Sweet Child o' Mine

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"Sweet Child o' Mine"
Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child o' Mine.png
1988 US vinyl issue
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Appetite for Destruction
B-side
Released
  • August 17, 1988 (1988-08-17) (US)
  • May 29, 1989 (1989-05-29) (UK)
Format
Recorded 1987
Genre Hard rock
Length
  • 5:56 (album version)
  • 4:59 (single version)
Label Geffen
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Mike Clink
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"Welcome to the Jungle"
(1987)
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(1988)
"Paradise City"
(1988)
"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)
Music video
Sweet Child o' Mine on YouTube
Audio sample

"Sweet Child o' Mine" is a song by the American rock band Guns N' Roses, featured on their debut album, Appetite for Destruction (1987). Released in August 1988 as the album's third single, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart,[1] becoming the band's first and only number-one single in the U.S.. Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song for 1988.[2] It reached number six on the UK Singles Chart, when re-released in 1989.[3]

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[4]

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.[4] During a jam session at the band's house in the Sunset Strip,[5] 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.[6] 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".[5] On the next composing session in Burbank, the band added both a bridge and a guitar solo.[6]

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, Rose started saying to himself, "Where do we go? Where do we go now?" and Proffer suggested that he sing that.[6]

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 is Don Everly of The Everly Brothers fame. McKagan's girlfriend Mandy Brix from the all-female rock band The Lame Flames was there, as was Izzy's girlfriend Angela Nicoletti, Adler's girlfriend Cheryl Swiderski and Slash's girlfriend Sally McLaughlin. 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 4:59, for the video/radio edit, with much of Slash's guitar solo removed. This move drew the ire of the band members, including Rose, who commented on it in a 1989 interview with Rolling Stone: "I hate the radio 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 video uses the same edits as the radio version.

A 7-inch vinyl format and cassette single were released. The album version of the song was included on the US single release, while the UK single was the "edit/remix" version. The 12" vinyl format also contained the longer LP version. The b-side to the single is a non-album, live version of "It's So Easy".

On an interview on Eddie Trunk's New York radio show in May 2006, 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.[7]

Reception[edit]

"Sweet Child o' Mine" placed No. 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 No. 198 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[8] In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at No. 6 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. On a 2004 Total Guitar magazine poll, the introduction's famous riff was voted number-one riff of all-time by the readers of the magazine.[9] It was also in Rolling Stone's 40 Greatest Songs that Changed the World. It places No. 7 in VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the '80s", and placed No. 210 on the RIAA Songs of the Century list.

The song is currently ranked as the 104th greatest song of all time, as well as the best song of 1987, by Acclaimed Music.[10] The song has sold 2,609,000 digital copies in the US as of March 2012.[11]

Australian Crawl controversy[edit]

In 2015, the web page of the Australian music TV channel MAX published an article by music writer Nathan Jolly that noted similarities between "Sweet Child o' Mine" and the song "Unpublished Critics" by the Australian band Australian Crawl, from 1981.[12] The article included both songs, inviting readers to compare the two. It also cited a reader's comment on an earlier article[13] that had originally drawn attention to the similarities between the songs. As of May 2015, this comment no longer appeared on the earlier article. The story went viral[14] quickly, encouraging several comments on both the MAX article and the suggestion that "Unpublished Critics" had influenced "Sweet Child o' Mine",[15][16][17][18] including one from Duff McKagan, bass player with Guns N' Roses when "Sweet Child o' Mine" was written and recorded.[19] McKagan found the similarities between the songs "stunning," but admitted that he had not previously heard "Unpublished Critics."[20]

Formats and track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Guns N' Roses except where noted.

US 7" vinyl (27963-7)
No. Title Length
1. "Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP Version) 5:55
2. "It's So Easy" (Live at The Marquee Club 06.28.1987)  
UK 7" vinyl (GEF 43)
No. Title 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 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 Length
1. "Sweet Child o' Mine" (Remix/Edit) 3:57
2. "Out Ta Get Me" (LP Version) 4:20
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 December 18, 2008. 
  2. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1988
  3. ^ "Guns N' Roses". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Meaning Behind Songs - N.I.
  5. ^ a b "Here Today... Gone To Hell! - Articles > The Story Behind The Song - Guns N' Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine"". heretodaygonetohell.com. 
  6. ^ a b c Slash; Bozza, Anthony (2007). Slash. Harper Entertainment. pp. 154–5. ISBN 978-0-00-725775-1. 
  7. ^ "Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine". YouTube. December 24, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ "News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Guns N' Roses top rock riff poll". BBC News. May 2, 2004. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Acclaimed Music Top 3000 songs". Acclaimed Music. August 22, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Week Ending March 18, 2012. Songs: Your '80s Party Mix-Tape". Yahoo! Music. March 21, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  12. ^ "How similar is 'Sweet Child O Mine' to a 1981 Australian Crawl song?". maxtv.com.au. 
  13. ^ "Slash is open to a Gunners reunion: 'Never say never'". maxtv.com.au. 
  14. ^ "Guns N Roses Sweet Child O Mine comes under plagiarism charges - ViralNewsChart via Consequence of Sound". ViralNewsChart. May 10, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Australian Crawl fans spark online debate after pointing out similarities with Guns N' Roses hit". NewsComAu. 
  16. ^ "Did Guns N' Roses' 'Sweet Child O' Mine' Copy Australian Crawl's 'Unpublished Critics'?". Billboard. 
  17. ^ "Guns N' Roses 'Sweet Child O' Mine' Plagiarism Claims Laughed Off by Australian Crawl Singer". Ultimate Classic Rock. 
  18. ^ Tan, Monica. "James Reyne responds to Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine plagiarism rumours". The Guardian. 
  19. ^ "Duff McKagan: Guns N' Roses Didn't Plagiarize on 'Sweet Child O' Mine'". Radio.com. 
  20. ^ "Duff McKagan on the Aussie Crawl song: 'It is pretty stunning... but we didn't steal it from them'". maxtv.com.au. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved January 23, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  22. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  23. ^ "Ultratop.be – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  24. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 8543." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  25. ^ Pennanen, Timo. Sisältää hitin: levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972. Otava Publishing Company Ltd, 2003. ISBN 951-1-21053-X
  26. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Guns N' Roses". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  27. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  28. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  29. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  30. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". Singles Top 100. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  31. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  32. ^ "Guns N' Roses: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  33. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  34. ^ "Guns N' Roses Chart History (Hot 100)" Billboard. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  35. ^ "Guns N' Roses Chart History (Mainstream Rock)" Billboard. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  36. ^ "Italian single certifications – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved September 18, 2017. 
  37. ^ "British single certifications – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Sweet Child O' Mine in the search field and then press Enter.
  38. ^ "American certifications – Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  39. ^ Grein, Paul (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 10–17, 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 16–23, 2010
October 3–24, 2010
Succeeded by
"Make Me Wanna Die" by The Pretty Reckless
"Feeling Good" by Muse