In the latest issue of Metal Hammer we revisit the early (and best) years of Guns N' Roses and find out why they were the baddest motherfuckers on the planet. Here we look at (almost) everything that makes Gn'R one of the greatest and most controversial bands to ever grace a stage...
The A-Z Of Guns N' Roses
Everything you need to know about Gn'R
A is for Appetite for Destruction
The best hard rock album of all time? Quite possibly. Feral, cocksure and aggressive, Guns N’ Roses' debut album is a compelling portrait of life lived without boundaries or inhibitions, a raw blast of street-level sass and ‘fuck you’ attitude. Appetite’s component parts – Aerosmith, AC/DC, Sex Pistols, Stones – might have been familiar but no-one had ever melded these influences to such devastating effect. The band would never top it, but then neither has anyone else since.
B is for Buckethead
How do you go about replacing one of the most iconic guitarists in the world in your band? Well, if you’re Axl Rose, you hire in a man with an upturned KFC bucket on his head. A wildly inventive, technically superb multi-instrumentalist with 121 studio albums to his (silly) name, the man known to his mom and dad as Brian Carroll helped craft Chinese Democracy, receiving co-writing credits on three songs, but never replaced Slash in the affections of Gn’R fans.
C is for Charlie Manson
For reasons never fully explained, Axl had something of an obsession with murderous weirdo cult leader Manson in the ‘90s, regularly sporting his image on T-shirts onstage and, controversially, covering Manson’s Look At Your Game, Girl as a hidden track on 1993’s The Spaghetti Incident album, which drew condemnation from his record label boss, David Geffen. “Personally I liked the lyrics and the melody of the song,” Axl blithely explained.
D is for Donington ‘88
Iron Maiden’s debut bow at the legendary Monsters Of Rock festival drew a record 107,000 people to Donington Park on August 20, 1988. Unfortunately, two of those in attendance wouldn’t return from the festival, being crushed to death in crowd surges during Guns N’ Roses early afternoon set. To his credit, Axl Rose stopped Gn’R’s set several times in an attempt to calm matters down, at one point stating “Don’t fucking kill each other”: only post-gig did the band discover the truth of those words.
E is for Erin Everly
The daughter of pop star Don Everly, model Erin Everly is the inspiration behind S_weet Child O’ Mine_, though the reality of her relationship with Axl Rose was rather less romantic. Everly married Rose in April 1990, but their union was annulled in January 1991, after which she sued the singer for assault and sexual battery. “Axl had told me that in a past life we were Indians and that I killed our children, and that's why he was so mean to me in this life,” she once noted.