The first Guns N’ Roses book I am reviewing for #GnRWeek is ‘Appetite for Destruction: Days of “Guns N’ Roses”‘ by Danny Sugerman.

GnR Book

GnR Book

I first read this book when I was about 15 years old, when I was at the height of my fandom for GnR. I was also reading several other music biographies such as Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and another book by Danny Sugerman (and Jerry Hopkins) “No-one Here Gets Out Alive” about Jim Morrison and The Doors.

Other books

I re-read this book a few months ago for GnR week on my blog before I read the other biographies, because the content in this book is older. It was published in 1992 so it only just touches on the Use Your Illusion Albums, and it even feels that those are just added on at the end as an appendix. The primary focus of this book is the early days and how the band handled the post-Appetite success.

The book takes a detailed look at the band’s excesses. There’s not so much about the band’s background or their musical journey, but rather how much drink and drugs they can do. This was certainly enthralling to me as a 15 yr old. Back then I had also just read the author’s book about Jim Morrison and the Doors, where again a large part of the book is discussing and analysing Morrison’s drug use. That is actually a great book and really does delve deeply into the fascinating character that is Jim Morrison. I found that the way he did it for this Guns N’ Roses books was slightly more top level though and didn’t drill down quite as much. He also really does go off on extremely in-depth stories/tangents about Greek gods and opium-filled poets for pages and pages, only bringing it back to G’n’R by saying things such as “…like other enigmatic front men such as Jim Morrison, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison and Axl Rose.” He does that a lot and it does almost seem a bit lazy in places.

The down side of the book for me was that there was a bit too much about the history of drugs. It was very interesting to me in the past when I read it but I did skip over a lot of it this time, just because I had read it before and it wasn’t totally relevant this time. I did feel it came across slightly w**ky this time.

Having said that, if this is the only Guns book you read it is still a fascinating read, and his sections on the band are extremely interesting reading. He’s not the kind of author who tries to pretend he was best buddies with the band at any point either, which I hate in other books. He cites various sources throughout the book and plays down second hand rhetoric by stating it is just one side of the story. The book contains genuinely interesting anecdotes about all the band members, particularly in their early days and it’s a very interesting look into how they handled their success after Appetite. I’m not sure there any details revealed that are not in the autobiographies though, so if you read this book after re-reading the autobiographies you may be slightly disappointed.

Two things that struck me from this book were how clean Axl was compared to the rest of the band, and although he is a bit bi-polar or has some condition like that, his good side really does come through and it helps to understand his bad behaviour when that happens. And also that Izzy’s departure seemed to be more down to Izzy getting sober and trying to stay on the wagon than any big bust-up with Axl or the band.

I guess I would still recommend this book to any true G’n’R fan. It’s certainly one I’ll be keeping in my collection as it brings back so many memories of my own adolescence. But to be honest I would say that the band members’ own autobiographies give much more detailed and probably more accurate anecdotes about the band’s history, and they don’t have the annoying tangents off into Greek gods. Still worth a read though if you are a true GnR fan.

Interestingly, whilst reading Slash’s book later, Slash slags off this author and his Doors book!