Appetite for Destruction, G N’ R Lies (1987–1989) lineup Reading Festival

The band’s first album, Appetite for Destruction was released on July 21, 1987. The album underwent an artwork change after the original Robert Williams cover design (a surrealist scene in which a dagger-toothed monster vengefully attacks a robot rapist) spawned the album.The revised cover was a design by Bill White, a tattoo artist, who had originally designed the artwork for a tattoo Rose had acquired the previous year. The artwork featured each of the five band members’ skulls layered on a cross. Rose later insisted that the Gold and Platinum plaques issued by the RIAA be set using the original cover art, which can be found in the booklet of the CD release. In the US, “Welcome to the Jungle” was issued as its first single, with an accompanying music video. Initially, the album and single lingered for almost a year without performing well, but when Geffen Records founder David Geffen was asked to lend support to the band, he obliged by personally convincing MTV executives to play “Welcome to the Jungle” during their afterhours rotation. Even though the video was initially only played one time at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, rock and punk fans took notice and soon began requesting the video and song en masse.In Japan, an entire EP entitled Live from the Jungle was issued, containing the album version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” along with a selection of numerous Marquee Club recordings.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” was the album’s second US single co-written by Axl Rose as a poem for his girlfriend and future wife, Erin Everly. Due to the growing grassroots success of the band and the cross-gender appeal of the tune, the song and its accompanying music video received heavy airplay on both radio and MTV, becoming a smash hit during the summer of 1988 and reaching the top of the charts in the US. Slash stated on VH1’s 100 Greatest songs of the 80s, “It was actually my least favorite song we ever wrote…I hate it, but it turns out to be our greatest song ever”. “Welcome to the Jungle” was then re-issued as a single, with new pressings of records and tapes and new artwork. It was a successful re-release, as the single reached No. 7 in the US. The UK re-release was backed with an acoustic version of “You’re Crazy”, recorded much earlier than the one featured on the G N’ R Lies EP.
By the time “Paradise City” and its video reached the airwaves and peaked at No. 5 in the US, the band’s touring success and fame had catapulted the album to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Paradise City” were all top ten singles in the US. To date, Appetite for Destruction has sold over 28 million copies worldwide.It has been certified as 18X Platinum in the U.S.
Guns N’ Roses began opening shows for major acts, but as their fame began to take hold, a world tour in support of Appetite for Destruction was scheduled. The band traveled across the United States, and in spring 1988 were invited to the notorious Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donington in Leicestershire, England, where they shared the bill with groups like KISS and Iron Maiden. At the start of the Guns N’ Roses set, the capacity crowd of over 100,000 began jumping and surging forward. Despite Rose’s requests that the crowd move away from the stage, two fans were trampled to death. The media largely blamed the band for the tragedy, and reported that the band had continued playing even when there were dangerous crowd conditions. In fact, the final report on the Donington incident filed by the head of security at the venue noted that the band had not been aware of the extent of fan injuries, had immediately halted their set when requested to do so, and had attempted to calm the crowd.Nonetheless, events such as these during the Appetite for Destruction tour earned the group the title of “the world’s most dangerous band”. In addition, the behavior of the band members also garnered negative attention from the media. Duff, Slash, Izzy and Adler were often seen intoxicated both on and off stage.

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