HomeaflSlash's "Sweet Child o' Mine" Intro Meant to Sabotage Song

Slash’s “Sweet Child o’ Mine” Intro Meant to Sabotage Song

Guns N’ Roses made their name with a gritty blend of blues-infused hard rock, but the melodic ballad “Sweet Child o’ Mine” is the band’s most commercially successful song and only No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

In previous interviews, Slash has said that his opening arpeggio guitar riff was essentially a toss-off that serendipitously unlocked the song’s full potential. Bassist Duff McKagan has gone a step further, revealing that Slash was actually trying to sabotage the ballad with the guitar intro.

Speaking on the Songcraft podcast, McKagan reflected on the songwriting process for “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and the origins of the eventual hit.

“Izzy [Stradlin] had the three chords,” McKagan said (as transcribed by Ultimate Classic Rock). “OK, well that’s… ‘What do you do with that?’ Axl liked it. ‘OK, well let’s try to make this work somehow.’”

According to McKagan, Slash wasn’t a fan of the tune. “The intro for ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine,’ Slash just did not like the three D, C, G [chord progression],” McKagan recalled, adding that the guitarist told him, “We’ve got to get rid of this song somehow.”

The bassist went on to say that Slash “wrote this twisted, just atonal thing” in an effort to nix the track.

“And of course that part to try to get rid of the song, totally worked,” reflected McKagan. “It was this amazing intro to the song, and suddenly we had this ballad. … It just goes to show that everything was clicking with that band at that point.”

McKagan’s latest recollections are in line with Slash’s prior comments about the writing and rehearsing of “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” In a 2005 interview, Slash compared the process to “pulling teeth” and said he considered the song to be a “very sappy ballad.”

“I hated it for years,” Slash said at the time. “But it would cause such a reaction — just playing the first stupid notes used to evoke this hysteria — so I’ve finally gotten to appreciate it.”

Guns N’ Roses wrapped up a hugely successful tour in 2023, but Slash has been playing the GN’R deep cut “Don’t Damn Me” on his current international tour with his band Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Pick up tickets to their upcoming shows here.

Listen to “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and hear Duff McKagan on the Songcraft podcast below.

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