‘Appetite For Destruction’: America’s Insatiable Hunger For Guns N’ Roses

On August 6, 1988, a year and two weeks after it was released by Geffen, ‘Appetite For Destruction’ climbed to No.1 in America.

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Guns N’ Roses ‘Appetite For Destruction’ artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Guns N’ Roses ‘Appetite For Destruction’ artwork - Courtesy: UMG

One of the great rock’n’ roll adventures of the 1980s came to fruition on August 6, 1988. A year and two weeks after it was released by Geffen Records, the debut album by Guns N’ RosesAppetite For Destruction, climbed to No.1 in America.

The L.A. rockers had started recording what would become their first LP as far back as the summer of 1986. As the buzz about them grew louder, they released 10,000 copies of the 12-inch vinyl EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide on what appeared to be an indie label, Uzi/Suicide. In fact, it was custom-created by Geffen.

By the spring of 1987, G N’ R were taking time out of their album recording schedule to open for Iron Maiden on their US tour, and in June they made their international debut at London’s Marquee Club. In July, they were out with Mötley Crüe, just before Appetite For Destruction was unleashed.

Guns N' Roses - Welcome To The Jungle

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Produced by Mike Clink, the album featured 12 new band compositions including “Welcome To The Jungle,” “Paradise City,” “Mr. Brownstone,” and of course “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” But the record was anything but an instant sensation. It debuted on the Billboard 200 at a mere No.182, and, from there, took three weeks short of a year to reach the summit.

Guns N’ Roses vs. Def Leppard

When it did, Appetite went into a head-to-head with one of G N’ R’s competitors for rock audiences of the time, Sheffield’s Def Leppard. Their Hysteria album had spent the previous two weeks at No.1 before being deposed by the west coast band.

Listen to the best of Guns N’ Roses on Apple Music and Spotify.

In a rock battle royal, Hysteria came back for two further spells at the top, and then Appetite did the same. The Guns N’ Roses title reigned for three more weeks in September into October, and then rose again in February 1989, as it broke all label records and climbed to worldwide sales of an astonishing 30 million. G N’ R toured the album for 14 months and it stayed on the Billboard chart for a spectacular 147 weeks.

Dennis O’Dell’s retrospective review of the album for the BBC observed: “Steven Adler‘s drums sound huge, while Slash’s riffs had yet to descend into cliché, his snarling Les Paul force-fed through a growling wah-wah. Axl Rose’s cartoon squeal of indignation was the perfect summation of the band’s philosophy of good times to be had living on the ‘edge.’ Appetite… never lets up. Never had hedonism sounded so good.”

Buy or stream the Appetite For Destruction super deluxe and Locked N’ Loaded box set reissues.


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