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.

Axl Rose, Erin Everly

Early love notes from Axl.

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

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.

Axl Rose; Guns N' Roses

Bill Turnbull/Getty

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."


Buckethead and Guns N' Roses performing at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, August 29, 2002. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.

Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect

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.

Guns N' Roses

Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses during Guns N' Roses File Photos, 1990s, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)


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."

Axl Rose, Tommy Hilfiger

Alfredo Rocha/WireImage, Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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."

Axl Rose

Guns N' Roses with Axl Rose (right) during KROQ Inland Invasion 2006 at Hyundai Pavilion at Glenn Helen in San Bernardino, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

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!"

Axl Rose

Axl Rose (L) of Guns N Roses performs at the John Varvatos & L'Uomo Vogue Fashion Week party at 315 Bowery on February 11, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)

Bennett Raglin/WireImage

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!

Axl Rose

Guns N' Roses In Concert, O2 Arena, London, Britain - 14 Oct 2010, Guns N' Roses - Axl Rose (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

Brian Rasic/Getty Images

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."

Watch Guns N' Roses bring down the house opening night.

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