Did Guns N’ Roses Steal ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ From An Obscure Australian Band?
Nearly 30 years after it became a global smash, Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" could be facing a lawsuit for plagiarism. It reportedly resembles "Unpublished Critics," a 1981 song by the Australian Crawl, an Australian band from the early-to-mid-'80s.
MAX brings this to our attention, saying that it came from one of their commenters. You can listen to "Unpublished Critics" above and you'll likely arrive at the same conclusion they did, "Christ does it sound similar: the same chugging chord progression, a similarly-sweeping lead break, the verse melody and the elongated one-syllable vocal in the chorus."
But there are a couple of differences between the two. "Unpublished Critics" lacks Slash's defining riff, the chord progression is not the same in the chorus and it does not have the "Where do we go" section that comprises the song's second half.
One of the main criteria for proving plagiarism is that the complainant would have to show that the defendant had access to the original. While the Australian Crawl saw two of the four albums they released between 1980 and 1985 hit No. 1 in their native land, they failed to make a dent elsewhere. However, their lone U.S. album, a 1984 compilation on Geffen -- which is also Guns N' Roses' label -- called Semantics included "Unpublished Critics."
According to Q, the writing of "Sweet Child O' Mine" happened rather quickly. Slash was killing time playing "this stupid little riff" and the other members liked it and fashioned the rest of the songs around it. But even then it wasn't entirely original. Axl Rose claimed that its main influence came from a different source.
"I'm from Indiana, where Lynyrd Skynyrd are considered God to the point that you ended up saying, I hate this f---ing band!" he said. "And yet for 'Sweet Child' ... I went out and got some old Skynyrd tapes to make sure that we'd got that heartfelt feeling."
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