Duff McKagan: How ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ Changed GN’R

Duff McKagan discussed the early days of GN'R, telling Chris Jericho about the importance of "Sweet Child O' Mine" in the band's journey to rock 'n' roll superstardom:


“I remember [touring as The Cult’s opening band in 1987] well. That was the first arena tour I had ever done – we had a tour bus, and of course the tour bus was 20 years old at the time.

“The first night we’re in Halifax [Canada], our buss driver got rolled for his float by a hooker. [Laughs]

“I remember having no money on that tour, and like going through the audience after we played – ‘Do you have any change so I can make a phone call?’

“We had no money, but being broke didn’t matter.”

Duff added:

“They were about to pull us off the road. We had tour support, so that payed for the bus and the crew guys, and of course we had to pay it all back. So we toured for a year.

“We go to London, UK and we were blowing up there. It was a such strange scene to go there, and like we sold out the Hammersmith Odeon – that’s 2,500 people.

“And then we’d come back to America and there’d be like 3 people out front, ‘Yeah, that’s our band!’ ‘That’s our 3 people!’

“Then we’d go to Japan and it was a thing there. And we come back to The States, and nothing.

“The Cult were nice enough to give us our first tour. They saw us in the Marquee in London, and were like, ‘We want to take those guys on tour. We think that band’s killer.’ Always thankful to them, and all the bands that took us out.”

Focusing on “Sweet Child O’ Mine” – which was interestingly enough released only as the third “Appetite for Destruction” single more than a year after the record was out in July 1987 – McKagan noted:

“And then on Aerosmith tour, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ single came out…

“It went from 3 to 30, to 300, to 3,000, to everybody coming to see us, all in like a couple of weeks.

“We had that new, breaking band stigma. So people were really excited. Aerosmith is Aerosmith, you just don’t compare with them. But we had that fresh shiny vibe, and everybody had to see us.

“That we a really interesting time, going from asking people for change so you can make a phone call… We still didn’t have any money, but everybody knew who we were suddenly.

“You’re going to grocery store when you got back to LA and we’re on the cover of Rolling Stone.

“But you don’t change at all. You’re like ‘Whoah, I gotta buy some copies for sure.’ People were looking at you in the store and pointing. ‘There’s that guy!’ It was so weird!”


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