Guns N’ Roses released “Appetite for Destruction,” their debut album, in 1987. It became a huge hit, and in less than two years, it topped the Billboard 200. The album has sold over 18 million copies in the US and 30 million copies worldwide. Consequently, it is the best-selling debut album of all time in the US and the 11th best-selling album in the US.
One song from the album that has never lost its relevance with the band’s audience is “Rocket Queen.” So much is the love for the song that even the band kept playing it in every show until 2016. There was, however, controversy as to who the Rocket Queen in the song is. Everyone thought it was Adriana Smith, and it took a long time for Smith to admit she is not the Rocket Queen, but Barbie Von Grief is the girl to whom even Axl Rose dedicated the song.
There is barely any information about Grief, yet without her, Guns N’ Roses would probably not have achieved the massive success it enjoys. So let’s delve into her role in making the band and how she faded into the background.
The Girls Who Helped Guns N’ Roses in Their Struggling Days
In a YouTube video, three women, Adriana Smith, Barbie Von Grief, and Pamela Manning, all said that when they met Guns N’ Roses, the band was struggling so much that it relied on the girls. Therefore, the three ladies were the breadwinners helping the starving five men find their footing in music.
While the guys went out to hustle recording contracts, the girls worked hard to put food on the table and cater to all other expenses, including buying clothes for the guys. Guns N’ Roses barely had any money to be on the road, and they would constantly call the girls asking for cab fare. They could not even afford to bathe, so they kept knocking on the doors of the girls’ apartment, hoping to find hot running water for a shower.
Grief’s family and friends wondered why she kept hanging out with the guys, but she was head over heels in love with Rose. While others saw him as a burden that would never have his life together, she envisioned the potential that was yet to be unlocked, and the young girl wanted to help the band reach greater heights.
So they hang out, enjoying the freedom of not having anyone to answer to and made music. Manning disclosed in an interview with Multibabydoll that they would have done anything to get attention. Therefore as a dancer, she would get on stage to perform with the band and did not mind if the performances were wild and crazy.
Becoming the Rocket Queen
Grief said that while helping out the band, everything that could go wrong always did tenfold. Still, she and the other two girls never gave up on them. Guns N’ Roses were the underdogs that needed help, and the assistance went from stuff like food, fare, and clothing to music. Manning said that because she was a drummer, Steven Adler, the band’s drummer, would teach her a few drumming skills. She was in a band with Grief, a singer who dreamt of making it big. Grief hoped that one day she would have a band and name it “Rocket Queen.” Unfortunately, that was never to pass; instead, the name became a song sung by Guns N’ Roses.
Smith remembered how the song came to be, and she wound up being referred to as the “Rocket Queen.” She was dating Adler at the time, and according to Mirror, Slash had warned her not to flirt with Rose, but she didn’t listen. Therefore Rose asked Smith to be part of a song he wanted to record that would have actual sexual moans. She agreed to have sex with Rose, and her moaning ended up on the “Rocket Queen” track.
She was embarrassed it would damage her aspiring acting career, especially when Rose wanted to have her credited as Adrian “Sex Machine” Smith. Grief clarified that she wrote the original song for her band but helped Rose co-write it for Guns N’ Roses. At the time, she was only trying her hand in songwriting, and Rose loved her creativity.
So it was the only song that she wanted to be credited for, although she assisted him with others. Grief only helped him because she loved him and wanted him to succeed; therefore, she brushed off any doubts that Rose had about his talent. She was right to do so because even Manning had a vision of Rose becoming a rock star, and it came true.
Where is She Now?
Unfortunately, tables turned; while Guns N’ Roses became famous, the girls were left behind struggling. Smith became a drug addict trying to deal with the shameful act of her sex moans in the song. On the other hand, Manning got born again in 1997 and started a design company in 2000. She then shifted to selling skincare products and handbags whose part of the profits supported domestic abuse survivors.
Grief continued making music; some of the songs include “In The Basement,” which she recorded in 1995 with Lisa Rae Black. However, as recently as eight years ago, Black did not know what Grief was up to but said she was a talented musician. From the video where the three women shared their association with Guns N’ Roses, you can easily tell that life has not been fair to Grief.
It’s sad because all Rose ever did to appreciate her contribution to “Rocket Queen” was acknowledge that Grief kept him alive for a while. The album’s success and any other song she helped Rose write has never rubbed off on Grief. Today, she is just someone who is remembered for being associated with Guns N’ Roses, not as a musician in her own right.
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