Below is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RS 612 from September 5, 1991. This issue and the rest of the Rolling Stone archives are available via Rolling Stone Plus, Rolling Stone’s premium subscription plan. If you are already a subscriber, you can click here to see the full story. Not a member? Click here to learn more about Rolling Stone Plus.
It’s late July, and as usual, Guns n’ Roses are screwing everything up. They’re out on the road with devil-may-care attitudes and no set list, serving up a bunch of unfamiliar songs and saying their new records’ll be done when they’re done.
To make things worse, Axl Rose is carrying on like an Apache. He stormed into his home state for a concert and compared the fans there to prisoners at Auschwitz. He showed up two hours late for a New York show and launched into a tirade against his record company and various other institutions, including this magazine. He steamrollered into St. Louis, and before he left town, a riot had broken out. During an encore in Salt Lake City, he got ticked off because the Mormons weren’t rocking and said, “I’ll get out of here before I put anybody else to sleep.” Then he did.
And the hits just keep on coming. Ted Nugent of Damn Yankees has declared his bands shows free-for-alls for fans with cameras. Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil has gone on MTV and challenged Rose to a public fight. Even the bands old drummer, Steven Adler, has gotten into the picture: He’s suing Guns n’ Roses, claiming they encouraged him to do heroin and then snatched his job away while he was trying to clean up.
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Not since the Sex Pistols has one band caused so much controversy. From the day they burst out of a grimy Sunset Strip hellhole and into the public eye, Guns n’ Roses have been nothing but trouble. They wrote a song that pissed off blacks and gays, and a couple of others that riled feminists. One of them said ‘fuck’ on television. Another got arrested for peeing in the galley of a passenger plane. They did drugs, lots of drugs. They drank like bandits. Every Monday morning a new rumor circulated that one of them had overdosed. Nobody was sure they’d live long enough to make another record.
Then, as is their habit, they did the unexpected: They cleaned themselves up. They put their personal and personnel affairs in order and went into the studio. There were a few setbacks, but everything seemed to be going smoothly — all things being relative, of course.