APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:40 pm

MAY 31, 1986
FARGIN BASTYDGES PLAYS AT THE GAZZARRI'S


The band then played - again as Fargin Bastydges, a show at Gazzarri's on May 31.

Basically, Tom [Zutaut] arranged it because we needed to play a gig, so it was this industry-only, invite-only "concert". It took place at Gazzarri's (today it's the Key Club) [According to Duff's autobiography this actually happened at Raji's on May 13], which was a venue that we'd never, ever played on the circuit because it was totally against everything we stood for. It was so glam and gay that there were radio ads for it where the owner, Bill Gazzarri, proclaimed in his thick East Coast accent, "All my bands got foxy guys in 'em! If they don't got foxy guys, they don't play on my stage." Gazzarri's was where the really plastic glam metal could be found. And we definitely weren't trying to be foxy. [...] Anyway, Paul Stanley attended that show, and he actually bullied the sound engineer into allowing him to man the soundboard and control the mix. We didn't find out until later, but when we did, I cringed at the thought: Paul Stanley had mixed Guns N' Roses - at Gazzarri's.
Slash's autobiography, p 143-144


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:41 pm

JUNE 1986
MANNY CHARLTON AND THE SOUND CITY DEMOS


One of the things that Axl responded pretty positively to was that he and I were both huge Nazareth fans. Manny Charlton, who was the guitar player for Nazareth, produced some of the records and his name came up. Axl said, "yeah, let's do a session with him." So I flew to Scotland, found this guy in the middle of nowhere in Edinburgh and played him the demos. We talked about the band and then Manny said, "yeah, I'll come to L.A. and do a session with them.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Tom Zutaut came over to Scotland and asked me if I was interested in producing the band. […] He asked me t come to L.A. and meet the band anyway. The board mixes that Tom brought with him weren't any good. I couldn't hear the vocals properly. I said to Tom, "let's get to the bottom of this. Let's go into the studio, cut their set live, straight to two-track and then I can listen to the songs and get a handle on this.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


So Charlton was flown in from Scotland.

When I arrived in Los Angeles, I was supposed to see them the next day for rehearsals. Tom picked me up to go to the rehearsal space and there was nobody there. None of them showed up. We hung around for a while ad I looked at him and asked, "Are you sure you know what you're doing here?" To me, that was not very professional to have a guy travel 6,000 miles to see a rehearsal and none of them even showed up.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


The band worked with him for three days, according to Izzy [Guitar, September 1988], resulting in the famous Sound City Sessions bootlegs that were comprised of at least 27 tracks.

We spent time with Manny Charlton from Nazareth. He came over because we were thinking bout having him produce the record. We were in the studio for two and a half days and we did everything live. We recorded 25 or 30 tunes.

Back then we wasted a lot of money flying people from Scotland to LA. Axl said that the guy (Manny Charlton - guitar) had a hell of a lot of credits as a producer on some Nazareth albums, and Axl wasn't that wrong. As I said, we let Manny fly over and Slash and I drove him through some valley. What did he say? Boys, the last inspection of this car was a long time ago, wasn't it? Cars are not inspected in America, so you can buy a part for $ 100. I loved him, but firstly he was too scared and secondly he did a bad job. We lived in this studio for 72 hours, doing nothing but recording. You can find many of the things on bootlegs now. In that sense: The session brought us NOTHING!”

So we got put up with, and we went in and did some demos at Sound City in the Valley, and did, like, all of Appetite and a bunch of other [songs] - November Rain and all kinds all material there.

We went into the studio for three days and we got on pretty good. I remember going into the studio and seeing racks of new Les Pauls and Mesa Boogie amps, so I knew Tom was taking care of them. I asked them to cut their set; everything that they were doing at the time. We just cut it live off the floor of the studio. Axl was stuck between two studio doors, with a little window watching the band and he gave it his all. He didn't bitch about it, there were no tantrums about not being able to perform. He just got on with it. The band set up and they played. That went straight to down to two-track because there were no multiple-tracks involved. There was no overdubbing either. I just set them up and got a really good balance and they played their asses off. They worked well together and they had their arrangements down. It was really good stuff.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

It was mixed down to two-track tape -- there were never multi-tracks at that time. It went really, really well. Bootlegs are probably still floating around out there.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

They weren't just some bar band. They were a band with a capital "B". An important band is always greater than the sum of their parts. You take one part away and the chemistry is shot and it's never the same. The five guys worked together and produced something that was great as a whole. The word is chemistry. That's what they had. They had great chemistry and they were a great band. As soon as you took one cog out of the wheel, one link out of the chain, that was it. I thought the stand-out songs were "Welcome to the Jungle" and "November Rain." Axl was playing the piano and Izzy was doing a little bit of background vocals and it was fantastic. That's when I went, "wow, there's proper songwriting skills here," and I thought that I would really like to produce them.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

But for whatever reason, after Manny did those two days, he thought it was a little crazy. Then there was some dissension in te band about whether or not Manny would be the right guy. So we did the session with him and he disappeared. It was back to the drawing board.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

I didn't disappear; I went home. I told Tom about my commitments with Nazareth. What happened was I never heard a thing from them after our sessions and then 'Appetite' came out. If there was dissent from within the band, I knew nothing about it. I got the feeling that Slash wasn't particularly impressed. I dont think he was as big a Nazareth fan as Axl was. Maybe he wasn't impressed with me as a guitar player. The only positive thing I heard was from Izzy. He said, "Manny's really cool." I wasn't socially integrated with them. I didn't get a chance to get to know them, personally. I wasn't in L.A., I was in Scotland and I had never heard of them before. So I was at a little bit of a disadvantage. I didn't know anything about the L.A. scene with all the other bands that were going on at the time. I guess they must have looked at me like I was some kind of alien with my Scottish accent and being a father, but they respected me for what I had done with Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog." But there wasn't really a chance for us to hit it off.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Axl would state it, "it just didn't feel right" [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]. Duff would be more blunt:

[...] then we realized [Charlton] really didn't have a grasp on what we were doing [...]


Despite not choosing to continue working with Charlton, the sessions resulted in many songs on tape and the band was thinking about what to do with them:

We never did anything with that album but we have the masters to it. It's something where we'll go back and pick through it. A lot of the stuff that comes out when your just jamming as a band is the best.



1997 - THE TAPES RESURFACE IN CHARLTON'S GARAGE


In 1997, the press would report that Charlton still had his copies of the demo tapes in his garage in Scotland:

The tapes are in my garage. I worked with the band on the pre-production for about a dozen songs, some of which ended up on Appetite For Destruction and Use Your Illusion.



2018 - THE DEMO SONGS ARE RELEASED


Geffen planned to "release [the Charlton tracks] as a kind of legal bootleg" [L.A. Weekly, June 1986] or "release some of the demo material as an 'authorized bootleg' " [Sound Connection, July 1986]. This first happened 32 years later when Appetite for Destruction was re-released in 2018.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:41 pm

JULY 11, 1986
GUNS N' ROSES RETURNS TO THE TROUBADOUR


Their next show took place at the Troubadour on July 11. They were now back to playing as "Guns N' Roses" again, as mentioned in the band's fifth newsletter:

Friday July 11th 1986, at 10:00pm, GUNS N’ ROSES will play the Troubadour, (under our own name, by the way) with brand new songs, cool – props, lots’ a girls, and the rest as a tribute to HOLLYWOOD prior to the production of our debute-album on GEFFEN RECORDS!!!

YEAH!!!

For your personal information, we have been playing around town under psuedonymn “FARGIN BASTIGES”, for promotional reasons, butt finally ... what you’ve been waiting for, a full fuckin’ fledged, teeth grinding, butt slammin’, foot stompin’ stylin’ “GUNS N’ ROSES” show; it will be hot, so be cool and get there early!!!


For this show the band would be paid $2,500 and they played for ninety minutes, a new band record [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:42 pm

JULY-OCTOBER 1986
THE BAND RECORDS 'LIVE! LIKE A SUICIDE'


In the summer of 1986 the band was struggling to find a producer for their upcoming debut album [see separate sections] [L.A. Rocks, August 1986]. To do something the band and label decided to release a limited edition "bootleg" album. This served a two-fold purpose, it kept the band occupied while they could write and rehearse, and it would help create an underground following. The work on this record started in the late summer of 1986.

The band's newsletter from July 1986 would describe this as an "independently released" limited album with the title "Guns N' Roses Bootleg Album", and that it would be released within the month [Guns N' Roses Newsletter No. 5, July 1986]. This did not happen.

Axl would also mention the upcoming release from the stage on July 11:

I wanna take a minute to tell you about something we're doing. We wanna tell you about this Geffen thing. We wanna thank you for making that happen. But, it's gonna be a long time before we are able to put this album out. We haven't been able to really give anybody here a god damn thing, so we're putting out our own album before the Geffen Album. It's gonna be on our own label, Uzi Suicide records. It's gonna have a few originals and a lot of the covers that we do, since they might not be on a later project. So some of you could get your hands on it. It's gonna be a limited edition, but I thought you might like to know that.


In August it would be described as a limited edition "bootleg" titled 'Live! Like a Suicide" [L.A. Rocks, August 1986].

In the end the band would use recordings from the Spencer Proffer sessions [see later chapter] for the upcoming release, and on October 31 Axl would mention that the EP was mastered:

But I'd like to tell you guys that this fucking thing that we keep promising you guys, this EP, we just had it mastered today. The artwork is done. We got to print it and package it. It will be out in a couple of weeks.
The Troubadour, July 11, 1986; from Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Steven would later discuss how they faked it sounding live:

Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide (1986 pre-Appetite EP) was recorded near Paramount Studios, and the audience was actually taken from Quiet Riot and Dio. The live part was us playing live in the studio. And Slash got all these fireworks and lit them up in metal buckets.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:42 pm

JULY 21, 1986
SLASH AND IZZY ARRIVES LATE TO THE BOGART'S


Then followed a show at Bogart's on July 21 where both Slash and Izzy arrived late [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].



Ad in Los Angeles Times
July 20, 1986


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:45 pm

JULY 24, 1986
CLUB LINGERIE; AXL QUITS AND IS FIRED


Their next show was at the Club Lingerie gig on July 24. According to Marc Canter, Axl quit the band the afternoon on the day of the show, and was fired, too, "for good measure," but by show time the band was together [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Brendan Mullen, who owned the club the Masque, would claim Axl arrived very late for this show:

I booked GN'R at Club Lingerie. It was a chance-of-a-lifetime gig. The band set up and did a sound-check. No Axl. The band was freaking. Then, ten minutes before set time, he strolled in. They signed with Geffen immediately after..


Already in L.A. Rocks the next month, the band would discuss the fight they had gone through:

[…] we didn’t break up, we just had a long talk; sorted out a lot of shit.

There was a conflict of a lot of things and a lot of disagreements at the time of that show. I thought it was one of the worst shows we ever played. But the next day, we had to have it out. A lot of things went to our heads because this is all new to us. If we did break up, who else are we going to play with that we really value as much as we value each other. […]  After the Lingerie show, it was like starting over again. Most of us have worked together off and on. For over 3 years, we’ve exploded on each other many times, and we always come back.


Slash would later reveal that the fight had been between him and Axl and that it had been serious:

Axl and I had a fight and we were just about to break up and the only reason we did this show was because Tom Zutaut managed to get us all on stage. I stood facing my amp the whole time. I don't know how Tom managed to coral us back together to do this gig.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


During the show Axl would again thank Tom Zutaut, and now mention that he had been "helping [Axl] get through the fucking day" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007], likely referring to the band problems and Zutaut calming the waters .

At the show, Axl would also send a shout out to Dizzy Reed who had just suffered injuries in a car wreck [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:45 pm

JULY 31, 1986
AXL IS LATE TO THE TIMBER'S BALLROOM


But then, just a week later, at Timber's Ballroom in July 31 (Duff claims this happened at a Fender's Ballroom gig on March 31.), it was Axl who turned up so late the band had to start without him. The band had been threatened that if they didn't start playing they wouldn't get paid [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

I don't know if it was part of a brilliant strategy, but Axl often arrived at the club far past his band's scheduled start, mere minutes before the following band's scheduled timeslot. Guns N' Roses would then only have the okay to play for ten minutes, so they'd rip through three or four "we're all super pissed off," powerful, in-your-face tunes to whip the amassed crowd into a frenzy. Then it was over. The fans needed more, much more. And they would get it if they went to the next show.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 230

In hindsight, we might have seen the seeds of later trouble being sown at this show: Axl turned up so late we had to start without him.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 119




Ad in L.A. Weekly, July 25, 1986


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:46 pm

AUGUST-OCTOBER 1986
SPENCER PROFFER AND THE PASHA STUDIOS DEMOS


After the summer of 1986 Geffen hired Spencer Proffer to help produce the next record [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108], or at least to record a demo as a test to see if the band wanted his as their producer for the record [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road, 2007]. Proffer had a talent for "fashioning a great sound" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

I was the only guy that actually got further than the audition phase to where we actually had a contract and I made a deal to produce the whole album. […] I thought the music was cool. It had great attitude, it had great spirit, it had great energy and I smelled that it would make a major socio-cultural impact based on the fresh approach of taking the metal genre and infusing it with a lot of unique lyrical and musical elements. They had the shit that makes great rock n' roll. Axl is a great performer. Slash is a first-rate guitar player.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


They worked with Proffer at his own studio, Pasha Studios [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108], right next to Paramount Studios near Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Before starting, the band made a mix-tape of their influences which was handed over to Proffer. The tape was called "Spencer's Easy Listening" and was meant to help him in creating the sound the band was looking for [RAW Magazine, May 1989]. The work with Proffer took no more than "two or three days" [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 109].

According to Proffer, they worked together for a month:

We went into Pasha Studios, worked on pre-production for about a month and we started making the record. We zeroed in on four or five songs that we started arranging. I worked with them in a rehearsal studio on constructing the arrangements, the breakdowns and the vocal approaches.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

[…] Spencer adjusted to their idiosyncrasies when it came to showing up late for call times or intoxicated recording sessions.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


In May 1987, it was said in an interview that they had argued "profusely" with Proffer, and "forcing him to leave the project"[RIP Magazine, May 1987], which suggests why Proffer was not used as the producer for Appetite for Destruction.

Proffer would shed some light on what happened:

About the time we were in the studio doing overdubs on the tracks, after we had the arrangements laid out, my wife at the time was expecting our first child. The baby was late and we set up a Caesarean section on a specific day. The band would come to the studio everyday late, drunk, stoned or somehow fucked up, one way or another. I called a band meeting a couple of days early, knowing that there would be a Caesarean and that I wanted to be at the hospital spending them time with my family. I didn't want to abrogate my responsibility to work with the band, so I said to them, "would you, on the day of the birth, show up on time? Come to the studio at noon and I'll work with you for five hours, then I'm leaving to go to the hospital to spend the evening with my newborn son. " They, of course, swore that they would. On that day, the hours passed and they didn't show. Close to five o'clock, they show up collectively. Slash came in and he couldn't wait to get to the bathroom, so he took his stick out and pissed on the wall of the studio. Axl went into the control room and he threw up on the control board and asked if I wanted to go party with him. When I refused, he told me to get fucked, forget fatherhood, and that if I left, I was an asshole. He said either work with Guns N' Roses and rock, or be a dad, but I couldn't do both. I told him to get fucked. I told them to never show up at my studio again, I walked out and called the Geffen people the next morning and told them I as out.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


This is a strong accusation from Proffer and Slash would imply that it didn't happen like this:

I can't recall any of that. […] The songs didn't sound better than demo quality, so we didn't achieve record quality yet. We were trying to check him out and get a certain sound out of him and we moved on because we thought he didn't capture it. We didn't think that the stuff we recorded was album quality. If he thinks he fired us, I think that's bullshit. Or else, I didn't know abut it and Tom didn't tell us. That's a possibility.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Canter would confirm there had been a fight between Axl and Proffer, but not go in details, and confirm that regardless of Proffer's problems with the band, the band was not happy with the results of the collaboration:

Spencer attributes their sudden end to a confrontational moment with Axl, but for the band, Spencer's treatment of their material wasn't to their liking. They completed the Pasha demos and Tom [Zutaut] was again on the hunt for a new producer.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Later Axl would claim Spencer made the sound too "radio":

What people don’t understand is there was a perfectionist attitude to ‘Appetite..’. There was a definite plan to that. We could have made it all smooth and polished. We went and did test tracks with different people and they came out smooth and polished. We did some stuff with Spencer Proffer and Geffen records said it was too fuckin’ radio.
Kerrang! April 1990


Despite this, Steven would later claim he loved working with Proffer [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108-109].

Although the songs were considered good enough for their debut LP, songs from the sessions with Proffer would end up on the band's forthcoming EP.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:46 pm

AUGUST 15, 23 AND 28, 1986
THE SCREAM, THE STONE AND THE WHISKY


The next two shows for the band were at The Scream on August 15 and at the Whisky A Go Go on August 23. They had been scheduled to play a show in Orange County on August 16, too, but "cancelled at the last minute because the gig was so far away" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Jeff Fenster, who worked for Warner and would later be involved in the drafting of the recording agreement with Geffen, would meet the band at the Scream:

My day job was at Warners, but one of my hobbies was deejaying at brat-pack parties in Hollywood and at the Lhasa Club, where alternative bands like Hüsker Dü would play. I must have met Guns at Scream, near MacArthur Park, where Jane’s Addiction got its start. Guns played there too, and in fact they were supposed to be part of an album I was involved with, The Scream Compilation, which showcased the bands that were playing at Scream. Jane’s Addiction’s first single was on the album, but then Guns got signed to Geffen, and they wouldn’t give us a track for our little indie project.
Stephen Davies, Watch You Bleed: The Saga Of Guns N' Roses, 2008


For the August 23 show at the Whisky, the band debuted 'Sweet Child O' Mine', "Mr. Brownstone' and 'Ain't Going Down' [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].


Whisky A Go-Go, August 23, 1986



Before playing 'Mr. Brownstone,' Axl would warn about the dangers of heroin, saying, "I think you should stay the fuck away from that bad shit" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. At the time, both Slash and Izzy had a heroin dependency that affected the band.

Fenster, mentioned above, would play harmonica with the band at this show:

Jeff Fenster, a lawyer at Warner who worked with Geffen on the recording contract with Guns N' Roses, got to play harmonica with the band at this show:

I worked on the band’s record deal because Warners helped out Geffen as part of their distribution deal. I was the junior guy at Warners, and when it came time to do the Guns N’ Roses contract with Geffen, they gave the job to me. Guns’ deal [with Geffen] was nothing special—either it was for two albums, firm, or for one album with an option. I don’t remember. The whole thing, including the band’s advance and album budget, was a few hundred thousand [dollars].

I must have met the band through Tom Zutaut and his assistant, Teresa Ensenat. Somehow I made them aware that I also played harmonica, and I began to hang out with them at their band house, which was everything you might have heard—naked girls, plenty of dope, loud music, breaking glass, complaining neighbors, the cops arriving to restore some semblance of order. Maybe we jammed while they were rehearsing, and eventually Axl asked me to play harp on their song ‘Nightrain’ at some gigs they were playing. The first one was at Madame Wong’s, and then I played the Troubadour with them. Then they asked me to play with them at the Whisky a Go Go.

So I get to the Whisky, which was probably one night in the summer of 1986. I was so psyched. How many lawyers get to play with their bands? I go upstairs to the Whisky’s little shithole of a dressing room, and I find Axl sitting there, with two strippers. He gives me a high five, and he says to the girls, ‘This is our friend Jeff. He’s going to play with us tonight. I would appreciate it, very much, if you would take him into the bathroom and help him relax.’

So I went with these two girls, and they basically ‘serviced’ me”—with double-headed oral sex. “Then Guns went onstage, and when it was time for ‘Nightrain’ they called me on, and I played with them. The audience—lots of girls—was rabid. Bonkers.  I was ten years older than the band, but Guns were sort of goofing on it—that their label’s lawyer could do this. They gave me a harp solo, like we’d done before.
Stephen Davies, Watch You Bleed: The Saga Of Guns N' Roses, 2008


After these two gigs the band travelled to San Francisco for a show at the Stone on August 28, with Jetboy and the Vain as supporting acts.



The Stone, August 28, 1986



Davy Vain, the singer for the Vain, would later talk about the show and his connection with Guns N' Roses:

The first time we met was in late '86/early '87. It was the first time Vain had played the Stone in San Francisco. We were supporting Guns N’ Roses, in fact. I remember the gig because Steven and Duff (McKagan) hung out for our set and watched us. It turned out that a good friend of mine, the super-roadie McBob and his brother Tom Mayhue, ended up working for Guns. We were always the derelict rock kids from this town called Santa Rosa and when McBob and Tom started working for Guns, that was the beginning of the connection. When we were in LA we'd always stop by and say hi, and I got to know Duff and Slash quite well.


Vain would later join Steven in his band (with the contested name) Roadcrew, after Steven was kicked out of Guns N' Roses [see later chapter].


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06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Empty Re: 06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:47 pm

06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Newbor11
SONG: SWEET CHILD O' MINE
Album:
Appetite for Destruction, 1987, track no. 9.



Written by:
Lyrics: Axl Rose.
Music: Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Slash.

Musicians:
Vocals: Axl Rose; lead guitar: Slash; rhythm guitar: Izzy Stradlin; bass: Duff McKagan; drums: Steven Adler.

Live performances:
The song was played live for the first time on August 23, 1986, at The Whisky, USA. All incarnations of Guns N' Roses have played this song live. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {SCOMSONGS} times.
Lyrics:

She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long I'd probably break down and cry
     
Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine
     
She's got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain
Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I'd hide
And pray for the thunder and the rain
To quietly pass me by
     
Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine
     
Where do we go
Where do we go now
Where do we go
Sweet child o' mine


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Writing the song:

Axl, the lyrics came to him as we wrote the song. It was one of those things where the beginning intro thing that sounds like piano or whatever it sounds like – people say it sounds like keyboards or something –, I came up with that. Yeah, and then Izzy came in with the chord changes behind it or the chords that back it up, and then Axl started singing. It was just one of the songs – it’s really not that complicated when you listen to it as far as structure goes, but it just sort of evolved until it was finished. And then we went into rehearsals as a sort of pre-pre-production type of thing and just wrote the whole thing out, and I got the solo, you know - and, just like, that was the first solo I felt comfortable with, so I just did that – and it just evolved into something. It was real spontaneous, like most of the material on the record is real spontaneous.

In Indiana Lynyrd Skynyrd were considered God - to the point where you ended up saying, 'I hate this fucking band!' And yet, for Sweet Child I went out and got some old Skynyrd tapes to make sure we'd got that downhome, heartfelt feeling.
Told to Paul Elliott in March 1987, Classic Rock Magazine, July 2007

There was a lot of work put into that song. Because I'm from Indiana, where, like, Bob Seger, REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Aerosmith was the rock band, they were considered the top four bands. So when we did Sweet Child it's like we went out and got a lot of the old tapes that we had learned to hate because you had heard them so many times. But we went back over to try to get some of that heartland feeling, and try to get some of the things that people were leaving out of the music. Try to bring some stuff back. So I think a lot of people when they hear the song, whether they place it with some of the stuff they have heard, now it brings back some roots and some memories rather than it being just a [?] song.
KJJO104, August 1988

We were sitting in the room at this house - it was me, Duff, Izzy and Axl – and I came up with that intro thing. Then Izzy put the chords that fit behind it and then Axl started singing it. So we had the first part of the song down and then we just started working on it from there.

I think the 'Sweet Child O' Mine' influence pops up because it's a single-note style of mine, especially when I do this octave thing around a melody. I have to give Axl credit, because if he hadn't recognized it as being great, I wouldn't have used it, I thought it was a joke. It was just me doing a lick with chord changes underneath to gave it some movement. Then Axl came in and started singing it. I hated that song until after '88 or '89. We were touring with Aerosmith, and it was such a huge hit you couldn't ignore it.
Velvet Revolver, Total Guitar #121 April 2004

We had this house that this management company had rented for us, they were courting us to be our managers. It was a really nice house in Laughlin Park, California. We had reduced the house to a mere shell of itself in only a few weeks.

One afternoon, when the smoke was still clearing from the night before, Duff, Izzy and I were sitting around on the floor --- we didn’t have any furniture anymore --- and I was dicking around with that riff. In all honestly, I don’t really know where the riff came from but, all of a sudden, it started to sound really cool. Izzy started playing acoustic behind it and the chord changes started coming together. Axl was upstairs in his bedroom and he overheard it. A couple of days after we had put together our simple riff/chord structure, Axl said, “Play that song you guys were playing the other day.” We were like, “What song?” He goes, “That one with that do do dodo do doo do do.” He had written a bunch of lyrics to it without us even knowing about it. It came together relatively quickly. We started rehearsing it and we wrote it from one end to the other that night.


Slash is a little disparaging about the intro riff, and didn't like playing ballads:

The thing about 'Sweet Child O' Mine,' it was written in five minutes. It was one of those songs, only three chords. You know that guitar lick Slash does at the beginning? It was kinda like a joke because we thought, 'What is this song? It's gonna be nothing, it'll be filler on the record.' And except that vocal-wise, it's very sweet and sincere, Slash was just messing around when he first wrote that lick.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

(...) Slash came up with what we all thought was this awesome riff. He said he created it to limber up his fingers, get them loose before playing. He sort of made fun of it, saying that in his head it sounded like the notes you'd play for circus music, the kind you hear on one of those tinny pipe organs. (...) I told Slash he was overlooking the enormous potential of that lick: "That's a great fucking riff, dude. We have to figure out a way to get that into a song". (...) So Slash molded the riff, and today we know it as the intro for 'Sweet Child O' Mine'. What I loved was that Slash truly displayed his brilliance by not just using it as the intro but finding a way to thread that riff throughout, using it as the backbone for the entire song.
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010

'Sweet Child O' Mine' was a joke. It was a fluke. I was sitting around making funny faces and acting like an idiot and played that riff. Izzy started playing the chords that I was playing, strumming them, and all of a sudden Axl really liked it. I hated that song because it was so stupid at first. I hated the guitar part. Now I really like it because I've gotten it to the point where it sounds really good when I play it live, and I'm so used to the song so I like it a lot more. But it definitely wasn't something I hummed out in my head. It was more like me fucking around with the guitar.
Stix (1992) Slash - Guitar From The Gut, Guitar For The Practicing Musician - Nov 1992

The funny this is, Slash’s guitar part started off as a joke. Izzy wrote this three-chord song, and we were like, Fuck this – we do not play ballads. Axl, of course, loved it. We were trying anything to not do the song, so Slash wrote that crazy guitar part, trying to make it prog-rock or something, and as a joke I played that bass part. Of course, it all came together and made sense.
Bulletproof - Duff interview, Guitar World’s Bass Guitar June/July 2004 Issue

[After the riff being voted by the Total Guitar readers the greatest riff of all times]: It's sort of a funny thing because that riff was...I was just noodling around and just stumbled over this little bit of an idea - it was sort of a fluke. To me it was just some silly thing that I wouldn't have taken much further if Izzy hadn't been there playing some chords.

It was always a joke to me until Axl came up with some words and made a song out of it. And because this was in the early days of Guns N' Roses - we were this fuckin' hard rock band - it was just a sappy ballad to us. I hated that song. I hated when it came up in the set. Sometimes I'd get too drunk and wouldn't be able to play it. I just never took it seriously until way later when the song became a hit, and all I'd have to do is go into the first notes of that song and everyone in the whole place would lose their fuckin' minds.

Now to see it being recognized as an influential rock lick...[Laughs in disbelief.] I'm a little bit overly flattered and humbled by it. I really don't know what else to say. I would never have predicted that in a million years. You don't sit down writing riffs so that they turn up later as being...I dunno...the shit, so to speak.
Total Guitar Magazine, December 2004

In passing, I did say that it was sort of a joke or something, but initially it was just a cool, neat riff that I'd come up with. It was an interesting pattern and it was really melodic, but I don't think I would have presented it to the band and said, "Hey I've got this idea!" because I just happened to come up with it while we were all hanging around together Izzy. [Stradlin, GN'R's second guitarist at the time] was the first one to start playing behind it, and once that happened Axl Rose, [the band's singer] started making up words, and it took off that way. [...] One of the things that always bugged me about Sweet Child... was that it was an uptempo ballad, which didn't fit what Guns N' Roses was about as far as I was concerned. So that song annoyed me every time it came up in the set. It really bugged me! [...] It really disturbed my drinking," he chuckles, "because whenever we did a show I'd have a fair amount of whisky beforehand. But when the song came up in the set, that riff was really hard to remember! [Laughs] So all in all it was a very aggravating song, although ironically it turned out to be the biggest song we ever did. [...] The saving grace for me was the solo section. That was a vey organic solo that came together simply. When we said, 'Here's the chord changes,' it occurred very spontaneously, and I always looked forward to that part of the song in the set. It was completely different to the rest of the song. [...] The only time that I didn't use a Marshall on Sweet Child... was on the clean bits, and believe it or not, those came through a Roland 120 Jazz Chorus amp, which was hanging around the studio.

That song were written after we were signed and there was nothing much to do. Another management team was courting us, and these people went so far as to lease us a house above Griffith Park. We pretty much demolished the place. But I remember Duff, Izzy and I were sitting in the living room next to the fireplace - we had no TV set - and I was playing the intro riff and they were playing chords behind it. And next thing you know, it was turning into something. I really just thought of it as a joke, but lo and behold, Axl was upstairs in his bedroom and he heard and and started writing the words.

The next day, we were rehearsing at Burbank Studios - doing a preproduction kind of thing - and Axl wanted us to play what we had been playing the night before. Pretty soon, it shaped itself into a song, and all of a sudden it took on this serious kind of tone. It was really hard for me to accept, but that song became Axl's favorite. I think a lot of it had to do with the lyrics. They had a serious, personal side to them. [...] I don't think anyone in the band had as much problem with [the ballad] as I did because I was just such the hard-rock guy. Some ballads I could deal with, as long as they were bluesy. But 'Sweet Child O' Mine' seemed completely sappy. Not so much from a lyrical point of view, but that whole intro riff. I like playing the solo section, but I would've written that song off as history if anyone else had complained about it. I had no idea it would become the biggest song the band ever did.
Back to the Jungle, Guitar Edge Magazine, March 2007


Talking about the lyrics:

'Sweet Child O' Mine' is a true song about my girlfriend at this time. (...) I had written this poem; reached a dead-end with it and put it on the shelf. Then Slash and Izzy got working together on songs and I came in. Izzy hit a rhythm and, and all of sudden this poem popped up in my head. It just all came together. A lot of rock bands are too fucking wimpy to have any sentiment or any emotion in any of their stuff unless they're in pain. It's the first positive love song I've ever written. I never had anyone to write anything that positive about.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

That a real love song.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

This is a hard song for me to do right now. I wrote this for someone that I care the world about. You know someone you used to love, but your lives change, and you wonder why and what happened, and when you reach that point in your relationship you didn't know where to go. When I wrote this song I didn't know it would be a self-fulfilling prophesy, and that it would actually happen. For everyone who knows me and knows my friend Erin, this is 'Sweet Child O' Mine'.
Perkin's Palace, December 30, 1987

The 'blue sky' line actually was one of my first childhood memories--looking at the blue sky and wishing I could disappear in it because it was so beautiful.
Los Angeles Times, July 1991


And the "Where do we go now?" part:

[...] the "where do we go now" coda of that song actually was just sort of tacked on, which is one of the reasons we didn't anticipate it being a hit - or even a single, for that matter.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 97

I have a way of sitting down with the guitar and coming up with these hard-to-play riffs; they're unorthodox fingerings of simple melodies. It's my way of getting into playing or finding something interesting to do as opposed to just practise scales. (...) That is what I was doing one night as Izzy sat down on the floor to join me. "Hey, what is that? he asked. "I don't know," I said. "Just fucking around." "Keep doing it." He came up with some chords and since Duff was there, he came up with a bass line, as Steven planned out his drum beat. Within an hour my little guitar exercise had become something else. Axl didn't leave his room that night, but he was just as much a part of the creative process as the rest of us: he sat up there and listened to everything we were doing and was inspired to write lyrics that were complete by the next afternoon. They became an ode to his girlfriend and future first wife, Erin Everly, daughter of Don Everly of the Everly Brothers. (...) At our next session, we worked our new song into a complete movement: we wrote a bridge, added a guitar solo, and so it became 'Sweet Child O' Mine.' (...) Spencer [Proffer, a producer] was a great guy; he was actually the one who suggested that the song needed a dramatic breakdown before its ultimate finale. He was right...but we had no idea what we wanted to do there. All of us sat around the control room, listening to it over and over, devoid of a clue. "Where do we go?" Axl said, more to himself than the rest of us. "Where do we go now?...Where do we go?" "Hey," Spencer said, turning the music down. "Why don't you just try singing that?" And so became that dramatic breakdown.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 155-156


Recording the song:

If you listen to 'Sweet Child O' Mine,' the tempo on the very beginning is different from when the drums come in, which is a little faster. I had to play the beginning 50 times to get it right with the drums.
Guitar, September 1988

[The solos in] "Sweet Child" was basically off the cuff.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, September 1988

[Talking about recording 'Sweet Child' for Appetite which only required one take]: I'll never forget, I was on the phone with this girl that I was going out with, she hated me, I was bummed, she hung the phone up on me. Duff says, "Come, we got to play, we got to play," I'm all depressed and sad and we go in and we play it but I fuck up on it, you know. But it just had it, it just worked, the feel was there.
Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988

One thing was on “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” where it has that breakdown where it goes “Where do we go/where do we go.” If you listen, I’m doin’ these rimshots on the snare and if you listen to it, the first seven or eight rimshots that I do all sound different. ‘Cause I remember there sitting going, “Nope, nope, nope; that is not it, that is not it.”

My other issue [from recording Appetite for Destruction] was recording 'Sweet Child O' Mine'. Steven watched my foot to keep time; and for that song I'd count him in because my riff kicked off the proceedings. There was no high hat through the beginning and we hadn't recorded a click track for it, so when I went in to do the overdubs it was a guessing game: I'd be sitting there anticipating the start of the song, hoping that in my mind I'd times it right so that when I started playing, my timing was right. This was years before digital recording, so there was no signifier to guide me in my way. It took a while, it took many takes, but we got it in the end.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York, pp 177

As far as the experience goes, the only nightmare that I can remember from Appetite was trying to count in that "Sweet Child O' Mine" riff (laughs).
Guitar For The Practising Musician, November 1992

It was probably the hardest song for me and Steve to record, just because you have to keep a steadiness and also keep the emotion in it.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987


Talking about the song:

To me, when we go out on stage, it is still the most dreaded song in the set, is to go out and play 'Sweet Child O'Mine'. Just to do the very first notes, is like...[hums the intro], is like "Noooo." I mean, it's a good song, though, you know, I mean, I enjoy the song when I listen to it. But it is not fun to play.
Interview with Slash and Duff, 1988

I hate the edit of "Sweet Child o' Mine." Radio stations said, "Well, your vocals aren't cut." My favorite part of the song is Slash's slow solo; it's the heaviest part for me. 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. When you get the chopped version of "Paradise City" or half of "Sweet Child" and "Patience" cut, you're getting screwed.
Rolling Stone, August 1989

I used to get wasted on stage. There were nights when I'd have to start "Sweet Child o' Mine" four or five times because I was so loaded I couldn't play it.
Los Angeles Times, August 1992



06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Newbor11


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:48 pm

06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Newbor11
SONG: MR. BROWNSTONE
Album:
Appetite for Destruction, 1987, track no. 5.



Written by:
Most of it written by Izzy and Slash (with a few words by Desi), then further improved by the rest of the band.

Musicians:
Vocals: Axl Rose; lead guitar: Slash; rhythm guitar: Izzy Stradlin; bass: Duff McKagan; drums: Steven Adler.

Live performances:
The song was played for the first time at The Whisky on August 23, 1986. All incarnations of Guns N' Roses have played this song live. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {MRBROWNSTONESONGS} times.
Lyrics:

I get up around seven
Get outta bed around nine
And I don't worry about nothin' no
'Cause worrin's a waste of my... time

The show usually starts around seven
We go on stage around nine
Get on the bus about eleven
Sippin' a drink and feelin' fine
     
We been dancin' with Mr. Brownstone
He's been knockin'
He won't leave me alone
No, no , no, he won't leave me alone

I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said the little better than before
I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said the little better than before
     
Now I get up around whenever
I used ta get up on time
But that old man he's a real muthafucker
Gonna kick him on down the line

We been dancin' with Mr. Brownstone
He's been knockin'
He won't leave me alone

I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said the little better than before
I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said the little better than before
     
Shoved it in the bindle and I shot it in the middle
And it, it drove outta my mind
I should've known better, said I wish I never, ever said I
I leave it all behind
Yowsa!


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Talking about writing the song:

That was written during a time when a couple of us were all strung out and we might have written the song that night about being strung out. But now, now that we're playing to 15,000 people every night, it's taken on a different light. I wouldn’t want to influence anybody to take drugs. That would make me feel guilty. The song is a statement, neither for nor against.

It’s sort of a joke. I mean, I think people take it a little bit more seriously than what it was written to be. I mean, to be totally honest, it was me and Izzy sitting in an apartment up and hot, like, by Hollywood Boulevard, and that was the room we used to sell our drugs from and all that stuff at the time, and we were both what you would call seriously strung out. And it was just a joke. It was like, we were high and we were just playing acoustic guitar, and Mr. Brownstone, “I get up around 7, go to bed...” – you know, whatever – and “I get to the gig whenever,” blah blah blah, and “I used to do a little, but a little wouldn’t do it, now it’s more and more.” It was just not – it was just the kind of thing, it was about what was going on at the time. It’s not pro or con, or anything like that. It was just about the situation.

[...] me and Izzy wrote the words to Brownstone [...].

Um, let’s see... Me and Izzy were sitting around, um, intoxicated one night. The song, if you really read it, you know what it’s about, then you sort of just read into it. It’s sort of self-explanatory. It’s basically about having a serious habit and the lifestyle that goes along with it, and we just happened to be sitting in the middle of it at the time. It’s sort of a joke. It’s sort of like a parody.

That was written during a time when a couple of us were all strung out and we might have written the song that night about being strung out. But now, now that we're playing to 15,000 people every night, it's taken on a different light. I wouldn’t want to influence anybody to take drugs. That would make me feel guilty. The song is a statement, neither for nor against.

And 'Mr. Brownstone'... It reminded me of a Stones-ish type funk-thing and so, I just played around with it. And then, you know, we heard our rehearsal tape back and it sounded like it might work. So, I just started practising that way. (...) We have countless other friends that have spent, you know, upwards to like 50 grand on rehabilitation. They can't get away from drugs. (...) I've lost at least five or six people that I hung out with every day. So Brownstone is just about having a battle with it, and wishing you'd never touched the stuff and trying to get away from it.
Axl/Slash Interview - 1988

The first time I can remember working out parts with [Slash] was on 'Brownstone.' We wrote that a couple years back in my kitchen. We were sitting around with acoustic guitars.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, 1988

When we moved out of our place on Fountain and La Cienega, I was the last one to leave, and found this piece of yellow paper wadded up in the corner where Izzy's and Steven's room was. It had the lyrics to 'Mr. Brownstone' on it. I read it and went, "This is great". They said they had music for it and we ended up starting to rehearse this thing.
Marc Canter: Reckless Road

"Mr. Brownstone" was written totally by Izzy. I found that on the floor of the apartment we were living in at the time on a piece of paper wadded up on the floor in a corner, and I liked it so much - and he was like, "No, way! You like that?"
Cream, September 1989

Izzy wrote nine-tenths [of the lyrics] of 'Mr. Brownstone' and nine-tenths of 'Think About You.' I changed a couple of words here and there that fit better.
Screamer, August 1988

I guess that was the most heroin-suggesting song on the record. Izzy and I wrote that sitting in his apartment, loaded. And as most junkies do, we started writing lyrics about the perils and the boredom of the whole thing, the sort of redundant process we were immersed in.
Guitar Edge Magazine, March 2007


Desi Craft would claim she had not been credited for her involvement:

One time, Slash came to our place on Orchid with a lump of Mexican tar heroin and he wanted to cook it all up. Izzy and I told him to just do a little bit because there was this death tar going around. He said it was okay and shot up. Well, he pretty much went rigor mortis in the chair and we got him on the floor. I gave him mouth-to-mouth and I remember him going "Is this death or is this an angel I'm seeing?", because he was so out of it. Right after that we wrote "Mr. Brownstone" and I wrote that with them. I was really upset that I never got credit for that. But why dwell on the past. That's how that song came about.
Marc Canter: Reckless Road


But Slash would marginalize Craft's contribution:

[...] One of the first songs we wrote up [at Dean Chamberlain's] was 'Mr. Brownstone,' a track that was conceived under much dimmer circumstances. Izzy, his girlfriend Dezi, and I were up at their apartment one night when we came up with it. They had a little dinette set that we'd sit around cooking up our shit and then we'd just jam. We were sitting there complaining, as junkies do, about our dealers, as well as just complaining about being junkies, and that's where that song came from. It basically described a day in the life for us at the time. Izzy had a cool idea, he came up with the riff, and we started improvising the lyrics. Dezi considers herself a cowriter of that track and for the record she did come up with maybe a noun here, perhaps a conjunction there. When we had it all together, we wrote the words down on a grocery bag. We brought it down to the Fountain apartment and played it for Axl and he reworked the lyrics a bit before the band worked on it at our next rehearsal. Axl could always take a simple Izzy melody and turn it into something fantastic, and that is just one of the examples.
"Slash", 2007


Introducing the song:

This next song is a brand new song and I think it goes with a little bit of warning. I've seen a lot of my close friends, and I've seen a lot of other people I know, get really fucked up when they discovered this drug called heroin. The next thing you know, your life is fucked because you are just too fucking cool. This song is called "Mr. Brownstone". And I think you should stay the fuck away from that bad shit.
The Whisky, August 23, 1986

If you're going to mess with drugs you are going to have to be careful with it...if you want to be around. Deal with it in moderation [?]. This is about heroin, this is a song called 'Mr. Brownstone'.
Open Air Theatre, San Diego, USA; September 4, 1987

I hear different comments about this next song. A lot of questions. A lot of rumours get started...some are true, some are bullshit. But I guess that's Hollywood. Anyway, I've seen a lot of my friends, a lot of close friends, end up in 15,000 rehab centers. I see them have to go in two or three times. Now I haven't got anything against partying...with whatever you can find. But use your head and keep your ass alive, 'cause you're the only one who's really gonna fuckin' look after your own ass! I've seen a couple friends go and I don't want to see it happen no more so you be careful next time you go dancin' with Mr. Brownstone!
Perkin's Palace, December 30, 1987

This is something about -- I don't know how many of you will understand what I am saying -- letting something else take control of your lives. It could be alcohol, drugs, anything, and learning how to kick its ass. This is something called 'Mr. Brownstone'.
Tokyo Dome, December 30, 1988


Izzy, always cautious when it came to his drug habits, would not admit it was about heroin:

It can mean a million different things to a million different people. It's like when you listen to a Zeppelin song, what do you think? I have all kinds of fucking wild ideas about what 'Custard Pie' is about.
Hit Parader, March 1988


And Slash would try to argue it was about other people's drug habit, not theirs:

A lot of people have a misconception about this song. They think it's about drugs. It's not so much a statement about our drug habits; it's a more a statement about other people's drug habits. It's a good little ditty that people can listen to and maybe think about what they're doing.
Hit Parader, March 1988


Talking about the song:

It’s a song about attempting to avoid or kick the habit of heroin, get away from it; and getting away from it. […] All it’s really talking about is heroin can be a nagging habit, and be annoyed of the “naggingess” of that habit. […]  As I said, I think it refers to any form of substance abuse or emotional repressive. That’s how I look at the song, and always have. It’s like, in its simplest term you can look at it as heroin, or you can do what you want with the song.
Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit, August 23, 1993

Rarely does an opening drum beat cause as much of a ruckus as this Steven Adler-divined gem. Killer song. Genius lyrics.

Middle riff of Perfect Crime, & Brownstone riff Smile [are my favorite riffs from Guns N' Roses]
Unknown source


Duff being asked about the hardest song to play in the studio:

Um… wow… the hardest to play song… You know, by the time we got to the studio with anything, I was so well rehearsed on anything that might have been hard. You know, there were certain, like, little flash riffs, little flourishes. And the way Slash and I play off each other, we play a lot of the same thing, like bass guitar we’d play the same little riffs, and there's some things he'll play on guitar that are really fuckin’ hard to play on bass just because the strings are so much bigger and so far apart than a guitar; on guitar it's kind of an easy riff, but on bass it's not so easy. You know, a song like Brownstone… On a guitar you can play that on three strings. On bass, you can't. I would have to play that riff, that (sings) “but a little dum dum dum” – I’d play that all on one string so it’d sound even. And that's where bass gets difficult, because you have to make everything sound sort of even, so I had to play that riff all on one string and that's a tough little riff to play on one string. That's probably, maybe, the hardest thing I had to learn how to do.


Steven would claim it was a warning from Axl, but that doesn't fit with the lyrics mostly having been written by Izzy:

'Mr Brownstone' was a thinly veiled warning from Axl to all of us, including himself. We all saw how drugs had been granted a permanent VIP laminate in our lives, but we also believed we were indestructible
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010


More likely, Steven was talking about how Axl used to introduce the song at live shows.

06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Newbor11


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:48 pm

SLASH'S TOP HAT


One fixed feature of Slash became his top hat:

I bought [the top hat] on Melrose. I was walking around on Melrose and went into this shop, which isn't there anymore, and I saw a top hat. I tried it on and I bought a concho belt and I was sitting around with Axl, and I put the concho belt on the hat, took it apart and put it on the hat. And then we had a gig that night at the Whisky. There's a picture of it on the innersleeve of "Appetite For Destruction". There's a picture with me with no shirt on, playing a BC Rich and that's at the Whisky. Stoned out of my mind [laughs]. In those days, right. And wearing a top hat. And that's the first time I ever wore one. It was just like, cool looking, and at this point I can't wear it on the street anymore.

When I first get into this, I was an outcast in elementary school for having long hair and wearing hole-y T-shirts. The only reason I was aware of it was I got hassled for it by other kids so I used to fight a lot. Half the clothes I have are from way back when. I used to wear hats even when I was a kid, I thought they looked cool. My mom had a really cool hat and I borrowed it for a gig at the Troubadour. There’s a picture in Appetite where I have no shirt and a top hat on, pulled down low. I’ve always been really shy. I stick my hair in my face and hide behind a hat. That’s been my trip. But I didn’t know that would be my image.

I bought (stole it) from "Retail Slut" in Hollywood, CA.

I just saw it in a store one day and thought it was cool. It just spoke to me and became an item I wore all the time.

It just became a thing. I just got it from a store one day. A five-finger discount. Are you familiar with that? I've always liked hats, and I saw this one hat. I thought it was cool, and it just became something I started wearing all the time. I didn't plan on it being stable part of my image. I just felt comfortable with it. I was 19 or 20.




Slash before he settled on a top hat



Slash would later suggest he wore the top hat for the first time at the August 22, 1986, show at the Whisky, but there is photographic evidence suggesting he started using it earlier in 1986:

This is the show where I first wore a top hat and I'll never forget it. I got the top hat that day. I was really high and the hat was great because it could help me balance.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Much later Slash would explain how he manages to fix it to his head:

Some people write that I must have it Velcro or some sort of staple on it or something. It just stays on there. It just sort of sits. It has to or there's a good chance you may lose it. I did lose it once and I never got it back, but that was a while back.


And on whether he had ever considered wearing a beanie instead:



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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:49 pm

DUFF, THE KING OF BEERS


Alcoholism runs in my family. So, you know, I already had one strike against me and I started drinking.

_________________________________

Duff was no virgin as far as drugs went. Back in Seattle he had experimented with speed, cocaine, LSD in sixth grade and mushrooms, but quit due to increasing panic attacks which he feared might be drug-induced [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011]. Also see earlier chapter detailing Duff in Seattle.

The thing is, I took acid for the first time in sixth grade, aged about 12. By the time I was 18 I’d already had my fill of psychedelic drugs and cocaine and stuff. I’d tried heroin.


Later, he would also imply having been a heroin junkie:

We lived in a port city and a lot of heroin comes through there and it became an epidemic. My roommate was a junkie, my girlfriend was a junkie and I was.


In 2012, Marc Canter would say that Duff's girlfriend back in Seattle died of an overdose in Duff's arms:

Duff was never going to have a problem with heroin simply because his girlfriend died of a heroin overdose in his arms when he was 15.  Whatever Duff did, and I’m aware he did some bad things, I know he would not touch heroin.


He had also "smoked pot by Grade 4 and snorted cocaine by Grade 7" [Music West by 3-D, 1997].

Duff tried crack cocaine for the first time in February 1986 when he and Slash were with Robert John to go through photographs [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 108].

Curiously, Mark Plunkett, who played bass in the band Little Angels and opened for Guns N' Roses in June 1987 when the band played at the Marquee in London, would claim he had witnessed Duff with a syringe sticking out of his arm [The Guardian, March 13, 2004]. This is likely not correct, and more likely Plunkett mistook Duff for another band member if not the history is entirely made up.

But alcohol quickly became Duff's demon.

My old man gave me some whiskey when I was real little. It was a Hawaiian whiskey, and it had this long Hawaiian name, and he said, “Take a swig and pronounce the name.” And after about four swigs I couldn’t pronounce the name because I was too drunk. That’s a true story.

[Duff] can’t survive without a drink first thing in the morning.



INSPIRING THE SIMPSONS


According to himself, not long after being signed to Geffen Records in March 1986, Duff was an alcoholic and Axl renamed him "Duff, the King of Beers McKagan [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 116]. Later, the animated cartoon, The Simpsons, would use "Duff" as name for a beer in the series, after having received acceptance from Duff:

In 1988 MTV aired a concert in which Axl introduced me—as usual—as Duff “the King of Beers” McKagan. Soon after, a production company working on a new animated series called me to ask if they could use the name “Duff” for a brand of beer in the show. I laughed and said of course, no problem. The whole thing sounded like a low-rent art project or something—I mean, who made cartoons for adults? Little did I know that the show would become The Simpsons and that within a few years I would start to see Duff beer glasses and gear everywhere we toured.

We played this show on MTV and Axl [Rose] introduced me as "Duff The King of Beers." The band was kind of blowing up and they called me to use my name. I thought it was an adult cartoon, like an art project, and that it was the weirdest thing that they wanted to use my name. I didn't know anything about branding or licensing. I was 23. I was like, "Yeah, cool."




Duff Beer from The Simpsons



Duff would later accept he lost money on this but be fine with it:

I knew nothing about branding yourself then or the royalties off it. I just thought cool, they wanna use my name and boom, The Simpsons was born. Yeah, if I had a nickel for every time… but it's fine.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:49 pm

AUGUST 30, 1986
THE BAND OUTSHINES NUGENT AT THE SANTA MONICA CIVIC CENTER


The band was gaining in popularity and played increasingly high-status gigs, the first was with Ted Nugent on the Santa Monica Civic Center on August 30. Slash and Izzy had just returned to Los Angeles after their trip to San Francisco [see previous chapter] and were late to the gig because they needed to score dope:

We came back from a trip to San Francisco, got back to our apartment and we couldn't get any dope. Danny Biral stole all my smack, but he didn't tell us and so we searched the house. We tore it to pieces looking for it, then we got really sick and our dealer wouldn't call us back. We were freaking out. So, we're getting sicker and sicker and finally one of Desi's girlfriends found some smack. She drove us down to Izzy's old apartment where this girl was staying, and we waited around until the smack showed up. We do it really quick, jump in this car and fly across town. We get to the gig and my zipper broke as we were jumping over the fence to get into the auditorium. We got there five seconds before we were supposed to walk on. Not making it would have been the worst thing because it was the biggest gig we ever did. That was a scary moment.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


The show was a big success with Axl claiming that Ted Nugent tried to turn their sound down because they were rocking so hard, and also that he hit on Erin [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. L.A. Weekly said of the band, "These bangers have the chops; now, if they can only ditch some of the bombas and hollow histrionics that reduced a potentially great set to only marginal acceptability" [L.A. Weekly, September 12, 1986].


Review in L.A. Weekly, September 12, 1986



1991: NUGENT ATTACKS AXL


After the St. Louis riot in 1991, when Axl had attacked a fan that took photographs of him during the concert, Nugent would slam Axl, possibly in retaliation:

If I was as ugly as Axl Rose, I’d be pissed off about cameras going off in my face. But seeing as I’m handsome to the point of embarrassment, you better bring your cameras while you can! The Damn Yankees are damn photogenic! Not only that, you’re not supposed to take photos of an axle, you're supposed to grease it.


In an interview in 2020, Nugent would be all complimentary about the band as he recalled the show:

[...] I remember when Guns N' Roses - I think it was one of the first gigs - they opened up for us at the Santa Monica Civic Center.

I think it was probably around '84, maybe, Anyhow, I could tell as soon as they hit the stage - whoa!

[...]

What I saw in Guns N' Roses that night, it reminded me, not that I needed it, that the pulsations of a garage band virtually uninhibited with youthful enthusiasm can still deliver a Little Richard firestorm.

Guns N' Roses that night, I went, 'Whoa, who the hell are these guys?!' This frontman [Axl Rose], this is like Mick Jagger meets Steven Tyler, meets Jim Dandy!

And boy, those are all powerful graphic references, aren't they? I saw what they were doing, I watched what Slash was doing, and the groove of the bass and drums, and the interplay - Stones-like interplay, Beatles-like interplay, The Who, Zeppelin...

Really the best stuff. So I really went, "Whoa, Guns N' Roses, I'm gonna keep my eye on these sons of bitches 'cause they got the piss, they got the fire, they got the uninhibitedness."

[...]

But they still created killer music; they deserve all the love, and reference, and respect for their musical authority.

They have musical authority and I reserve that accolade for a select number of musical forces.

Because you can play great music and you can be a killer band with some hit songs, but to have musical authority, it's got to exude what's in your guts.

And the Guns N' Roses guys really delivered that. So I've always admired that band.
Rock Talk with Mitch Lafon, December 3, 2020[/url]


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:50 pm

SLASH AND HEROIN


Slash's father was an alcoholic [Musician, December 1988] and Slash picked up the habit, too and he would later agree to having an addictive personality [Melody Maker, August 10, 1991].

He started with drugs before he became a teenager and would mention a story where one of his mother's boyfriend got high with him:

I think I was 12. Yeah, 12. [...] my mom didn’t know anything about that. She wouldn’t have allowed it. At some point he came to me and he’s like, “You know, I know you do this stuff.” He was a photographer – and, you know, misery loves company and he needed somebody to get high with or whatever it was. And we’d go in the dark room and he’d get me loaded, and then we’d go out and hang out all night- [...] Yeah, around 12 years old. We’d go out and pillage the neighborhood until about 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning. Then I would come home, pretend that I was asleep, and then get up and go to school.


In an interview in 1995, he would talk about selling quaaludes when he was 14 [Musician Magazine, March 1995]. In a later interview he would talk about selling quaaludes outside at The Fear shows in Los Angeles [Kerrang! 1996]. He might have referred to this in a later interview:

I'd a lot of jobs, at some point there was a little hustling involved as far as like, a little bit of drugs, a little bit of this and that, but prior to that it was just, you know, I kept a straight job for a while.


Marc Canter would mention how when he and Slash became friends again after having been separated, when Slash was 16, he was already an alcoholic:

[Drug use] is something that I saw a lot of my friends do when I was 12 and 13 and by the time I was 15 the friends I was hanging around with weren’t really doing any drugs. Some were still smoking pot but it didn’t really phase me. That whole scene was dead and gone but when I met Slash the second time around he was already drinking alcohol on a regular basis, so he was pretty much an alcoholic, he was drinking alcohol every day. [...] [Slash was] 16 years old the second time around. Cause when I was with him from 11-13 there was nothing, we were just having fun, kids on the streets. Somehow by the time he was 15 he must have started drinking, and so, guess that makes him an alcoholic. He was drinking just to stay alive, literally, because if he didn’t drink he’d shake.


Later, Slash would claim he started with drugs because of a girl:

I never did it in the first place to be cool, I got pulled into it by some chick.


According to Axl, Slash trashed two rented vans while intoxicated, something that would be commented on in the thank yous on the Appetite for Destruction sleeve [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]. Drunk driving was also a habit Slash would admit to [Kerrang! December 1988].

You get warned that when you go on the road, people will try and push shit on you – drugs and booze. In this instance we’re going to push it on them. Me and Duff have been on this drinking phase for about two years. When we get up in the afternoon to do a soundcheck, we drink so much that we can’t play, because our hands are shaking like windmills. So what happens? We drink! We drink more and more, and then we’re fine, and we wake up the next day with some floosie, and you don’t know her name, and you’ve got fucking weird shit on your dick, and your bed’s all wet from pissing in it, and you go, “listen, will you do me a favour and find me some booze and some pizza?


Slash started using heroin soon after Guns N' Roses was formed [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 95]. Raz Cue would note that Slash used heroin not long after the band had signed with Geffen in March 1986 [Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 238]. Slash himself would confirm that he started soon after joining GN'R:

I started [with heroin] sometime during the very beginnings of the band. I got turned on to it, and that was the beginning of the end, I guess. The first time I did it, I smoked it, and then I snorted it once. But the first time I really got high, I shot. I was that kind of junkie — snorting it wasn’t enough and smoking it wasn’t enough. Anyway, it’s one of those drugs where it’s a great high and you love being on it, and it really fucks your life up. It’s unfortunate that something as fucking menial as a little pile of powder can do that, but it does happen.

There was probably a year long period when Guns N' Roses had established itself as the biggest band in LA. Our lifestyle was definitely about as decadent as it could possibly be. This was 1985, '86, before we were signed. I got turned on to shooting heroin - as opposed to snorting it. And that changed me entirely. I fell so in love with that drug. For the whole period of us getting a record deal I was slamming heroin. But I hadn’t picked up the full habit yet. It was still a new thing. I could do it once and be high for three or four days. It was great.

[The heroin use] was sort of on and off. There was a heavy point in the beginning, and then it was like a whenever-you-can-get-it kind of thing. But, yeah, by that point we were pretty strung out. At least Izzy and I were. There was a period of about a year, after we got our record deal and before we went into the studio, when the band didn’t do anything. During that period we were partying pretty hard. We were looking in all different directions for any kind of entertainment. Plus, they gave us a little bit of money, which at the time seemed like a lot.

My biggest saving grace was probably that I was so committed to guitar playing. No matter how crazy I got, I always had that focus to keep me together. It [was] a huge priority that took precedence over everything. That’s what kept me from going down the toilet like most people do when they go to that extreme.


Marc Canter would suggest Slash and Steven got turned onto heroin around the time the band got signed:

As far as the drugs go, that was really Izzy’s doing.  He and his girlfriend were the drug addicts and I never really liked him at that point because I was just totally not at all into that whole scene.  Slash was always drinking but it was never a problem really.  Right around the time they got signed Izzy and his girl Desi’s habits sort of influenced or wore on Steven and Slash and that became an issue.


Steven would later claim Slash started with it because he was tired of waiting for Axl to record Appetite, and curiously also seem to suggest it happened after they had toured for audiences of 20-30,000 per night, but according to the quotes above, it seems Slash started with heroin prior to the recording of Appetite and certainly prior to them playing to such large audiences:

Heroin was something that Slash was doing, because we came off that huge tour 20,000-30,000 people per night, and we were waiting to go in to the studio, and Axl kept delaying it..... it was just something people were doing.


But Slash's drug problems soon became a problem:

There was a point where I fuckin' stopped playing guitar and didn't even talk to my band except for Izzy, 'cause we were both doing it. I didn't come out of the apartment for three months, except to go to the market. The one thing that really stopped me was a phone call from Duff saying, 'You've alienated yourself from everybody.' Since they're the only people I'm really close to, that really affected me, and I finally quit.


The band's song 'Mr. Brownstone' was written by Izzy and Slash while high on heroin, in fact right after Slash had suffered an overdose. Desi Craft would describe how it happened:

One time, Slash came to our place on Orchid with a lump of Mexican tar heroin and he wanted to cook it all up. Izzy and I told him to just do a little bit because there was this death tar going around. He said it was okay and shot up. Well, he pretty much went rigor mortis in the chair and we got him on the floor. I gave him mouth-to-mouth and I remember him going "Is this death or is this an angel I'm seeing?", because he was so out of it. Right after that we wrote "Mr. Brownstone."
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


When the band started playing 'Mr. Brownstone' in August 1986, Axl would warn about the dangers of heroin. On August 23, at the Whisky, he said, "I think you should stay the fuck away from that bad shit" [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. At the time, both Slash and Izzy had a heroin dependency that affected the band. On this very gig Slash had acquired his signature top hat and would refer to being really high at the show but that the top hat helped his balance [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. It is likely Axl was frustrated by their addiction and that he indirectly stated this from the stage.

At one point, Slash ended up in jail after getting caught driving with drug paraphernalia:

[...] in fact I even bailed them out of jail. I bailed Slash out of jail once for getting pulled over with a rig in his car. I really felt like leaving him in jail cause I felt like bad things would happen and maybe he wouldn’t want… but I kinda did the math on it and I realized that it’s not going to stop him from doing what he was doing. I realized that I might as well bail him out of jail.


Axl would also reach out to friends and families to try to get Slash to calm down on the "excesses", including Marc Canter:

[...] I think there’s been many times that Axl has reached out to different people like my mom or my dad or girlfriend or Marc or something like that. But nobody wants to try and tell me what to do so it is very uncomfortable.


As mentioned above, Slash's problems got so bad he decided to sober up, and this happened before they released 'Appetite' and went on tour:

And the drug thing is like, we’re not stupid, you know? I’ve never let anything get in the way of my career as far as playing goes. So when I did have my serious bout with drugs, I quit before it really screwed me up. And, well, I’m lucky I did it at a time when we were, like, sort of dormant, you know, after having the record deal and going through producers. There was a lot of time that I just sat around and indulged in, you know, whatever. […] [Quitting drugs] was hard, you know. It was hard, but... you know.

Being an impatient sort of workaholic type, before the band went on the road and before the record came out, we had our problems. Then I cleaned up […].


Axl likely refer to Slash cleaning up in the quote below and indicate that Slash left Los Angeles to accomplish it:

A lot of people just could not break their heroin habits, and a lot of them had to leave California altogether to break their drug habits.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:50 pm

SEPTEMBER 13 AND 20, 1986
MUSIC MACHINE AND THE LA STREET SCENE FESTIVAL


On September 5, Axl and Zutaut attended the MTV Music Awards show [L.A. Weekly, September 12, 1986].

The next show was at the Music Machine on September 13.


Poster for the Music Machine show on September 13, 1986


Then the band returned to the LA Street Scene Festival on September 20:

LA Street Scene was a blast.

After a long day of other bands playing, we got onstage and started playing, and the kids took that as the signal to just lose it. It was cool, we had all these skinheads throwing oil barrels and playing catch with them, tossing them across the crowd. They were tearing the stage from underneath and all kinds of stuff. After the fourth song, we had so many people onstage we didn't know who was the band or what. Well, the fire marshal shut us down, that was it. The fans, or whoever they were, were really cool. I go in for that shit. That's my big kick - the more hardcore, the more I get off on it.

We were scheduled to open for Poison, who were headlining one of the bigger stages. It was going to be our biggest high-profile gig to date, and we were ready to blow Poison off the stage. In the end we didn't even have to: we got up there and played, and everybody went nuts, climbing the scaffolding and pushing the stage to and fro in excitement. By the time we were done, the fire marshals decided to close the place down. I remember seeing Poison roll up in all their glitter, ready to go on but unable to. I was quite pleased to see them all dressed up with no stage to play.
Slash's autobiography, page 128-129

We played the Los Angeles “Street Scene” concert for 5,000 people in downtown L.A. We only got to do 4 songs before the crowd went crazy on us. […] We did a song called They’re Out To Get Me and the kids started throwing 60-gallon oil drums at the cops. The crowd went fuckin’ bananas. All these kids – punk rockers, heavy metal kids, everyone – just going nuts. If I could have said, “Tear up downtown!” all of downtown L.A. would have been rubble! But the fire marshals made us stop playing ‘cause all those oil drums were spilling liquid into the electrical system and we were gonna get fried if we stayed onstage. That would have been really heavy!

They knocked the place down and they were climbing up onstage.



The band at LA Street Scene Festival, 1986


-------------------------------------------------

Move to later section:

At some point in time Geffen held a party likely in honor of Peter Gabriel and his hit single "Sledgehammer" (likely late 1986 or early 1987). Slash had an interview earlier in the afternoon (and got so drunk he peed on his pants), and when he came to the party and was given a real sledgehammer (like a commemorative item), he went out in the parking lot and, for unknown reasons, proceeded to throw it through one of the Geffen windows. Unfortunately, he threw it through the windows of an adjacent building belonging to someone else [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987].


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:51 pm

06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Newbor11
SONG: ROCKET QUEEN
Album:
Appetite for Destruction, 1987, track no. 12.


Written by:
Lyrics: Axl Rose.
Music: Duff McKagan and Slash.


Musicians:
Vocals: Axl Rose; lead guitar: Slash; rhythm guitar: Izzy Stradlin; bass: Duff McKagan; drums: Steven Adler.

Live performances:
The song was played live for the first time on September 20, 1986, at The Troubadour, USA. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {ROCKETSONGS} times.
Lyrics:

If I say I don't need anyone
I can say these things to you
'Cause I can turn on any one
Just like I turned on you
I've got a tongue like a razor
A sweet switchblade knife
And I can do you favors
But then you'll do whatever I like
     
Here I am
And you're a Rocket Queen
I might be a little young
But honey I ain't naive

Here I am
And you're a Rocket Queen oh yeah
I might be too much
But honey you're a bit obscene

I've seen everything imaginable
Pass before these eyes
I've had everything that's tangible
Honey you'd be surprised
I'm a sexual innuendo
In this burned out paradise
If you turn me on to anything
You better turn me on tonight
     
Here I am
And you're a Rocket Queen
I might be a little young
But honey I ain't naive

Here I am
And you're a Rocket Queen oh yeah
I might be too much
But honey you're a bit obscene

I see you standing
Standing on your own
It's such a lonely place for you
For you to be

If you need a shoulder
Or if you need a friend
I'll bee here standing
Until the bitter end

No one needs the sorrow
No one needs the pain
I hate to see you
Walking out there
Out in the rain
So don't chastise me
Or think I, I mean you harm
Of those that take you
Leave you strung out
Much too far
Baby-yeah

Don't ever leave me
Say you'll always be there
All I ever wanted
Was for you
To know that I care


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Writing the song:

[...] as we developed songs, we put a lot of emphasis on anything that veered away from the main melody - we all felt that diverging from a good tune was only justifiable if the other part was just as good. That meant we rejected cookie-cutter songwriting that demanded bridges for bridges' sake and strictly delineated between verses and choruses. Instead we only went places we really felt strongly about. There's a reason the codas in songs like 'Rocket Queen,' 'Paradise City,' or 'Patience' sound so distinctive - we didn't feel compelled to add them; we were just so excited about certain ideas that, working together, day after day, we found ways to incorporate them.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 96-97

I wrote this song for this girl who was gonna have a band and she was gonna call it Rocket Queen. She kinda kept me alive for a while. The last part of the song is my message to this person, or anybody else who can get something out of it. It's like there's hope and a friendship note at the end of the song. For that song there was also something I tried to work out with various people - a recorded sex act. It was somewhat spontaneous but premeditated; something I wanted to put on the record.
Hit Parader, March 1988

'Rocket Queen' was inspired by a riff I came up with when I first met Duff. It was one of the more complicated arrangements on what became our album, mostly because we had to integrate the riff with Axl's more melodic chorus. The song is based on our mutual friend Barbie, who even at eighteen had a notorious reputation.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York

That was a riff I had when Duff and I first hooked up. We had a band together with Steven way before Guns started. We had that riff, and at some point I brought it back into the band. The chorus was something that Axl had been working on that had nothing to do with the rest of the song, but we somehow managed to incorporate it.

It was a pretty interesting operation because the chorus was in a completely different key. I remember when we played it live I would have my roadie bring me my slide, but by the time that song came up in the set, he'd be drunk. And by the time he got it on my finger, the solo section would be over [laughs]. It was very Spinal Tap.
Guitar Edge Magazine, March 2007

Oh, but there's a song on the album, a really cool riff-based song called Rocket Queen, and the origins of that came from Road Crew—that was Duff, Steven and me.
Leslie West interviews Slash, August 2017


Introducing the song:

We got a brand new for you. This isn't much, but it's the best I can do. This song is for Barbie. This is 'Rocket Queen'.
The Troubadour, September 20, 1985

I wanna dedicate this song, like I always do, to a person who helps me make it through every time it takes to get to another fucking show. Helps keep me alive. This song is for Barbie, it's called 'Rocket Queen'.
The Troubadour, February 28, 1986

This is basic instruction on how to be a bitch and get away with it in style. This is called ' Rocket Queen'.
Gazzarri's, May 31, 1986


Talking about the song:

I normally don't think about [the creative process]. I go in and sort of adapt. When I'm practising at home, I like to play a lot of chromatic stuff. I stop in between different notes and come up with different ideas and stuff. I'll play however many notes in succession, and all of a sudden I'll catch four and realise there's something there...and I'll start fucking with that. Rocket Queen is indicative of that approach - basically just sitting around and playing, maybe zoning out, watching TV and playing guitar at the same time. All of a sudden, the ear catches something. Welcome To The Jungle has a lot of that, too. It's more or less the same kind of way I've always written; if I'm just tying notes together, not really paying attention, when you catch onto something you start there and begin working on an actual tune.
Total Guitar, January 1997

A true Spinal Tap moment was when we performed at Wembley in London (UK) back in July 2006. We’re doing the intro to 'Rocket Queen' and we suddenly see the crew bringing out these low long platforms on either end of the stage and we’re looking at each other like “What the hell are they doing?”. We head into the main part of the song and the crew comes back out and takes them away.  We were a bit baffled by that. Then we noticed there were about two dozen ‘little people’ dressed up in red and blue outfits hangin’ out along the wall back stage. Turns out that management wanted us to play an extended intro to 'Rocket Queen' and have all the li’l folks get on the mini-stages behind us and dance throughout. Just nobody told us. A little breakdown in communication, so yeah that’s a Spinal Tap moment, haha.
Alternative Matter, April 2011


06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Newbor11


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:51 pm

OCTOBER 1986
ALAN NIVEN BECOMES THE BAND'S MANAGER


The band ended their management relationship with Arnold Stiefel from Stiefel Entertainment in June 1986 [Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1986]. Then, according to Spencer Proffer in Marc Canter's book "Reckless Road", they were managed by Randy Philips and Arthur Stevac for a while [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

In October, Alan Niven was brought in by Tom Zutaut [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007] to handle the unruly band. Zutaut and Niven knew each other from having previously worked on Motley Crue's signing with Elektra Records [Classic Rock, March 2009].

According to an interview from 1997, Niven was contacted already in "the summer of 1986":

[Retelling what Zutaut told him]: 'The group is so out of control that there are serious mumblings within the company that maybe it would be cheaper to drop them now before we try and make a record.' So I said at that point, 'If you need help badly, I will do what I can.'

But because they were notoriously and seriously fucked up – and had a reputation for being unprofessional hellions – no one wanted to get involved. No one wanted to invest their time and money into a bunch of addicts and destructive assholes who would probably self-destruct as a band, overdose, or piss off the record company who would then exact revenge and end their career.

Tom had been to all the big-time management firms and had been turned down. Bernstein and Mensch. Tim Collins. Rod Stewart’s management gave it a go but were failing and bailing. Tom actually asked me on three separate occasions to meet the band but I was sceptical.

It had taken a year-and-a-half to get back in the saddle. I wasn’t about to let this situation get fucked up by spreading myself too thin. I was just a one-man operation; no offices, no secretary, no receptionist, no go-fers, no limos. I also had a pregnant wife. So I said no to Tom twice.

With Guns N' Roses, I was very aware of what I was taking on. Tom Zutaut asked me three times separate times to come talk to the band and I turned him down twice. I had done some research on the band and my attitude towards Tom was ‘good luck. You’ve got a disaster on your hand with this crew’ and then he came to me and said ‘Alan, I’ve got a disaster on my hands. Eddie Rosenblatt is threatening to drop the band and I’m going to lose my job. I’ve got egg all over my face and this will be the end of my career. Please see if you can help.” I knew I was taking on something that was going to be very difficult. What I didn’t know at the time was that Eddie Rosenblatt had given Tom Zutaut a dictum that I had three months to turn the situation around and had to make it look professionally productive or the band was going to be dropped. That, Tom, did not tell me and my sense when the record was done was that they were not going to get airplay because they were too raw for what was on the airways at that time. It wasn’t that much before that that Great White were considered edgy and here’s Guns N' Roses. I thought that if I kept a minimalistic professional environment around the band… If I was able to keep them touring long enough around the first record then I thought there might be just a slight chance that they would reach the gold standard of 500 000 units sold. And that was a big ‘if’ to me.

When Tom Zutaut (Geffen A&R) came and asked me, for the third time, to talk with the band, things were in pretty poor shape. The band had already blown their advance, divvied up a significant amount of money on Zutaut’s office floor, stuffed it into their boots and gone and raged down the length and breadth of Sunset Boulevard. Their hellion rep was absolutely deserved and Ed Rosenblatt (President of Geffen) apparently told Zoots I had but three months to get matters productive. Zoots forgot to mention the time limit to me as it happens. I had, at first, been reluctant to divide my focus. I had another band newly signed to Capitol and secondly after doing some research into GnR I thought Zoots had bitten off more than anyone could chew. But he was desperate to get help with them, all other major management firms having passed on the band. So I agreed to take a meeting and go see them and I caught the vibe from Izzy and Duff.

I had met the band through Tom Zutaut at Geffen, who had originally signed them. I had been managing Great White at the time, and my wife was Zutaut’s assistant. Tom asked me to take at look at Guns N’ Roses, and at the time I didn’t want to do it. I had just got Great White signed despite the band’s abysmal relationships with a lot people in Los Angeles, particularly at Capitol Records, and I thought by managing Guns N’ Roses, it would divert attention from what I was doing with Great White. [...] no one wanted to manage Guns N’ Roses at the time, and Zutaut was getting desperate.  A lot of managers had turned them down. They looked at Cliff Burnstein, they looked at Peter Mensch, they looked Tim Collins, who was Aerosmith’s manager. They looked at a guy who was managing Rod Stewart at the time, I think. I think they guy who was managing Rod Stewart was managing them but had let them go. Tom came to me and said they just could not find a manager, and he kept asking me. By then, I had done some research on Guns N’ Roses, and no surprise, they were a disaster. I knew what I was getting into: Half the band were smack addicts, and they had already gone through $75,000 in cash with no releasable master recordings. They should have had money but they were dead broke. Eddie Rosenblatt, the president of Geffen at the time, was going to drop the band. Tom asked me a second time, and I said no. Then a third time. Tom said: “Look, as a friend, Alan, I am going to have egg on my face. This will end my career at Geffen. I’m desperate for help.” So at this point, as a friend, I said OK, I would take a look. I remember Rod Stewart’s management, at the time, couldn’t wait to get rid of Guns N’ Roses. The band had rented a house up in the Hollywood hills, and they had devastated that place.


But eventually Niven went to the Troubadour to see the band:

So I went to see them at the Troubadour, and there was Axl running around in a fuckin’ kilt with big, 80s hair. On the other hand, Izzy just oozed this Keef-like cool and played great synchopated rhythm parts. He and Duff on their side of the stage held the whole thing together and their attitude had an irresistible Stonesy groove about it.

Tom gave me a demo tape and you could hear that Slash could play. In fact I still love some of his playing on that cassette. And Axl had that voice: totally distinct – like Ethel Merman on helium. They weren’t going to be a Journey or a Def Leppard, that was for sure. And I wasn’t sure how radio would take to them, if at all. They were far too fuckin’ raw – Great White were considered ‘edgy’ in those days. But it was a real band, and I figured that if they could be held together, made functionally professional, and if I could get them to tour, then maybe they could make a mark as an underground band. Maybe even get to gold status in sales and build from there. If anyone says they knew then that this band were going to be as huge as they became, they are either certifiable or a liar.

[...]

From a calculating, professional perspective, I knew that the situation was so fucked up I couldn’t be blamed for making it worse, and if I got something done with them then I would have further proven my chops. And I figured I had a decent shot: I had the power of an English accent, and I wasn’t a typical Hollyweird manager. I just had to get through to the band.


Niven went to meet the band at their house in the Hollywood Hills [The DeMille house, see an earlier chapter]:

There was a smashed toilet lying in the drive. Some stripper I vaguely knew from the Sunset scene was coming out the front door – and only Iz and Slash had turned up for the meeting.

So we sit at the dining table and Iz proceeds to nod out – loaded! See ya! Slash says: ‘Come on, I gotta show you something,’ and lurches off into his bedroom. In the corner is this glass case that has this huge snake in it. Now, I have this ungodly fear of snakes – I cannot stand the fuckers – so it seems like it takes up the whole side of the room. Slash suddenly produces this cute little white rabbit and drops it into the tank. The snake suddenly springs to life and swallows this fur ball whole. Inside I am just losing it but I stay cool. I think I passed the initial Iz and Slash tests right there: I didn’t freak out on either of them.

I went up to this house. I don’t quite remember which street it was on, not Coldwater or Laurel but a little more east. The first thing I saw when I was coming up, a well-known stripper was just leaving. She passed right by me, and as I approached the front door, there was a broken toilet, a shitter, right by the front door. It was all in pieces. [...] It was actually a really nice house, but it wasn’t being treated well. But first of all, for my first meeting, I had scheduled a meeting with the whole band, and all of two of them were there. [...]  Izzy and Slash. Izzy proceeded to nod out, and Slash spent the afternoon trying to entertain me by feeding little white rabbits to this big snake. I think he sensed I have a pathological fear of snakes. Slash was fucking with me.


Niven would join Izzy and Slash in the studio and help mix some demos:

Anyway, we all ended up spending a little time together right away because they were in the studio working on demos, so I went over there and ended up helping them mix them. These were the tracks for the “Live Like a Suicide” record. They were signed to Geffen, but it hadn’t come out yet.


Niven met Axl later:

The first time I met him he was aloof, reserved and somewhat formal. He gave off this suspicious and superior vibe.


Alan was originally meant to just help out with getting the EP Live! Like A Suicide out [KNAC, December 1986]. Niven proved to be the perfect man for the job:

[…] Tom [Zutaut] hired his long time associate Alan Niven to manage - i.e. control -- the day-to-day details of the band while they searched for a new producer. Like a chameleon; Alan could hang with the guys, then shape-shift into a straight-laced rep for the press or get the band out of any trouble. He kept the band away from bad influences, organized their schedules and managed the growing concerns of the record company. Although his role was more toward management, he was in tune with the sound and feel Guns N' Roses wanted to accomplish on the album and wasn't afraid to voice his opinion. The band trusted him.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Alan Niven was [later?] part of Stravinski Brothers Management, together with Doug Goldstein [Kerrang! March 1989]. Niven became their manager and Goldstein would later become their tour manager.

Geffen assigned a personal manager for us, Alan Niven. He was a big, shit-talking tough guy with a British accent. He was also currently managing the established L.A. band Great White. I know the guys were hoping for Doug Taylor or Doc McGee to manage us, because they managed huge acts like Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. But Alan was raw and hungry and we would be there for us. We all liked him. He was uncompromising and brutally driven [...] and he was gonna bust ass, get us busy, and get us to the top.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 109-110

Alan Niven was the first guy that could deal with us at face value as we presented ourselves. Without getting squeamish or bullshitting us, he could deal with Izzy and I being strung out. He could deal with Steven being Steven. Duff was always on the even-keep and then there were Axl's idiosyncrasies. […] Alan handled all of that with a shrug of the shoulders. […] And he had good ideas and we looked  at where he was coming from and how it related to the band and how it all worked. All things considered, he was just the right guy at the right time.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


As for whether than band's addictions made Niven consider to not manage the band:

Let’s take a look at Eric Clapton. He lost years to alcohol, he almost killed himself on heroin. Does that make him any less of a talent? He got through it. Gerry, I could tell Guns N’ Roses was a real rock and roll band. I thought if I could just institute a minimal sense of professionalism …. I don’t know. [...] I grew up in a time when artificial euphoria was taken in the interest of consciousness expansion. I can see where that has a place, being an artist. My rule is this: Never let anything own you.


The band was initially very happy with Alan as their manager:

Alan does more work in one day than any of these so-called professional big-time people that we have worked with. We've got a lot of work to do, and we need work done, too. [...] we need someone doing the job.


The band would remark that one of the reasons they like him is that when “he took us out for drinks [at Barney’s Beanery], he showed us he could drink as much or more than we do" [Rock Scene, September 1987].

Although later, after having been fired as the manager by Axl, Niven would claim that he immediately got in problems with Axl:

From the very beginning my relationship with Axl was often strained. He couldn't stand the fact that I managed other acts apart from him and the group. His failure to show for the very first gig after signing a management contract rather set the tone.


The very first show with Niven as their manager was the infamous Santa Barbara gig opening for Alice Cooper [see next chapter], where Axl failed to show up on time resulting in the band having to do the show without him. This would be an ominous start to Axl and Niven's relationship.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:52 pm

STEVEN, ESCAPING WITH DRUGS


Steven had also started with drugs early. In his memoirs he talks about starting with weed at age eleven, at the same age he was kicked out from home and had to live with his grandma.

It started for me when I was 11, the first time I smoked pot, which I just so happen to enjoy. [Laughs] When I did it, it was something I really liked. I thought I found God when I smoked pot. But when you're a kid, you think you know everything.


After that he lived a reckless life in Los Angeles filled with drinking, smoking and sex. He started prostituting himself at an early age for drugs [see previous chapter] and at age 14 he was raped by an older man after having been led to an apartment with the promise of weed. At age 14 he would move back to his mom and stepfather, only to be kicked out again at age 15 and moved to a foster home in Pasadena, from which he immediately fled. He then went back home but was kicked out again and moved back to his grandma [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010].

He tried crack cocaine and heroine for the first time in 1984, at Bob Welch's house in the Hollywood Hills, when he was handed a pipe from Bob's friend Ted and later a wad of heroin to smoke [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 66-67]:

I have always been a pot head. [...] The first time I did [heroin], I was 17 or 18 and I got so sick from it. I was like “what are you guys messing around with this crap for?” I got so sick. A year later I did it again, not remembering how sick I got the first time from it.

I had inhaled crack and exhaled my soon-to-be shattered soul. It was the first time I smoked the shit. As I sat there, an incredibly powerful urge came over me. I have never experienced such a dire need to get high again. Right away. Now. And this was only about ten seconds after that first incredible high. All I knew, all I cared about, was that I wanted the feeling to last longer. So I continued to hit the pipe. I didn't know it then, but at that very moment I had tasted the beginning of the end.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 67


Later on [sometime in 1986?] Steven would walk in on Izzy and Slash shooting heroin in Izzy's apartment behind Grauman's Chinese Theater in the heart of Hollywood. Steven did not want to use needles, and instead smoked heroin like he had done at Welch's house, and got sick again [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 97].

And the thing is, the first two times I tried it I never used a needle, i was like no way, and they said, you don't need to use a needle you can just smoke it. The first two times, I was so sick, and as sick as it sounds, I did it again. I was waking up every morning and not having something wonderful and exciting like a gig to do, I started to get down, a real depression, like a valium down, and time flies when you get on heroin, that's why I got in to it, I kind of took it to make the time go by.


Under testimony during the Adler vs. GN'R trial in August 1993, Duff would claim that he warned Steven against using heroin the first time he saw him doing it [The Reno Gazette, August 24, 1993].

Marc Canter would suggest Slash and Steven started with heroin around the time the band got signed, and that they were influenced by Izzy:

As far as the drugs go, that was really Izzy’s doing.  He and his girlfriend were the drug addicts and I never really liked him at that point because I was just totally not at all into that whole scene.  Slash was always drinking but it was never a problem really.  Right around the time they got signed Izzy and his girl Desi’s habits sort of influenced or wore on Steven and Slash and that became an issue.


Duff recalls that Steven at one time said to him, "You know, all I want in life is to make enough money one day so I can have a bag of good weed and a big ball of crack around-all the time" [source?].

I think Stevie was willing to try anything that might dull the memories of his nightmarish childhood. Poor fucker.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 116


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:52 pm

WEST ARKEEN


One of the more relevant friends of the band from their early days was Aaron West Arkeen. West was a great friend of Axl and Duff and would co-write a few of the band's songs ("It's So Easy," "Bad Obsession", "The Garden", and "Yesterdays").

Axl liked writing songs with West. He liked kicking it while West played guitar.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 85


West was also putting together a demo tape with his own songs with Axl singing on at least some of them, including "Crash Diet" and "Sentimental Movie":

I didn't have anything to do with "Sentimental Movie". Axl and West Arkeen plus maybe Izzy recorded that one night when we were all hanging out at "Hell House". That's a house we all used to squat at. I can't remember if I put a solo on it or not.

'Crash Diet' is a REALLY old song that was kicked around back in the old days. I don't know who wrote that, but it is definitely old.


Later, Slash would talk about not writing with West:

I was good friends with West, but I never wrote with him. We hung out and jammed a couple of times but there was only a couple of songs I was ever around where I was there with Axl and we were all playing together. West and Axl and Del and Duff, that was more what that was like. I didn’t mind. As long as the song was good and I could do something with it. I remember It’s So Easy being one of those songs that when I first heard in its original form I was like, ‘whatever’, but then I got to it and changed it to what it sounds more like now. I remember The Garden being really good. But no, I didn’t mind too much. I was usually too preoccupied doing whatever debauched shit I was doing. If everybody was busy doing that, nobody was looking over my shoulder while I was doing what I was doing.




West Arkeen



In late 1988, when asked who his favorite musicians are, Axl answered "David Lank and West Arkeen" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988].

Axl would also plan to play in a side-band with West and Duff called "Smith & Wesson":

I write with a guy named Wes now and then. We're gonna record an album. I talked to a couple people in the Cult and Cinderella about playing on it. It's something he and I and Duff do. We call it Smith & Wesson.


Axl spent a lot of time hanging out with West and they would be filmed playing together at the Scrap Bar in New York City in July 1989.

Axl would also talk about West in interviews:

West gets all drunk. He was getting drunk every day. He got thrown out of the bar and cut off more times than anybody in history. And, like, all these actors, Nick Nolte and stuff, have partied there for years. So they’ve dealt with all this before but West would get cut off for breakfast, cut off for lunch, cut off for dinner and then talk 'em into opening the bar at three-thirty in the morning so they can make another drink, right? And it was gnarly, right? And so he’s got this fart-ball, and he goes downstairs with it, you know, and he’s all wasted. And he’s beside this older couple and stuff and he, like, keeps doing this fart-ball and making, like, weird faces and fanning his rear end and stuff, like he just farted, like, “Oh... what was that?” And these people go, “You’re disgusting!” and they move away. OK, so then I get this call from Sean Penn, his company or what­ever – these people that work for him – and he wants me to come see an advance screening of his new movie, Casualties of War. And if I want, you know, I can bring West. So West comes up and he’s wasted. So I throw him in the fuckin' shower, help him get dressed and we headed out of there down to the lobby. And there’s this old couple there and this lady introduces herself and goes, “And this is Sean Penn’s parents and they’ll be going with you.” I said, “Hi, my name’s Axl and this is West...” And they were like, “Oh no! You’re that guy in the bar!” ’ He laughed and looked me in the eye for the first time. 'It was Sean Penn’s parents, you know... it was so great. Then we got in the back of this station-wagon, and there’s these little fold-down seats and we’re sitting on them. And, like, somebody pulled up in a car – we were trying to get out of there before these people arrived that were coming to my room – and suddenly there they were. And we were like, “Oh, fuck...” And then I went, “Oh, I'm sorry,” and Sean Penn’s dad turns round and goes, “Listen, goddamnit, don’t ever fuckin’ talk like that again, you understand me?” And then spins around and starts laughing because he just cussed me out.’ He chuckled. 'I thought it was just great. Those guys were great....
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993


Some years later, West would be the first artist the band would sign to their own label, Uzi Suicide [Raw Magazine, July 1989].

We're definitely going to sign West Arkeen (long-time friend of the band and co-writer of "It's So Easy" off Appetite) and possibly some other acts.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:53 pm

AXL AND DRUGS


Axl started off with drugs and booze much later than the rest of his band mates:

The first time I got drunk I was 16. I know I was late. I was with these three guys, and I had never smoked or taken any drugs before. We brought a case of beer, and we bought joints, and I bought 40 Valiums-10 mg Valiums for $5.00 a piece. I ate ten them, drank a bunch of beers, and smoked all these joints. Then we went to this rock concert downtown at Morris Theatre. This band called Road Master was playing. I went down to the theater, and girl goes, “You’re just too fucked “So, I tore up her ticket and threw it her. Then I went out in front of the hall and directed traffic for a while. I threw a beer at this fucking cop, so friend grabbed me and put all these different jackets on me and snuck me into the concert. It was packed. I walked in, and one of my friends passed out in the aisle. Then this guy stands up, looks at me and says, “What are you looking at?” He was a big guy; so I hit him. I saw his teeth go back down into his throat, and I ran.

Lots more happened that night. I fell out of the window of a two-story build­ing and broke my hand. I broke into an insane asylum; broke in one side and out the other because I didn’t know how to go around the building. I wrecked a bicycle that had no brakes underneath a train. Then my friend Paul put me in his car, and I went flying over another car, and my friend’s dad came running out of the house from across the street. He was going to shoot my friend because he thought that somebody was out to kill me. It was a really exciting night.


An old girlfriend in Lafayette, Gina Siler, from the period Axl was transitioning to Hollywood, would claim that the two of them, in the summer of 1982, did "a lot of hallucinogenics", yet, in 1983 through 1985, when they lived in Hollywood and had an on and off relationship, they "didn’t do drugs" [Spin, September 1991].

This might be slightly contradicted by Raz Cue who would recount that back in 1985, Axl had warmed up to intoxication:

Axl wasn't the biggest fan of weed, but that rarely stopped him. Similar to my brother and me - with a tip of the hat to Alice in Chains - his drug of choice was whatever you got.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 205


Siler also says that at "the end of 1985" she visited Axl again and was pissed because he was doing heroin. She would also claim that "when I went to see him before 'Appetite' came out" he had said to her, "I can’t wait until this album’s done, because I want to lock myself in a room for six weeks and do heroin" [Spin, September 1991].

Robert John would mention in an interview in 1989 that Axl tried shooting heroin "like a couple times and that was a few years ago" [Rock Scene, October 1989]. This is likely the same incident that Axl would refer to in an interview with RIP in April 1989 and which he in Rolling Stone in August 1989 would say happened "over two years ago":

I did it for three weeks straight and had one of the greatest times in my life, because I was with a girl I wanted to be with in this beautiful apartment, and we just sat there listening to Led Zeppelin, doing drugs and fucking. It was great, 'cause at that time I had nothing to do but sit on my ass and make a few phone calls a day. I stopped on, like, Saturday, because I had serious business to attend to on Monday. I felt like shit, sweated, shook, but on Monday I was able to function.


That Axl was able to shrug it off would be confirmed by Steven:

Of all of us, Axl seemed to be the most straitlaced. He'd drink and smoke, but I never saw him get out of control with any hard drugs.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 98


Marc Canter would confirm Axl used heroin "for a while":

Axl was even into [heroin] for a while [...]


Tracii would mention how ecstasy made Axl "mean":

Our friend Michelle was getting ecstasy long before it became a popular drug. Axl is bipolar and he was doing it; it made him mean. The guy I was living with for the past two years was now crazy.


When discussing drug use, Axl would also indicate that his consciousness was preventing him from taking it too far:

Sometimes if I do something bad and I look like I’m having fun, I then find it plays on my conscience for a long time.


An anonymous source would later state:

[Axl] went through a brief period of doing heroin when the band was really breaking. But Axl never got too far out there with anything. He was a control freak, he didn’t want to lose control.


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06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Empty Re: 06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:54 pm

ERIN EVERLY AND OTHER EARLY GIRLFRIENDS OF THE BAND


AXL AND ERIN EVERLY


In early 1986, Axl met Erin Invicta Everly at a party [People Magazine, July 18, 1994].

Our relationship is like the one Jim Morrison had with this girlfriend. My favorite book is No One Here Gets Out Alive [the biography of the Doors' legendary singer), which I've read about seven times. They were always fighting, but they were soul-mates. That's how I feel about Erin.

I met him and I thought he was strange...but I was attracted to him. [...] We have so many things in common, it's weird. No matter what happens, we're somehow always gonna be together.


Erin was the daughter of Don Everly from the famous Everly Brothers duo and Venetia Stevenson. Don Everly and Stevenson had separated and Everly did not pay child support resulting in Erin and her two siblings growing up in modest circumstances [People Magazine, July 18, 1994]. She was described as a slow learner with dyslexia who "enjoyed being home and playing with her dolls and baby brother and, as she got older, offering emotional support to her mother" [People Magazine, July 18, 1994]. At 16, Erin moved to New York City model but was back in LA in early 1986 [People Magazine, July 18, 1994]. Erin was 19-years-old at the time when she met Axl at the party [People Magazine, July 18, 1994].

It was the first relationship I had had—I felt like we were two people who didn’t have much but who had found each other. I was looking for someone who wanted to get married, have a bunch of children and a station wagon.


Axl would later write the lyrics to 'Sweet Child O' Mine' to Erin [Circus Magazine, November 1988]. Axl would also name Erin as his favorite actress [Superstar Facts & Pix, 1988].



Erin and Axl



But Erin and Axl's relationship was tumultuous from the beginning and in March 1987, Axl would call out Erin from stage:

I wanna dedicate this song to my ex-girlfriend, this is to Erin, this is called "You're Fucking Crazy".


In September 1988, it would reported that Axl had recently broken up [L.A. Weekly, September 16, 1988]. Despite this, they would soon get back together.

When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was horrible. There was a lot of turmoil between those two. And that’s all I want to say.



IZZY AND DESI CRAFT


Desi Craft, who Izzy had been dating and living with for quite a time, was booted out by Geffen Record:

The thing that sucked was when they got signed, Geffen Records warned Izzy that I wasn't of age and that it wouldn't be profitable for him to continue seeing me. They warned against him that my mother could press charges. We worked really, really hard to get the band in this position, but it was his time, so I had to accept it and let it go.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 5:54 pm

FROM RAGS TO RICHES...AND BACK AGAIN


Slash quickly spent the advance money he had received after signing with Geffen in March 1986, and was back to poverty. Rock Scene listed his worldly possessions when they met the band in mid-1987: "Clean clothes, dirty clothes, a bolo tie, magazines and equipment, all in bags" [Rock Scene, September 1987].

Izzy was not better off and would state "I’m so rich I need to borrow $20 to go out tonight" [Rock Scene, September 1987]. Izzy had also broken up with his girlfriend Desi and was without a place to live.



According to Ron Schneider, Slash also lived in the studio during the recording after having just broken up with his girlfriend [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

At this time the label had put the band members on a weekly allowance of about $100 a week [Rock Scene, September 1987].

I think they [=Geffen] like us living like this, with no money.

Slash doesn’t get a fuckin’ cent because he spent everybody else’s money on equipment.

[Talking to Mike Clink]: Do we have cash for dinner? We need food, Mr. C.


Axl, on the other hand, was said to have settled down and lived in an apartment with a girlfriend after having lived in "over 37 places, including cars" [Rock Scene, September 1987].


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06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Empty Re: 06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED

Post by Soulmonster Mon May 03, 2021 2:36 pm

OCTOBER 23, 1986
OPENING FOR ALICE COOPER AT THE ARLINGTON THEATRE BUT AXL IS MISSING


In October 1986 they were invited to open for Alice Cooper at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. This was the first show of Cooper's "The Nightmare Returns" tour that would continue into March 1987.

Slash knew Cooper from before:

The guy who used to do all Alice’s photos was good friends with my dad. My mom’s best friend did his makeup, who was my dad’s best friend’s wife. So my dad took me over to John’s – John is the photographer – studio one time, and he was shooting Alice, and that was the first time I ever met him. I probably was about 7 or something like that. But I knew who Alice Cooper was and, you know, I really liked him, because like some kids liked Kiss, I liked Alice Cooper. He had that whole look to him and all that kind of stuff, and he represented the sort of dark side of rock ‘n’ roll, so I dug him. Anyhow, and I watched him, you know, do his photo shoot, and then watched my dad, John and Alice drink more beer than I’d ever seen anybody drink, and then all get too drunk to be able to figure out how anybody was going to get home. And we ended up hanging out there until 4:00 in the morning or something (laughs); I remember falling asleep there. That was my first introduction to Alice. And then, you know, we opened for him and we got to be really good friends. In a way, he sort of took us under his wing – you know, to an extent, when we were opening for him.


For this gig, Axl again turned up late and was unable to enter the venue. The band had to do without their singer, with Izzy and Duff trading vocals.

[Before the Hammersmith Apollo show in October 1987]: Tonight I'm going to do my first solo! No, actually, it’ll be the second. I did the first when we opened for Alice Cooper in Santa Barbara. I don't know if Axl got lost or if he wasn’t let in backstage, but he wasn’t there when we went out on stage. So we had to play without him and it was real hell. Slash, Izzy and Duff had to sing in his place. Then, at one point, they motioned at me, "Drum solo!" I said, "No, no!" But they left the stage and I was there all alone like an idiot, so I had to improvise. Needless to tell you how big a disaster it was! At least tonight I’ll do something I’ve worked on.
Hard Force [French], October 8, 1987; translated from French

What happened was he, Axl, showed up later than everyone else and didn't get a backstage pass, and they wouldn't let him in. Meanwhile, we were onstage already, playing. We played the whole set without Axl, and I ended up getting really drunk and insulting the crowd. They were wondering what the hell was going on. They probably thought we were just some circus act or some-thing...

[Looking at photos in Robert John's book]: Some of the photos were really candid; and, I don’t know, it just takes me back, like when we opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers - at UCLA, I think it was – after doing that Alice Cooper gig in Santa Barbara, where Axl showed up and couldn’t get in, and we went out and played without him, and we were drinking vodka on stage and everybody threw things at us...[…] And we started threatening the crowd: “Come on, you fuckers, get up here!”

On our very first professional gig, I mean we played clubs before but our first professional show was opening for Alice Cooper in Santa Barbara California. We all are in the van getting ready to drive down and he was standing there with this girl and he says “ I am going to go with her” and he never showed up. We did a 45 minute blues jam. Our first professionals show for Alice cooper and he never shows up.

When we did that show, we were supposed to do the hour-long ride out there together, but Axl insisted on driving with his girlfriend Erin at the very last minute. We were all against it, as was Alan [Niven; manager], but Axl convinced him that there was nothing to worry about. We got to the gig; Axl was nowhere to be found, but was apparently on his way. It came time to take the stage - no Axl - so Izzy and Duff and Stave and I got out there and started playing without him. Izzy and Duff sang "Whole Lotta Rosie" by AC/DC and a few other covers. We were opening for Alice Cooper but basically that set was a drunken jam fit for a bar - except we were in an arena. It got so bad that at one point we asked the audience to sing lead and then asked if there was a lead singer in the house. We were friends with the crowd for a minute, but that quickly changed; we ended up insulting them and throwing things at them. It was ridiculous. We stayed up there for the allotted amount of time and then retreated from a totally embarrassing disaster.
Slash's autobiography, p 216-217

The night of the Alice Cooper gig, Axl showed up late again and then was unable to get into the venue. Izzy and I sang. At the time it was almost funny - though we were definitely pissed, too […].
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 119-120

In May [Steven's got the date wrong], we were given a great opportunity to do a single show with Alice Cooper in Santa Barbara. [...] On the day of the show, we all piled into our new white van (we got another one after Slash totaled the first), while Axl was just standing there, outside. We were yelling to him,"C'mon, Axl." He was all like, "Naw, I'll meet you there; some chick is gonna take me." [...] We were ready to go [on stage], but sure enough, someone was still missing. Next thing you know, we're supposed to be on in five minutes and everyone is screaming, "Where's Axl?" We stalled as long as we could, but we really had to get out there out of respect for Alice. At eight o'clock we hit the stage as scheduled. Without Axl, we just did our best and improvised. We did 'It's So Easy' and Duff sang. After that, we just performed blues jams. We would always include a blazing blues jam in our sets, so we still managed to rock out for the audience, and I don't think they felt incredibly cheated. Izzy and Duff screamed a few words here and there. Duff's tech, Mike "McBob" Mayhue, may have sung something, too. Bottom line was, without Axl present, we didn't deliver the true Guns N' Roses as promised. We just played, packed up our shit, and got out of there. Because of my worship for Alice, and my feeling about what Guns N' Roses was about, it was one of the most humiliating nights of my life.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 122-123

Axl was unreliable from the very first show. He failed to show up for this one-off gig with Alice Cooper in Santa Barbara, so I made the band go on without him. It was horrendous. I’m standing in the audience hearing all these people mutter about how they sucked, that they had heard they were a buzz band in LA. And Iz and Duff are just choking on the vocals. It was dire.




Slash at the Arlington Theatre, October 23, 1986



After the show the band thrashed their dressing room in anger:

[…] we absolutely trashed the dressing room.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 119-120

After the show the band trashed the dressing room and broke all the mirrors.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Duff would indicate that as far as Axl goes, they just vented their frustration with him and it was back to normal:

We traded some words with Axl when we found him in the parking lot afterward, but at the end of the day the situation lacked much in the way of consequences.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 119

Later on in the parking lot the band bumped into Axl. Axl asked Slash, "How much did we make?" Slash answered "the band made $500. You didn't make anything." Axl grinned and said, "That's cool."
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


But Slash and Steven would say they had indeed considered firing Axl and look for a new singer:

We got out of there immediately and drove back to Hollywood, so pissed that we talked about kicking Axl out of the band that night and looking for a new singer.
Slash's autobiography, p 216-217

Afterward, we were all pissed, and for one infuriating moment, we all considered kicking [Axl] our of the band. But we realized there was nothing we could do. The album had already been recorded [Steven must be thinking about the EP Live! Like A Suicide] and Axl was an integral part of our mage and sound, so we never actually talked about getting another singer.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 122-123


This inability or unwillingness to solve problems within the band, especially with a band member who increasingly got the band in trouble, would remain a fixture of this lineup and would eventually cause such rife conflicts that band members would leave.

In 2009, Niven would emphasize he had not encouraged the band to fire Axl, but that if they did he would still like to manage them:

But the rest of the band won my heart and respect for doing that. I was prepared to do anything for them at that point. I told the band then that if they decided to find another, more reliable singer – and even if they lost their deal as a consequence – I would hang in with them. Whatever Axl says or thinks, I did not and never said: ‘Fire Axl’. And there were bodies and major problems all over the place before they sold records – before Appetite… was even released. Others would have run for their lives. I was in for the long haul – for good or bad.



AXL APOLOGIZES


On their show on October 31, Axl would apologize for the incident:

I'd like to apologize if there is anybody here that heard the shit with the Alice Cooper show. We just fucked up. That's what happened.; as retold by Marc Canter in "Reckless Road"


Marc Canter believes it was the trashing of the dressing room and what effect it might have on Geffen Records that was the cause of apology, and not Axl missing the show [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. This is supported by Axl saying that "we fucked up".


IN HINDSIGHT


Alice Cooper would later look back at this show, but he might be mixing up this show with some of the later shows the band did with him in 1987:

Guns N' Roses was the last great hard rock band in America. The first time I ever saw them, it was when 'Alice' was coming out of the hospital and going onstage sober for the first time. It was 1986. We were doing the Constrictor tour. This is the first time in my career that I'm gonna go onstage sober, as Alice Cooper. I'm sitting there worrying my head off. I knew that this band was going on before us. They were a local bar band at the time. They opened and they just killed the audience. So we just went on and killed the audience too. It didn't bother me that they weren't (sober). The first thing I did when I got out of the hospital was I went to a bar and had a Diet Coke 'cause I knew I'd be around people who are drinking the rest of my life. They went out with Aerosmith after that.


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06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Empty Re: 06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED

Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 18, 2021 10:37 am

06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Newbor11
SONG: IT'S SO EASY
Album:
Appetite for Destruction, 1987, track no. 2.


Info:


Written by:
The original version of the song that was presented to the band was written by Duff McKagan and West Arkeen. This version was then arranged and modified by the entire band.

Musicians:
Vocals: Axl Rose; lead guitar: Slash; rhythm guitar: Izzy Stradlin; bass: Duff McKagan; drums: Steven Adler.

Live performances:
The song was played live for the first time on October 23, 1986, at Arlington Theatre, USA. Interestingly, at this show Axl turned up late and were lot allowed in. Thus, it was sung by Duff. All incarnations of Guns N' Roses have played this song live. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {ISESONGS} times.
Lyrics:

I see your sister in her Sunday dress
She's out to please
She pouts her best
She's out to take
No need to try
She's ready to make

It's so easy, easy
When everybody's tryin' to please me baby
It's so easy, easy
When everybody's tryin' to please me

Cars are crashin' every night
I drink n'drive everything's in sight
I make the fire
But I miss the firefight
I hit the bull's eye every night

It's so easy, easy
When everybody's tryin' to please me baby
Yeah it's so easy, easy
When everybody's tryin' to please me
       
So easy
But nothin' seems to please me
It all fits so right
When I fade into the night

See me hit you
You fall down

I see you standin' there
You think you're so cool
Why don't you just
Fuck off!

Ya get nothin' for nothin'
If that's what ya do
Turn around bitch I got a use for you
Besides you ain't got nothin' better to do
And I'm bored

It's so easy, easy
When everybody's tryin' to please me baby
It's so easy, easy
When everybody's tryin' to please me

So easy
But nothin' seems to please me
It all fits so right
When I fade into the night
So come with me
Don't ask me where 'cause I don't know
I'll try ta please you
I ain't got no money but it goes to show
It's so easy


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Talking about writing the song:

It is a song West Arkeen and I wrote. It's an account of a time that all of us were going through. We didn't have money, but we had a lot of hangers on and girls that we could basically live off of. Things were just too easy. There was an emptiness; it's so easy.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

Well, me and West had a special time in our lives when we were really inspired by tequila and he was teaching me a different kind of tuning of the guitars and we were sitting around, and at this point in time it was, like, we had just got signed, and, ah, before we got signed, people, and girls, and this and that, wouldn't give you the time of day. All of a sudden we got signed...[…] So girls were bringing over, you know, we were going to get booze, and they'd fuck you and suck your dick, you know, and all this and that, and it was ridiculous.
Interview after Lakeland show, November 24, 1987

'It's So Easy' was written by Duff and West Arkeen (a friend and co-conspirator of the band), then I wrote the obscene verse because the original sounded too much like 'Night Train'.
Interview after Lakeland show, November 24, 1987

It’s So Easy was written by Duff. [...] The lyrics. The music was co-written with another guy named West, a friend of ours from L.A.

'It's So Easy'...was originally a hippie ya-ya song. And Duff and West wrote this song like on acoustic, and it literally went like: [singing country-like] "I see your sister in a sunday dress..." Oh absolutely, and we were rehearsing in L.A and Slash basically just starts raping the song and I ran up and started like, doing like the evil Iggy Pop over it, while West is standing there and his face is like drooping, like...
Eddie Trunk Interview, 2006

'It's So Easy' was a song that basically was written with West Arkeen. West was a really good friend we did a lot of writing with, especially Axl. When that particular song was first written, it had this light, strummy feel because it was written with open chords. It was a lot slower. It was very cool, though - sort of beatnik-sounding. It sounded like it was written on the back of a train.

I turned it into more of a power-chord type of deal. There were a couple of riffs I introduced to it, and it sounded a lot more rocking by the end. That was always my forte - anything that was written on acoustic or an electric played at less than 11, I would always turn up to 12.
Guitar Edge Magazine, March 2007

I moved into this apartment building and my next-door neighbor was West Arkeen, this crazy little guitar-player guy, this little freak. He went to the Guitar Institute a couple blocks from our house, and he came out of the Institute, and there was some guy selling an Alesis drum machine and a four-track cassette recorder. It was apparently Sheila E.’s bus driver. Somehow he got stiffed and he’s like, “Fuck it, I’m selling this shit.” So West comes home with this drum machine, [and] we figured out how to use the stuff. The demo of “It’s So Easy” was pretty great. West at this exact same time had taught me how to tune the guitar to open E. We used like, every feature on the drum machine: cowbell, woodblock, and everything on this demo. I sang it, tuned the guitars, put the drum track on, and it was just this cool little lazy summertime hit. West and I would recall all these “summertime hits,” we’d call them. I had an apartment and West had an apartment before we had a rehearsal space, and it became an encampment for about two months for the band. “It’s So Easy,” “Yesterdays,” and I think “14 Years,” a lot of songs were recorded on West’s four-track. I think “You’re Crazy” came out on the West four-track. Sitting in an apartment, we’d play a lot of acoustic guitars, so I think “Easy” was recorded on acoustic guitar. Thing about our songs, we played ’em all on acoustic guitar. “Night Train,” we wrote on acoustic guitar. Because we’d write them in little cramped apartments.
The Onion A.V. Club, May 2011

I remember It's So Easy being one of those songs that when I first heard it in its original form I was like, 'whatever', but then I got to it and changed it to what it sounds more like now.
Classic Rock Magazine, June 2011


In his memoirs, Duff would imply that West's participation didn't go further than showing him a new way of tuning the guitar:

West also showed me open-E tuning, an alternative way of tuning a guitar so it plays E-major chord when strummed with no fingers on the frets. That's why he got a songwriting credit on 'It's So Easy' - without open-E tuning, that song wouldn't have happened. I didn't know alternative tunings existed.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 86-87


Axl talking about the deep voice he used:

When we start a song, it's like, I'll try it in different ways and finding which way fits it best. And if I think that some sound... some way of singing is gonna work better, I'll work on that way. It might be something that I've never done before. Like "It's So Easy". I'd never sang a song like that before. But, the high voice just didn't seem to fit it as well. And so, I started working on the low one. And "Mr. Brownstone"... It reminded me of a Stones-ish type funk-thing and so, I just played around with it. And then, you know, we heard our rehearsal tape back and it sounded like it might work. So, I just started practicing that way. I'm like a second baritone, and I just worked on widening my range, to get a high range. And so then I just try to find the way to use it. Use the whole thing rather than limit myself.
Interview with Axl and Slash, 1988

I sang in a low voice because that fit the attitude of that song better. Wasn't something I really thought about, I just started doing it. People ask why I don't sing like that on a lot of songs and it's only because I just sing whatever the song deserves. And it deserves being sung different than the other material. It's a hard tight, simple, punk rock song. When I went to England they said punk's been dead for ten years. And I said, "it's really weird because America doesn't know that.
Hit Parader, March 1988

I got the greatest picture. I cut this ad out of magazine. It's the this girl bent over so her ass is up in the air and it says, "It's so easy". It was an ad for Easy Dates. I sang in a low voice cause that fit the attitude of that song better. It wasn't something I really thought about, I just started doing it. I just sing whatever the song deserves. And that song deserved to be sung different than the other material. It's a hard, tight, simple, punk rock song.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987


Talking about the lyrics:

It says "I drink and drive everything's in sight", well, there was a time when we were a little bit careless and thought we we're really cool and we got away with it. It's not something we do now...or at least try not to. I is not something I would do. Better watch Slash, though.
Interview with Axl by Steve Harris, December 1987


Talking about recording the song:

Most of the harmonies and stuff I came up with, like in 'It's So Easy' and 'Paradise City', I came up with the night I was recording those parts, 'cause I never had the opportunity to work on it before.
Interview with Axl by Steve Harris, December 1987


Talking about the song:

'It's So Easy' also ended up being a song about our lives in the now, at that very moment. And nobody in the world sang it with more intensity, more honesty, than Axl. (...) We could just shove a fishing net out the window of any club and pull in choice catch after choice catch. The girl game lost its appeal; there was no challenge to scoring the choicest snapper, and again, we chose to write about it.
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010

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. Because everything else was starting to get - it's so easy.
Geffen Press Kit, 1987

Great rhythm. Just rocks. Personally I like the guitar solo in it. I like that part of the song 'cause me and Duff are rockin'. Has more feel to it than just a machine.
Hit Parader, March 1988

[Talking about the responsibilities of being a famous artist]: It is really tricky. Our first major tour was with Mötley Crüe and the audience was younger than the audiences we'd played on the Aerosmith tour, or another tours, our own tours and the tours with the Cult. And it was real hard to do the song 'It's so easy' because there's a line in there 'I drink n' drive everything's in sight.' We were talking about how we kinda got away with things and are lucky to be here. It was real hard knowing that some of these kids were gonne go out and go 'Yeah! They drink and drive everything's in sight!.' [...] It's hard when you do your own material and the majority of the audience isn't getting what you meant.
Famous Last Words, MTV, 1990

When we used this song as the opener for our live sets, it definitely set a tone and drew a line in the sand.



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06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Empty Re: 06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED

Post by Soulmonster Sun Feb 06, 2022 1:30 pm

OCTOBER 31, 1986
THE BAND OPENS FOR THE CHILI PEPPERS AND HENRY ROLLINS IS AWED


The next show was on Halloween, October 31, at Ackermann Hall in Los Angeles together with the bands Thelonious Monster, Dickies and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Axl had previously got in a fight with Bob Forrest, the singer of Thelonius Monster [see earlier chapter], but according to Marc Canter, there were no sings of bad blood between the bands or singers [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Probably the most memorable show of this sort took place on Halloween, 1986. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were just starting their rise as a national act, and the Dickies were headlining a show at Ackerman Hall at UCLA, and we opened. We still had yet to enter the studio. We were feuding with Geffen about whether we had enough songs to warrant recording, and we still hadn't found a producer we liked. We reached a compromise with the label to put out a limited edition "bootleg" EP, Live! Like a Suicide, and we had finished it just before this show. That night we felt like we were finally making some forward motion. [...] For me, the cool thing about this show was that Black Flag's Henry Rollins watched our entire set from the wings of the stage and came up to us afterward and told us how much he liked our and. I considered him the most credible guy in rock, and he had a reputation as a guy who didn't mince words. He definitely wouldn't fawn over a band just for the sake of doing so. And we got the thumbs up. Kick ass!
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 119


Henry Rollins attended this gig but had little positive to say about any of the bands except Guns N' Roses:

I went to a show last night. I went to help the soundman set up his system. What shitty bands. What a poor excuse for music. I looked at the crowd all night. There was nowhere else to go. [...] The show was at a university. Those kind of shows are always a joke. There’s something about colleges that really sets me off. [...]The music, what a mess. All of it was so hollow. The opening band was called Guns n’ Roses, and they blew the headliners off so hard it was pathetic.
The Portable Henry Rollins, 1998

By 10-07-86, I was in Leeds, England, making my first solo album. Weeks later, I was back in Los Angeles. Paying for my own record set me back quite a bit. Later that month, Rat Sound, who built Black Flag's PA system, called me and Black Flag roadie/friend Joe Cole, asking if we wanted to make 50 bucks each setting up the system for a show on Halloween night at UCLA. The next day, there we were, loading the same gear out of the same truck from Black Flag's last show.

Four bands on the bill that night. Chili Peppers headlining. The last band to load in was the opener. They were skinny and their gear was ragged. They had a lot of attitude. Joe Cole asked me, "Should we beat some of these hippies up?" I reminded him that we were working for them.

The doors opened, some people straggled in. The longhairs with the attitude hit the stage and their fans, all 50 of them, were up front. The singer said their first record would be out soon and started playing. Joe and I stood with the crowd and watched what sounded like the Sex Pistols incinerating Aerosmith. It was pretty damn good -- great, actually.

Joe asked me what I thought. I said they were going to be big, judging from the A&R men fluttering around the soundboard. The band was called Guns N' Roses.

It was a very memorable Halloween night
Los Angeles Weekly, 2013


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06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Empty Re: 06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED

Post by Soulmonster Thu Feb 10, 2022 10:33 am

06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Newbor11
SONG: PERFECT CRIME
Album:
Use Your Illusion I, 1991, track no. 5.


Written by:
Izzy Stradlin, Axl Rose and Slash.

Musicians:
Drums: Matt
Bass: Duff
Lead and Rhythm Guitars: Slash
Rhythm Guitar: Izzy
Piano: Dizzy
Vocals, Sound Effects: Axl

Live performances:
The song was played for the first time at Ackerman Hall at UCLA, USA, on October 31, 1986. It was played twice in 1986, then it was not played until 1991 after the release of Use Your Illusion I. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {PERFECTSONGS} times.
Lyrics:

Kickin' back in the shadows
Got no need for the light
Who's sorry now old timer
Look at how you've spent your life
Scroungin' for change
To put some money in your pocket
My how scratch does burn
Laughin' at the suckers as you pissed it away

But I got the time and I got the muscle
I got the need to lay it all on the line
I ain't afraid of your smoke screen hustle

It's a perfect crime
Goddamn it it's a perfect crime
Motherfucker it's a perfect crime
I said it's perfect

Keep the demons down
And drag the skeletons out
I got a blind man followin' me in chains
I said he's fun to watch
When the world has stopped
And I think he's got somethin' to say

"You wanna fuck with me, don't fuck with me
'Cause I'm what you'll be so don't fuck with me
If you had better sense
You'd step aside from the bad side of me
Don't fuck wit'da bad side o' me
Stay away from the bad side o' me
Don't fuck wit'da bad side"

T MINUS 1:09 AND COUNTING

Ostracized but that's all right
I was thinkin' about somethin' myself
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

Call on everybody who's got last rites
Said it's better if you locked 'em away
Runnin' through the visons at the speed of light
       
Won't ya let me be
Motherfucker just let me be
Goddamn it better let me be
Don't ya know ya better let me be...

Perfect crime
Goddamn it it's a perfect crime
Motherfucker it's a perfect crime
Don't cha know
It's a perfect crime


Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Introducing the song the first time it was played:

Alright, this is a new one, by Mr. Izzy Stradlin, this one is called 'Perfect Fucking Crime.'
Ackerman Hall at UCLA, USA, October 31, 1986


Talking about recording the song:

[Recounting the first preproduction session to Appetite for Destruction] We booked ourselves time at S.I.R. studios with Mike [Clink] at the board, the band felt free to be ourselves; at our very first preproduction session, we started writing what would later become 'You Could Be Mine.' At another session, we started to work up 'Perfect Crime,' which was something that Izzy brought in. We weren't in there to write new material, but we were so comfortable that it just came to us.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York. p. 166-167


Talking about the song:

'Perfect Crime' [...] has a pretty "out there" solo in it.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, April 1992

Middle riff of Perfect Crime, & Brownstone riff [are my favorite GN'R riffs] Smile
twitter, June 2013


06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Newbor11


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06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED - Page 2 Empty Re: 06. JANUARY-DECEMBER 1986 - GETTING SIGNED

Post by Soulmonster Thu Feb 10, 2022 2:19 pm

NOVEMBER 1986
MIKE CLINK AUDITIONS ON 'SHADOW OF YOUR LOVE'


As mentioned in previous chapters, a big problem was finding the right producer for their first album and they had tried out quite a few.

I started going through the list of people who I thought were great engineers who I thought could capture lightning in a bottle for Guns N' Roses. And a couple of the names that came up were Bill Price, because of his great engineering from Roxy Music to the Sex Pistols, and Mike Clink. Mike Clink engineered some of the great UFO records. Axl, Slash and I had a conversation about how great these UFO records were, especially the live record, "Strangers in the Night." I contacted Mike Clink, talked to him and then I introduced him to the band. Mike was looking to step out of an engineering role and move into more of a production role. He subscribed to the theory of the band having creative control. The band would basically be co-producing and I would be heavily involved as an A&R person riding shotgun over the whole thing.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


Marc Canter would confirm the name of Mike Clink came up when Axl and Zutaut were talking about albums they admired:

Again Axl and Tom brought up names based on album they admired and singled out "Stranger in the Night" by the English seventies group UFO. It was a live album that had just the right balance Guns N' Roses wanted to capture for 'Appetite' and they invited Mike Clink, the co-producer and engineer of that album, to cut a demo. In their first meeting, Mike immediately understood the direction they wanted to take 'Appetite' and subscribed to band's need for creative control. He cut  demo, just like all the other prospects before him and Axl and Tom were pleased wit the results. The only question remaining, was if Mike had the personality to tolerate the absurdities and discipline the band.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


According to Axl, they met Clink at "The Rage", but it is not known what that was [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987].

Clink talking about meeting the band for the first time:





Clink loved Guns N' Roses and had seen them live a few times [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 120].




When we first met Mike, we really liked his energy. We liked hanging out with him. He was very low key and quite. He is simple guy without a lot of airs. He was amiable and didn't try to act a certain way to hang out with us. He just seemed very in control.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007


That band would task Clink with doing a version of 'Shadow of Your Love':

We were eager to go in and do the demo of "Shadow of Your Love" and when we got it and it sounded great, we were struck up a great relationship that was very well-rounded from that point on.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007



According to Duff, Clink did a playback and said, "This is how I think your record should sound." As Duff would say, "It was basically us live. And I immediately thought, That's exactly right" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 120].

This version of 'Shadow of Your Love' was recorded at Rumbo Recorders on November 23.


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Post by Soulmonster Thu Feb 10, 2022 8:19 pm

DECEMBER 12, 1986
THE BAND RELEASES 'LIVE!?*@ LIKE A SUICIDE'


"[To] all the people who have helped keep us alive".
___________________________________________________

The band's first release, the EP titled "Live!?*@ Like a Suicide" was released on December 12, 1986.


LIVE?!*@ LIKE A SUICIDE


The EP was released on the UZI SUICIDE logo, allegedly the band's own label, but in reality it was released by Geffen Records itself to make it seem like this was an independent release. The accompanying press release was sent out by "the Stravinski Brothers" and signed by "Alan G Stravinski," obviously Alan Niven [December 1986, Press release].

As a sidenote, the band would later use the Uzi Suicide label to sign other artists, including their friend West Arkeen. And Slash would joke that they also intended to release an exercise video on it, based on "Slash-aerobics" [Circus Magazine, May 1989].

The pressing of 'Live!?*@ Like a Suicide' was limited to only 10,000 copies to make it exclusive [Hit Parader, April 1987; Goldmine Magazine, May 1989]. The songs on the EP were 'Mama Kin', 'Nice Boys', Move To The City' and 'Reckless Life'. Originally, the band wanted four cover songs on one side (including 'Jumpin Jack Flash' and 'Heartbreak Hotel') and four original songs on the other [Concert Shots, May 1986].

Tom [Zutaut] had the idea for us to go in the studio and record an EP under our own label, Uzi Suicide, which was actually financed by Geffen. [...] Geffen wanted to put out the live album quickly and get people even more excited about us. It would also get us warmed up to record our full-length album [...] The idea was to have a "live" record with thousands of people screaming in the background, therey making is sound as popular as, or maybe more popular than, we actually were. So yes, we knew from the start that they were going to add an audience. We were cool with it. Just as long as it sounded right. We didn't want this album to sound tinny or cheesy. Geffen's engineers told us there would be too miuch shit involved (i.e., it would cost too much) to actually record a live record, so we were told to create the live audience effects in the studio.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 107-108


The songs on 'Live! Like A Suicide' came from the recording sessions with Spencer Proffer in Pasha Studios, and it took no more than "two or three days" [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 109].

We were all in the same soundproof room and we actually recorded those songs together to give it a "live" feel, instead of each performer laying down a separate track, then assembling the tune. The only stuff they overdubbed was the backing vocals. If you listen closely to "Nice Boys," you can hear Axl singing backup to his own vocals.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 109

After we finished the songs, Spencer added the audience. He used archived tapes of live performances by Dio and Quiet Riot and mixed the cheers in.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 108


The band would claim the time with Proffer only resulted in a demo [Hit Parader, December 1986], to keep up the illusion that the EP was recorded live. Slash, as late as September 1988, would still state it was a live recording [Guitar, September 1988], as would Duff and Steven in December 1988, even to the point of arguing that a live record is more accurate in presenting the band [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].

In December 1987, Axl would admit that the EP was recorded in Spencer's studio, despite him making the songs "sound really weak" [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].

The band would explain why they released the EP:

Because we wanted an inexpensive dedication to all the kids who helped us get by when we were really low and had no money and were living in abandoned apartments. The kind of record that not everyone will have, because we're only printing 10,000 copies initially.

There is covers on [Live! Like A Suicide] that we wanted to put out because we do them live and the people like them live, and we kinda wanted to do this like, 'this is for you', and this is something that we have been doing in our set.

It's like an inexpensive dedication to all the kids that helped us get going when we had no money.

Our fans had been waiting for a product from the band for a while, so we decided to make 500 copies in L.A. so that these fans would be able to listen again to songs like "Nice Boys" and "Mama Kin" and have them on record. We paid for everything out of our own pockets to release this mini-LP, and it should be seen as a gift to our fans. Eventually, the distributor wanted to press 20,000 copies to cover its costs.
Hard Force [French], October 1987; translated from French

Live, "Like a Suicide” is indicative of what this band was all about when we first got together. We didn't sit around in rehearsal studios saying we have to be like this or that. We wanted to go out and play live. We would write songs real fast because we had already booked the gigs. We were an angry bunch of kids. That Ep means a lot to me, because we wrote songs, got them together in an evening, and then went out and played them. The album has songs that we sat down and worked on and actually wrote and worked it out. "Suicide” was from the early days, the beginning.

At that time, we played live constantly, and we weren’t concerned about getting signed with a major label. But we had a lot of fans who followed us everywhere and we wanted to record something for them.
Popular 1, January 1994; translated from Spanish

I had done two indie records with Great White, one with Mötley and one with Berlin, and all of them worked: they got good press, cred, and set up the major-label release. I wanted to do the same sort of set-up for GN’R, even though they were already signed. But most importantly I wanted to get them to London as soon as possible. Breaking in England first, and in the UK press, was the way to accelerate their status. And I knew England would love ’em. I had seen Hendrix, the Pretenders and others break in the UK press before they made it in America, and I knew this was the way to go for the Gunners.


The plan was to use the money from selling the EP to finance the trip to London:

[Eddie Rosenblatt, President of Geffen Records] allowed me to drive up in a van and collect the whole print run, and go sell ’em to Important Records. He said to me later: ‘I rather wondered if I would see you again!’ But I was back with a cheque for over $40,000 the next day, and the UK trip was on.

Having worked Too Fast, Out Of The Night, Pleasure Victim and Shot as indie records I well knew the value of the base one could build independently before a major released a debut signing. I wanted to do the same for Guns … so although they were signed we put out Suicide as an indie. There was another aspect to this.  I needed money to finance the first trip to the UK, step one in my strategy to break the band. Every dime from Suicide went into that first UK trip …. there was a bit of method to the compromising madness.


'Move to the City' received some airplay, especially in the Los Angeles area, as well as overseas, and the 10,000 copies of the first pressing were sold out in 4 weeks with no advertisement [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989]. In December 1986 the band were talking about a reissue [KNAC, December 1986].

The band would claim they financed the release of Live! Live A Suicide with their own money:

We financed it off… pretty much the bulk of money that we had, you know, accumulated there and there.

We paid for the album with the money we made from our early shows.
Popular 1, January 1994; translated from Spanish


So the purpose was to release a fake live EP allegedly released by the band itself, from their own money, to foster more hype about the band and build anticipation for the full-length record to come.

In late 1988 Slash was asked about the first time he heard Guns N' Roses on the radio, and would refer to hearing 'Move to the City', this might have been after the release of this EP:

It was a real kick in the ass. I’m still blown away by seeing a picture of us in a magazine and stuff. I’m real naive when it comes to that, because I was, like, a real rock fan and still am a real rock fan, so... The first time I heard us on the radio I think it was Move to the City, and I was just like, “Whoa!” You know, I started driving fast and stuff. I still get a kick out of it, you know?


In 2010, Alan Niven would look back at the release:

I had done an independent EP with Great White, which was the platform to them getting their first record contract. I did an independent full album with them, Shot In The Dark. Berlin’s first record was an independent. MÖTLEY CRÜE’s first album was done independently… I had learned the point and purpose of doing an independent release to provide a platform for your first release on a major label, so with Live Like A Suicide it was put out as an indie record and there were 25,000 units of it pressed up. I told Eddie Rosenblatt that there can not be a single Geffen Records’ marking on it nor can there be a single Warner’s marking on it. It has to look like it’s a total indie release. But it wasn’t - the band was already signed to Geffen. And yet, I got to put out my ‘indie record’ of Guns N' Roses and nobody seemed to notice. [...] a total swindle. I’m fond of those tracks. There’s some good playing on those, but it’s a complete and utter rock n’ roll swindle!


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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 11, 2022 12:09 pm

LATE 1986
ZUTAUT GIVES THE GO AHEAD TO RECORD THEIR DEBUT LP


In late 1986 Zutaut finally felt they had enough good songs to start recording:

It wasn't until I heard "Sweet Child O' Mine" that I believed they finally were ready because now they had a record. They had all these great raw, punky, thrasher songs from their early days, but now they also had "Welcome to the Jungle" and they had "Sweet Child O' Mine" and they had a bunch of other songs to flush out what became "Appetite for Destruction".
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

It was very difficult because I wouldn’t let the band go into the studio until I thought they had a song that was a hit but that would match the spirit of Appetite. For example, they had Don’t Cry - which by anybody’s reasoning could be a hit – but somehow I felt that, given the aggressiveness of the rest of the material, I didn’t think it would really fit in on Appetite. And now they have November Rain, which was an even better songs, and they want to add that to it. And by that point we already had Sweet Child O’ Mine. [...]

The reason that song is at the end of Appetite... is because I knew that if the radio promotion people heard it they’d try and promote it first. And it wouldn’t be right, because it was the one melodic, more pop song on the whole record and y’know, you wanted them to get to Welcome To The Jungle and Mr Brownstone. The spirit of Guns N’ Roses was about It’s So Easy and Mr Brownstone and Nightrain – it wasn’t about Sweet Child O’ Mine. [...] But record companies tend to want to go for the hits first and fuck the rest. So there had to be a way to hide that. I had learned by then that promotional people don’t listen to the whole album – they just listen to the first three or four songs. [...] I actually taunted one of the heads of promotion at Geffen. I said to him: ‘There’s a song on this record that’s going to be a number one hit worldwide.’ And he laughed at me and said, ‘What is it?’ And I said, ‘I’m not going to tell you – listen to the record.’ They never found it.”


So the matter wasn't the number of songs, but having the right songs for Appetite. In June 1988, Axl told Rock Scene Magazine that when they signed with Geffen Records they had 27 songs:

When we went into the studio initially, to do some test tracks and lay down some songs and see what we had together, we had about 27 songs together when Geffen first signed us.


That they had plenty of material ready to be recorded and released is also confirmed by Axl saying they originally wanted to release a double album:

Most of the songs on Appetite were written in the two-year period we were playing the clubs. We wanted to put them on a record so we could move on. We had like 27 songs that we felt very strongly about. We wanted a double album for the first one but that wasn't a good marketing move.

[…] Appetite for Destruction was meant to be a double LP too, but Geffen got cold feet about putting out a double as a debut LP.


Clink would later say he worked on more than 20 songs:




Zutaut would later talk about wanting to keep November Rain, Patience and Don't Cry off the band's first album:

[...] the band were just oozing song ideas. When we were at Rumbo [studios] doing Appetite..., there were two songs written during the period – one was November Rain and other one was Patience. [...]

I was sitting out in the lounge with Izzy at Rumbo and he was doodling on his guitar and I was like: ‘That’s fucking great – what is that?’ And he starts singing it to me and I couldn’t believe it. I mean, the guy is just sitting there doodling and he’s got a track that I think could be a top five single. And I’m thinking: ‘We’ve got to be really careful’ – because when a band first comes out, if they get too polished or have too many songs that are too melodic, then it turns people off. [...]

With November Rain, we were almost done recording Appetite... and I get to the studio and Axl is really excited. He sits down at the piano and he plays November Rain from top to bottom and he sings a rough outline of the vocals. And I was stunned. You just knew instantly that it was going to be a really big song. He wanted to add it to Appetite... and I told him there was just no way we could do it. We had already kept Don’t Cry off of Appetite... and now there was November Rain which was arguably a better song. So we had a huge row about it. Because Axl was like: ‘You’re holding Don’t Cry – why hold November Rain? I wanna put it on the record.’ We probably talked for eight hours straight and I was able to convince him to hold both of those songs.

Tom Zutaut was the one who said, “Let's save [November Rain] for another record.” And I think Axl was a little miffed about that. But it was fine with me. I was already fucking petrified about doing one ballad! [...] But Axl was bitter about the “November Rain” thing for a while, until we did it for Use Your Illusion. And, actually, there are a few songs on the Illusion records that date back to the Appetite period. We wrote “Perfect Crime” while we were in preproduction for Appetite, and “You Could Be Mine” came together right before we went in to record the album.


But in the end they opted for one consistent hard rock album:

We can only put so many songs on one, album, and we wanted our first record ('Appetite For Destruction') to be a full hard rock record from beginning to end.


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