Duff McKagan Reveals Slash Attempted To Sabotage Guns N’ Roses Classic “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” is one of Guns N’ Roses most popular songs. So it may come as a shock that Slash tried to sabotage its creation, at least according to Duff McKagan.

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Appearing on the Songcraft podcast, McKagan detailed the origins of the classic rock ballad. According to McKagan, Izzy Stradlin developed the initial three chords for the song.

“Izzy [Stradlin] had the three chords,” the bassist explained. “OK, well that’s… What do you do with that? Axl liked it. OK, well let’s try to make this work somehow.” The Guns N’ Roses frontman thought they had the makings of a song.

While the rest of the band began the work on “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” Slash didn’t believe the tune was worth putting together. He showed a disinterest for the ballad and wanted to find a way to trash the song.

“The intro for ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine,’ Slash just did not like the three D, C, G (note progression) thing,” McKagan said. “We’ve got to get rid of this song somehow.” According to McKagan, Slash then came up with the intro for the song.

While it’s now iconic, McKagan said Slash didn’t intend for it to be. He hoped that the intro would clash with the rest of the tune, leading to the band to forget it. As McKagan described, “He wrote this twisted, just atonal thing.”

Guns N’ Roses Put Together “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

However, Slash’s contribution had the opposite effect. Instead, it helped the tune come together and thus “Sweet Child O’ Mine” was born.

“And of course, that part to try to get rid of the song, totally worked,” McKagan continued. “It was this amazing intro to the song, and suddenly we had this ballad.”

So why did the song become as successful as it did? Well, according to McKagan, it came during a time when Guns N’ Roses was firing on all cylinders. In a lot of ways, they couldn’t do any wrong, producing many of their now classic hits.

“It just goes to show that everything was clicking with that band at that point,” McKagan said. As far why Slash hated the song, the guitarist has an answer for it.

“I was sitting around the house where Guns used to live at one point – in ’86 I guess it was – and I just came up with this riff. It was just me messing around and putting notes together, like any riff you do,” Slash said in 2022. “Then Izzy started playing the chords behind it and then Axl heard it, and it started from there.”

He continued, “For me, at the time, it was a very sappy ballad.”

[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

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