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Bob Dylan Told Guns N’ Roses to Cover His Song Because He Wanted Money, but He Didn’t Like Their Version

By Emma McKee,


Years after Bob Dylan wrote the song “ Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Guns N’ Roses covered it. They were nowhere near the first band to cover Dylan — he’s one of the most covered artists of all time. This time, though, Dylan had requested that Guns N’ Roses cover his song for the money it would bring him. This didn’t mean he approved of the resulting cover, however.
Bob Dylan | Michael Kovac/WireImage

The musician wrote ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ for the film ‘Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid’

In 1973, Dylan acted in his first dramatic role in the film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid . In the movie, fellow musician Kris Kristofferson had a far more significant role as Billy the Kid, but Dylan composed the score and songs.

The most notable song from the soundtrack was “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” but all the music was critically acclaimed. Dylan received a BAFTA nomination for Film Music and a Grammy nomination for Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special.

Bob Dylan wanted Guns N’ Roses to cover ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’

Years after the release of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid , Dylan approached Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses about covering “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” He made it clear that he didn’t want them to cover it because he admired the band’s music. He just wanted money.

“Bob asked me, ‘When you gonna record ‘Heaven’s Door’? And I said, ‘I don’t know, but we really love that song,'” Rose told a crowd in Taiwan, per Vulture . “And he said, ‘I don’t give a f***. I just want the money.’ True story!”

Guns N’ Roses recorded a cover of the song in 1991. Though Dylan had prompted them to do so, he wasn’t necessarily a fan of their version.

“Guns N’ Roses is okay, Slash is okay, but there’s something about their version of the song that reminds me of the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers .”

Guns N’ Roses has covered more artists than Bob Dylan

Guns N’ Roses’ cover of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” is a famous one, but they’ve recorded covers of other artists as well.

“There are six covers: ‘Live and Let Die,’ by Wings, ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ by Dylan — that new version [on the soundtrack for Days of Thunder ] that went nowhere — ‘Don’t Care About You,’ by Fear, ‘Attitude,’ by the Misfits, ‘New Rose,’ by the Damned, and ‘Down on the Farm,’ by U.K. Subs,” guitarist Slash told Rolling Stone in 1991.

RELATED: What Paul McCartney Thought of Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Live and Let Die’

He explained that the band covered songs they liked and didn’t mention Dylan’s hand in getting them to record “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

“They’re songs that we like – it’s as basic as that,” he said. “Each of us has an individual favorite, and at the same time we share some. ‘New Rose’ is something Duff [McKagan] wanted to do, I think. ‘Don’t Care About You’ is something I wanted. The Misfits song was Axl’s idea, and ‘Heaven’s Door’ and ‘Live and Let Die’ were songs Axl and I both thought about doing.”

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