50 Wildest Guns N’ Roses Moments – Rolling Stone
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50 Wildest Guns N’ Roses Moments

Why did Slash sneak a mountain lion into the Four Seasons?

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.

Guns N' Roses

Axl at the Ritz.

Michael Uhll /Redferns

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.

Steven Adler

Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses and manager Dan Goldberg (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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.

Slash

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 16: Guitarist Slash of the rock group 'Guns n' Roses' plays a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar during soundcheck as they get ready to open for Aerosmith and Deep Purple at Giants Stadium on August 16, 1988 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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."

Axl Rose

Robert John

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 Lies put it: "This song is very simple and extremely generic or generalized, my apologies to those who may take offense."

Izzy Stradlin

American musician Izzy Stradlin, the rhythm guitarist of hard rock band Guns N' Roses, circa 1990. (Photo by Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images)

Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images

August 27th, 1989: Izzy Arrested After Airborne Urination Mishap