The "Rocket Queen" is a woman named Barbi Von Greif, at least according to the Appetite For Destruction liner notes, which thank "Barbi (Rocket Queen) Von Greif."
She hung out with the band in their early years along with her roommate, Pamela Manning. According to Manning, she and Von Greif had a band for a short time (Barbi sang, Pamela played drums) and Von Greif wanted to name it Rocket Queen. She was 18 years old at the time, but full of fire - Slash called her "a queen of the underground scene." Little is known about her, but she is not the girl moaning in the song.
Regarding Barbi Von Greif, Axl Rose said, "She kind of kept me alive for a while." Near the end of the song, he sings:
Don't ever leave me
Say you'll always be there
All I ever wanted
Was for you to know that I care
"The last part of the song is my message to this person, or anybody else who can get something out of it," he told Hit Parader in 1988. "It's like there's hope and a friendship note at the end of the song."
There is a legend attached to this song that happens to be true: the moaning and other sex sounds that appear in the middle of the song were recorded while Axl Rose was having sex with a woman in the recording studio - and she was drummer Steven Adler's girlfriend.
Her name is Adriana Smith, and she did the deed "for the band" one night when she was mad at Adler. "For that song there was also something I tried to work out with various people - a recorded sex act," Axl Rose explained. "It was somewhat spontaneous but premeditated; something I wanted to put on the record. It was a sexual song and it was a wild night in the studio."
Smith came to the studio looking to make Adler jealous, which is when Axl made his pitch about recording the act - you know, for art. Engineers miked up the floor of a vocal booth, dimmed the lights and hit the red button while Rose and Smith had at it. According to Smith, it was a bit awkward, as Axl wanted serious passion, which was hard to deliver under the circumstances. It took a while (and some alcohol), but they got what they needed and mixed the lovemaking into the song.
Smith had a hard time in the aftermath, saying the incident "weighed on her soul." All she got out of it was a bottle of Jack Daniel's and a degree of infamy. The band headed out on tour, became wildly famous, and left Smith behind. She became a drug addict and spent a lot of time dealing with the shame she felt.
While performing this song in St. Louis in 1991, Axl Rose jumped into the crowd and hit a fan who had a camera. The singer said, "Thanks to the lame-ass security I'm going home," then walked off stage. The rest of the band soon followed, causing a full-scale riot to break out.
Owen - Liverpool, England
Michael Barbiero, who mixed the album, wanted nothing to do with recording the sex scene in the studio, so after setting up the microphones, he had assistant engineer Victor Deyglio record it. On the album, Deyglio is listed as "Victor 'The F--kin' Engineer' Deyglio" because of this contribution.