Remember the video for Guns N’ Roses’s “Estranged”? I do because I’ve made fun of it on multiple occasions. First, I included it on a list of “Cheesy Music Videos.” Then, I mentioned the video in the ranking of GN’R’s entire catalog, which can be viewed below.
Why is this video so memorable? The damn dolphins! For years, their presence has made zero sense to myself and many others. Thanks to a previously unpublished interview from Kerrang!, the use of the damn dolphins now makes more sense…kind of.
The interview in question is with Andy Morahan, who directed a number of GN’R music videos including the famed “Illusion trilogy” of “Don’t Cry,” “November Rain” and “Estranged.” The latter was the final video of the trilogy. The first two videos featured Stephanie Seymour, who Rose was dating at the time. Once the making for “Estranged” began, the two had broke up, which brings us to the dolphins.
When asked by Kerrang! “What was with the dolphins?” Morahan explained, “By that time, Axl had split up with Stephanie Seymour, and he was like, ‘I don’t want any more beautiful girls in my videos; I’d rather have a dolphin.’”
Morahan added, “We knew that we were deliberately doing that so people would go, ‘What’s all that about?!’ There was a sense that it was throwing up a lot more questions than answers, and that suited everybody – it created a myth and intrigue around the whole trilogy.”
When asked whether the dolphin element made the shoot fun, Morahan said, “It was fun, but it was bloody hard work. I look back on the things like dolphins flying out of aeroplanes and now, the effects look very unsophisticated.” He continued, ” … There was also a desire at the time to make things as cutting-edge as possible, and make it wondrous and fantastic and surreal. Axl drove a lot of that; he wanted to be as mysterious and surreal as possible. I think he realized that it made the enigma more powerful.”
So, there you have it. The use of the dolphins was to add some mystery and, frankly, because Rose was probably having a hard time with his breakup with Seymour. Of course, considering the latter, now I feel bad for making fun of those dolphins for all these years. Everyone has gone through a breakup before. They always suck, even if you’re a massive rock star.