard the Rocket Man’s ‘Your Song’ on a car radio and she declared she wanted someone to pen a similar song for her, too. It’s not too soppy, though – there’s references to her mother’s past in the porn industry and her own drug addiction.
15. Axl on ‘Welcome To The Jungle’: “I just wrote how L.A. looked to me. If someone comes to town and they want to find something, they can find whatever they want.”
16. Rather than plump for a traditional ‘Side A’ and ‘Side B’ structure, ‘Appetite For Destruction’ is split into ‘G’ and ‘R’ sides: the former ‘Gun’ side dealing with violence and debauchery (‘Welcome To The Jungle’, ‘Paradise City’ et al), while the latter ‘Roses’ side focused on love, sex and whatnot (‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, ‘Rocket Queen’ and so forth).
17. “There wasn’t much in this heart of mine/ But there’s a little left and baby, you found it.” Aw, how sweet! Except that, erm, ‘Think About You’ wasn’t written with a particular lady in mind – it’s thought to be an ode to heroin instead. Not quite so romantic…
18. ‘Paradise City’ could have ended up being a whole lot less wholesome, too: rather than “Take me down to the Paradise City/ Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty”, Slash preferred “Take me down to the Paradise City/ Where the girls are fat and they’ve got big titties.” Thankfully, he was outvoted.
19. And finally, here’s Slash explaining the heartfelt sentiment that went into ‘It’s So Easy’: “There’s a lot to say for that period of time when you just start to lose the excitement of chasing chicks. You start going after really bizarre girls, like librarians and stuff, just to catch them and say I finally went out and caught a girl that wouldn’t be my normal date.” What a charmer.
20. ‘Out To Get Me’ – with its chorus of “They won’t catch me/ I’m innocent/ They Won’t Break Me” – deals with Axl’s tendency to get into scrapes with the law when he was a rosy-cheeked youngster in Indiana.
21. How different things might have been: once ‘Appetite For Destruction’ had hit the 200,000 sales mark, Geffen were considering cutting their losses, stopping their attempts to promote it and forcing the band to get back inside the studio to record a follow-up…
22. Instead, it became the biggest-selling debut album of all time in the US, flogging a massive 18 million units.
23. And it’s shifted over 30 million copies worldwide. Reckon the bright spark at Geffen who wanted to pull the plug on it is still employed?
24. ‘Paradise City’ has a unique distinction on the album: it’s the only track that uses a synthesizer.
25. Earlier this year, the classic line-up who recorded ‘Appetite For Destruction’ were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Cue a shedload of excited whisperings that they’d play together again – until, that is, Axl decided not to turn up. Some things never change, eh…