Saturday, July 24, 2021

"Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert! 
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3561
Date:  06/25/1988
Debut:  76
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Metal

Pop Bits:  This metal band formed in early 1985 and initially consisted of members from two other Sunset Strip-playing acts, Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns. The singular constant between the two bands was lead singer Axl Rose, who headed up Hollywood Rose and then for a short time sang with L.A. Guns. After the manager for L.A. Guns canned Rose, he and three members of the band decided to form a new group and invited along Hollywood Rose member. Izzy Stradlin. Looking for a name, they settled on one that represented the two groups the members had previously been in and became Guns N' Roses. Their first performance was in March of '85, but not long after the three L.A. Guns members were gone. Rose and Stradlin hired in Duff McKagen and two former Hollywood Rose members Slash and Steven Adler. This lineup started performing in the summer of '85 and it wasn't long before they were gaining fans. By the summer of '86, they had signed a contract with Geffen Records. Work began on a debut album, but it was taking quite a bit of time so the label pushed out a tide-over EP late in '86 titled Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, which oddly was not a live recording, but studio tracks with crowd noise added. Eventually, the album got finished with producer Mike Clink and Appetite for Destruction was released in July of '87. Initially, the album and its first single, "Welcome to the Jungle," floundered. Neither were getting anywhere and the label was ready to give up, but then after some lobbying, the label decided to give it another shot and worked with MTV to get the video for "Welcome to the Jungle" in rotation. MTV decided to lend a helping hand and soon the tune started to get some attention. It finally got on the Rock chart and by April '88 it made it to #37. Encouraged by that, the label then pushed out this second single. The video was soon in heavy rotation on MTV and the song began climbing the Rock chart where it would peak at #7. Then the song exploded in a more mainstream way and it would end up topping the Pop chart. The hit sent the album to #1 for a week in August of '88. It was the first of five non-consecutive weeks at the top spot for the LP. GN'R were on their way.

ReduxReview:  Once in a while a song comes along that just changes everything. I think this was one of them. Up to this point, glam metal was certainly on the rise thanks to hits by the likes of Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Poison, and others. However, this song was like a shot over the bow. Both it and the album were landmarks that made the genre explode. Soon there would be bands like Warrant, Skid Row, and Slaughter along with the continued success of acts like Mötley Crüe. Glam metal would reign supreme for a few years, but then another landmark song and album would come along in 1991 that would change the face of rock again (Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Nevermind). I distinctly remember hearing this song for the first time. It was on MTV and I was kind of blown away by the sweetness of the song and melody mixed with the ferocity of the band, the guitar solo, and Axl Rose's vocals. It felt different from the party-ish glam metal songs and power ballads other bands were doing. I didn't waste time and immediately got the album. It was chock full of great songs with very little filler. Needless to say, I played it a lot and this song along with "Welcome to the Jungle" were the stars. Just even hearing the opening guitar riff of this song can still give me chills. It was a great moment in rock music.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) At the time the band was creating this song, Axl Rose was dating Erin Everly. She was the daughter of Don Everly, one half of the famous brother duo The Everly Brothers. With nine Pop Top 10 hits and four #1s, the Everlys were the most successful duo of the rock era until Daryl Hall & John Oates bested the with ten Top 10 and six #1s. Rose wrote the lyrics to "Sweet Child O' Mine" with Erin in mind. She would also appear in the song's video. After being together for four years, the pair would be married in 1990, however their union would be annulled nine months later.  2) In 1999, singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow would cover this tune for the soundtrack to the Adam Sandler comedy Big Daddy. The film was a big hit with Crow's cover tune being used in a scene while the Guns N' Roses original played over the closing credits. Although Crow's version would not be released as a single, it did help in getting the soundtrack album to #55. A revised edition of Crow's 1998 #5 LP The Globe Sessions released in '99 would include the track. It would also earn Crow a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. It was her sixth Grammy.


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