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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.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:25 pm

Last edited by Soulmonster on Mon May 13, 2024 2:49 pm; edited 21 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:26 pm


Preproduction rehearsals for the band's debut album took place at SIR Studios in Burbank [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 112], and likely started already in December 1986.

The band was comprised of inexperienced kids, and Clink would later recount an episode from December 1986 during pre-production where Slash ruined a guitar:

The main recordings took place at Rumbo Studios (Rumbo Recorders), at 20215 Saticoy Street, Canoga Park, CA, and happened over two weeks in January 1987. It has also been said the recording took three months and was finished by the end of March 1987 [Rock Scene, September 1987]. Studio engineer Micajah Ryan would later tell that Take One Recording Studio was used for recording guitars and vocal overdubs while Rumbo Recorders was used for bass and drums:

Mike Clink booked Take One Recording Studio to record guitar and vocal overdubs, where I was the assistant engineer. Mike recorded the bass and drums at Rumbo Recorders. I never saw the band before I started working with them.

It was Clink's decision to use Rumbo Studios, allegedly to keep the band members away from their wild lives in Hollywood.

When we started working on Appetite we were in a hotel in Manhattan Beach, which was like a forty-five-minute drive to Rumbo. I have no idea why we were so far from the studio.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 116

Later, Clink would say the recording took two months:

Axl would confirm that the recording process was finished on March 27, 1987 [Onstage at the Roxy, March 29, 1987].

Sweet Child O' Mine was allegedly recorded in one take, while Think About You - one of the simpler songs - required more (Steven would say 50 takes while Duff would argue eight) [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988]. Mike Clink, on the other hand, would later deny that the songs on the record was recorded in one take:

The recording was a disorganized process:

The sessions would happen at two or three in the morning-whenever the band was inspired.

I was staying out till four in the morning, getting to the studio at least by noon. And I wasn't living anywhere, so I was a complete vagabond during the making of Appetite. There was a lot of craziness and partying going on - all of the stuff that comes with being a rock 'n' roll band that has no idea where it's going. We did everything we wanted to do and got away with whatever it was we could get away with.

My existence has always been that detached gypsy kind of thing - very focused around my music, but as far as everything else, very detached. So I'd work until 11 or 12 at night, and then hit the street, find a place to hang out, then find a place to sleep, and then find a way to get back to the studio the next morning. That was the making of the whole record.

I found myself saying to a potential engineer, "I don't know if this is going to be a nine-to-five kind of job, or a a six-to-midnight kind of job. When the band is in the mood to roll tape, I've got to call you and we've got to roll tape." […] It rolled when the band was in the space to roll. Mike Clink was perfect for GNR because he could sit in that studio and sit out all shenanigans. And honestly there were a lot of them.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

I had to keep them focused, make sure what was recorded had that electricity to it, but also make sure they were able to be in studio when they needed to be in the studio. I mean, Izzy was on smack. Duff was drinking too much. Axl was in his own head, defining that fine line between genius and insanity. So part of the secret was making sure to capture them when genius struck.

I did something pretty unprecedented as well, and requested Geffen give me a private purchase order book so that I could book studio time whenever, even at 3 in the morning, and if Mike was awake, he’d show up. If not, one of the engineers would fill in. GNR could be very time-consuming.

Micajah Ryan would add further details:

We always took Wednesday nights off and started late on Thursdays because the band went to a once a week club called The Cathouse. They were big stars there. I reckon Mike knew he wouldn’t get much out of them on the morning after a visit to The Cathouse. I didn’t see Axl, Slash and Izzy together much during the three months they worked on Appetite at Take One. They were all on completely different schedules; Slash would come in at 11 in the morning to record guitars, then we’d break at 6 until 7:30, for dinner, when Slash would leave and Axl would come in to do vocals until late at night. They only saw each other occasionally as I remember. Izzy spent most of his time listening to a cassette player he had, playing his guitar and waiting for his turn to do overdubs.

Despite being disorganized, Robert John would reject any suggestions that the band members were unprofessional while recording:

When they were in the studio, they were extremely professional, okay? It wasn’t like a big party like everybody probably thinks and everything. Slash would go there and lay down his tracks. You know, it was just them going in and recording.

The band would talk about the recording process:

[Clink] doesn’t necessarily go “I think you should change this,” but he’ll say, “I don’t know about that one part,” but he’ll fucking cause a scene about it so we totally analyze something, so we show him why it works perfectly the way it is or we come up with a better idea. That’s all they wanted, to make sure we are giving 100 percent. Geffen was really worried, but then they heard it and they think we’re great. Tom [Zutaut] told me if I lost my voice it was okay, I could leave my rough tracks.

It's a whole world unto itself. I like it because it brings things out of you, like harmonies I made up on the spot. We worked really hard to keep the spontaneity in the album. […] I miss being in the studio. I want to get a lot more songs out and create more

Every song was done in one to three takes in the studio, which was live. We used the bass, the drums and Izzy’s guitar. I played too, but I did dummy tracks, because I can’t play with headphones, although for all of you to play at the same time you have to wear headphones. So I did dummy tracks and then went in by myself and just did all the guitar – not all the guitar, my guitar (laughs). [...] There was only one song, I think, that didn’t happen in three takes and instead of just keep plotting along with it, you just come back a different day and do it again.

In the studio our drummer is completely hyper.

We actually went in and recorded in pre-production. We picked the 12 songs we were gonna stick with, refined them, went a in, recorded them and put them on the record.

[Listening to the playback of recently recorded songs in Rumbo Studios]: I think it's going to kick ass. It's against the - mainstream grain. It's definitely a case of you'll either love it or hate it - which is good, as long as you notice it.

Well, it was done live, pretty much. The drums, the rhythm guitar, the bass are all live from the same room. So there's bleeding on each other's instruments, and tweets [?] on other's mics. Things like that. Just to get the most energy and good [?] to the songs.

[Talking about how he stretched himself vocally, singing bass parts and reaching the F above high C, and that he’s pleased with his vocal performance, as is Geffen]: Tom [Zutaut] told me if I lost my voice it was okay, I could use my rough tracks.

In the studio, I would always say that I wanted the drums to sound like drums. I didn't want them to sound like machines. I want the snare to sound like a real snare drum, the bass like a bass drum; no effects.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We go in, play, and try to do it the first or second take, and if what comes out is decent enough to use, you don’t go back and keep fixing it – you lose the spirit. When we did solos, I couldn’t stand going back and doing it more than three times.

I still play bass from time to time. I’m playing a little bit of bass on the record, in a couple of places.

[...] we did basic tracks in two weeks and then I went back in. Izzy did the basic tracks, that’s it. Otherwise what’s coming out of the left speaker is what we did in two weeks. Everything he did was in mono. I went back and did all the stereo stuff. Izzy is on the left, I'm on the right and I'm in stereo with the echo and slide stuff. I'm more distorted than Izzy. [...] I went in and did basic tracks and played along with the drums and bass and Izzy. I would screw around but keep the actual song going. Then I would go back later and redo the whole rhythm and all the leads in front of the monitors in the control room. I had the monitors cranked up really loud and would just play along. I can’t play with headphones.

Capturing it properly was a hard thing to do because it was very raw, and we didn't want to use a lot of effects and other stuff to embellish it too much. At the same time, we did have a certain amount of professional integrity, and we wanted it to sound tight. There are a lot of bands that try to sound unhinged. We were unhinged, but we also liked to tie it together enough to keep it from exploding all over the place. So it always had that sound where it was just about to fall apart, but it was a little tight at the same time.

I was rolling into the studio every day at 12 o’clock, and I would be done at 9 or 10 at night. But after that, I had no idea where I was going to go or how I was going to get around or where I was going to sleep. So every morning, Clink would be like, ‘I wonder if Slash is going to make it in today?’ It was just the lifestyle I was living. It was constant chaos. But I would show up at noon every day like clockwork, open up a bottle of Jack Daniels, pour it in some coffee, and that’s how we did all the guitars.

We began doing preproduction, rehearsing at SIR studios in Burbank. Then we went to Rumbo Studios in Canoga Park to record. It was close to my mom’s. Every day, she brought us lunch and cigarettes and would pick up our clothes for washing. Heart was recording there at the same time and Nancy Wilson came over to say hi while my little brother Jamie and my mom were there. Nancy was a sweetheart, she sat Jamie on her lap, and he just had the biggest smile.

Our producer, Mike Clink, would try to get [Izzy] to come down to fix something up, but I think he only managed to get him there once or twice. So we just kept all of Izzy’s scratch tracks.

I couldn’t get a good sound in the studio, because I didn’t have a set guitar or amp at the time; I had hocked a lot of gear before we went in due to some drug problems. So I was left with three different guitars: a B.C. Rich Warlock, a Jackson prototype and a Jackson Firebird. And they were fine onstage, when everything was cranked to 10, but in the studio they sounded aw­ful. I was fucking freaking out! I knew I couldn’t record the album with any of those guitars. So when we cut the basic tracks I was drinking a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, easy, during the process, and just playing along to help with the live vibe. Luckily, right after that I got some new gear. It was like it was in the cards or something. I came upon the right Les Paul and the right Marshall.

The actual recording was pretty calm. I mean there was some partying, but we were pretty focused. Like for me, it was Jack Daniel's and coffee in the morning and work from noon till 10 at night. Then I'd go out and get crazy and then wake up in the morning, wherever I was, and try and work out how to get a ride back to the studio.

We were young guys, and had nothing but parties and pussy on our minds, but when it came to going in that studio, everybody straightened their ass up.

First we work, then we party. I was a big pot smoker, a little alcohol… but heroin around the band during Appetite? I’m telling you, none. Well, not with me personally. Our guitar players, they’d fiddle-faddle every once in a while. But we took it seriously. We’d sleep all afternoon, go record, then go out and party.

told [Clink] I wanted my bass drum to sound like a cannon and my snare to sound like a machine gun, do your best. And he did. It was punk and jazz rock. I think the main thing that I brought to the band though is cowbell!

We recorded altogether. But, you know, like Slash [?] guitar on after, but we recorded the bass and drums. That's the energy, right, that the initial energy that everything's based off of and we are all playing with one another. So it is that full energy. I think a lot of stuff, [?] guitar just stayed on there. [...] "That sounds [?], it's fine." His amp was in another room, so it was isolated, you need to do it over, a lot of times you gotta do some of those, like, guitars over again or bass or whatever, because the drums have bled into it, it doesn't sound great. You don't want a guitar track with a bunch of drums on it, you want just guitar track. But when you isolate the amps, of course with mikes on them in different rooms, you don't have that bleed, sometimes you can just keep that. And with me playing bass with the drummer on anything I've done, I'd like to have good isolation because a lot of times just playing with the drummer in that moment, that's the best take you're gonna get. Because there's just a lot more thing, when you play bass again over the drum track, now you don't have the line of sight with him. You know, I love having that line of sight with the drummer, being right on a drummer in the studio.

Clink would talk about trying to get Steven to record with a click track to keep time:

Alan Niven would discuss how they managed to make the songs sound vital and fresh:

Mike understood the direction that he got from Tom and I, which was to keep it as vital as possible. He would have it - you know, when he did basic tracks, he’d be looking for the drum track that had the best feel and vitality to it. If he could maintain as much of the bass track or as much of the rhythm guitar as he could on that, he would. So the approach was to keep it as vital as possible and not to get bogged down in overdubs. It's your basic tracks that really inform the feel, and if you can get good rhythm tracks, then, when you're laying over your lead guitar, when you're laying over your overdubs, when you're laying vocals over that, you've got a good vital energy that will support an overdub that has got some blood and some perspiration in it. You know, but that's not to say that there was not – there was a lot of time spent doing vocals and Mike spent a fair amount of time with Slash too, getting what they were happy with. But the basic tracks had the energy in them. With Steven, I would say that [he’s] not necessarily the most proficient technical drummer in the world. But the thing about Steven was that he brought an ebullience and a sense of joy to playing to the band that quite honestly hasn't been matched since. And he could play with a swing, and that's in those tracks.

Steven would also mention that Clink suggested they change a part in Rocket Queen:

There was one incident. As a band, we always said we’d never let anyone tell us how to write our music. There was this one part in You’re Crazy… it was originally full-time from beginning to end, but Mike Clink goes: ‘Hey, why don’t you do the verse half-time?’ Thinking that everybody else was gonna jump up and say: ‘Fuck you, don’t tell us what to do!’ I was the only one who jumped up and said it. Everyone else was just looking at me.

Zutaut and Clink would talk about the recording process:

Guns N' Roses might have worked consistently for one week, and the next week they didn't turn up. It was pretty erratic, probably because of the drug use and stuff. When Axl was in the frame of mind to work, he might work for two or three days straight and then not turn up for a week or he might come everyday during an eight-hour period. I can't even imagine this scenario happening as corporate as music companies have become today. We thought it was corporate back then. It was hard enough to get people into the concept of, "Here is a band and they're real and you roll tape when they're in the mood, alright.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Why is "Appetite for Destruction" one of the best records ever made? Because it captures Guns N' Roses when they were in the spirit of mind to be captures, When they were ready to roll, we rolled whenever that tame was. It took a guy like Mike Clink with that kind of patience to be willing to put up with that. I mean most people need a schedule.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Appetite engineering, from the drum track up, with Mike Clink behind the console, just captured the rawness of the ‘70s while the mixing engineers Michael Barbiero — who was more traditional, like Clink — and Steve Thompson were the perfect unit because Thompson was anything goes in the studio, which added a level of chaos to the final mixing process. Man, Thompson wanted to blow up the world and Barbiero wanted to help Clink keep it going.

But whereas the rest of the band claims to have finished their recording quickly (but see Clink's comment above), Axl spent a lot of time on his:

My contributions to the record took six days, start to finish, and I was done. On the other hand, Axl would insist on doing his vocals one line at a time, and that took much longer. [...] It was beyond what a perfectionist would demand. And it soon became obvious to us that it was obsession for the sake of obsession.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 118

We did the basic tracks in two weeks. We'd have all the amps set up in one room. We had the guitar amps isolated and the bass direct and Steve's drums were in the room and we played in the room off the drums, putting all the tunes down in two weeks. Once in a while Slash would do a live solo an he usually would go back and recut them. He is a perfectionist in a lot of ways. [...] When we were going to do that [= add scratch vocals to play along with] Axl got a sore throat so he ended up doing it later. There were previous recordings where we recorded with vocals.

In 2010, Steven would claim Axl had recorded his lyrics word for word:

When we recorded "Appetite," he would sing word for word. He does care a whole lot, I know that.

He’d do his parts by himself. Axl’s a lone wolf. He’s like… I don’t want to say Dracula, but he likes his space. Axl’s vocals are what took the longest, because he’s a perfectionist: some of the vocals, he’d record one word at a time. But most of the songs are first or second take. Sweet Child O’ Mine was first take.

During recording Axl experimented with various new voices he didn't typically use at live concerts:

Slash would say they had about 40 songs to choose from:

Fortunately, we are quite prolific. There are plenty of songs we haven't used on this first record. We had about 40 songs to choose from!

In 2017, Niven would talk about his and Zutaut being worried that Clink wasn't able to get the band recorded well on tape:

There was a moment, however, when I did get concerned. Zooty spent two weeks trying to get a mix outa Mike. Nothing was forthcoming. Tom said, “I am beginning to wonder if Mike even has it on tape.” I told him, “Go to Rumbo, select a roll of tape, and send it down to Total Access.” Michael Lardie and I were in the middle of Great White overdubs. We stopped. Stripped the board and set up for a mix. The tape arrived and Michael and I took a listen and twisted a couple of knobs. The band were waiting for news in Zoot’s office at Geffen. I told them: “Ya better come down.” Only Izzy showed. We played our fast mix of “Brownstone.” By the first chorus, Iz was launched out of the studio sofa and pumping his fists. It was there. Clink had it on tape.

After finishing his work, Clink knew they had a great record:

And so did Zutaut:

When the record was done, after I mastered it, I went and played it for David Geffen and the president of the company. I said, "This is going to be the biggest album i the history of the label," and they looked at me like, "Sure kid."
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

In April 1987, Axl described his vision for their debut album and beyond:

We’ve got our progressions already planned out. How we’re going to grow. This record’s going to sound like a showcase. I sing in, like, five or six different voices, so not one song is quite like another, even if they’re all hard rock. In the last year I’ve spent over thirteen hundred dollars on cassettes, everything from Slayer to Wham! – to listen to production, vocals, melodies, this and that. I’m from Indiana, where Lynyrd Skynyrd were considered God to the point that you ended up saying, ‘I hate this fucking band!’ And yet, for our song Sweet Child O’ Mine I went out and got some old Lynyrd Skynyrd tapes to make sure that we’d got that downhome, heartfelt feeling.

Talking about keeping November Rain, Don't Cry and You Could Be Mne for future releases and why Reckless Life wasn't included:

Well, for me Reckless Life is very much of the pre-Appetite period. It’s a punk song with a punk attitude. And I think it's fair to say that Appetite had moved on from what you can hear on Live Like A Suicide, for example. So I had no problem with Reckless Life being held off. And one of the considerations that we had at the time when Appetite was being constructed was that it would be very smart to hold on to two or three songs for a second record so that we would have an opportunity to confound what was called the sophomore jinx. A band comes together, they spend a year or two writing their initial songs, they get a recording contract, suddenly they run through a video, they're out on the road supporting their debut record, they're working, working, working. They come back from that album cycle and the first thing a record company does is say, “You need to go back in the studio and record a new album. We can't lose momentum”. “If you lose momentum, people forget about you” is what the record companies used to say, and they'd rush you into the studio to do another record and get you back out there working. And an awful lot of bands would come back after that initial album cycle and they'd be exhausted, mentally and physically, and not have the energy to construct a really good catalogue of songs for a second album. And a lot of bands suffered from that, from a second album blues. [...] So part of the thinking was, let's hold over some songs so we've got a basis to start with for a second album. November Rain was very near and dear and significant to Axl. And there was a sense of, you know what, if we hold this back, it gives you more time to finesse the arrangement and be absolutely satisfied the song is going to be the way you want it. And if we've got a couple more songs, what was it, You Could Be Mine and Don't Cry, we've got something to start with for a second album. So, from my point of view, I was really content to hold back quality songs because we had a good album, and if we had something in the larder when we came back from our excursions that would be to the good.

We knew Axl had been working on November Rain. You can hear it on Sound City demos, right? [...] You know, he worked on it. He perfected it and, and it was a process. It was a song he needed to get out and worked on for ever since the band, I think, pretty much started. And we had Don't Cry. There were songs we knew that we're gonna push off to a second record.

Tom was real high on Sweet Child, and I had a major boner for Paradise City. And because we had Sweet Child we didn’t need November Rain. Axl was convinced that November Rain was his masterstroke, and that it needed even more time and attention. So it qualified as a brilliant hold-over.

Although satisfied with the album, Niven was worried about the money spent:

A lot of time and money had been spent. The recording of Appetite cost 365,000 dollars. It was an outrageous amount to spend on a debut, and I wondered if we would ever dig out of that hole and see any meaningful income.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Wed Apr 03, 2024 2:47 pm; edited 26 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:26 pm


I don’t remember when I actually first laid eyes on a Les Paul. I just remember almost subconsciously thinking, ‘That’s a cool-looking guitar’. Because when I started, I didn’t know anything! With all that musical upbringing, and all those gigs I went to with my parents, I didn’t really know anything about how a guitar worked! And so when I actually started playing guitar I’d have to go, ‘Okay, well I like this song, or this solo, and there’s a picture of the guy in the band, and he’s playing that guitar…’ and I remember seeing the Les Paul often enough to notice it was cool. I don’t think I was ever attracted to the Strat… and the Flying V was a little bit too flashy for me.

As discussed previously, Slash had been trying out different guitar before joining Guns N' Roses and in his first period in the band, with a B.C. Rich Mockingbird being a favorite guitar for concerts.

Before the recording of Appetite for Destruction, Slash pawned the Mockingbird for drug money [source?]:

I wish I had never pawned my BC Rich guitar; it was one of my first good guitars. Now I have like 80 or 90, but my whole career started on that guitar. It's out there somewhere. Some snotty kid's probably got it sitting in his closet behind his Erector set. It's really got some history; I'd give anything to get it back.

After the Mockingbird Slash had a few different guitars and ended up with Steve Hunter's Les Paul but the chaos of his life meant it got lost/stolen/hawked:

Then I went to a BC Rich Mockingbird, and then through a period of searching. I had a killer Strat for a minute and Jackson gave me a couple of guitars. And finally I got (Lou Reed/Alice Cooper guitarist) Steve Hunter's guitar, which was a flame top Les Paul but it got stolen.

I went through as much shit as I could get - I was searching. I gravitated towards a Les Paul, the first electric I got was a Les Paul copy and I identified with it. I could have chosen any number of piece of shit guitars but I chose the Les Paul shape - I could only afford a copy at the time for 100 bucks. Then after that I got a BC Rich Mockingbird - one of those short- homed seventies ones - and I played that for a long time.

Then I got a job at a guitar store - I had two or three jobs at the time actually - and that enabled me to buy a couple of other guitars. So then I bought a black Les Paul Standard and a Strat to go along with the BC Rich. I tried to work with the Strat but couldn’t get along with it and ended up getting rid of it. Then I ended up getting rid of the Les Paul for what reasons I don’t recall, but that particular guitar was sort of thin sounding. I was still exploring.

Then I ended up getting Steve Hunter’s Les Paul that I bought from a place in Hollywood and that was my main guitar. But somehow in the whole flurry of gigs, drugs and panhandling I lost that guitar. Then I ended up with a BC Rich Warlock that they made for me. I also had a couple of Jacksons - one of them was a prototype strat-shape with an archtop.

I started with a BC Rich Mockingbird because I saw a poster of Joe Perry with that guitar. It took me a while before I could afford it and it was my only instrument for a long time. After that I stayed loyal to the brand, but I played on a Warlock, the guitar I had in the early days of Guns. Then I endorsed Jackson and I got a Firebird with my tattoo on the horn; but it didn't really suit me, I couldn't find my identity.

It took me a while to find my identity. During Guns’ club days I had a Les Paul that had be­longed to Steve Hunter [Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth], but I also used a B.C. Rich Mockingbird, a Strat, some Jacksons.

I think there are instrument and equipment benchmarks you reach every so often when you're discovering yourself as an artist. They're tonal plateaus where you think, "This sounds amazing," and it carries you for a while. That Les Paul copy/distortion pedal setup was my first plateau. My next setup was a B.C. Rich Mockingbird that I wish I still had, and a Sunn Beta Lead solid­state head with a 2x12 cabinet. That combination actually sounded pretty great, and I really identified with it for about a year.

I went from there to a ['60s-era] small­logo Marshall head with a Strat and a Les Paul, switching off between the two guitars. That sound was cool - bigger and rawer than anything previous. I soon evolved things to a newer Marshall - a JCM 800, I think-and a reissue flametop Les Paul that had belonged to Steve Hunter. I eventually hawked that guitar, but I used it in the clubs for years, on up through the beginning of Guns N' Roses.

The BC Rich Warlock and the two Jacksons were the guitars he had when they started to record Appetite for Destruction, but he was frustrated with the sound of these guitars:

The corkscrew-haired guitarist was unsatisfied with his guitar tone on Appetite's basic tracks, recorded at now-defunct Canoga Park facility Rumbo Recorders using two Jackson guitars and a B.C. Rich Warlock. and he was growing increasingly frustrated as he attempted to rerecord all his parts with producer Mike Clink at Take One Studios in Burbank.

Talking about his frustration:

I played the Warlock for a while but when I went into the studio to record Appetite, I was listening back through the monitors to the basic tracks and those guitars sounded like shit. And I started to freak out - I needed to get a guitar. I didn’t have any money and didn’t know anyone I could loan the money from. I also didn’t have any friends who could lend me a guitar.

I was lucky even to have a guitar for the Appetite album. Originally, when I got to the studio, I had somehow in a fit of desperation, pawned most of my guitars, so all I had was a BC Rich Warlock and two Jacksons. I'd been playing those guitars live, and they sounded OK in a room full of people, but when I actually went and heard them in the cans they sounded fucking horrible.

By the time we went in to record Appetite for Destruction, I had a B.C. Rich Warlock, a Jackson Firebird, and a Jackson prototype archtop Strat-style guitar, and, for the first time, I got to hear them all miked up, and they sounded fucking horrible. I didn't know what to do.

As a sidenote, in October 2016, Slash's BC Rich Warlock was being auctioned off by Julien's Auctions together with a letter of authenticity by Slash [Julien's Auctions/Blabbermouth, October 11, 2016]. The guitar had been acquired from Slash's original guitar technician and roadie Jason Solon [Julien's Auctions/Blabbermouth, October 11, 2016].

Alan Niven would remember coming to the studio as Slash was recording for Appetite For Destruction and seeing a guitar poking out of the windshield of the band's rental van:

There was a fucking [Gibson] SG though the windscreen, neck-first. And that's a message that even I can understand.

That Gibson SG was intended to be the main guitar used on the record, but in the end it can only be heard on My Michelle [LA Weekly, April 11, 2016].

Alan Niven then gave Slash Les Paul copy, a "handmade yellow flame-top with zebra [Seymour Duncan] Alnico II pickups" [Guitar Player, December 1991]. Niven would later recall that it costs about $2,500 for the Kris Derrig-made guitar [LA Weekly, April 11, 2016]. In his biography, Slash would mistakenly state that the guitar was made by "Jim Foot" [LA Weekly, April 11, 2016]. Jim Foote sold the guitar to Slash, but it was made by Kris Derrig [LA Weekly, April 11, 2016].

And then, just before the recording of Appetite For Destruction, really at the last minute, our manager brought me this Les Paul flametop 59 with these Seymour Duncan Alnico II microphones, and it excited me. It was a gift from God. It changed my life.

I got a handmade '59 Les Paul copy, built by a guy who makes awesome guitars, better than anything the company produces now—nothing against Gibson. I think that's when I turned into a Gibson freak—Gibson and Marshall. That's been my standard until this album [=Use Your Illusions].

And over the course of time, I went through lots of different guitars, but I ended up back with the Les Paul style guitar. And then when Guns was doing "Appetite For Destruction", I didn't have any set guitar that I was really comfortable with, and I was going to go in and do all the guitar overdubs, Alan Niven, he was Guns 'n Roses manager back then, he brought me this Les Paul, and it was a handmade one, it wasn't an original one, it was hand made, and it sounded great, and that's what I used on "Appetite For Destruction", and I've played a Les Paul ever since.

It's probably 1984 or '85 and it's not even a Gibson. I never met the guy that made it but he built the most amazing '59 replicas that were better than most real ones. When I was doing Appetite For Destruction my manager at the time bought one of these in for me to try because I was going through this search and discovery process and I didn't have anything that sounded good in the studio. I was freaking out and on the day that I went in to do the solo tracks and I went in with that guitar and it just sounded amazing.

For me as a guitar player that '59 replica had an identifiable sound to it and that's been my main guitar all the way until now and probably in the future. I experiment more these days when I'm looking for something in particular but my standard rock and roll sound is that guitar. I have three guitars made by this guy but sadly he was dead before I ever met him.

I went through another sort of search trying to find a good guitar that ended up taking me to the Appetite sessions. And while we were doing the basic tracks for Appetite, I was going through all these guitars and they sounded terrible.

Everything - especially in the studio, everything is like microscope. And right before I went to do the overdubs, not knowing what the [bleep] I was gonna do, our old manager handed me this Les Paul, which is still the main guitar I use to this day. And it’s not even a real Gibson, it’s a handmade 59 by some guy, some artist, guitar artist-

I went into the recording studio when Gun's N' Roses did Appetite For Destruction and I was only 20 years old when all this was going on. So, we're doing the basic tracks for the record and none of these guitars sounded any good. They all sound great live because they're really loud and it's an open space, but when you're listening to the playback speakers...I'm going: I need a guitar! I had to do guitar overdubs in a week and I was handed a Les Paul's not even a real Les Paul, it was hand-made by this guy, Max. Ever since then I've been a Les Paul guy.

[...] it wasn’t until we did Appetite that things truly solidified for me. [...] Then when we were recording Appetite, our manager [Alan Niven] found me another Les Paul—it was a handmade copy [the Chris Derrig-built 1959 replica], but it sounded great, and that was it. No more fuck­ing around. And I use that guitar to this day.

Allan Niven, our manager then, gave me this Les Paul ’59 which has been my mainstay ever since [the Chris Derrig-made guitar]. Up until then I hadn’t achieved that security of identifying myself and saying, okay I’m a Les Paul guy. Up until then it was a case of any guitar I could lay my hands on. But I was pretty adamant that Strats were too inconsistent and I wasn’t going to go for a Charvel or anything like that. Even one of the Jacksons was a Firebird shape, that’s the one they made for me with my tattoo on it.

Finally, I was in the studio doing Appetite and I got this guitar the day before I was going to go in to do my overdubs. I’d rented a bunch of Marshalls and one in particular sounded fucking great and it was one of those things where it was a combination of the room and the guitar and amp - it made for the perfect sound for me. It was my sound! I also had an SG that I used for something, but other than that it was straight Les Paul.

Right before we went in to do guitar overdubs, Alan [Niven] gave me a handmade copy of a 1959 Les Paul made by a guy called Kris Derris. He built a run of between 50 and 100 immaculate '59 reissues, and that was the guitar that I used for the whole record. You could never tell that they weren't Gibsons.

Luckily, the day before I came back in the studio to redo all my parts, I got this impeccable '59 Les Paul copy with period-perfect hardware, a perfect setup, and Seymour Duncan Alnico IIs. We rented a bunch of amps, found the right Marshall, and the perfect sound came together. The Appetite tone is a combination that guitar, the studio we were in, and Mike Clink engineering. Mike is the best engineer in the world. When I stood in front of the speakers in the control room and hit that first chord, it gave me joy, and I played as such.

For the first record, I must have gone through 10 guitars trying to find one I liked. And I couldn't afford to buy some ridiculously expensive Les Paul. When our former manager showed up with this one, it became my main studio guitar […] for almost everything on Appetite and then for most of the heavier songs on Use Your Illusion.

Mike Clink would later recall reacting to the guitar:

While visiting San Francisco in February 1988 to play at the Warfield (February 2), Slash received two new Les Pauls from Gibson:

I’d been using these two guitars that were these really nice, handmade Les Pauls. One of them I’d use on the records and the other one was a backup. I was thrashing the shit out of them. Gibson sold me, at cost, two brand-new Les Pauls. I retired the old ones and those two new Les Pauls ended up being my main guitar all the way up until … I still use them.

Also in 1988, Slash bought a Les Paul owned by Aerosmith's Joe Perry:

The first good vintage guitar I ever got was Joe’s. That was in 1988. [...] That particular guitar, when I was 15, 16, whatever, when I was a big Aerosmith fan, was the coolest guitar I’d ever seen. I’d seen a million fucking cherry sunburst Les Pauls, from Jimmy Page all the way to Keith Richards and Eric Clapton and all these other people that have played them. And they’re beautiful guitars. They’re great.

But when I saw that one that Joe had in various Aerosmith photos, that was the coolest Les Paul. I didn’t know what tobacco sunburst was, but in every picture, it was just a darker-looking Les Paul than what everybody else had. So I knew that guitar very well. And I just thought it was really, really cool. I never imagined in a million years it would suddenly pop up for sale. But Guns was finishing up a tour in Japan — the first-ever trip to Japan — and I got this phone call from the office in L.A., saying somebody’s got a guitar they want to sell and thought I might be interested.

He said, it used to belong to Eric Roberts and Joe Perry and Dwayne Allman. And I was like, “Oh. You know what? Send pictures, because I know that guitar and all the nicks on the front.” Because it’s a real recognizable guitar. And when I got home from the tour, I got to my apartment, I got the mail, and there was this envelope stuffed with paper and photos. Polaroids. And I opened it up and was like, “Fuck. That’s the guitar.”

At some point somewhere, I’d heard the story from Joe. Something having to do with a bad financial situation, and how that guitar got hocked. But whoever had the guitar didn’t really realize the value of it, because they sold it to me for $8,000. So this guitar gets Fedex’ed to my apartment, and I was living at a real cheap fucking apartment. And I opened it up, and there’s my coveted fucking Les Paul, that Joe used to have, and that I remember from all these posters and photographs from when I was a kid. So that was really my first good Les Paul.

And I actually gave it back to Joe finally back in 2002 or something. I offered it back to him when I first got it, for what I paid for it. But at that time, he didn’t have the money. Aerosmith had just gotten back together. So I had it, and I used it for various things.

I used it in the “November Rain” video, I used it on some MTV stuff we did. Here and there. But I never really felt comfortable with it, because I never really felt like it was my guitar. But I loved it anyway. And I held onto it. There were a couple of times that Joe came back to me, wanting it. But then by that point I wasn’t ready to give it back to him. This went on for years, back and forth. But then, when we went in to do Use Your Illusion, I bought a ’59 Les Paul, I bought a ’56 Goldtop, a ’58 Flying V and a ’58 Explorer. And that as basically it. I didn’t really buy any vintage guitars after that for a long time. But I recently did buy another ’59.

He also started accumulating additional guitars and by 1989 he had begun on a nice collection:

Right now, I have two acoustics right here in front of me that I've been playing. And then when I was out on the road [in 1987/1988] I picked up, besides the two Les Pauls that I played when I was in England, which are the old ones, I got some new ones from Gibson and I bought like a '56 Gold Top, and I got a couple '68 Les Paul customs, and stuff. Just for different sounds and stuff. Nothing that I won't use. It's gotta be something that I will use, you know.

In 1991, Slash got a new B.C. Rich:

But a while ago I bought another [B.C. Rich] from this guy I met at the Cathouse [an L.A. club] one night. I used it in the video for "You Could Be Mine." B.C. Rich saw the video and were ecstatic.

I didn't play a Rich for a long time after that. But one night I was down at the Cathouse and a friend of mine told me he had a Mockingbird for sale for $150. I bought it from him and started using it. B.C. Rich heard that I was using one of their instruments, and was stoked, so they made me four different models. I ended up keeping only one, because I'm a real stickler for tone and general guitar sounds. If there's one thing wrong with one I won't use it. But I really like the one that I kept. I'm using it a lot now. I haven't done an endorsement deal with them, but they seem happy enough that I'm using one of their instruments.

Looking back at his first Les Pauls:

[...] I worked in a guitar store. That was really helpful in being able to put my future paychecks away towards something. “Don’t pay me, and I’ll just take this.” So I could get it right away and pay it off over six months. But it was definitely difficult.

It’s funny, you forget how difficult — how hard — it is to be a kid trying to get decent equipment and guitars. And when Guns and Roses started, I didn’t even have a Les Paul, at that time. Then finally I got a hold of, again, a Les Paul copy. But this one was a really nice one.

There’s two guys that made really memorable Gibson copies, Gibson ’59 reissue before Gibson put out reissues. One guy, his name is Kris Derrig, and the other guy was Peter Max Baranet. Peter made this particular Les Paul, and apparently Steve Hunter from Alice Cooper’s band had it before I did. So that became my guitar. That was my thing. And in Guns N’ Roses, not really knowing it at the time, but looking back on it, it became predominantly my image, in a public way, with Guns N’ Roses and the Les Paul.

And then, because of a lot of different things that you hock equipment for (laughter), I was without a Les Paul, which was regrettable. I was using guitars from whoever. I had a Jackson, and whatever else. And when Guns N’ Roses went to the studio to record, those guitars in the studio did not sound like what it was that I wanted to sound like. And that was my first real recording experience.

My then-manager, Alan Niven, gave me yet again another Les Paul handmade guitar, this one made by Kris Derrig, which was what I recorded all of Appetite for Destruction with. And that was really what cemented my sound, and my relationship with the Les Paul. Then I finally did get a real Les Paul made by Gibson in 1988. They sold me two at an artist’s price. And I traveled with those two guitars in the early days of Guns N’ Roses as my main guitars. Still, to this day, both of them go out on the road with me. One’s my main one, and one’s my backup. [...]

They were just 1988 Les Paul Standards. Straight off the line. I think I got them in San Francisco, because basically I needed those guitars because the Kris Derrig guitar that I had on the road, and then also the other one by Max Baranet, I had those two guitars from 1987 to 1988, were getting really beaten up on the road. I was really hard on them.

These were really nice guitars. So I retired them as soon as Gibson gave me two new ones. And that was it. So I was off and running. Those were my two main guitars. Eventually, I got a Goldtop, which is still a very major part of my whole sound. I think the Goldtop was actually a factory second.

Slash would sporadically talk about his relationship with Gibson Guitars and his Gibson guitars:

I have a few of them [=Gibson guitars] now. I used to play two 59s, but I put those away. Now I’ve got new ones that I completely doctor up and make so that none is a year.

I'm very loyal to Gibson, and I'm really particular about what guitars I use to go out and play live. I only need one guitar to do a whole show. I don't need six guitars-I can't do the [Cheap Trick's] "Rick Nielsen thing" [e.g., different guitar for every song]. I have to have one guitar, and a backup. And in the studio I'm the same way. Gibson built me some "Slash" models. They would give me a guitar-they'd go, "Here, try this out." And I'm real particular about guitars, so I'm going, "No, man. I don't like it." And we went through a whole bunch of them before I found a signature model one that I was comfortable with.

And discussing what changes are made to them:

I put my own pickups in them, I have the necks adjusted, I change the frets I haven’t refinished... you know, whatever.

And talking about his two 59s:

59s, that two. Yeah, those are fine. I’m not into vintage guitars for vintage’s sake. It just so happens that Gibson produced the best stuff back then. You know, they’ve given me some choice stuff now, but this isn’t off the showroom floral stuff.

Later, Slash would discuss what Gibson guitars meant to him and compare with Telecasters:

Yeah, [Gibson]'s the most versatile guitar for me, but it's a matter of taste. Some kids just think it looks cool – which is why I got it, because it was the cool-looking guitar. I guess you force yourself to understand the nature of the guitar because it looks good. Some people maybe like Strats because of the bar and it's also a very versatile guitar, but it's different. There's a certain rock'n'roll element you can get out of a Strat that I'd have to use a wah-wah pedal to get on a Las Paul. But at the same time Strats are so fuckin' unpredictable. It's hard to find a good one.

I guess I got off the subject a little... I had a poster of Jimmy Page and one of Joe Perry and they were playing Les Pauls – that's what got me into Gibsons. In fact, I have the guitar that Perry is playing in that very poster. I thought that was the coolest-looking guitar and I have it, years later. It's so weird! Plus, tone-wise it's something thick and something mentally I have control of; more so than I have with Jacksons and all the Eddie Van Halen-type stuff, I just didn't feel they had any real body. But Les Pauls I'm very particular about as well; I like Standards, I don't like Customs that much.

I did play a Telecaster on 'Since I Don't Have You' and there's a song called 'Dead Horse' that I played the lead on a Strat. If it calls for a certain sound, I'll pull out a guitar because I know I have it.

You know, with the home-made Strat style thing that was going on, and the Jacksons and all that, to this day the only guitar that’s remotely like that that I can deal with is a BC Rich, and then only the old ones. Otherwise, nothing has that kind of weight to it. And even the copy Strats didn’t sound like Strats. I don’t think anybody was paying attention to the textures of necks and all that, and of course a lot of your feel - your bends and stuff - come from the neck. So it’s really nice to have a solid guitar that, instead of it playing for you, you have to actually get into it, something like a woman, otherwise it’s not going to perform. And I like that feeling in a guitar. The Les Paul has its flaws, but you work together.

I'm most comfortable on a Gibson. But if I want to go with a Strat or a Tele, it has to be for a certain application which means the song won't be like the prototypical sound I get for the hard rock stuff. It means I'm playing some blues or some off-the-wall sort of Hendrix thing. That happens very rarely. I don't take a Strat on the road. Those guitars are more for the studio and I don't break that stuff out very often. But when I know something will sound great with a Tele, I pull it out.

I do play everything different on a Tele because I'm not as familiar with it. I play with my fingers a lot when I start playing a Strat or a Tele, and I have to change the amps around, too. There are certain techniques to adjust to "the changing of the guard," which is why I try to stick with my basic Les paul and basic amp set up because it's less of a pain in the ass.

For me personally, I don’t know about everybody else. Guitar players get together and that’s the last thing really we want to talk about; we usually talk about cars. Guitars are very personal and when I first started out, I didn’t know anything about guitar playing. I almost didn’t even start playing; I was initially supposed to play bass because I really didn’t know that much of the difference between the two. But I was leaning towards the Les Paul because particular guitar players that I liked used Les Pauls and also sounded really cool. So, they were cool and they sounded good.

Not to say that I didn’t like Strats back when Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmour and guys like that all used Strats. But there was something about guitar players that used Les Pauls that had a certain kind of thing to it.

The first couple of years, I think the first guitar I got was a Les Paul copy. And then I went through a BC Rich and I had a Fender and I had a Les Paul; those were the main three guitars that I had over the first two years that I started playing. And I always gravitated back toward a Les Paul; it just felt comfortable to me. It immediately reacted the way that I wanted it to compared to other guitars. I just used to fumble around with a Strat for hours trying to get it to the point where I was comfortable with it.

So, it’s just one of those things that the particular instrument that you as a person, as an individual, identify with, you sort of get the thing that you want out of it. And at some point, I think around the time that Guns N’ Roses started, I got a hold of a used Les Paul that used to belong to Steve Hunter from Alice Cooper. And that was like my main live guitar in the clubs for a few years and I think at some point during those crazy days, I hocked it. And then I had a handful of guitars: I had a couple Jacksons and a couple BC Richs, and I went into the studio to do Appetite For Destruction. We were doing the basic tracks, sort of like the throwaway guitar tracks but you all play together to get the bass and drums. And listening to playback in the cans, those guitars sounded horrible (laughs). You know?

And I never really liked ‘em live either; there was a couple of gigs I did live. So I was desperate to find a guitar and my manager gave me a Les Paul and I just fell right into my comfort zone and we made the Appetite record. And I haven’t really messed around with other guitars too much since.

I just feel comfortable with it. I like the deepness of the tone of a Les Paul. The humbuckers have a lot to do with that. But then there’s also the heaviness of it – I think that lends itself to the richness of the sound. But then I’ve never really known that for sure, because some very heavy Les Pauls sound very, very thin. It’s just a warm guitar, and it’s great for single-note stuff, which I do a lot of. If you get a good Les Paul and the right Marshall and just dial it in right, for me, that’s just always been the ultimate rock ’n’ roll sound.

Slash would later give the guitar that had been owned by Joe Perry, back to Perry [Vintage Guitar, April 2001].

On the Use Your Illusion records Slash would use many different guitars:

Some fucking great guitars—a '58 V and a '58 Explorer. There's a certain nasal sound that you can hear on "Heaven's Door," "Locomotive," and a couple of other songs—it's almost [Michael] Schenker-sounding. That's just the tone control on the V, no wah pedal. There were a couple of other guitars that people aren't used to hearing me play: I used one of those small-scale Music Mans like Keith Richards has. There's a Travis Bean that I use for slide on "Bad Obsession" [Illusion I]. When I first got into slide, I went to a Joe Perry Project show; he had a Travis Bean, and it sounded killer. So when I saw one in the paper, I bought It. It has a gorgeous mahogany body with this real subtle rainbow in the finish—it's almost airbrushed. I played maybe 20 different guitars on Use Your Illusion: a Strat, a Dobro, a 6-string bass, a banjo, some acoustics. But the sound that I'm recognized for is my Les Paul through a Marshall half-stack. […] I have several Guilds—a nice 12-string and a couple of great big dreadnoughts. I used a Gibson I-100 too.

This last record was a stretch of the imagination as far as guitars go, because I had the financial means to experiment, whereas on ‘Appetite For Destruction’ I used pretty much one guitar for the whole record. Then when we did the ‘Lies’ EP I used different acoustics and a Telecaster and stuff like that. If you give me the choice to go through different guitars I’m really into it, but I went through something like twenty guitars before I found the one that I used for ‘Appetite’, none of which I owned - all borrowed. But I finally got this one Les Paul which I used for all the hard rock stuff on the two albums that we’ve just come out with; I used that same guitar for the chord stuff and anything real chunky.

Talking about old versus new Gibson guitars:

Well, see, in a studio old guitars are great, because there my ear is real keen. I can hear, because of an element in the wood or maybe in the amp, that there’s no way we’re going to achieve any kind of sound with it; it’s just not going to happen. But when we’re playing live I don’t lake any of those guitars out any more because they’re too precious. Gibson build me guitars all the time, but they’ve only come up with so many that are actually usable; I send the other ones back. I’ve got a new double-neck that I’ve been using because I put my old one away. I’ve also got one Les Paul Standard that’s my main guitar and I’ve had that ever since I signed my deal with Gibson six years ago - they haven’t been able to duplicate it since. I have one that’s like the B version of that, and I’ve got a goldtop which I also use. I recently got a black Standard which they never lacquered, so it’s completely matt black, it’s really great looking and on the back it’s got ‘Hold this for Slash’ etched in it. I got it before it was finished and I said, ‘It’s great, leave it.

After The Spaghetti Incident? was released Slash would talk about the equipment he had used:

I used a Marshall half-stack, the one that I used for most of Use Your Illusions. For the first half of the punk record I had one half-stack, but towards the end I had two half-stacks in series.

As for guitars, I used whatever was around. I played Gilby's Tele on "Since I Don't Have You" because I had rented a Les Paul that was a piece of shit. For the rest of the stuff, it's either a Melody Maker or Les Paul. I was just looking at my appraisal sheets for the guitars that I own - I've got 81. At this point I just think of a particular type of guitar that will work for the song and grab whatever happens to be in the front of storage. I try to make any guitar do what I want it to.

I've got a red '63 and a white '65 [melody maker], which I use more often. I still play my Max Les Paul copy with zebra pickups a lot. I used that for Appetite. It's my main guitar, and it holds a special place in my heart. Recently I've been using my main live guitar, an '84 or '85 Les Paul Standard reissue, because it's the closest by. It's been my main live guitar since we started because Gibson unfortunately doesn't produce many good-sounding new guitars. It's pretty beat up. It looks like it's 25 years old at this point.

Slash would also discuss his relationship with guitar technology:

Well, it’s gotten to a point where everything’s almost computerised, and I have no knowledge of computers and no patience for the technical side. You know, Steve Lukather’s a friend of mine and he’s got a rack that’s this high and a pedal-board that’s a mile long, and if I go and jam with him at a club or something it scares me, because it’s like a space station. When I started, all I knew how to do was take the guitar, tune it and plug it into a Fender amp, and I never took it much further than that. When I tried something like a BOSS pedal-board, something new and different, I never settled with it. But now my tech’s got my amps worked out in a way that I don’t even know how to turn them on!

We have to use a wireless on stage because of the amount of movement, and that’s about as complicated as I’ll get. A lot the of the class and appreciation for the instrument is gone now. A lot of the kids don’t come up with that feeling; they’re not into really appreciating the instruments at all. It’s all speed and finesse, and if you can play fast and bring some feeling out, fine, but you should appreciate it because of the guitar and the amp you’re going into as opposed to the fact that it’s technically clever. It’s the same as the music business itself; it’s like they’re putting out records just for the sake of it, and so the whole thing goes hand-in-hand.

I had to try tons of [amplifiers] before our first album. But my guitar in this f**in’ amp, that's all I need. Mainly no effect, except for a Cry Baby wah wah and a Dean Markley voice box. That's enough to make me happy.

And in 1997 he would sum up his relationship with Gibson Les Pauls:

And over the course of time, I went through lots of different guitars, but I ended up back with the Les Paul style guitar. And then when Guns was doing "Appetite For Destruction", I didn't have any set guitar that I was really comfortable with, and I was going to go in and do all the guitar overdubs, Alan Niven, he was Guns 'n Roses manager back then, he brought me this Les Paul, and it was a handmade one, it wasn't an original one, it was hand made, and it sounded great, and that's what I used on "Appetite For Destruction", and I've played a Les Paul ever since. So you have that learning period, trying different things out to find something that's a vehicle for, one, how you play, and also something that connects with your Marshall, you know, how you sound. If all three of you work together, then... you find some sort of a marriage, and then like the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", so... I mean, I'm not lazy, but I don't like to fuss about with the shit. If I have a problem with it, it's like with women, you know - just sort of tweak it a little bit, it'll be all right. You don't necessarily have to get a new one right away... ! (Laughs)

In late 1997, the Les Paul he got in 1986 had broke:

The one I take on tour with me? The one I snapped, the broken one? That was the first guitar from Gibson that I got, I think it was 1986 I bought it, and I've had it ever since. I had it refinished - I had it as my main guitar pretty much until the last few months, but then I snapped the neck on it, and I thought, oh-oh, because this guitar has been a mainstay for a long time. If I pull a couple more of those tricks with it, it'll be no more. So I went to Gibson in Nashville and went through about twenty guitars, and found two new replacements, so that I can take those on the road and beat the shit out of those... (laughs) But it's just a Les Paul Standard, a 1985.

Talking about his vintage guitars:

I've got like four 59's, I have one 58 V and two 58 Explorers, a couple of old SG's, a couple of Melody Makers - let's see, I have a doubleneck SG that's relatively old, but not way back. Then when we get into acoustics, I have a couple of old Martins. I've got some old Strats and Telecasters, too.

As for Fender's:

Hands down - I think this is a diluted quote from Jeff Beck - hands down, a Strat is probably one of the best rock'n'roll guitars, but you gotta find a good one, man! But that's more of a pain in the ass than what it's worth, sometimes. So I will pull a Strat out, especially one with a bar on it, it's a 63 or a 65, somewhere around there, and use it for something when I really need a good whammy bar. But I won't take one on the road, cause it's too unpredictable. If I need a whammy guitar sound I'll take one B.C. Rich guitar on the road with a tremolo bar on it. And if the worst comes to the worst, I'll just keep bending the neck on the Les Paul... (laughs).

And talking about old versus new guitars:

You know, we were talking at the press conference yesterday, there was a thing about, "Do you collect guitars?". And guitars aren't really what I would consider for collecting. All the ones that I have are ones that I have used at some particular time, because I'm a pack rat like that, I keep them. If it worked for me once, it'll work for me again if I ever need it. So I keep them. You know, if I have something that looks great, and doesn't sound for shit, then I have no use for it - I'm not all that attractive myself, let alone - I mean, a guitar's not going to help me out any better, you know what I'm saying? (Laughs) So I don't keep guitars around just because they're vintage, but I have to admit, some of the sounds of the older guitars that I have are very organic compared to some of the newer ones. And I think that has a lot to do with the amount of craftsmanship that they had to do hands-on, building the guitars, as opposed to the factories. I don't have that much experience, technically, but I can tell the difference.

But at the same time, when you're thinking about that subject, it really is the player, too. I did a gig in India recently, and I was using whatever they had, and it wasn't what I would consider the optimum product to be using, but you just work with it, it's all you have to go on. So you know, you can have favourites, and things that you like to deal with, but when it comes down to it, as a player, you have to work with what you have. If you're lucky you can sell a couple of records, and then you can have whatever you want, and then you carry that around. But if something happens and your plane goes down and you happen to be the sole survivor, and your guitar's broken and you have a gig the next day, you use whatever you can get.

Talking about his Goldtop that got stolen in August 1999 [for more on this, see later chapter]:

[...] in the nineties on the Use Your Illusion tour, I picked up a brand new Gibson Goldtop which became a major part of the set and I used it for all of the sort of epic ballads that had long sustaining guitar solos. Sweet Child O' Mine, November Rain, Estranged, Knocking On Heaven's Door, So Fine, and my guitar solo as well, so I did The Godfather with it.

The tobacco sunburst and regular sunburst are very aggressive sounding guitars, so it wasn't necessarily as aggressive but it made up for it with this really nice, warm, round lead sound. For those songs I would take the tone and I would turn it all the way down for those really creamy, sustainy solos.

And that particular guitar got stolen out of my recording studio in 1998, so I went to Gibson and asked if they could make me another one, modelled after that 1991 Goldtop, and that's basically what this one is. So the tone pots have particular significance."

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:27 pm

DECEMBER 31, 1986

At the end of the year the band would play a New Year's Eve Party at the Glamour together with many other bands including Wall of Voodoo, Jet Boy and Jane's Addiction [L.A. Weekly, December 26, 1986].

Ads in L.A. Weekly, December 26, 1986

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:27 pm



Early on, presumably before being signed to Geffen in 1986, the band hired the lawyer Peter Paterno to construct "a legal framework for what had been just a one-for-all-and-all-for-one-gang". The band had gotten in contact with him earlier when Vicky Hamilton had used him to draw up agreements. Paterno explained to the band that they needed a partnership agreement. As Duff said:

[Paterno] did a great job lassoing in a bunch of guys and making sure we understood the implications of various aspects of the contracts among the band members and between the band and the label.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 100

One of the first things the band argued over was splitting publishing royalties. Despite the band members contributing in complex ways to songwriting, they finally agreed to split everything equally across the board. And their lawyer enshrined it in writing [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011].


At some point, when working on Appetite for Destruction, the band again gathered to discuss how they would split the revenues, at Alan Niven's place in Los Feliz. This time Axl ended up receiving more than the others. Axl would shed light on this when he in 1989 said they had calculated that he wrote 41 % of the music of Appetite for Destruction, but that they still split the revenues "pretty close" to equal among the five members [Howard Stern, February 6, 1989; RIP, April 1989].

[When asked if he doesn't write most of the material]: Uhm, it depends. You know, it's like, I had like probably about... we figured out some, like, 41% of the last record but, you know, it's like we split up pretty equal so we all [?] get places to live […].

Slash devised a system of figuring out who wrote what parts of a song or part of a song. There were four categories, I believe. There was lyrics, melody, music - meaning guitars, bass and drums - and accompaniment and arrangement. And we split each one of those into twenty-five percent. When we had finished, I had forty-one percent, and other people had different amounts.
Rolling Stone, May 11, 2000; quote from court proceedings

Steven would make a statement in 1991 that supported this:

When we recorded [Appetite for Destruction], Slash came up with this system where whoever wrote got credit. But then when it came time to actually divide them up, suddenly everybody was getting credit but me. I mean, [for example] Izzy wrote the song "Think About You" by himself before we started playing it, yet Slash, Duff, and Axl were also going to be receiving royalties for it, since they supposedly "added to it". I said, "well what about me? Did I add nothing?" I mean Izzy wrote the fucking song, I thought that's how the writing credits were determined, but the other guys were getting credit for something they didn't write, and I wasn't. Same thing for all the other songs, Axl would get credit for songs such as "Brownstone" [written by Slash and Izzy] and "It's So Easy" [written by Duff and West Arkeen], even though he didn't write anything on them, and the other guys [who didn't write also got credit] too. So why not me? So Axl gave me a portion of his [to compensate for not being included], and my name was put beside the rest of theirs [in the writing credits] and that was that.

Yet, according to Steven's biography, during this meeting Axl argued for a bigger share (likely because of the above) and "tricked" Steven into getting 5% of his, resulting in 25% to Axl, 15% to Steven, and 20% to each of the three remaining band members:

Now, I thought it was kind of a formality because we had talked about all this before and from day one it was always supposed to be an equal share for everybody. But Axl had changed his tune. Axl wanted a bigger slice of the pie. Axl didn't think it was fair to split royalties evenly five ways on our songs. He believed he was entitled to more than the rest of us. The other guys were smart, they just stared at the floor. No one said a fucking thing. I don't know if Axl intimidated them or if they just knew that silence was the best way to deal with his ego. Well, I couldn't just shut the fuck up about it. The reason I wouldn't dummy up was I was so outraged. So right of the bat, I was like, "Screw you, I was here from the beginning, I worked on putting those songs together just as much as you." I had no trouble standing up to Axl because I was right. So now there's this deadly silence again, and it is obvious that its become a big fucking deal. Still, no one else is saying anything, so rather than get into a big argument, I proposed what I thought was a fair offer: "Considering Axl did write most of the lyrics, which is a huge fucking part, I'll give you five percent of my twenty percent." Axl shot me this look of not thanks, not of appreciation, but of arrogance and triumph. It was like he expected it. So I looked around the room because what I expected was for everyone else to follow suit and up the ante too, but the room went dead quiet again. I looked around and everyone kind of started taling about other stuff. The matter was over, settled, done. Axl was happy and I was like, "Fuck!" So it went 25 percent to Axl, 20 percent for each of the other guys, and 15 percent for me. The entire ordeal lasted only a couple of minutes.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 112-113

So basically, if Steven is correct, Axl asked for a higher share and Steven offered 5% of his.

In the October 1992 issue of RIP Magazine, after Steven had been fired from Guns N' Roses, Axl would talk about the mistake of giving Steven more than he felt he deserved, apparently of the opinion that it was Axl who gave shares to Steven, and not the other way around:

At one point, in order to keep this band together, it was necessary for me to give him a portion of my publishing rights. That was one of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life, but he threw such a fit, saying he wasn't going to stay in the band. We were worried about not being able to record our first album, so I did what I felt I had to do. In the long run I paid very extensively for keeping Steven in Guns N' Roses. I paid $1.5 million by giving him 15% of my publishing off of Appetite For Destruction.

This would be supported by Goldstein:

Publishing splits that were 20/20/20, Duff, Slash, Izzy, and then 25 Axl, and 15 Steven. That was a gift to Steven, I mean Axl used to say that all the time. I wasn’t around for the writing, but he was like, ‘Look, they were trying to force me into even splits.’ Steven never wrote anything, so he considered that a big gift to Steven.

Niven would comment on Goldstein's statement:

Yes indeed, that Steven received composing royalties was something of a gift – the policy was that while one was a member of the band one would benefit from all moneys being shared – one for all and all for one. If you left the band and were not a writer than the privilege ended. This method was used by lots of bands – the idea being to prevent arguments over money destroying band chemistry. Van Halen, for example, did the same. The Boomtown Rats famously lost the plot and fell apart because there was no composing royalty sharing and after the first publishing royalties arrived everyone wanted to be a writer. Sometimes its in everyone’s best interest to share.

No one enforced this on anyone in the band – it was accepted and understood well before Goldstein was employed as tour manager. It was their decision, including Axl. I considered that the band bent and made a gift to Axl that he received a larger share. If anyone actually deserved a larger share it was Izzy.

In 2010, Steven would again talk about splitting the royalties and maintain he had freely offered to let Axl have more royalties:

Publishing splits that were 20/20/20, Duff, Slash, Izzy, and then 25 Axl, and 15 Steven. That was a gift to Steven, I mean Axl used to say that all the time. I wasn’t around for the writing, but he was like, ‘Look, they were trying to force me into even splits.’ Steven never wrote anything, so he considered that a big gift to Steven.

In 2012, Alan Niven would claim Axl had always regretted giving Steven parts of his share:

Axl complained all the time that Steven Adler got a percentage of composing royalties. I had recommended that the band have a share-and-share-alike approach to such income — as did Van Halen, Great White, and others – because my observation was that the primary factors that destroyed bands were women and arguing over differential splits of income, especially mechanical royalties. Hence, I would recommend equal sharing of royalties — and not women! In any case with GNR, Axl got more than anyone else, and Adler got less. The other three got the same: less than Axl and more than Adler. Ultimately, the fracture between Axl and Adler was exacerbated by the two factors that always rupture bands — money and a woman.

The "woman" Niven refers to in the quote above is likely Erin Everly and the overdose she went through at Steven's house [see later chapter].


For the writing credits on their debut record in 1987, Appetite for Destruction, the band would list every member for each song. In late 1993, Duff would be asked if this was correct:

Yeah, because that’s how we always write our songs.

The idea that each band member contributed equally to the song writing for every song, is of course not correct and for the band's 1991 releases, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, the band had changed to a more precise crediting despite, according to Duff, still splitting the revenues equally:

On the ‘Illusion’ records it said that certain people wrote the songs but moneywise we still split it all equal. At the end of the day I’m proud of what I did and I know I did it. It doesn’t matter to me if other people think I’m just a bass player and that I don’t write any songs.

I know in my own heart what happened, so...

But as discussed previously, the band had ended up on a not entirely equal split prior to Appetite and it is likely revenues from Illusions would also not be equally split between what had now become a six-man band.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:28 pm


[...] it took us a long time to find Mike Clink. And Mike Clink is like, we worked with him and it's basically like a co-produced album. But, you know, we got him for a lower amount of money [?], giving him the name, and plus then he in turn gave us full freedom to do whatever we wanted. Which worked really good for us. And he trusted me a lot in the studio, with all the vocal ideas, because most of the harmonies and stuff I came up with, like 'It's So Easy' and 'Paradise City,' I came up with the night I was recording those parts because I'd never had the opportunity to work on it before.

[...]we went with Mike Clink was because we’re so set in our ways that we didn’t want anybody to re-write our songs. So what we did for the album was, we signed up with an engineer, who was really hot shit. He produced the album. Basically he just got all the sounds, and produced it. He just basically got Guns N’ Roses on tape.

[...] we scared a lot of [producers] away. It took us a long time to figure out who we wanted to use. We didn’t want a producer – you know, “producer” - because we didn’t want anybody to rewrite any of the songs; we thought they were fine the way they were. So what we really wanted was an engineer. Mike Clink happens to be an engineer, more or less, and he gets great sounds - you know, great drum sounds, I got a great guitar sound, and stuff like that. So we just did this, we just recorded the way we originally wrote them and got them to sound good.

With my favourite punk bands, the bass was the loudest thing and led the way. And now as Mike Clink started to produce the songs that would make up Appetite, the bass was the loudest, roundest thing on the recordings. It had a lot of space. And it wasn't on the outside or underneath the way it was on a lot of records back then-Clink had it right in the middle.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 121

Mike is really, really good. He let us have a lot of freedom to do what we wanted to do. We were basically in the production of this record, you know, we were there like every step of the way, every step of the way. When we went to mix it, you know, usually these people don't have anybody there, we went there with the mixing, we were there when they mastered, we were there. And so when you get this record, you know, maybe it's not produced as well as something else you might hear that's done by the best people in the world, but that's because this is more real, this is us. This isn't somebody else doing it, this is us. It's our work.

[Mike] pushes us to do a better job of what we want. […] He makes us analyze things.

As far as my personal guitar tone, I would say that it’s one of the best I ever had in a recording studio. A lot of that was the gear and the room, but Clink was also a great engi­neer. He was able to keep everything real tight, with a lot of punch and midrange. Another thing was that he got a really good drum sound, especially for those days, when drum sounds were fairly over the top. Overall, the album has a little bit of an Eighties sound to it, but it’s still better than most of the stuff from that time. I’d also have to give a lot of credit to Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero, who did a lot of EQing during the mixing stage.

[...] Mike Clink came up and he just seemed to fit the bill well. His personality was not overbearing. I mean, he's not a Roy Thomas Baker type personality. [...] Yeah, Roy Thomas Baker is totally overbearing and divide and rule whereas Clink was really patient, pull it together, let me work Slash, I'll get it down rough and raw, and he did a brilliant job. He got burnt out when it came to mix time, as you can imagine, working with Ax and Slash and everybody, that would burn you out after a while [chuckles].

And [Clink] was this super calm guy and he was like, "Okay," we'd be fucking around, you know, getting ready to track something he would say simply, "All right, guys, dig in." And just you hear him say that, especially for Steven and I was like, "Okay, this is the real." And on Appetite those are first, second, maybe third takes, rarely third takes. But we were ready to record the songs. [...] He'd heard all the material and stuff. He was good, definitely good musical... He believed in our thought process. I should probably just say that. He really did believe in the thought process. He believed in the band and that we were willing to try new stuff that could be looked on so many different ways. We didn't care, we did not care, he didn't care. He was really good at miking stuff up. That's his specialty and it sounds so simple but miking amps up and drums and having that exact sound that he wants come to the tape. It was he explained to that that to us, that's how simple it was. "I just want to get the sound, it's in the room, from the amps and the drums, onto the tape. I don't want to fuck with it. You know you guys have good tones everything sounds good. Let's get that tone." And that was his thing. And he would, when it was time to track, you know, he'd come in all with his headphones, he'd get on his microphones, "All right guys, dig in." Boom. And a lot of those, you know, all that Illusion stuff, those are not-

Steven was initially not so happy with Clink, though:

I liked Mikey. He made some suggestions on changing my drum set up He got me a china cymbal and a second tom. I was like, “Ah, what the hell.” Then he wanted to change Anything Goes, and I got so pissed! “Fuck you, don’t tell us how to write songs!” But we tried his idea out, and it came out great and I said: “I am so sorry”. It just came out of nowhere, my complaining, but I admitted that he was right after we did it. [Explaining what Clink wanted to change on Anything Goes:] Halfway through each verse – it was full time slower, and his idea made the second half double time, faster.

[...] Our producer Mike Clink came up to me and suggested I change my drum setup. [...] Mike asked me to change "Anything Goes" and that really hit a nerve.

"Fuck you, don't tell us how to write songs." I got so pissed because you don't meddle with the music. I pouted, stomped around, and behaved like a real dick. [...]

So we tried his idea, and to my surprise, it came out great. [...] But I will be the first to admit when I'm wrong or out of line, and after we worked it out, I looked Mike straight in the eye and said, "I am so sorry"
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 116-117

The band affected the non-smoker Clink in various ways:

Yeah, we all smoke a lot, and we were in the studio for a couple of months. He went to his doctor one day and he said, “Man, you gotta stop smoking.”

We used to get him all drunk and shit.

You should have seen him. When we first met him he was Mike Clink and then after a while with us he was Mike Clink plus 15-20 years. After we finished the album there was a complete difference. Then he started going out, he started screwing around with all these different girls, he broke up with his girlfriend. Then he started getting difficult about jobs. He started getting real picky.

Guns N' Roses would stay loyal to Clink who would end up working on all the bands albums. In 1994 Slash would talk about their relationship with Clink:

You have relationships with people that relate to what you’re all about, and those initial people that you worked with when things were really tough—when no one else would give you a second listen—you’re loyal to them throughout your career.

And in 2006, Izzy would do the same:

But [in 1986] we finally hooked up with Mike Clink, who funnily enough did... I think it was Survivor? (laughs) So we got along with this guy, he was a cool guy - I still see him once in a while out in the Valley, in a studio here and there. And, you know, we took off from there.

And in 2013, Alan Niven would praise Clink:

And really, as far as the recording of Guns N' Roses is concerned, one has to raise one's hat to two people, in particular. Mike Clink, first and foremost, who I think was a fucking amazing trooper, and Bill Price.

In 2012, Clink would talk about his philosophy of working with a band:

And being asked if he could have made the same record today, and mention how Duff had reacted the first time he used a razor blade for editing the tapes:

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:28 pm

MARCH 16, 1987

While recording their debut album Guns N' Roses did not play any shows (although Izzy did a gig with the band The Loud Ones which featured various artists from other bands at The Scream club on March 7 [L.A. Weekly, March 6, 1987]). But as soon as the recording was completed, they played two shows in March 1986. The first took place on March 16 at the Whisky. According to Marc Canter, since they had just finished recording, the songs now sounded very similar to the versions found on their debut LP [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

Poster for the March 16, 1987,
show at the Whisky

Varla DeVil writing for Endless Party Magazine gave the show a glowing review and concluded:

Hey Ratt, Crye, Poison and all you other so called rock n' roll bands...It's time to retire cause Guns & Roses fit all the requirements for the job...and then some.
Endless Party Magazine, April 1987

Endless Party Magazine
April 1987

Paul Elliott, writing for Sounds Magazine attended the show and would later write about it:

Jet Boy were the support act that night. They had a charismatic singer in Mickey Finn, who sported an outrageous electric-blue Mohican. Plus, they had Sam Yaffa, ex-Hanoi Rocks, on bass. But Yaffa looked lost up on that stage, almost dazed, as if the demise of Hanoi, prompted by the death of their drummer Razzle, had sucked all the life out of him.

Guns N’ Roses had idolised Hanoi – and this much was immediately apparent when they kicked into their first song, Reckless Life, a blast of fast and loose rock ‘n’ roll with a punk/glam edge that was pure Hanoi... except for one crucial difference. Where Hanoi’s Michael Monroe sang with a sardonic punk sneer, Axl Rose was a full-on screamer, more heavy metal. And there was something about Axl, an intensity, that Monroe never had. Both had a certain girlish prettiness, but Axl had a menacing aura; the kind of guy who’d punch your lights out as soon as look at you. Stripped to the waist, his slender arms covered in tattoos, his skin almost translucent under the stage lights, hair whipped into an artful mess, Axl was magnetic, drawing all eyes to him.

Slash was the perfect foil for Axl. His face was hidden under a mop of dark curls, cigarette screwed into his mouth, effortlessly cool, swaying backwards as he fired off solos. Izzy was GN’R’s Keith Richards, sullen and nonchalant. Duff McKagan had the air of a displaced punk rocker, tall and thin, the way bass players should be. Steven Adler looked the archetypical Californian beach bum: big blond hair, fuzzy chest. He could have passed for David Lee Roth’s kid brother. And he was the only one who smiled.

Guns N’ Roses meant business. That much was evident on the night. The rocked hard, they looked cool, and the songs they played from the new album – Welcome To The Jungle, It’s So Easy, Nightrain – pissed all over anything that Motley Crue or Poison had ever come up with.

Arlett Vereecke, who had just accepted working for the band as their independent publicist [see later chapter], also attended the show and commented upon the bad sound system they had:

When I first saw them, I think it was at the Whisky and it was the worst. They just had the new sound system, it was the worse that they ever had and Niven insisted that I went to the show. So I said "Yes, I'm going to go check them out." And they were bad, really bad. But they had something. It was worth sticking it out. And I remember Neil Zlozower, who was a rock and roll photographer said to me, "You've got to work with these guys?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Did you tell Dave [Roth], [?]  I'm calling Dave right now. Did you tell Dave Roth?" I said, "I will tell Dave myself, it's not Dave's decision, it's my decision. And yes, I'm going to work with them." He said, "I can't believe you'd ever consider that, they are losers!" Yeah, you know, he changed his mind really quick after that, but still, at the time he was not a fan. Let's put it this way. So even a bad show, even when they opened for people and did a really bad show that they played different songs that were all fucked up, they were so good, you know.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:29 pm


The band got an increasing number of friends and followers as they became more popular, including fellow musicians, both great and small, bikers, artists, and street people. One of these friends was Del James who had recently travelled to Los Angeles from New York:

I’ve been involved with Guns N’ Roses for as long as I’ve been in California, which is seven years. I guess that would make it about ’85 that I initially hooked up with them. And when I moved out, I went to a building that said “For rent,” and that was a pad West Arkeen was living in, and Axl was crashing on his floor, and Duff was living next door. So while we were walking through this pad West came out and he asked me if I drank, and back then I did, so I spent, like, the weekend there, and those became my first and only friends in California.

Our friend Wes had passed out on Thorazines and I didn’t have a place to crash, and Del said I could crash at their place.

Our social circle soon included a group of recently transplanted New Yorkers who moved out West to--I always suspected--escape legal problems. "Red" Ed, Petey, and Del melded nicely into our lifestyle, which included 24-hour alcohol consumption, scoring any available drugs, sundry debauchery, and plenty of Rolling Stones, Motorhead, Sly and the Family Stone, and Rose Tattoo

Rob Gardner incidentally came from the same town in New York as Del James and knew him from back then:

I knew Del back in New York, in Mamaroneck, it's so funny, and a couple of other friends of mine Randy and Ed - Ed's passed away since - but we were real good friends over there. And that whole group of people - and they knew the Dillons as well, I was telling you I grew up with Matt Dillon, Kevin Dillon, all those guys, and we all knew each other, you know. So it was kind of funny, like, you know, that we knew each other way back then. And then this whole thing happens, you know, Guns N' Roses. So not only Del was involved but Randy and Eddie were involved too because, you know, they had drove out here from New York and I heard they were here in town, you know, one of my New York friend said, "Yeah, they're out there in LA, Randy and Ed, they are over there," you know, like, "Really?" And then I find out sure enough, I find out and they're living with Wes Arkeen, you know, and they worked with them - it's just so funny, like, just that everyone kind of got interwoven, really strange, yeah.

In 2006, Steven would talk about Del James:

He’s a cool mother fucker, very talented, very talented. Good man, very, very smart.

James would also present himself for an article he wrote on

I have a 21-year history with Guns N' Roses dating back to before the record deal. During those 21 years I've been offered amazing opportunities and have directed videos, co-written songs, lived with, humped gear, was the project coordinator for the double live album, etc, etc. I've also interviewed Guns N' Roses for countless publications around the world including Axl Rose's first Rolling Stone cover.

In connection with the re-release of his novel Language of Fear in 2008, James would do some press:

In 1985 I moved from New York to California and never looked back. I was 21. On my first day in Hollywood, the first people I made friends with were the guys in an unsigned band called Guns N' Roses. These dudes were paying their dues in the clubs and struggling to eat once a day. It was far from glamorous or how people think of GN'R today. Shit was as street as street gets. We became friends for the same reasons ya click with anyone in life. We had similar interests, similar habits. West Arkeen, Todd Crew, me, and few others were the only people who keep up with GN'R. And through all of it, Axl was the guy I connected with the most. He took me under his wing. Back in the day, Axl was the guy who hung out on the street corner, bullshitting rock-n-roll all night. He was the guy who loved writing different styles of music with all sorts of different people, myself included. He had the vision beyond the Sunset Strip. He helped me become the person I am today in the sense that I've never met anyone more real than him and hopefully some of that rubbed off. He was always supportive and encouraging of all his friends. Axl has always had my back and everyone should be lucky to have a best friend as loyal as Axl Rose. Over the past 20 years, he's offered me many, many great opportunities and hopefully I've risen to the occasion. I've certainly had my share of wonderfully decadent experiences with Axl and I cherish them all.

You know, from the day that I met Axl Rose, he has been so righteous that you could not ask for a better friend. When we met he was starving and so was I but as he ascended into iconic status he has always given me amazing opportunities that I am grateful for. Axl didn't have to offer me any of the cool opportunities, like working on videos and coordinating the live album and countless others, but that's who he is. He is always the first to share the spotlight and look out for his people. He looks out for me like no one else in this industry ever has. And through it all, he's always been like most considerate, loyal friend you could imagine. When people talk shit about him, I'm like 'Fuck you! You don't fucking know him!'

I moved out to California from New York in 1985. I was 21 years old and I had less than $1000 in my pocket. I had little clue as to what I was going to wind up doing but I knew that California presented opportunities because music was happening here. The Sunset Strip was happening here. If you look at New York, its pedigree was Twisted Sister. If you look at California round the same time, you’re talking Van Halen, you’re talking Motley Crue, you’re talking W.A.S.P. and Ratt and Great White and all these bands who had a opportunity to thrive here. I’m not saying they’re my favorites or anything but there was a scene and opportunity. So in ‘85 I move out here and literally on my first day, when I’m going to an apartment building that say ‘for rent’ on it, I bump into a fella named West Arkeen and living on his floor was a guy with no residence named, Axl Rose. Guns ‘N Roses had been together for several months. I don’t see them play till I think September 20th. That’s the first night they played “Rocket Queen.” So for a month I’m hanging out with these guys. They are my new friends. We speak the same language, do the same drugs, and smoke the same cigarettes. You know, mutual riff-raff influences. I like these guys the same way you like anyone else. These are your bros. These are the dudes you wanna hang out in alleys with and do shit that you do when you’re 21 years old. I remember thinking to myself, if you’re half as cool as your name, Guns ‘N Roses, cause I never heard a name like that you know, you mother fuckers are on to something. When I saw them and it was Aerosmith at Max’s Kansas City. It was the Sex Pistols. It was raw and exciting with so much potential and you know, I was really fortunate to become a part of that gang.

In 2015, James would discuss his relationship with Axl:

I've been down with [Axl] since 1985. If the guy was as difficult as people say he is, no one could have stuck it out that long. There's no amount of money worth that big of a headache. And the reality is, the truth of the matter is, whenever my kids needed something and I couldn't afford it — whatever it was; a medical bill or whatever — he was the first one [to say] 'Yeah, I got it. And don't worry about it.' He is the guy who you call if you make a mistake and need to be bailed out at 4 o'clock in the morning. He makes sure you're taken care of, and he looks after his better than anyone else I can think of.


In November 1993, Axl would write about Del James for James' forthcoming book publication The Language of Fear, an anthology of horror stories, which was released in 1995.

Back when we first met in the summer of ’85, food, shelter, and relief from boredom constituted survival. Del has always been the one to find something to entertain himself faster than anyone else, whether it’s a hockey game, horror movies, a video game, or The Simpsons. It’s amazing to me that considering the self-destructive nature in each of us, our relationship helps us avoid self-destruction. There are a lot of times when Del helps me work through something that is emotionally too huge for me to deal with. That helps me to not self-destruct and in the process take GN’R or anything down with me. He’s always talking me out of stupid shit that I really wouldn’t want to do but I think about doing because I’m frustrated, hurt, angry, or embarrassed. We’ve both saved each other’s lives a few times. Back when we had no clue of what the other one was going to do in life and whether or not we were going to succeed, we still had respect for each other.

In 2008, the anthology would be re-released [SuicideGirls, April 30, 2008].


I’ve been around for twenty some odd years and I’ve worn many different hats. I was in charge of the documentary crew for a while that was on the Use Your Illusions tour. I’ve co-written songs. I’ve been a roommate. I’ve been a dealer, songwriter, and video director…I’ve done a lot of different things. When I get my shit together and finally get off all the drugs and the drink, management made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. They basically said “when you are clean you are part of the solution, you are an asset. When you are wasted you are one of these animals and we’ve got enough animals and the animals are performing. So, you know, so as long a you keep your shit together you will always have a job with Guns N’ Roses.” So far still sober and that’s how I lucked into becoming a road manager. [...] I’ve ascended in GN’R world from fucked up band friend to their road manager. I’ve been given certain opportunities and hopefully made the most of them outside of guns.

In 2018 he referred to himself as "tour mangler" on Twitter and when asked if he now was the tour manager for the band:

He's one of them, yes, I think it's official... The official title last time was "Road Manager." [...] A lot of official titles and he does wear many hats. You're right.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:29 pm

MARCH 29, 1987

The second Guns N' Roses show of March 1987 took place on the 29th at the Roxy.

Riki Rachtman would introduce the show:

It's going to be a long time before we see these guys in a club this size. They've been in a couple of magazines and they got a record coming out real soon on Geffen Records.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Alan Niven had wanted to record this show since he expected it to be the last of their club shows before they started playing larger venues:

I went to Eddie Rosenblatt [President at Geffen Records] one day and I said, "Eddie, we're about to play the Roxy for the last time, advance me 5 grand so I can wheel up a mobile studio outside the Roxy and record it for posterity." And Eddie said no to advancing 5 grand so as I could record what I thought would be the last ever Guns N' Roses club day. Can you imagine what that would have been worth to Geffen? An '88 or '89? That $5000 would have turned into... dumb, stupid decision.

One story that.... you know, we all make big mistakes in our lives and I'll never forget going into Geffen and being with Eddie Rosenblatt and saying, "We're playing the Roxy in a in a couple of weeks and it's going to be the last LA club show because then we're going out on tour with The Cult and this may well be our last LA club gig," and, "would you put up five grand so as I can get a truck and record it? And he turned me down and I sometimes sit there and try and extrapolate how many millions of dollars that would have generated for Geffen and Universal if they'd just come up with five grand at that moment.

The review for this show would again be great:

Their constant playing and the finishing of their new album has honed these heart-throb musicians to a fine edge, and Axl’s high pitched voice is so perfect and strong it doesn’t bother my ears like it used to. It even gives me the goosebumps when he goes over-the-top of the screaming lead guitars, and the song “Night Train” sounded so good I became a Guns & Roses fan all over again.

In April the band didn't play any shows, but they still partied in Los Angeles in anticipation of mixing the album. According to L.A. Weekly on April 12, Duff and Slash were thrown out of the Cathouse for the "seventh time in seven weeks" [L.A. Weekly, April 17, 1987].

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:30 pm


In the beginning of and at least into May 1987, the band lived, or hung out, in a "smallish, detached, flaking white-wood house just off Santa Monica Boulevard" [Sounds Magazine, 1987.04.04], also described as "a filthy, blitzed suburban bungalow in an otherwise pristine street in West Hollywood" [Time Out, June 1987]. This place would affectionately be referred to as "The Hell House" and the address was 1139 N Fuller Avenue.

On the porch of the Hell House

At the start, we all had odd jobs, but then we started playing clubs and getting in to the studio, and the house became this disgusting mess. We lived off the girls, but it wasn't nasty. We were in a band and we got to meet girls.We never hurt nobody. One of the strippers i still know to this day- Monica, shes a lovely girl, they all really wanted to help us and that's what the lifestyle was. Really, they were the best days, just playing in the clubs, selling them out, having guys come up in the street and say Hey I saw you guys, your band really kicks it! Having girls and some pot, that was the best of it.

The Hell House at 1139 N Fuller Avenue

As with their former hangout at Gardner's, The Hell House was also checked in on by the police regularly, as Simon Garfield from Time Out Magazine could confirm when he visited the place for an interview in 1987:

During my brief visit, the cops pull up at the Hellhouse three times: once to advise an occupant against parking on the front lawn; once to announce that if there was any more bottle smashing in the road there would be severe trouble; and once to raid a Hellhouse car and its passengers for drugs. No drugs are found, but one of the women in the car is called Candy, and she winds up with one officer’s home phone number and promises to call.

Garfield would also wittily describe witnessing Slash insisting on breaking a bottle of Jim Beam inside the Hell House [Time Out, June 1987].

Kim Fowley would describe the Hell House:

You have to give them credit for cranking out all those songs in the middle of hell. I saw where they lived-it was horrible. It looked like Auschwitz.

According to Adriana Smith, Steven lived in the laundry room of the building opposite the Hell House and across the street lived a guy they would buy meth from:

I remember one time [me and Steven] were having sex in the building across from the Hellhouse – he lived in the fucking laundry room there – and this weird woodcutter guy lived across the street. He had like a pitbull face, bubble eyes and only a couple of teeth. He had a bald-headed wife. He would make Crystal [meth] out of, like, household items. We didn’t know what we were snorting but – who cares? – we were just doing it.

He was a strange man. He made me uncomfortable, like he could have been a cannibal! He was a freak! Nobody wanted to go there but we all wanted his drugs. He would scrape this shit on a plate of glass, he had a blowtorch, he was like an insane Meat Loaf! So we were having sex in the laundry room and there’s this little tiny window and his eye is peeping at us through that! God! But you know what he did for Steven? He took his drum sticks before their first tour and whittled little [?] in them so they wouldn’t slip out of his hands when he was drumming. It was a trippy time.

1139 N Fuller Avenue from Google Street View in 2023

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:30 pm

MAY 1987

After all recordings for Appetite for Destruction was done, Axl, Slash, Duff and Izzy went to New York to sit in on the mixing process. This likely happened in April or May 1987. The guys mixing the record would be Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero.

After the studio recordings with Mike, Axl and Izzy and I went out to New York to mix the record with Steve Thompson and Mike Barbiero.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

My first time coming out to New York from Hollywood (my GNR homebase) was in early 1987 when we were mixing Appetite For Destruction. I had toured some of the US and Canada with prior Seattle punk-rock bands, but never made it all the way out here. For a guy steeped in bands like the Ramones, Dead Boys, the Dolls, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, just landing at JFK was enough to get my heart pounding. That first cab ride into the city was nothing short of astounding. My rhythm guitarist Izzy and I checked into the Gramercy Park Hotel--then, a sort of shithole--and commenced to walk around the East Village. The further down into the alphabetized streets we got, the more familiar the populace got to us (read: users and pushers). It's a good thing that I really didn't have the money yet to support a habit.

Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero had previously mixed the last Tesla record [Unknown UK source, June 1987].

Tom Zutaut sent me the Guns demos and I really liked the band. I remember getting demo after demo and thinking, "Holy shit, this stuff is great." And I think the songs don't deviate much from the demos. The band had the essence of 'Appetite' on those demos. Tom asked ut to produce it and we had so much work we were doing at the time, we just couldn't get it in there. It sucked, because I really loved what I was hearing. We told him that we couldn't produce it, but we'd love to mix it. I remember when we started working on 'Appetite,' I felt that that's where rock needed to be. Nothing was really jumping out and kickin' you in the ass. And Guns was just the perfect band, the perfect attitude, just the perfect vibe for what was going on then. I felt if that record didn't make it then I should get out of the business. I really believed that.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Tom Zutaut originally asked Steve and I to produce the first Guns N' Roses LP, "Appetite for Destruction." My recollection is that he liked the work we had done earlier on the Phantom, Rocker and Slick albums we had done for Capitol, but we wound up passing on the production of 'Appetite' because we were involved in something else. That decision definitely turned out to be a bad move in retrospect. Fortunately, Zutaut came back to us with the mix of the album after he heard what we'd done with Tesla's first album, which was also for Geffen. Tom was a big supporter of our work in those days, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for keeping us involved in many of his signings.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The people in the mix were Axl, Slash and Izzy. Each day they would come in to explain a little bit about the tracks and then we'd go off and do out thing. Then, when we felt we were ready for their ears, we would have them come in. I remember when we were mixing "Paradise City," I goofed this one part during the breakdown before "take me home." I basically copied that part of the song and duplicated it. Axl heard it and loved it and said to keep it there. […] We worked closely with Tom Zutaut. He was there every day and I'd have to say Tom has an amazing ear and I really liked his perspective on things. I think he was right on the money on everything in terms of the approach on the mixing of the record. Just keeping it raw and keeping it in your face. You can credit Tom Zutaut with a lot cause he camped out for a long time. He got in the trenches with them. Tom had the passion and to me, that's everything. That's what makes something successful.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Well, at the time I was producing Tesla's first record, Mechanical Resonance, and Tom Zutaut, A&R for Geffen Records, started sending me demos of Guns N' Roses. And I'm listening to him saying, “Damn, I love this band, I love the energy, I love the rawness, I love Axl's voice”, everything was great. And he kept sending me demos and I'm listening and I said, “We've got to do this band”. So the only thing bad was, we were doing projects back to back to back to back, and they wanted to go in right away, and we were just finishing up with Tesla and we were just totally burnt - and when I say “we”, me and my partner at the time, Michael Barbiero. So they wanted it done right away. And I just felt if I'm gonna go into a band, I gotta be 1000%. And we were just toast. So I said, “Zoot, why don't you go get somebody to produce it and then we'll mix it”. And so we agreed to do that. And everybody says, “Are you nuts?” I knew it was gonna be a big record. Obviously, I didn't think it was gonna be as big as it did, but I knew it was gonna be a big record. I thought it was very important that if we're gonna get involved, we gotta be there 1000%. So we're going through all the process and everything like that, we get the tracks. Zoot says, “Okay, we're ready to mix the record”. They brought obviously Mike Clink to produce it. And we go to New York, we did the mix at Media Sound in New York City. And at the mix was Axl, Slash, and Izzy, and Tom Zutaut. Adler and Duff, I believe, were out on the West Coast at the time. So again, you have to understand the technology we had back then. There was no computers. We did it on an analog console, all hands on mixing on that one computer which I absolutely love, because to me that's how you feel music, that's how you can get the energy out of it. You know with today's style - again, I've worked on every technology you could think in the world - things have a tendency to become over analyzed. And what was good about Guns N' Roses, we just went for the gut, the jugular and over the top. It was funny, I was reading an interview of Tom Zutaut about the record and he was mentioning how Mike Barbiero, my partner, was conservative like Mike Clink, and Steve Thompson was the guy, there was no rules and he wanted to blow up the world, which I thought was kind of funny. Because yeah, there is truth to that because I just wanted to take no prisoners, no rules and just go for the most aggressive dynamic sound we can go for. So obviously the chemistry went great. I think the first song we mixed was It's So Easy and I remember we put the tracks up, there's an intro, and then the guitars come slamming in. So I basically took the guitar tracks when they came in and I put them on 12, not even 11, 12, just to like slam it to death, right? And I'm playing back the song, and I think I blew out about four sets of speakers on playback after the mix. I said, “This mix is right”. And I remember Slash came in to listen to the mix, and there was an old Memorex tape commercial where there's a guy sitting in a chair, and he's listening to music and his hair is blowing back. That was the kind of thing that I think the image I got was when Slash listened to the mix. You know, he basically goes, “Holy fucking shit”. And it was great. So we took it from there. We did do some light overdubs on the mixing. But the tracks were great. We just basically blew it up, you know, the approach to mixing it.

Talking about why Thompson and Barbiero didn't produce the album:

In my best memory, at that time they were known as remix specialists. I think they'd done some work with the Rolling Stones, for example, and their reputation was predominantly as mixers. They also lived and worked in New York, and Tom and I very definitely wanted to record in the band's hometown of L.A.; we wanted to keep it close to home. So, originally, when Mike was selected, Mike Clink, we thought that Mike would be doing the whole project, that he'd mix his own work as well. We only went looking for somebody to mix the record after it was apparent that Mike had been completely sucked dry and had had quite enough of dealing with Guns N’ Roses music at that point (laughs). So it wasn't that we were pushing them off or that we always intended to have somebody do the mixes and somebody do the recording. It was just a natural evolution of circumstance and a very fortuitous one. Because Thompson and Barbiero were amazing to watch, because they worked manually and it was almost like a dance routine in front of you as they tried not to collide with each other as each would adjust a knob here, a fader there, as the mixer's going down. And what I loved about that was that they were very much connected to the feel of the tracks, because they were so physical and manual in the way that they did it.

Talking about the quality of the Mike Clink recordings of the songs they had to mix:

Again, I got the demos of the songs and for the most part, demos tempo wise are a lot slower than what came out. So I believe it was him, and Guns N' Roses obviously did a lot of production on the work. I thought it was great. I had no complaints whatsoever how they recorded this record. It was great, I thought - you know, again, as a producer, you have to learn when to sit back and let things happen and, if there's trouble, then interject. It's not a question that you need to be the dictator and this is how it's got to be. You have to work with your talent and come out with the best interpretation of the music you're working on. And for me, it was flawless. It was great. I have no complaints.

And mentioning how doubling up the vocals at a certain point in Paradise City as a joke got included in the released version:

We have, but there was one story I think I'll tell you on Paradise City. We did a goof with Axl. There's a spot in the song towards the end in the vamp where Axl's going, [sings] “Take me home…” that part before it builds into the outro. And so we were cutting tape and I told Barbiero, “Let's double up that part just as a goof”, right? So it goes, [sings the music] “…take me home”. Then we hit the edit, [sings the music] “…take me home” again. This is all tape, there's no digital anything when we're doing this stuff. And we did it as a goof. So we played it back to the band and it comes up to that section, I'm waiting there everybody to go nuts. Axl hears it, he listened to it and he goes, “Stop the tape!” He goes, “What was that?” “Ah, we got you, Axl”. He goes, “I fucking loved that”. And we wound up leaving it into it. With that I mean, you would never think that that was actually left in there. But he loved it. So that wound up being in the mix.

Slash, Barbiero, Izzy, Axl and Thompson

Tom Zutaut was very specific in his instructions for what he wanted the album to sound like. He had a cassette tape of rough mixes that Mike Clink had done which he played for us. He actually did an A-B of each mix against that tape on a beat box that he had brought from L.A. to make sure the mixes had the sonic elements he wanted. He said he wanted the sound of that rough mix, but bigger. So that's what we went for.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Thompson and Barbiero would discuss what they thought of the album at the time:

Axl asked me at the time if I thought the album had a shot, and I remember telling him that it was very original. I remember telling him that to my era the songs and performances were good enough that, though the album wasn't at all like anything being played on radio, the band stood a good chance for a gold record based on word of mouth.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

So, again, with Guns N' Roses, you had, like you said - you know the history of the stuff we worked on, you had Cinderella out there, you had Motley Crue, you had Poison, you had Warrant, Dokken, Def Leppard, you had all these bands blowing up, but Guns N' Roses stood out because they were dangerous. And to me, that was the most amazing lineup of musicians, having Axl as an amazing singer, I mean, you know, this guy knows what he wants. Slash, great guitar player. Izzy, the unsung hero of the band, you know, he's a great songwriter. Adler, which I absolutely love as a drum because he was loose. He had swagger and was perfect vibe for it. Duff, a great bass player. So the chemistry and the guys are great, the songwriting was amazing. I mean, you know, I remember when I did that record and we finished the record, I said, “You know what? This is what I feel rock and roll should be at this time and place”. I mean, that's what - you know, I didn't say it was going to be the biggest rock and roll record ever. But I said, “This is where rock and roll needs to be in this time and place. And if it doesn't break, I'm going to be so freaking disappointed”. And you know, I have witnesses who will witness that. I said, “This is a perfect record, you know, it’s just… it's what we need. It was a wake-up call, I think, you know?

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:31 pm

MAY 1987

There was no girlfriend in my life. My girlfriend was rock and roll.

While mixing the album in New York, Axl decided Rocket Queen needed something extra:

Izzy would get on the console every now and then and check things out. Slash would come around. I remember we were working with "Rocket Queen" and Axl said it was missing something. He said, "I want to get some sex noises on this." So obviously you could go into your porn collection and record some stuff, but he said, "No I want something real."
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

As we mixed the song 'Rocket Queen,' Axl felt that the bridge needed something; some other element to elevate the drama. He suggested that Adriana Smith, who was with us in the studio that day, fuck him in the live room so that we could record her vocals and layer them on the breakdown. We'd been drinking Jack pretty heavily all day, so it seemed like the most natural think in the world. I was all for it; I knew too well what she was capable of vocally - she had kept me up for the past three nights. So we lit up some candles for atmosphere, then she and Axl went out into the live room, got down on the floor by the drum riser, and we recorded Smith's performance in all of its honest moaning and groaning. Enjoy it - it's all there in the final mix.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York, pp 180

There was also something I tried to work out with various people - a recorded sex act. It was somewhat spontaneous but premediated: something I wanted to put on the record. It was a sexual song and it was a wild night in the studio. This girl we know was dancing; everyone was getting real excited. The night could have gotten really explosive, lots of trouble for everyone, and I thought wait a minute, how can we make this productive.

Well, that was a very interesting part of the session. We're doing Rocket Queen and Axl comes up to me and says, “Steve, you know what? I need some sex noises on this”. I said, “Okay, no problem”. I think I had tapes of ‘70s porno movies that I would splice together the audio and give him the sex noises he needs and, you know, we had that covered. He goes, “No, I need real sex noises”. And I forgot her name, she was at the studio. What's her name? Adler’s girlfriend was in there. And Axl says, “Okay, let's mic it up. I'm going to fuck her in the studio and just record the moans” (laughs). So I said to myself - and Barbiero was very conservative, he was like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” And I felt kind of weird for the fact that it was Adler's girlfriend. I don't want to get involved in this shit, you know? And so Vic, our assistant engineer, wound up putting the mics together and they did their thing in the studio. I think… who the hell was it, I think Jeff Fenster was actually in the studio as the lawyer at the time, I think. And the lights were low, and Axl was doing his thing with the girl. And, you know, we got all the noises together and then we just edited in what he wanted. But… classic. You know, total classic. I mean, sex drugs and rock ‘n’ roll definitely went on that record.

The "various people" included Erin, but according to Adriana Smith, Erin had declined [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. Smith had also been warned by Slash not to do anything that would annoy Steven who she was dating at the time:

Slash had warned me, ‘don’t antagonise Steven’. But Axl was naughty, even though he had this girlfriend and I was seeing Steven.

Despite this, Adriana, who had been invited to join Axl, Slash and Izzy to New York by Slash, did it for a bottle of Jack Daniels [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

We had to mic her up and Axl did his thing and it was recorded and that's basically what happened on the session.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

Axl propositioned me to do something “not even his girlfriend would do”. He sat me down and was all serious. “Erin won’t do this, nobody will do this.” And I was like: “Fuck yeah, I’ll do it – for the band, dude!” So I directed it. We went into the studio and kicked everybody out except for a couple of sound guys. I made them turn out the lights. They took the microphones down close to the floor, and there was wood panelling halfway up the wall and then the glass window, so nobody could actually see us. Me and Axl got to it, had sex on the floor of the voice room. Apparently there was, like, three and a half hours of audio on the reel to reel. We just kind laid down and did it. I was having fun and Axl would be like: “C’mon Adriana, quit fucking faking it!” It was probably a comedy of errors for the most part. I told them to destroy the tape.

I had gone to New York to hang out with Slash, who was my drinking buddy at the time. They were mixing down the final mix of Appetite For Destruction at the time. Basically, Axl propositioned me in the studio. I was really drunk and although we were both seeing other people at the time, he had a really creative interest for this song and wanted to give it an edge and I was the girl to do it. I did it for the band.
Live Metal, December 15, 2008

One night in the studio Axl had his head on my lap and I was stroking his hair and he closed his eyes and he was really serious. And he was like, "Adriana," you know, in his Axl voice,"you know, there's something I'd like you to do, it's very serious." He wanted to have live sex sounds on a song he was mixing. We were young and wild and free, and there was the notion that it was for an artistic purpose. Of course I would do that. Eventually I found out it was Rocket Queen. I had no idea that I was going to be rock and roll history, that it was gonna be a legendary act.

It was all craziness. He said something to me about art and making this song and I was drunk. We cleared everyone out of the studio. Dimly lit, there were cushions in the booth, so no one could really see in. There were two guys in one booth and we were in another and I think they got a couple hours of recording of us having sex. It wasn’t really romantic, passionate or hot. It was kinda contrived, but they got some good stuff out of it. I don’t know where those recordings have gone and I don’t have a copy of them.

The engineer Victor Deyglio was responsible for recording the sex act and would later be credited as "Victor 'the fuckin' engineer'" on the album [Rolling Stones, August 9, 2007].

Being asked if the raw tapes still exist:

here was about an hour of them fucking on tape. But after it was spliced into the best parts, the stuff Axl liked, we burned the rest of the tape, per the request of Axl. Or so GNR folklore has it. But some of it may have survived!

Adriana was Steven's on-off girlfriend:

I said: "That's cool, who's that?" Slash said: "It's Adriana." She wasn't like my girlfriend exactly...but, we had some good, long nights. Axl came up with this idea to fuck some girl in the studio and record it for Rocket Queen, so he called Adriana. They put up a divider, laid a blanket down, and recorded it. I just felt that out of all the girls around us, he just had to pick the one that I was hanging out with. He knew we were close. But it came out good, it worked.
Classic Rock Magazine, July 2007

After the whole ordeal, Axl took me upstairs to his hotel room where we were staying and he played me November Rain for the first time on a piano. He told me that it was something that he wrote when ha was fifteen. And it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. It was awesome. The next day I woke up in the hotel room. I was all alone and Slash called me and said, "You need to come down to the studio right now." And I was like, "Oh fuck, what did I do? Oh my God." I was incredibly embarrassed and I realized there might be repercussions to my current relationship with Steven, which was a rocky relationship anyway. Instead of being happy about what I did, I got a lot of crap about it because Axl was seeing Erin and I was seeing Steven, so I was now this big slut. I said I wanted the tape destroyed, but too late; Axl was overwhelmingly happy. He was stoked! This was just what he wanted. He was happy as pie.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York, pp 180

On March 16, Axl had referred to Erin as his "ex-girlfriend" [Onstage at the Whisky, March 16, 1987], so it is possible they were split up when the recording took place although Smith in a quote above suggested that wasn't the case.

Being asked if she got paid:

I think I did it for a bottle of booze or something. Because I wanted to party with Slash! Of course, Slash got pissed about it; him and Steven were childhood friends. The next day I went down and they were mixing it in the studio. I was like: “God, what have I done?” I’m sure in this day and age any girl would be “Oh yeah!” but I was just trying to prove another point to Steven, like: “See? Fuck you!”

So there it was, and I wanted no one to say a word about who that was on the record, and I didn’t let it to go on the album that it was me, because of Steven. But I was drunk when I did it and I was pissed at him. Eventually I fucking [?] and I told him. He was devastated and pissed: “How could you do this to me?” I felt all guilty but at the same time he was screwing every broad in town.


As soon as the touring started everybody kinda broke apart, and [?] came all these parasites. I became addicted to all different substances. Then the band would come back to Hollywood and would be put up in hotels and shit. I’d see Steven sometimes, but fuck... This huge tidal wave called Guns N’ Roses hit and I was left addicted and feelin’ like a stepchild. I called Axl, and he was like: “Y’know, Steven’s making new friends, and he’s going on with his life.” I don’t know why Axl was fucking counselling me about Steven, and being nice about it. I guess, in a way, he was saying goodbye. You know: “This is it. We’re being swept away by fame and fortune.” It was just a natural progression, people’s lives change. I ended up in a fucking spin, I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t get from under the covers. Things just got ugly.

That I should have been smarter and got my name on the album, some credit. Maybe a half of a cent of every album? Then I would have been a whore for hire, right? Y’know hey, whatever... I don’t think anybody owes me anything, what happened in our lives happened.

Actually, it [=coming out with the story] was a decision made of years of progress in my personal life. I had shame and guilt over what I had done and I felt as if I had done something wrong for a long time. Basically, I came out twenty something years later because it was a sense of closure for myself. I realized that it was something that I didn't have to be ashamed of and something that was really good. I came out and told the world about it. A friend of mine named Brooke, runs Steven Adler's web page and he is a part time journalist. He said to me "Why don't you go ahead and tell your story?" and with the release of the Reckless Road book, I just felt that it was time for the story of The Rocket Queen to be heard.
Live Metal, December 15, 2008

Adriana was one of the strippers we lived with. There were about five or six strippers that we lived with in this building. She was just the girl I was fucking for that month. She wasn't the only girl. Hey, I was 19 or 20, walking around with a hard-on and fucking anything that I possibly could. Plus, there's a lot of booze and drugs, and when you're in that state of mind, you'll put your pee-pee in anything.

Oh, that was just an old girlfriend, a stripper. We had, like, eight or nine strippers who were part of our little clan. She just happened to be one I was making out with at the time. But I didn’t mind that Axl fucked her. Of course not. He was doing it for the band. Fuck away!

I was super embarrassed at the time. What if my Mom hears this? What if my Dad hears this? I am not a porn star. I was a stripper, who wanted to be an actress. I was sure that was not going to be good for the cause. It was sort of in my head that I had made this large mistake.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:31 pm

MAY 10, 1987

With Axl, Slash and Izzy gone to New York to mix their debut album, Duff and Steven, together with friends, formed a band called the Drunk Fux [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 122]. This band would play various shows over the next years, with highly variable lineups.

The first Drunk Fux show took place at the Coconut Teazer on May 10 with Del James on vocals, West Arkeen on guitar, Duff on guitar, Todd Crew (from Jetboy) on bass, and Steven on drums [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007; Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 122].

Poster for the Drunk Fux show
on May 10, 1987

Todd Crew had recently been kicked out of Jet Boy:

Jetboy kicked [Todd Crew] out because he hung out with us. That was their excuse, which was kinda weird. But he hung out with us and we were bro’s.

Steven would claim that Axl, Del James and West Arkeen weren't really part of Drunk Fux because they "had their own little clique":

Ohh, Del, no, I’ve known Del James, and Wes Arkeen and all those boys, but I was friends with them, but Duff & Axl were really best friends with them. I, that was just a hell house and the whole band would hang there. I was just too busy having sex with girls in different rooms.

[…] everyone kind of spontaneously formed a fun jam band called the Drunk Fux. Many different people were in that band, including Tommy Lee and Lemmy. It was just a jam thing really, and we played some free benefit shows around L.A. [...] Axl, West, and Del had their own little clique that wasn't really part of the Drunk Fux, and I couldn't give less of a fuck about it.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 85

This is obviously not correct. Axl did not take part in the band's first gig because he was in New York, but both Del James and West Arkeen did play in the band for its first show and would invariably take part in others.

You had to be a drunk fuck to be in Drunk Fux! It was like a silly little side var of Guns N' Roses' folklore!
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

We had this band called the Drunk Fux, where we played covers and just basically screwed the whole thing up. But it was okay. […] When we get together, we get completely wasted and book a gig and not show up for it cuz we'll all be too wasted.

It’s F-U-X, so we can say that (chuckles). […] It’s not really a band anymore. It was just a bunch of friends. There was West Arkeen, Duff, a guy named Todd that’s no longer around – which was pretty much the reason why Drunk Fux isn’t around anymore, because he passed away, and he was one of the really main members. There was Del James, who is a really good friend of ours (?), and I. […] So, it was a band that we just went out with a sort of like, you know, juvenile attitude and just – we’d go out and [muted], and we’d book a gig in a club and we’d just hang out. I never made one gig, myself. I would always be passed out in a road case in the back somewhere. That was the whole, like, little touch of Drunk Fux that I had. […] We had a great logo. We got some t-shirts made and that was cool (laughs). We won’t be recording soon, okay?

Duff would jokingly say that Slash missed all the Drunk Fux because he was too wasted, although this is not entirely true and obviously joking [L.A. Weekly, January 12, 1990].

Slash actually didn’t make any of the gigs. Like, the first five gigs because he was always passed out in the back. It is just a kind of a fun thing, you know. And we always play in front of just, like, chairs.

According to Marc Canter, the band played punk covers and several songs written by Duff and Del James [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007].

In the first half of June, before the band would travel to England for shows at the Marquee, Del James would spit on Cathouse's Taime Down, resulting in Down having to be restrained by Steven and Todd Crew, amongst others [L.A. Weekly, June 12, 1987].

The band would play shows throughout 1989-1990.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:32 pm


After having been signed to Geffen in March 1986, the band would be assigned the Geffen publicist Bryn Bridenthal to help with press relations.

Then in March 1987, when Alan Niven was planning a trip to England for shows at the Marquee as part of the band's promotion, he recruited Arlett Vereecke as an independent publicist. Vereecke was at the time working with Dave Roth:

I was on tour with Dave Roth at that time and I came home and I wasn't aware of Guns, but their first manager, Alan Niven, and I had a big falling out over Great White. Because I didn't want to work with Great White and I thought I did Alan a favor by saying it's not the type of band I'm looking for. It doesn't mean they're bad band, it's just not what I wanted. I said, "No, you know you're better off with somebody who is a big fan of them rather than me. It's not my cup of tea." Alan took it personally, got very upset and didn't speak to me or whatever. Then he got stuck with Guns N' Roses, who he didn't like [laughs]. So he needed... The Marquee dates were set up, and he had nobody to really work them, the band, their record company wasn't interested in them, nobody was interested in them. I happened to be on a break in LA from the Dave Roth tour. I had like a couple weeks off or something. And a friend of mine, a journalist called Sylvie Simmons, who's a very good friend of mine, happened to stop by. She's also a good friend of Alan Niven at that time. So she came to my house, we were gonna go somewhere, I don't know if we're going to club or whatever, but she played a tape, and she had a tape in the tape recorder. She knew I wasn't going to do anything without Alan Niven. So she played the tape and I was getting ready to go out and I heard this and I thought, "This is very good, who is that?" And she sort of whispered in a low voice, "Oh, it's a local band," and I said, "Oh, okay." So it got [?] and she kept turning it up and I said, "Man, that is really good. Who is that?" I said, "Local band? What local band?" And she said, "Oh, it's a band called Guns N' Roses," I said, "Oh, this is really good. Who's their manager?" And she mumbled something and I said, "Who?? And she mumbled and I didn't get it. And I said, "Who is their manager?" She said, "Alan Niven." No way, no way, no way. So the next day I got a call from Alan Niven and he said, "Can we put our differences aside, can we talk?" I said, "OK," he said, "What you doing tonight?" I said, "I'm going to the release party of Motley Crue's Girls, Girls, Girls, and he said, "If you [?], it's down the street from me, you can come to the strip club with me for the release party." I said, "I'll be there at 5." So he came to my house at 5:00 PM with two bottles of Cristal champagne, to set up the night. He tried to persuade me and said, "You know, they're crazy, they're right up your alley, it's right what you like and," you know, "I know you like the music, so at least give them a shot, talk to them, whatever, or at least take them on from London, just for the London gigs," and said, "Well, I don't really have time because I have to go back out, I will have to reschedule things, it's going to be very difficult for me to do this."

Motley Crue released Girls, Girls, Girls in May 1987, but Vereecke would also say she had made the decision to become the band's publicist in March when she attended the March 16 show at the Whisky, either suggesting the release party for Girls, Girls, Girls happened a couple of months before the actual album release, or that Vereecke is wrong on being hired after that release party.

Vereecke decided to work with the band after meeting Slash, Duff and Steven:

So we went to the Motley Crue gig, drank some more and then by the time I came out, Slash, Duff and Steve Adler were outside waiting for me. And they took me out to another bar to make sure we were very drunk. So I decided to go with them, not only to go to London with them, but to do it for free. For $5 a day, I shouldn't say free, $5 a day was my allowance. So it all went on $5 a day and my credit card. That was to start.

With two publicists, Vereecke would explain the differences in what she and Bridenthal did for the band:

The difference is, number one, she's a record company person, so she goes by the rules of the record companies. I don't. I don't have to go, you know, go via Geffen, to the meetings at Geffen, to the A&R, to the this... I see things the way they go. I go to band, "Can we do them?" Because I've known them since before they were famous. Everything that revolved, revolved around them at my house, not at Geffen, not at management. Most of time it came to my house. Whatever happened, came to my house. There was a saying with Dave Roth, whatever happened I had didn't have to deal with management so much I just had to let them know what I'm doing. If they had an objection, they would let me know or if they have a concern about anything. That was the same with Guns. So if I set things up and I went to Europe, or I went to Japan, or wherever, I went with them, there was no problem of, "Oh, what are you doing? Is that OK with record company?" The record company said, "Yes," We said, "No," we said, "Fuck off," and we went for it. So that's a big difference than having to play with the record company. Bryn was also very good friends with Alan Niven, which I ended up not to be for a long time, again, he thought I had too much influence on the band [...].

And talking about her day-to-day work later as the band got bigger and toured:

Well, basically I scheduled their day, so they sleeping, I get all the calls from ex-girlfriends, girlfriends-want-to-be and whatever because all their calls are referred to my phone. Because they don't answer the phone. So I got rid of those, then deal with the record company, with the radio people, deal with security, deal with whoever is on the road, where we going to eat, what we're going to do, where we going to go, at what time we're going to go, when we're going to leave. So that is coordinated with the staff on tour, of course, with the tour manager and whatever, and then go to the show, I deal with the press. I go on my own mostly, just to keep the the press okay. And then deal with the band after show and get the press in who is invited.

Arlett would develop a particularly close bond with Slash, and Slash would live at her place on and off, including in 1989 when his new house was being renovated:

[Arlett] had been hired on back when we played those first three English dates at the Marquee. She’d taken a maternal shine to me, probably because I was such a stray puppy at the time. She let me bring my snake Clyde over, who’d been living with Del James for a while, as well as Pandora and Adrianna. [...] I stayed with her for three or four months but I did little to change.
Slash's autobiography, 2007

Arlett Vereecke and Slash
Unknown date

Arlett would describe taking Slash in to her home:

I knew that [GN'R was going to be a success] when I heard their first tape. I said to Slash at the time when he was looking to move in with me because he had no place to live, and said, "You can live with me until you sell a million records." So he thought he was set for life. So he moved stock, lock and barrel, snakes, rats, you name it. It all came in here. So he thought it was a joke. I said, "No, no, I'm not kidding you," you know. So I called him on it when he sold a million records, "It's time to move." [laughs]

Appetite for Destruction reached platinum sales (1 million units sold) on April 19, 1988 [Recording Industry Association of America, September 3, 2023], but as explained above, Slash would comer back to live with Vereecke again when needed in 1989 and in 2017 Vereecke would mention that "the whole Hudson family has keys to my house, so they come and go as they please" [GN'R Central, December 10, 2017].

Living with Vereecke wasn't necessarily easy for Slash:

Because the first time he lived here, and he lived here in the beginning, he met a girl on Sunset and he wanted to impress her, I guess, to pick her up. So he'd come home. She didn't believe he was Slash, so he'd come home and said, "Arlett, tell who I am." I said, "Saul," he said, "No, the other name," I said, "Saul," and, "No! My other name!" I said, "Peter?" [laughs] So he lost the girl and I did it because he used to do that, when he was growing up he hated his name, so his mother would get phone calls and they'd say, "Is Peter there?" "Is Mark there?" and she said, "No, no Mark here," "No Peter," because he hated his name, he just gave everybody another name. So I played it back on him when he tried to pick up the girl.

Vereecke would also talk about how great the band's live performances were:

It's hard to tell [what their best show was] because I saw them night after night, usually, and I have to say they were just unbelievable, night after night. Axl would take that stage and my hair in the back of my neck would stand up. And when I told him that he thought I was joking, I said, "I am not joking." I'm not the only person who says that, you know, but he was so magnetic as a front man, you know, and Slash and Duff. It was just unbelievable. Probably the best band since I said I know of since Van Halen came on the scene. Different but definitely nothing better.

Vereecke was fired by the band in 1992 [GN'R Central, December 10, 2017]:

It was a decision that Axl made. Axl wanted somebody who he said was more in his corner. I don't think I was not in his corner, but if you don't do press or you don't want to do anything, I can't be in your corner and go to eight people to do something and the answer is, "No," all the time. I'm not doing anything. So I had to concentrate. I mean, there was a very busy time, very busy tour, and he didn't want any, he said he wanted something and then Slash called me and said, "The worst decision we ever made." So that was nice.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:32 pm


An interview from April 1987 describes how police cars would drive up to The Hellhouse to check on the band [Sounds Magazine, April 4, 1987].

The West Hollywood sheriffs have got to be the biggest fucking pigfaces I’ve ever known. They know our name, too, because of all the things that have happened.

LAPD are really fucked up. I mean, everywhere else you go, the cops are really, really, really relaxed and cool. In LA, especially in the area that we're in [...] They're like the fuckin' nazis. [...] Or like the Gestapo. You know, they're really bad. And they know… [...] I got hassled on my way just walking down the street. I was only like, say a hundred… not even a hundred yards from the apartment where I'm staying. I was walking by a club called the Whiskey. I was walking down the street and there was cops down at the end of the street, and the only thing that was wrong with me, I wasn't wearing any fuckin' shirt. And I got thrown over the top over the top of the car and whole bit. And, you know, it's just like that. You can't walk out of a fuckin' club without seeing a cop and wondering if you're gonna get…

We jaywalked, it was me and [Steven], and Todd [Crew]. It was you too, right? And a couple of guys. We didn't even jaywalk. It was a thing… The cops were standing across the street, they could see the fuckin' thing. It's red, we walked. We're not gonna jaywalk in front of cops. You just don't do that in West Hollywood. You don't do it anywhere. And we get across the street and they fuckin'… come up to us. We're going: "What the fuck?" We're up against the wall, got our hands behind our back. And it hurts. This is a nice little trick they got. They lace your fingers behind your back and they grab… Here, just feel it. Lace your fingers, I won't do this. And you know, they do this. Really hard, you know. [...] I just got a ticket the other day, or about three weeks ago, for conversing with a female motorist. I was walking to my apartment, a friend of mine came up, I was on the sidewalk, said: "Hi, how's it going? Blablablablabla". She took off, cop pulls in the alley in front of me, up against the car, the whole fuckin' thing again, you know. Got a ticket for conversing… It says right on the ticket, "conversing with a female motorist."

Raz Cue would also mention how the police had been aware of the band much earlier when they were rehearsing at the Gardner studio in 1986:

I remember down in the studio with Guns N' Roses was over there at Gardner, like right before they got signed so they were pretty big around Hollywood, like not only famous but infamous, you know, like, so people come tell us like, "Hey, we got pulled over and the cops were like, 'Hey, what band are you in?'" and then they would say the name of their band and they would go, "Okay, good, we're looking for those guys in Guns N' Roses." Like the cops, even before they were signed, before they were world famous or whatever, the cops they heard that name and it sticks in your head and they heard they were trouble.

At some point in 1987, Slash and Duff travelled back to Seattle and allegedly tried to burn down a bar (possibly The Gorilla Gardens where they played at the Hell Tour?):

Slash and I almost got arrested in Seattle. We went back there for a little vacation, we were going to burn some bar down. Then on the way back to L.A., we were drunker than shit, and we sat next to this kindergarten teacher on the plane. First she told us to calm down. Then she pulled out this book she wrote called From A to Z, and she read it to us, and drew pictures for us. By the end of the flight we were so tranquil, we went right to sleep.

When travelling to Canada for their first concert on the tour with The Cult, Axl was arrested for trying to bring in a stun gun [Spin, January 1988].

Slash would later describe an encounter with the police, which had led him to spend two or three days in the Los Angeles County Jail:

I was cruising around with Danny one night looking for dope and we managed to cop some shit, but it was very little; it was just a taste. [...] We were coming up La Cienega when the blue and red lights went on behind us. [...] We had nothing on us, but Danny had forgotten the needle he had in the breast pocket of his shirt, which gave the cops carte blanche to do whatever they wanted. [...]

They impounded Danny’s car and arrested him for possession of paraphernalia. They cuffed me, too, but wouldn’t tell me on what charges.  [...]

After Danny had sat around long enough, they let him go [...]. He was booked for having the needle and was given a court date, and all of that. I was the only one left, and since I thought that I hadn’t done anything, I figured that I’d get out any minute now. [...] I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the guards’ attention to ask why I was still being held.

The only answer I got was being shuffled from the small cell of the night before to a larger cell with [...] a lot of inmates [...] After a while we were loaded onto one of those horrible black-and-white transformed school buses with gates on the windows. I was shackled at the ankles and wrists and chained to the guy in front of me. I still had no idea why I was there, but I realized that I was going to the county jail, so I immediately started chewing off my black nail polish. There was no way in hell that I was going to county with fingernail polish on. [...]

It was the most tedious bureaucracy I’ve ever seen in my life, and it didn’t help that I was genuinely dope sick during it all. [...] I was housed in one of those big old-fashioned rooms with a few rows of cots, where I sweated it out, nauseous, sick, and exhausted. [...]

Then all of a sudden they let me out, again with no explanation, and I had to go through the whole fucking entrance process in reverse.  [...] When they handed me my clothes and belongings, I was finally informed why I was there: I’d been hauled in for a six-year-old jaywalking ticket. There had been a warrant out for me after I’d not shown up in court or paid the fine. Of all the things I’ve done, I got busted for jaywalking. Well, at least I did my time and paid my debt to society. [...]

When I found out later that Axl was the one who scraped together the bail money, I was touched. That was pretty cool of him.
Slash's autobiography, "Slash", 2007

According to the close friend of the band Marc Canter, the above incident took place some time in mid-1986, during the sessions at Pasha studios [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2008]. Referring to the event, Marc would also mention that the officers in the County jail were suspicious of Axl when he went there to bail out Slash:  

[Slash] had been a passenger in a car that was pulled over by the Sheriff’s department for a broken taillight. Danny Biral, a roadie for the band, was driving. The sheriff’s deputies found a hypodermic needle in the car, and somehow Slash ended up getting arrested. This wasn’t the first time the band had been in trouble with the Sheriff’s Department, and it wouldn’t be the last.

Axl and I went down to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department to bail Slash out. By the time we arrived, Slash had already been shipped off to the L.A. County jail. [...] When we arrived at the jail to post Slash’s $178 bail, one of the officers noticed the medallion in the shape of a tiny gun hanging around Axl’s neck. Evidently alarmed at the threat posed by Axl’s necklace, the officer threw him up against the wall and frisked him. Finding no additional threatening objects, he let Axl go, and we went back to my car and waited about five hours for Slash to be released..
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2008

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:33 pm


Axl's mood swings would send him into occasional depressions that could be very severe. On June 13, Sounds Magazine reported that Axl had been taken to intensive care after a fight with the police in Los Angeles [Sounds Magazine, June 13, 1987]. In November 1987, the same magazine would say that Axl overdosed just two weeks prior to the band's trip to England in June 1987 for their gigs at the Marquee [Sounds Magazine, November 1989]. These two incidents are likely the same as explained below, suggesting that the real reason for Axl's hospitalization was a drug overdose.

Later it would be reported that Axl entered a "deep depression" just before the release of Appetite for Destruction [Juke Magazine, July 1989], and almost died from a drug overdose "soon after [Appetite's] release" and had to have his stomach pumped [New York Times, December 8, 1991]. Most likely, this is again referring to Axl's overdose in early June (and not after the release of Appetite which happened in July), and likely connected to stress from the first overseas tour and/or the release of the forthcoming band's debut record. It is also possible that Axl around this time had found out his biological father, William Rose, had been murdered (the murder had been reported in the press in September of 1987 (Evansville Courier and Press, September 2, 1987) and Axl was possibly informed before this) and that this affected him emotionally.

In July and August 1987, Axl himself would mention having partied too hard and ended up in a coma, although he makes it sound like the coma was the result of having a fight with cops:

The incident in Los Angeles just kinda happened real quickly. I got hit on the head by a cop and I guess I was just blacked out and was still raging and fighting. Two days later, I woke up in hospital tied to the bed with electrodes over me. I guess they had to give me electro-shock. I don’t know a whole lot about what happened.

I just got out of the hospital a little while ago, 'cause I partied too much one night, blacked out, got into it with the cops, got stun-gunned, was knocked out, went into a coma for a coupl’a days and woke up strapped to my bed, plugged into a catheter.

This is likely the same incident he mentioned from stage at the Ritz in October 1987:

A little over a month ago, I OD’ed, and I ended up in a hospital called Cedars-Sinai. I was in a coma for about two days. When I got out of the hospital, the first person I saw was a guy named Todd Crew. Todd used to be in a band called Jetboy, and one of the reasons he got kicked out – Jetboy sucks. One of the reasons he got kicked out, was for hanging out with us. I think we were more friends than the people he knew all of his fucking life. When I got out of the hospital, the first person I saw was Todd, and I really didn’t wanna see anybody I knew, because I didn’t know if I had any friends left. Todd came up to me, and gave me a hug and said, “You can’t do this to the family, man.”

Axl wondering if he had any friends left make sense considering he had jeopardized the band's first overseas trip (and resulted in the cancellation of the first show at the Marquee) and possibly also the release of their debut album.

This incident is also highly likely described to MTV in 1990, when Axl mentioned an OD resulting in a coma, and which now sounds closely like a failed suicide attempt because of the stress Axl was going through at the time and his inability to deal with it:

I started to write about when I OD'ed four years ago, and the reason why I OD'ed was because of stress, I couldn't take it, and I just grabbed this bottle of pills (?) in an argument and gulped it down and I ended up in a hospital. But I liked that I wasn't in a fight anymore and I was fully conscious that I was leaving. I liked that. But then I go, all of a sudden my real thoughts, though, were that 'Okay, you've haven't toured enough, the record's not gonna last, it's gonna be forgotten this and that, you've got work to do get out of this,' and I went 'No!' and I woke up, you know, pulled myself out of it. But in the describing of that some people could take it wrong and think it means to go and put yourself into a coma, so, it's a little tricky and I'm still playing with the words to figure out to, like, show some hope in there.

If this is the same event, this means that it inspired the lyrics to the song Coma [see later chapter about this song].

In 2014, Tom Zutaut would explain that Axl had taken a large amount of pills after fighting with Erin Everly, and that Everly then called the police who tasered Axl:

One of the few times [Axl] did imbibe any drugs was after he and Erin [Everly, girlfriend and later wife] had a fight. He popped a bunch of pills. So she was concerned that he was suicidal and may have popped enough pills to kill himself. When the sheriffs got there they tried to get him to go to the hospital, and he refused and got belligerent. He laid out three or four sheriffs, so they called for reinforcements. He had superhuman strength because of the uppers he was on. They ended up with about twenty LA County Sheriffs with taser guns. They tasered him, like, ten or twelve times before they could subdue him. But they got him to the hospital and they pumped his stomach – basically, saved his life.


According to Raz, some time during the summer of 1988, Axl overdosed, again, although Raz may have the timing off and describe the summer of 1987 overdose:

Not long before that muggy summer day in New Jersey [August 1988], [Axl] had arrived in an emergency room on the verge of experiencing an untimely death by misadventure. As he lay atop the gurney, fearing the end was nigh while fighting loss of consciousness, he sang to himself, "Axl 'made a record, went straight up to' number four." He then thought, "Whoa... I can't die like this." So he gathered the will to fight on and finish what he'd begun. Plus, the E.R. folks probably gave him a shot of something to send him in a different direction, and he was not twenty-seven.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 260

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:33 pm

JUNE 15, 1987

MTV and other music channels were very important in the 1980s and music singles and accompanying videos were crucial to market sales. The first single off the band's forthcoming debut LP was It's So Easy/Mr. Brownstone and it was released in the UK already on June 15, 1987, well before the release of Appetite for Destruction. This release was to coincide with the band playing their June concerts at the Marquee in London.

Explaining the choice of It's So Easy as the band's first single:

Well that was specifically a U.K. strategy. It was written by Duff, with help from the now-deceased West Arkeen, who had the strongest punk ethos in the band. So based on the pre-Appetite Marquee Club shows, it made more sense to start with “It’s So Easy” in the U.K. to get a buzz going.

According to Alan Niven, the song was banned by the BBC in the UK [Classic Rock, July 19, 2017].

The It's So Easy single

The tracklist was It's So Easy, Mr. Brownstone (alt. mix), Shadow of Your Love (live), and Move to the City (live).


According to a San Francisco Chronicle article from August 1987 [The San Francisco Chronicle, August 30, 1987], the single was accompanied with a music video that cost $85,000, and which was banned from MTV for "being too racy and violent." This is confusing since the band would make a video for It's So Easy in October 1989, which would be banned due to sexual content. In March 1989, Slash would also indicate that they hadn't made a music video for It's So Easy back in 1987 but were making one now [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989].

Most likely the Chronicle is talking about the music video for Welcome to the Jungle which contained violent clips, but this video wouldn't be released until the next month, in September 1987. So perhaps, contrary to Slash's comment in 1989, the band made an early music video for It's So Easy which would later be edited with live clips from 1989? Or perhaps the music video for Welcome to the Jungle was released prior to the single release?

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:33 pm

JUNE 1987

[…] just remember; don't believe everything you read and that we say half of that shit.


In June 1987, the English paper Time Out Magazine would print a story where they allegedly quoted Axl ranting about small dogs:

"I’d just like to say that I have a personal disgust for small dogs, like poodles. I have some serious physical problems with them. Everything about them means I must kill them. I must!"
Time Out Magazine, June 1987

This led to the tabloid Daily Star comparing Guns N' Roses to Beastie Boys and spreading the rumour about Axl killing dogs:

A rock band even nastier than the Beastie Boys is heading for Britain. [...] Los Angeles-based Guns N’ Roses are led by the outrageous Axl Rose, who has an endearing habit of butchering dogs… [...] The other members of the group are as sleazy as their crackpot leader. Guitarist Slash and bass player Duff McKagan claim they have been on a boozing binge for TWO YEARS. Says Slash: ‘When we get up in the afternoon […] we can’t play because our hands are shaking like windmills.’

As a result of this, the UK Royal Society for Protection of Animals (RSPA) tried to force the cancellation of the three upcoming June 1987 gigs at the Marquee [Hard Rock Magazine, October 1987].

According to Hard Rock Magazine, who supposedly was present when Axl made the statement about small dogs, Axl had arrived for the Time Out Magazine interview in a bad mood after hearing that his two Maltese dogs had made a mess in his apartment in Los Angeles causing an emphatic - but not seriously meant - outburst against smaller dogs. No one in the room according to Hard Rock Magazine had taken this outburst seriously except the Time Out Magazine interviewer [Hard Rock Magazine, October 1987].

Axl would later shed more light on the story:

[Talking about his dog, Torque]: That's the famous dog they said I'd go murdering [...] I don't like poodles. Little poodles. I told some guys everything about poodles makes you want to kill them so the next thing you know there's this magazine in England, and it wasn't even a rock magazine, it was like a magazine that talks [?] about all kinds of things in the world and stuff and it talks about this band in L.A. where this guy's a self-confessed poodle murderer. So then they have like the National Enquirer type papers over there, you know, that sadly started all this stuff, and all those things came out calling me a dog butcher and that I was beastier than Beastie Boys.

And like Chinese whispers, magazines would copy each other:

[...] but now, you know, there's things in magazines here [=US], like Hit Parader, where they quoted Slash saying I ran over dogs and he never said that.
Unknown publication, December 1987

Slash would be frustrated with these rumours:

There was this thing roaming around that Axl killed dogs. It started in Eu­rope, and somehow it made its way over here, which [was] a really sick, f!?king joke. I don’t appreciate that at all.

The band would later grow more and more frustrated with the media, especially in the early 90s, and this will be discussed in later chapters.

In 2011, Axl would specifically mention the dog story when discussed the craziest rumours about him:

You know, it was like, you know, I mean, they just say things. It's like, England wrote about how I ran over my dogs and then I ate them, you know. I mean, there's too many things said.

Axl would again refer to this in 2016:

Well part of that then also is… was just being young and part wild and part of it to be rock and roll. When we'd go to MTV they'd ask us to tear their set apart. Then there was everything that was said. And England is one of the craziest places for that because the media here will just write anything to promote you in a way. They said I ran over my dogs then I ate them. Long before Dep ate his I ate mine. They said all kinds of crazy things back then.


In a 2013 interview, Alan Niven would claim the rumour about Axl killing dogs had been deliberately planted in advance of the shows at the Marquee in England to cause PR for the band:

I mean, when we went over to England for the very first time and did a run of three Marquee shows we had great coverage out of Fleet Street, out of the trash press in Fleet Street, simply because we put a story out there that Axl killed his dogs. All right, what's going to get the Americans upset? A picture of a girl with her knickers around her ankles. What's going to get the Brits upset? Dog killing. All right, you know, a bunch of drunken hacks sitting in their pub in Fleet Street, you bet we're gonna feed them a bone, you know, "Here, chew on this."

The thing is, with GNR, is we're talking about here is how did we manipulate getting attention for content, all right? Now, the content I will say that one of the reasons why people got next to it is because it was spirited and it was heartfelt and there was a common consciousness in that band that people could recognize. Now of course it's, you know, part of my job is to go around and push buttons and try and get people to notice this and bring this to people's attention.

[...] basically as far as I'm concerned the press is fair fucking game. Especially the English gutter press like the Sun and the Star and if I can get my little band from LA, you know, three or four inches of a column in the Sun when they haven't even played in the country yet just by saying that Axl kills dogs, you know, and I'm willing to bet that, you know, half the drunken hacks who wrote about it in on Fleet Street knew exactly what was going on and so it was a good wheeze, whatever.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:34 pm

JUNE 1987

While the band was trying to find their producer, writing new songs, and battling with their record company and addictions, their EP Live!? Like a Suicide, which had been released in December 1986, went about without causing much stir. Except for in England where it gained some cult popularity.

Because of the popularity of the EP, the English music magazine Kerrang! sent a photographer to Los Angeles to shoot the band for a cover article in early 1987 (the interview was released in June 1987). This interview took place at Rumbo Studios where the band was recording for their debut record. The band would later form a tumultuous relationship with Kerrang!

The press comes out first in L.A. if you’re an L.A. band, and then (?) London picks up on it quickly. That’s why […] quickly Kerrang discovered us, found out about us. And they were really into us and the kids found out about us. And then, as soon as we were able to go over there we did, and that’s why we became more happening over there than in other parts of the country.

Slash would later be asked why the band had made such quick success in the UK:

I really don’t know. Right band at the right time, I guess.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

It wasn't as coincidental as Slash makes it sound it the quote above, gaining popularity in England was part of Niven's plan, as discussed below.


Six months after the release of the EP, in June 1987, and still without having released their debut record, the band travelled to London for three shows at the Marquee Club on June 19, 22 and 28. According to Sounds Magazine from June 13, 1987, the band was supposed to play a show at the Marquee earlier than this, but this show had to be cancelled when Axl was hospitalized in early June [see earlier chapter].

Alan Niven would later talk about how the release of the EP was intended to finance the trip to England [see previous chapter].

[...] Alan [Niven] came to us and announced, "You all gotta get passports, we're going to England."
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 124

Niven would explain his strategy:

Well, obviously we were doing preproduction on the material for “Appetite For Destruction”. But you’ve got remember, doing an indy release first, that creates a platform for the major-label release. Once the band got signed, they could have just made an LP, but that way, the label has to spend time trying to market you from a standing start. I always liked to do as much as possible before relying on the good graces of a major label, so hence the strategy of “Live Like a Suicide.” I sold the entire pressing of that record. I took the check, it was $42,000, and went back to Geffen Records, and I put the check in the hand of Eddie Rosenblatt. I said: “Here, I’m giving you this check. Let’s use every penny  to go to the UK. I wanted to start generating a relationship with the press and an audience in England.


In those days, the English press was very influential. They had free weeklies like Melody Maker, Sounds and New Music Express, and magazines like Kerrang were very influential. I wanted to connect with the English press and the English audiences to raise the band’s profile as quick as possible. That’s a start a lot of bands had. When I was growing up in England, I saw Jimi Hendrix, J.J. Cale, all of them got their career started in Europe. So that was my conviction with Guns N’ Roses, and we definitely got a response in Europe.

But to be perfectly honest, Brandon, once the record was made I knew that we were going to have a nightmare of a time getting any AOR radio play. My viewpoint on this is, "I'm going to have to go through England and we're going to have to go through touring, and good luck keeping this band touring."

We only printed 25,000 units of Live Like A Suicide and obviously I wanted to make sure that a certain, you know, some of them, could export into the United Kingdom. So numerically it wasn't a huge hit, but it did the job it was designed to do, which was connecting to influential members of the press over there, for example Kerrang. And also you have to bear in mind that, you know, I've been working with another band for a few years and had done independent releases because no one was interested in signing the band and then, you know, with Live Like A Suicide, having done indie releases on Motley Crue, Berlin, Great White - I knew the value of getting out there and setting a little bit of a foundation that a major label could build on. So no, it wasn't a huge hit but I had my relationships with various people in the press. You know, the Malcolm Domes, Sylvie Simmons, etc etc through having done, you know, Too Fast For Love as an and independent, having done Out Of The Night, Shot In The Dark with Great White as an independent. So they were receptive, they were going, "Well, Niv seems to be going in a reasonable direction, so what's this one he's got? Yeah, we'll take a look at it," you know. It's easier for me to get through the doors than maybe some others because a track record had been formed. But the main function of Live Like A Suicide was to start to generate the responses out of the UK press because my whole strategy for breaking the band was aimed through the United Kingdom.

Later, Niven would explain why they needed money to travel to England and do shows there, when Warner Brothers (who distributed Geffen in Europe) had offices there who could help finance the trip:

Why did I need to do that? Because Warner Brothers in London were a bunch of old drunks, you know the record equivalent of the hacks from Fleet Street, drunks in their local pubs who couldn't give a rat's ass about us. Ironically the guy who was running their [?] international office in London was somebody I used to play soccer with back in the day and I called him up thinking, "Oh, he's gonna be right on board," and I got a superior tone saying, "You know what, Alan, we'll tell you when it's time to come over," you know, "Maybe you should get a hit in your country before you come over and take up our time." And I'm sitting there going, "Listen motherfucker, this is part of my strategy of breaking the fucking band, I need you on fucking board now." And they wouldn't, and they wouldn't put up any money towards it. So that's why the money from the indie record was really crucial, because that's what funded our first trip to England.

And funding that first trip to England did a number of jobs for me. First of all there was the general strategy of, you know, if you're gonna break in America you've got a continental sized landmass that you've got to coordinate with information and energy and focus to get this band broken and people paying attention to it. If I'm in dear old little England it's a tiny little landmass and I can drive across it in five hours, it's easier to get a focus on a national basis in that nation. Secondly, there were three newspapers that came out every week, Melody Maker, Sounds and NME and they will weekly, print newspapers, and the press there was really, really important in those days still. And if you could get the press talking about you, you've got your following developing in that country, you've got people starting to take you seriously and give you attention. It's an absolute no-brainer, let's start in England, let's rile up Fleet Street, let's kill some dogs or tell them we have, let's go to the Marquee and play some hard-ass shows so the punters are talking about it. Boom! Now we got the press in the UK on our side. Suddenly in LA they're looking at a band with an international cachet [?], "They work in England so they're obviously going to work for us here" and, you know, if it works out well in the press in England it's obviously going to work. The other thing was in December the last issue of Music Connection in 1986 featured four bands on the cover, one was Guns N' Roses and there were three others and what does that do to me? Fucking freak me out because I'm going, "That should just be my band on the cover! What are the other fucking three bands doing on there?" So that told my consciousness, "I'm in a pack here and I've got to get ahead of the pack and I've got to be the first to get to the journalists, I got to be the first to get to the UK, I got to be the first to get to Germany, I got to be ahead of the pack because right now if Music Connection - which is printed in Los Angeles - is putting these four bands on the cover that means in the consciousness of people who actually live in LA they're seeing it as a tight little scene and these four bands are equal. There's a scene but my band is infinitely fucking superior to the other three, what the hell are we sharing the cover for?" That was imperative to get to England first.

Arlett Vereecke, the band's publicist, had partly been hired to help create promotion for the band while in London, and she was offered little support from the record company:

I have two weeks to promote it before the shows. So I said to the guys, we all stayed in an apartment together - that has since not been rented out to anyone - and I said, "OK, let me go and see what the record company's got. I'll see if I can work with them on things. If not, I'll do it myself." So the record company, number one, was not aware of who Guns N' Roses was in England. It Geffen. It was Warner Brothers at the time, Geffen was distributed by Warner Brothers. And they had no interest. And they had set up for the three weeks when we're there, they wanted us just to do some local stencils. [...] They had like three stencil magazines set up for us.  And I said, "No," I rejected, "Don't want it. If you can't do better than that, don't worry about it just give me an office and I'll come and make my phone calls here," because we didn't have a budget. And I said, "I'll do it myself." I called all my press people and said, "Listen, I don't bullshit people. If I don't like it, I will tell you. This is what you need to hear. This is what you have to concentrate on." So we we took them out, drank with everybody, I invited everybody to our apartment, set up the interviews. Some of them went a little bit wrong because of the word "fuck", too much used at that time. And I decided... I made a deal with the girl who worked there at the marketing, I said, "You pay for my booze and I'll introduce you to everybody you need to know." She was new there. So I used to go to Warner Brothers and she used her budget on buying us booze. So I used to go like I was pregnant with my leather jacket with all the booze under it because we had only $5 a day and they can't do anything without booze, so I said, "I'm going to liquor them up." So I used to get all their bread, whatever was in the kitchen at Geffen, I took.

Slash would later say he had been worried about people making fun of his name considering that "slash" means "piss" in England:

The first time I came over here with the band, I thought, oh God, I'm gonna have to deal with it. But it never got too bad.

Before they flew over, Niven would talk to the band about the trip and how it would go down:

I remember really clearly in the Hell House before we went to England for the first time and I was on one side of the room and the entire band were on the other side of the room around a really ratty disgusting stinking couch, and I was explaining to them what to expect in travel and circumstance when we went over there, and one of them looked at me and said, "Niv, do you think we can do this?" to which I replied, "That's why I'm fucking here."

Duff would describe the trip to England:

At first, we wanted to sleep on the plane. So someone gave us half of a J&B Magnum as a sleeping pill. Whiskey is a big emotion [or commotion?] stirrer among the band. Slash, our guitarist, thought that he was at a party, and wanted to leave through the escape hatch! And another one nearly started a fire by throwing a cigarette behind a seat. The captain of the 747 reprimanded us, and the cops were waiting for us in England, but, thankfully, our manager got it all settled.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:34 pm

JUNE 19, 1987

Originally the trip to England was only meant to be for one concert, but the first show sold out quickly, so another was added, and a third. According to Steven Adler, the last gig was added while the band was taking the ferry across to Amsterdam [Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p128].

Up to then, the only place I had been outside of the United States was Vancouver, Canada [...] After the first Marquee gig sold out in record time, they added a second date. That sold out just as fast, so they added a third night. By the time we arrived in London, we were minor celebrities. We found we had become the "it" band the youth of England had been looking for to fill the void left by Hanoi Rocks. [...]. In that period of the band's career - and with pent-up energy from half a year or virtually no gigs - nobody fucking rocked with as much purpose and sneer, or with the same level of recklessness and bad intentions.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 123-124

At soundcheck before the June 19 show, the band tried Knockin' On Heaven's Door for the first time, and debuted it at the show:

On Thursday, June, 11, we were ready to perform our very first gig in Europe [Steven got the wrong date]. During the sound check, the guys started into a rocking song that I wasn't sure I head heard before. I was like, "Wow, this is a cool new tune." It had a haunting familiarity to it that I couldn't quite place. Sinc Axl wasn't there yet, Izzy and Duff started singing it the second time around and only then did I realize it was 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door.' I smiled, "Oh yeah, it's that song." I realized we were taking the classic Bod Dylan tune and rocking out on it, taking it solidly under our wing into Guns N' Roses territory. That night we recorded it live [...] The first show was great, although there were only about thirty people there.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 126

At soundcheck before the first show on June 19, 1987, we ran through a cover song. We played it just once, but somehow our feelings found a vessel in this Bob Dylan song and our emotions just came pouring out.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 123-124

Axl started off the show with a cheery greeting before kicking into Reckless Life:

It’s good to be in fucking England finally!
The Marquee, June 19, 1987; from Square Mile, November 8, 2017

But the audience responded by throwing plastic cups with some even spitting at the band [Square Mile, November 8, 2017].

Hey! If you wanna keep throwing things, we’re gonna fuckin’ leave. Whaddaya think?
The Marquee, June 19, 1987; from Square Mile, November 8, 2017

A beer cup then flew past Axl's head, and he was ready to jump into the crowd to fight:

Fuck you, pussy!
The Marquee, June 19, 1987; from Square Mile, November 8, 2017

But by the third song, Anything Goes, the band had turned the audience around [Square Mile, November 8, 2017]. Alan Niven would later summarize the show:

The Marquee show was a really, really, really interesting fulcrum moment and fortunately this is where having an English manager helped because I was able to explain, "Look, you're probably going to get an audience who's not going to be impressed with you, they're gonna think you're a bunch of tarts and wussies from LA, they're gonna give you shit, they're probably gonna gob acres of phlegm at you, and if you piss your pants you're done." And that first gig went pretty much like that and it was so bad at a point where I'm thinking, "I've got to take my jacket off," because I could see Axl was getting ready to come down and talk to one or two people, one-on-one specifically in the audience, that things turned and shifted and the audience got with the band and realized they weren't just a bunch of pussies from LA, they're a bunch of hard-asses from LA and if you wanna fucking talk about it one on one we'll come down, we'll fucking talk about it one on one. [...] You know, it's a strange animal, the rock and roll audience. Just as the band is a strange animal too. But particularly in England, that's something that over the years I've noticed. You've got to have your bottle and if you don't have your bottle they'll tell you apart.

[...] when we went over to play those Marquee shows, I sat with the band and said, you know, “Audiences here are a little different. Don't be surprised if they spit at you. Don't be surprised if they heckle you. Don't be surprised if they look at Axl's hair” - that used to be bouffant in those days - “and call him a pretty boy wanker. The one thing that you cannot do is cave to that kind of a response”. And at the first Marquee show, the magic moment for me was when Axl threatened to come off the stage and mix it up with a couple of hecklers in the audience. And from that moment, the audience loved them.

By the end of the show Axl was in good mood:

D’ya like my shirt? It says, ‘Fuck Dancing, Let’s Fuck.’ I think that gets to the point.
The Marquee, June 19, 1987; from Square Mile, November 8, 2017

And after the show he would look back at it:

Shit, it was hot in there, real hard to breathe. When we started it was like, man, we’re in hell! The crowd threw some shit to start with, but they were so fucking into it, so much energy.

In 1988, Axl instead focused on the stagediving that took place at the show, and not the tumultuous response they had received at first:

When we first played The Marquee in London, it got crazy. I don't mind stage-diving, I really don't. I like the guys who jump onstage and then jump right off. That's great. But when they get up there and start dancing, we kick 'em up. People look at the security guards and see what they're doin' because if the guards don't get 'em, we'll get 'em and it might not make the band look too good. We'll trash any dude who tries to stay onstage with us! I got photos of me holding up guys in my arms and literally throwing 'em back in the crowd in London.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:35 pm

Use Your Illusion II, 1991, track no. 4.

Written by:
Bob Dylan.

Drums: Matt
Bass: Duff
Lead and Rhythm Guitars: Slash
Rhythm Guitar: Izzy
Vocals: Axl
Background Vocals: Axl, The Waters

Live performances:
'Knockin' On Heaven's Door' was played for the first time at the Marquee, England, on June 19, 1987. In total it has, as of {UPDATEDATE}, at least been played {KNOCKINSONGS} times.

Mama take this badge from me
I can't use it anymore
It's getting dark too dark to see
Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door

Kn-kn-knockin' on heaven's door
Kn-knockin' on heaven's door
Kn-knockin' on heaven's door
Kn-knockin' on heaven's door

Mama put my guns in the ground
I can't shoot them anymore
That cold black cloud is comin' down
Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door

Kn-kn-knockin' on heaven's door
Kn-knockin' on heaven's door
Kn-knockin' on heaven's door
Kn-knockin' on heaven's door

"You just better start sniffin' your own
rank subjugation jack 'cause it's just you
against your tattered libido, the bank and
the mortician, forever man and it wouldn't
be luck if you could get out of life alive"

Kn-kn-knockin' on heaven's door
Kn-knockin' on heaven's door
Kn-knockin' on heaven's door
Kn-knockin' on heaven's door

Quotes regarding the song and its making:

Talking about the decision to play it live for the first time:

Heaven’s Door was something that came out of the blue, because I liked the song and Axl liked it, but we’d never talked about it. One day it came up and we were talking on the phone, and I was like, “You want to do that?! Great!” We did it at the Marquee for the first time.

I was staying at someone’s apartment and Axl was at his place and we were on the phone talking about covers for the shows at the Marquee in London, and that song came up, and I was like "I have always wanted to do that song." And he was like "Yeah, that’ll be awesome!" So we went to the Marquee and did it at soundcheck and just did it that night. It’s gone through a lot of changes over the years. Actually we had a punkrock version of it at first, and we finally mellowed it out to an actual song that sounds like we thought it should sound like. But that was while recording. When we play it live it’s sort of a cross-over. Very hard and heavy, but at the same time sort of like the album.
Guns N' Roses: The Hits, 1992

On Thursday, June 11 [1987], we were ready to perform our very first gig in Europe [At the Marquee in London]. During the sound check, the guys started into a rocking song that I wasn't sure I had heard before. I was like, "Wow, this is a cool new tune." It had a haunting familiarity to it that I couldn't quite place. Since Axl wasn't there yet, Izzy and Duff started singing it the second time around and only then did I realize it was 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door.' I smiled; "Oh yeah, it's that song." I realized we were taking the classic Bob Dylan tune and rocking out ion it, taking it solidly under our wing into Guns N' Roses territory (...). It was Axl's idea to do 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door.' He told Slash about it, they learned it, and we did it. They never even mentioned it to me though, just expecting me to pick up the beat on the fly. I didn't know if this was a tribute to my drumming adaptability or a sign of their abject disregard for my needs as a members of the band (but I could venture a pretty god fucking guess).
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, pp. 126

At soundcheck before the first show on June 19, 1987, we ran through a cover song. We played it just once, but somehow our feelings found a vessel in this Bob Dylan song and our emotions just came pouring out.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 123-124

Those Marquee shows were loud and hell-bent; what I remember I remember fondly. (...) One of those nights was also the first time that we ever played 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door,' which we put together at sound check on a whim. I'd always loved that song and loved that live version - it was much more raw than what we ended up on Use Your Illusion.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York, pp, 184-185

Talking about recording the song:

'Heaven's Door' has that same sound in it for the solos [as on Estranged], and that's the Explorer on the rhythm pickup, with the tone down [...] There are two [solo] sections on that song, I'd been playing those solos off-the-cuff since we started playing that song. But when we went into the studio to do it, I played it completely differently than I've ever played it. I did this whole melody off the top of my head. I did one solo one day, and then the next solo the next day, and they are both one take. [...] The outro solo [...] I did the first day after I came up with the melody for the first solo, I did the second one and [Mike Clink] wasn't really happy with it. I thought it was fine. I took it home and listened to it. The next morning, on my way somewhere, I stopped by the studio and just pulled it off one more time and did it way better.
Guitar For The Practising Musician, April 1990

There's two solo sections on that song. I'd been playing those solos off-the-cuff since we started playing that song. But when we went in the studio to do it, I played it completely differently than I've ever played it. I did this whole melody off the top of my head. I did one solo one day, and then the next solo the next day, and they're both one take. (...) The outro solo on 'Heaven's Door,' I did the first day after I came up with the melody for the first solo. I did the second one and he [Mike Clink] wasn't really happy with it. I thought it was fine. I took it home and listened to it. The next morning, on my way somewhere, I stopped by the studio and just pulled it off one more time and did it way better.
Guitar, April 1992

The first recording with Matt [Sorum] was 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door,' for the Days of Thunder soundtrack (which also ended up on the Illusions albums). I remember doing the solo for it on my way somehere and I used a '58 Gibson Explorer. It was an amazing take, I just ran in there with my girlfriend and some friends in tow, picked up the guitar, and really let the solo sing: I turned the tone down on the bass pickup, I locked it and let it scream. I really love the way that one came out - it was very emotional yet effortless.
Bozza, Anthony, & Slash (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment: New York, pp, 311

And when I came in here [A&M Records] with Mike Clink, you know, the first track I did with him here at A&M was Knockin' on Heaven's Door. So we came in here to sort of try the room. And we did a track for this film called Days of Thunder, which Tom Cruise was the star. And I remember at the time we hired the drum kit of Jamo [?] who was [?] Carlos' drum tech. And he had a kit and he came in and it was all tuned up and I sat down. It was a beautiful Gretch kit.We set it up and Mike miked it get really cool and baffled it because the room is really big. We weren't really looking for a big room sound. We were looking for kind of a more tight rock'n'roll, in your face, punchy, se we baffled the drums off quite a bit. Didn't really use the entirety of the room for the drums per se. Like a lot of guys think, "Oh, we're gonna get a big rock drum sound but we're gonna go to this massive room and it's gonna sound huge," and things got carried away with that in the 80s. Mid 80s. Everyone was trying to like go and capture this Kashmir, John Bonham kind of thing, which, if you really listen to that, it's not a big room, it's John Bonham, you know, and it's the way they miked the drums and it goes with the other instruments. So something happened in the mid 80s where it was like, "Big drum rooms! Let's go record the drums in a swimming pool!" and you know, microphones everywhere and, you know [imitating big drums], and reverbs and all these things started happening, you know, to drums. And the thing about Guns N' Roses was there was more of a traditional rock band, is that we studied the bands that we were into and that we studied were the great bands that came before us. You know, like the Stones, Aerosmith, you know, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, I can name a list. And there was a punk element to it. So we we loved early Pistols albums, Clash records, you know, they were down and dirty.

Talking about the song:

And there are times when everybody comes together, like in singing 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door.' That's one reason we do the song: it's for people.
Interview Magazine, May 1992

'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' was brilliant. We took that old song from Bob Dylan and turned it into that kind of hymn. That was special.
loveloveleon, July 2010


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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:35 pm


The first show was not met with good reviews. Andy Hurt, writing for The Sounds, likened Axl's singing to "a six foot-tall hamster masquerading as a GI had the misfortune to be captured by the Vietcong and subjected to the dastardliest of tweaks and prods, it should emit noises similar to those made by Axl. His voice is the voice of Bon Scott with one terrified bollock stuck on the plane, too petrified to take the freefall into the scrotum below" [Sounds Magazine, June 27, 1987].

Andy Hurt's review
Sounds Magazine, June 27, 1987

According to Classic Rock Magazine, Axl, after having read read the devastating review, "was livid and led the whole band to the Sound's office in Mornington Crescent, north London. 'Andy Hurt?' he raged. 'He fucking will be if I find him!' But the reviewer was absent, so Axl contended himself with a warning note left with another member of the staff" [Classic Rock Magazine, July 2007].

According to Arlett Vereecke, "the warning note" from Axl was a urine-soaked desk:

We invited a bunch of people from Sounds and Kerrang! and all these big rock magazine from England to the show. First show comes up and the review comes out in Sounds that says, "Axl sang like he had only one ball." So Axl said, "What are we gonna do about it?" I said, "I don't know, you tell me and I'll do it." And he said, "Let's go and piss on his desk. Can you set that up?" I said, "Sure," I said, "This is what I'll do, I'll go to Warners and I'll get you a taxi at their expense. You go to Sounds and I'll get somebody inside there to find out if the guy is there. So then you walk in and piss on his desk and I'll have a taxi waiting outside there, we go back." That was all set up, but Warner Brothers somehow got wind of it, so they said that, "If you have any influence with this band you will stop this nonsense." I said, "I can't, I paid for the taxis and that was it." I was done. [?]

Steve Sutherland, likely writing for NME, also gave the show a poor review and described the sound of the band as "weak AC/DC." Again, Axl decided to confront the reviewer as Sutherland would recall in 2005:

I received a phonecall from the singer, Axl Rose. He said the band were on the way to the airport in a cab and he wondered if I’d be in the office so they could swing right by and FUCKING SORT ME OUT!! Needless to say, I had a pressing engagement elsewhere but I had to admire their balls.
NME, September 2005

Axl also referenced the "weak AC/DC" description when introducing 'Whole Lotta Rosie' on one of the next gigs.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun May 31, 2020 6:36 pm


The first time I came to London. I was with my manager who was English, the first time I came to London we were in his car after we left a bar I'm like "Can I have your friends number?" and he's like "Why?" I'm going "Because when I'm in jail with you I need someone to call."


The band was building a rumor as notorious troublemakers and the media would report that they were "kicked out from three of the most famous clubs in England," that "they smashed a shop window after they were refused entry," and that they "threw various objects through the window of the hotel that accommodated them" [Hard Rock Magazine, October 1987].

Jack Daniel’s and Slash trashed the apartment we stayed in on the band’s first trip to London, where Guns played the Marquee on Wardour Street. All the fragments of furniture were piled in a heap in the middle of his room.

Axl would confirm many of these rumours but claim he held a more low profile than Slash:

I've been really tame over here in England because I’ve been concerned with the shows and the interviews. Slash has been going out and getting thrown out of nightclubs and smashing windows. He hasn’t had to concentrate as much as I have.

And Slash would admit his days in London had been crazy:

The first time we played the Marquee, there was such a fucking buzz. I guess the first gig was real sloppy and lax. But then I had a great fucking time. I was hanging out on the street, got drunk. I think I was the most obnoxious I’d ever been when I was in London. I got chucked out of every pub. You know the St Moritz club [in Wardour Street]? I smashed that whole window ’cos they wouldn’t let me in! I kicked in the whole window and the cops came and I snuck out of there. I got kicked out of the Limelight club, I got kicked out of the Intrepid Fox. All those places in that area I got kicked out of, and I had a great time.

I fuckin’ stole [UFO vocalist] Phil Mogg’s drink and poured the glass over my head and threw it back at him in the Intrepid Fox. ’Cos I hate that guy. I hate anybody that pulls a rock star trip on me. He came and sat at our table. I just thought he was showing off. I don’t know, apparently he’s a pretty cool guy. But he sat down and ordered a drink on our tab, I guess, or whatever. The drink came and I took it and smashed the glass. Everybody was, like, shocked. It was so stupid, but I was having such a good time that nothing mattered... I was just running around those little streets in Soho yelling - it was a gas! We hung out with Lemmy from Motorhead at their studio. They let us play their gear. Motorhead are like heroes to us, so that was pretty cool.

London to me is like... I want to feel close to that crowd, I want them to feel that we’re one of their bands. But we don’t play there enough. We’ve played there twice. We were gonna come back with Metallica, but that doesn’t start until October and we'll be off the road by then.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

Despite Slash been the wild one, Axl didn't manage to stay entirely out of trouble because while in the company of Niven and Zutaut, he allegedly had an altercation with a security guard at Tower Record resulting in police being called for. Axl would later describe this:

I wanted to break everything in there. I’d gladly drive one of these English cabs through their showcase! It’s very hard to keep your cool in this kind of situations.

In the aftermath Tower Records would apologize to Axl and send him a jacket with the store's logo [Hard Rock Magazine, October 1987].

One of the clubs they visited in London was the legendary Limelight (the band would later play an acoustic gig at its sister club in New York on January 31, 1988). At this club it was reported that Slash got in a fight with Cobalt Stargazer, the singer of Zodiac Mindwarp, when he hit on his girlfriend, but Duff would later claim it was just exaggerated in the press [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987].

They would also party with Lemmy from Motorhead [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987] and Lemmy would look back at meeting the band for the first time:

We were in London doing the Orgasmotron record. They were there playing the Marquee. This was in '86 before they had any records out. Slash and Duff and Izzy and Steve came down to the studio. Axl was the only one missing. They just sat around being like young fans, just amazed. Because we influenced them. They were very respectful.

And buy jeans at Kensington Station:

The subway there at Kensington High Street had this guy who sold stress jeans for 10 pounds. [...] At the station. 10 pounds. Stretch jeans. "Okay, get two pair of those, that's gonna let..." I still have a pair of those. [...] They're good jeans. It's hard to get a good pair of stress jeans, you know?

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Post by Soulmonster Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:00 pm

JUNE 22 AND 28, 1987

About a week later, for the band's second show, a long line had formed to buy tickets although the people at Warner Brothers still didn't know who the band was:

So the second day of the show, it was a week later, we went back to Warners, Slash and I went to Warners, and we walked out and they still didn't know what they looked like, really. You know, [?] 80s, it was before the video age and cell phones, whatever. So I walked past the Marquee and there was a line around the corner and Slash said, "Oh there show tonight. Should we go?" I said, "Let's find out." So we walked up to some people and said, "Hey, who's playing tonight?" They said, "Oh, we're waiting for tickets for an American band, Guns N' Roses." And we just stood there, said, "Oh, okay then," and then we just laughing and "Oh my God," so we knew we did it. You know, it was a line around the corner and it just went uphill from there.

The two following shows on June 22 and 28 did a lot better than the first with Malcolm Dome from Kerrang! absolutely thrilled over the third show:

There was an edge of the uncontrollable on this Sunday night that always threatened to take everybody over the sanity edge, a bourbon-fuelled spirit of the rollercoaster, which at any moment would career off the rails. But then, this is perhaps the ultimate fascination with all great bands, the passion and intensity is so overwhelming it comes close to engulfing us ell, only being held at bay by that indescribable combination of charisma and musicianship, of which G n' R have plenty.

Izzy and Slash tore their flesh to golden shreds on the strings of their guitars as if ripping out a cat's innards and then street-orchestrating the screaming effect. Bassist Duff possessed a sunken, glowering glow, whilst drummer Steven Adler kicked against the skins as if attempting anchored surgery without anaesthesia.

And holding the instrumental plunder together is Axl, a born frontman who 'just' happens to have a positively schizoid vocal range.

For the second show, the Scarborough band Little Angels was the supporting act, and the singer, Toby Jepson, would later look back at seeing Guns N' Roses during soundcheck:

There was this racket, volume like I’d never heard, and standing on stage was this guitar player wearing a top hat and shouting, ‘Man, I can’t hear it – turn it up!’ That was our introduction to Slash. And a few minutes later there was a fight between a roadie and some other guy – a proper brawl, in the fucking sound check! [...] They all stank really badly. But were lovely.

And the show:

As they came on, the place was rammed. You couldn’t move. Everyone who was anyone was there. You could feel this air of anticipation. And from the first song it was just incredible. So exciting. And they had so many great songs.

I’d grown up on Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and you get to understand there’s a benchmark that sets those bands apart from other bands. To me, Guns N’ Roses were the new Aerosmith. And that gig at the Marquee – that was the best band I’ve ever seen live.

Alan Niven would later explain the strategy of having a week between the first and the second and third shows:

We went over there to play the Marquee three nights as headliners over two weekends, waiting for the press cycle to report on the first show. Then we did two shows the following weekend, and everyone turned out to see what the journalists were writing about, so it worked out well.

Guns N' Roses at the Marquee
June 1987

The likely reason for the week between the second and third show is likely due to the third not being planned:

At some point during out visit [to the UK], we took the ferry across to Amsterdam. While there, we received word that due to overwelming demand, another show was added at the Marquee. We returned to perform a kick-ass set. The show went great, and we thanked the English fans for being so gracious.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p128


The third show was recorded "on a mobile unit by British producer Vic Maile" [Kerrang! August 20, 1987; Kerrang! March 1989]. Songs off this recording would variously be used as B-sides on the band's singles, including 'Whole Lotta Rosie' which was the B-side on the band's first single, 'Welcome to the Jungle' after being mixed by Mike Clink.

Finally, as those of you who saw the band's third, awesome show at The Marquee Club in London recently will be aware, the entire performance was recorded live under the guidance of producer Vic Maile. The tapes were then shipped over to LA, where the band, in association with Clink, mixed down three tracks during the aforementioned studios sessions (inbetween decimating the beer machine and letting off the occasional fire extinguisher!) These numbers were cover versions of AC/DC's 'Whole Lotta Rosie' and Bob Dylan's 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door', plus 'It's So Easy'.

This trio of songs will be used as part of the package for the next Gn'R single in Britain, namely 'Welcome To The Jungle'. 'Whole Lotta Rosie' will be on the flip side of the seven inch, whilst the other two cuts will be additional enticements on the 12".

In addition, according to journalist Pete Makowski, footage was taken from interviews with the crowd and band rehearsals, but the video was handed over to management [Classic Rock, April 2005] and has as far as we know, never surfaced.

In 2017, Arlett Vereecke, the band's publicist, would be asked if the shows were taped:

Not officially by no one. Not officially. Somebody taped it. It was not official. Don't forget, when we came to London, nobody knew who they were, and it was not like a big deal.

In 2018, Alan Niven would be asked if the band was sitting on any unreleased material:

Well I know Tommy Zutaut would love for the Marquee shows to be mixed and mastered properly and put out. [...] I think the one recording that I know that Tommy would like just to see the light of day properly, is the stuff we recorded at the Marquee.

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Post by Soulmonster Thu May 06, 2021 2:10 pm


Playing in London was the first experience Guns N' Roses would have with touring abroad and being celebrity rock stars.

Bars close too early, they drive on the wrong side of the street, they talk funny. […] We got thrown out of a few clubs.

It was insane. We got there having really no idea what the response [would be], because our EP’s did really well over there – before the album. And we get there, and we go to the soundcheck the first night – it’s, like, 3:00 in the afternoon, actually – and there’s a line of kids, two blocks down, all knowing who we were, and we were going on and off.

So we had to have our security guards, right? I mean, for us it’s like, we just hang out. We don’t need security people, we’re not used to that, right? […] Anyway, so we go out and we go to hang out in London, right? And it’s like, all these kids are coming up and they’re asking for autographs, and they want their asses signed, and their chest signed... […] And I’m like, whooa!

The gigs were great. We played three gigs at the Marquee and they were all sold out. Kids line up at three in the afternoon, like two streets down. We'd walk up and all these kids knew who we were just by sight. There's really no rock n' roll over there, so we got there and the kids were just waiting and waiting. All the old Hanoi Rocks fans. There's the fans there, but there's just no bands. The kids are looking for a band they can all cling on to.

We really had fun during this first visit to Europe and I can't wait to come back here. We played three shows at the Marquee, the last of which was recorded.
Hard Force [French], October 1987; translated from French

We just did three shows in London. There isn’t a rock ‘n’ roll band there but there is a rock ‘n’ roll audience.

It was like 10 years ago when the Pistols were happening. It’s getting to the point where people are getting fed up with a lot of stuff and they get it out at our shows.

I was born in England, and it was very important for me to play in front of an English audience. The version of 'Mr. Brownstone' on the live album [=Live Era '87-'93] was recorded at one of those gigs. I was just playing a Les Paul through a half-stack back then, but it sounded so cool.

Those Marquee shows were loud and hell-bent; what I remember, I remember fondly.
Slash's autobiography, p184

Guns N' Roses

For Guns N' Roses, London Called Early

By Duff McKagan
Thursday, Mar. 11 2010

I am in London this week looking at a bunch of unsigned bands for a new venture that I am part of. It is fresh and fun to see some of these bands: startled kids with huge and hopeful eyes that see a world that is theirs for the taking, energetic, unjaded, and full of piss and vinegar. I need to see this now and again to remind me what music should be all about. It also reminds me of the first time I came over here: It was with GN'R in July of '87, a few weeks before Appetite for Destruction came out.

The year before, we had put out the Live Like a Suicide EP. This fast and furious collection of songs sort of just died everywhere else in the world except for the UK. Unbeknownst to us, a cult following of fans was building over here who were chomping at the bit for any news on the band. When Kerrang magazine sent a photographer to Los Angeles to shoot us for the cover, we couldn't actually believe it. We had received press coverage in L.A. at this point, but KERRANG?! Are you kidding me?

After we finished Appetite and were waiting for its release and tour opportunities, we were approached to go to London and play the famous Marquee club. The only place I had been outside the U.S. was Vancouver, B.C., to play punk-rock shows with my various Seattle bands when I was a teenager. This was BIG! Huge! Magnificent!

I think it's assumed these days that GN'R kind of "broke" straight from the get-go after the release of AFD. Truth is, it took us nearly a year of straight touring before anyone paid attention to us in a significant manner--except for the UK.

An odd clash of circumstances occurred in Britain about a year before Live Like a Suicide came out. Back then and before the Internet, the youth over here would sort of latch on to one rock-and-roll band and identify it as their clarion light. That band was Hanoi Rocks, an amazing group of Finns who had relocated to England and were writing some of the best and dirtiest rock songs. When Hanoi finally came to tour America for the first time in 1985, their drummer Razzle died in a car crash while making a booze run with Vince Neil in L.A. I had just moved to Hollywood, and Slash and I had tickets to that Hanoi gig that never happened. It was an incredibly sad moment not only in rock and roll, but all the way around. Hanoi Rocks never quite recovered.

Flash forward to our gig in the UK, July 1987. After the first Marquee gig sold out in record time, they added a second date. That sold out just as fast, so they added a third. By the time we arrived here (we stayed at a rent-by-the-week apartment because it was much cheaper than a hotel), we were kind of like little mini-celebrities. There were times that people would stop us on the street and they actually knew who we were! It was quite weird, even on a small scale.

I learned to ride the tube [subway] everywhere, and it just seemed that there were great gigs every night we were there. Slash and I went out to a suburb one night to see the Replacements, and got so drunk that we lost track where we were. We caught a tube to somewhere that was not anywhere even close to our apartment in Kensington. We got into a drunken fight when we got to the end of the line, and realized that there were no more trains running and that we didn't have anything close to the amount of money to take a cab. Come to think of it, I doubt we even knew the address of where we were staying; we only knew how to get there from our local tube stop. To this day, I am not sure how we ever got back that night. Did we sleep in the train station? Ah, the luck and providence shown to the young and drunken and foolish!

But the real reason we were here, of course, was to fucking rock. I must say that back in that period of the band's career, nobody did it with more purpose, sneer, and reckless bad intent than us. This is not me bragging--it's just that we were hitting on all the right cylinders at the same time. When we walked to the Marquee on that first night, we were met by the crowd that was in line surrounding the block. We were absolutely fucking amazed that all these people came to see us. We hung out there in the street with them before and after those three gigs. We found that we had suddenly become "that" band that the youth of England had been looking for to fill the void left after Hanoi Rocks' tragic demise. Within four years, we would be headlining in stadiums here.

I am here now as a real grown-up, an adult doing very "adult-like" business and meeting with real-life businessmen. I am glad to be taken seriously in these meetings, and for certain feel that I have earned the right to be doing the things that I do outside of just playing music. Coming back to London, though, always puts a smile on my face. That first 10-day stay here as a young man will forever be a brilliant memory that will always keep me from becoming jaded.

We did two shows [the second on June 22], and they were just awesome. It was great to be part of that history. We were one of the last rock ‘n’ roll bands to come along and break out of that club. It had a great history, it was sort of London’s equivalent to the Troubadour. Everybody fantastic came to that club, and we had two great nights.

I’ll never forget that week building up to it. We were [in London] rehearsing at John Henry’s and just scrounging around Soho, meeting people, getting drunk and picking up girls, and so on. It culminated in these two nights, really sweaty nights, at the Marquee.

I have a video for one of those evenings, someone was walking around with a camera, and videotaped the entire day, from before soundcheck all the way through the show. I have it on DVD, I don’t even remember who shot it, but someone gave it to me in the last couple of years. I’m sitting there with it, I don’t know what to do with it.

It was packed to the rafters, and it was a real proper rock ‘n’ roll kind of thing.

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Post by Soulmonster Thu May 06, 2021 2:16 pm


Already before the band released their debut record, band members would dream about tours in the future:

Playing with all these bands that we’ve listened to for years. Getting an opportunity to play with people who we respect. To go out there and to kick as much ass as we can!

I’d love to tour with AC/DC, Aerosmith, or Motley Crue.

We’re looking for a tour bus. A big, black tour bus with a skull on the front and a harem inside, like an opium den.

Just before and after the release of Appetite for Destruction, the label and band were scrambling to get the band out on the road to support the debut album. But landing the right tours proved difficult. The band was gaining a very bad reputation, NME would later state it was "because of their problems with the LA Police" [New Musical Express, August 1989]. In addition, Appetite was either not released or initially not selling very well.

According to Steven in his biography, the first plans were to do a tour with Stryper or with Y&T, but these all fell apart [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 130]. According to Kerrang in August 1987, the Christian rock band Stryper had been worried about GN'R's lyrics and Malcom Dome would write, "It just goes to prove what I believe, namely if Stryper are following the path of God, then the Roses are the perfect roadblock!" [Kerrang! August 20, 1987].

Steven would later talk about having wanted to tour with Stryper:

I finally got to mention Stryper! Those guys rule.

That would've been a great package: Satan and God together. They were getting pussy just like every other rock 'n' roller. Don't kid yourself. It was a gimmick. It's rock 'n' roll. Blackie Lawless had the raw meat. Stryper had the Bible.

Axl would mention Y&T and Ace Frehley:

We should have been on tour opening for Y&T and Ace Frehley.
Hard Force [French], October 1987; translated from French

Slash would claim they had preferred The Cult over Y&T:

We were supposed to open for Y&T but we preferred to do it with The Cult who are friends.
Hard Force [French], October 8, 1987; translated from French

An early 1987 tour with Iron Maiden was also allegedly in the works, but cancelled due to Axl's reputation [Hit Parader, October 1988], although the band would tour with Iron Maiden later in 1987.

They were also supposed to open for Motley Crue from the beginning of their Girls, Girls, Girls tour from June 1987, but since Appetite wasn't out yet, Motley went with Whitesnake instead [CGBG's Post-show Interview, October 1987]. Whitesnake would later drop out of this tour, and Guns N' Roses would step in in November 1989 [more on this in a later chapter].

In July, Axl would state they were supposed to tour with Aerosmith in England in the fall of 1987 [Melody Maker, July 18, 1987] and also visit France [Hard Force [French], October 1987]. In September 1987, this European tour would now be described to have fallen apart in "the 11th hour" [Kerrang! March 1989], allegedly because Aerosmith hadn't got their new record out [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987] or due to "finances" [Kerrang! October 1987]. This record was Permanent Vacation and it was released on August 21, 1987, so the argument that the record wasn't out yet doesn't make complete sense timing-wise. Eventually, Aerosmith would tour this album in 1988 and Guns N' Roses would join them in July-September for that tour.

Axl would comment on this tour:

We were supposed to come with Aerosmith in September, but things are changing so quickly in the business...
Hard Force [French], October 1987; translated from French

Alan Niven would explain how the planned Aerosmith tour had fitted into the overall strategy of breaking the band:

Obviously the strategy was: we'll go in there, we'll do these three Marquee shows, do a couple of shows in Germany, and then we need to come back on a good support slot and Aerosmith were going into the UK in the perfect time for us to be developing momentum and notoriously back in those days you couldn't really rely on Aerosmith getting their European dates done for whatever reasons. God knows what distractions they had. I mean, initially with bands they go, "Niv, do we have to tour England? I mean, it's just, you know, warm beer and cold women. You know, with Aerosmith it's cold women, warm beer, and where's my fucking dealer," you know. But anyway... [...] ...and if I remember correctly this would have been at the back end of October of '87 [that] we were supposed to be the [?] and this whole build through the UK was absolutely critical to the strategy I had for breaking the band and... the Aerosmith tour fell through [...]

Later, Duff would mention that all the rumors about the band resulted in them losing tours:

We’ve been refused tours because of all the rumors. They don’t want our band in­fluencing other bands [laughs]. It turns out, bands we’ve gone on tour with, as far as drugs and shit are concerned, are worse than us. There’s not really any drugs involved.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Jan 13, 2024 1:21 pm; edited 15 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Thu May 06, 2021 2:19 pm

JULY 18, 1987

As mentioned before, Todd Crew was a great fan of Guns N' Roses and friend of the band members. After having been fired from his own band Jet Boy - for spending too much time with Guns N' Roses - he spent even more time with them, even accompanying them to England for their shows at the Marquee [RAW, September 1993].

Todd had been part of the band's inner circle from the beginning. He was a shit-kicking, hard-drinking, exceptionally cool guy. He played bass in another band called Jetboy that originated in San Francisco. When they kicked Todd out of Jetboy, we were the first band to tell them, "Screw you, you're done as far as we're concerned. You're never gonna do shows with us."
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 119

Duff and Todd Crew
Likely from a Drunk Fux show


Billy Rowe from Jetboy would later talk about Crew and say he was fired because of him not being able to handle his addictions:

We signed with Elektra in November of '86's when it kind of got ugly, so to speak....Todd (Crew) was really threading on serious abuse, with alchohol and drugs. [...] it's just a sad story. But we were at a point where it wasn't just the five of us...we had managers and a label and this person telling you that...and this person telling guys are going to be the next big thing......and here's your bass player and he's three sheets to the wind and you just kind of start resenting......we just eventually made that decision. [...] He he used to say, he was on his deathwish...the main thing was alcohol. [...] When he joined the band, I remember well, he drank California Wine Coolers and it led to whiskey....Jim Beam....a little just got ugly. At that point, we were like 19 or 20, selling out clubs and not a a care in life, but playing rock n roll and doing what we were doing; that was our life. We were always playing; always rehearsing. Again, we were buddies with Guns n Roses, but the difference was, when they went to rehearsal, they got shit done. We got shit done, but we had one member who sometimes wasn't all there, or would show up sucks, because of what happened to him.
Full In Bloom Music, January 26, 2007

According to Rowe, they had also pleaded with Guns N' Roses to help reduce Crew's partying:

We tried to get our manager and the band…we were buddies, two bands connected at the hip. Actually, Fernie and I knew Axl and Izzy before Guns n’ Roses even formed and then once we got our bands going…well, Hollywood Rose was hanging on by a thread. Axl was like “Dude, I got a new band, let’s start doing shows together.” Me and Izzy were pretty tight…it’s kind of funny. We were the two that introduced Todd to Guns n’ Roses and got that whole connection going. You know, Todd ended up just looking at different things… a lot of partying. When Todd joined Jetboy, he wasn’t that much of a partier. It got to the point where we went to Guns n’ Roses and said “Todd is going to die. He’s bad off, you need to something.” They were like “Todd’s fine. We all party. You guys are tripping.” We didn’t know what to do.
Bring Back Glam!, November 25, 2007

And discussing the firing:

We had a few meetings. We tried to talk to his parents...his mom....and then we just decided to say let's move on. I mean, producers are starting to say your bass player is weak and what's up with him. He'd be like passed out on the couch when they would come see us play and check out our songs. We made the decision....and he knew it was coming. He walked in and said, "I'm fired, huh?" and we were like, yeah, we're moving on without you. And that's when it kind of got ugly, because it was like us and Guns n Roses and we were like, "we're going to come up together and be the two bands"....and they (Guns n Roses) were like, "you can't fire Todd, you guys party too and we party".....Then it got ugly, where we would argue with each other and didn't get along and Todd ended up hanging out with them, he toured with Guns n Roses, he went to Europe with them as a roadie, then he went to New York and was hanging out with them.
Full In Bloom Music, January 26, 2007

Duff was state Crew was fired because he partied too much with Guns N' Roses:

I was really, really tight with Todd. [...] They kicked him out, I think because, I mean, we took out [?] because he was hanging out with us too much. You know, and we knew when to, like, draw a line, like gigs were off. [...] Yeah, [being wasted at gigs]'s off limits, but every other time there was no limit. So you could either hang with us or you couldn't. Like some people would come in and try to hang with us, you know, you knew like that person is gonna last a couple of hours and they're gonna be gone. [...] You get in the scrum and some people could hang with us and just stay in the scrum. And Todd was one of those guys.


Firing Crew resulted in bad blood between the two bands:

[Firing Crew] was a hard decision – and to this day I don’t know if it was the right decision – but from that day on, the two of us - Jetboy and Guns n’ Roses - were at war.
Bring Back Glam!, November 25, 2007

It kind of got ugly in the press a little bit. Not like Izzy, he was the one who I thought was kind of the smart one and not so much was kind of a little bit of everybody, but not Izzy. Then after the whole Adler deal is when we all made up and we've all spoken since then, except for maybe Axl. Everything is fine. I saw Duff about a year ago at NAMM and he was nice and gave a hug, how you everybody's grown up basically, but the sad thing is Todd was not able to grow up. He's dead.
Full In Bloom Music, January 26, 2007

Unknown Jetboy band member:

This is where the feud began and it would never be the same between Guns N’ Roses and Jetboy after that. Right after Todd had been fired from Jetboy, things got really ugly between both bands. Not all of the members. It was really just three of them. When we would see each other out at clubs or shows it was just a bad vibe. Even the G N’ R groupies would give us attitude. It amazed us on how people just involved themselves with our business when they had no fucking clue what went on! And what the real fucked up part is, none of those people knew the real Todd, the guy who was a good friend, smart, loving, caring, and who came from a very good family. All they knew was the Todd who loved to party, and that’s really sad.
Indie Music Reviews, March 2008


After returning from their successful stint in England in June 1987, Guns N' Roses had about a month to kill before they would tour North America opening for The Cult. Crew was intended to stay with the band during the tour as Duff's bass tech. In July 1987, Slash flew to New York City to meet with merchandising companies, and Crew came with him. [In Steven's biography he mistakenly claims that this happened when Slash flew to New York City for mixing Appetite, months earlier.]

During their stay in New York, on July 18, 1987, three days before the release of Appetite for Discussion, Crew overdosed on heroin and died.

I don't know what happened exactly, because I wasn't there. I heard that he and Slash were partying, shooting heroin, and Todd passed out. Slash and Todd must have gotten separated at some point and Todd overdosed and died. [...] The band had friends who were so close, so devoted, that we considered them to be members of GNR who merely didn't appear onstage. Todd was one of these, and I truly felt I had lost a brother.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 119

[Todd] died in a hotel room in New York a while back. We'd copped some stuff and he got it right there. I tried to bring him back... and he was like my best, best friend.

I don’t wanna get too deep into how he died or whatever. I’ve lost close friends since then, and it was just a rude awakening to me. But I don’t want to get into it.

Later, Duff would mention a harrowing story of how Todd's mum had called him after hearing news of her son passing:

My buddy Jim died first, and I was living on Gardner, and he was about to come down from Seattle to LA, and I got a call from his mom. She was crying, and... Big Jim was a guy, like super close pal with all of us. We had a Seattle contingent, all these guys, Donner and Yogi and all these guys, Big Jim. And so Jim passed, OD'ed, and then Todd, he and I were super, super close. And him passing, his mom calling me in the middle of the night in LA, four in the morning, woke me up. She goes, "Tell me Todd's next to you in bed," you know, "he's in your apartment." Like, "What?" you know, "no." "Please tell him he's there. They say he's dead." You know, I got up. I'm like... So that hit me


Billy Rowe would blame Slash for leaving Crew after he had been revived him from the first overdose:

Then Slash and this porn star, Lois Aires, got high and Todd OD' far as I understand, not being there, they revived him and then they left and then he OD'd again and then he died. And then Guns n Roses became the biggest band in the world.....that's why they did Knockin of Heavens Door and all that stuff.... then they broke big and we were like in this feud....we shouldn't have fired Todd, you guys party too....and so on. Then funny enough, they fire Steven Adler for the same thing.
Full In Bloom Music, January 26, 2007

The fallout from the overdose resulted in more conflicts between Jetboy and Guns N' Roses:

Todd’s family went after Slash. They hired a private investigator and all this stuff. Guns n’ Roses started badmouthing us all the way to the top. They became the biggest band in the world. A year later, they fired Steven Adler for the same reason. Is it the pot calling the kettle black? I say yes all the way around. It’s very personal. I think they have guilt. They know we went to them. He was only 20 years old. He was doing too much and he died. It’s a shame. When I read the book…there’s a lot of stuff that isn’t true.
Bring Back Glam!, November 25, 2007

Unknown band members of Jetboy:

[...] Todd did not have a problem with heroin, he had a problem with alcohol. Todd would dabble in drugs, but his choice was booze. So when they scored dope, it was Slash who was the experienced dope user, he says this in his book. To think that Slash is looked up to by so many people out there is fucking disgusting. We actually went to Todd’s parents and asked them for help. Todd’s mom flew down to L.A. and brought Todd back to the bay area to get him into rehab. Unfortunately, Todd bailed and went right back to the Guns N’ Roses house where his heroin use continued.
Indie Music Reviews, March 2008


A few days after Crew's fatal passing, on July 21 another Drunk Fux show at the Coconut Teazer that had already been planned [L.A. Weekly, July 17, 1987] was dedicated to Crew. This was the same date as Appetite for Destruction was released. According to Marc Canter, all members of GN'R took part in this show [Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007]. This would be the first time the band would dedicate Knockin' On Heaven's Door to Crew, something they would continue to do on the upcoming tours.

Now, if you have known of us, then you know that we recently, a couple of months ago, lost a friend of ours. A little over a month ago, I OD’ed, and I ended up in a hospital called Cedars-Sinai. I was in a coma for about two days. When I got out of the hospital, the first person I saw was a guy named Todd Crew. Todd used to be in a band called Jetboy, and one of the reasons he got kicked out – Jetboy sucks. One of the reasons he got kicked out, was for hanging out with us. I think we were more friends than the people he knew all of his fucking life. When I got out of the hospital, the first person I saw was Todd, and I really didn’t wanna see anybody I knew, because I didn’t know if I had any friends left. Todd came up to me, and gave me a hug and said, “You can’t do this to the family, man.” Two weeks later, Todd OD’ed here in New York. We tried doing this song without dedicating it to Todd, and every time we feel too fuckin’ guilty and we end up doing it anyway. And a friend told me that we won’t get over it till it happens again. So until then, this is for Todd. And this is “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”

Slash would later discuss Crew and the fate of Jet Boy:

And [the music industry in Hollywood is] such a dog-eat-dog thing. If you don't take the time to find out what's going on, then you get eaten alive by the business. Take Jetboy for instance. There's a band I know pretty well — and my old best friend who died used to be in that band. And the shit that they put him through because they wanted the band to "happen." Because he used to hang out with me and get drunk and stuff, but he was the coolest guy in the whole f**king band. He was the only real rocker in the group, you know, the living rock 'n' roll kind of thing. They ended up kicking him out and he passed away and all this other crap — and they ended up get­ting dropped from their f**king record label, which was Elektra at the time. It was when Elektra did that purge, getting rid of them and the Pandoras — so the records never came out, and they just got canned. So they had to start over doing showcases at S.I.R. and stuff. And I feel sorry for them. I mean, I'm not friends with any of them, but I sure sympathize with them because it's a f**ked situation. What happened is the guy who did all the signing at Elektra got fired — and so if you don't have the record company behind you, and the A&R guy gets fired, then you're history. And it's a real tough thing, because it's hard to pick it up.
Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

In 1989 Axl would be asked what his greatest regret is:

That I didn't talk to Todd Crew before he went to New York. I felt a massive need to talk to him out of concern for his well-being. But I wasn't aware enough to realize I didn't have the time I thought I did. I thought I'd have time later...

In 1993 Duff would include the song Man In The Meadow, about Crew, on his solo record [Guitarist Magazine, November 1993].

['Man In The Meadow' is] about my best friend, Todd, who’s dead now. The guys in GN’R were very close to him, too, but to me it was very personal and so it was right for me to do it

In 2006, Steven would talk about Crew and claim that if he had been with Crew and Slash in New York, Crew wouldn't have died:

God he was such a great guy man, we had a lot of fun man. Dude, he was, (pause) God bless Todd Crew, I loved that man. Man if I was there, with him and Slash in New York man, I, ahh, he wouldn’t be dead, I would’ve made, I would’ve kicked his ass back alive. He was so cool, he was just a good guy, and he was like a hardcore looking rocker James Dean. You know what I mean? James Dean was all cool and slick looking? But Todd was like, Dude he was the hardest rocker looking dude, but he was just as cool as James Dean.

In 2008, Del James would also talk about Crew and in particular criticize the rumour that Crew had been a heavy junkie:

Todd was the bassist and the heart and soul of a band called Jetboy. Todd just exuded cool and people gravitated towards him. I was fortunate that he accepted me and we became gang tight. He and I ran a lot and I wish I had known back then what I know now. See, Todd was drinking way too much, and please understand that people like myself and Todd and West Arkeen were always far worse alcoholics than drug abusers even if technically drugs are what took those two fellows out. Did we take copious amounts of drugs? Sure and it didn’t matter what it was. If someone had coke, we snorted coke. Pills? We swallowed them then asked what they were. Heroin? Bring it on. My thing was speedballs. But we drank lethal amounts of booze every day. From Night Train to Jim Beam and everything in between, there was not a day that went without us drinking excessively, waiting for the blackout. We would drink instead of eating and pissing blood was not at all unusual. Recently in the error-filled Stephen Davis GN'R book "Gonna Watch you Bleed" the author paints Todd out to be the worst junkie out of the lot. I don't know who he got his information from but you're dead fucking wrong! I was living in an apartment with one of the scene's biggest dealers, and no it's not Izzy Stradlin. If Izzy was running low, he would come by and cop. Me and Billy McCloud from the Prodigal Sons lived there with this other dude who shall remain nameless and that place got so out of control that my friends forcibly evicted me and moved me into Hell House, okay? Fucking high is an understatement. Todd would come by and we'd get high but he was never a full-blown junkie. He wasn't pawning shit or stealing or doing anything dishonourable. He was a problematic soul who'd recently been kicked out of his band for being too much of a drunk and sure he enjoyed drugs. We all did. A bit too much but that's irrelevant. We were all wild and in our early twenties and we weren’t afraid of anything. Being an alcoholic was a badge of honour. We wore it proudly. And stupidly. I wish I could have been more responsible and mature. I wish I could have been a better, smarter friend.

When I move out of the dope apartment, my heroin use declines drastically. So did Todd's. We didn’t consciously set out to get clean per se but just by not being there, dope wasn't around 24/7. Could Todd still have been using without me? Sure but I was with him a great deal of the time drinking. That's what we did. We fucking drank! He stayed wherever I stayed, either Hell House or later on in apartment I shared with Duff and the mother of my children, Debbie Woodworth. Todd and I often talked about going to go cop some dope or coke but talk is cheap, especially when yer broke.

When he and I went to England with GN'R in June of 1987, we were both clean in terms of heroin usage. We were drinking like animals and would take any substance you put in front of us but by no means was Todd the strung out junkie that Davis made him seem. I was fucking appalled by the ugly, inaccurate lies Davis spewed. You weren’t there. Fuck you motherfucker! You and whoever gave you your information don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

What kills Todd Crew is his non-stop alcohol intake, depression over losing his girlfriend and band, Slash not handling Todd's overdose properly, and yes, obviously the heroin. When Todd arrived in New York, he had to be carried off a plane by Josh Richman. Todd hooks up with Slash and some dudes from LA and they cop. If Todd had been using heroin regularly, like -I believe in my heart of hearts he was not, then $20 or $40 worth or however much they bought, which back when we were using would have no been no big deal, becomes enough to kill him because his body couldn’t handle it. And it fucking does.


Slash would discuss Crew's overdose in his 2007 biography and claim that Crew had died in his arms and that someone else must have injected him with stronger dope, which would spur Billy Rowe to protest:

The whole overdose situation that Todd died in Slash’s arms…and that he (Slash) swears someone else was there and gave him some bad dope. Todd wasn’t very experienced. The bottom of the line is the guy OD’d and they revived him and then they put him back in bed. What kind of idiot doesn’t call for paramedics right away? From what I know, the truth is, after he OD’d and they revived him, Slash panicked and left. They (Guns n’ Roses) came back they found him dead, and that was their alibi. It makes complete more sense than him dying in Slash’s arms when he’s high as a kite on dope, probably facing possession, and he got not one charge, nothing. There’s definitely some loopholes in the story.
Bring Back Glam!, November 25, 2007

In another interview, Jet Boy as a band would harshly criticise Slash:

Slash is a liar and he knows it. The few people that were there that night know what really happened and that Slash is 100% full of shit. Todd over dosed twice that night. The first time, Slash didn’t even bother calling 911. After they revived him for a minute, everyone freaked out and left, Slash included. When they came back, Todd had over dosed again. We believe they found Todd dead. That’s when Slash finally called 911- when it was too late. It’s a perfect alibi "I wasn’t there. When I got back Todd was dead." Slash only cared about saving his own ass from criminal charges, which is exactly what happened. Slash walked away with no repercussions.
Indie Music Reviews, March 2008

They would also give their story of what happened that night:

Todd was killing himself, but Slash definitely aided him in his demise. Just read what he wrote in his book. This is what we believe happened:

Todd arrived "fucking drunk," according to Slash, to his hotel at 7am. Todd had just broken up with his long time girlfriend and was distraught, so you know he was not thinking clearly. Slash took him to a Western Union so he could get money to buy heroin. Slash buys a bottle of Jim Beam (Todd’s choice of booze) after Todd can’t even stand up straight and is falling down drunk. Slash shoots Todd up with heroin after Todd is, according to Slash, "in no state to be messing with drugs." Slash and Todd go to the movies where Slash smuggles in a case of beer and they continue to drink excessively.

Slash and Todd go back to the hotel where Slash proceeds to shoot Todd up with more heroin (Todd had been drinking for 18 hours straight at this point.) Todd over doses the first time, and Slash revives Todd temporarily, but then panics and leaves instead of calling 911.

Slash comes back to the Hotel room, finds that Todd has overdosed again, and finally calls 911 after it’s too late. Now Slash has the perfect alibi: "I wasn’t here when it happened." [...]

Slash claims in his book that he was the "only one who did everything possible to keep Todd alive." Well, if you’re doing everything you can to keep someone "alive," the last thing you do is shoot them up with heroin, especially if you know that they have been drinking for 18 hours straight! You don’t have to be Dr. Drew to know that the combination of heroin with that level of alcohol is going to be bad news. Slash even said Todd "was in no state to be messing with drugs," but yet Slash shot him up with heroin and then abandoned him when he overdosed instead of calling 911 like he should have. We can’t think of a more selfish act. Slash didn’t care about anything but saving himself from criminal charges. Don’t forget that Slash has a proven track record of freaking out and not taking responsibility in these types of situations. If you read the Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx, you will see that Slash did nothing to help when Nikki Sixx over dosed. He was even screaming Todd’s name while it happened! It just bothers us that Slash walked away with no repercussions after providing drugs and alcohol to someone, as he said, who was "in no state to be messing with drugs." Slash knows the truth, and he will have to live with the choices he made and the lies he told- and is still telling to this day. He lied to us, he lied to the police, he lied to Todd’s friends and family, and he lied to his fans in his book. We think that Slash is in such denial that he probably believes his own lies because he’s been telling them for so long. And to think he calls Todd his "best friend’ throughout that book.
Indie Music Reviews, March 2008

As for Slash, shame on you for going down this road with your "best friend" Todd, and for all the shit you’ve said about Jetboy on your way to the top and back down. Fuck you! Why don’t you say It to our faces?
Indie Music Reviews, March 2008

In interview in 2010, Slash would be asked about his previous drug use and state that he had no regrets and emphasize that his addictions hadn't killed anyone:

And I don't regret any of it. I don't believe in having regrets. I haven't killed anyone, or anything like that.

[Being asked how much money he had spent on drugs]: Who cares? I never killed anyone. I nearly killed myself a few times, but nobody else. That's all that matters.

Axl would likely reference these comments from Slash in a tweet a few weeks later:

But when he says he never killed no one that ain't exactly true. Yeah, that's right, stone cold.

This is likely Axl talking about Crew's overdose and explicitly blaming Slash for the death.

Obviously, Slash's account of Crew's death differs from Jetboy's and Axl's and as far as I am aware, Slash has never publicly commented on Jetboy's or Axl's accusations. Until someone else who were present talks about how things went down, it is difficult to tell who is right. This being said, Slash was an experienced drug user and Crew died after Slash injected him with heroin.


But Jet Boy was definitely cool. We played a bunch of shows with them early on. They had their own kind of vibe and I don't really know what happened. They made a record that didn't sound great, that record of theirs, that first record. I don't know who produced it... But it didn't sound great. Didn't sound like them. I know with Clink and us that was the thing we wanted to do. We don't want to use these studio trickery or try to be, you know, like, then, you know, there was that like Dokken sort of snare sound and stuff that everybody was using. What [?] dynamite and stuff. [...] Remember those, all those recorded dynamite and that was in the drum. They would put samples of stuff in the snare drum and all of that. There was a lot of that triggering drum sound to make the drum sound bigger. And, like, we didn't want to do any of that because we had a feeling that like that's all just gonna be a thing in passing. Records that sound great are Ave Of Spades, you know, and Led Zeppelin records and early Aerosmith records. Those records sound great. We wanna sound great. Like, put mics up to our stuff and record that. So Clink really got that. So we wanted to make a record that sounded like us. And there was some bands in that time that suddenly you hear their record and like, "That's not the band." And they put them on click track or whatever. So, "That band is better than that, a lot better than that." And I think Jet Boy was one of those cases.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Wed Mar 13, 2024 1:46 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Thu May 06, 2021 2:24 pm

JULY 21, 1987

People are fed up with a lot of things. This is a good release. It’s refreshing to see something straightforward.

[…] we're very proud of it. It's rock as you've rarely heard it before. We had a lot of opportunities to test these songs live and we saw how the audience reacted. This album is killer.


Guns N' Roses debut LP Appetite for Destruction was released in the USA on July 21, 1987.

Appetite for Destruction, original cover art

We got hold of everybody who was anybody in our lives to get together at the Hell House for the "unofficial world premiere." It was to be our first listen to our new album. [...] Slash and I hugged; we were so happy. We listened to both sides, pretty much saying, "Oh yeah, that's working, that sounds cool," throughout.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 121

According to Steven's biography, his happiness with hearing the final result was not subdued by the fact that Slash had changed a drum part on 'Paradise City' in postproduction [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 121].

The band had settled on 'Appetite for Destruction' as the name of the record, which was also the name of the chosen artwork for the album's original cover:

Initially we had thought of calling it simply Guns N' Roses, but then we decided to give it the drawing's name, which is Appetite for Destruction.

[Welcome to the Jungle] was gonna be the title of the record until the title of the original painting was Appetite For Destruction, and we really liked it, cause I break everything around me anyway. That was the title of the Robert Williams painting. He named it. We ended up deciding we really liked it, so we just went with it.

When asked what the title means:

In my opinion, the way the title will be interpreted will be revealing about each one’s personality.

Being asked if there was anything they would have changed with the record if they could:

No, the only thing I would like to do is I wish we would have more time to mix but we were working on a release date. There were a couple of songs where I feel we didn't have the time to get just right. 'Paradise City' I think could have been a little clearer. But, you know, we were making two songs per day to make the release date, you know, and there were all kinds of reasons why we had to make that release date, like getting the record out before [?] down in the month of August, and things like that. There was all kinds of reasons why we had a certain amount of time that we have it get it done. So we just did the best we could in that amount of time, we didn't really compromise, you know, we still, I think, hit pretty close to the mount [?] we wanted to hit. There isn't really anything we want to change. There's two words in that whole record that I didn't quite say the way I wanted to, and I forgot which ones they were, didn't have time to go back to find them and redo them. And they are not out of key, so no one else knows it. I am the only one who personally knows it.

The band would celebrate the release on August 4 at the Cathouse in Hollywood [L.A. Weekly, August 7, 1987], and likely on many other parties. The Cathouse's Riki Rachtman had just undergone jaw surgery [L.A. Weekly, August 7, 1987] after having previously engaged in some "male bonding" with Slash [L.A. Weekly, July 17, 1987].

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Mar 13, 2022 9:00 am



Again, the success and the respect that we've gotten from the industry and from our company will just give us more time and more of ourselves to put into the next record. You know, we'll be able to, the first one it was rushed, and while "these guys ain't shit, they gonna do shit," you know, and blah blah, so, and so we were kind of rushed, in a way mentally, and, and, eh... .

Artistically, with the album, I got exactly what I wanted. I wish we would’ve had a little bit more time to do some mixing. The guys were mixing our record, and one of them had heart problems and had to go to the hospital, which knocked off three days.

It doesn’t matter, it’s like there’s little things here and there, where you know you would have liked it a bit different, but it doesn’t matter cause it’s done. It’s there, and you might as well like it cause if you don’t you can put yourself into an early grave worrying about something that you can’t do shit about.

In June 1988, Axl was asked if the record would have turned out differently if they had produced it themselves:

There may have been a different track or two just because we're working with other people, and when you're working with other people they have their input on which tracks are the best, and stuff like that. It didn't really bother us, not a whole lot. If we had more time, I think we might have gotten a bit more of a better mix.

Actually, the record's pretty much co-produced, but we got a really good deal from our producer since he wanted to break into producing, and get credits for producing. If we gave him full credit on the record, it would help him a lot in the business. But especially Izzy, Slash, and myself were there every step of the way, so it was pretty much co-produced. We were in on the mixing and stuff, and usually the guys who mix the records never have anybody in the studio when they do that. We were there the whole time.

Slash would reveal a bit more about his playing relationship with Izzy, and imply that the hesitance between joining GN'R because of Izzy hadn't entirely dissipated:

Before Izzy, I'd never been able to play with another guitarist. Axl was the only guy on the whole L.A. scene who could sing, and there was no getting Izzy away from Axl. The funny thing about Izzy and I is that we each play what we want, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It can be frustrating for me because he's very stubborn. He plays very lightweight, sort of Keith Richards style, whereas if I want a heavy riff, I'll want a heavy riff, I'll want us both to play it to make it really stick out. There's a lot of songs on our album I'm really not happy with that way: 'Welcome to the Jungle,' for instance. Sometimes Duff will beef it up, like the riff in 'Paradise City.' I'm a little more knowledgeable on guitar; Izzy's a good songwriter with a great sense of style.


In March or April 1989, Slash would on the contrary claim their "first album wasn't all that good, I don't think" [Kerrang! April 1989].


Looking back, in early 1990, Axl would describe the process like this:

But what people don’t understand is that there was a perfec­tionist attitude to Appetite For Destruction. I mean, there was a definite plan to that. We could have made it all smooth and polished. We went and did test tracks with other producers and it came out smooth and polished – with Spencer Proffer. And Geffen Records said it was too fuckin’ radio. That’s why we went with Mike Clink. We went for a raw sound, because it just didn’t gel having it too tight and concise. We knew this. We knew the way we are on stage and the only way to capture that on the record is to make it somewhat live. Doing the bass, the drums and the rhythm guitar at the same time. Getting the best track, having it a bit faster than you play it live, OK, so that brings some energy into it. Adding lots of vocal parts and overdubs with the guitars, adding more music to capture… ’Cos Guns N’ Roses on stage, man, can be, like, out to lunch. Visually we’re all over the place and stuff and you don’t know what to expect. But how do you get that on a record? But somehow you have to do that. So there’s a lot more that’s needed on a record. That’s why recording is my favourite thing, because it’s like painting a picture. You start out with a shadow, or an idea, and you come up with something that’s a shadow of that. You might like it better. It’s still not exactly what you pictured in your head, though. And then you add all these things and you come up with something you didn’t even expect... Slash will do, like, one slow little guitar fill that adds a whole different mood that you didn't expect. That’s what I love. All of a sudden it’s like you’re doing a painting and then you go away and you come back and it’s different. You use the brush this way and allow a little shading to come in and you go, ‘‘Wow, I got a whole different effect on this that’s even heavier than what I pictured. I don’t know quite what I’m onto but I’m on it,” you know? “Paradise City”, man, that’s like, I came up with two of those first vocals – there’s five parts there – I came up with two and they sounded really weird. Then I said, look, I got an idea. I put two of these vocal things together, and it was the two weirdest ones, the two most obtuse ones. And Clink’s like, “I don’t know about that, man...” I'm like, "I don’t know either, why don’t we just sleep on it?” So we go home and the next day I call him up and now I’m like, “I don’t know about this.” But he goes, “No I think it’s cool!” So now he was the other way... So then we put three more vocal parts on it and then it fit. But the point is, that wasn’t how we had it planned. We don’t really know how it happened
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993


Slash would imply that the label had convinced them to discard some material for Appetite:

[Geffen] were pretty scared about the whole thing and they were just basically trying to get it done, so we gave up certain amount of material that we really wanted to do.


In 1992, Slash would mention that they had matured since Appetite and that the album is a bit dated:

When I hear it, it sounds a little bit immature to me, in some ways. It just sounds as old as it is. It's cool. There's nothing wrong with it. I'm still proud of it because even though it's years ago, there's nothing on it that I don't like. I still think the playing on there and the attack were really cool. There's certain things in the mix on certain songs, like in "Jungle," where it wasn't heavy enough for me. I think about that. 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).


Later Slash would describe that the album came out of the band's loathing of the Los Angeles punk and metal scenes:

The LA Punk scene was just as fucking lame as the LA Metal scene was. You know what? Guns as a unit is really the result of hating the LA Punk scene and hating the LA Metal scene. We were the only five guys here who could have made up this band at the time. We just didn't fit in. And we had such a hard time from not fitting in that we were very tough, very brash. People say 'What's the gimmick?', you know, but there never was no fucking gimmick.


Being asked which of his records he is proudest of:

Appetite For Destruction, because it’s still exceptional to this day. Guns N’ Roses happened at the right place at the right time. That band became the symbol of a generation. We came at a time when music, the “new wave,” was as boring as the current scene. Nobody wanted to play us on the radio. We just kept touring until the demand was felt. When 19-year-old guys come to to tell me that this album is the rock n 'roll record for them, that's something - not just for a generation of fans, but for me, too.


Besides playing on it, if I hadn’t known it was me on it I would still listen to it ‘cause it is a kick ass rock n roll record!


It was the right band at the right time with the right message. It just happened to hit the youth of America in a certain way that everybody related to it - which is fuckin’ great.

You know, I thought if we sold 50,000 copies, the Circle Jerks that's what they sold on their big record back then.  If we sold 50,000 records that be amazing.  And that's what we all thought, you know, because we were not what was going on at the time, we weren't a glam band, and we weren't Milli Vanilli, we weren't Paula Abdul, we weren't New Kids on the Block. We were a real raw fuckin' kinda almost punk rock band, but not because of Axl's high vocals. We were kind of a throwback to Zeppelin, but not because we were for that time modern.  [...]

It always surprises me how raw that record is, the lyrics and everything, for being so popular. I think it took... the kids at the time were so sick of all the shit they were getting, you know, a real kid, like a skater kid or whatever, they don't want to listen to Poison or Warrant... or Milli Vanilli or Michael Jackson, especially back then... skaters were like they are now, they just want to rock.  And they lived the real life, they'd fuck around and fuck chicks and get fucked up. They'd been through broken families, or whatever.  And skating is what they do, skating is their thing, and that's living on the edge.  I think our record identified with a whole lost generation.

The thing was that everything that happened from the time we recorded it - which was an amazing fucking trip just making that record. And then when we went out and we were opening for The Cult, we went out and played the songs, and the actual album, I never realized it was gonna be as iconic as it turned out to be. You know what I’m saying? So now, you know, everybody brings it up and I’m like, wow. I’m just really proud of it, that we did that and it was as genuine as it was. But at the same time I hate dwelling on it.


I remember it as a great time in my life, even with the bad moments. We made the record in six days, pretty absurd for the impact it caused. Almost everything was done with first and second takes. There are few songs that are the product of a third take. It was all fresh, spontaneous, furious. It was great.


We lived in an intense party atmosphere and were the Antichrists of the neighborhood, so there was a lot of social tension that was definitely amusing. Those were some really great times, and it was definitely reflected in the music. It’s one of the reasons that particular album means a lot to me. We did the whole thing our way.

In some ways it seems like it was yesterday, and then in other ways it seems like a long time ago. But yeah, I can’t believe it. I wasn’t even 20 years old when we wrote a lot of that record. [laughs]

[...] it’s not like we’re talking about the making of, like, a Zeppelin record, or a Queen record or something like that. Albums that were projects, you know? Appetite was basically just an off-the-cuff recording. Guns were a club band, and like most first records from club bands, it was mostly made up of material that we had been playing onstage for a while. We were pretty rough around the edges and had virtually no studio experience. We went in there and threw the album together pretty quickly.

[...] it was all such a new experi­ence. It was like we were doing everything for the first time. I didn’t even know what that re­cord was supposed to be, but when it was done, I knew that it was complete—and also not near­ly as messy as it could have been. The songs sounded on the album the way we played them, and it was a pretty honest representation of who we were and what we were about. There was one time toward the end of the sessions when I took home a rough mix of “Welcome to the Jungle” to listen to with my girlfriend. I put it on, and I remember that I was really proud of what we had done. I still am.

When I was a kid, there were these be-with-you-forever albums that represented something in your life. Whether it was the background music of your childhood or your puberty or whatever — Dark Side of the Moon or Sticky Fingers or Aerosmith’s Rocks or Led Zeppelin IV. And we made one of those records, which is all I could ever have asked for. It gives me goose bumps. That’s something no one ever can take away from me.

The most gratifying thing you can do in anything (there's a lot of gratifying things you can do…) (laughs) in music is to make the record which becomes that key record for a certain time, something that stands out as to be really important to people. I'm a big rock fan. When I was a kid, there were key records from ever since I was born really. Especially, in my teenage years when I really started not to listen to my parents music but started to discover my own stuff. Bands that were out at that time, there were key records from 13 to fucking 19 that were background music to your life. They were really important to the experiences of you growing up. So this became, apparently, one of those records. I think that's the most gratifying thing you can ever achieve as far as making albums are concerned! I feel very strongly and proud of it!


It’s really, like, the background music to what our life for that whole from ‘85 up until ’87. You know, every song had a significant meaning to it and it represented something that was going on with all of us - one of us and all of us at the time.

When I was a kid, there were certain records that anybody who was anybody, who was cool, had in their collection. And we actually made one of those records, I'm very proud of that.


Talking about the drums on the album:

With 'Appetite,' for me the parts, playing, etc., timing flaws, whatever, are perfect, and as a moment in time for me, the whole record is. That said, the sound of the drums, which at the time in our niche of the woods was a bit of a bold statement and a somewhat successful effort to change things from the current flow at the time, and so may have been necessary but for me sound the most dated of anything there sound-wise.

I grew up learning how to play drums not with a bass player, but with a guitar player; with Slash. Usually it was just me and him practicing. So in the songs I would play what he was playing instead of just keeping a simple 4/4 pattern; like all rock is 4/4 but instead of the boom-cha, you know bass-snare-bass-snare, he would be doing like k-ka-k-ka-k-ka’s on his guitar and I would do that on the drums.”

“When we got together with Duff… See, Duff is a natural guitar player, he didn’t start off playing bass - he started playing bass guitar two weeks before he got hooked up with me and Slash. Which obviously worked out, and worked for me, because his style of bass playing is more of the style of a guitar player, so it worked perfect.


I have wonderful memories of Appetite… Because we just knew. Me, Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy… we all knew where it was gonna take us. We’d go into the booth and listen back, looking at each other, saying: ‘This is gonna be the greatest record ever’. The first time we heard it on the radio, we were like little kids, jumping up and down, screaming, singing along, dancing in a circle. [...] The songs were everything we’d lived though. They were part of our lives. It was just the five of us, our crazy friends, and all the crazy experiences. You’re living on the streets, you got nothing…

Did I think it would be a huge album? It never crossed my mind. I thought they’d be hard work and only through hard work that we’d be able to move them through a quasi-underground state and slowly build them up. If anything, I had my eye on how METALLICA were developing and I thought ‘hmmm, if I can maybe keep this moving… maybe we’ll get lucky. We might be able to get this first record to gold and build from there. I had no idea it was going to explode like it did in 1988. [...] I thought we had a very consistent and very good record. I love to fuck with people when I hear them discussing Guns N' Roses; I’ll mumble under my breath, but loud enough for everybody to hear, ‘it’s an over-rated album’.


On Appetite For Destruction, I listen back to it now and I go, ‘Wow, I stole that from this band or this drummer, subconsciously.’ I’m very influenced by jazz drummers. I always liked drummers like Roger Taylor, Keith Moon, Ian Paice, John Densmore. I just learned from playing to those drummers. I feel like I brought a little bit of that rock’n’roll jazz to basic rock’n’roll.

'Appetite' is not what you'd call a favorite record [of mine]. I never even thought of it that way. It's a good record, but, to me, it's still that record that we made at the time when all that shit was happening. I mean, when we recorded [those songs], it was just what we were doing, and so I still look at it that way. I don't see it as being the big record that other people see it as; I'm too close to it. [...] When we got together, as far as I was concerned, we were definitely the only five guys that could have made up that band. There were a lot of different configurations — Steven and I; Steven, Duff and I; Steven, Axl and I; Izzy and Axl; Izzy, Axl and Duff — and it finally settled into what became that band. And I don't think any of the other configurations could have possibly worked to make up what Guns N' Roses really was. And the record I just sort of a basic snapshot of life going on from 1984 to 1987, and it's a very honest record. I would never have thought in a million years that it was gonna be as successful as it became. Obviously, I thought we were a great band, I thought the songs were great, and I always stood behind that, but I thought we'd be more of a hard rock cult band. [...] At this point that it became so iconic, I think one of the reasons is the fact that it was talking about stuff that nobody really talked about at the time, it was delivered with an attitude that was so sincere that a lot of people really related to it because we said things that people would have felt uncomfortable about saying but felt those same things. And we were living really on the edge and singing about it and people were like, 'Wow, that's pretty brutal.' [...] The songs happened so quickly, they almost wrote themselves — honestly. With Axl, I know that he was always very, very conscientious of the lyrics and might have spent some more time with the lyrics, but the actual arrangements and the music itself would come together within an hour. We might have fine-tuned some stuff later on, but we'd be playing a new song in a club after only having worked on it for a couple of hours.


I feel incredibly honored to have been a part of such a legacy and work with some of the greatest musicians in rock history.


I'm so proud of the fact that I was involved in a record that had that kind of impact. But if you were to tell me back then that that's what it was gonna be, I would never have believed you. It was just a record made by these five characters, and looking back on it, there was something in all that that spoke to people in a certain way. It was a very street-wise band but with a very naïve worldview. It was a social commentary, but it wasn't about the world at large, it was internal angst that teenagers, I guess, really related to and it was delivered with the kind of impact that really had a big effect on people. And it's the combination of emotions and energy and all this stuff that couldn't even really be replicated. It was just something that happened in the moment that's… I mean, I remember when the record was finished, I thought we'd be a really cool cult band. [Laughs]

[...] the first record is one of the greatest debut records ever. I mean Steven's performance on that record is masterful, you know. I put that first record up against any band's first record ever.


I told [producer] Mike Clink, 'I want my snare to sound like a machine gun and my bass to sound like a cannon,' and he accomplished it. Appetite For Destruction was done in six days. We had two songs a day. We only played 'Sweet Child O' Mine' one time; all the other songs, we played two, three, maybe four times. Basically, we just went in there and he pushed 'record.' [Clink] said, 'Are you ready? Count it off.' I said, 'Okay. One-two-three. Let's go!' You can't play a metronome [to that album]; it won't match up because it's all feel. That’s what we felt that day in the studio. What we did is what you get; there were no click tracks or electric drum sounds. It was just what it was, and that's what we wanted. And you can see it in the art. There's so much emotion in those songs that we did in those six days that it actually comes out in the artwork. That's what I wanted, and I'm very happy that I was able to accomplish that.

I have a new outlook on recording that record. I practice it all the time. I have new house [with] a studio, so I have a P.A. and I can play [along] to songs. And I play the 'Appetite' stuff. And I realize that Mike Clink, who is a wonderful guy — I'm not putting him down — but I really feel that he just wanted to get that record over with, and he didn't think… he didn't believe it was gonna be… This is how I feel; I don't know what he was thinking. But when I listen to it now and play to it, I go, he didn't really care… I don't think he thought the record was gonna be big or do anything. He wanted to just get it over with and get on. But now that I have a better understanding of timing and recording… 'Cause that, like, the first time we went into a real studio and recorded. Actually, we did 'Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide' at Spencer Proffer's [studio], but that was like making a demo tape; we just played and that was it. But we did the same thing with 'Appetite'; it literally took six days. And nobody goes in the studio and does it just for six days. I mean, like, 'Sweet Child O' Mine', that was played one time — once! You're supposed to go in a studio and, when you come out of the recording studio, you're supposed to be a better player… There's no timing. Not that I wanted it to be like a metronome, like all those other '80s records.


I didn’t write any of the hits, so I’m not really making any radio money. [...] To be a songwriter on a record that comes out and not be in the band, it’s just kind of a weird thing. But after I left they put in a whole lot of work.

This was the last great hard-rock record made entirely by hand. No computer assistance or automated faders. It’s a piece of imperfect art that will stand the test of time because it was made manually on a console. It captured lightning in a bottle.

[Steven] gave them a disco punk quality with dance swing. I used to call Steven’s sound “disco boy puppy dog.” And that’s the key to Appetite. With any other L.A. metal or stadium rock drummer, Appetite would never have sounded as rock & roll or as raw as it did. You know it’s funny, because Steven couldn’t even keep time very well. And there was no software in ’86 to fix that. But Steven was the foundation of the band, and the producer, Mike Clink, knew how to get the best performances out of him. And that’s the greatest secret to Appetite for Destruction: The record doesn’t sound out of time only because the band plays to Steve Adler’s best performances. It sounds tight as fuck because the band follows his imperfections.

It's probably impossible for me being inside of that to answer that right. You know, I can't see our band like other people see from the outside. You know, I gotta say when I went through and played that record before we went into rehearsal, a couple Januaries ago, was like, "Oh." You know, I got this feeling, "Oh, this records rocks." You know, you can just hear the energy. That record really captured that band really well. And those were a lot of, like, first and second takes on record. Because we were playing so much, it might have been a third take on there.

I swear to god, that Appetite record for the most part, at least instrumentally wise, pretty much wrote itself. I don't remember, I mean, I remember the advent of certain riffs and whatnot but it all just sort of very organically came together. It is probably one of the most unorthodox arranged records as far as the songs are concerned- [...] It wasn't like when I hear sort of certain people talk about how they really worked out these parts and had an idea for this crazy thing, we were just sort of just very spontaneously, "Okay, one guy's got a part, another guy would come up with something else." We would try and get it all together before the three hours Nickey Beat's were up.


I thought we made a really good record. Watching Thompson and Barbiero mix manually instead of using an automated board was magical. They were in a form of dance, it was wonderful to watch two people connect to making rock and roll in such a physical way instead of just sitting there and, you know, programming a fader. They did everything manually and that was tremendous. But to be perfectly honest, Brandon, once the record was made I knew that we were going to have a nightmare of a time getting any AOR radio play. My viewpoint on this is, "I'm going to have to go through England and we're going to have to go through touring, and good luck keeping this band touring." My hope was that it might, if we got lucky and if we did some good work, that we might get to a point where it may eventually go gold. That I thought it would be one of the coolest underground rock and roll bands around. I had no idea, no vision, no perception, that it would become the best-selling debut rock and roll record of all time, and if anybody says that they do believe that, and I know that, you know, god bless, I love Zoots to death, he claims it, I think Axl claims it.

It's really just a well recorded and produced demo tape. We did it in six days and every time we walked into the sound room after playing, we just kept saying 'this is going to be the biggest record ever'. We were like little kids who discovered chocolate for the first time.

So with the 30th anniversary having just come out, it's hard for me to really even look at the 30th anniversary and the sort of box set and all the sort of fanfare that goes with this moment in time, sort of looking at the band's history and whatnot. It just gets so surreal that I don't even really dwell on it. So the fact that it's been 30 years is something that you can say, but I don't really grasp it, you know? (laughs) But the one thing I can't help but recognize is just where the origins of the Appetite for Destruction record - I mean, I remember them very, very clearly, all the sort of different experiences that we were having, and where that music was coming from, and how sort of more or less that album sort of wrote itself. You know, we were all together all the time, and it was just very much a snapshot. Each song was a snapshot of whatever it was that Axl was going through and where the guys in the band were at, and it all came together. And so we were definitely the kind of band that always – you know, when we walked into a room, no matter who else was in the room, we always knew who we were and we were not scared of anything. We just sort of did what we did, and we didn't take any shit from anybody and we didn't let anybody try to tell us what to do or how to do it, and whatnot. And so that album was written and recorded in that spirit from all the way to the point of getting the album cover done and releasing it and so on. So we never catered to sort of the industry conventions or any of the kind of perks and stuff that people would offer us to sort of get us to go this way or go that way. You know, we've got great stories about people at the record company, David Geffen especially, trying to get us to edit songs for radio releases, and this and that and the other. And you know, we’d take, like I said, the free lunch or the free dinner, but we would never let anybody fuck with our shit.

But you know, that said, when it finally came out and we went out on tour with The Cult in 1987 going across Canada, we hadn't - I didn't have any vision of where it was gonna go long term at all. I mean, I thought at best we would have been, you know, sort of like a cult band with a decent sized following and we would just exist doing our own thing with that loyal following, and it would just go as long as it went. And we'd probably be dead before we were 30 anyway. And that was that. And so, you know, when 1989, 1990 rolled around and we went from being, you know, sort of an opening band for Aerosmith, and Motley Crue, and Alice Cooper, and all that into the sort of this headlining band. That in itself was a bit of a shock and very sort of surreal, and very hard to manage. And then, you know, it just went from there and it's become this really iconic record, which is a blessing for myself personally, just because to be involved with something that would stand the test of time to that extent and be a record, a hard rock record very commonly found in a lot of different people's record collection. You know, it's just... it's pretty fucking awesome. And touring on it now and playing those songs, every so often you have a flash of the moment that that song was written or when maybe the idea of the riff first sort of came to mind or maybe an incident in a club where you played it for the first time or whatever. So it does have a certain kind of sentimental thing that happens on and off during the set during certain songs, come and go. But yeah, I mean, 30 years and we're still out there playing it and people are still fucking losing their minds to Welcome to the Jungle every time we play it. It's definitely a trip.

I was blown away. I actually heard it on a cassette. The first thing I said when I heard that record is, 'Who the hell played guitar on that record?' I've said this to Slash over the years too, [but] when you saw Guns N' Roses at that time, the first thing you said was Axl was a star. He was great. Steven was solid. Slash was a mess. He was always out of tune; he didn't really play that great. You couldn't really tell that he was a talented guitar player in those early Guns days. When I heard that record, the first thing I said was, 'Oh my god — that's the best guitar playing I have heard in forever.' That record, they nailed. To this day, it's still the one of the greatest rock n' roll records ever created. Whatever they did, the band that I saw live many times did not sound like the band on that record that I heard. That record was fantastic. Obviously, as I got to know Slash, I've talked to him about that. He just said that they focused — they put all the side shit away and they really focused on making a great record. You see the results of that.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Fri Mar 29, 2024 12:26 pm; edited 20 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sat Mar 26, 2022 8:25 am

JULY 1987

We're going into the studio tonight for a four-day rush job. We're gonna try and cut four acoustic songs for the other side of the Live Like a Suicide Ep we're gonna re-release.

When I first signed them they were doing these unplugged gigs in conjunction with their electric gigs. I said: “You should record this stuff.” Later, we did these unplugged sessions in conjunction with Appetite. I might get a phone call at one in the morning from Axl saying: “Hey, we want to go in the studio.” The studio would open, and they would sit on chairs on the carpet and record unplugged ideas. There was this mind-set even before Appetite was completed to have these unplugged sessions, whether they were going to be for B-sides or some sort of EP.


After returning home from England after having played at the Marquee and before going on tour with the Cult (so in July 1987) [Kerrang! August 20, 1987], the band spent 72 hours at Take One Studios in Los Angeles [Kerrang! August 20, 1987] to record some acoustic songs originally intended to be used for "B-sides or whatever" [Duff's biography]. According to Axl, they "wrote some of the songs during or before the recording of Appetite and revised them until we felt they were strong enough to put out" [RIP, April 1989].

Duff would later talk about how many of their songs were originally written on acoustic guitars:

That's really how we wrote songs on acoustic guitar, like Nightrain, everything. [...] If it doesn't sound good on acoustics...

The new acoustic songs included Patience and One In A Million [Duff's biography]. In a Kerrang! article from August 1988, where it seems the interviewer had talked to Axl, the songs they recorded were listed as "'You're Crazy', 'Patience', 'One In A Million (Police Niggers)' and 'Corn Chucker'" [Kerrang! August 20, 1988]. And in an interview from the very same day the acoustic sessions started, the songs to be recorded were "'You're Crazy,' 'Move to the City,' 'One in a Million' and 'I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Kill Her'" [Circus, July 31, 1988].

Howard Teman was part of the recordings and provided input to what would become Used To Love her:

We were all partying and they were like, "Come on down!" and just went down to the studio and everybody, did all this percussion stuff. Actually here's an unknown thing, in the beginning of I Used To Love Her But I Had To Kill Her you hear Axl say something and you hear in the background, [imitating Caribbean/Mexican cry], that's me.

Slash would say he hated the acoustic recording and didn't feel they were good enough:

I hate these acoustic sets. But I was outvoted. I don't even take my acoustic guitar on tour; I just think you have to be at least as good as Led Zeppelin back then, otherwise you should leave it alone.
Metal Hammer (Germany), April 1988; translated from German

Originally, the plan had been to record some, presumably, electric songs and use them for B-sides for songs off Live?!*@ Like A Suicide in an extended version of the EP:

We've recorded these tracks for future use, either as a separate 72"EP, or else to be put on the B-sides of forthcoming singles.

But we’re going back to L.A. to record three or four more live tracks for the B sides of singles. Geffen will then reissue the LP "Live?!*@ Like A Suicide" in another form. So we’re going to remix it, and there’ll be one side with the four songs, which will have the title of the mini-LP; the other side will have live B sides and will be titled "The Sex, The Drug, The Violence, The Shocking Truth!" There’ll actually be two front covers for the same mini-LP.
Hard Force [French], October 1987; translated from French

Mike Clink would briefly describe the recording session:

Only a few months before they would release these tracks on an EP, the band didn't know exactly what to do with these songs they had recorded. Steven thought they would be put out on an album with "some real surprises: songs that you'd never expect us to do. There's one about 15 minutes long with strings, synthesizers, piano, and a lot of big drums" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988], obviously thinking that this album would also include the song 'November Rain'. As it turned out, the band did not include 'November Rain' and decided to put the songs out on an EP instead.

In June 1988, Axl would describe the plan in detail:

Well, it's something we always planned on doing. We always planned on releasing an acoustic thing and when the record [=Appetite for Destruction] starts to die off, it will do good for us there, financially, and keeping the buzz going about Guns N' Roses, while we take the time to make the next record. Also, it's a way to get out certain things that we don't necessarily want to put on our albums.

We've got so many other things we want to put on the record, so this gives us a way to get rid of excess material. Like we did the live thing, now we want to do an acoustic thing, and stuff like that, and so we don't have to spend like $50,000 dollars to go in and record this thing. This way we can get out a lot more of our material and I think it will help make us... with the EP, the record, and then the new EP, that will be like having two records out. So, that will give us a lot stronger base quicker. There will be a lot of stuff for people to pick from, in a lot less time than it would take to release three albums.

In the same interview, Axl would imply that the acoustic songs came out at the end of an electric recording for Appetite for Destruction:

[Being asked what is happening with their planned EP]: That's what we're doing next week. We've just been recording, and we might even leave it intact, as it is, or use it as a B-side. 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. So we went in, laid that down, and we were in there for like two days, and at the end of the second day we just got into an acoustic jam.

Axl and Izzy would talk more about the acoustic EP:

Well, it’s a lot rougher than we in­tended it to be, and that’s because we didn’t spend a lot of time on it.
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 5, 1988

We've already recorded another EP. We did it all in one night.

[Talking about the songs they recorded]: 'Patience,' "I Used to Love Her But I Had to Kill Her,' the original version of 'You're Crazy,' done slow and acoustically, with maracas, tambourines, congas. It's heavy in its own way. There's a song called One in a Million,' about living in L.A..

We recorded the new tracks at the Record Plant recording studio off Sunset by Paramount Studios. The entire process was done over a single weekend.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 176

And when it would be released:

Hopefully next fall. We'll probably rerelease the first EP and this'll be the flip side. At this time it's called The Sex, the Drugs, the Violence, the Shocking Truth. I don't know what that has to do with the record but we love the title.

Duff would elaborate:

The acoustic stuff we did in like, a day, right. So, I mean, we didn't... It wasn't a huge project or anything like that. It's just, I think, to show another side of the band, sort of. And also, you know, our next album is not gonna be out for a while. So, there's a huge void space then we'd like to fill in a bit.

Slash, though, would be unsure of what would be next:

We still haven’t decided exactly what to do next time, but we have thought about doing some acoustic stuff. For those fans who don’t know, we like to play acoustic sets every now and then when we get the chance. We do those when we have in-store record signings and things like that, and people really get off on it. Maybe it would be too radical a departure from what people now expect after Appetite For Destruction, but we kind of like keeping everyone a little off balance. If we can keep doing that, we’ll be around for a long, long time.

Eventually, though, the acoustic songs ¨'Patience', 'Used To Love Her', 'One In A Million' and 'You're Crazy' would be bundled together with the electric songs off Live Like A Suicide and released in November 1988 [see later chapter]. 'Cornchucker' would never be released.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Thu Apr 25, 2024 10:32 am; edited 4 times in total
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