Billy White Jr., Artist Responsible for Appetite for Destruction Artwork, Has Died
According to an Instagram post from Slash, Billy White, the artist responsible for the iconic cross artwork on the cover of Guns N’ Roses‘ iconic Appetite for Destruction album has died. Alongside a photo of White and the album artwork, Slash posted the following message:
“RIP #BillyWhiteJr og designer of GNR cross logo. & long time friend of the band. You will be missed.”
In 2016, White spoke to the now-defunct website Creature Culture to discuss how the artwork came to be (h/t to the MyGnR forum for preserving quotes):
“One day Axl [Rose] called and asked if i could draw him a tattoo, after he’d seen a drawing I’d done on my cousin’s wall. I said sure, and we talked. The cross and skulls that looked like the band was Axl’s idea, the rest was me – the knot work in the cross was a reference to Thin Lizzy, a band Axl and I both loved.”
White said that it began as a pencil-and-paper sketch that Rose approved before creating the painting that now adorns one of the most iconic rock albums of all time. At the time, White told Creature Culture that he believed Guns N’ Roses’ then-record label Geffen Records probably were in possession of the original.
The sketch was auctioned off at a Grammy auction in 2009 (a commenter claims it sold for over $6,000). The Appetite for Destruction artwork was originally intended to be Robert Williams’ “Appetite for Destruction” painting, which portrays the aftermath of a graphic sexual assault committed on a woman by a robot. Obviously that didn’t fly, even in the ’80s, and White’s artwork quickly replaced Williams’, though a number of copies with the original artwork still exist. Appetite for Destruction went on to become the best-selling debut album of all time and has sold more than 30 million copies since its 1987 release.
Rest in peace, Billy White, and thanks for giving us one of the most iconic record covers of all time.