Guns N’ Roses – The Bastard Sons Of Aussie Pub Rock?

Guns N’ Roses – The Bastard Sons Of Aussie Pub Rock?



Last month we were thrilled to see founding Guns N’ Roses members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan reunited on Australian stages for the first time in 25 years. Watching the reinvigorated LA punk metal legends dish out classics from 1987’s Appetite For Destruction and 1991’s Use Your Illusion double act later led to an interesting office debate. With Angus Young and Angry Anderson joining the Gunners on various dates to respectively perform AC/DC and Rose Tattoo on stage, how much of the band’s sound was influenced by the glory days of Aussie pub rock? Here are five (and a half?) Australian pub rock acts who, it could be argued, had some sort of influence on Guns N’ Roses’ early days.

The Angels


When William ‘Axl Rose’ Bailey and Saul ‘Slash’ Hudson began hanging out in the early 1980s, The Angels’ track Take A Long Line was a pivotal song on the stereo as they plotted their future musical direction. “One of the main reasons this band got together was a song called Take A Long Line,” Rose admitted on stage during the band’s first Australian tour in 1988. As a sign of the Los Angeles quintet’s deference, The Angels were included on the bill for GN’R’s Sydney Entertainment Centre show. Guns N’ Roses performed The Angels’ 1978 single Marseilles in their fledgling years, with Axl also singing the track in 2014 after learning of frontman Bernard ‘Doc’ Neeson’s death. “This one’s for Doc,” Rose told the Las Vegas crowd gathered at The Joint. “From The Angels to the angels.”

Rose Tattoo


Thanks to Guns N’ Roses including Rose Tattoo’s Nice Boys on their Live ?!*@ Like A Suicide and Lies releases, Angry Anderson’s mob are an obvious addition to this list. Not only have guitarist Izzy Stradlin and Axl Rose both praised Rose Tattoo’s music for changing their lives, Anderson and Rose Tattoo have supported Gunners on multiple occasions. Heck, the band even earnt a thank you in the liner notes for unloved 2008 GN’R album Chinese Democracy. With more than five million copies of Lies sold in the US alone, Angry Anderson’s bank manager must be very happy these Sunset Strip ratbags found solace in the punk rock of a 1.56m bald screamer from Melbourne.

Kings Of The Sun

This one is a contentious addition. Depending on your view, when Queenslanders Kings Of The Sun were booted from the Gunners’ 1988 support slots Down Under, it was either a study in how to bite the hand that feeds or a simple case of an Aussie calling a spade a spade. After Axl Rose read local rag On The Street’s interview with Kings Of The Sun drummer Clifford Hoad stating Guns N’ Roses were “nothing more than a Rose Tattoo rip-off band”, he kicked them off the tour. “We’re sorry we gave them the opportunity,” Rose spat during an on-stage diatribe in Sydney. It’s too bad the two bands didn’t hit it off, since they shared both big hair, black leather and bluesy rock idols. Hell, even the title of Kings Of The Sun’s 1988 single Serpentine was a word Axl famously writhed over in Welcome To The Jungle.


Speaking in the ‘80s, Axl Rose declared Guns N’ Roses to be “an ‘80s version of the bands we heard in the ‘70s… certain albums we listen to consistently are AC/DC, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin…” After years of talking up Acca Dacca’s influence, the bond between Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC was recently consolidated by Angus Young appearing at a number of the Gunners’ 2017 Aussie shows. Young, who opted not to wear his usual school uniform garb, performed Whole Lotta Rosie and Riff Raff with the band – two songs GN’R have a history of performing at their gigs. Even if the songs themselves weren’t terribly memorable, witnessing Slash and Angus - two of the greatest guitar heroes of rock - standing side by side on the same stage was an incredible sight. After filling in for sidelined frontman Brian Johnson during AC/DC gigs last year, Rose is now the topic of rumours suggesting he is recording a new album with the Aussie rock stalwarts.

Australian Crawl


The niggling question over whether Sweet Child O’ Mine ripped off Australian Crawl’s Unpublished Critics has been around for years, but it bubbled to the surface a few years ago when Oz Crawl frontman James Reyne was asked about the songs’ similiarities. "I'm not about to take on the might of the Guns N' Roses lawyers," he cautioned, but also suggested “it is not inconceivable to me that maybe there are legs to it”. In this 2015 Sydney Morning Herald article by Bernard Zuel, it is also pointed out that both bands were on the US label Geffen in the mid 1980s. Did the Gunners boys light up when they heard Australian Crawl’s 1981 album Sirocco? It makes for an intriguing riddle. 


Guns N’ Roses might have been influenced by Australian pub rock, but was one member also in an Aussie pub rock band? Use Your Illusion era drummer Matt Sorum suggested in a Rolling Stone interview that it was so. In the September 1991 story online here, he says he “went with the skinny tie thing for a second” in an Australian new wave band called IQ. Sadly, it seems impossible to find any information on this act on the internet. Were they indeed an Australian new wave group? Perhaps someone out there can enlighten us?

To hear some real Aussie pub rock from the era G'N’R pilfered from, we recommend you pick up a copy of the recently released The Glory Days Of Pub Rock Volume 2 set.

- SM

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