Today in Music History: July 23, 1988
Guns N' Roses Mainstream hard rock wasn't the same after members of Guns N' Roses sank their teeth into it.
Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin originally formed the band out of the ashes of two other groups—L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose. Guns N' Roses played in a style that owed much more to the pure hard rock Stuck in the 70s than to the showy heavy metal of the 80s Music Mania.
Guns N' Roses made its big popular breakthrough on July 23, 1988, when their first hit single, "Sweet Child O' Mine" entered the Billboard Top 40. The band played a mixture of hard rock, heavy metal, sleaze rock, blues, and punk rock. This was the era of mainly sex, liquor, drugs and rock 'n' roll.
Speaking with the radio station WEBN in Cincinnati, Ohio, Slash admitted that he isn't fond of this song apart from its riff. He explained: "You know, Guns 'N' Roses was always a real hardcore, sort of, AC/DC kind of hard rock band with a lot of attitude. If we did any kind of ballads, it was bluesy. This was an uptempo ballad. That's one of the gayest things you can write. But at the same time, it's a great song — I'm not knocking it — but at the time, it just did not fit in with the rest of our, sot of, schtick. And, of course, it would be the biggest hit we ever had."
Songfacts: The song hit #1 in America on September 10, 1988, and stayed there for two weeks. While it was climbing to the top spot, Guns N' Roses was touring as the opening act for Aerosmith. By the end of the tour on September 15, G N' R had eclipsed their headliners in popularity and were chosen for the cover of Rolling Stone for their November 17 issue. The tour went very well thanks to a ground rule Aerosmith set up: no drugs in their presence. The now-rehabbed Aerosmith could see Guns' N' Roses heading down the same path of addiction, but made no effort to preach to them about the dangers, as they knew the Gunners would have to make their own mistakes. Aerosmith did, however, give T-shirts to the band listing the rehab centers they had been through instead of tour dates, which they felt was their statement.
And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...