Guns N’ Roses: how they soundtracked my last gasp of pre-teen freedom

Guns N’ Roses: how they soundtracked my last gasp of pre-teen freedom

January 20, 2021

In the first of a new series on the artists who had a formative influence on our writers, Rebecca Nicholson celebrates the hysterical melodrama of Axl Rose and co

When I was small, I would memorise the lyrics to songs by New Kids on the Block and Kylie Minogue and put on performances in the front room for my poor parents. I was always obsessive about music. Then suddenly, when I was around nine, I became totally devoted to Guns N’ Roses. It was before the internet and nobody I knew liked them, so to this day I can’t work out where it came from. But it was big. Bigger than forcing myself to cry when I listened to Tears on My Pillow on repeat. Bigger than learning the dance routine to Hangin’ Tough. I insisted I was going to the local disco – which was not fancy dress – as Axl Rose, my hair swept into a red bandana, where I begged the DJ to play Sweet Child o’Mine, ecstatic when he finally agreed. My fellow nine-year-olds were more keen on sitting down for Oops Upside Your Head than twirling around the dancefloor, hopping on one leg like Axl; in order to air-guitar that giant among riffs, I had to move seamlessly from Axl to Slash and back again. Where do we go now? Home, to bed, tucked up before 9pm.

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