Appetite For Destruction at 30 – Andy Austin Looks Back [VIDEO]
I was in the 8th grade. Struggling in class, the English teacher assigned us to write a short story for a lesson I've likely long forgotten. Vaguely remembering the project, it had a story-line which one day wouldn't be unlike that of Tom Hanks's Cast Away. In this story, when the main character eventually returned to the mainland, he only knew how much time had past since the "DJ on the oldies station played Sweet Child 'o Mine, the #1 song 25 years ago." I remember reading the story in class, and thinking how far 25 years was. Plus, laughing at the absurdity of an oldies station playing a Guns n' Roses song. The class laughed, and now I'm writing about them again. This time, to celebrate the album's 30th anniversary.
Everyone had heard Guns' Roses before I did, at least that's what it seemed like. Hallways at Sanford Jr. High were full of GnR patches on jean jackets. The logo was drawn on book covers, and having "GnR was here" on your shirt was a badge of honor. Without cable TV in the house, MTV wasn't a daily reality. Being a pop kid, I was listening to whatever was shoved onto the small town local top 40 station. It wasn't until the following summer, when Sweet Child debuted on the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40, that I actually heard the band. Yet, the anticipation wasn't worth the buildup. I thought the song sucked...bad. This didn't sound like Poison, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, or any band I was used to. No gloss, no frills? People LIKE this garbage? I didn't get it. However, peer pressure, right? I had to get into this band. So, after taping it off the camp radio, I hit the rewind button, and proceeded to play the song 12 times straight. By the end of the 4th play, I got it.
My best friend Tom was really into Appetite. He had snagged a blank tape copy from a friend, and hid it inside another cassette holder. (probably Weird Al, or something else not to raise parental suspicion...mine was Richard Marx) See, that was part of the lure of GnR. There was the element of danger and mystique, and a little fear of your parents catching on. That actually happened, as Tom's parents once ripped down his GnR posters and threw 'em in the stove over a poor report card. Kids today, you can laugh at this series of events, and I'll raise you with "hidden" social media profiles you don't tell your parents about. We even now? Mint.
Anyway, we spent the summer pissing off Wilson Lake residents, reading Circus magazine, and listening to AFD. Until recent reflection, I hadn't realized how much the album shaped what became my taste in music, still today. They say Metallica was the gateway to metal bands, and there's some truth to that. But I didn't go from Girls, Girls, Girls, or Here I Go Again straight to ...And Justice For All, Seasons In The Abyss, and (God, what a great time to be a teenager) Rust In Peace. Without "Rocket Queen," and "Out To Get Me" (still my two favorites), and the rest of Appetite For Destruction, who knows? I might have never gotten past Def Leppard. With respect to Joe Elliot's crew, I'm glad that didn't happen.
Being in radio most of working life, it's impossible not to burn on Appetite's three big hits. A few years ago, I slipped in "It's So Easy" and "Out To Get Me" to rotation, and it was worth all the editing to make them FM ready. I still listen to Appetite For Desturction every now and again. Plus, after having the cassette and CD, I had to purchased reissued vinyl. Yes, I still collect music.
In eighth grade, it was hard to imagine life 25 years ahead. Even in my fictional story, a GnR song on oldies radio seemed so far fetched. Like most things elders tell you about life, where you initially scoff with a "yeah right....never," it happens. Happy 30th to Appetite For Destruction.