Wanna hear about the time I recorded with Guns n’ Roses?
In June 1987 I went to see Guns n’ Roses play their first two UK shows at the legendary Marquee Club in London’s Wardour Street. It was about a month before the release of their debut album, but word-of-mouth had meant that queues developed by noon, comprised almost entirely of cool-looking Japanese girls and blokes with spandex trousers and huge hair. Several things stuck in my mind about the two evenings, the first of which was getting a two-minute audience with guitarist Slash in the bar before they played, and noticing that he had the DTs (“it’s OK, man… I just drink another pint of vodka and everyting is cool by showtime…”). Secondly was an photograph that later appeared in the now defunct Sounds magazine showing Axl Rose sceaming into his microphone while there, at his feet, was I, head buried in the monitor. What I remember most, however, was that for the second show a mobile studio had appeared outside in the street, and the realisation that the band were probably recording their set. This show was better than the first as the group relaxed a little and found their feet, and out came the cover versions; Aerosmith’s “Mama Kin,” AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” and Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Recognizing that the latter was probably my best chance at musical immortality, I waited for the two quietest parts of the song, and screamed, screamed as loud as I possibly could. Two months later the band released Welcome To The Jungle as a single, and on the b-side of the 12″ you’ll find my contribution, nice and high in the mix, a permanent record of the night I recorded with Guns n’ Roses.
Anyhow, the two shows were brilliant. I vowed I’d never see the band again, assuming that it would all be downhill from that moment, and history proved me to be entirely correct. While “Appetite For Destruction” was a brillliant, angry, punk rock monstrosity of a record, everything that followed was increasingly bloated and rediculous as Axl descended into paranoia and pomposity, and the others declined into various levels of substance abuse.
And now they’re on the road again. Axl has surrounded himself with a new set of sycophants, the old members are barred from all shows, and the band are still up to their old tricks. And why have I bothered mentioning any of this? Because tonight I’m going to see them again. I’m really not sure why – the biggest reason was that the ticket was free – but I am kind of intrigued. I suspect it’ll bit a bit like rubber-necking at the scene of a car accident, one where think you’ve met the passengers before, and then realising it’s not who you thought it was, and being uncertain as to whether you should feel relief that it’s not or guilt for the way you keep staring. But I could be wrong.
I’ll probably file a report when I get back tonight, or perhaps tomorrow, but in the meantime, if anyone has an mp3 of that version of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” from the Marquee in 1987, I’d really love to hear it again.