Australian website MaxTV recently published a post comparing the two songs, pointing out the similar chugging chord progression, lead break, verse melody and even the delivery of a vocal part on the song. The Australian Crawl track was released in 1981, with “Sweet Child o’ Mine” surfacing on GN’R’s 1987 Appetite for Destruction disc.
James Reyne, vocalist for Australian Crawl and the man who penned “Unpublished Critics,” says he’s not going to take legal action, telling The Daily Mail, “It is not inconceivable that there are similarities between the two songs. It is also not inconceivable that there may be vaguely legs in something. It’s also not inconceivable that when they came out they were quite open in interviews that they liked a lot of Australian bands. It’s also not inconceivable that they wouldn’t have been aware of certain Australian groups. God forbid I had an active publishing company and they investigated the possibility. I’m not about to take on the might of the Guns N’ Roses lawyers.”
In separate interviews, bassist Duff McKagan (who was a member of GN’R for the release of ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’) and guitarist Gilby Clarke (who played the song live as a later member of the band) addressed the similarities.
McKagan told Opie Radio, “Any bands I’ve been in, you do the smell check. You always run into ‘Free Fallin.’ Oh man, that’s Free Fallin.’ It’s always some Tom Petty song, right? He’s the master … Anything three chords, oh crap. It’s a Stones song or a Tom Petty. But that band, Guns, at that point, we would have … We were striving to be so original and different and do our own thing. There’s just no way we would have referenced anything. So if there’s any similarity, it’s complete happenstance.”
As for Clarke, he told West Palm Beach’s 98.7 The Gater in an interview posted below, “I honestly don’t know. I mean, obviously, when I heard them played [back to back], it’s definitely a ‘wow.’ But I don’t think there’s any connection. In all honesty, there isn’t a connection. This band was always about being original, being the first, and not taking no crap from nobody. So it’s really not in the DNA to be a part of something like that, I think.”
He added, “Look, there’s only 12 notes out there — we haven’t been able to create any new ones in the fifty-plus years of rock and roll. And a couple notes are gonna go together the same on a couple of bands.”