Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction turns 25
Despite once unsuccessfully auditioning as their guitar player, Slash hated Poison, and would, along with his bandmates, begin to characterize them as everything GNR was not. "If you put us side by side with a glam band you'll see a big difference. We wear leathers and jeans. Their hair is always spiked up, and they have a full time makeup job," Slash once said to the L.A. rock mag Concert Shots. "What's wrong with the whole L.A. scene is that so much of it is just a front. There's so much falseness in the way all these bands take on a certain style that's supposedly 'in.' All the basic stuff, what's real important -- they miss. They spend most of their time getting their 'image' down. What's that? So I have to say, the glam scene's cool, and there are bands that we like, but as a whole, it's pretty false."
Even more than the failed Poison audition, these types of statements from Slash and his band, plentiful as they were, carry more than a spice of hypocrisy. Early photos of GNR band members reveal hair as teased and soaked with Aqua Net as C.C. DeVille, or makeup as thick and gaudy as Dee Snider -- the last gasp of this can be seen in Axl Rose's frightening poof in the "Welcome to the Jungle" video. Guns would begin and remain a highly stylized band, though in time they did distance themselves from the DayGlo spandex and purple eye-shadow of their contemporaries, taking on a darker, seedier image that matched their unhygienic songs. While bands like Poison and Ratt wrote tunes about the care-free world of parties and girls, Guns N' Roses wrote songs about disease, addiction and self-destruction in a way that simultaneously illustrated the dangers of the lifestyle while equally glamorizing it. The party life would eventually destroy the careers of glam metal musicians; by the time Guns N' Roses became signed by Geffen Records and began recording their major label debut, they were already destroyed.
The band was seen as a major liability to Geffen, who went through several panic stages leading up to the album release. "Elegantly wasted" was GNR's premier public image, and their label worried if anything would come of the $375,000 price tag that hung on just the album alone. By that time, McKagan had a bottle-a-day vodka habit; Axl Rose would disappear into hotels for weeks at a time with a girl and a bag of heroine; Slash was being propped up for photo shoots, later to be found in a gutter the following morning, shoes missing and lips turning blue.