There is no disputing the fact that Guns N’ Roses are one of the most influential rock bands around. Slash and Axl Rose’s impact on modern culture have arguably been as significant as The Beatles or The Stones back in the day. Even if people think that they have not heard their music, their image is an icon of hard rock around the world. Slash’s crumpled top hat needs no introduction, and the tattooed logo has taken on a life of its own.
The band has sold more than 100,000 million records worldwide, and their touring success is legendary. They sold forty-five million records in the US market alone and are one of the most successful bands of all time. Business Insider ranks them as one of the top 50 bands of all time based on record sales. Appetite for Destruction was their best-selling album. That title was released way back in 1987. The album featured the singles Sweet Child O’ Mine, Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City.
When considering their place in modern culture, we have to take into consideration more than just their music and record sales. They were one of the first bands to harness the power of being a brand that could market its imagery on a global scale. They are an outfit that has always understood that they could turn a penny from more than their music alone.
These days it is not uncommon for clothing brands to form collaborations with artists. When Adidas launched a clothing range in association with Stormzy in 2019, no one really batted an eyelid. Only this month, organic-clothing range Lucy and Yak announced they were working with Ed Sheeran. These are not licensed deals that see the star’s face plonked on a t-shirt but full ranges that the artist helps design. The first band who probably got involved in this type of collaboration were Guns N’ Roses. While the band members wore a distinctive hat, a signature bandana and jeans, the Guns N’ Roses imagery adorned third-party clothing.
People who were not even fans of the band might find themselves picking up a T-shirt in H & M or slipping into a pair of Converse with a tattooed rose on them. In addition, they created a clothing line for their fans which went way beyond the standard ‘band t-shirt’. Their fans lapped up branded sneakers, bucket hats, vests, and shorts. In addition, Guns N’ Roses collectables have included lapel pins and mini guitars.
As well as this merchandise which featured their very distinctive logo and hard-rock styling they also developed third-party partnerships which saw their imagery and name in diverse markets. Today it is commonplace for artists to collaborate with each other. So many records feature another artist. The collaboration allows an artist’s music to be heard outside of their fanbase. Guns N’ Roses had a slightly different approach and collaborated with other entertainment industry genres.
Their music was featured on video games as part of the soundtrack, and then there was Guitar Hero. Everyone could be Slash or Axl Rose as they played along on the video game that came with a simulation guitar, microphone, and drums. Everyone wanted to rock out to Sweet Child O’ Mine.
Few bands have embraced the diverse world of entertainment in the way Guns N’ Roses did. They worked with NetEnt to create one of the best online slots on the internet. The game lets players spin the reels to a soundtrack of favourite hits. The graphics of the game are the familiar symbols of the band. They also teamed up with pinball machine innovators, Jersey Jack, to create an exciting real-world playing experience.
It is commonplace for artists to mix up music, fashion, entertainment, and merchandising. Guns N’ Roses were amongst the earliest innovators. Now everyone understands that image is as important as the music, and one sells the other.