Audio: Guns N’ Roses Perform “Sweet Child O’ Mine” for the First Time Ever in 1986
Here’s a must-listen for my fellow Guns N’ Roses obsessives: an audio recording of the band performing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” for the first time ever on August 23, 1986 at the fabled Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles.
For those keeping track at home, that’s nearly a year before the release of Appetite for Destruction, and two years before it was released as Appetite‘s third single.
It’s interesting stuff: the song is mostly recognizable, but some minor changes to Slash’s guitar leads and Axl Rose’s outro lyrics make it, at the very least, a notable curiosity.
The main lick for the song was famously written by Slash as a “joke” during band rehearsals. It was lead singer Axl Rose and rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin who saw its potential to become a full-blown hit — in fact, Slash infamously didn’t want it on AFD. In 2014, he told Cincinnati’s WEBN:
“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… it just did not fit in with the rest of our, sort of, schtick. And, of course, it would be the biggest hit we ever had.”
Indeed: it’s hard to imagine now, but Appetite actually wasn’t a mega-hit until “Sweet Child” took over radio waves in the summer of ’88. The album, of course, went on to be the highest selling debut release of all time — to date, it’s sold a whopping 30 million copies.
The song is immensely popular to this day: in October of 2019, the video for “Sweet Child O’ Mine” became the first-ever produced in the 1980s to surpass a billion views on YouTube. That’s probably because the label didn’t let Axl Rose make the video he wanted to make, as the singer asserted in a 2006 interview:
“What I really wanted to do for that… that was having about this woman from the Orient bringing her baby and getting it you know through customs and stuff, and carrying this baby and everything, but at the end, some guy splits it in half cuz it’s dead and filled with heroin. But the record company wouldn’t let me do it. That’s what ‘Sweet Child’ was supposed to be about.”
You can listen to the original GN’R performance of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” below. Funny enough, given his dislike for the song, the band member tasked with introducing it to the crowd was Slash.
[via Classic Rock]