Guns N' Roses remove song with homophobic and racist language from reissued album

One In a Million, from the band’s 1988 G N’ R Lies EP, has been cut from a reissue of the album Appetite for Destruction thanks to lyrics such as: ‘Immigrants and faggots, they make no sense to me’

Guns N’ Roses have removed the song One in a Million from a forthcoming reissue of their album Appetite for Destruction. The 1980s rock titans have not commented on the decision, but it seems to have been prompted by the song’s lyrics, which feature racist and homophobic language.

The track was included on their 1988 EP G N’ R Lies, which was released in the wake of their No 1 debut, Appetite for Destruction, and reached No 2 in the US charts, selling more than 5m copies. It features the lyrics: “Police and niggers, that’s right / Get outta my way / Don’t need to buy none of your gold chains today.” Other lyrics include:

Immigrants and faggots

They make no sense to me

They come to our country

And think they’ll do as they please

Like start some mini-Iran

Or spread some fucking disease

And they talk so many goddamn ways

It’s all Greek to me

The song was condemned on its release, and guitarist Slash later said: “I don’t regret doing One in a Million, I just regret what we’ve been through because of it and the way people have perceived our personal feelings.” The Guardian has requested a comment from the band via their UK representatives.

Explaining the lyrics in 1988, singer Axl Rose said they were inspired in part by African American con artists in Los Angeles, and added: “Why can black people go up to each other and say, ‘nigger’, but when a white guy does it all of a sudden it’s a big putdown? I don’t like boundaries of any kind. I don’t like being told what I can and what I can’t say. I used the word ‘nigger’ because it’s a word to describe somebody that is basically a pain in your life, a problem. The word ‘nigger’ doesn’t necessarily mean black.” In 1992, he added: “I was pissed off about some black people that were trying to rob me. I wanted to insult those particular black people.”

Regarding the immigrants line, he explained: “A lot of people from countries like Iran, Pakistan, China, Japan, et cetera, get jobs in these convenience stores and gas stations. Then they treat you like you don’t belong here.” He claimed the “faggot” line came from “very bad experiences with homosexuals” including an attempted rape: “I’m not against them doing what they want to do as long as it’s not hurting anybody else and they’re not forcing it upon me.”

Elton John, who once performed with Axl Rose live, said in 2017: “Never in a million years did I think [Axl Rose] was homophobic … I’ll fight for anyone who is misunderstood and misrepresented by the idiots out there.”

The band are releasing a number of different formats for the Appetite for Destruction reissue, which features the original album alongside G N’ R Lies and other extra tracks, including a wooden box set version costing £849.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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