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Guns N’ Roses Conquered the Rock World with Appetite for Destruction

Arguably the greatest debut hard-rock album of all time

Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction anniversary
Guns N’ Roses, photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images
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    Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was the darker, grittier response to Sunset Boulevard’s glam-rock scene. The LP’s unique sound helped move it away from the sea of spandex and hairspray in which it was spawned and make it a staple found in nearly every hard rock fan’s collection, alongside classics like Led Zeppelin II or Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.

    Released on July 21st, 1987, Appetite for Destruction features the bluesy hard-rock ethos of Aerosmith blended with an aggressive punk undertone amid splashes of metal and ’70s bar rock — a concoction that owes itself to the unique blend of musicians who made up the band.

    While not as technically proficient as some his contemporaries, Slash’s guitar playing was fluid and full of feeling; Axl Rose’s unique voice and amazing range was unlike any other singer at the time; Duff McKagan’s punk-inspired bass playing gave the music a raw sense of urgency; Izzy Stradlin’s rhythm guitar cleverly weaved in and out of Slash’s leads; and Steven Adler’s workmanlike drums let the other members shine.

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    Amazingly, Appetite for Destruction was not a huge success out of the gate. In fact, the album took more than a year to top the charts, only after the singles “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Paradise City”, and “Sweet Child o’ Mine” received heavy rotation on MTV and started to impact radio in 1988. It topped the Billboard 200 in August 1988 and has since become one of the best-selling rock albums of all time.

    Like most things that are worth doing, the making of Appetite for Destruction was a hard-fought battle. The band faced a myriad of problems, including excessive drug and alcohol use within the group, the search for a producer, and an increasingly impatient record company.

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