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This Week in Rock History: Guns N' Roses Top the Charts

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Aug 6, 1988: Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction hits Number One after spending almost a year on the charts

What were we saying earlier about the Billboard charts not always being indicative of a band's success? Epic rockers Guns N' Roses know that conundrum well. Their 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction, had a long road to Number One: Its sales built quietly and steadily from hair-metal niche circles to nationwide attention, taking almost a year to top the charts. It debuted at Number 182 on the Billboard 200 on August 29, 1987 and hit Number One on August 6, 1988 (though the album is frequently cited, incorrectly, as hitting Number One in September of that year).

The libidinous swagger of Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff, and Steven (poor Steven came up short in the name department) has proven to have timeless appeal. Appetite for Destruction has sold over 18 million copies – not band for a band helmed by "a screaming two-year-old," as Axl put it to Rolling Stone in 1992.

Aug 5, 1983: David Crosby was sentenced to prison for cocaine possession
It's a hell of a drug, as Dave Chappelle would quip many years later. Cocaine proved the downfall of Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young singer David Crosby; he was so dependent to the drug, and many other rumored narcotics, that he seemed almost completely out of it throughout his criminal trial.

When Crosby was taken to court for cocaine possession and for carrying a loaded handgun into a nightclub, he was at the apex of his addiction. At his trial, he repeatedly fell asleep, right up until he was sentenced to five years in prison; he spent approximately a year behind bars in a Texas facility, a stint that included an enforced detoxification program. It wasn't the end of his legal troubles (other charges of drunk driving and drug possession were later levied against him), but the stint in jail led to a new period of creativity: He released Oh Yes I Can, his second solo record, in 1989, almost two decades after his first, 1971's If I Could Only Remember My Name.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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