The band with one of the greatest debut albums of all time!
Formed in the mid-’80s in Los Angeles out of the two bands L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose, Guns N’ Roses were unlike other rock bands of their time.
Rather than embracing spandex, hairspray, makeup, and tapping, Guns N’ Roses didn’t follow the trend; instead, they stuck to their two strongest influences, Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones, delivering something more gritty and raw.
The now-legendary debut album, Appetite For Destruction (1987), wasn’t an instant success. It took until Sweet Child O’ Mine became a hit before the other two big tunes on the album took off, Paradise City and Welcome To The Jungle. Another couple of tracks deserve a mention here, My Michelle and Mr. Brownstone.
In hindsight, Appetite For Destruction is recognized as one of the best albums of all time. If you’re interested in how it was put together, check out Slash’s autobiography, which perfectly describes the amount of work that went into it.
The band was recorded live, with solos overdubbed in a different studio. They spent a lot of time before Slash was happy with his now-iconic lead tone.
There were several mixes done too; for example, Izzy Stradlin took charge for a while, and as he exclaimed he finally nailed it, everyone else thought it just sounded like rhythm guitar overload.
Once they finally got it right, gave it enough time, toured, and had Sweet Child O’ Mine pave the way for the album, Guns N’ Roses became the most talked-about band in the world.
Their next release was a self-titled EP. Here we find a few live recordings (one of them being fake). Most notable are two covers, Knocking On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan) and Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC), a band Axl Rose would later dep for when their singer had problems with his voice for a world tour.
After the 1988 live EP came another EP called Lies, also in ’88. Here we get a cover from one of the bands that Guns N Roses had formed out of, Hollywood Rose. Another cover, Mama Kin (Aerosmith), and four original acoustic tunes, Used To Love Her and especially the single Patience, stand out.
What most people don’t know is that the next two albums, Use Your Illusion I and II (which were released simultaneously in 1991), actually had several big tunes written during these early years.
From Use Your Illusion I, both the singles Don’t Cry and November Rain were old tracks. They were rejected as the band felt that Sweet Child O’ Mine being a ballad was enough for that album.
A third single came from this album, Live And Let Die (Paul McCartney cover), which also did well and became a big part of their live shows. Another cover of a Rolling Stones tune, Wild Horses, can be found on the deluxe version.
On the other album, Use Your Illusion II, we find Knocking on Heaven’s Door (again!) and You Could Be Mine, which was written during the Appetite For Destruction days but rejected. This tune was featured in the blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day and, to me, is the highlight of this album.
On the deluxe version, we find more live covers of Mama Kin (again!) and Jimi Hendrix‘s Voodoo Child (Slight Return).
One more tune is worth mentioning, Estranged. This was the third single of Axl Rose’s vision of big rock ballads. It was the most expensive video ever made and perfectly showcases how Axl’s ego affected the band. On the other hand, you could argue it was also what made it during the early years!
From the biggest band in the world to Axl’s solo career!
The world tour that followed the Use Your Illusion albums, Guns N’ Roses became, without a doubt, the biggest band in the world. I saw them in Stockholm; they went on late, this had become the norm, as Axl’s before and after parties were costly, drawn-out affairs. Apparently, when the parties became more important than the shows, Izzy decided to call it a day.
Looking back, knowing how all the best tracks were actually written several years earlier, it is fascinating to think that the entire legacy of the band came from tunes written during 1986-87 when they formed and wrote the first album.
Following the epic Use Your Illusion years, Guns N’ Roses are a shadow of their former selves.
The Spaghetti Incident? (1993) and Chinese Democracy (2008) are both terrible albums. Sonically, as well as in songwriting, they are very far from the glory days.
Both those albums were made with new members; only Axl was left, and much of the time was spent arguing, spending lots of money, and dealing with lawsuits.
Axl Rose then did a tour with AC/DC in 2016; surely, they must have heard his cover of Whole Lotta Rosie. The rock world was shocked, in disbelief even when it was announced that he would stand in for the wounded Brian Johnson for 23 shows, but it (kind of) worked. At least it gave AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses the press attention they craved.
Following the AC/DC tour, Guns N’ Roses reunited for more touring. Only one new member managed to stay, as the original members came back, Richard Fortus, who I toured with in 2016. The guy is outstanding, and I wasn’t surprised when he got the chance to stand in for Izzy Stradlin, who didn’t want to take part in the reunion, he clearly still hadn’t gotten over Axl’s parties.
Guns N’ Roses tunes | Related pages
Knocking On Heaven’s Door
You can learn how to play Knocking On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| G D/F# | Am Am7 |
Mama take this badge off of me…
You can learn how to play Patience by Guns N’ Roses using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| C Cadd9 Cmaj7 | G Gadd4 Gadd9 |
Shed a tear ’cause I’m missin’ you, I’m still alright to smile.
Sweet Child O’ Mine
You can learn how to play Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| D | Dadd4 | Cadd9 | Cadd9 |
She’s got a smile that it seems to me, reminds me of childhood memories…