It was almost impossible to turn on a radio station or flick to MTV and not see or head Guns N’ Roses in the late 80s. They quickly became the biggest rock band on the planet, but they were almost unheard of and nearly didn’t break the big time as MTV told Geffen records they would never show Guns N’ Roses on their channel. Geffen records were ready to bin Appetite For Destruction after stores refused to even stock the album due to its controversial album cover. Guns N’ Roses were labelled ‘Too Dangerous’ and ‘Reckless’ but that wouldn’t stop their ruthless A&R guy, Tom Zutaut from giving up. He knew Guns would be huge, and he was right.

if you play ‘Welcome To The Jungle' video on MTV man the record will literally explode overnight.
- Tom Zutaut

“The record kept selling by word of mouth,” explains Tom Zutaut, the man responsible for convincing Geffen records to sign GNR in 1986. “We were at 200,000 units with no airplay, no MTV, no nothing.”

Guns N’ Roses would play to a few thousand people every night and the next day, fans would rush to record stores to buy the album. But if GNR were going to blow up, they need airplay and they needed to be on MTV. Tom Zutaut, however, was told to drop the album and forget it ever happened. “I get called into Geffen, he looks at me and says “Appetite For Destruction is over, there’s no debate, no discussion, the record is done” and I looked at him and I said “well actually the records just beginning, this records still got to sell 5 or 10 million more.’ Zutaut would not let this go and his last effort to make GNR the biggest band on the planet would be to convince Geffen to push MTV to play ‘Welcome To The Jungle’.

“I went up to David [head of Geffen Records] and I made my pitch and he looked at me and he said, ‘what is the one thing that I could do to make a difference in this situation?’” Zutaut knew this was his last chance. This one discussion would either make or break Guns N’ Roses. “I said if you play ‘Welcome To The Jungle' video on MTV man the record will literally explode overnight.”

David Geffen wasn’t too happy that Zutaut failed to mention MTV vowed to never play GNR but he managed to convince MTV to air the video just once. Geffen said, “This band is very dangerous, MTV feels that if they put this band on the channel they could lose millions of viewers overnight, this is like the impossible task.”

Geffen said, “MTV is going to play that video one time,” and it would be the most memorable debut from any band in the history of rock music. After the video aired at 1 AM Los Angels time on a Sunday night, so many people called into MTV to request it again, their switchboard literally could not handle the number of calls, it overloaded and burst into flames, MTV was temporarily out of action, but Guns N’ Roses were added to their roster and sold over 2 million records in the following 2 weeks.

Author Bio: AC Speed

Senior Editor

I started my career as a music journalist in 2013 and have been involved in the music industry as a touring musician, studio engineer and artist consultant since 2002, as well as previously being a signed artist. My passion for delivering high quality, informative music-related news is a daily driving force behind the content I create. Also a huge gaming nerd! Born in the United Kingdom and currently living in Sweden. Skål!


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