This song is about Los Angeles. It exposes the dark side of the city many people encounter when they go there to pursue fame. Guns N' Roses knew this side of the city well: in 1985, they lived in a place on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles that they called "Hell House." The house was often filled with drugs, alcohol and groupies.
Axl Rose wrote the lyrics when he was in Seattle, which gave him some perspective on the size of Los Angeles.
Slash (from the notes to Guns N' Roses: The Hits): "I was at my house and I had that riff happening and Axl came over and he got those lyrics together, and then the band sort of arranged it. We got an arrangement for the whole band, 'cause that's how we work. Someone comes in with an idea and someone else has input and in that way everyone's happy. That came together really quickly too, that was arranged in one day."
In 2007 Rolling Stone
magazine ran a feature on the 20th anniversary of Appetite For Destruction
. They explained that a famous lyrics from this song originated when Axl Rose spent a night in a Queens schoolyard before joining the band. Said Rose: "This black guy said, 'You're in the jungle! You gonna die.'"
On 93.1 WIBC FM, a radio station in Indianapolis, Indiana, Jake Query, a friend of Axle Rose, gave a different account, saying: "When Axl Rose hitchhiked to Los Angeles, California, on the last leg, a truck driver drove him to Los Angeles, and when Rose got out of the truck, the truck driver said, 'Welcome to the Jungle."
Andrew - Indianapolis, IN
When this was released as a single in 1987, it charted in the UK but flopped in America. It finally became a hit in the US when they re-released it in October 1988 after "Sweet Child O' Mine
" hit #1.
This was used in the 1988 Clint Eastwood movie The Dead Pool, where the band makes a cameo. It also plays in the opening sequence of the 1989 film Lean On Me, about an inner-city high school reformed by principal Joe Clark. Other movies to use the song include:
The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)
How to Be Single (2016)
The Interview (2014)
The Program (1993)
This was the second UK single and third US single from Appetite For Destruction. The first single, "It's So Easy," was a flop.
Numerous college and pro sports teams use this to intimidate their opponents at home games. The Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL were probably the first. The Norwegian Soccer team Lillestrom SK uses this song before every home game.
Christer - Jessheim, Norway
This was the first track on Appetite For Destruction, which caused controversy because of its cover, a drawing of a robot apparently raping a woman.
The album was a raging success, selling 18 million copies in America by 2008, making it the best-selling debut album in history until 2018, when the RIAA certified Cracked Rear View by Hootie & the Blowfish at 21 million.
Slash re-recorded his guitar parts as he was dissatisfied with his first attempts. To produce the vicious yet pure tone, the Guns N' Roses gunslinger used a Les Paul '59 replica plugged into a Marshall JCM, aided most likely by some Jack Daniel's.
The video was shot at Park Plaza and 450 South La Brea in Hollywood. The band's first video, it was very successful, winning at the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards for Best New Artist Video. Guns N' Roses performed the song on the show.
This was used in the 2017 movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and the next installment, Jumanji: The Next Level (2019). The films are set in a virtual jungle.
When Axl says "my serpentine," he's describing his famous dance, which he copied from Richard Black, lead singer of the band Shark Island.
Anthony - Mesquite, TX
Slash left the band in 1996, leaving Axl Rose firmly in control. Rose kept the band going with new members and in 2001 got in yet another dispute with Slash when producers of Black Hawk Down wanted to use "Welcome To The Jungle" in the movie. According to Slash, Axl refused unless he could re-record it with the current members of Guns N' Roses, meaning Slash and the rest of the Appetite For Destruction lineup would have lost out on royalties.
The song never made it into the film, which tells the story of an ill-fated US raid on Mogadishu in 1993. It was going to be used in a scene where Army Rangers are preparing for the raid - in real life, they really did blast the song before heading out. The Faith No More song "Falling To Pieces" was used in its place.
Guns N' Roses made a surprise appearance at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards where they performed this song. At the time Axl Rose was the only original member in the band, but there was great anticipation for their album Chinese Democracy
, which was expected soon. The album finally appeared in 2008
This song is used in the soundtrack to the Playstation 2 game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
. Axl lends his voice to one of the radio stations.
Mayank - Birmingham, England
In 2007, three teens at Booth Free School in Roxbury, Connecticut (one of them a janitor), were messing around with the public address system when one of them sang some lyrics to this song, including "You're in the jungle baby; you're gonna die." This freaked out one teacher, who thought it was a threat, barricaded herself in a classroom and called the police, who came in and detained the three teens until they could clear up the misunderstanding.
A line from this song became a bit of a catch phrase for Axl Rose, who began screaming at crowds when performing it at shows, "Do you know where the f--k you are!?" Axl said it in 2006 when he introduced The Killers at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Guns N' Roses opened for Aerosmith in the summer of 1988, culminating in a show on September 15 at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California. At this final show, Aerosmith's road crew had some fun by dressing up in gorilla costumes and messing around on stage when G N' R performed this song. It was all in good fun, as the bands got along great, with Axl expressing his admiration for Aerosmith at every show. When Aerosmith took the stage that night, they had Guns N' Roses join them for an extended jam of "Mama Kin
," a song Guns often covered.
By the end of the tour, Guns N' Roses was the hotter band - "Sweet Child O' Mine
" hit #1 the week the tour ended.
Slash's gear for the entire Appetite For Destruction
album was a Kris Derrig-built 1959 Les Paul replica guitar, and a rented S.I.R. (known to S.I.R. as Stock #36) Marshall 1959 Superlead Metal Panel modded by Frank Levi and Glenn Buckley (based on Tim Caswell's modification to Stock #39).
Ryan - Sarnia, ON
This soundtracked a 2016 Super Bowl commercial for the Taco Bell Quesalupa featuring basketball player James Harden, soccer star Neymar, actor George Takei and "Texas Law Hawk" Bryan Wilson. In the spot, we learn that the cheesy treat will be bigger than Tinder, drones, and possibly even football.
This was used four times on The Simpsons:
"Bart Has Two Mommies" (2006)
"Mobile Homer" (2005)
"Eight Misbehavin'" (1999)
"Marge on the Lam" (1993)
Axl Rose wasn't the first famous frontman fro Indiana to write a lyric about the seedy section of Los Angeles: In 1981, Van Halen released "Mean Street
" on their Fair Warning
album; David Roth is from New Castle, Indiana, but the group formed in LA.