Slash Debunks Biggest Misconception About Guns N’ Roses Classic, Recalls How He Never Expected It to Be a Hit

While recently talking to rock personality Eddie Trunk during his “Eddie Trunk Podcast,” Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Slash reflected on one of the band’s biggest songs — “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Over the years, a certain portion of rock fans thought that the song’s well-known main theme came from a random warm-up guitar exercise. But, as Slash revealed, it’s not how he came up with it. He explains (transcript via Loudwire):

“Somebody else said that and it just became one of those things. It wasn’t a warm-up exercise. I was sitting around the house where Guns used to live at one point in ’86 I guess it was and I just came up with this riff. It was just me messing around and putting notes together like any riff you do. You’re like, ‘This is cool,’ and then you put the third note and find a melody like that. So it was a real riff, it wasn’t a warm-up exercise.”

Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine (Official Music Video)

Discussing the issue further, Slash also reflected on the song’s popularity. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” definitely needs no introduction, especially not for guitar players of almost any genre who, ironically enough, often use it as an exercise in their beginner stages of playing. But as Slash explains, he never really expected the song to blow up. Reflecting on the piece, which has about 1.4 billion views on YouTube as of December 2022, he said:

“At the time, it was just a song. Nobody had any designs for it to be a big hit or anything like that. It was just a song that we put together that was cool before we actually made the ‘Appetite for Destruction’ record.”

Guns N‘ Roses - Sweet Child o‘ Mine 15.07.2022 Hannover

“So we put it on the record like that and then the next thing you know at some point after the record had been released for a while, that song all of a sudden just took off.”

“We’re sort of blessed that we have something that’s become as memorable as that. You can’t really mock that. You have to appreciate that you have something like that in your career that you have a song that is really that effective. So it’s cool.”

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” was originally released on Guns N’ Roses’ legendary debut album “Appetite for Destruction.” Eventually, it got its single release almost a year later, in June 1988. At that point, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Although not a warm-up exercise, the melody did come up during the band’s practice session. The story goes that Slash came up with it and his bandmate Izzy Stradlin asked him to repeat it. After coming up with a chord progression, bassist Duff McKagan added a bassline while drummer Steven Adler organically added a drum beat to it. Axl Rose eventually did his magic and this spontaneous jam eventually became one of the band’s biggest songs.

Guns N’ Roses are still actively touring after their partial classic lineup reunion in 2016. So far, the band has one date scheduled for 2023. But we’re expecting to see more. As for a new album, there’s been a lot of talks about it over the past few years but no serious updates have indicated that the band is fully committed to doing something, at least not anytime soon.

Photo: Ed Vill (Guns n´Roses Palacio de los Deportes 30-11-2016 (31623633961))

David Slavkovic

David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.

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