Music History

Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction turns 25

See Also: - Remembering Randy Rhodes thirty years after his tragic death -The Beatles' Sgt Pepper turns 45 -The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street turns 40 -Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced turns 45

In the early 1980s, a red-haired, Midwestern boy named William Bailey stepped off a bus in New York City. Clearly naive and over his head, Bailey was targeted by a psychotic homeless man, who shouted at the frightened ginger, "You know where you are? You're in the jungle, baby; you're gonna die!" The moment stuck with the kid, who years later would legally change his name to Axl Rose, and appropriated the sociopathic line for his song, "Welcome to the Jungle," and recreated the scene of a wide-eyed innocent being corrupted by the city for the hit music video of same name.

Trading one jungle for another, young Rose eventually moved to Los Angeles, fronting an early lineup of the band L.A. Guns, before being kicked out and forming Hollywood Rose with childhood friend Izzy Stradlin, who had moved to California a few years earlier. It would have seemed strange for two Midwestern boys to form a band named after a city they're only recently acquainted with, if it weren't for the inclusion of two other childhood friends: Steven Adler and Saul Hudson, also known by the childhood moniker describing his ADD sprightliness: Slash.

Slash and Rose were the ideal counterpoints to each other, both headed toward the same goal from completely different directions. While each endured tumultuous, suffocating childhoods, Rose's antagonism was born from a Pentecostal church and a manically idealistic stepfather; Slash was the latchkey kid of Hollywood, his mother a black costume designer for David Bowie, his father a white British artist who designed album covers for Joni Mitchel and Neil Young -- neither were very interested in parenting. So while Rose would go on to write about the decadence, filth and betrayal of the Los Angeles underbelly with the romanticism of an outsider, Slash would match it with the howling guitar solos that only a child survivor of that life could exude.

These four musicians (along with Duff McKagan, a respondent to Slash's newspaper ad looking for a bassist) would incestuously move back and forth between the bands, L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose, before melding the two into Guns N' Roses in 1985. By this time, the Sunset Strip music scene had, willingly or not, been solidified into one solitary cultural designation: hair metal. Avoiding the violent pubescence of the L.A. punk scene, venues like the Whiskey a Go Go and the Trip embraced more commercial, yet still relatively dangerous, bands like Quiet Riot, Mötley Crüe and, eventually, Poison.