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.

Steven Adler

Krasner/Trebitz /Redferns

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.

Guns N' Roses

Axl Rose, circa 1990. (Photo by Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage

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.

Guns N' Roses

Axl Rose and Slash of Guns N Roses perform live at Rock In Rio II on January 15, 1991 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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.

Axl Rose

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 31: Axl Rose of Guns n' Roses performs on stage at Wembley Stadium on August 31st, 1991 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Still/Redferns)

Peter Still/Redferns

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.

Axl Rose

Axl being arrested for the similar St. Louis riot.

Bill Turnbull/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

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.

Axl Rose, Warren Beatty

Peter Still/Redferns, TriStar Pictures/Getty Images

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.

Guns N' Roses

Axl Rose and Slash (Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage)

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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!"

Guns N' Roses

Guns N Roses Performing Live Concert At The Milton Keynes Bowl, Britain - 1993, Axl Rose Of Guns 'N' Roses (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

Brian Rasic/Getty Images

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.

Guns N' Roses

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."

Shannon Hoon

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Singer Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon performs on stage in 1994. (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns)

Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty

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.

The Spaghetti Incident

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.


LOS ANGELES - 1984: Guitarist Slash poses for a portrait with his pet snake, Clyde, in 1984 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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.

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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