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09th Junge 2004 50th Anniversary Of Rock


50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock & Roll

Hard Drinking in Hollywood
Guns n’ Roses take over the Los Angeles metal scene JUNE 1985

A LOT OF DRUGS AND YES MEN came in, and that killed the band,” says bassist Duff McKagan, looking back on the original Guns n’ Roses. “But on certain nights, we were the fucking greatest band on the planet.”

Guns n’ Roses’ first show, in June 1985, was not one of those nights. On a Thursday evening at the Troubadour in Hollywood, McKagan, guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin, drummer Steven Adler and singer W. Axl Rose made their live debut for an audience of exactly two people.

At the time, Hollywood’s Sunset Strip was the hair-metal capital of rock, over-populated with scuffling young rockers forming bands in the glam-metal image of local legends Motley Crue. The members of Guns n’ Roses shared a one-room apartment on Sunset Boulevard that they named the Hellhouse because it was, in Stradlin’s words, “a fucking living hell.” There was no bathroom, shower or kitchen. There was only enough room for three people to sleep at one time. If the band members rustled up enough money between them to buy hamburger meat, they cooked it using Adler’s drumsticks as firewood. Guns n’ Roses also wrote much of Appetite for Destruction there. “We brought out some acoustic guitars and bongos one night and wrote ‘Nightrain,’” McKagan says. “We would drink Night Train (wine) because it was $1.19 a bottle and made you feel like you were drunk and on acid at the same time.”

That wasn’t high enough, though: The night the group wrote “Mr. Brownstone,” Appetite’s thundering portrait of heroin addiction, Slash overdosed. “We were doing Mexican street tar - Izzy and his girlfriend brought me back,” he says. “That was a fun time.”

G n’ R survived on the kindness of strangers (even after deciding to sign with Geffen Records, the band met with A&R execs from other labels just for the free meals) and starting in the summer of ‘86 labored seriously on Appetite. “In one year I spent over $1,300 on cassettes,” Rose told ROLLING STONE, “everything from Slayer to Wham!, to listen to production, vocals, melodies, this and that.” For the recording of “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” he noted, “I went out and got some old Lynyrd Skynyrd tapes to make sure that we’d got that down-home, heartfelt feeling.”

“Sweet Child,” Rose’s song for his ten-girlfriend Erin, daughter of Don Everly of the Everly Brothers, took off on radio and MTV a year after Appetite’s release, going to Number One while G n’ R were on tour opening for Aerosmith. One night, McKagan says, “there would be seventy people watching our set. After two weeks, 17,000 people were fucking standing up for us.”

Source: RollingStone issue 951, heretodaygonetohell.com

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