Guns N' Roses vs. Nirvana
Rose was initially a big fan of Seattle's most famous export, even wearing a Nirvana hat in the video for "Don't Cry," but Cobain repeatedly badmouthed GNR in the press. Undeterred, Rose invited Nirvana to be their opening act on a co-headlining tour with Metallica. "One day we're walking through an airport and Kurt says, 'Fuck. Axl Rose won't stop calling me,'" Dave Grohl later recalled in a 2006 interview with Esquire. "I think it represented something bigger. Nirvana didn't want to turn into Guns N' Roses. So Kurt started talking shit in interviews, and then Axl started talking back."
Rose lobbed his first volley of insults onstage during a lengthy mid-concert tirade about Cobain and his wife Courtney Love, calling them "a fuckin' junkie with a junkie wife," and even touched on hurtful rumors that their daughter, Frances Bean, had been born with drug-related birth defects.
When both bands were both booked to perform at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, things exploded backstage when Rose and model-girlfriend Stephanie Seymour walked past Cobain and Love, who were holding baby Frances. "When Courtney saw Axl, she said: 'Axl, Axl, do you wanna be the godfather to our child?' She was taunting him," recalled MTV executive Amy Finnerty, who witnessed the tense exchange.
Rose then hissed a warning Cobain never forgot. "These were his words: 'You shut your bitch up, or I'm taking you down to the pavement.' [laughs] So I turned to Courtney and said: 'Shut up, bitch!'" Cobain later recalled. The mood turned even uglier when Seymour asked Love if she was a model. "No," came the reply, "Are you a brain surgeon?"
Before Nirvana took the stage, an irate Duff McKagan intercepted Krist Novoselic and they exchanged words. After concluding a historic performance of "Lithium," Grohl couldn't resist tweaking the easily tweak-able Rose by repeatedly whining into the mic, "Axl! Axl! Where's Axl? Hi, Axl!"
The feud dissipated after Cobain's suicide in April 1994. "After Kurt died, one of the first phone calls I got was from Matt Sorum," Grohl told Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. "He left a message and said, 'Man, I'm really sorry, and I hope you're doing well.' I thought that was really cool." In 2010, McKagan apologized for the "terse words" exchanged with Novoselic, now a friend, in an open letter. Most recently, when Rose injured his foot during Guns N' Roses' 2016 reunion tour, Grohl sent over the oversized guitar throne he had used with the Foo Fighters.