• Axl Rosenberg

guns_n_roses_-_appetite_for_destruction.jpgOur week long celebration of the 20th anniversary of Appetite for Destruction now continues with each of the music videos the band made to promote the album – including the never officially released video for “It’s So Easy,” which was supposed to be the first ever released by the band before it was decided by everyone that the sight of Axl and future ex-wife Erin Everly engaged in acts of bondage was more than a little much for MTV.

But that’s who GN’R were – the band that was, at least for awhile, more than a little much for MTV. These are the dudes who tore down the set during a taping of Headbanger’s Ball; they were not, as the comedian Patton Oswalt has observed of so many 80’s metal bands, the guys that made a video that took place in some anonymous factory that appeared to manufacture fireworks (in fact, Axl Rose revealed to Eddie Trunk last year that he had wanted the video for “Sweet Child O’ Mine” to follow a woman and her baby as they traveled – until the final moments, when you’d realize the baby was dead as she cracked it open to reveal that she was smuggling drugs inside the corpse). They made videos that were stripped down, often seemingly filmed at a detached distance, just oberrving the band being the band. Consequently, these videos are a perfect time capsule of who the band were when they were made, and, perhaps even more so than the musical differences between Appetite and Use Your Illusion, the difference in the style of videos illustrates the evolution of this band from gutter punks to bloated superstars.

“Welcome to the Jungle” is pretty much the perfect example of the power music videos have to convey a band’s image – Axl steps off the bus, a piece of frickin’ hay in his mouth (as Chuck Klosterman has observed, a piece of hay that apparently didn’t get chewed on very much during the incredibly long bus ride from Lafayette, Indiana to Hollywood, California), before eventually finding himself alternately performing with the band and strapped to a chair, A Clockwork Orange-style, watching horrific images of war and going apeshit (no wonder MTV initially barely played the video except during the wee hours of the morning – “Talk Dirty to Me” this wasn’t).

It’s telling that for the first three videos, the band is playing for small groups of people, but in the final, “Paradise City,” they’re playing in front of a huge stadiums – by the time the video cycle for this album was over, GN’R were already the biggest band in the world. But there’s still a pretty clear difference between “Paradise City” and, say, “Home Sweet Home,” the behind-the-scenes-on-the-road model it followed (and if you don’t believe me, try watching Warrant’s video for “Heaven,” which was clearly from the same mold). There’s something palpably real – dare I say verité – about these videos. It didn’t last – really, it couldn’t last – but for a time, GN’R seemed like a real rock band when there weren’t any.

“It’s So Easy”

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“Welcome to the Jungle”

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“Sweet Child O’ Mine”

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“Paradise City”

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