Earlier this week, veteran music journalist Mick Wall released his latest critically acclaimed biography Last Of The Giants: The True Story Of Guns N’ Roses on Lesser Gods. Using interviews he personally conducted with members of the band, as well as archival material, Wall has assembled the most detailed portrait yet of the band that rose from the grit and grim of the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and brought the world to its sha-na-na-na-knees. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Guns’ magnum opus Appetite For Destruction, Uproxx is publishing an excerpt from Wall’s book that offers an inside account of how that genre-defining album came together. Read it below.
The first key move Alan Niven made as the new manager of Guns N’ Roses was finding them a producer who would get the best out of them in the studio: An engineer-turned-producer from Baltimore named Mike Clink. Clink took the band to Rumbo Recorders, an environment in which Zutaut hoped and prayed they could only do limited damage. It was located in Canoga Park, north-west of Hollywood in the Valley, and shared a parking lot with the Winnetka Animal Clinic.
“I put them in an apartment when we were making the record,” Clink recalled, “And they destroyed it. One night they locked themselves out, so they put a boulder through a window. They thought it would look like somebody had robbed the place. When they finally got kicked out, there wasn’t one thing left intact. It looked like somebody was remodeling and had knocked down the walls.” Or as Slash later told me: “We partied really hard, but when we were in the studio, we were pretty much together. There was no doping and all that stuff.”
Axl had known Erin Everly for a matter of weeks before the band entered the studio with Mike Clink, but it quickly became apparent that the relationship would be a significant one for them both. Erin, of course, was no friend from back home like Gina Siler, or one of the many lost girls on the Strip who found their way to the Hell House. She was part of Los Angeles’ elite, and lived in a different, more rarefied society, the daughter of a music legend, Don Everly, and the actress Venetia Stevenson, and the granddaughter of the director Robert Stevenson and the actress Anna Lee.
In Axl, Erin had found the ultimate good girl’s bad boy, the singer of the most dangerous and dirty band in Hollywood. In Erin, Axl found an escape from all that. As Duff noted: “Axl continued to drop out of sight for days on end, a result of his erratic moods. Sometimes it was as if he was on speed, bouncing off the walls; then he would sleep for three days . . . I was always aware of what a fundamentally different type of person he was from me.” But then Duff was now “an alcoholic.” Slash was strung out on heroin, along with his partner in grime, Izzy. Steven was a more general kind of f*ck-up. He’d been living off his wits, sleeping on roofs, bundled in the corner on floors, for so long, wasted or sober it was all the same to him.
During their short-lived tenancy in Arnold Stiefel’s rental house the divisions in their lives became obvious — at least they would have been had Slash and Izzy been compos mentis enough to notice. While their rooms quickly became little more than drug dens, lit first by naked bulbs and then finally by nothing at all, Axl retreated to the top of the house, where he furnished his bedroom properly and padlocked the door. Now that he had Erin, there was further reason to withdraw from the chaotic, druggy, hedonistic lifestyle that the band were falling deeper into. Yet the relationship would ultimately become volatile and destructive for both Erin and Axl.