The Guns N’ Roses song that divided Slash and Axl Rose

Guns N’ Roses

When Guns N’ Roses burst onto the music scene, they stood out as a group of misfits, distinct from the poodle-haired doofuses dominating the Los Angeles hair metal scene. Unlike their peers, GNR exuded the raw, rebellious energy of a pack of rabid dogs. Their brand of maniacal rock and roll, reminiscent of acts like Aerosmith, set them apart. Behind the cowboy boots and leather jackets, the band grappled with simmering tension that often erupted on the road.

Signed to Geffen Records, Guns N’ Roses unleashed “Appetite for Destruction,” a musical diary chronicling their Hollywood lifestyle on tracks like ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and ‘It’s So Easy’. The seedy existence portrayed in their songs mirrored the real-life struggles with drug addiction, particularly heroin, that Slash and Izzy Stradlin faced during the album’s writing sessions.

One of the album’s confessional tracks, ‘Mr Brownstone,’ constructed around a Bo Diddley-style riff, delved into the duo’s experiences with addiction. The lyrics vividly depicted the relentless presence of the monkeys on their backs, pushing them deeper into the abyss of substance abuse, blurring the lines between waking and sleeping.

As the song gained momentum, Axl Rose, the band’s frontman, expressed his disapproval of this narrative of self-destruction. During a tour where they opened for The Rolling Stones, Rose seized the opportunity to confront his bandmates. In a bold move, he accused certain members of being entangled with Mr Brownstone, implicitly referring to their drug struggles. He declared, “If certain members don’t stop dancing with Mr Brownstone, then the band is over.”

Although Rose didn’t name anyone specifically, Slash later revealed that he felt targeted. The incident created a rift between them, with Slash admitting, “I knew it was directed at me because I was messed up on junk at the time. It drove a wedge between me and Axl. It’s something that I’ve never really forgiven him for.”

While Rose wasn’t immune to vices himself, his concern for the well-being of his bandmates, particularly Slash, was evident. Slash’s relentless partying eventually led to near-fatal experiences during the Use Your Illusion tour. Despite past struggles, Slash embraced recovery after facing heart issues and receiving a pacemaker.

In a surprising turn of events, after years of discord, Slash and original bassist Duff McKagan reunited with the band in the 2010s. Although ‘Mr Brownstone’ remains one of Guns N’ Roses’ biggest hits, the dark undercurrents behind the song became all too real during the tumultuous journey of “The World’s Most Dangerous Band.”

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