“Sweet Child o’ Mine” is a song by American rock band Guns N’ Roses, appearing on their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. Released in August 1988 as the album’s third single, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the band’s only number 1 US single. Billboard ranked it the number 5 song of 1988. Re-released in 1989, it reached number 6 on the UK Singles Chart. Guitarist Slash said in 1990, “[The song] turned into a huge hit and now it makes me sick. I mean, I like it, but I hate what it represents.”
“Sweet Child o’ Mine” placed number 37 on Guitar World‘s list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Solos.” It also came in at number 3 on Blender‘s 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born, and at number 198 on Rolling Stone‘s The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 6 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. On a 2004 Total Guitar magazine poll, the introduction’s famous riff was voted number 1 riff of all-time by the readers of the magazine. It was also in Rolling Stone’s 40 Greatest Songs that Changed the World. It places to number 7 in VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s”, and placed number 210 on the RIAA Songs of the Century list.
The song is currently ranked as the 104th greatest song of all time, as well as the best song of 1987, by Acclaimed Music. The song has sold 2,609,000 digital copies in the United States as of March 2012.
Slash has been quoted as having an initial disdain for the song due to its roots as simply a “string skipping” exercise and a joke at the time. During a jam session at the band’s house in the Sunset Strip, drummer Steven Adler and Slash were warming up and Slash began to play a “circus” melody while making faces at Adler. Rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin asked Slash to play it again. Stradlin came up with some chords, Duff McKagan created a bassline and Adler planned a beat. In his autobiography, Slash said, “within an hour my guitar exercise had become something else”. Lead singer Axl Rose was listening to the musicians upstairs in his room and was inspired to write lyrics, which he completed by the following afternoon. He based it on his girlfriend Erin Everly, and declared that Lynyrd Skynyrd served as an inspiration “to make sure that we’d got that heartfelt feeling”. On the next composing session in Burbank, the band added a bridge and a guitar solo.
When the band recorded demos with producer Spencer Proffer, he suggested adding a breakdown at the song’s end. The musicians agreed but were not sure what to do. Listening to the demo in a loop, Rose started saying to himself, “Where do we go? Where do we go now?” and Proffer suggested that he sing that.
In 2015, the web page of the Australian music TV channel MAX published an article by music writer Nathan Jolly that noted similarities between “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and the song “Unpublished Critics” by the Australian band Australian Crawl, from 1981. The article included both songs, inviting readers to compare the two. It also cited a reader’s comment on an earlier article that had originally drawn attention to the similarities between the songs. As of May 2015, this comment no longer appeared on the earlier article. The story went viral quickly, encouraging several comments on both the MAX article and the suggestion that “Unpublished Critics” had influenced “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, including one from Duff McKagan, bass player with Guns N’ Roses when “Sweet Child o’ Mine” was written and recorded. McKagan found the similarities between the songs “stunning,” but said he had not previously heard “Unpublished Critics.”
The video is taken on a public place with a group of street musicians playing the song, and they nailed it!