In mid-summer 1987, punk had mellowed out, the New Wave had largely settled into synth-dance pop, heavy metal had mostly gone mainstream to pop-metal, and good ol’ rock ‘n roll was on life support, waiting for a savior. The White Knight, it turns out, was Guns N’ Roses. With their July 21, 1987 debut LP, Appetite For Destruction, they burst into the void with a swaggering, down-and-dirty, loud and unpretentious hard rock that instantly covered the landscape with sounds not heard since the Stones, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin in the 70s.
GNR formed three years earlier when the cream of two Southern California bands, L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose, joined to form a new band and took to the road to spread their venomous bites of grinding rock ‘n roll. Lead guitarist Tracii Guns (nee Tracey Ulrich) and singer/frontman Axl Rose (William Rose Bailey. Jr.) formed the nucleus of the group, but Guns left before Appetite…. His replacement, Slash (Saul Hudson) formed a twin-guitar attack with guitarist Izzy Stradlin (Jeff Isbell), matching licks and riffs atop the pounding rhythm section of drummer Steve Adler and bassist Duff McKagan.
Appetite For Destruction started slowly, but increasing grassroots pressure on radio and MTV programmers gained significant airplay, especially for the three great singles that came off the LP. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (#1 in the U.S.) is power balladry at its best (and a signature GNR track). “Welcome To The Jungle” (#7) speaks to the dark underside of L.A. and its careless rock ‘n roll scene. Hard rocker “Paradise City” (#5) is about anything but paradise.
Those three hit singles and the heroin-laced, late-80s gem “Mr. Brownstone” make Appetite… a true classic and (for good reason) one of the hottest selling debut albums of all time. It’s available for purchase as a CD or individual MP3 files on Amazon, and as iPod downloads on iTunes. GNR is in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.