In late March, when Guns n’ Roses’ former managers sued Axl Rose over a $1.9 million unpaid tour commission, the band’s notoriously cantankerous leader remained uncharacteristically quiet. But today Rose responded to the suit filed by Irving Azoff’s Front Line Management with a $5 million countersuit that includes some stunning claims. Rose says that during Azoff’s short tenure as Gn’R’s manager, Azoff secretly tried to hatch a plan to trick Rose into reuniting with his former Guns n’ Roses bandmates for a tour, TMZ reports. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Rose’s filing goes on to argue that Azoff — whose management company was acquired by Ticketmaster, who later merged with Live Nation — used his strong influence in the industry to try to “bully” the frontman, and ultimately “resigned and abandoned Guns n’ Roses on the eve of a major tour, filing suit for commissions he didn’t earn and had no right to receive.”
In the countersuit, Rose claims Azoff tried “devising and implementing a secret plan to set up Rose and the [current] band for failure so that Rose would have no choice but to reunite with the original Guns n’ Roses’ members.” As Rolling Stone previously reported, Front Line Management sued Rose — or “William Bill Bailey,” as he’s named in the initial complaint — for “failing and refusing” to pay Front Line tour commissions from Gn’R’s recent treks of Southeast Asia and Canada. The lawsuit came just months after Rose split from Front Line — who the band hired in March 2008 to help broker the exclusive deal with Best Buy to release Chinese Democracy — and replaced Azoff with Kiss manager Doc McGhee.
Chinese Democracy wasn’t a big seller, but a tour reuniting Rose with Slash, Duff McKagan and the rest of his former Roses bandmates would have been a blockbuster. Rose’s Chinese Democracy trek with his current band has yet to come to the U.S.; the group’s Canadian dates launched January 13th with a three-hour marathon of the band’s biggest hits.
Rose also claims that Azoff knowingly referred to him as “William Bailey” in the lawsuit to cause him harm because he had told Azoff that the name “carries significant emotional damage from Rose’s childhood.”