30 Things You Might Not Know About Appetite For Destruction
By Dave Basner
July 21, 2018
On July 21st, 1987, Guns N’ Roses released their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. To mark the iconic record’s 30th anniversary, here are 30 things you might not know about it:
1. Most of the songs from the record were written during a time that the group was performing on the LA club circuit. Some tracks, however, were begun or written by the band members before GN’R existed. Duff McKagan penned “It’s So Easy,” Izzy Stradlin did “Think About You,” Slash, Duff and Steven Adler wrote “Rocket Queen” for their earlier band, Road Crew, and Axl Rose did “Anything Goes” for his pre-GN’R group Hollywood Rose.
2. Later GN’R songs like “November Rain,” “Don’t Cry,” “You Could Be Mine” and “Back Off Bitch” were considered for Appetite but shelved for various reasons. In the case of “November Rain,” it wasn’t included because Appetite already had a ballad with “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
4. The band selected Mike Clink as their producer. He previously was at the helm for some Triumph albums and recorded the GN’R how they wanted to be recorded.
5. After basic tracks were laid in a two-week period, Mike worked 18-hour days, splicing together the best takes using a razor blade.
6. The total budget for the album was $370,000.
7. While the percussion was completed in just six days, vocals took a lot longer with Axl, a perfectionist, doing them one line at a time.
8. The original cover for the album was based on artist Robert Williams’ painting, Appetite for Destruction, and featured a monster about to attack a robotic rapist, but music retailers said they’d refused to stock the album with it. The artwork was a statement with the robot representing the industrial system that is polluting our environment.
9. The actual cover wound up being an image of a cross with skulls of the five band members. It was originally designed as a tattoo and the knot work in the cross is a reference to one of Axl’s favorite bands, Thin Lizzy.
10. In 2011, Axl revealed his original idea for the cover art was a photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding, but the band’s label said no because it was in bad taste.
11. Vinyl and cassette versions of the albums didn’t have sides A and B, rather they had sides G and R. The G or Guns side was the first six tracks, which all dealt with drugs and hard city life, while the R or Roses side were the remaining songs, which were about love, sex and relationships.
12. Axl wrote the lyrics to “Welcome to the Jungle” while in Seattle visiting a friend. He also said he was inspired by a homeless man he encountered as a runaway while coming out of a bus into New York. The man shouted at Axl and his friend, “You know where you are? You’re in the jungle baby; you’re gonna die!”
13. Slash said that “Welcome to the Jungle” took about three hours for the band to write.
14. “It’s So Easy” is about a time when Duff and GNR songwriting collaborator West Arkeen didn’t have any money but had a lot of groupies and girls they could live off of, so things were easy.”
15. “It’s So Easy” was originally a light acoustic song but Slash turned it into a rocker.
16. “Nightrain” is a tribute to the cheap California wine Night Train Express, which the band drank in their early days because it was inexpensive and had high alcohol content.
17. “Mr. Brownstone” is about the band’s problems with heroin.
18. “Mr. Brownstone” was the band’s first single released outside of America.
19. “Out ta Get Me” tells of Axl’s trouble with the law growing up in Indiana.
20. Slash said that “Paradise City” was written in the back of a rental van on their way back from a gig in San Francisco. The band was drinking and playing acoustic guitars when the song started to come together. Slash thought the lyrics should be “Take me down to the Paradise City/Where the girls are fat and they’ve got big t***ies,” but the band went with Axl’s line of “Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.”
21. The song “My Michelle,” is about a friend of the band named Michelle Young, who is thanked on the cover sleeve. Axl was in a car with her when Elton John’s “Your Song” came on the radio and Michelle mentioned she always wanted someone to write a song about her. So he did. He first wrote a track that had nothing to do with her, but at the suggestion of the band, he changed the lyrics so they told her life story.
22. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” started during a jam session after Slash jokingly played a circus melody and made faces at Steven Adler. Izzy had him play it again and added some chords while Duff made a bass line and Steven put a beat to it. Meanwhile, upstairs, Axl listened and wrote lyrics.
23. Unsure of what to do at one point towards the end of “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” Axl wondered aloud, “Where do we go? Where do we go now?” and they decided to have him sing that.
24. Axl wanted pornographic sounds in the song “Rocket Queen” so he propositioned a female friend of the band to have sex with him in the vocal booth at the New York studio where they were mixing the record. She agreed, allegedly saying she would do it “for the band, and a bottle of Jack Daniels.”
25. Rose said that he wrote the song “Rocket Queen” for a girl who was going to have a band and call it Rocket Queen. He once stated of that girl, “She kinda kept me alive for a while.”
26. The Rocket Queen is likely Barbi Von Greif, who is credited in the notes for Appetite as "Barbi (Rocket Queen) Von Greif." Slash once said of her that even though she was just 18 at the time, she was "a queen of the underground rock scene." She eventually became a madam."
27. Appetite for Destruction debuted at number 182 on the Billboard 200 but as the band toured and released singles, the record worked its way up the chart, topping it on August 6, 1988 for four non-consecutive weeks.
28. The record spent 147 weeks on the Billboard 200.
29. Appetite has been certified 18 times platinum for sales over 18-million copies in America.
30. Approximately 30-million copies of the album have sold worldwide.