Sweet Child o' Mine

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"Sweet Child o' Mine"
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Appetite for Destruction
A-side "Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP Version) (US)
"Sweet Child o' Mine" (Edit/Remix) (UK)
B-side "It's So Easy" (LP Version) (US)
"Out Ta Get Me" (LP Version) (UK)
Released August 17, 1988
May 1989 (UK 2nd release)
Format 7" vinyl, 10" vinyl, 12" vinyl, CS, CD
Recorded 1987
Genre Hard rock
Length 4:12 (radio edit)
5:56 (album version)
Writer(s) Axl Rose, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan, Steven Adler
Producer(s) Mike Clink
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"Welcome to the Jungle"
(1987)
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(1988)
"Paradise City"
(1988)
Appetite for Destruction track listing
"Think About You"
(8)
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(9)
"You're Crazy"
(10)
Greatest Hits track listing
"Welcome to the Jungle"
(1)
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(2)
"Patience"
(3)

"Sweet Child O' Mine" is a song by American hard rock band Guns N' Roses, and the third single from their 1987 debut studio album, Appetite for Destruction. Released on August 17, 1988, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart,[1] becoming the band's first and only number-one single in the U.S. It reached number six on the UK Singles Chart, when re-released in 1989.[2]

Background and composition[edit]

The thing about 'Sweet Child o' Mine,' it was written in five minutes. It was one of those songs, only three chords. You know that guitar lick Slash does at the beginning? It was kinda like a joke because we thought, 'What is this song? It's gonna be nothing, it'll be filler on the record.' And except that vocal-wise, it's very sweet and sincere, Slash was just fuckin' around when he first wrote that lick.

Duff McKagan, 1988[3]

Lead guitarist Slash has been quoted as having an initial disdain for the song due to its roots as simply a "string skipping" exercise and a joke at the time.[3] During a jam session at the band's house in the Sunset Strip,[4] drummer Steven Adler and Slash were warming up and Slash began to play a "circus" melody while making faces at Adler. Rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin asked Slash to play it again. Stradlin came up with some chords, Duff McKagan created a bassline and Adler planned a beat. In his autobiography, Slash said "within an hour my guitar exercise had become something else". Meanwhile lead singer Axl Rose was listening to the musicians upstairs in his room and was inspired to write lyrics, which became complete by the following afternoon.[5] He based it on his girlfriend Erin Everly, and declared that Lynyrd Skynyrd served as an inspiration "to make sure that we'd got that heartfelt feeling."[4] On the next composing session in Burbank, the band added both a bridge and a guitar solo to "Sweet Child O'Mine".[5]

While the band was recording demos with producer Spencer Proffer, he suggested adding a breakdown at the song's end. The musicians agreed, but were not sure what to do. Listening to the demo in a loop, Axl started saying to himself, "Where do we go? Where do we go now?" and Proffer suggested that he sing that.[5]

The song is composed in the key of D flat major and played in the key of D major tuned down a half step on guitars and bass (as all their songs are). The ending solo is in E flat minor harmonic key.

Music video[edit]

The "Sweet Child o' Mine" video depicts the band rehearsing in the Huntington Ballroom at Huntington Beach, surrounded by crew members. All of the band members' girlfriends at the time were shown in the clip. Rose was dating Erin Everly at the time, whose father was Don Everly of The Everly Brothers fame. Duff's girlfriend Mandy from the all-female rock band "The Lame Flames" was there, as was Steven Adler's girlfriend Cheryl and Slash's girlfriend Sally. Izzy Stradlin's dog was also featured. The video was extremely successful on MTV, and helped launch the song to success on mainstream radio.

In an effort to make "Sweet Child o' Mine" more marketable to MTV and radio stations, the song was cut from 5:56 to 4:12, with much of Slash's guitar solo removed. This move drew the ire of the band members, including Axl Rose, who commented on it in a 1989 interview with Rolling Stone: "I hate the edit of 'Sweet Child o' Mine.' Radio stations said, "Well, your vocals aren't cut." "My favorite part of the song is Slash's slow solo; it's the heaviest part for me. There's no reason for it to be missing except to create more space for commercials, so the radio-station owners can get more advertising dollars. When you get the chopped version of 'Paradise City' or half of 'Sweet Child' and 'Patience' cut, you're getting screwed."

The edit was released on the 7-inch vinyl format of the single as a 'Remix' while the 12" vinyl format contained the longer LP version.

On an interview on Eddie Trunk's New York radio show in May 2006, Axl Rose stated that his original concept for the video focused on the theme of drug trafficking. According to Rose, the video was to depict an Asian woman carrying a baby into a foreign land, only to discover at the end that the child was dead and filled with heroin. This concept was rejected by Geffen Records.

There is also an alternative video for "Sweet Child o' Mine" with different shots, all in black and white.[6]

Reception[edit]

A 30 second sample of "Sweet Child o' Mine" featuring the famous introductory riff.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Sweet Child o' Mine" placed #37 on Guitar World's list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Solos." It also came in at number three on Blender's 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born, and at #198 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[7] In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at #6 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. The introduction's famous riff was also voted number-one riff of all-time by the readers of Total Guitar magazine. It was also in Rolling Stone's 40 Greatest Songs that Changed the World. It places #7 in VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the '80s", and placed #210 on the RIAA Songs of the Century list. On a recent BBC poll, the song was voted to have the "greatest guitar riff ever".[8]

The song came 1st in Kerrang!'s Slash's top 30 guitar anthems.[citation needed] The song is currently ranked as the 104th greatest song of all time, as well as the best song of 1987, by Acclaimed Music.[9] In October 2009 it came first in Kerrang!'s 100 greatest riffs.[citation needed] The song has sold 2,609,000 digital copies in the US as of March 2012.[10]

Legacy[edit]

The opening riff can be heard briefly (at the end) of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Punk Rock Classic" from the Mother's Milk album.

A cover of the song is featured as a special encore in the music video game Guitar Hero II.

The song "S.C.O.M." from Fort Minor's mixtape We Major samples from the introductory riff of the song.

In Keith Urban and Brad Paisley's "Start a Band", a tribute to the main riff can be heard as the singers describe famous rock songs.

SR-71's song, "Axl Rose", contains part of the opening riff.

In the bridge of Dope song "Always", Edsel Dope's background vocals of "Where do we go now?" are a reference to the bridge of Sweet Child o' Mine.

In film[edit]

The first time this song appeared in a movie was in 1988. It played as the credits were rolling for the movie Bad Dreams.[11]

"Sweet Child o' Mine" was featured in the 2008 film The Wrestler. The song is played when Randy "The Ram" Robinson (played by Mickey Rourke) makes his entrance to the ring at the end of the film. Rourke, who is friends with Axl Rose, convinced him to allow the song to be played in the film for a fraction of what would have been normally charged.[12] Rourke himself used the song as his entrance music during his boxing career.

It is sung a cappella by Derek's family in the 2008 film Step Brothers.

The song is in the Sean Penn, Gary Oldman film State of Grace.

Sheryl Crow's cover of this song is featured in the Adam Sandler film, Big Daddy.

The Taken by Trees cover of this song appears at the end of the movie Life as We Know It. It also is used in the trailer for the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left.

The introductory riff is heard in the 2010 film Gulliver's Travels, starring Jack Black.

Artist covers[edit]

In 1999, the song was covered by Sheryl Crow and re-recorded by the then-new Guns N' Roses members for the film Big Daddy and was later included in her third studio album The Globe Sessions. Crow's version earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. The recording was produced by Rick Rubin and Crow. A music video for Crow's version was also released, directed by Stéphane Sednaoui.[13] A separate Guns N' Roses version which morphed into a live version half way through was not featured on the original Big Daddy soundtrack album of the film, but can be heard during the film's ending credits. This Guns N' Roses version of the song was also featured in the 1990 film State of Grace, in a bar during a brawl.

The following artists have also notably covered the song:

The following artists have performed their versions of the song-

Use in live concerts[edit]

  • The song was also performed in many live concerts by country singer Carrie Underwood.
  • Bonnie Tyler performed it on the for Charity DVD Rock for Asia in 2005.
  • Occasionally, as a joke, Linkin Park performs parts of the song during some concerts.
  • Manic Street Preachers also frequently play it as an introduction to their song "Motown Junk" in live concerts.
  • The main riff is replayed by Red Hot Chili Peppers at the end of the song "Punk Rock Classic".
  • Avenged Sevenfold frequently use the opening riff as a segue between songs during live concerts.
  • The Black Eyed Peas usually performs the first verses of this song as well during their live shows.
  • Turbonegro uses the intro as Introlick for the Song Bad Mongo played live.
  • Green Day occasionally plays the beginning of the song in concert.
  • Welsh rock band Lostprophets play the first verse (minus the intro riff) as an intro to "Last Summer".
  • British progressive rock band Muse played part of the intro riff during the outro of their song "Hysteria", at Reading Festival in 2011, and to conclude the outro of their song "Plug In Baby" at the Emirates Stadium in 2013.

Other versions and notable performances[edit]

In 2008, during their tour, Projekt Revolution, Linkin Park mashed their song Bleed It Out with Sweet Child o' Mine, in which the intro was played while the lead singer, Chester Bennington would sing the first verse, then would change to Bleed it Out and the performance would go on to the drum solo, where Street Drum Corps would perform before the song would be finished.

It was performed on December 2, 2006 at the Nokia Theatre Times Square in New York City by jam band Umphrey's McGee.

Slash performed "Sweet Child o' Mine" with Black Eyed Peas' member Fergie at his 43rd birthday party in Las Vegas at the Mirage Hotel & casino on July 23, 2008.

During the 2008 Reading Festival, band Tenacious D announced they were going to perform a cover of one of Metallica's best known songs as a tribute. They then proceeded to play the opening riff to "Sweet Child o' Mine".

Irish dance act The Lazy Boyz recorded a trance version in 2004. It went on to appear on two Ministry of Sound compilations, Big Tunes and The Annual 2005.

Indie pop artist Victoria Bergsman, under the name Taken by Trees, also covered the song. Her version was used in the trailer for the remake of the Wes Craven film The Last House on the Left, and in a 2009 UK advert for department store John Lewis and announced would be released as their next UK single.[17] This cover peaked at #23 on the UK Singles Chart.

Malaysian Idol's first winner, Jaclyn Victor, performed this song in the competition and received positive reviews from the judges and voters.

Welsh rock band Lostprophets performed the first verse (without the intro riff) as an intro to their song "Where We Belong" at the BBC Radio One Big Weekend 2010.

Slash recorded an acoustic version of the song with singer Myles Kennedy for the deluxe edition of his 2010 solo album, Slash.

Limp Bizkit has played their own version of the song a number of times during their 2010 European tour.[18]

Classically trained pianist Vika Yermolyeva has performed a piano cover which has garnered over three million unique views on YouTube.

American punk band blink-182's guitarist Tom DeLonge played a portion of the intro during the outro of the song "Depends".

During the Super Bowl XLV halftime show, which featured The Black Eyed Peas, Slash joined with vocalist Fergie to perform the song.[19]

Green Day play a section of the song during some live performances.

The song was also included in the music video game Guitar Hero II.

In 2013, a cover of Sweet Child o' Mine was performed, which included use of traditional/classical music instruments: (Tabla, sitar, sarangi etc.), on "Nescafé Basement" (a Pakistani music television series which features live studio-recorded music performances by underground artists). The show was produced by the Nescafé.[20][21][22]

In June 2014, an acoustic version of the song was used in a shocking video about road safety in Northern Ireland. The video, by the Department of the Environment, showed small schoolchildren on a trip to woods with the song being played in the background. Then a speeding driver loses control of his car, killing the children. The video, campaigning against speeding by motorists, was banned from being broadcast before 9 p.m. as it was felt to be too shocking.[23]

Use in sports[edit]

English football team Barnet FC uses the song when the team enters the pitch before a game. It is also used by Swedish football team IF Brommapojkarna when the team enters the pitch before a game.[24]

Formats and track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Guns N' Roses except where noted. 

US 7" vinyl (927 794-7)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Sweet Child o' Mine" (Remix/Edit)   3:57
2. "Out Ta Get Me" (LP Version)   4:20
Total length:
8:17
UK 7" vinyl (GEF 43)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Sweet Child o' Mine" (Remix/Edit)   3:57
2. "Out Ta Get Me" (LP Version)   4:20
Total length:
8:17
UK 10" vinyl (GEF 43TE), 12" vinyl (GEF 43T), 12" vinyl Metallic Sleeve(GEF 43TV)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP Version)   5:55
2. "Out Ta Get Me" (LP Version)   4:20
3. "Rocket Queen" (LP Version)    
UK re-release 7" vinyl (GEF 55)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Sweet Child o' Mine" (Remix/Edit)   3:57
2. "Out Ta Get Me" (LP Version)   4:20
Total length:
8:17
UK re-release 12" vinyl (GEF 55T), 3" CD (GEF 55CD)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP Version)   5:55
2. "Move to the City" (LP Version) Guns N' Roses, Del James, Chris Weber  
3. "Whole Lotta Rosie" (Live AC/DC Cover) Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Bon Scott  
4. "It's So Easy" (Live) Guns N' Roses, West Arkeen  

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Artist Chart History - Guns N' Roses". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  2. ^ "Guns N' Roses". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  3. ^ a b Meaning Behind Songs - N.I.
  4. ^ a b The Story Behind The Song - Guns N' Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine" Q, December 2005
  5. ^ a b c Slash; Bozza, Anthony (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment. pp. 154–5. ISBN 978-0-00-725775-1. 
  6. ^ "Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child o' Mine". YouTube. 2009-12-24. Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  7. ^ "News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  8. ^ "Guns N' Roses top rock riff poll". BBC News. May 2, 2004. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Acclaimed Music Top 3000 songs". 27 May 2009. 
  10. ^ "Week Ending March 18, 2012. Songs: Your ’80s Party Mix-Tape". New.music.yahoo.com. 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  11. ^ Bad Dreams (1988)
  12. ^ New York Magazine | The Wrestler Director Darren Aronofsky on Mickey Rourke and the Benefits of Having a Small Music Budget
  13. ^ "Sheryl Crow to Release 'Sweet Child o' Mine,' Her Special Version of the Rock Classic, in June. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. 1999-06-01. Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  14. ^ Official Website
  15. ^ video of Belladonna's version of "Sweet Child Of Mine" on YouTube
  16. ^ "Sweet Child of Mine Sitar Version". YouTube. 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  17. ^ Mentioned on the Radio 1 Fearn Cotton Show, 20 November 2009 approx 11:00 GMT
  18. ^ Limp Bizkit - Sweet Child o' Mine (10.10.10) on YouTube
  19. ^ "Black Eyed Peas, guests wail; Aguilera wobbles". USA Today. 2011-02-06. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  20. ^ "Sweet Child O’ Mine – Nescafe Basement II Episode 4". Adeel ghaziani - The Music Beats (TMB). 8 December 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  21. ^ "Sweet Child O’ Mine – Nescafe Basement Season 2 Episode 4". Asad Haroon - Dispatch News Desk (DND). 7 September 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  22. ^ "Nescafe Basement, unsung show". Dawn. 29 December 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  23. ^ Hooton, Christopher. "Northern Ireland doesn't mess around with its road safety adverts". The Independent. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  24. ^ "Accam den enda lysande stjärnan". Helsingborgs Dagblad. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  25. ^ "Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  26. ^ "Ultratop.be – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  27. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 48, No. 22, September 17, 1988". collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2010-02-29. 
  28. ^ "The Irish Charts". irishcharts.ie.com. Retrieved 2010-02-29.  Note:User must seek the title of the song.
  29. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine". Top 40 Singles.
  30. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  31. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine" Canciones Top 50.
  32. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine". Singles Top 60.
  33. ^ "Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
  34. ^ "Sweet Child o' Mine". Retrieved 2010-02-29. 
  35. ^ a b "Billboard Singles". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-02-29. 
  36. ^ "2011 Top 40 Rock & Metal Singles Archive - 2nd April 2011". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  37. ^ "Italian single certifications – Guns 'N Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved 30 October 2012.  Select Online in the field Scegli la sezione. Select Week -- and Year ----. Enter Guns 'N Roses in the field Artista. Click Avvia la ricerca
  38. ^ "British single certifications – Guns 'N Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Sweet Child o' Mine in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
  39. ^ "American certifications – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child o' Mine". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  40. ^ Paul Grein (February 19, 2014). "Chart Watch: 'Dark Horse' Holds Off 'Happy'". Yahoo!Music (Yahoo). Retrieved February 21, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Monkey" by George Michael
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
September 10, 1988 – September 17, 1988
Succeeded by
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin
Preceded by
"The Only Exception" by Paramore
"The Catalyst" by Linkin Park
UK Rock Chart number-one single
May 16, 2010 - May 23, 2010
October 3, 2010 - October 24, 2010
Succeeded by
"Make Me Wanna Die" by The Pretty Reckless
"Feeling Good" by Muse