Source - Rolling Stone - By Dan Epstein, Keith Harris, Joseph Hudak, Maura Johnston, Katherine Love, Wallace Morgan:
Rumors are swirling that Guns N’ Roses may reform in some iteration of their classic lineup — the five-man powder keg existing between 1985 and 1990 that produced a single studio album and a trail of destruction in its wake. However, the story of this combustible band spans 30 years of sex, drugs, fights, riots, near-death experiences, mountain lions, bitch-slap rapping, cocaine tongues and one mysterious dude with a KFC bucket on his head. Here are 50 crazy stories about one of rock’s all-time craziest bands.
June 1985: Izzy and Duff Play Hide the Bass Drum
In his autobiography, Slash describes G N’ R antics as early as Steven Adler’s first tryout. “When Steven ducked out to take a piss, Izzy and Duff hid one of his bass drums, a floor tom, and some small rack toms. Steven returned, sat down, and started counting in the next song before he realized what was missing. ‘Hey, where’s my other bass drum?’ he asked, looking around as if he’d dropped them on the way to the bathroom. … Steven never got his extra bass drum back and it was the best thing that ever happened to him.”
June 7th, 1985: The Hell Tour
The band’s first tour, the Hell Tour, was fittingly named. Two hours north of Fresno, the band’s 1977 Oldsmobile (plus U-Haul) gave out and left them hitchhiking 40 hours to Seattle, carrying only their guitars. They missed several shows and played on borrowed amps when they finally arrived.
June 1985: G N’ R Almost Die Before They’re Signed
The group endured a serious car accident upon returning to Los Angeles after their first tour. Piled into Duff’s Toyota Celica, another car traveling 60 mph broadsided them in an intersection, leaving drummer Steven Adler with a broken ankle. “Duff’s car was totaled and we could have been too,” Slash writes in his autobiography. “That would have been a sick twist of fate: the band dying together after we’d just gotten together.”
Summer 1985: Guns N’ Roses Turn a Los Angeles Alley into a Den of Sin
“We sold drugs. We sold girls. If one of the guys was fucking a girl in our sleeping loft, we’d ransack the girl’s purse while he was doing her,” Izzy Stradlin said in the book Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N’ Roses. “We managed.” Los Angeles city officials designated the name “Lot Number 619” to the alley behind where the band lived — a place that developed a reputation for heroin, porn, bogus drugs and whoring beyond the band’s raucous parties.
February 28th, 1986: G N’ R Get Blasted Before Trying to Get Signed
According to author Stephen Davis, to prep for the Troubadour performance aimed at impressing Geffen Records, all of the band members except Axl got drunk, did heroin, snorted coke or all of the above. Geffen rep Tom Zutaut was apparently hooked regardless. The band signed a month later, and Slash blew most of his advance on more drugs.
March 26th, 1986: Axl Sabotages His Own Record Contract Signing
One of Axl Rose’s many tantrums came on signing day with Geffen Records. He had misplaced his contact lenses and stormed out of his home, believing someone wanted him to be unable to read the contract. Slash and manager Vicky Hamilton found the contacts (either on the floor or in a pair of pants), then found Axl down the street, sitting cross-legged meditatively atop Whisky a Go Go. The label had waited and continued on with the deal some two or four hours after the scheduled time. “‘Nobody was angry. It was kind of the status quo — every day it was something like that,” Hamilton told the Daily Mail.
April 5th, 1986: A Hungover Axl Rose Bashes Steven Adler Before a Whisky Showcase
Asleep on the couch, Axl was angered by Steven Adler, who was either cleaning up glass bottles or swinging bottles at Axl to wake him. Axl threw a coffee table, pushed Steven into a fire extinguisher and proceeded to deliver blows to his head. The two were friendly again the next hour.
May 13rd, 1986: Axl Battles a Thelonious Monster
At a Raji’s performance, the girlfriend of Bob Forrest, lead singer of L.A. scene staples Thelonious Monster, had been in the front row spraying beer in Axl’s face, causing him to be shocked repeatedly by the equipment. Axl yelled at her and pushed her away with the mic stand. Forrest returned fire by swinging a drum stand at him. G N’ R and the Monster must have patched things up, since they played on a UCLA bill with the Red Hot Chili Peppers that Halloween. Years later, Forrest, now a drug counsellor, helped Adler combat addiction on Season 2 of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew
July 31st, 1986: Axl Is Late (Again)
The band started their show at the Timbers Ballroom sans vocalist: Axl had confused the start time and did not show up until the end of the first song, “Anything Goes,” which the band had chose for its extended, lyric-free guitar solo.
August 1986: Slash Gets the Point
A West Hollywood sheriff pulls Slash over for a broken taillight … and finds a hypodermic needle. The guitarist is subsequently arrested and two band members bail him out for $178.
October 23rd, 1986: G N’ R Lose an Axl for Alice Cooper Gig
G N’ R open for shock-rock icon Alice Cooper with a set performed entirely without Axl Rose — he arrived late to the Arlington Theater and was turned away. Izzy Stradlin made up lyrics, such as, “elephant dick under my arms” instead of “rattlesnake suitcase” in “Nightrain.” Slash asked the audience who could come up and sing. In frustration, the band trashed the dressing room and broke all the mirrors.
Spring 1987: Axl Rose Helps Adds Sex Sounds to “Rocket Queen”
In 1987 Adriana Smith caught her boyfriend cheating: That boyfriend happened to be G N’ R drummer Steven Adler. So when Axl Rose invited the 19-year-old into the studio to help with some last-minute overdubs on “Rocket Queen,” Smith didn’t mind that her contribution would be to moan as loud as possible while she and the singer had sex. This was Smith’s chance for revenge on Adler, and anyway she was drunk and thought Axl was “fuckin’ magical.” Axl repeatedly expressed concern with the verisimilitude of Smith’s performance during the session, growling, “Come on, Adriana, make it real. Stop faking!” at one point. Smith later regretted participating in the stunt, saying the “guilt and shame” it caused her contributed to her addiction. She’s now a drug and alcohol counselor.
July 21st, 1987: ‘Appetite for Destruction’ Released to Cover Art Controversy
G N’ R’s knack for causing controversy was apparent right from the start of their commercial career. The original cover art for their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, features the painting of the same name by Robert Williams, which infamously depicted a robot looming over a rape victim before being attacked by a larger predator. “I suggested that they come over to my house and look through some slides and pick something [else] for the cover, because I knew they were gonna get in trouble with it,” the artist told Revolver. Due to the gruesome imagery, multiple retailers refused the product. The original artwork was moved within the album’s packaging and the cover was replaced by the now-iconic cross and skull tattoo designed by Billy White Jr.
September 1987: Izzy and Duff Tape Up Faster Pussycat’s Drummer
In the fall of 1987, Guns N’ Roses played eight dates in Europe and England with fellow Sunset Strip denizens Faster Pussycat. “We were civil, not what I’d call friendly,” Slash would later say of the relationship between the two bands — but when Pussycat drummer Mark Michals insisted on tagging along with the Gunners for a night of debauchery in Hamburg’s Reeperbahn district, he annoyed Duff and Izzy so much that they wound up binding his mouth and limbs with duct tape, throwing him into their hotel’s elevator and sending him down to the lobby. “The hotel staff dealt with him from there,” Slash recalled.
November 20th, 1987: Axl Rose Punches a Security Guard
If there was one thing Axl Rose enjoyed more than being onstage, it was jumping offstage. During a show at the Omni in Atlanta, Axl supposedly saw a security guard shoving a friend of his. The singer leaped into the crowd and grabbed the guard before punching him in the face. He tried to go on with the show, but the police hauled him off during “Mr. Brownstone.” While Axl was detained backstage, the band soldiered on, with a roadie, Big Ron, stepping in to sing a pair of classic rock covers (“Communication Breakdown” and “Honky Tonk Women”). There were also prolonged drum and guitar solos. Axl avoided trial by pleading guilty to assault and paying a fine. Guns N’ Roses would not return to Atlanta until 2006.
December 19th, 1987: Axl Starts Brawl After Being Called a Bon Jovi Look-Alike
Tell Axl Rose he looks like “Bon Jovi” and risk getting punched in the face. A fan made the comparison in 1987 and Axl responded with his knuckles, starting a brawl in a Chicago hotel lobby. The following night, while opening for Alice Cooper, Axl shared his true feelings. “Bon Jovi can suck my dick,” announced the singer. By 2006, Bon Jovi fueled the rivalry when he publicly criticized the amount of press Rose still received despite having not released an album in 13 years.
December 1987: Steven Adler Loses Fight With Streetlight
In 1987, just as Appetite for Destruction was about to take off, drummer Steven Adler broke his hand in a fistfight when he swung, missed and clocked a streetlight post. With a tour pressing, the band soldiered on, enlisting another affable time-keeper, Cinderella’s Fred Coury, to man the kit.
December 23rd, 1987: Steven Adler Saves Nikki Sixx’s Life
Slash, his then-girlfriend and Steven Adler were inhaling their way through a mountain of cocaine with Nikki Sixx at the Franklin Plaza two days before Christmas in 1987. According to Adler’s memoir, the drummer left the room to shoot up, and when he came back, the door would hardly budge: Nikki’s purple, unconscious body was blocking it. Adler’s hand was still in a cast, but he shouldered his way in, found that Slash and his girl had left, and dragged Sixx with one arm into the shower. When cold water didn’t revive him, Adler started smashing the OD’d Crüe member in the face with his cast, eventually slapping him back to life. The next day, Adler went to the hospital to see Sixx, who asked, “Stevie, what the fuck happened to me last night? My face is killing me.”
February 2nd, 1988: Axl Swallowed by Ritz Crowd
G N’ R’s 1988 gig at the now-shuttered Ritz in New York City — taped for MTV — captured the band at its most primal. No performance that night was more dangerous than “Paradise City,” which culminated with Axl diving into a sloshing, jostling sea of fans: The inescapable whirlpool required three stagehands to pull the singer out. When Axl finally emerged, he was shirtless, missing jewelry and, judging by a concerned glance at his left wrist, scratched up. It remains the definitive live version of the decadent anthem, with Duff squawking out harmony vocals and Slash playing a frenetic solo sprawled flat on his back.
Summer 1989: The Actual Spaghetti Incident
Though it’s generally believed that the title of G N’ R’s 1993 covers album refers to a food fight between Axl Rose and Steven Adler, Duff McKagan told writer Gavin Edwards that it’s actually a reference to an 1989 sojourn in Chicago, when the crack-addicted Adler stored his coke in a refrigerator next to the band’s Italian takeout containers. “His code word for his stash was ‘spaghetti,'” said McKagan. He also mentioned the stash and its code name in his deposition for Adler’s 1993 lawsuit against G N’ R, in which the drummer claimed that the drug problems that led to his ouster were actually the fault of the band. When a lawyer straight-facedly asked McKagan to “tell us about the spaghetti incident,” the bassist found himself highly amused by the sheer absurdity of the question — and an album title was born.
1989: Slash Runs Naked, Bleeding Through Golf Resort After Hallucination
After their 1989 world tour, G N’ R took a hiatus in Los Angeles. With nothing to keep him busy but a bottle of Jack Daniels, Slash’s drug problems worsened. “It turned out to be the start of a long and nightmarish obsession with heroin that lasted from 1989 through 1991,” the guitarist says in his autobiography. Hallucinations ensued, resulting in a bloody, naked run through an Arizona golf resort. After a heroin/cocaine bender, Slash recalls “Predators” with “rubbery-looking dreadlocks” chasing after him with machine guns and harpoons. In an attempt to combat the creatures, Slash punched through a glass door, later jumping through it to flee his room. Naked and afraid, Slash proceeded to use a maid as a “human shield,” ran through the hotel lobby and hid behind a lawnmower as his ultimate shelter. He gave police a detailed account of the Predator attack: “I was still high enough that I told the story without a shred of self-consciousness.”
August 1989: “One in a Million” Shocks the World With Racist, Homophobic Slurs
Public figures from Tipper Gore to Boy George to Arsenio Hall lined up to condemn “One in a Million.” Actually, just about everyone did but Sean Penn, who defended it. The lyrics of the “One in a Million” were undeniably nasty: On one verse Axl spits “get out my way” at at a group he calls “niggers”; another verse claims that “immigrants and faggots … come to our country” to “start some mini Iran/Or spread some fuckin’ disease.” On top of everything, Rose had a gift for explaining his most offensive moments in even more offensive ways. The N-word? “Why can black people go up to each other and say ‘nigger,’ but when a white guy does it, all of a sudden it’s a big put-down?” The f-word? “I’ve had some very bad experiences with homosexuals. … [But] I’m not against them doing what they do as long as they’re not forcing it upon me.” Or, as the non-apology apology on the cover of G N’ R Liesput it: “This song is very simple and extremely generic or generalized, my apologies to those who may take offense.”
August 27th, 1989: Izzy Arrested After Airborne Urination Mishap
During a flight from Los Angeles to Indianapolis, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin urinated in the plane’s galley. “I was drunk in the middle of this bunch of senior citizen types. I was smoking, and the stewardess came over. I told her to fuck herself,” Izzy said. “I was drinking so much I had to take a piss. The people in the bathroom … man, it seemed like I waited an hour. So I pissed in the trash can instead.” Police welcomed Izzy in Phoenix, arresting him on charges of public disturbance for smoking in a non-smoking section, making obscene gestures to passengers and verbally abusing a stewardess. “Next thing I know we’ve landed, I’m walking out and I see 10 policemen. … And I remember thinking: ‘Uh-oh! I think I fucked up again.'”
August 28th, 1989: Axl Locks Himself in a Japanese Hotel Room, Refuses to Speak to Anyone for Days
Axl had become notorious for his manic-depressive nature, constantly showing up late, dipping out early and dropping off the grid without warning. While on tour in Japan, still smarting over Stradlin’s airplane shenanigans, the moody lead singer locked himself in his hotel room for days and refused to speak to anyone. According to Over the Top: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses, Axl ruthlessly fired a staff member for disturbing him, despite having asked to be woken up at that appointed time.
September 6th, 1989: Vince Neil Swings at Izzy at the MTV Video Music Awards
After G N’ R’s VMA performance of “Heartbreak Hotel” with Tom Petty, Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil jumped out of the crowd in an attempt to punch Izzy Stradlin in the face. Izzy walked away with only a cut from Neil’s ring, but more beef followed suit. When Neil challenged the band to a public fight, Axl responded in the press, “Vince, whichever way you want it, man: Guns, knives or fists, whatever you want to do. I don’t care.”
October 10th, 1989: Axl Rose Punches David Bowie
Axl Rose’s short fuse made him plenty of enemies, but after he punched David Bowie, he somehow managed to make a friend. Bowie showed up on the video set of “It’s So Easy,” where he apparently paid too much attention to Axl’s girlfriend Erin Everly. Axl handled the situation in the expected fashion, punching the Thin White Duke and throwing him off the set. Bowie quickly apologized, and the two went out for a long night of boozing at the China Club.
October 18th, 1989: Axl Threatens to Quit in Front of Rolling Stones Crowd
During the first of four dates opening for the Rolling Stones at the L.A. Coliseum, Axl aired some of his band’s dirty laundry. “I hate to do this on stage,” the singer announced via the introduction to heroin abuse tirade “Mr. Brownstone,” “but I tried every other fucking way. And unless certain people in this band get their shit together, these will be the last Guns N’ Roses shows you’ll fucking ever see. ‘Cause I’m tired of too many people in this organization dancing with Mr. Goddamn Brownstone.” Slash, one of the primary targets of Axl’s rant, later told VH1, “I knew it was directed at me, because I was real strung out at the time. But it was probably one of the things that made me hate Axl more than anything.”
January 2nd, 1990: Slash and Duff Curse Up a Storm at the AMAs|
G N’ R won two awards at the 1990 American Music Awards, and both times that Slash and Duff McKagan hit the stage, they caused the censors to have an appetite for the delay button. When the band snagged the Favorite Heavy Metal Album award for Appetite for Destruction, Slash’s effusive speech was cut off after he offered up his perception of the awards show’s general scene: “We’d come down, we’d hang out, it’d be two hours and shit.” Later in the show, when Guns N’ Roses received Favorite Heavy Metal Artist, a more inebriated Slash dropped the f-bomb a few times — although he did say “oops” contritely (and twice) after his first one. “We have received many calls during the telecast and this morning protesting the fact that the program contained offensive language,” said an ABC spokesperson the next morning.
April 7th, 1990: Guns N’ Roses Implode at Farm Aid
Held in Axl’s home state of Indiana and boasting the first taste of the long-gestating Use Your Illusion albums, Guns N’ Roses’ curious performance at Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid IV should have signaled that the band was still alive and kicking. Instead, it was a snapshot of a group falling apart at the seams, thanks mostly to Steven Adler’s various addictions: After face-planting on his drum riser, he would play his last gig with the band. Nonetheless, the group harnessed the opportunity to show off their punk roots, shit-kicking out the jams with a cover of the U.K. Subs’ cheeky “Down on the Farm” and (once again) flipping off network censors with Axl bidding “good fuckin’ night!” on live TV.
April 28th, 1990: Axl Rose and Erin Everly Have Las Vegas Wedding
Axl’s relationship with longtime girlfriend Erin Everly came to a tipping point when the two married at Cupid’s Inn Chapel in Las Vegas on April 28, 1990. Everly, Axl’s inspiration for “Sweet Child of Mine,” allegedly wanted an annulment within 48 hours. The marriage would officially end just 10 months later in January. “Erin and I treated each other like shit,” said Axl. “Sometimes we treated each other great, because the children in us were best friends. But then there were other times when we just fucked up each other’s lives completely.” The abusive nature of the relationship was wildly apparent to friends and onlookers but made a public display when Great White allegedly used a recording of Everly fending off punches from Axl on the Psycho City album.
May 1990: Steven Adler Fired From Guns N’ Roses For a Drug Habit
When a band with as much mutual excess as G N’ R fires a member on account of drug abuse, it’s clearly a serious problem. By May of 1990, the band had lost patience with Steven Adler’s inability to control his heroin and cocaine habit. Stradlin recalled the drummer crawling on the floor with his nose to the carpet trying to inhale cocaine remnants he had spilled. Adler later sued G N’ R for $26 million claiming that they fired him for being a junkie despite introducing him to drugs in the first place.
October 30th, 1990: Axl Rose Arrested for Alleged Assault With Wine Bottle, Chicken
“I live next door to a psycho,” Axl Rose told a TV reporter after being released from jail for supposedly beaning his neighbor with an empty wine bottle. According to the alleged victim — who lived on the same floor as Rose in a chic West Hollywood high-rise — the singer also threw a piece of chicken her way. It was a neighborly dispute turned up to 11, one that Rose claimed had started as soon as he moved in. In the end, the case was dismissed, but Rose didn’t let it lie: He wrote the not-so-subtly titled “Right Next Door to Hell” for Use Your Illusion I.
June 2nd, 1991: The Riverport Riot
Ninety minutes into Guns N’ Roses’ show at the St. Louis-adjacent Riverport Amphitheater, Axl became enraged when he spied an unauthorized photographer in the front row — and grew even more apoplectic when the security guards failed to heed his call to confiscate the camera. “I’ll take it, goddammit!” he shouted, diving into the crowd and raining blows upon the photographer before returning to the stage. “Thanks to the lame-ass security, I’m going home!” he announced, slamming his microphone to the stage and storming off, never to return. Dozens of fans were injured in the ensuing riot, which resulted in G N’ R being banned from St. Louis for life, and Axl being charged with four counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of property damage and fined $50,000. Axl’s response? A hearty “Fuck You, St. Louis!” in the liner notes of Use Your Illusion I and II.
September 17th, 1991: Axl Asks the Press to “Get in the Ring”
Released on the band’s wildly successful Use Your Illusion II, “Get in the Ring” was a rollicking rundown of Axl Rose’s up-and-down relationship with the press, naming the journalists and media types who had especially attracted Rose’s ire. Specifically: Hit Parader editor Andy Secher; Kerrang! writer Mick Wall; the entire staff of Circus; and Spin founder Bob Guccione Jr., whose porn-magnate father was held up as a relative hero. Rolling Stone‘s Christian Wright called “Ring” one of Use Your Illusion II‘s “clunkers” — its cheeky suck-my-dick attitude “challenges the band’s detractors by name but basically hits below the belt,” he said. However, over time it became legendary as one of hard rock’s most potent dis tracks.
August 8th, 1992: Montreal Riot
This was the night that James Hetfield suffered his horrific pyrotechnics accident, forcing Metallica to unexpectedly truncate their Olympic Stadium set. Given the opportunity to save the night, Guns N’ Roses instead waited for over two hours to take the stage, and then bailed due to sound problems — and Axl’s sore throat — after playing only nine songs. In the riot that followed, more than 2,000 fans caused some $400,000 in damage to the stadium, and then spilled into the surrounding streets, where they smashed windows, looted stores, started fires and overturned several cars before finally being routed by hundreds of policemen using batons and tear gas.
Summer 1992: Rose Verbally Attacks Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty is so vain he probably thought “Double Talkin’ Jive” was about him. And, one night in Paris, it kind of was. Axl dedicated the Izzy-penned rocker to Beatty, who he called “a man who likes to play games … a parasite … an old man who likes to live his life vicariously through young people and suck up all their life because he has none of his own … a cheap punk.” Beatty had briefly dated Axl’s ex, Stephanie Seymour, before marrying Annette Bening, and some people (well, at least Axl) believed the actor and the supermodel were still going at it. “Well listen home-fuck,” Axl snarled between drags on a cigarette as he stomped around the stage, “if you think Madonna kicked your ass, I’m bettin’ my money on Annette, you stupid fucking asshole.” Beatty and Benning have four children and celebrated their 23rd anniversary in March.
September 9th, 1992: Axl Gets Shut Down By Nirvana
If any two rock stars should not have been allowed in the same room in 1992, they were Axl Rose, who was the most easily trolled human being on the planet, and Courtney Love, who was Courtney Love. Both Axl and Kurt Cobain had already talked shit about each other before the famed incident backstage at the 1992 VMAs, where Love spotted Rose and tauntingly asked him to be her child’s godfather. As Cobain later recalled, Axl stepped to him and snarled, “You better keep your wife shut, or I’m going to take you to the pavement.” An incredulous Kurt turned to Courtney and barked sarcastically, “Shut up, bitch!” After Nirvana’s performance of “Lithium,” drummer Dave Grohl needled the G N’ R singer even more, repeatedly saying “Hi Axl!”
December 5th, 1992: Axl Stops Buenos Aires Show to Reprimand Crowd (With Help From Interpreter)
As the Use Your Illusion Tour soldiered on after the anarchy in St. Louis and Montreal, the band brought the chaos to Buenos Aires. While the band performed “Nightrain,” a fan threw an object at the stage. Axl stopped the show and called for an interpreter, who walked out on stage and patiently translated his caustic message. “We have some really fucking stupid people here tonight … who think that throwing things at the stage will relate into a better show.” He then warned that they would go home if anyone else threatened the band’s safety. Rose called her out again for a second warning: “If somebody beside you is throwing something, beat the fucking shit out of them.” The show went on and the band returned to Argentina in 1993 to close out the massive tour.
April 4th, 1993: Duff Cracked With a “Bottle of Piss” in Sacramento
Yet another show on the Use Your Illusion tour was cut short after bassist Duff McKagan was hit with what Slash dubbed a “bottle of piss” thrown from the audience. “I hate to ruin your fun, and I’m fun, but somebody just hit Duff in the head with a bottle, and now he’s not able to play,” Axl announced to the crowd. “So we’re sorry, have a good night. And if you find the asshole, kill him.”
June 16th, 1993: Shannon Hoon Delivers Pizza on Stage, Naked
During a June performance in Switzerland, a naked Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon delivered a pizza to the band on stage. After showing off his assets to 50,000 people, pizza in hand, Hoon casually sat down to play the bongos. Guest drummer Cozy Powell (Black Sabbath, the Jeff Beck Group) followed suit at a July 1993 Buenos Aires show in a more modest fashion, sporting a Domino’s Pizza delivery boy outfit.
November 23rd, 1993: G N’ R Releases a Secret Charles Manson Cover
Axl Rose has always displayed an odd affinity for America’s most infamous psycho, often sporting a “Charlie Don’t Surf” T-shirt with Manson’s image during the Use Your Illusion Tour. But when he tacked on a hidden track of a 1967 Manson tune to the band’s The Spaghetti Incident? covers album, he threw gas on the fire. Ironically, “Look at Your Game, Girl” was one of the record’s least offensive songs (see the Dead Boys cover “Ain’t It Fun”), as well as one of its most chill, with Rose singing over a campfire acoustic and minimal percussion. He’d later claim he thought the song was written by the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson and, in a statement, said he’d donate money made off “Look at Your Game, Girl” to an environmental charity.
January 1994: Slash Sneaks a Mountain Lion Into the Four Seasons
In an attempt to adjust to a quieter life, Slash bought a new home in Los Angeles and filled it with venomous snakes, lizards, eight cats and a mountain lion cub named Curtis. “I installed a full-on reptile zoo over there,” he recounts in his autobiography. “Just a gazillion snakes and all kinds of stuff.” When the Northridge earthquake hit, his home was left severely damaged, but all his animals survived. Slash then retreated to the Marina Del Rey Four Seasons where he secretly held up with Curtis.
March 1994: The Erin Everly Accusations
Erin Everly — the subject of Axl Rose’s greatest love song, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” — testified that the pair’s relationship and short-lived marriage was a living nightmare. She sued her ex-husband for assault and sexual battery, opening up with disturbing details like Rose removing all the doors in her apartment in order to keep an eye on her. She also alleged that he claimed to be possessed by the spirit of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, and believed that “in a past life we were Indians and that I killed our children, and that’s why he was so mean to me in this life.” The lawsuit was settled out of court.
February 10th, 1998: Axl Rose Arrested After Allegedly Threatening Airport Security
After years of silence, the reclusive singer emerged in 1998, making headlines for threatening an airport security guard. Axl didn’t want his bags searched and allegedly threatened, “I’ll punch your lights out right here and right now.” Though his music taste at the time was leaning towards a techno and industrial future, he was arrested just like the old days. Countered a Geffen publicist to MTV: “Axl had some birthday presents in his bag, including a glass object that a friend had given him for his birthday. The way they were going through the bag he was afraid it would get smashed.”
March 2000: The Ballad of Buckethead
In an apparent bid to find someone who could match Slash in both chops and headgear, Axl hired Brian Patrick Carroll — a.k.a., the mask-and KFC bucket-sporting cult guitarist Buckethead — to fill the band’s vacant lead guitar spot. Buckethead insisted on recording his parts for Chinese Democracy in a specially built chicken coop decorated with rubber chicken parts; and when Axl’s pet wolf puppy took a dump in Buckethead’s cage, the guitarist refused to let anyone remove the turd, claiming that he loved the scent. For a while, Buckethead also kept a TV monitor in his coop that streamed constant hardcore porn, an affectation that reportedly offended Axl far more than the lingering wolf poop fumes.
December 6th, 2002: The Philly No-Show
Bolstered by successful comeback gigs in Las Vegas and Rock and Rio, Axl set out on a North American tour armed with guitarist Buckethead and the new Guns behind him. But the trek crashed and burned in Philadelphia when the mercurial singer pulled one of his infamous no-shows and fans rioted. As rumors swirled throughout the arena that Axl was still in New York watching a Knicks game, debris began to fly toward the stage, from seat cushions to Christmas trees. In 2012, Axl would half-apologize during a redemptive show at Philly’s Electric Factory: “I was really sick; it had nothing to do with fur coats or basketball games,” he said, adding, “I’m not saying I’m innocent.”
May 19th, 2006: Axl Gets Socked by Tommy Hilfiger
In what was maybe the silliest punch-up in Axl Rose’s combative career, the singer got whomped by Tommy Hilfiger — a fashion designer 11 years his senior — at New York City’s Plumm nightclub during a birthday party for actress Rosario Dawson. Pissed that Axl had moved his girlfriend’s drink without asking, Hilfiger decided that the best defense was a good offense, and pummeled the singer repeatedly before security could pull them apart. “He had a huge ring on,” Hilfiger recalled in 2010. “He wears all this jewelry. [I’m thinking], if I get hit, it’s over. No teeth, no eye. So I hit him before he hit me. It was self-protection. Now we’re friends.”
September 21st, 2006: Axl Shuts Down San Francisco Heckler
Perhaps the wildest thing about Axl’s confrontation with a taunting fan during a 2006 show at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater was how remarkably mature he was in handling it. When Axl halted the band in the middle of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (just the sixth song of the band’s set list), you would half-expect the singer to explode in one of his patented show-ending tantrums. Instead, Axl good-naturedly made fun of the offender and asked him to move along. “Just take it outside,” he said. “We’re trying to have a good time, and so is everybody else. I’m not really sure what you want.” The singer then laughed and added, “If you think you’re a bigger asshole than me, you’ve got something to learn!”
March 2nd, 2010: 48-Year-Old Axl Rose is “New York’s Hottest Party Boy”
In early 2010, Axl Rose became a consistent presence on the Manhattan nightlife circuit. “For the last three weeks, the singer has been on an epic bender in New York, tearing through the city’s nightclubs and bars like he’s still [a] stick-thin 25-year-old,” the New York Post‘s Page Six reported in an item that called Rose “New York’s hottest party boy.” In town to play a couple of invite-only concerts — including one at John Varvatos’ shop in the former CBGB space — Rose was, Page Six said, “a one-man stimulus package during the scene’s winter doldrums.” His antics not only encompassed his shows, which attracted the likes of Kevin Bacon and Mickey Rourke; he also threw afterparties at then-hip boîtes like 1 Oak and Greenhouse and, at one point, squared off with Scarlett Johannson in a friendly match at the “ping-pong social club” Spin. Only in New York!
August 27th, 2010: Axl Rose Takes on the U.K. Festival Circuit
Guns N’ Roses headlined the Reading and Leeds festivals in the U.K., and delays resulted in their sets kicking off late — 58 minutes at the former, 35 at the latter, according to The Guardian. As a result, the band’s shows were curtailed so as not to break the festivals’ curfews. This did not sit well with Axl: “Be safe, good night and to all the cops and promoters — fuck you. This war isn’t over,” he said as the band left the stage at Leeds. He made good on his promise via Twitter: “Having the fans of our show penalized for how the event was ran seems a bit draconian and more than unfair. … Our start times at the Reading and Leeds festivals factually had nothing to do with us,” he noted. Despite the dustup, though, Reading & Leeds festival organizer Melvin Benn told the NME that he was willing to have Axl and Co. back. “I’d definitely book them,” he told the British pub, “but I don’t know if they’d come and play. I doubt I’ll be getting a Christmas card. It’s not personal, I think the band are great.”