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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

June 1985 at the Stardust Ballroom in L.A.

Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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."

Guns N' Roses

LOS ANGELES - JULY 21: (L-R) Axl Rose Steven Adler, Slash and Duff McKagan of the rock band "Guns n' Roses" perform onstage at a UCLA frat party where they played "Welcome To The Jungle" for the second time for 30 bucks and some beer on July 21, 1985 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.


LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 28: Guitarist Slash of the rock band "Guns n' Roses" backstage at the Troubadour where Tom Zutaut of Geffen Records was in the audience who later signed them to a record deal on February 28, 1986 in Los Angeles, California. They also played the song "Out Ta Get Me" for the first time that night. (Photo by Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.

Axl Rose

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 28: Singer Axl Rose of the rock group 'Guns n' Roses' perform onstage at the Roxy Theatre on March 25, 1986 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jack Lue/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Jack Lue/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.

Guns N' Roses

Adler on stage that night.

Jack Lue/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.

Guns N' Roses

LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 31: Axl Rose and Duff McKagan of the rock group 'Guns n' Roses' perform onstage for the first time at The Roxy Theatre on August 31,1985 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jack Lue/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Jack Lue/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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

Guns N' Roses

LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 30: (L-R) Steven Adler, Duff McKagan, Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin of the rock group 'Guns n' Roses' perform at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium opening up for Ted Nugent on August 30, 1986 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.

Guns N' Roses

LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 30: (L-R) Steven Adler and Slashn of the rock group 'Guns n' Roses' backstage at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium after opening for Ted Nugent on August 30, 1986 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.

Guns N' Roses

SANTA BARBARA, CA - OCTOBER 23: Guitarists Izzy Stradlin and Slash of the rock group 'Guns n' Roses' perform onstage at The Arlington Theater on October 23,1986 in Santa Barbara, California. The band was opening for Alice Cooper but their singer Axl Rose was late and the security wouldn't let him in so the band went on without him and sang the Izzy and Slash sang the vocals. (Photo by Jack Lue/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Jack Lue/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.

Guns N' Roses

Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses in concert (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

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.

Appetite For Destruction

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.

Guns N' Roses

Tony Mottram/Getty Images

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.

Guns N' Roses

BROOKLYN, NY - OCTOBER 29: Axl Rose of Guns N Roses performs at L'Amour on October 29, 1987 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)

Larry Marano/Getty Images

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.

Axl Rose

BAYSHORE, NY - OCTOBER 16: Axl Rose of Guns N Roses performs at Sundance On October 16, 1987 In Bayshore New York. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)

Larry Marano/Getty

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.

Steven Adler

BROOKLYN, NY - OCTOBER 29: Steven Adler of Guns N Roses performs at L'Amour on October 29, 1987 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)

Larry Marano/Getty Images

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.

Steven Adler

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 14: Inductee Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses performs on stage at the 27th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 14, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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."

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.


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

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.'"

Guns N' Roses

Axl Rose of Guns 'n' Roses performs in concert at the Ritz on February 2, 1988 in New York City. (Photo by L. Busacca/WireImage)

L. Busacca/WireImage

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.

Izzy Stradlin

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

Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images

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."

Guns N' Roses

LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 10: (L-R) Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan, Axl Rose, Slash and Steven Adler of the rock group 'Guns n' Roses' in a still from the video shoot for the song 'It's So Easy' at the Cathouse which was also a warm-up gig for when they were to open for the Rolling Stones a week later on October 10, 1989 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.

Axl Rose and Mick Jagger

Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)


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."

Slash and Duff

Slash and Duff McKagan of Guns n' Roses (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

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.