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Axl Rose on Privacy, Public Opinion and His War With the Media

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Can you talk about what you've learned?
Just that... my mom's pregnancy wasn't a welcome thing. My mom got a lot of problems out of it, and I was aware of those problems. That would tend to make you real fucking insecure about how the world felt about your ass. My real father was a pretty fucked-up individual. I didn't care too much for him when I was born. I didn't like the way he treated my mother. I didn't like the way he treated me before I was born. So when I came out, I was just wishing the motherfucker was dead.

Talking about being conscious of things that happened before you were born might throw a few people.
I don't really care, because that's regression therapy, and if they've got a problem with it, they can go fuck themselves. It's major, and it's legit, and it all fits together in my life. Everything is stored in your mind. And part of you is aware from very early on and is storing information and reacting. Every time I realize I have a problem with something, and I can finally admit it to myself, then we go, "Okay, now what were the earliest stages?" and we start going back through it.

What have you figured out?
I blacked out most of my childhood. I used to have severe nightmares when I was a child. We had bunk beds, and I'd roll out and put my teeth right through my bottom lip – I'd be having some violent nightmare in my bed. I had these for years.

Do you remember what the nightmares were about?
No, I only remember one dream. I dreamt I was a horse. You ever see those movies of wild mustangs running and how heavy that looks? I dreamt about that. I dreamt I was caught and then put in the movies. And in some really stupid movies. And it was totally against my will, and I could not handle it, and I freaked. I didn't understand the dream. Back then, I was like "I was a horse, they tried to put me in the movies!" You know, all I could think of at the time was Mr. Ed or Francis. But I always remembered that dream, and now I understand it real well. I didn't know what my nightmares were about. My parents had always said something really tragic and dark and ugly happened. They wouldn't say what happened – they always just freaked out whenever anything was mentioned about my real father. I wasn't told I hada real father until I was seventeen. My real father was my stepdad, as far as I knew. But I found some insurance papers, and then I found my mom's diploma, with the last name Rose. So I was never born Bill Bailey. I was born William Rose. I am W. Rose because William was an asshole.

Your mother married your biological father when she was in high school?
Yeah. My mom's eyes actually turn black whenever it's brought up how terrible this person was. And what I found out in therapy is, my mother and him weren't getting along. And he kidnapped me, because someone wasn't watching me. I remember a needle. I remember getting a shot. And I remember being sexually abused by this man and watching something horrible happen to my mother when she came to get me. I don't know all the details. But I've had the physical reactions of that happening to me. I've had problems in my legs and stuff from muscles being damaged then. And I buried it and was a man somehow, 'cause the only way to deal with it was bury the shit. I buried it then to survive – I never accepted it. I got a lot of violent, abusive thoughts toward women out of watching my mom with this man. I was two years old, very impressionable, and saw this. I figured that's how you treat a woman. And I basically put thoughts together about how sex is power and sex leaves you powerless, and picked up a lot of distorted views that I've had to live my life with. No matter what I was trying to be, there was this other thing telling me how it was, because of what I'd seen. Homophobic? I think I've got a problem, if my dad fucked me in the ass when I was two. I think I've got a problem about it.

Yeah, I would imagine so. What happened later?
After I was two, my mom remarried, and I was really upset by that. I thought I was the man in her life or something, because she got away from this man and now she was with me. You know, you're a baby.

She was yours.
Yeah. And then she married someone else, and that bothered me. And this person basically tried to control me and discipline me because of the problems he'd had in his childhood. And then my mom had a daughter. And my stepfather molested her for about twenty years. And beat us. Beat me consistently. I thought these things were normal. I didn't know my sister was molested until last year. We've been working on putting our lives together ever since and supporting each other. Now my sister works with me. She's very happy, and it's so nice to see her happy and that we get along. My dad tried to keep us at odds. And he was very successful at some points in our lives.

Where is your real father?
His brother called me right around the Stones shows, and I had my brother talk to him. I didn't talk to him, 'cause I needed to keep that separation. I haven't heard from him since. But I confronted my mom, and she finally talked to me a bit about it, and they told me that he was dead. It looks pretty much to be true that he is. He was pretty much headed for that anyway. A very unsavory character. I've had a problem with not wanting to be him. I had to be macho. I couldn't allow myself to be a real man, because men were evil, and I didn't want to be like my father. Around the Stones shows, some paper in L.A. wrote this piece about how "The truth will come out about Axl's anger," and they were making it look like I was trying to hide something. I wasn't trying to hide it I didn't how what had happened to me. I wouldn't allow myself to know. I wouldn't have been able to handle it.

How do you deal with knowing now?
It's not about going, "Well, I can handle it, I'm a man." And it's not about going, "Well, I forgive them now." You have to reexperience it and mourn what happened to you and grieve for yourself and nurture yourself and put yourself all back together. And it's a very strange, long chain. Because you find out your mother and father had their problems, and their mother and father had problems, and it goes back through the ages.

How do you stop the cycle?
I don't know. It's finding some way to break the chain. I'm trying to fix myself and turn around and help others. You can't really save anyone. You can support them, but they have to save themselves. You know, you can live your life the way you have and just accept it, or you can try to change it. My life still has its extremes and ups and downs, but it is a lot better because of this work. I'm very interested in getting involved with child-abuse organizations. There's different methods of working with children, and I want to support the ones that I believe in.

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