Luke Graham

Luke Graham

Luke Graham: How 'Appetite For Destruction' changed my life

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Luke Graham

Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Luke here.

— In more ways than I ever imagined, 1994 changed my life.

My little brother was born, immediately changing me from an only child to second fiddle.

But more importantly, that summer I walked into my buddy Ian’s garage and had my face melted for the first time. Ian was four years older, an 11-year-old version of me was very impressionable.

Ian’s garage had a loft with couches where he and his friends would hang out.

When the older kids were tired of jumping on the trampoline with me, I got invited to the club house.

Ian was sweet. He always ripped new tapes for me. I thought MC Hammer was great. Vanilla Ice was a legend.

Then one sweet summer day, I heard Guns N’ Roses' "Appetite For Destruction" for the first time.

"Nightrain" was the first song I heard. That moment completely changed the musical landscape for me. Anyone who likes metal or rock can remember where they were when they heard "Appetite" for the first time.

Axl Rose’s voice made love to my ears. Slash’s guitar riffs made my hips and head sway, beginning my nonillustrious dance career.

"Appetite For Destruction" celebrated its 25th anniversary in July. For me, it was the defining album of my youth. In retrospect, I’d argue that it was the defining album of the 1980s. It made those pansies from U2 look like — well — pansies.

Understand that my experience in music at this point was a combination of whatever Ian ripped me and Tina Turner and the Talking Heads, which my mom threw on to clean.

It didn’t matter that it was made in 1987 and was seven years old when I finally got my little hands on it. The cross with skulls on the cover immediately drew me in. I no longer wanted anything to do with MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice or anyone else.

It was hard. It was dangerous.

It was the first album I made sure my parents didn’t know I had.

It cussed.

It talked about drinking, chicks, partying and things I had no idea about.

Slash could tickle the strings like nothing my ears have ever heard. Axl became an icon. I immediately wanted to grow my hair long and rock.

When my parents would leave the house and make me watch my brother, I was all for it. When they left, I would pop in "Appetite" and rock.

Guns N’ Roses' subsequent breakup has been well documented, but "Appetite" still holds up to this day.

It’s still on repeat for me.

I saw them in December in Tennessee. It was just Axl — who was remarkably good that night — but it was like I was 11-years-old again.

I was "loaded like a freight train, flyin’ like an aeroplane, feelin' like a space brain, one more time tonight."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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