Appetite For Destruction At 25: One Horny Young Boy's Recollection

The first kid in my middle school to discover Appetite for Destruction was a big football player named Si. Everyone in my class was terrified of Si because Si was the only kid in our grade who had gotten pubes. You walked into the shower and in the crowd of hairless penises was this big kid with a mohawk and a black pubic bush the size of a walnut tree. You couldn't NOT stare at Si's pubes. There were just so many. They followed you around, like the eyes of the Mona Lisa. But you couldn't be caught staring at Si's pubes, because then he'd call you a fag and kick the shit out of you.

Anyway, one day we're at recess and Si, for reasons that I still don't really understand, handed me a black Maxell tape that said "APPETITE" on it and commanded me to listen to it.

"You should listen to this," he said. "They say fuck a lot."

Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at drew@deadspin.com.

I was already, at that time, vaguely familiar with Appetite for Destruction. I saw it in the racks at my local Ben Franklin, back in the days when people would buy music at drugstores and shithole music chain stores like Musicland. At Ben Franklin, they kept the racks of tapes behind a locked display case, and each tape was also locked inside a comically long plastic thingie to prevent theft. In hindsight, it seems insane that stores used to go to such great lengths to prevent you from stealing a Fleetwood Mac cassette, and I always resented not being able to touch the tapes with my own two hands, to give them a real once over.

While my mom went shopping for Cortisone and toothpaste, I would stand there and stare at the tapes, figuring out if I should dare to buy one. This was back in the '80s, so sometimes you had to take a chance and buy a record, praying you didn't waste your money on a piece of shit. The first tapes I ever bought were Hysteria, Eliminator by ZZ Top, and T'Pau's self-titled debut album. The latter was a failed gamble.

They sorted tapes according to chart position, and I remember being overjoyed whenever a tape I had purchased moved up on the rack. When Hysteria went to No. 1, I nearly lost my shit. They also had a section for new albums, and it was July 1987 when I went to the store and saw Appetite in the display case for the first time. I had never heard of Guns N' Roses. I had never read anything about them or listened to any of their songs. All I had to judge them was that cover, with the five skulls laid out on a cross, each skull sporting it own distinct haircut. Skeletons are cooler when they have a full head of hair.

But I didn't bother buying the tape, because I didn't know enough about the band and my allowance money was far too precious to risk it. Weeks later, I saw the "Welcome to the Jungle" clip for the first time on MTV, where it initially played in limited rotation (it got a second push as a single after "Sweet Child O' Mine" blew up). I came into the video halfway through, so I didn't know what the fuck I was watching until the credits rolled at the end and revealed that this was the same band whose album I saw at the drugstore. But the song was so aggressive and so jarring compared with all the other shit on Dial MTV that I couldn't quite comprehend it. Also, Axl had scary hair.

It wasn't until later that fall, when Si and his huge pubes forced the tape on me, that I took a listen on the school bus ride home. This was 1987, so songs that had curse words and talked openly about fucking were still somewhat taboo, particularly to my virgin ears. George Michael's "I Want Your Sex" video debuted that summer and that was a big fucking deal to people (I remember him prattling on about monogamy in the beginning of the video and wondering why he cared so much about fine woods). So when I put Appetite on and heard Axl dropping f-bombs in "It's So Easy," I was awestruck. I didn't know you could do that. I felt like I was committing a crime listening to it, which I did over and over again.

Appetite for Destruction is 25 years old this month. It's by far the best record GNR ever made (even if I spent countless hours fapping to the naked chick on the sleeve of the Lies EP), and you could argue that no band has ever gotten as much mileage out of a single album as this band did with this album. Axl Rose turned out to be a complete asshole—someone who was allowed to indulge his own severe mental illnesses thanks to being a multimillionaire—and the band imploded. But that record still holds a lot of memories for people, including myself. So this week thought I'd ask some friends, along with you Deadspin readers, to share any stories you had about the album, good and bad. Send me whatever you've got, and I'll post the best ones along with memories from Spencer Hall, Will Leitch, and more. I can't believe this thing is 25 years old. That's CRAYZAY! CRAYYYYYYZAY! Yo fuckin' CRAYZAY OH MY.