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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


1991.06.30 - Birmingham Race Course, Birmingham, USA

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1991.06.30 - Birmingham Race Course, Birmingham, USA Empty 1991.06.30 - Birmingham Race Course, Birmingham, USA

Post by Soulmonster Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:19 pm

June 30, 1991.

Birmingham Race Course.

Birmingham, USA.

01: Perfect Crime
02: Mr. Brownstone
03: Welcome To The Jungle
04: Bad Obsession
05: Double Talkin' Jive
06: Dust N' Bones
07: Nightrain
08: Civil War
09: It's So Easy
Godfather Theme
10: Sweet Child O' Mine
11: November Rain
12: Patience
13: Knockin' On Heaven's Door
14: You Could Be Mine
15: Estranged
16: Paradise City

Axl Rose (vocals), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitarist), Slash (lead guitarist), Duff McKagan (bass), Dizzy Reed (keyboards) and Matt Sorum (drums).

1991.06.30 - Birmingham Race Course, Birmingham, USA Rightarrow Next concert: 1991.07.02.
1991.06.30 - Birmingham Race Course, Birmingham, USA Leftarrow Previous concert: 1991.06.29.
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1991.06.30 - Birmingham Race Course, Birmingham, USA Empty Re: 1991.06.30 - Birmingham Race Course, Birmingham, USA

Post by Soulmonster Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:44 am

Apparently, this was not a good gig:

Keith Spera wrote:On June 30, 1991, at the Birmingham Race Course in Alabama, GNR flirted with disaster. The entire production was a mess, starting with a dangerous crush at the turnstiles.

Early on, Rose got hit in the leg with a clump of mud. He wiped it off slowly and ominously, then announced that he was leaving and might or might not return. He eventually did, but his heart clearly wasn’t in it.
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1991.06.30 - Birmingham Race Course, Birmingham, USA Empty Re: 1991.06.30 - Birmingham Race Course, Birmingham, USA

Post by Blackstar Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:56 am

Matt Wake wrote:Guns N' Roses: A look back at band's infamous 1991 Alabama Race Course concert

It was hot, muddy and depending on whom you ask either a transcendent rock show or total debacle.

And about halfway into Guns N' Roses' two-hour June 30, 1991 performance at the Birmingham Race Course, Slash, the curly-haired guitarist who normally lets his instrument do the talking for him onstage, stepped to the microphone.

"I'm seeing a lot of people being carried over the barricade," Slash said. His voice, endearingly semi-wasted. "Try to relax whoever's pushing towards the front, alright? Just cool out! There's a lot of (expletive) people in this (expletive) place, man, as far back as I can (expletive) see."

A few seconds later, Guns N' Roses erupted into the sinister punk-metal track "It's So Easy." The antithesis of chill-out music.

Tens of thousands of fans had come to the Birmingham Race Course that day to see the biggest and most dangerous band in the world play hits like "Sweet Child O'Mine." After taking almost a year to truly blow up, the group's 1987 debut LP "Appetite for Destruction" mushroomed into one of the biggest selling releases of all-time: 18 million copies sold in the U.S., 30 million worldwide. In addition to their brutal-brilliant music, the band's volatile, dagger-voiced frontman Axl Rose was a huge reason for the band's success. Rock singer charisma like that comes around once a generation.

Fans arrived for the GNR show that Sunday afternoon, travelling from across the state and beyond. Stephanie Carter, then a 17-year-old recent high school graduate, had made the trip down from Huntsville in a little white hatchback with two other girls. Although she didn't sport leather or big hair, music-wise Carter was a total metalhead, and a fan of Sunset Strip rockers like Motley Crue, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat and of course GNR.

After arriving in Birmingham, Carter and her friends had decided to stop by the race course before going to eat lunch. Just to check the venue out.

"And when we got there, there was already a huge line waiting to get into the parking lot," Carter says now. "And so we made the decision instead to just go ahead and get in line. We had like no food, no water with us so we were starving and it was a super-hot day. It had rained the night before and it was really humid. They weren't letting people into the parking lot until a certain time and so when they finally opened the gates for the parking lot, I don't think the venue was ready for this event. They had like one place selling water but the water was super expensive. So there were people that were severely dehydrated that were getting sick all over the place because you're out in the sun and not enough water."

Nineteen year-old Steve Hall had only been living in Alabama for about two weeks. The Air Force had stationed him in Montgomery and the same day Hall, a "massive fan" of Guns N' Roses, arrived at Gunter Air Force Base he found out GNR was going to be play later that month in Birmingham. "I was just a one-striper in the Air Force and didn't have a car," Hall recalls. "And one of my first priorities was try to find anybody else who was interested and had transportation."

Hall made the drive up to the Birmingham concert with two other airmen. Growing up in Upstate New York, he'd seen his share of arena shows, like Van Halen and the Beastie Boys, but once he entered the Birmingham Race Course grounds, he felt the number of people here on this day was "double or triple the number of those."

The crowd at GNR' Birmingham Race Course show has been rumored to have been around 40,000.

(I reached out to Red Mountain Entertainment, the Birmingham concert promotions company with some staff members that formerly worked for New Era Productions, for an interview for this article. Built by concert promoter Tony Ruffino, who brought legendary acts like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin to Alabama, and Gary Weinberger, New Era became a Birmingham-based concert powerhouse. The organization also built Oak Mountain Amphitheater. I'd wanted to ask former New Era staff several key questions about the 1991 GNR show. Among them: What was the actual attendance/number of tickets sold? On a tour where the band otherwise played almost exclusively arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters, why did GNR play such an unorthodox venue in Birmingham? Did the band go on late? What was it like doing business with a group as volatile as Guns N' Roses was at that time? Unfortunately, that interview fell through. I also left multiple messages with Birmingham Race Course in an attempt to talk with the general manager there about the GNR show. Those calls were not returned.)

Skid Row was GNR's opening act at the Birmingham Race Course. The Skids had recently followed up a polished quintuple-platinum 1989 debut album with the much heavier "Slave to the Grind" disc, also a hit. A few months later, the band's atomic-grade singer Sebastian Bach would writhe sexily on the cover of Rolling Stone. So having the Skids on the bill made GNR even more of a hot ticket.

Hall recalls that Skid Row "absolutely killed it" that night in Birmingham opening the show. "I don't know if I've ever seen another opening act that fit the headliner better than Skid Row did with Guns N' Roses that night. Sebastian was a one of a kind frontman and the band was just absolutely on fire. As tight as they could be."

Tickets were $22.50 for this general-admission show. After waiting in their car for the venue to begin letting people in, Carter and her friends saw a long line forming so they walked to the back of it. After an extended wait to get into the Birmingham Race Course, the girls found a spot well back from the large stage and in the middle of the field. They'd brought a blanket to sit on. However by the time Skid Row started their set, playing such songs as the scream-fest "Monkey Business," the blanket had been totally trampled and was completely under mud.

"And one of the girls I was with ended up losing a shoe," Carter says.

There was probably more than one shoe lost at the Birmingham Race Course that day. Among other things.

Looking back 20 years later, it's unclear exactly how long it took GNR to hit the stage after Skid Row finished. Hall doesn't remember the gap being more than 60 minutes. Carter thinks it was at least 45 minutes. Some fans have posted online Guns didn't go on until around 11. The start time for the concert was listed as 7 or 7:30 p.m., depending on which outlet tickets were obtained from.

Robb Hereford, a 19-year-old University of Alabama student at the time, had travelled with friends to see the GNR show. Asked about the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks back to that night at the Birmingham Race Course, Hereford says with a laugh, "Really my main memory is of mud. I was ankle-deep in peanut-butter-like mud."

Then he adds, "Also, I remember not being sure if they were going to keep playing or not. There were a lot of interruptions."

We'll get to those interruptions in a minute.

GNR opened their Birmingham set with "Perfect Crime," a blistering number from the band's ambitious twin "Use Your Illusion" albums, which wouldn't be released until September. The band would play nine songs that night from the forthcoming LPs, including several that clocked in at seven minutes or longer, like "Civil War," "Estranged" and the epic ballad "November Rain." It felt truly daring for a mega-band to be playing that many unheard songs (aside from new GNR single "You Could Be Mine" and its B-side, "Civil War," also previously released on a 1990 charity album). Well, mostly unheard. A friend of Hall's had previously given him a bootleg recording containing many "Illusion" songs, so Hall was actually able to sing along with the new numbers, puzzling other nearby fans at the Birmingham concert.

Of course, the sweaty, shirtless race course throng went bananas whenever GNR broke into an "Appetite" track. The band did the junkie-funk "Mr. Brownstone" as the second number. Followed by a slamming "Welcome to the Jungle," which had the entire crowd singing along with the Hollywood-underbelly lyrics.

Things started going a little sideways soon after "Jungle" though.

After a performance of "Illusion" sleaze boogie "Bad Obsession," Rose left the stage. The band went into a sloppy blues jam. There were technical difficulties. Then, Slash erupted into the rat-a-rat riff from Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown" and then halted just as quickly. There was a lot of dead air. Some fans, fearful the temperamental singer was done for the night, began chanting "Axl! Axl!" Rose reappeared and said to the crowd, "Can we like listen to the (expletive) songs and get through this show?" The band played two songs sung by rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, including "Double Talkin' Jive," with lyrics about finding "a head and an arm in a garbage can," with Rose contributing howling background vocals.

Before announcing the performance of "Appetite" alcoholic anthem "Nightrain," Rose said into the mic optimistically, "I got a feeling we're going to be here a little while tonight," drawing an cheer from the crowd. During band introductions that followed that song, Stradlin played the intro to "Sweet Home Alabama" after Rose called out his name.

Hereford remembers Slash's performance of "The Godfather" film theme, which the guitarist had begun doing on the "Illusion" tour as his solo showpiece, as a musical highlight of the show. After "The Godfather," Slash broke into the "Sweet Child O'Mine" wah-wah intro and the crowd went berzerk. It seemed like the show, which at one point seemed on the edge of bedlam and even madness, was veering toward victory.

Two songs later it veered back again.

During the hit bittersweet ballad "Patience," fans began throwing mud onstage at Rose. As the song reached the first chorus, Rose said, "Stop. Stop the (expletive) song." The band stopped playing. "That's cute. We'll be back in about maybe 15 minutes if I feel like playing some more. Thank you." He threw down the microphone. The crowd began to grow unruly. After a few minutes later Rose returned. He addressed the crowd. "You throw something and then some (expletive) drunk kid over here, 16, throws a (expletive) bottle or something, my job, my career is (expletive)." This speech failed to connect with a crowd that mostly did not have careers yet.

I was also at GNR's Birmingham Race Course concert. To a 19-year-old restaurant employee and college student, like I was at the time, Rose sounded like a spoiled rock-star. But years later my opinion of the incident changed. If people were throwing mud at me while I was trying to do an interview or write an article, I would not be happy either.

Hall also feels sympathy towards Rose's plight at the time.

However for many in the crowd, including Carter, the image of Rose "throwing a fit and walking offstage" was "kind of the topper of the whole day, the whole experience." The irony of the incident occurring during a song called "Patience" was not lost either. In 1987, Carter had enjoyed seeing GNR open for Motley Crue on a tour that also hit Birmingham and Mobile, but felt at the Birmingham Race Course "the whole thing was off and it just didn't feel the same.

"It was just a disaster."

Rose and the band finished "Patience," picking it up in the chorus again, with a soaring Slash solo elevating the song. Rose sang the absolute hell out of the tune's anthemic bridge, his vocals part-demonic, part-gospel. The band would next play their roof-raising cover of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," with Slash working a bit of Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed" into the intro. And then three encores, with Slash slurring "This is like a sea of (expletive) people," before slamming into "Paradise City" on a double-neck Gibson guitar. As the song crescendoed, Rose did one last "Whoa oh oh yeah" melisma before screaming staccato: "Birmingham. Thank you. Good. (Expletive). Night."

Leaving the venue after the concert "was chaos," Carter remembers.

"Of course there were a lot of people that were drunk or under the influence of some kind of drugs," she says. "And there was just so much anger too. I remember a lot of horns blowing and screaming and stuff like that as a release of anger."

It could have been much more harrowing.

GNR's next concert, three days later at a St. Louis-area amphitheater, ended with a riot. So did the band's 1992 co-headlining concert with Metallica in Montreal.

Guns N' Roses would actually play Birmingham again on the grueling 18-month "Use Your Illusion" tour, which included almost 200 total concerts and traveled to more than 25 countries. But the band wasn't the same for that latter show, held Feb. 25, 1993 at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Arena. Stradlin had left the group by that time and the band's dangerous side had swollen into caricature. GNR went onstage annoying late. Rose stormed off after blowing out his voice, reportedly because his monitor tech forgot to turn the stage monitors on, so bassist Duff McKagan sang a couple of tunes and Slash apologized to the crowd. Hall was also at that 1993 BJCC show, and says, "I wasn't one of them, but they lost a lot of fans that night."

Hereford, now 44 and working in retail and landscaping in Huntsville, thought he'd have many more chances to see classic Guns N' Roses. "AC/DC's been touring for how many decades? And The Stones. And they just keep coming back around - we all knew that's where (Guns N' Roses) were going. They're a great band and a great band live. It's a shame they let it fall apart like they did."

A July 17, 1993 show in Buenos Aires, Argentina would be the last time Axl, Slash and Duff would share a stage for almost 23 years.

Rose would continue the group with many different skilled musicians over the years, before reuniting with Slash and Duff for this year's "Not In This Lifetime" stadium tour, which comes to Nashville July 9 with outlaw country singer Chris Stapleton opening.

GNR's 2016 "Not In This Lifetime" concerts have drawn strong to ecstatic reviews. As have Rose's performances with AC/DC, earlier this year abroad, as the hard-rock icons' touring vocalist after longtime singer Brian Johnson's hearing injury. And it's no small sign GNR, once notoriously tardy, has been going stage on-time for "Not In This Lifestime" shows.

Carter is now 42 and a teacher's aide living in Lake Elsinore, Calif. Even though she left the Birmingham Race Course disappointed after that GNR concert, she remained fan. "I remember thinking I might think twice about seeing them again. But I liked their music and whenever they'd put out an album I'd buy it. I really liked a lot of the metal and rock (of that era) and their sound was just a little bit grittier, a little bit dirtier."

Now 44, Hall has been a concert promoter for the last 13 years, with shows featuring artists such as Cage the Elephant, Snoop Dogg and Deftones. He currently runs Birmingham-based Steve Hall Productions. As a young fan at that Birmingham Race Course concert, he'd fought his way up to the front row, close enough to touch Slash's high-tops during a solo. Decades later Hall would promote concerts featuring Slash's solo band and McKagan's group Loaded. Hall tips his hat to "the legendary Tony Ruffino," who died in 2011, for bringing monster shows, like prime GNR, to the state. "To pull off the logistics in an unorthodox venue and still make it happen and put Birmingham on the map with one of the most ambitious tours in rock and roll history is something to be proud of."

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