Appetite for Destruction – 1987

Appetite for Destruction is the debut studio album by American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. It was released on July 21, 1987, by Geffen Records to massive commercial success. It topped the Billboard 200 and became the best-selling debut album as well as the 11th best-selling album in the United States. With about 30 million copies sold worldwide, it is also one of the best-selling records ever. Although critics were ambivalent toward the album when it was first released, Appetite for Destruction has since received retrospective acclaim and been viewed as one of the greatest albums of all time.

Axl Rose stated that many of the songs on the album were written while the band was performing on the Los Angeles club circuit, and a number of songs that would be featured on later Guns N’ Roses albums were considered for Appetite for Destruction, such as “Back Off Bitch”, “You Could Be Mine”, “November Rain” and “Don’t Cry”. It is said that the reason for not putting “November Rain” on it was because they had already agreed to put “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” on it and thus already had a ballad on the album (however, both Use Your Illusion albums would contain more than one ballad).

The band started searching for someone to produce their debut, mostly recommendations made by Geffen executive Tom Zutaut. Demos were recorded under both Manny Charlton and Spencer Proffer, with some work made with the latter being issued in the EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide. One of the interviewed prospects was Kiss’ Paul Stanley, rejected after insisting on changes to Steven Adler’s drum setup and the songs. The band considered Robert John Lange, but he proved too expensive to hire. Eventually Mike Clink, who had produced several Triumph records, was chosen, for being the first to record the band exactly the way they wanted.

After some weeks of rehearsal, the band entered Daryl Dragon’s Rumbo Recorders in January 1987. Two weeks were spent recording basic tracks, with Clink splicing together the best takes with his razor blade. Clink worked eighteen-hour days for the next month, with Slash overdubbing in the afternoon and evening, and Rose performing vocals. Slash struggled to find a guitar sound before coming up with a Gibson Les Paul copy plugged into a Marshall amplifier. He spent hours with Clink paring down and structuring his solos. The total budget for the album was about $370,000. According to drummer Steven Adler, the percussion was done in just six days, but Rose’s vocals took much longer as he insisted on doing them one line at a time, in a perfectionism that drove the rest of the band away from the studio as he worked. Final overdubs and mixing were done at Mediasound Studios, and mastering at Sterling Sound, New York City.

Many of the songs on Appetite For Destruction began as solo tracks that individual band members wrote separate from the band, only to be completed later. These songs include “It’s So Easy” (Duff McKagan) and “Think About You” (Izzy Stradlin). “Rocket Queen” was an unfinished Slash/McKagan/Adler song that was written from their earlier band Road Crew, whereas “Anything Goes”, written by Hollywood Rose and included in their compilation album The Roots of Guns N’ Roses, was later re-written for Appetite. Most of the songs reflect the band’s personal experiences and daily life, such as “Welcome to the Jungle”, some of the lyrics of which Rose wrote after he encountered a man in New York shortly after arriving there from Indiana in 1980, and “Mr. Brownstone”, which is about the band’s problems with heroin. Lyrics to some of the songs focus on the band members’ younger years, like “Out ta Get Me”, which focuses on lead singer Axl Rose’s constant trouble with the law as a youth in Indiana.

Track listing

Credits via the album’s liner notes.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Welcome to the Jungle” Guns N’ Roses 4:31
2. “It’s So Easy” Guns N’ Roses, West Arkeen 3:21
3. “Nightrain” Guns N’ Roses 4:26
4. “Out ta Get Me” Guns N’ Roses 4:20
5. “Mr. Brownstone” Guns N’ Roses 3:46
6. “Paradise City” Guns N’ Roses 6:46
7. “My Michelle” Guns N’ Roses 3:39
8. “Think About You” Guns N’ Roses 3:50
9. “Sweet Child o’ Mine” Guns N’ Roses 5:55
10. “You’re Crazy” Guns N’ Roses 3:16
11. “Anything Goes” Guns N’ Roses, Chris Weber 3:25
12. “Rocket Queen” Guns N’ Roses 6:13

Total length:


Credits are adapted from the album’s liner notes.

Guns N’ Roses

W. Axl Rose – lead vocals, synthesizer, percussion
Slash – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, talkbox
Izzy Stradlin – rhythm guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals, percussion
Duff “Rose” McKagan – bass, backing vocals
Steven Adler – drums


Mike Clink – production & engineering
Steve Thompson – mixing
Michael Barbiero – mixing
George Marino – LP & cassette mastering
Barry Diament – CD mastering
Dave Reitzas, Micajah Ryan, Andy Udoff, Jeff Poe, Julian Stoll, & Victor “the fuckin’ engineer” Deyglio – engineering assistance.


Robert Williams – “Appetite For Destruction” painting
Michael Hodgson – art direction & design
Robert John, Jack Lue, Greg Freeman, Marc Canter, & Leonard McCardie – photography
Tom Zutaut – A&R coordination
Teresa Ensenat – A&R coordination
Stravinski Brothers/Alan Niven – career affairs
Boulevard Management – business affairs
Bill White Jr. – cross tattoo design
Andy Engell – cross tattoo redrawing
Robert Benedetti – tattoos (at Sunset Strip Tattoo)