Author Christopher Hilton recalls how Guns N’ Roses’ debut album took full year to really take off
Book author Christopher Hilton was recently interviewed by Metal Mike for the 80’s Glam Metalcast podcast. Back in March 2020, Hilton released his book titled The Rise, Fall & Rebirth of Hair Metal.
In terms of why he expected to use the term ‘hair metal’ in his book title, Hilton revealed: “It’s a polarizing term for sure. I have a cofession to make, I hate the term “Hair Metal”! So why in the world would I use it in the title of the book? I was looking for a universal identifier so the audience knew what bands I was talking about. I could have used the term Glam Metal or Heavy Metal. Heavy Metal was what most of this stuff was labeled in the 80’s. Back in 1987, Poison was Heavy Metal! Hair Metal was a term that came out in the 90’s because people were looking for a disdisparaging term. They tried to say it was more about hair and style than musicianship. Bands and fans hated it. Most of these 80’s Metal players were highly skilled musicians. The music was much harder to play than Grunge. For better or worse, when people say Hair Metal, you know what you are going to get. Crue, Poison, Warrant, Ratt etc. so my apologies to the bands. Over the years it’s become less of a negative term and more of a nostalgic one…used as a convenience. Not all the bands embrace it, and I don’t blame them.”
With respect to his book touching on certain bands not being overnight sensations with their debut album, Hilton indicated: “It’s kinda revisionist history sometimes. A lot of people look back at Appetite For Destruction, and think “Welcome To The Jungle” came out and it was an overnight sensation. That’s not what happened by any stretch of the imagination. It was a full year before it really hit big. They actually released “It’s So Easy” as the first single, which was an odd choice. Axl is singing in a lower register on that one, which isn’t really how he sounds on most of the record. They spend a ton of money on a video, which ends up being banned by MTV for being too graphic. The song had a lot of offensive language, so radio wouldn’t play it. The record company basically gave up on that record. Their manager called in one last favor for MTV to play “Welcome To Jungle” just once. They agreed reluctantly and it was played in the wee hours on a Sunday Morning. People were watching though. There’s legendary stories that the MTV switchboards lit up with request for it and that caused the album to really take off.”
Sleaze Roxx stated the following in its review of The Rise, Fall & Rebirth of Hair Metal:
“The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Hair Metal has some great elements and some weaker moments as well. Hilton shares some fun and interesting stories about some of the bigger bands — Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, etc — for each of their albums. For instance, I didn’t know why David Coverdale ended up losing guitarist John Sykes after the very solid record Slide It In and just before the release of Whitesnake‘s multi-platinum breakthrough self-titled album. Although Coverdale can seemingly barely sing in a live setting these days, it was interesting to learn that he was on the brink of losing his voice prior to the release of Whitesnake‘s very successful self-titled album. Considering how I loved Whitesnake back in the day when that record first came out and that I was consistently reading Hit Parader and Circus magazines, I don’t know how that information escaped me until now. Another plus is that Hilton‘s coverage of the period from 1986 to 1991 is quite detailed (130 pages). If I had to take a guess, I would say that Hilton grew up or discovered “hair metal” around that time, which explains why that time period was so well covered and detailed. I will say that the time period from 1992 to 2001 also gets good coverage with 154 pages.”
You can listen to the interview with Christopher Hilton on the 80s’ Glam Metalcast podcast below: