Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction turns 25
As much as heroin, leather or Hanoi Rocks, a Caligula-style sexuality, was a primary influence in the writing and recording of Appetite for Destruction. In the song "Rocket Queen," Axl was unsatisfied with the bridge of the song, feeling it was in need of some heavily sexualized, non-musical contributions. So a darkened room of the studio was miked, and Axl brought in a revolving door of women to be pleasured by him and other members of the band, in the hopes of their climactic ecstasies being sonically documented. One subject of Axl's sex tape dalliances was drummer Steven Adler's girlfriend, a nineteen year old stripper named Adriana, who was getting back at Adler for cheating on him. Naturally, Adler was furious when he heard the news that his big debut album as a drummer would be seasoned by the sound of his girlfriend's rapturous infidelity.
Like Black Sabbath's self titled opening number, or Nevermind's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" a few years later, the opening track of Appetite for Destruction remains one of the quintessential debut songs for a band about to redefine rock music. Less a journalistic observation, and more of a threat of bad intentions, "Welcome to the Jungle" introduced the world to this new model of a hard-rock band. Neither punk nor metal -- yet at times resembling both -- GNR appeared to be an effortless tightrope walk of cultural contradiction. They dressed gay, yet were virulently homophobic; they were macho, yet effeminate, the perfect balance to frighten mothers and enthrall pubescent teenagers. With Axl Rose as the prettiest, most bi-polar ginger in rock history, and Slash as the elusive, unsettlingly calm demon in the corner, Guns N' Roses were the treasured link between the cute, party-glam of the L.A. scene and the more sincere, tenebrous grunge-rock that would ultimately render them obsolete.
Sources for this essay are attributable to Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses, by Stephen Davis, and Slash, by Anthony Bozza and Slash.