Sweet Child o' Mine

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"Sweet Child o' Mine"
1988 US vinyl issue
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Appetite for Destruction
B-side"It's So Easy" (live)
ReleasedJune 21, 1988 (1988-06-21)
Genre
Length5:55
LabelGeffen
Songwriter(s)Guns N' Roses
Producer(s)Mike Clink
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"Welcome to the Jungle"
(1987)
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(1988)
"Paradise City"
(1989)
Music videos
"Sweet Child o' Mine" on YouTube
"Sweet Child o' Mine" (Alternate version) on YouTube
Audio sample
"Sweet Child o' Mine"

"Sweet Child o' Mine" is a song by American rock band Guns N' Roses, released on their debut studio album, Appetite for Destruction (1987). In the United States, the song was released on June 21, 1988 as the album's first single, topping the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming the band's only US number-one single. In the United Kingdom, the song was released in August 1988,[6] reaching number 24 on the UK Singles Chart the same month. Re-released there in May 1989,[7] it peaked at number six.

Background and composition[edit]

During a jam session at the band's house in Sunset Strip,[8] 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." Lead singer Axl Rose was listening to the musicians upstairs in his room and was inspired to write lyrics, which he completed by the following afternoon.[9] He based it on his girlfriend Erin Everly (daughter of Don Everly and Venetia Stevenson), and declared that Lynyrd Skynyrd served as an inspiration "to make sure that we'd got that heartfelt feeling."[8] On the next composing session in Burbank, the band added a bridge and a guitar solo.[9]

When the band recorded 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.[9] An alternate version featuring half a live version, half a newly recorded 1999 version plays during the credits of the movie Big Daddy.[10]

Music video[edit]

A music video was made for the song in 1987. The music video depicts the band rehearsing in Mendiola's Ballroom at Huntington Park, California, surrounded by crew members. All of the band members' girlfriends at the time were shown in the clip: Rose's girlfriend Erin Everly, daughter of Don Everly of the Everly Brothers; McKagan's girlfriend Mandy Brix, from the all-female rock band the Lame Flames; Stradlin's girlfriend Angela Nicoletti; Adler's girlfriend Cheryl Swiderski; and Slash's girlfriend Sally McLaughlin. Stradlin's dog was also shown. The video was successful on MTV, and helped launch the song to mainstream success.

To make "Sweet Child o' Mine" more marketable to MTV and radio stations, the song was edited down from 5:56 to 4:58, for the radio edit/remix, with much of Slash's guitar solo removed. This drew the ire of the band, including 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."[11]

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-inch 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.

This song was used for a teaser trailer premiere of Thor: Love and Thunder, which released on April 18, 2022, and the film itself,[12] including the end credits. As of 2023, the music video currently has over 1.5 billion views on YouTube.[13]

Reception[edit]

"Sweet Child o' Mine" placed number 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 number 198 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2015[14] and 88th in the 2021 list.[15]

In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number six in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. On a 2004 Total Guitar magazine poll, the introduction's famous riff was voted the number one riff of all-time by the readers of the magazine.[16] It was also in Rolling Stone's 40 Greatest Songs that Changed the World. It places number seven in VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the '80s,” and placed number 210 on the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Songs of the Century list.

The song has sold 2,609,000 digital copies in the United States as of March 2012.[17] In 2017, Paste ranked the song number 10 on their list of the 15 greatest Guns N' Roses songs,[18] and in 2020, Kerrang ranked the song number eight on their list of the 20 greatest Guns N' Roses songs.[19]

Guitarist Slash said in 1990, "[The song] turned into a huge hit and now it makes me sick. I mean, I like it, but I hate what it represents."[20]

Cash Box called it a "medium tempo rocker by the new hero's of metal, featuring a nice breakdown" and "standout guitar playing."[21]

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.[22] The article included both songs, inviting readers to compare the two. It also cited a reader's comment on an earlier article[23] 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[24] quickly, encouraging several comments on both the MAX article and the suggestion that "Unpublished Critics" had influenced "Sweet Child o' Mine,”[25][26][27][28] including one from Duff McKagan, bass player with Guns N' Roses when "Sweet Child o' Mine" was written and recorded.[29] McKagan found the similarities between the songs "stunning," but said he had not previously heard "Unpublished Critics."[30]

Uses in media[edit]

This track has been used in numerous films, most recently in the 2022 film Thor: Love and Thunder.[31][32] Other films include:

Slash performs his guitar solo as a guitarist auditioning for a band in a Capital One commercial in which the theme is "easiest decision in the history of decisions.”[34]

Formats and track listings[edit]

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

US 7-inch vinyl (27963-7)
No.TitleLength
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP version)5:55
2."It's So Easy" (live at The Marquee Club June 28, 1987) 
UK 1988 7-inch vinyl (GEF 43)
No.TitleLength
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (remix/edit)3:57[35]
2."Out Ta Get Me" (LP version)4:20
Total length:8:17
UK 1988 10-inch and 12-inch vinyl (GEF 43TE; GEF 43T)
No.TitleLength
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP version)5:55
2."Out Ta Get Me" (LP version)4:20
3."Rocket Queen" (LP version) 
UK 1989 7-inch vinyl (GEF 55)
No.TitleLength
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (remix/edit)3:57[35]
2."Out Ta Get Me" (LP version)4:20
UK 1989 12-inch vinyl and 3-inch CD (GEF 55T; GEF 55CD)
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Sweet Child o' Mine" (LP version) 5:55
2."Move to the City" (LP version)Guns N' Roses, Del James, Chris Weber3:47
3."Whole Lotta Rosie" (live AC/DC cover)Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Bon Scott4:34
4."It's So Easy" (live)Guns N' Roses, West Arkeen3:51

Personnel[edit]

Guns N' Roses[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Certifications for "Sweet Child o' Mine"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[64] 8× Platinum 560,000
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[65] 2× Platinum 180,000
Germany (BVMI)[66] Gold 250,000
Italy (FIMI)[67]
sales since 2009
3× Platinum 150,000
Portugal (AFP)[68] 3× Platinum 120,000
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[69] 3× Platinum 180,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[70] 4× Platinum 2,400,000
United States (RIAA)[72] Gold 3,126,000[71]
United States (RIAA)[72]
Mastertone
Platinum 1,000,000*

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Sheryl Crow version[edit]

"Sweet Child o' Mine"
Single by Sheryl Crow
from the album Big Daddy soundtrack
B-side
ReleasedMay 31, 1999 (1999-05-31)[73]
Genre
Length3:49
LabelA&M
Songwriter(s)Guns N' Roses
Producer(s)Rick Rubin, Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow singles chronology
"Anything but Down"
(1999)
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(1999)
"Soak Up the Sun"
(2002)

The song was covered by Sheryl Crow on the soundtrack to Big Daddy, and released as a bonus track on her third studio album, The Globe Sessions. The recording was produced by Rick Rubin and Crow. A music video for Crow's version was also released, directed by Stéphane Sednaoui.[76] Crow performed the song live at Woodstock '99.[77]

Ultimate Classic Rock profiled the song as part of a series on "Terrible Classic Rock Covers",[78] and Rolling Stone readers named it the fourth worst cover song of all-time.[79] Despite its negative reception, it became a moderate hit in Australia, Canada, Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom, and it earned Crow a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.[80]

Charts[edit]

Weekly chart performance for "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Sheryl Crow
Chart (1999) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[57] 60
Belgium (Ultratip Bubbling Under Flanders)[81] 9
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[82] 42
Canada Rock/Alternative (RPM)[83] 26
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[84] 79
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[85] 11
Ireland (IRMA)[86] 26
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[87] 95
Scotland (OCC)[88] 24
UK Singles (OCC)[89] 30
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[90] 29

Taken by Trees version[edit]

"Sweet Child o' Mine"
Single by Taken by Trees
B-side"Above You"
ReleasedNovember 23, 2009
GenreIndie pop
LabelRough Trade
Songwriter(s)Guns N' Roses
Taken by Trees singles chronology
"Lost & Found"
(2007)
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(2009)
"Dreams"
(2012)
John Lewis & Partners Christmas advert singles chronology
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
(2009)
"Your Song"
(2010)

In 2009, Taken by Trees, the solo project of Swedish singer Victoria Bergsman, former lead singer of the Concretes covered the song for the 2009 John Lewis & Partners Christmas advert, a UK advertising tradition since 2007. It was later announced that the version would be released as their next UK single.[91] It was also used in the promotional trailers for the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left. The song was also used in the final scene for the 2010 film Life as We Know It. Bergsman's version reached number 23 on the UK Singles Chart on November 28, 2009, and remained at the spot for six weeks.[92]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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