Duff McKagan Explains Slash’s Sabotage Attempt Against ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’

Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan revealed during his appearance on the Songcraft podcast how Slash’s initial attempt to sabotage ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ contributed to its evolution into a rock anthem.

Sharing how ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ started, the musician said:

“Izzy [Stradlin] had the three chords. OK, well, that’s… What do you do with that? Axl liked it. OK, well, let’s try to make this work somehow.”

While Axl Rose was fond of it, the band struggled to develop the song further. Slash was unenthusiastic about the track, as McKagan explained:

“The intro for ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine,’ Slash just did not like the three D, C, G (note progression) thing.”

The Unlikely Evolution Of The Song

As Duff recalled, the guitarist had shared with him:

“‘We’ve got to get rid of this song somehow.'”

Still, Slash’s attempt to sabotage the song led to the creation of its now-famous intro. The bassist added:

“He wrote this twisted, just atonal thing. And, of course, that part to try to get rid of the song totally worked. It was this amazing intro to the song, and suddenly, we had this ballad.”

The rocker lastly said:

“It just goes to show that everything was clicking with that band at that point.”

Slash’s Own Take On ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’

This revelation by McKagan is complemented by Slash’s own reflections on ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine.’ In a conversation with an Australian TV channel in 2022, the guitarist admitted he was initially not a fan of the song, mainly due to its nature as an uptempo ballad, which contrasted with the band’s hard rock style. He noted:

“I was the guy who initially was not a big fan of ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ back in the day. That was more not because of the riff, it was more about the type of song it was at the time because we were a pretty hard-driving band, and that was an uptempo ballad type of a thing. So it’s grown on me over the years, but that’s a riff that I never knew was going to take off the way it did.”

Slash also shared his personal experience with the song in public spaces during a 2022 interview on Absolute Radio Classic Rock, describing moments when ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ plays as cringe-worthy and awkward, highlighting the vulnerability he feels when the song unexpectedly comes on.