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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:27 pm

NOVEMBER 29, 1988

Already in October 1987 would Axl mention their plans to release an acoustic EP late in 1988 [CGBG's Post-show interview, October 1987].  In the end, the band decided to package the acoustic tracks the band had recorded with their old 'Live! Like A Suicide' EP, creating a hybrid EP of both old and released electric songs and some new acoustic songs.

The new EP was named 'G N' R Lies: The Sex, the Drugs, the Violence, the Shocking Truth' and it was released on November 29 1988, coinciding with the success of 'Appetite'.

According to Goldmine Magazine, this record did not count towards fulfilling the band's contract with Geffen Records and Geffen did not advertise or send our promotional copies whatsoever [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989].

Axl knew the songs would be controversial, that they would "freak people out" and decided to deal with it by writing a note of explanation/apology on the album cover [Musician, December 1988].

The president of Geffen Records, Eddie Rosenblatt, would comment on it this way: "We believe in free speech at this record company. We've stickered the record, which should serve as ample warning to concerned parents. But we can't speak for the artist. In fact, it's important to let our artists speak for themselves--and we hope their audience will judge them in the appropriate context" [Los Angeles Times, December 1988].

The EP debuted at no. 5 on this lists in mid-January 1989 [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989]. At one time Guns N' Roses had to records in top 5 simultaneously, 'Appetite' and 'Lies', a feat "never equalled by the likes of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard . . . or even the Stones and Zeppelin" as well as starting a "trend of 'acoustic releases' from Hard Rockers" [RAW Magazine, May 1989].

Slash and Duff would explain the name of the EP and its cover art this way:

It’s supposed to be like the Sunday Sport meets the Sun kinda thing, you know, with a Page Three girl on it and stuff.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

You know, that's pretty self-explanatory as well. It's like, the band's just sorta like, the center of attention, as far as, you know, sort of controversy in rock n' roll and stuff like that. And they make up all these stories. I found out today that I died again today. [...] And, you know, Axl dies all the time. There's all this crap going around. People love to make up stuff about you. I don't know why. We're the band that seems to be the center of all that attention. [...] Sort of a parody of our whole existence.

It's just like, us saying "Ok, you guys wanna blow this out of proportion? Let's totally blow it out of proportion". If you're gonna get that ridiculous about it.

Since the band is the center of attention as far as controversy in rock’n’roll, this EP is sort of a parody of our whole existence.

We did the cover for a good reason. We've been in the center of attention for so long. We've had so much hype and sensationalism centered on us over the last few years that it became really ridiculous. All of it was bullshit. We've heard that we've all died in car crashes, that we're all drug addicts and that we all have AIDS - and, of course, it's all untrue. This EP cover was our chance to turn it around and stick it back in everyone's face.

Izzy was not a huge fan of the EP:

This album was shit, this LIES album was shit. […] Before APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION was produced, we recorded 30 to 40 songs as demos. I'm not going to say that the demos were better than LIES stuff, but ... let's just forget about LIES, OK?


Because of its controversy, and from a desire to create something "positive", Rolling Stone would in early 2000 claim that Axl would remove 'One in a Million' from future pressings of 'GN'R Lies' [Rolling Stone, January 2000].

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:19 pm; edited 8 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:34 pm


Success is a double-edged sword and the band had to adjust to being famous:

Sometimes it bothers me. You look in the mirror and go, 'I look like shit.' You walk out and there's three girls with cameras. They don't understand if you don't want your picture taken. At the same time, if they're not there you think, 'Am I doing something wrong?' I'm human. Sometimes you can deal with it, other times you can't—sometimes its great, other times it's annoying. Sometimes you avoid it be-cause you're in a bad mood and you don't want to tell someone to off.

“You know, it’s getting hectic. You try to shake hands, and they’re trying to rip your bracelets off, pull you into the crowd [from the stage], rip your pants off and everything else. And it’s like, you’re try­ing to be nice, but at the same time, it’s really weird.

It’s hard to go to a concert and sit in your seats. I went to, uh... it was Aerosmith, and I didn’t go with my top – I went with my top hat, and so people instantly recognized me for that. It was the first time I got into a concert and sat in the seats since I’ve become, you know, the celebrity status or whatever you wanna call it, and I was just real naive about it and just went. And I got mobbed, you know. It was like, even during the Aerosmith show with the lights out people were still trying to get autographs and stuff - which is cool. And then I went and saw Poison and Dave Roth a little while back: the same thing, you know.

I went [back to Indiana] for Christmas, it was psycho. There were kids sleeping in cars outside my parents' house. People would call my grandma and pretend to be me to find me. They're changing the number.

What's different is now you got a lot more to lose. You have to live up to expectations.

When the tour ended [in 1988] everything was different. People who before, could care less about us, now came and said, “Hey guys, how are you doing?” It was kind of confusing, you came home and you asked “what changed? …of course, the album.” And the people when we went down the street, told us “how are you? Will you give me 10 bucks?” (laughs). One day, I met a guy who was doing something for MTV, I met him in a hotel; he told me he was in Ronnie Wood’s band. I told myself, “hey, everyone is my friend!” I was a big fan of Ronnie. I didn’t see that guy again for a week, he had given me his name, and that of his manager. One day, the guy showed up at my house, he got comfortable and drank all my whiskey, my vodka, and everything else. I received a phone call from the management company… and I told them that he was with me, I gave them his name… and the company told me “who’s that… never heard of the guy!” I came around at that moment… at that time I drank a lot and that made me lose my mind….

The only change is the over-exaggeration of each of us as a personality. Axl used to look 5'8". Now he's eight feet tall. It surrounds us all the time.

I mean for a bunch of kids to come off Sunset Boulevard and then end up on the road and then turn into like one of the biggest bands in the country, you know, which wasn't overnight but the actual success part happens so quick that it was such a mindblower. And especially when we got off the road and you're recognized everywhere and you go on to a record store, you go to a gas station, people recognize your new car, you know, and all that stuff. It's a real shock. I mean, it definitely, you know, set one over on me. Threw me for a loop.

I knew what I knew until I was 23, now I've learned a whole new life in two years, a whole different life, you know. So it's just dealing with that is just kind of weird. I'm not complaining, you know, but it just, it's weird. It's like cramming eight years of college into, you know, a week.

We’ve had to adapt our lifestyles a little. If we go to clubs these days we have to expect to be hassled and I’ve gotten into three fights recently with guys just trying to show off to their girlfriends - I won all of ‘em, though! You see, I’ve got a mountain bike that I constantly ride, so I’m in good shape.

A guy in the South Bay is going around posing as me. He's been doing it for the last few months. He was trying to trade off melted gold coins as gold pieces and all this stuff. He's been going to the beach, as stupid as it sounds, doing this whole big Slash act.

[Talking about the fame]: […] there are little problems here and there as far as trying to maintain any animosity (ed: I think he means 'anonymity'), but otherwise, no, not much of a change. You get recognized a lot more.

The only problem that I'm having with being here is that I can't go out really, at this point, because the band got to a certain popularity where if I go to, say, a club, you know, everybody's staring at you and everybody comes up to you or they want autographs. And it's sort of, like, you can't really just hang out at and have a drink, you know what I mean? And, like, talk to a friend because everybody's buzzing around you.

It's weird to go out to a local club like the Cathouse or Bordellos just because you want to have a good time, and this guy comes and talks to you for one and a half hours, not because he enjoys your company or finds you've got something interesting to say, but because he can tell his friends he was hanging out with someone famous.

[It] gets weird. I don't really need to in LA, but I don't go out to clubs much - except to the Cathouse and to Bordello's, because I have police security there. The DJ and the owner of the club (Riki Rachtman) are looking out for me. […] That's one of the only places I really go. It's hard to go out, because everybody wants to talk to you and they all want an autograph. It's especially annoying when people are really drunk and talk for half-an-hour to an hour about something you're really not interested in, just because they're having their chance to talk to somebody they are into. You don't want to hurt their feelings, but at the same time you wanted to get out and have a good time and, instead, all of your time is taken up. It's kind of weird to know where your responsibilities end and where they begin.

Trying to handle success is a pain in the ass. It's really strange and takes some getting used to. I've never had my place to live before, never had to deal with the amount of money we've made and not get ripped off, never understood doing your taxes and all these things. I was hating it a few months ago, trying to get organized and trying to get a place to live and to get a grip on everything. But now things are coming together. I've wanted to be here my whole life.

[Talking about going back home to Indiana]: It gets a little bit out of hand. I can't really go any where. I just go to my friends' houses, but people I don't know show up wanting autographs. People that I used to go to school with, people that used to hate my guts, want me to invest money in this and that. People say shit like "Axl thinks he's too cool to party with us." But those people never wanted to party with me before, The people who are offended by this comment are the ones who should be.

I really only go to clubs where I know the people who work there, so I can have some privacy and hang out. It's hard when you go to a club with 600 people and you end up having to talk to 400 people. You have no time of your own to have fun. Maybe if I haven't gone out for a week, I'll go to the Cathouse, because I know some friends are gonna be there. I just want to be around my friends, even if we don't talk about anything. I just need it. You have all these people asking you for an autograph, and it gets kind of embarrassing. I don't want to be a prick to people and go, "Get away from me." But I don't enjoy going someplace and just signing autographs all the time. It comes with the fame, but sometimes it gets out of hand and people can be very rude and obnoxious about it. I've had people break into my hotel room with cameras, waking me up and taking photos. People find out where I live and show up at my building. I've never asked anyone for an autograph.

What we used to be like as a band was very detached, not really responsible for anyone but ourselves. We just toured and toured, and that was fine. We lived out of our duffel bags. But when we got off the road, and the record went through the roof, I mean, that was a major change for everybody, and everybody has their own way of dealing with it. For me, it was to fall into doing a lot of drugs and drinking and just clouding the whole thing over and jamming. I would spend all my time playing my guitar and getting stoned. For Steven, it was sort of the same, but he likes to party and hang out and have fun more than me. Izzy’s sort of similar to me. Axl would find these fantastical situations that only Axl could find. Only Duff’s remained rooted to a married, domestic kind of lifestyle.

[…] and then we got so f**kin’ immensely popular that we hated it, cos all of a sudden our lives changed, and that had a big effect on us. […] When your mother starts wearing Guns T-shirts, you know there’s something wrong. […] But the point of what I’m saying is, there was that whole change in our personal lives, which people may or may not be interested in, but it was really serious. There was a lot of — well, I’m surprised we’re all still here! Cos there was a lot of stuff to swallow, to establish a sense of security or to be able to deal with money or houses and all that crap, which we’ve never been interested in in the first place. After the tour they basically dropped us off at the airport and it was like, ‘Well, touring’s done, guys. Go make another record’. We went through a lot of emotional and personal changes.

It was like, this thing rearing its big ugly head and we didn’t even know what it was,” continues Duff. And people start hating you for being successful.

We can’t walk down the street any more, or f**kin’ pop into a liquor store, without getting hassled. I guess it’s like a classic scenario, almost a cliché. I suppose every big band’s gone through it. And people who are just rock fans or people who would love to be in our shoes, or in any successful band’s shoes, are sitting there going, ‘Well, that’s a small price to pay’ - which to tell you the truth it is, because we get to do what we wanna do, we have control of our own career as far as our music goes, and we don’t bend to anyone else’s standards. […] Basically we have the optimum lifestyle. But the price that you pay for it takes a helluva lot out of you, just in your personal life, that people don’t really realize.

[…] I was in New York doing the final mastering for the record [=Use Your Illusions] about a week or so ago and I just decided when I left the studio to walk back and it was really nice, it was nightime and it was just cool walking back to the hotel without people bugging me and shit. I get to the fucking hotel, it's like we're the fucking Beatles. There's a hundred somewhat people I wasn't even expecting, so these things still pop up, it never ceases to amaze me that it just keeps going. All these people outside the hotel and then one of them turned around and the whole mob turned around and the whole place blew up and I had to run into the hotel and through all the people who were grabbing me and stuff and it blew my fucking mind.

So, when we got back from the Appetite tour, I bought this big house, bought all this furniture, I was by myself, I was divorced, the door closed and there I was in this big house all by myself and I'm going, 'Okay, what do I do now?' So I started going down to these clubs, trying to meet girls, whatever — you know, do all the things that I was either too busy or too broke to go out and do before. And it kind of hit me. It slapped me slam, right in the face after a lot of months of being jerked around, that people weren't interested in me. They didn't want me for me, they wanted me because I was this guy in Guns N' Roses. And after a few months of this, getting ripped off, my heart getting stepped on or whatever, I just stayed in my house.

I bought a house. I went through the closest thing to what you'd call suicidal depression after I'd laid in my bed in my house by myself, staring at the ceiling for days on end, not knowing what the fuck to do with myself. I couldn't hang out on the street like I normally did, because everybody looked at me differently, treated me differently, and I didn't like it. It was really hard.

A "band confidante" would tell Hit Parader that Axl had dealt with the celebrity status a lot better "than some of the other guys in the band":

They've learned to live in the limelight. It wasn't easy for Axl in the beginning when he suddenly was being hassled at clubs when he went out for the even­ing. He really didn't expect it or want it. Now he's more or less come to the realization that he's Axl Rose, rock star, whether he wants that kind of off-stage attention or not. It's just some­thing he’s got to live with. Actually, I think he’s handled it a lot better than some of the other guys in the band.

Izzy would get increasingly paranoid by the attention from weird fans:

Well, it's frightening, that's what it is. I mean, a week ago I flew with Axl from New York to Lafayette, Indiana, with one lay-over flight and by the time we hit Lafayette there were people just milling around the fuckin' airport. Mainly for him. Axl really brings out the fuckin' crazies, man. They relate to him particularly in this very weird, intense way. But that's the same with all of us, y'know. It's like a sickness. 'Cos they don't want to shake your hand or get your autograph. They want to scream in your face or mess with your head, sneak around your house, sneak into your hotel room and fuck with your head. It puts you right on edge, man, all the fuckin' time. Because a lot of these kids carry guns, right. And you never know what the fuck they're up to. And that's not half the shit. I've been ripped off... nine months ago I moved into the Valley; in one week I was robbed, y'know, of everything. Four months later I had to crawl out of LA and cool out in the Midwest. I find a place there and four days later it's been stripped clean. You figure you have to get rifles. Just to deal with these people. You don't want to shoot anyone but hey, if that's how it goes down…[…] I'm walking into my house, there's five guys parked in my yard, just waiting for me, right. One gets out -- "We wanna autograph!" I tell them to get the fuck out of my yard. But they don't see it that way. […] I've had my windows shot out. Many times. You think, 'Why the fuck would anyone wanna shoot my fuckin' windows out?' I mean, there's currently a wave of fuckin' murders in Los Angeles involving "personalities"... Some actors just got blasted point blank in a place on Fairfax on the same fuckin' block we used to live in. It's bullshit and I don't like to think about it but sometimes it gets to you, y'know.

Duff would also tell a harrowing tale of people wanting to fight him just because he was famous:

You know, before we did the last record we were down, no money, going through all this shit. Now it’s like a whole different bunch of shit to deal with. You got people who want to sue you, you got people who want to fight you, you can’t go to clubs... I got in a fight New Year's Eve, just ’cos some guy wanted to fuck with me. Check it out, it was my first night out since I busted up with my wife and all I wanted to do was have a good time. We were there to see Bang Tango. But within twenty seconds this guy comes up to me and says, “Where are you from?” I said I live here, you know. He said, “Well, don’t ever touch me again!” I mean, I haven’t even been near the guy, I’ve just walked through the door!

I just saw red all of a sudden, ’cos of the shit I've been going through. I turned to my friend Del and said, “Hold my wallet for me, please.” Then I turned back to this guy - and this guy was big, man - and I just went HUUURRGG! And I fuckin’ hit the guy. It’s the first time I've ever seen it in real life, but his eyes went cross-eyed, like in a movie, and then he went down… Actually, it’s a horror having to deal with shit like that all the time.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

[Being asked why he didn't have a bodyguard]: Fuck, no! […] No way! I’m just a normal guy, man... […] So they’re dickheads and I’m not! The next morning they’ll wake up and know they’re a dickhead. And the next day I’ll wake up and feel sorry I got in a fight and that’s that. I don’t use security - fuck that. I don’t believe in that shit.

[…] But I’ve gotten used to it... There was a period once of about a week where I got into three different fights. One guy started one just because he wanted to show off to his girlfriend. Now it’s question of do I want to walk in and deal with being Duff McKagan. But if they are going to be that much of a dickhead, OK, fine. I can ditch a fuckin’ hit, and I can hit ’em back! If he’s gonna be such an asshole then that’s his problem, not mine. I never did that to anybody when I first moved here to LA. I never thought of going up to David Lee Roth if I saw him down the Troubadour and telling him I was gonna kick his ass, you know? I just wouldn’t have thought of it... These guys who do are just assholes. Fuck them
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

The one I feel sorry for the most is Axl. He’s such a huge figure now... I mean, what does he do when he wants to go to the shopping mall - put on a baseball cap backwards and wear shades? That’s what he wears on stage, man, you know... So I feel sorry for him.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

Another issue was the fear of audience members storming the stage:

Yeah, I’ve thought about it. But I won’t say it. I will say that if anybody came after Axl and attacked him, I would get right in the way even if it meant getting my head smashed in. Axl would do the same for me, I know it. I’ve done it for Slash, and if it was Izzy, I’d do it for Izzy. They’d all do it for me, too. That's another cool thing about this band - we protect each other and watch out for each other.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

Of particular annoyance to Axl was his notoriety which prevented him from buying a house in Hollywood:

[…] I still can't go and buy a house anywhere in Hollywood because people won't sell me their houses, or their neighbors won't let them!

[Talking about what irritates him the most]: That I couldn't find a house in Hollywood to buy, rent or steal for a reasonable price. […] You can't make a million bucks and sit down and talk to people about, 'Oh man, I can't find the right house for a million bucks'. Your friends are saying, 'Oh, dude, your problems must be rough!'. They laugh in your face, because they think it's ridiculous.

In 1993, Axl would be asked if he'd do anything differently if he could have foreseen his career:

I would have done it anyway. It would have been nice to have an idea of what success is all about. That way I could have prepared for it ahead of time, knowing what the downsides were actually going to be about. […] Alice Cooper once said, "Nothing could ever prepare you for fame." That's pretty true. If there was something that could give me more insight into how to handle fame, it might not have been so hard to try and survive it.

The band would also be increasingly frustrated with the public considering them caricatures of themselves [Musician, December 1988], and where any normality of their lives would be unreported by the media, because it doesn't sell:

The fact is, we're all really sensitive people. And that's probably why, for one, I drink so much, why Axl flies off the handle and has these fits of depression. Because we're still living life, and sometimes that's hard to deal with. There's no big macho sense in this band. Duff's married; Axl's got a girlfriend he loves very much. Maybe sometimes we have relationships or other things that just drive us crazy. No one wants to know about that, though. Because at this point, it's not 'Guns N' Roses' for any of that to happen.

Because the band are sort of like cartoon characters now, you know, people come up to me and it’s like, “Hey dude, drink this beer... do something crazy!" They're constantly trying to grab at you, you know, sit down with you and be your best buddy for five seconds. It’s just really awkward. I find that going out to clubs - which is something I used to do every single night and get trashed - isn’t something I can really do and enjoy any more.

It’s actually at the point where I go to a club and end up leaving totally depressed. It really brings me down. Everybody wants to have your undivided attention, and if you don’t give it then they act like you’re an asshole - turned into this big rock star now, you know... It's something everybody goes through, though, I think. You just can’t do it, you know? And it’s like, they never wanted my attention before... It’s really a pretty traumatic experience.

I just don’t really go out. There has been a real downside to all this. I don’t go out much, I don’t have that many close friends, and the few close friends I do have, the times I actually see 'em are few and far between. It gets to be a little bit lonely after a while...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

In May 1991, Slash would indicate that he had coped with the weirdness of suddenly being a celebrity through drugs:

It just took a little bit, you know? A lot of other bands have gone through it and deal with it differently. I mean, it was like a big smack in the face to us in a way and we just, you know... I can’t really speak for everybody in the band, but, like, I avoided it with whatever was around that would, sort of like, just dull it (chuckles). […] Yeah. And that really wasn’t the right way to go. And eventually that took its toll on me and I stopped, and just started dealing with it, you know? And it’s no big... It’s, like, a small price to pay, really. But it was more of a personality crisis for me than it was anything, and the attention being focused all the time and...

In August/September 1991 he would talk more about it:

I have a really hard time swallowing the concept of being any kind of rock f***ing star. Okay, I expect certain things like, y'know, `Well, can we take a limo to the gig?' And hotel rooms like this... This isn't that expensive. We're only here because we've been kicked out of a lot of other hotel chains. But this is it. […] I've got my f***ing bag full of clothes and that's everything, right? And I've got my cooler. I've got my booze in there and that's all I f***ing need. […] You feel really awkward if somebody treats you like ... uh… a hero or something. It's weird to not be able to just hang out all the time on the street… […] You just can't f***ing win. It's f***ed because, even if you try to put the effort into hanging out, people treat you like you re some kinda f**ing machine sometimes. Some people are really cool, but other people are just, 'Here! Sign this!' […] You don't know exactly how to act. It's like, shall we act like Led Zeppelin and just go around with this huge entourage and not talk to anybody so the mystique is happening and everybody's like, 'Wow!'? No. We just wanna feel natural. I've been watching this develop. We have security and it's like, Bam! In the car! To the gig! So on and so forth. And, y'know, we don't wanna feel pompous. But people love to go, 'Oh yeah, the Guns guys. They're rock stars now. They're assholes.' None of us are like that. But how do you argue, y'know? […] I know people want heroes. I had'em. […] And I still have tons of heroes, but they turn out to be as insecure and sensitive as the next person. And what you realise is that, although you respect them as musicians or as artists, when you meet them, you strip all that away and you can just be friends with somebody. And so, yeah, people need heroes but, at the same time, when it comes down to it, everybody's so real and the people that aren't real are the people who carry this facade around all the time and they can't get away from it in their own lives, y'know?

But yeah, there's aspects I miss. Like I have this vivid memory of sitting literally on the sidewalk in front of The Marquee and drinking a bottle of Jack and just hanging out with people and shit and now can't do something like that. I'm not complaining, because it's a small price to pay. But I miss the complete detachment from responsibilities that everybody has to deal with in everyday life. Y'know, financially and everything that goes with it as far as apartments and houses and cars and . . . y'know, all that shit. I sorta miss that detachment because now I really do have to watch my shit and I do have my own life and I have to maintain, d'you know what I mean? And so I've grown up a lot that way.

Actually, New Zealand was the last place that we played [in 1988 before going on a one-year break] and then we flew back to LA and they dropped us off at the airport and I was like, I had no idea how big a band we were and I had nowhere to live and I had money and I didn't know what to do with that because I wasn't used to it. And we went through I guess the kind of tests that life gives you, hands out all these challenges for you to deal with and either you get your ass kicked or you get through it. We went through a lot of shit adjusting to everybody's perception of what "rock stars" are supposed to be about, you know, it was rough. And having to buy a house and settle down and all that crap, and then all the hangers-on that were around and just basically bad traffic, we call it, and drug situations and all that. So we struggled along getting through all of it […]

People recognise me really easily, but I don’t think about it. I don’t have the outgoing personality of, say, David Lee Roth. I used to be pretty social on the road, but it’s more difficult now because we have security around us all the time... and when we do duck them we get into trouble! A few times I’ve ditched security and gone out on my own, but ended up with problems. There was one occasion when Duff and I went out by ourselves and got a couple of hotels rooms just to hang out. But I ended up in a huge fight with (comedian) Sam Kinison and Duff nearly got arrested for punching him out!

If I go into a rock bar or a strip joint then I know that I'm going to get recognised and deal with it, because I wanna drink. But in restaurants or other places where you wouldn't expect recognition people still come out of the woodwork and get very pushy for autographs. But I never pull Rock Star Attitude trips and always oblige. Yet if you’re trying to have a conversation with someone and you get a piece of paper shoved under your nose it can be a difficult situation. Sure, there is a lack of freedom, but I won't complain about it, because the only reason I'm here is the fact that I’m doing what I enjoy.

The band's problems with the police also didn't subside as they became famous and rich:

We've had a real serious problem with cops since a long time ago and now they're out to get us. They've caught two of us so far and they transferred the one cop that ever stood up for us! I have to take a cab to (the nightclub) Rainbow at night! I drive a Jeep Cherokee around the day, so I look very domestic. I've got black windows so no one can really see me. I don't want to end up getting busted and not even knowing why.

[Talking about his first apartment in 1988]: The cops have already started comin’ by.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

Although to be fair, the police came to his apartment when neighbour complained about Slash playing Motorhead loudly at 5 am [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988].

Slash would also comment upon the increasing popularity making it hard to have normal relations:

And then the other problem I'm having was, like, this new, you know, with this new status that we've achieved, is that if you have to give up like any kind of half decent love life, I mean, you can't go out and meet a chick that you really think you might like because the only reason she's really interested in you, chances are, is because, you know, because you're in a band, and because, you know, I'm in the band that I'm in. That sort of gets to be a drag because, you know, I'm getting sick of going out and getting laid just for getting laid basically [chuckles].

They also had to get used to being considered legends:

Again, I try not to think about that too much. People tell me that but we could go to a bar and hang out all night and talk as just fuckin’ dudes, you know that. I play bass in a band, man. That’s all I think about. I’m not trying to be falsely modest or any of that shit. That’s it. I play in a band I love. Legendary? Fuck that. Legendary’s like fucking Hemingway, OK? We’re just a rock ’n’ roll band and that’s all there is to it...

We’ve got some fucking great guys in the band, though. We've really got some talented fucking people in this band. Great, that's what it’s all about. I love to see Slash fuckin’ play the blues, man! I just love it and I’m glad other people do too. But legendary? Legendary is fuckin’ James Cagney. Legendary is other shit. We are a band who have yet to prove ourselves. We put out one record and one half-assed fuckin…. Dude, we haven’t done shit! I mean, in my book the guys in our band are great and we’ll love each other for the rest of our lives. But legendary?

OK here’s what it is: you’re a musician, you want to do what you want to do and get to the top, right? Well, most musicians will do anything to get to the top, they’ll compromise and they’ll do what it takes. But we wouldn’t do that. We wanted to do what we wanted to do and somehow it worked. And there hasn’t been a band like us who has done that since... whenever. I’m not trying to brag, I’m being as humble as possible here.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:43 pm

DECEMBER 4-9, 1988

After three months of downtime (with their last gig on September 17, 1988) the band travelled to Japan, Australia and New Zealand for five shows in December 1988. The tour in Japan had been planned for July 1988, but was postponed when Axl developed voice issues during the Iron Maiden tour [Blast! November 1988; Kerrang! June 1989].

Touring in Japan was a long-held dream to the band:

I’ve just been hearing all kind of stories about Japan. It’s been a dream of mine and Izzy’s since we were in, like, high school, junior high, to go to Japan with a band. You know, being a band and go to Japan, our band. I have no idea. I’m just hoping the sushi is better there than in California.

We are so excited. Me and Izzy have talked about going to Japan - me and Izzy's been together for the last 13 years - for the last 10 years. It's been a dream. Going to Japan and playing the songs in Japan. Our favorite records was 'Cheap Trick At Budokan' and 'Unleashed in the East' [Judas Priest], you know. You hear the screaming Japanese people and we go, "You know, we have to go there! We have to go!" Hopefully we will have the people be like that for us and we'll have fun with them. And I'm looking forward to all he sushi. [...] We can find some opium den [and learn some, and have some oriental girls can teach us some things American girls don't know.

We’ll start rehearsing to go to Japan and I’m sure we'll start jamming then, ’cos we have the place block-booked. So we'll jam a lot, play Japan - which I’m really looking forward to, we’re playing the Buddokan, which is pretty legendary.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

[…]I really wanna go. We've never been there before and we're, apparently, like really huge over there...

Now the Japanese tour is planned tentatively for December because we really do want to come to Japan. It’s a major, lifetime goal, and we’re doing anything we can do to get there.

Although Slash expected that they would be rusty after their recent downtime:

We're gonna go to Japan for the first gig and suck miserably. Isn't that terrible?

On their flight to Japan, Alan Niven told the band members to get rid of any drugs they might have. Izzy responded by swallowing his stash allegedly sending him into a 36-hour coma that almost made the band have to cancel gigs [The Face, October 1989]. Izzy would later downplay what happened and claim it was due to Valium he took before the flight:

I slept a lot. That was a point where I drank a lot, I don’t remember anything about that flight, it’s strange. Next Monday, I’m going to find out what happened. I took 18 Valium before the flight, way too many, I slept all the way to Japan. I woke up and was in the waiting room. I guess that Slash told me we arrived. He helped me get off the plane.

The four first shows in Japan happened on December 4 at the NKH Hall in Tokyo, December 5 at Festival Hall in Osaka and December 7 and 9 at Nakano Sunplaza in Tokyo.

Some of the shows in Japan were filmed potentially intended for a live release:

Right now it's just for our own benefit. We don't know what we're going to do with it. We're just filming and taping some stuff, because we think it's important to have it. We don't know if we'll find anything in there we want to use. It's not really a concern, it's just something we were finally able to afford to do. So we thought, 'Let's be smart. If we do film and tape it and there is anything good on tape, we might be able to use it.' But we really don't know.

But the tapes disappeared:

Mike Clink came out to oversee the recordings and we also shot some video footage. But a funny thing happened when the video stuff was put in for processing - the tapes from the Budokan show disappeared I’m sure that some backroom kid now has a hot video in his possession, so I guess bootleg copies of that show will soon be appearing...

Apparently, the December 9 show in Japan was not very good:

Axl actually apologized for "playing like shit" [...] at NHK.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 181-182

The final Japanese show took place on December 10 at the Budokan in Tokyo. According to Steven, Axl's voice was shot after extensive touring:

We were exhausted, and Axl's voice was raw, but we rallied because it was our final show. [...] I got to do an extended drum solo during 'Rocket Queen,' and we closed with a fucking epic version of 'Paradise City'.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 181-182

During the tour in Japan in December 1988, Steven and Axl had an altercation after Steven had slept with a girl who slept with Axl the day after:

[...] she starts telling [Axl] that I was talking all kinds of shit about him. Why would I share negative stuff about him with some random girl I didn't even know? [...] So Axl comes up to me and says something like, "This here is my woman, ans she told me that you said I'm an asshole." I said, "Your woman? You just met her, Axl. We fucked last night. That's all. I didn't say shit to that bitch." The argument just kind of fizzled out at that point with Axl mumbling something as he walked off. [...] Unfortunately, incidents like this only served to weaken my relationship with Axl.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 180

According to Melody Maker in August 1991, at some point while in Japan, Axl would be "holed up in a Japanese hotel room refusing to speak to anyone for days on end, depositing furniture out the window" [Melody Maker, August 10, 1991]. In August 1991 the band had not visited Japan again, so thus rumor must be about the tour in December 1988. This rumor has not been corroborated by any other sources and could easily be false.

According to Blast Magazine, Duff broke his finger while in Japan and was wearing a cast as late as April 1989 [Blast! April 1989]. If so, how did he manage to get through the following shows in Australia and New Zealand?

Looking back at the tour:

As far as the country goes. I didn't really have time to get to see much, because I was too busy trying to make sure I could sing. Japan seems real fast-paced. Everybody is caught up with what big business is doing. […] The shows were great. The audiences were not that much different from the American ones, except that they're not allowed to leave their seats. But their response was great.

Well, the first time I ever went to Japan for a tour it was a total culture shock for me. At that point I thought that the rules were a little bit too strict; I thought their security was a little too restrictive, let's put it that way. But the audience was so loyal, and the fans were-and still are-so devoted and so into what you're doing from one step to the next, following your every move. They bought us toys; they made die-cast models of us, drawings of us, posters that they made at home. They really put effort into it-like something you'd put into a Christmas present for a loved one. Ever since the first trip, I've looked forward to going back.

Duff recalls that when returning from Japan he brought with him a camera he had received as a gift. He did not declare it at customs, and when the band was picked out for customs check and the camera was found and about to be confiscated, he smashed in on the ground in frustration. This was reported on his passport file [source?].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:44 pm

DECEMBER 14-19, 1988

After landing in Australia, Duff would say the following about the prospect of playing their first shows in Oceania:

We can’t wait to play here. It’s gonna be like a stick of [fucking] dynamite. I've heard the audiences are wild.

The band allegedly tried to get Peter Wells, the guitarist from Rose Tattoo, to play with them while in Australia, and asked him three times but he declined the offers [Hot Metal, 1989].

The first Australian shows were on December 14 and 15 at the Entertainment Centre in Melbourne

Steven would reminisce:

Tours in Japan usually lead to Australia, and that's what ours did. Three days after Budokan we performed the first of two shows at the entertainment Center in Melbourne. It was a huge outdoor arena. The first performance was a sellout. The second was at about two-thirds capacity. I recall those shows fondly because I was able to hone my drum solo until it sounded really tight, light, and playful at first, and then very explosive. We never really planned stuff like that, and I think the solo just grew out of the middle of the song [Rocket Queen] where Duff slapped a cool bass riff and I followed with a flurry of drumming. No one broke back in, so I kept playing, and each performance I'd carve out a little more solo time.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 182

The band then travelled to Sydney for a show on December 17 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

According to Australian Record Collector, the band had to leave Australia early due to "an onstage rumble involving Axl" [ Australian Record Collector, September 1994]. Whether this meant an early departure after the Sydney show on December 17 to get to their Auckland, New Zealand gig (Dec 19), or an early departure after the Auckland show, is not clear. Juke Magazine in July 1989 also mentions an "incident" that supposedly happened during the Australia touring [Juke Magazine, July 1989]. In Q Magazine in 1991, it is claimed "there were arrests" for "for causing a public offense with their lyrics" [Q Magazine, July 1991]. Select Magazine would likely refer to this "While the band are in Australia a warrant is issued for Axl’s arrest after his introduction to ‘Mr Brownstone' is misconstrued as condoning drug use. The band escape the clutches of the law by legging it to New Zealand" [Select, February 1991]. This would be corroborated by the Sydney Morning Herald: "On Guns n' Roses first Australian tour in 1988, they came perilously close to feeling the wrath of then NSW Police Minister Ted Pickering. He was reported to be considering laying charges against Axl for his references to taking drugs and leading vulgar chants. Acting Premier Wal Murray was reportedly horrified" [Sydney Morning Herald, January 23, 1993].

The show in New Zealand took place at December 19 at the Big Top, Mount Smart in Auckland.

Looking back at the tour, Slash would later say he couldn't remember any of it, and mistakes it for having happened in 1989:

But the last time I was here, I can’t remember a fucking thing! […] drugs. […] Someone gave me a xeroxed copy of a photo I autographed, and I signed it as '89. so it must have been then. I was so spaced out. We’d nearly finished being on tour, and dabbled with this and that, but we were more or less clean the whole time... then we found all these junkies in Sydney, and got the taste back!.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:50 pm


When this band got together everybody was basically starving.

We all grew up on the streets. That's where we feel home at home. What are we gonna do with a lot of money?

We didn't own anything, you know. We didn't have cars, we didn't have anything, you know. It's like, "What? You mean I have to change the oil?! I mean, you know that but you never had one of your own. The maintenance is.... I mean, Slash calls me at times and go, "[?] I got this house and my refrigerator's leaking all over the place and I feel comfortable just leaving it that way but I know I can't do that cuz this is my house."


With the success, the band could escape their poverty. During the touring in 1987 and early 1988 they had lived out of their suitcases. When asked about how they were doing in an interview released in June 1988, Izzy would say he didn't expect to see any money in a couple of years still:

Well, actually, I checked that out. Looks like another year or two [before we see money]. There’s a lot of expenses. It takes a long time to recoup. We spent a lot of money on our record.

Duff would chime in:

“Tours—we don’t make anything off tours. We lose,” chimes in Duff. “Maybe now we’re starting to make a little money, since we’re getting MTV airplay. Kids are starting to buy T-shirts. But that’s f!?king nothing. On the tours we just get paid enough to get the hotel rooms, keep the bus running, pay us 25 bucks a day—everyone in the crew and us. We only have a three-guy crew. We just get enough to keep the ball rolling. Yeah, one would figure going gold would mean cash in the bank.

Despite this, and probably because of their explosive success, after ending the Iron Maiden tour in June 1988 the band was paid out $160,000 or "something like that" in total [Kerrang! July 1988]. And by August 1988 they had paid back Geffen what they were owed [Screamer, August 1988]. In Duff's biography, he indicates that they were handed their first check from record sales when they returned from tour: $80,000 each. Three weeks later they got another check [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 143].


Just as he had planned [RIP Magazine, June 1988], when Duff did get a windfall he bought himself a "nice little place" in Studio City, away from the Hollywood where everybody "dressed like us, in bandannas, and trying to sound like us. […] We all bought right on the main road or just off it. Obviously, in thinking accessibility would be a plus, we failed to recognize the way our lives were about to change. We'd soon want to be out of this fishbowl" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 144].

He could also afford, for the first time, to fly back home to Seattle to celebrate Christmas of '88 with his large family, a family he otherwise only got to see when they came to see him after shows in Seattle [Circus Magazine, February 1989].

As far as personally there's no difference, I don't think in any of us. I mean, yeah, I mean, now we can do stuff you never been able to do before. Which is great, you know, when we have time to do it. Before, like, we wouldn't have been able to...we'd both share a room, there'd be two people in a room and you couldn't order anything from room service because you didn't have any money, you'd have to eat at the show or something. And now we each have our own room and we can order room service.

I have a car now. Nothing really... I mean, you don't have to worry... basically where your next meal, or next bottle's coming from now.

In 1990, Duff bought a new home in the Hollywood Hills:

I bought this house in 1990 and added the studio on. Back then, I used to shoot my guns off the balcony! The day I was moving in here, my roommate and partner in crime - and I had a pig and three dogs, too - we were hitting golf balls in the early afternoon then one hit the fence, ricocheted off and bam, right back into my window. I couldn't stop laughing!


In mid-1988 Slash would be asked if they were started to see some money coming in, but would reply that he still lived very frugally:

We just got our first big royalty cheque the other day. It’s the first real money we’ve seen, though it’s nowhere near as much as you might think. But now I’ve got it I don’t know what to do with it. Money has never been... There was a period after my mom and my dad divorced when she was going out with David Bowie. She was making all his clothes, and I hated it because he took the place of my dad. I was sort of young... Anyway, he [Bowie] had a little rented white Mercedes and this huge fuckin’ house up in Bel Air that he rented while he was in LA. At that time when I didn’t know fuck all about anything. I’d be thinking, what the fuck is this? Why do you have to have a big house? All the to-do he would put into everything was just ridiculous.

At this point in time I can borrow enough money to take limos everywhere or buy a Jaguar. But it’s like, what the fuck for? I don’t see any reason to flaunt it because you’re successful and you’re a so-called rock star.


It doesn’t buy you freedom at all. It brings responsibility, and you have to start making choices you were never asked to make before. Because you’ve got money now, if you have any brains at all you put it somewhere. If you don’t put it somewhere and rock out and spend it all then it’s just another obstacle because you’re gonna go broke again...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

I mean, look at me - T-shirt, jeans, boots, that’s me, that’s all there is, that’s all there’s ever gonna be. I don’t even like the idea of going into a fuckin’ dressing room and changing into different clothes just to go on stage and play. Gimme a roof over my head and something to drink and I’ve got everything I need. What difference is this money going to make?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993
; interview from June 1988

It is coming in now, but I’ve never had any money, so for me to, like, buckle down and say “Well, let’s go get a couple of grand to go do...” – I mean, like, I’m going to New York for a week and I got the cheapest possible flight, right? And I’m spending $600 in its entirety, for the whole thing. I’m crashing at someone’s house and that’s an expenditure for me. That’s, like, (whispers) “I can’t (?), well, I guess I can do it.”

In October 1988 he was interviewed again while being in-between tours, and when asked that surely this was the time to enjoy the money coming in, Slash responded:

I don’t know... you’re talking about things... possessions. I mean, I didn’t even have anywhere to live until, like, two weeks ago...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

He had expressed a desire to buy himself a home previously [RIP Magazine, June 1988], but had claimed that while not on tour to prefer to just "live around" because he had no home [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988]. He would also claim to have had no ambition of owning a home except to "get a house and build a jungle round it" [L.A. Rocks, August 1986]. In mid-1988 he still didn't have a home and would claim to have been homeless since leaving his home at the age of 17-18 [Creem Close-Up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-988] Still, as evidenced from the quote above, in October 1988, Slash had finally found himself his own place. According to one source he had bought an apartment on Sunset Boulevard [On The Street, December 1988]:

It’s just this funky little apartment, nothing fancy - furnished. It’s got this fuckin’ couch and refrigerator and stuff - it’s my first real apartment on my own. And if I can afford to have a place of my own then I should have one. I can’t live off everybody else forever. I can’t just keep being this total fuckin’ gypsy. […] I’m settling down. No, really. I’ve got a microwave, and I go to the market and buy those microwave burritos, hot dogs, hamburgers... everything. Everything goes in the microwave. Except the vodka - that goes in the freezer.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

It's five minutes drive from the Roxy and the Rainbow and all those other cheap dives I often find myself in. And if I get too out of it to drive myself home I can always roll myself down the hill… Other than that, it's just a little apartment already furnished. It came with this fuckin' couch and cheap table and a refrigerator and stuff - like one of everything. It's the first apartment I ever lived in that actually belongs to me… It's a whole new experience. I can't live off everybody else forever; if I can afford to have a place. I can't just keep being, like, a total fuckin' gypsy all my life….

In Musician, December 1988, it is said that Slash was merely renting the apartment, and that the apartment was nearby Ronnie Stalnaker, Slash's friend and part of the crew [Musician, December 1988]. He would still consider himself "Mr. Hotel Guy" and only claimed to have gotten the apartment "solely because it looked like a hotel room" [Musician, December 1990].

Axl would mention visiting the apartment and also that Slash was at the moment dating famous porn star Traci Lords [Howard Stern, February 1989]. See later chapter for more on Slash and Lords.

In 1991, he would describe this apartment as "the cheapest apartment I could find off of Sunset Boulevard" and that it basically was just a place to party [Q Magazine, July 1991]. He would also say he rented it because it "reminded me of a hotel room" [The Age/Independent on Sunday, August 1991].

In early 1989 he still said he hadn't bought anything, although he had likely downpaid some debt he had had [RIP Magazine, June 1988]:

My bank account has no bearing on my life. I never had money and when I get some, it just sits there. I haven't bought a car or an apartment. I own four pairs of jeans and some T-shirts.

In October 1988 he would also talk about wanting to buy a house:

So anyway, I got a place, it’s cheap. Next I'm gonna buy a house and stuff... […] So yeah, I'm gonna buy a house...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

He would also mention that he wouldn't be buying a car because he wasn't responsible with them:

I don’t think I'm gonna buy a car for a while, though. I'm too psychotic with them. I lost somebody’s car the other night,’ he said with a straight face. 'I was over at somebody’s house and I borrowed their car to get home. But I parked it somewhere and I don’t remember where it is. I lost it. It was towed away or something - gone. […] It’s like, cars, man, I get drunk and I just don’t know. I still haven’t learned.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

This is interesting because back in early 1988 he had said the one thing he wanted to buy when he got money was a "decent car" [RIP Magazine, June 1988]. In addition, in 1995 when asked about the most expensive thing he had bought, Slash would mention a Porsche he likely bought not long after receiving revenues from the success of 'Appetite' and thus around the same time he would claim not to want to buy a car:

Buying a Porsche when I was stoned out of my mind one afternoon on a whim, and I drove there to buy it in a limo! That was when I used to live with Arlett [Vereecke] and I was all fucked up. That’s about as Spinal Tap as I’ve gotten to date! I’ve still got the car though, and it’s been in storage ever since.

Possible he never really drove the car but had it stored as an investment.

Slash soon decided to abandon the aforementioned apartment:

What happened was, the last time I saw you I had an apartment, but that got so hectic and crazy that I ended up having to sort of sneak out of there... I had the cops there every day, and a lot of heavy traffic, and it was just a bad scene after a while, y'know? Everybody knew where it was... SO I snuck out of there, then I spent a little bit of time sleeping on people's couches again.

In 1991 Slash would say his addiction got out of hand while staying in his apartment, so he got clean and moved [Q Magazine, July 1991].

The at some point before before March of 1989, Slash had bought himself a house. While it was being renovated he lived in another house he was renting high in the Hollywood Hills.

Finally my broker found me a house to lease until I could get into the place I’ve bought. But I got really sick and when I came up here to get the keys I was so sick I didn’t have the patience to deal with it. So I left and went back to somebody else’s house and slept on their couch for a few days, then stayed at somebody else’s place. So I had the house for two weeks before I even slept in it.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

He shared the house with his guitar tech, Adam Day:

‘No, downstairs there is Adam, my guitar tech.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

The rented house was precariously situated but it didn't stop Slash from having plenty of visitors:

Cab drivers refuse to take me here. The last part of the road is so bad it makes it easy for your tires to skid, I guess. We had a limo nearly go over the side the other night... It doesn’t seem to stop people just comin’ by whenever they feel like it, though.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

In March 1989 Slash expected it would still take some time before he could move into his own place and that he would very soon have to find himself another temporary place to live:

I have to leave here in about a week or so, anyway. Then I’m back out trying to find myself a place to stay, because my house is being decorated and painted and this and that. So it’s gonna be about a month and a half before it’s actually livable. I don’t have the patience to live there while people are coming in and out all day long and all that shit. I’ve been trying to figure out where I’m gonna stay. I’m gonna stay at Alan’s house, maybe. Or Steven’s house.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

Describing the house he had bought:

After renting for a while, I did what anyone with new money should do: I bought a house like my business manager told me to do.[…] I found a house off Laurel Canyon, which was the area of L.A. that set my mind at ease: it reminded me of the best memories I have of my youth. I bought my first house on Walnut Drive, just off Kirkwood, which is just off Laurel Canyon, and it was forever known as the Walnut Walnut House. […] The Walnut House was a two-bedroom, funky little tucked-away pad in need of interior design, so it seemed natural to me to hire the team that had styled the “Patience” video to transform my new house into a similarly gypsylike environment. They found all of the furniture at thrift stores and antique furniture shops, and while they got it all together, I moved in with our international publicist, Arlette [Vereecke].
Slash's autobiography, 2007

Since the house was styled after the "Patience" video, it must mean he bought the house in 1989.

[Arlette] had been hired on back when we played those first three English dates at the Marquee. She’d taken a maternal shine to me, probably because I was such a stray puppy at the time. She let me bring my snake Clyde over, who’d been living with Del James for a while, as well as Pandora and Adrianna. [...] I stayed with her for three or four months but I did little to change.
Slash's autobiography, 2007

The noticeable difference in mine is I have a... you know, supply of cigarettes and booze and stuff. [laughs] I got a place finally. I mean, there's differences.

I mean I've never even had a car before. I'd never bought a car before. And so actually being able to go out and buy a car, you know, it was pretty cool.

The house Slash bought was in the hills overlooking Laurel Canyon [Musician, December 1990]. When Slash moved into this house he started collecting snakes and other reptiles, and also bought a pair of Rottweilers [Musician, December 1990]. In an interview released in February 1990, he would describe his snake collection:

Fifteen. They’re all long and range over several different types. Chicken snakes, pythons, rattlesnakes, boas... I have a mangrove too. It’s deadly. It’s a “rear-fanged” species; so in order for it to deliver a poisonous bite, it would have to work itself around so the rear fangs would have contact with your skin. I’m thinking of getting a cobra. […] I just think they’re gorgeous. And I don’t hold them that much or keep them around for companionship. God knows snakes aren't for that. I keep them around because I like them. I'm one of those people who can get into their personalities.

He would also mention the snake from the 'Patience' video:

That's Pandora, my boa constrictor. She's one of my favorites. I also love my two great anacondas. I also have a genuine Indian python - the real thing. It's almost extinct. I also have a Burmese python. That's the one I'm using for the cover shot.

In late 1990 he was considering getting a bigger house to accommodate even more snakes [Musician, December 1990].

You can come into my house on a giving day and find a snake in every room. […] Pythons and Boas, tree boas, reticulated pythons and blood python, Burmese python, carpet pythons and African rock pythons and anacondas and all this stuff. And then I've got another... I had like a bookcase that I converted into another snake tank, it's got three boas and stuff. It's cool, it's a lot of fun.

Slash also started to invest his money:

You can come into my house on a giving day and find a snake in every room. […] Pythons and Boas, tree boas, reticulated pythons and blood python, Burmese python, carpet pythons and African rock pythons and anacondas and all this stuff. And then I've got another... I had like a bookcase that I converted into another snake tank, it's got three boas and stuff. It's cool, it's a lot of funAnd I never drove. Now I have two cars in the garage that I never drive either [laughs]. A 'vette and a Porsche. They're solely for investment purposes. I mean, I got this house 'cause I needed an investment. Which is the most depressing thought. You're buying all this stuff just to sell it when you need to. All the investments I've made are to save my ass when I fuck up.

He would also remark that he could do without fame and wealth, but not music and the band:

Nothing in what I got out of Guns N’ Roses monetarily or fame-wise, I could really give a shit about. It was, and is always, the band. If my ability to play guitar suddenly left me, or if something happened to Axl, Duff, Izzy or Steve, and GN’R suddenly ended, I’d be in serious f?!king trouble, because I depend on them. I depend on them to be part of the group that makes us special... that keeps my life going.

In September 1991 he would describe the difference between himself and Axl when dealing with prosperity:

Axel [sic] might have been prepared for [wealth and success] — I think he was the most stable throughout because his sights are different than mine. He is more or less a frontman/star character, he enjoys what fame and fortune bring him. Not that he takes advantage of it in the sense that he's like a fucking pop star or anything, but he set his sights at achieving the fame we've gotten to whereas me being the guitar player, having a completely different kind of personality, I was just a rock'n'roll guitar player as far as I was concerned, I just wanted to make it to the next gig. […] I didn't have any material possessions really except one duffle bag with clothes, I was completely content with living that way. Whereas Axel [sic] has taken whatever money he's made and buys nice things with it. I really still to this day don't buy anything except the things I need like a stereo or booze or guitars or something like that. I don't have, like, expensive furniture, there's not a whole hell of a lot going on materially with me so I didn't really give a shit about the whole stardom thing so it threw me.

Yet, he did not miss poverty:

There's two sides to that coin because if we weren't as successful as we are now the parts I would miss would be headlining these huge places and getting a chance to play in front of a lot of people and really get off on it. So if I was still playing at the fucking Troubadour I'd probably be working at trying to get to the next level. So being here is great, it's just you have to deal with what comes with it and I guess when you look at it realistically it's a small price to pay for being able to go out and play in front of 30,000 people. And so I'm not complaining. It was a weird adjustment when it really did come down, all of a sudden there we were. On top of that people think it's sort of glamorous and they put you on a pedestal and you're supposed to go out and perform like one of those fucking windup monkeys. And we're not like that —  everybody's real volatile and emotional and human. And nobody really gives a shit about that side of it, especially in the industry. So it's weird to be a big band and then at the same time feel so fucking vulnerable, and have people up your ass all the time.


Izzy had expressed a desire to build a guitar collection (and who had to sell his Gibson Black Beauty in 1987 to pay the rent [Guitar World, March 1989]) and an underground studio, and buy guns to kill the animals in Slash's jungle [L.A. Rocks, August 1986]. And a home [RIP Magazine, June 1988], and at the end of touring in 1988 he bought an apartment:

When we finished touring, I managed to get an apartment two days before the tour ended because we were already in Los Angeles with Aerosmith or someone else…

He also bought a bed:

I enjoy life more now, I'm not so pissed off all the time. When you got no bread, drug problems, no money and winos in your alley throwing up, it does tend to aggravate you. It's much better now. I can live like a normal person. I mean, for the 10 years I lived here, I never had a bed. I just bought one - and it's a futon. I guess I'm used to lying on the floor.

In 1988, Izzy also bought a country home in Lafayette [Journal and Courier, February 21, 1993] to get away from life in Los Angeles.

I needed to get out of L.A. for my own sanity. I was tired of the whole scene. I didn't move there as a junkie. I became one in L.A. It came with the turf. […] I moved back to Lafayette because I thought it would be harder to score. In the late '80s, you had to go to Indianapolis or Chicago. It helped being far away from that. But you've got to really want to stop. Back home, I would never have thought to use that (trash).

Away from just the insanity of Los Angeles. I'd been out there for six years trying to get a band together that we could work and try to make a living off of. It's six years of living in your car, sleeping on couches, sleeping wherever you can, no money for food. […] By the time we left L.A., we were the least-likely-to-succeed band. We came back a year-and-a-half later and all of a sudden everybody loved us. I was like, screw this. I want to go back to Lafayette and get myself together and take a break and just look around.

The house Izzy bought was built in 1847 (or 1854, according to Journal and Courier, February 21, 1993) and was on the National Regis­ter of Historic Places [Journal and Courier, May 1991]. One of the grandchildren of the sellers, Boes, would recount the sale in Journal and Courier:

'My family thinks the house is a family jewel,' Boes said. 'My mom called and asked, ‘What’s a Guns and Roses?’' My dad asked whether we should sell. I said, ‘Does he have cash?’' At the closing, Izzy Stradlin came into the Stallard & Schuh offices in downtown Lafayette and sat across from Sheldon Pershing. 'Here he came with this hat, his face was gaunt and pale. He had the dangly earrings, a diamond in his nose,' Boes said. 'To you and I, your basic rock situation. But to grandpa, it looked like he just landed.' After the deeds were signed, Pershing turned to Stradlin and said, 'You ought to get something to eat. Now that you’ve got that house, get out and walk along that road, go fishing out back, get some sun.' Boes said, 'He meant it. He just didn’t think he looked well.' […] 'He’s a great neighbor,' Boes, whose parents live about a quarter-mile away, said. 'He’s never around.'

But Izzy couldn't get any peace in Indiana:

I had bought a house at home in Indiana, in the middle of nowhere. The cops grabbed some kids and said. Guys, we're going to tell you where one from Guns N' Roses lives. That's how they handle it. The only bad thing was that I immediately sold the place again. I have an instinct for it, if you want to make me a fool, I always react pretty quickly.

Actually, I figured I'd get a little peace out there. At first when I came back, it was really crazy. A lot of people going by the house, by my mom's house, knocking on the doors real late at night and all that stuff. I was like, 'this is no good'. I think the initial surprise of, 'Wow, he's back in town,' kind of thing got people going.

Still, he would claim that from '88/'89 he had basically moved from Los Angeles to Lafayette:

Actually, I figured I'd get a little peace out there. At first when I came back, it was really crazy. A lot of people going by the house, by my mom's house, knocking on the doors real late at night and all that stuff. I was like, 'this is no good'. I think the initial surprise of, 'Wow, he's back in town,' kind of thing got people going.

In the beginning of 1989, Izzy had also bought himself a place in the Valley [The Face, October 1989].

[Izzy]'s intense, the guy's way intense. He's put a driveway around his place, say, like five acres and this pond and he's got this driveway around it so immediately he goes on buys all these go-karts and stuff for all his friends so they can get drunk and all the neighbors are just like, "Oh." Every house around Izzy's house is for sale now [laughing]. And nobody can touch him, it's out of the city limits. They can't. You know, then they go outside and he shooting off his AK and it's pretty [?].

Izzy would also spend a lot of time travelling:

You could say I have been in exile for seven or eight months, travel here, travel there - as I feel like it. I don't have a really permanent place where I always am. Of course, I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles.

America, as I just said, is a great country to live in, but I always have my phase where I have to go somewhere else to escape the hustle and bustle and just relax. That's why I'm here. I really don't mind people coming up to me and saying hey Izzy, I think your band is awesome. But sometimes it's too much, people go too far. Europe is more relaxed than America in every respect. Here all this shit is an exception rather than an everyday occurrence. I saw too many people over there who got their teeth knocked in for no reason or were even shot. I don't like it, but you get used to it.


According to Axl, the first band income went back into the band:

Most of the things that we want have some way of tying into the band, like a coat you could wear in a photo session or on stage, a CD player so you can lis-ten to other people's recordings. We haven't really seen any money since we got our first half of the advance. We got 35 grand. We split it up five ways and everybody just blew it.

But as the band's success continued, Axl would look at investing his money in other things [RIP Magazine, June 1988], like properties:

[Talking about adapting to fame]: Right now it's hard. It's gonna take a little time living like a rat in the streets to being able to manage my accounts, find places to live, buy houses. I'm getting a place here and in the Midwest, and eventually I'd like to live in New York, and get ideas for songs on the street.

I want to move to New York, as soon as I can I'm gonna live there. I need someplace I can explore. It'll help my writing. And a lot of places are open at night.

The desire to move from Los Angeles probably also stemmed from his struggles in Hollywood at the time. In 1989 it would be reported how Axl wasn't able to find a place to live in Hollywood, because no one wanted to sell to him. But in July 1989 it was reported that Axl was living in a spacious Spanish bungalow together with his girlfriend Erin Everly [Juke, July 1989], and he would comment that he was "very happy with it" [Kerrang! June 1989]. While talking with Howard Stern, he also mentioned that he had wanted to get a place in New York since at least 1988 [Howard Stern, February 1989].

Axl would also start buying guns [RIP, April 1989] and a parcel of land in Wisconsin where he would build his "dream house" [Rolling Stone, August 1989]. After having proclaimed his love for Harley Davidson motorbikes in 1987 [Melody Maker, July 18, 1987], it is not clear whether he bought any after having gotten the means for it, but he did buy himself a nice car:

[My custom Corvette] got a Chevy engine, a four-cam that goes 180-plus miles an hour. I'll join a racetrack where they teach you how to drive fast. I like the idea of having a car where I won't be so eager to put my gun in the car and shoot somebody.

Axl's always wanted the good things in life. He's real big on cosmetics, clothes, cologne and stuff, and now he's able to get it. He can have a nice car, although he's always been a terrible driver. Now they can buy stuff they want.

His personal assistant, Colleeen Combs, would mention Axl's early cars:

Axl went through a couple of cars. There was a Corvette and a red monster truck with an insane stereo system that never worked right because it would drain the battery.

In October 1990, Axl both had a house up in the Hollywood Hills and a "luxury condominium" in a 12-story high-riser in West Hollywood just north of the Sunset Strip [MTV, October 1990; Los Angeles Times, October 1990], where he was living "right next door to hell." The flat was where he had his business, the house was where he wanted to have his family [MTV, October 1990]. He had acquired the flat in January 1989 [Los Angeles Times, October 1990]. The house in the Hollywood Hills was said to have cost $ 800,000 [Los Angeles Times, November 1990].


I can eat whatever I want.

I got a nice car, bitchin' car.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:29 pm; edited 42 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:52 pm


Before the release of 'GN'R LIES' the song 'I Used To Love Her' was expected to cause controversy with its assumed misogynistic lyrics. The band, though, knew there was another on the record more likely to cause uproar:

[insert quote about OIAM before the release of LIES]

I hit L.A. with a backpack, a piece of steel in one hand and a can of maize in the other. And guys were trying to sell me joints everywhere, and some black guy turned me on to the bus station. So, I found the bus station. And there'll be a song about the bus station on our EP called "One In A Million".

And, as expected, immediately after the release of GN'R Lies, 'One In A Million' caused controversy due to Axl's lyrical content, both its perceived racist message, but also its homophobia, in particular through the lines "police and niggers, get out of my way" and "immigrants and faggots, don't make no sense to me."

Axl would try to defend or explain the song in various ways:


We were aware of what kind of flak we were going to get, which is why I put an apology right on the cover of the record. Living on the streets you go through a lot of hard times and a lot of my hard times were with people of different races or different beliefs. I haven't anything against those people. I'm not a racist. The songs are just (an account) of what happened to us. If you change the words or soften them, you change the truth.

I started writing about wanting to get out of LA , getting away for a little while. I'd been down to the downtown-L.A. Greyhound bus station. If you haven't been there, you can't say shit to me about what goes on and about my point of view. There are a large number of black men selling stolen jewelry, crack, heroin and pot, and most of the drugs are bogus. Rip-off artists selling parking spaces to parking lots that there's no charge for. Trying to misguide every kid that gets off the bus and doesn't quite know where he's at or where to go, trying to take the person for whatever they've got. That's how I hit town. The thing with 'One in a Million' is, basically, we're all one in a million, we're all here on this earth. We're one fish in a sea. Let's quit fucking with each other, fucking with me.

'One in a million' is about...... I went back and forth from Indiana eight times my first year in Hollywood. I wrote it about being dropped off at the bus station and everything that was going on. I'd never been in a city this big and was fortunate enough to have this black dude help me find my way. He guided me to the RTD station and showed me what bus to take, because I couldn't get a straight answer out of anybody. He wasn't after my money or anything. It was more like, "Here's a new kid in town, and he looks like he might get into trouble down here. Lemme help him get on his way." People kept coming up trying to sell me joints and stuff. In downtown L.A the joints are usually bogus, or they'll sell you drugs that can kill you. It's a really ugly scene. The song's not about him, but you could kinda say he was one in a million. When I sat down after walking in circles for three hours, the cops told me to get off the streets. The cops down there have seen so much slime that they figure if you have long hair, you're probably slime also. The black guys trying to sell you jewelry and drugs is where the line 'Police and niggers, get out of my way' comes from. I've seen these huge black dudes pull Bowie knives on people for their boom boxes and shit. It's ugly […] I don't have anything against someone coming here from another country and trying to better themselves. What I don't dig is some 7-11 worker acting as though you don't belong here, or acting like they don't understand you while they're trying to rip you off. [Axl mimics an Iranian] "Wot? I no understand you". I'm saying "I gave you a 20, and I want my $15 change!" I threatened to blow up their gas station, and then they gave me my change. I don't need that.

When I use the word immigrants, what I'm talking about is going to a 7-11 or Village pantries - a lot of people from countries like Iran, Pakistan, China, Japan et cetera, get jobs in these convenience stores and gas stations. Then they treat you as if you don't belong here. I've been chased out of a store with Slash by a six-foot-tall Iranian with a butcher knife because he didn't like the way we were dressed. Scared me to death. All I could see in my mind was a picture of my arm on the ground, blood going everywhere. When I get scared, I get mad. I grabbed the top of one of these big orange garbage cans and went back at him with this shield, going, "Come on!" I didn't want to back down from this guy. Anyway that's why I wrote about immigrants. Maybe I should have been more specific and said, "Joe Schmoladoo at the 7-11 and faggots make no sense to me." That's ridiculous! I summed it up simply and said, "Immigrants."

I'll get lambasted and filleted all over the place over that song. Dave Marsh will be writing about this 'We Are The World' consciousness, but Dave, I don't know where you were doing your 'We Are The World' consciousness, but we were getting robbed at knifepoint at that time in our lives. 'One In A Million' brought out the fact that racism does exist so let's do something about it. Since that song, a lot of people may hate Guns N' Roses, but they think about their racism now. And they weren't thinking about that during 'We Are the World.' 'We Are the World' was like a Hallmark card.

However that song makes them feel, they think that must be what the song means. If they hate blacks, and they hear my lines and hate blacks even more, I'm sorry, but that's not how l meant it. Our songs affect people, and that scares a lot of people. l think that song, more than any other song in a long time, brought certain issues to the surface and brought up discussion as to how fucked things really are. But when read somewhere that l said something last night before we performed "One in a Million," it pisses me off. We don't perform "One in a Million".


I used words like police and niggers because you're not allowed to use the word nigger. Why can black people go up to each other and say, "Nigger," but when a white guy does it all of a sudden it's a big put-down. I don't like boundaries of any kind. I don't like being told what I can and what I can't say. I used the word nigger because it's a word to describe somebody that is basically a pain in your life, a problem. The word nigger doesn't necessarily mean black. Doesn't John Lennon have a song 'Woman Is the Nigger of the World'? There's a rap group, N.W.A., Niggers with Attitude. I mean, they're proud of that word. More power to them. Guns N' Roses ain't bad. . . . N.W.A. is baad! Mr. Bob Goldthwait said the only reason we put these lyrics on the record was because it would cause controversy and we'd sell a million albums. Fuck him! Why'd he put us in his skit? We don't just do something to get the controversy, the press.


To appreciate the humour in our work you gotta be able to relate to a lot of different things. And not everybody does. Not everybody can. With ‘One in a million’, I used a word - it’s part of the English language whether it’s a good word or not. It’s a derogatory word, it’s a negative word. It’s not meant to sum up the entire black race, but it was directed towards black people in those situations. I was robbed, I was ripped-off, I had my life threatened! And it’s like, I described it in one word. And not only that, but I wanted to see the effect of a racial joke. I wanted to see what effect that would have on the world. Slash was into it.... I mean, the song says « Don’t wanna buy none of your gold chains today ». Now a black person on the Oprah Winfrey show who goes « Oh, they’re putting down black people! » is going to fuckin’ take one of these guys at the bus stop home and feed him and take care of him and let him babysit the kids? They ain’t gonna be near the guy ! I don’t think every black person is a nigger. I don’t care. I consider myself kinda green and from another planet or something, you know? I’ve never felt I fit into any group, so to speak. A black person has this 300 years of whatever on his shoulders. OK. But I ain’t got nothing to do with that. It bores me too. There’s such a thing as too sensitive. You can watch a movie about someone blowing all the crap outta all these people, but you could be the most anti-violent person in the world. But you get off on this movie, like, yeah! He deserved it, you know, the bad guy got shot... Something I’ve noticed that’s really weird about ‘One in a million’ is the whole song coming together took me by surprise. I wrote the song as a joke. West (Arkeen, co-lyricist of ‘It’s so easy’ amongst other songs) just got robbed by two black guys on Christmas night, a few years back. He went out to play on Hollywood boulevard and he’s standing there playing in front of the band and he gets robbed at knife point for 78 cents. A couple of days later we’re all sittin’ around watchin’ TV - there’s Duff and West and a couple other guys - and we’re all bummed out, hungover and this and that. And I’m sitting there with no money, no job, feelin’ guilty for being at West’s house all the time suckin’ up the oxygen, you know? And I picked up this guitar, and I can only play like the top two strings, and I ended up fuckin’ around with this little riff. It was the only thing I could play on the guitar at the time. And then I started ad-libbing some words to it as a joke. And we had just watched Sam Kinison or somethin’ on the video, you know, and I guess the humour was just sorta leanin’ that way anyway or somethin’. I don’t know. But we just started writing this thing, and when I sang « police and niggers, that’s right », that was to fuck with West’s head, cos he couldn’t believe I would write that! And it came out like that....then later on the chorus came about because I was like getting really far away, like ‘Rocket man’, Elton John. I was thinking about my friends and family in Indiana, and I realized those people have no concept of who I am anymore. Even the ones I was close to. Since then I’ve flown people out here, had’em hang out here, I’ve paid for everything. But there was no joy in it for them. I was smashin’ shit, going fuckin’ crazy. And yet, trying to work. And they were going, « Man, I don’t wanna be a rocker any more, not if you go through this ». But at the same time, I brought’em out, you know, and we just hung out for a couple of months - wrote songs together, had serious talks, it was almost like bein’ on acid cos we’d talk about the family and life and stuff, and we’d get really heavy and get to know each all over again. It’s hard to try and replace eight years of knowing each other every day, and then all of a sudden I’m in this new world. Back there I was a street kid with a skateboard and no money dreamin’ ‘bout being in a rock band, and now all of a sudden I’m here. And it’s weird for them to see their friends putting up Axl posters, you know? And it’s weird for me too. So anyway, all of a sudden I came up with this chorus « You’re one in a million », you know, and « we tried to reach you but you were much too high .... »(...) So that’s like, « we tried to reach you but you were much too high », I was picturing ‘em trying to call me if, like, I disappeared or died or something. And « you’re one in a million », someone said that to me real sarcastically, it wasn’t like an ego thing. But that’s the good thing, you use that « I’m one in a million » positively to make yourself get things done. But originally, it was kinda like someone went, « Yeah, you’re just fuckin’ one in a million, aren’t ya? », and it stuck with me. Then we go in the studio, and Duff plays the guitar much more aggressively than I did. Slash made it too tight and concise, and I wanted it a bit rawer. Then Izzy comes up with this electric guitar thing. I was pushing him to come up with a cool tone, and all of a sudden he’s comin’up with this aggressive thing. It just happened. So suddenly it didn’t work to sing the song in a low funny voice any more. We tried and it didn’t work, didn’t sound right, it didn’t fit. And the guitar parts were so cool, I had to sing it like.....HURRHHHH ! so that I sound like I’m totally into this.

It was originally written as comedy. It was written watching Sam Kinison during one of his first specials. I was sitting around with friends, drunk, with no money. One of my friends had just gotten robbed for seventy-eight cents on Christmas by two black men.

l played it on guitar and it was done very slow and in a different tone of voice and done very humorously. Well, that didn't work out when we recorded it because I had Duff play it on guitar -- because he could play it better and in better time -- and Izzy put this other guitar thing to it, and it evolved into something of its own. We didn't plan that song to be as forceful as it was. We walked into the studio, and boom, it just happened.


[…] the racist thing is just bullshit. I used a word that was taboo. And I used that word because it was taboo. I was pissed off about some black people that were trying to rob me. I wanted to insult those particular black people. I didn't want to support racism. […] The racist thing, that's just stupid. I can understand how people would think that, but that's not how I meant it. I believe that there's always gonna be some form of racism -- as much as we'd like there to be peace -- because people are different. Black culture is different. I work with a black man every day (Earl Gabbidon, Rose's bodyguard), and he's one of my best friends. There are things he's into that are definitely a "black thing." But I can like them. There are things that are that way. I think there always will be. […] It's that way with people who are of the same race or same gender. Maybe now and then they'll reach a point where something happens, and they bond, and they're really close. But they're always going to have their differences. The most important thing about "One in a Million" is that it got people to think about racism. A lot of people thought I was talking about entire races or sectors of people. I wasn't. And there was an apology on the record. The apology is not even written that well, but it's not on the cover of every record. And no one has acknowledged it yet. No one.

I don't trust the audience with the song. I don't want to do "One in a Million" on stage and know that there's a lot of people out there in the crowd who are prejudiced and it's gonna help fuel their fire. It's enough to handle the fact that it's on a record and people use it for their own anthems for their own prejudiced-ness. I question myself every day. Should l pull it? Should I leave it? Do l leave it for the sake of artistic integrity? Do I pull it, do I censor myself? But wait, I'm against censorship. It's a really hard issue to constantly deal with. The only way to deal with it is to communicate about it. l don't like the damage that that song does, l don't like the prejudiced-ness, l don't like the way the song fuels people's prejudiced-ness, and that's a problem for me. l made an apology on the cover of the record. Looking at it now, it's not the best apology, but it was the best apology l could make back then. l knew people were going to be offended, and it says my apology is to those who take offense. Or to who may be offended, whatever it says. I was trying to explain the reasons why I was expressing myself in this way and apologizing if it did offend people. The apology is on the cover of every record. it's not a sticker; it's part of the cover. It's stuck in there with all kinds of other things on the cover -- it's done like a National Enquirer thing. l wrote it myself and put it on there, it was my Idea, and it's like it's been refused to be acknowledged. "One in a Million" has been used continually against Guns N' Roses and against myself, no matter what l had to say about it.

Yes, [the reaction to the lyrics] definitely helped me to be able to change. I went out and got all kinds of video tapes and read books on racism. Books by Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. Reading them and studying, then after that l put on the tape and l realized, "Wow, I'm still proud of this song." That's strange. What does that mean? But l couldn't communicate as well as do now about it, so my frustration was just turned to anger. Then my anger would be used against me and my frustration would be used against me: "Look, he's throwing a tantrum."

My opinion is, the majority of the public can't be trusted with that song. It inspires thoughts and reactions that cause people to have to deal with their own feelings on racism, prejudice and sexuality.

l wrote a song that was very simple and vague. (...)l think I showed that quite well from where l was at. The song most definitely was a survival mechanism. It was a way for me to express my anger at how vulnerable l felt in certain situations that had gone down in my life. It's not a song l would write now. The song is very generic and generalized, and I apologized for that on the cover of the record. Going back and reading it, it wasn't the best apology but, at the time, it was the best apology I could make.

I'm on a fence with that song. It's a very powerful song. l feel, as far as artistic freedom and my responsibility to those beliefs, that the song should exist. That's the only reason l haven't pulled it off the shelves. Freedom and creativity should never be stifled. Had l known that people were going to get hurt because of this song, then l would have been wrong. l was definitely wrong in thinking that the public could handle it.


Before the fierce media reaction to the song toom place, the band played it live at least three times (October 30, 1987, at an acoustic gig at the CBGB's, USA; at the Limelight, USA, on January 31, 1988; and in Mears in July 30, 1988). Despite this, in early 1990, Duff would claim they had never played the song live:

We've never done it live, no.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990


The band members, who had recorded the song and played it live, reacted in various ways to the backlash.

Duff consistently defended the decision to include the song:

For a start, the “nigger” thing. Slash comes from a family that is half-black. My family is a quarter black... I mean, readers, listen to every lyric in the song! The song’s about Axl coming to LA for the first time on the fuckin’ bus. He was a fuckin’ green, wet-behind-the-ears white boy, and he was scared to fuckin’ death! That is what the song is about and that’s it, people can take it the way they want to. Of course, right now they’re gonna just fuckin’ slag us. I’d rather not get too much into it, though. If you can’t get anything out of it then don’t listen, is my message.

[…] I can understand some people taking offence to it, yeah. But, ultimately... why? All it is, is a tale about life actually in this fuckin’ town, downtown LA. OK, it’s a white guy telling the tale. So what? That's his story. All it is, is a white kid telling his tale. But I don’t want to say too much. Axl’s got such a reputation now that of course they’re gonna jump all over his ass - he said that dirty word, you know? I mean, check it out, I’ve been an uncle since I was two years old. My first nephew when I was two was black. It was my sister’s kid; she married a black guy. Now I have sixteen nephews and nieces and cousins and shit, lots of which are black, or part black.

I never heard the word "nigger" until I went to fuckin' school! Until I went to school I didn’t know there was a difference between black and white. Then at school you'd see them, the white kids giving a hard time to the black kids. Like, "Fuck you, nigger!"  I was like, "Fuck you, you white fuckin' asshole!" Like, why are you calling him a nigger? What does it mean? I couldn't see the difference. So I've always felt very strongly about this. We were in Australia and there's this big skinhead movement down there. Slash and I wanted to come out and make a press statement or something while we were there, against the skinheads...[…] they were against the Aborigines, and they were against the blacks, and shit. They're so racist you wouldn't believe it. Slash and I are so against that shit. And so is Axl, so is Axl. He’s not prejudiced at all. There is no prejudice in this band. The simple thing about this song is that it is just a tale of what happens to a fucking kid from Indiana - not from London, or San Francisco, but from out of nowhere to the big city - and being scared off his ass. He didn't know the right words to use. So that is all it’s about, man.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

I think each individual has to interpret it as they like. As for me? I think it's kinda funny! It's real life, and this band has never minced words when it comes to real life. The song is basically Axl's view of coming to downtown L.A. for the first time. He was from Indiana, he was real green--and L.A. blew his mind. [...] You have to remember--we've lived all this stuff. When you saw these dirty white-trash (expletive) guys on Hollywood Boulevard--hey, that was us! [...] I'm sure it'll bother some people--and I can understand that. But the song is a way of describing what happened to us, not making any value judgments. [...] If you're just exposing aspects of life that are already out there, what's the problem with that? When I was 14, I thought Sid Vicious was cool, but I knew that didn't mean I had to OD on heroin. This is just our song--and we're not asking for everyone to like it. I don't think we have to be responsible for everybody else's opinion.

As criticism mounted, the other band members would some times distance themselves from the song, and blame it on Axl and his stubbornness, or defend Axl and point to artistic freedom of speech. Regardless of whether they defended the song or not, they would consistently put all the blame on Axl and trivialize their own responsibility as band members and musicians on the recording.
There's a line in that song where it says, “Police and niggers, get out of my way...” that I didn’t want Axl to sing, I didn’t want him to sing that but Axl’s the kind of person who will sing whatever it is he feels like singing. So I knew that it was gonna come out and it finally did come out. What that line was supposed to mean, though, was police and niggers, OK, but not necessarily talking about the black race. He wasn’t talking about black people so much, he was more or less talking about the sort of street thugs that you run into. Especially if you’re a naive mid-western kid coming into the city for the first time and there’s these guys trying to pawn this on you and push that on you...

It's a heavy, heavy, heavily intimidating thing for somebody like that. I’ve been living in Hollywood for so long I’m used to it, you know? But I didn’t want the song to be taken wrong, which always happens.

[…] in the context of the song those are the character’s true feelings - his mind is just blown away by what he sees. But there’s been a couple of instances where I've decided I was gonna do like an international press release to try and explain what some of this shit is about. Then I thought, no, fuck, that’s a waste of time...

But that kind of thing does bother me. Me, in particular. I mean, I’m part black. I don’t have anything against black individuals. One of the nice things about Guns N’ Roses is that we’ve always been a people’s band. We’ve never segregated the audience in our minds as white, black or green, you know? But with the release of "One in a Million” I think it did something that I don’t think was necessarily positive for the band, and it put us...

[…] whenever given the chance I try and say my piece about that, because it really isn’t... It doesn’t even have to be about blacks. The term ‘nigger’ goes for Chinese, Caucasians, Mexicans... blacks too, sure. But it’s just like a type of people that, you know, are street dealers and pushers. And that’s what it’s supposed to mean. It’s definitely something to attack us with. It’s a bona fide, real thing that they can actually say, you know, “Well, what about that?”
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989[/url]

[Being asked if it was okay on the grounds of artistic license]: Personally, no [I don't think so]. I don’t think that that statement served any good. I think that should have been kept at bay altogether. But Axl has a strong feeling about it and he really wanted to say it. But then... God forbid that any of us should get arrested and end up in county jail. Can you imagine? "Yeah, that’s the guy who wrote that song!” You could be in some serious trouble with some of the guys in there. Much more trouble than just the cops.

Actually, that dawned on me a few days ago... We’re always in trouble with the police, that’s nothing new. And, you know, we’re not the only band to ever say something derogatory about the police. But there’s a point where you do things that make a statement, that are cool, and there’s another point where you do things that just aren’t necessary and you’re just asking for trouble. To ask for trouble and to intentionally put yourself in a position like that, to me, is not cool. As an artist you’re expected to make statements. But you’re supposed to make statements that make sense and come across clearly. You don’t want to make statements that are so, you know, so blatantly out of proportion, so blown out of proportion that it’s ridiculous, no subtlety in them at all.

My mom - who is black, right? - was in Europe and I talked to her on the phone a little while back, it was the first time we talked for ages. And I asked her if she’d heard the EP yet and she told me, no. But my little brother was out there, and when he came back he told me yeah, she had heard it. But she was so shocked that she didn’t know what to say to me on the phone. I thought about that and I thought, you know, I can understand that. So, ultimately, I can’t say... there’s nothing that I can say in the press that’s gonna cover it up.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989[/url]

I have a big problem with that lyric. I've talked to Axl many times about his lyrics. 'You don't need to say that, Axl. You're a fuckin' immigrant yourself. Everyone's a fuckin' immigrant in America. Don't you see you're putting down the whole of fuckin' America? And if they faggots, well so what?' Axl... is very... confused. But I was pissed off. I was very against that shit going on our record. 'Why'd you have to say that, Axl. It's hard enough just gettin' by.' [Pauses] But at the same time, y'know, this is just fuckin' rock 'n' roll music. When it's fucked up, it's more interesting. Whoever said this was responsible music, y'know? We're not fuckin' role models. At all. But 'One in a Million' is just flat-out racist. Like that about niggers trying to sell you gold chains.

When Axl first addressed the critics, his foremost priority was for him to say what he wanted to say and let the consequences fall by the wayside. That’s art. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in. With “One...,” three quarters of the people who bitched misinterpreted what we were saying. I saw it coming […] No one is ever going to be satisfied! And you know, it’s amazing how people let other people run their lives. It's almost like there’s a robot or computer, and it’s setting you up to live the perfect, proper life. It’s just not right. Everybody's human, and no matter how morally correct you are as a human being, you're still going to make mistakes, because you're en-titled to your opinion. Opinions are personal. That’s why I hate critics. It's like, “We’re going to take this away from you, and we’re gonna ban this." Oh, yeah? Who says? Everybody’s complaining. Everybody’s writing letters. It's just one big, confused mess. But we somehow rise above, right?

Everybody on the black side of my family was like, 'What is your' problem? My old girlfriend said, 'You could have stopped it.' What am I supposed to say? Axl and I don't stop each other from doing things. Hopefully, if something is really bad, you stop it yourself. It was something he really wanted to put out to explain his story, which is what the song is about. Axl is a naive while boy from Indiana who came to Hollywood, was brought up in a totally Caucasian society, and it was his way of saying how scared he was and this and that. Maybe somewhere in there he does harbor some sort of [bigoted) feelings because of the way he was brought up. At the same time, it wasn't malicious. I can't sit here with a clear conscience and say, 'It's okay that it came out.' I don't condone it. But it happened, and now Axl is being condemned for it, and he takes it really personally. All can say, really, is that it's a lesson learned.

The stuff people are saying about our religious beliefs, our stance on homosexuality and all that, it was just one song and the song had nothing to do with making any kind of a statement. We didn't try to put people into any kind of categories or...I don't really know how to explain it. We weren't pointing fingers or anything like that. It was a song about one night, and it was something that Axl wanted to have there without trying to sound the way it sounded.

We all think maybe it was a mistake having it released because of the way people have reacted to it. When I listen to it in front of someone else, there's no other way to interpret it. We stuck our foot in our great mouth with that one.

When Axl first came up with the song and really wanted to do it, I said I didn't think it was very cool... I don't regret doing 'One in a Million,' I just regret what we've been through because of it and the way people have perceived our personal feelings.

Living with that 'One In A Million' fall-out was heavy shit. I don't know if Axl learned anything from the experience - I would hope he did. Actually, Slash said the best things about that in some interview he did when he said that Axl's free expression was all well and good but he'd hate to think what would happen to any of the band if they got thrown in jail and had to explain the lyrics to the other guys doing time. 'Cos during that period I ended up in jail in Phoenix for a day. I found out. It was pretty fucked up.

It's only come up twice in the band's history where I had questions about whether a song's lyrics would be offensive. If it's like a little bit offensive and just makes the short hairs on the back of your neck stand up, that's all right. But there were only a couple that I thought might really be offensive. But, of course, we did them anyway. […] One of the songs was 'One in a Million.' But at this point, it's like so much water under the bridge, I don't want to get into it. We don't do it on purpose. We just write stuff that we feel like writing and it means something to us because it's all true to us. Therefore, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't be able to write it and then put it out. […] I don't see why there should be any rules or regulations on it. If you don't want to buy it, don't buy it. If it bothers you that much, don't listen to it.

And then as far as the whole racist thing is concerned, it had nothing to do with racism, or us speaking out against blacks or anything. I'm half black, so I was like: "Ok, this is a good one." I knew when Axl wrote the lyrics and I knew the story that went with it. I knew when he put it down on paper, it was gonna be recorded, it wasn't going to come across positive. So I took that one with a grain of salt. We got a lot of flack for that.

Everyone has a right to their opinion. I think the whole story with One In A Million was kind of exaggerated. I think some people took it more seriously than they should, maybe because they were looking for an excuse to dislike the band even more - maybe because they were jealous of us. They took it too far. It happens with many bands - people take their lyrics more seriously than they should. They take everything literally, but it’s just songs. Of course, if you think that there’s a hidden message and you go kill someone, that’s wrong. As far as lyrics go, I think they relate to the person who sings them - in our case, Axl. A solo guitar is Slash's thing, a piano solo is my thing. The words are Axl’s job, so we don’t interfere.
Pop & Rock, June 1993; translated from Greek

And then as far as the whole racist thing is concerned, it had nothing to do with racism, or us speaking out against blacks or anything. I'm half-black, so I was like: "Ok, this is a good one. And we're definitely not homophobic. Axl's view doesn't maybe match with what you're "supposed" to think. But the experiences Axl had of gays when he came to Los Angeles for the first time, you can't take that away from him.


In the August edition of RIP Magazine Slash penned a letter as a response to a fan letter that had been published in the May issue:

To Tony W. of Fairfield, California, and whomever else it may concern:

I've never written to a publication before and never really expected to do so, but in this case I felt that it was well in order to make a sincere effort.

A letter printed in the Static section of the May issue of RIP caught my attention. The letter was written by Tony W. of Fairfield, California, and was more or less addressed to the rock and roll band Guns N' Roses. l am the lead guitarist and a cowriter for GNR, so it was fortunate that this particular issue came my way, especially since the bulk of GNR material that bypasses us is the usual carousing, chemical-abusing sexual highlights that comprise most of our pub­licity. This issue, though, contained a letter that shed some light on a more important subject. This was done by a legitimate fan of the band, rather than by an opinionated journalist with a quota to fill, thus deserving a response from someone in GNR without question!

All this aside, the purpose of Tony 's letter, I think, was to find out whether or not GNR is actually racist (referring to the content of one of our songs) or prejudiced. The song in question is off our EP, GNR Lies, and is called "One in a Million." The lyric that prompted Tony's curiosity as to our racial standing goes, "Police and niggers, get out of my way.” The term "niggers" being the case in question.

I think that down inside Tony knows the answer but it would satisfy a certain something to hear it from us. The answer is. NO! Not in any way is Guns N' Roses racist, prejudiced, bigoted or subject to any other title of racial discrimination. I cannot stress this strongly enough. I’m sorry that anyone would even start to think that about us in the first place, but I will add this much to em­phasize and clarify.

The word nigger, by way of original defi­nition (albeit slang), is a low-grade, lazy in­dividual. An individual with no regard for anyone else. Low-class upbringing and moral standards. Human trash, if you like, but not a label for any particular ethnic group. A nigger could be a Caucasian. Asian, Italian, Latin or Black. It is from this definition GNR used the word nigger, not from the stereotypical one that is exclusive to blacks only. It’s a drag that some asshole somewhere, sometime, decided long ago that the word nigger and its meaning was deserved by the Black race Now it’s a household word used by racist morons the world over. And since it’s been this way for so long, it seems there's not much to be done about it. Being part black myself, I take offense to hearing the word nigger as well.

Anyway, I'll briefly summarize “One in a Million," and you can decide for yourself what we’re getting at. "One in a Million" is Axl’s autobiographical look back to when he picked up his bags and hitchhiked from smalltown Lafayette, Indiana, to downtown Los Angeles. The harsh contrast of L.A.'s fast pace, concrete, dog-eat-dog motif to Axl's middle-class, conservative background created the verses for "One in a Million," with “I'm one in a million," echoing the aspi­rations of kids everywhere to become some­body in the entertainment biz, being the chorus. The combination of verse and cho­rus should spell out the point of the song. Axl's reference to niggers was directed towards the characters one would encoun­ter on the streets in downtown L.A., i.e. mug­gers, pimps, hookers, thieves, drug dealers, etc. . . . Not a common sight in Lafayette, for sure. But also very intimidating to a teenager coming from there and landing smack in the middle of LA. for the first time. Get the picture?

All the mentions of particular groups of people in this song are referring to the radi­cal extremes (ex.: "immigrants and faggots." etc.). Hollywood is a radical extreme in it­self. The words to "One in a Million” are not meant to insult. They are meant to verbal­ize the most decadent examples of every­day life in the big city.

In closing, I would like to add that the bot­tom line is, if anybody thought that we were bigots—DON'T. Nobody in this band is, nor is anyone in our whole organization. So if we offended anyone, it wasn't intentional.

Thanx for Listening,

P.S. This isn't an excuse, just fact.


As the band started touring the 'Use Your Illusion' records in 1991, there were rumors that the Ku Klux Klan would show up at the shows and claim that the band supported racism:

I mean, cuz we are the band that the Ku Klux Klan was supposed to be showing up at shows to pass up things. And it’s like, when a Ku Klux Klan guy is met, it’s like, “Out of here!” (points with his hand). […] Well, [the KKK] said they were going to and we were going to sue the Ku Klux Klan because they were trying to say we were supporting racism. And it’s like, they had a Grand Wizard and stuff. And it’s like, I fired off letters from the lawyers right away. I figure out, don’t even think about it, you know. You misinterpreted something I said. Don’t even think about it.

Axl would discuss KKK and David Duke while playing two shows in Dayton on January 13 and 14, 1992:

Now, I wanna ask your opinions about GN’R. I was reading in a magazine that we should have called these two new records “Our Hitler,” comparing me to Hitler; [that] I’m a troubled child and, basically, I’m Hitler, and if people listen they’ll all go to hell. What do you think of that? Being that we are the band that put out One in a Million, let me ask this question: how many redneck racist assholes do we have here tonight? And do you think that I’m a racist? Or a lot of you are just confused and you don’t know whether I am or not. I live in L.A., I’ve lived there for ten years. I’ve lived on the streets – I don’t anymore, but I used to. And, I mean, we hang out with people like Ice T and NWA. And it’s like, you can use whatever fucking language you want. I don’t need a bunch of jerkoff white fuckin’ people fuckin’ telling you I’m a racist cuz they don’t want our rock ‘n’ roll to exist. I had a meeting about a year-and-a-half ago with Arsenio Hall, cuz he was on TV calling me a racist and shit, and we went out and had a little talk. And he was like, 'The reason I’m having this talk is that I suddenly realized that the 70-80% of the white people in my organization were the ones telling me you’re a racist – not the black people that work with me.' It was the white people that didn’t want GN’R to be the fuck around.

But I read reviews on the albums and we got reviews describing us as – you know, that we should call the albums “Our Hitler” and, basically, we’re David Duke America’s house band. Fuck David Duke! And if you think that supporting something like David Duke is what we wrote a song like One in a Million about, then you can do yourself a favor, because you’re a real disillusioned motherfucker, and you outta just leave.

Later, Axl would discuss trying to engage the audience in the KKK rumours:

[Talking about trying to get a crowd reaction]: I approached it a bit differently when we did the first show in Dayton, Ohio. We'd been told we're the perfect house band for David Duke's America. And it's like, fuck David Duke, I don't like being associated with that. I asked the crowd: "Is that what you get out of this, that we're racists and you're supporting it? 'Cause if that's the case, I'm gonna go home. That's not why we're here." I asked the crowd about those things. I got some real interesting responses. The way they reacted was a little bit different than normal. There was silence in different places and cheering in others. You could tell that they were thinking for a minute.

Axl would revisit this theme on January 27 in San Diego:

You know, we just put out these records and I’ve read all kinds of reviews. I’ve been called everything. We should have called the record “Our Hitler;” that’s from a review I read. Yeah, I think Guns N’ Roses has a whole hell of a lot to do with Nazism and telling people what to do and killing [?], don’t you? They still don’t know what to make out of One in a Million. You know, it’s funny. The people mostly pissed off about what they call racism were the white people. There are a lot of white people that just don’t like rock ‘n’ roll in general, so, “Wait, now we’ve got a fucking target. They’re racist.” Is that what you people think we are and we mean? Is that all we are about? Because if it is, then we should probably go home. Because we get told that we should be – I think it was in Entertainment Weekly – “David Duke’s house band for America.” Fuck David Duke! The motherfucker [inaudible].

Axl would also talk about David Duke in interviews, like in an interview he did in September 1992:

When I read that Guns N' Roses could be David Duke's house band, that's wrong, and it hurts me. I'm not for David Duke. I don't know anything about the guy except that he was in the Klan, and that's f?!ked.


That's a song that the whole band says: 'Don't put that on there. You're white, you've got red hair, don't use it.' You know? 'Fuck you! I'm gonna do it cos I'm Axl!' OK, go ahead, it's your fucking head. Of course, you're guilty by association. [But] what are you gonna do? He's out of control and I'm just the fucking guitar player...
Classic Rock, 2001

Axl's lyrics in 'One In A Million' immediately caught attention. The press labelled us things like David Duke's house band; I heard that the KKK - or some faction of the Klan at least - started using the song as a war cry. I stood by my original interpretation of the song and of Axl's intentions. Art gets misunderstood all the time. Still, I found myself uncomfortable as a result of this particular misunderstanding.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 145

When I first heard 'One In A Million', I asked Axl, 'What the fuck? Is this necessary?' He just said, 'Yeah, it's necessary. I'm letting my feelings out.'
The Days of Wine and Roses, Classic Rock, April 2005

That song was meant, to the best of my knowledge, as a third-person slant on how fucked-up America was in the '80s. I don't know. I wouldn't have used the words, but Axl has been known to be amazingly bold at times.
Reverb, July 2010

'One In A Million' featured the wildly controversial lyrics about "police and niggers" and "immigrants and faggots." I thought that it was a great song that needed strong words. It expressed a heavy sentiment that had to be delivered with no punches pulled. I knew that the words weren't directed to the majority of blacks, gays, or immigrants. It simply described the scumbags of the world. (...) The song explained the shit that Axl, a naive hick from Indiana, had gone through.
"My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, pp. 177

I come from a family that’s multi-racial, Slash is half-black, and “One In A Million,” from where I sat in 1988—and I was convinced of it and still am, and people look at me cross-eyed—to me it was a commentary on America from a third person, and I thought it was the most genius thing ever, and I thought it was pretty bold of Axl to take that stance. We weren’t the huge band we’d become when Lies came out, but people knew who we were, so we knew people were gonna hear this song, but it wasn’t done for the shock value. It was kind of just recorded and done and out, and we were moving on. David Geffen had us on this AIDS benefit in 1989 or ’90, and it was gonna be at Radio City Music Hall, and we were the headliner for this thing. And the Gay Alliance or Rainbow Coalition or something gave David Geffen so much grief that we were kicked off. And it was really like, “Are you fuckin’ serious?” And that’s when it first started to dawn. I remember taking a flight home to Seattle and there was an empty seat next to me, and the flight attendant sat down, and she was a black woman. She said, “So, are you in the band Guns N’ Roses?” “Yeah.” “Are you really a racist?” She wanted to sit down and talk to me and try and turn me from being a racist. She was a nice Seattle chick, and I was a nice Seattle guy, and I just shrank in my seat. I didn’t know what to say.
[The Onion A.V. Club, May 2011

You know what, in all honesty [the problems with Living Colour] stemmed from a lyric that Axl, being from the Midwest in the US, from Indiana, he said something I didn't agree with when we recorded the song, he said something about niggers and faggots and something like that and it was his introduction to Los Angeles downtown. And I know where he's coming from in some ways, but I also know where he's really coming from in another way - and it wasn't necessary to say it, because you would really have to know his background to understand where that's coming from. It generated a lot of bad blood. I mean, I got jumped in Chicago because of it. By a bunch of my brothers, you know - about three of them - and they cornered me in a mall, in the dark, and I was like - "Look -" and I told them the same thing I'm telling you, look, you got to understand the guy, and we parted on good terms, but I understood why he shouldn't have done it in the first place. […] I said, well, if you insist on doing this, it's your responsibility, but in the long run it turns out to be the band's responsibility. In essence, we didn't ever have a problem with Living Colour as far as I know.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:52 pm


Immediately after its release, it was mainly the racist aspects of 'One in a Million' that was debated in the media and caused controversy. The homophobic slurs did not cause as much controversy at first, or it had to take a backseat while media focused on the perceived racism of the song. But when that discussion wound down, the band started to receive more criticism for the homophobic verses.

David Geffen, the head of Geffen Records, was himself gay and would be asked about whether Axl was a homophobe:

I don’t believe he is homophobic. I know him.
The Baltimore Sun, July 22, 1994

Alan Niven, after having been fired by Axl, would deny there was ever any friendship between Geffen and Axl:

David Geffen and Axl Rose? Oh, just ships in the night. Geffen is a very smart business man. He had no illusions whatsoever about Axl. Did he ever want to hang out with Axl? Oh, good God, no! Geffen is far too intelligent to care about sustaining some kind of rock credibility for himself by socializing with Axl Rose.


As an approach to fight the accusations of the band being homophobic, in early 1989, David Geffen arranged for the band to take part in an AIDS Benefit Concert called "Rock and a Hard Place" that was to take place in New York City in June [Circus Magazine, May 1989]. In April 1989, it was reported that Guns N' Roses was billed above Whitesnake and Aerosmith [L.A. Weekly, April 21, 1989].

It's something [record company president] David Geffen is putting together. Or at least [he's] involved with, and he asked us if we would do.

The band agreed to do it, probably mostly to create awareness of a new disease that was causing fear in the music scene:

We're against AIDS and we just want to help out because as soon as it hits the rock crowd, it's over. Once one guy gets it, everybody is going down. Maybe that's why people are getting it, everybody's going down-hill.

The only serious problem today isn't violence, or drugs, but AIDS. It's there, it can strike anywhere and anyone.

The only thing I see that will likely kill the spirit of rock 'n' roll is AIDS. I know that may sound funny, but it's something that really worries me. Since no major rock star has died from it yet, the scare really hasn't permeated the music scene. But as soon as someone like (names a major rock star) goes, then the girl who was with him will be with the next band, and the next, and so on, and before we know it, the 1990s could wind up being the age of no bands at all. Five years from now, you just watch and see what happens.

But then, on the demands of the sponsor, Gay Men's Health Crisis, the band was kicked off the event [L.A. Weekly, April 21, 1989; Journal and Courier, March 1989; Arizona Republic, March 1989; Daily News, March 1989].

David Geffen had us on this AIDS benefit in 1989 or ’90 [it was in June 1989], and it was gonna be at Radio City Music Hall [in New York], and we were the headliner for this thing. And the Gay Alliance or Rainbow Coalition or something [it was the Gay Men's Health Crisis] gave David Geffen so much grief that we were kicked off.
The Onion A.V. Club, May 2011

It's really unfortunate that they don't want us to do it. We wanted to really make some money for AIDS, you know, cuz it's a big problem and it's unfortunate that they felt that strong and pulled us. I don't agree with them.

We're in no way associated with the Gay Men's Health Crisis, except that David Geffen is on the board of directors for the concert and he's the owner of our record company. We were asked to do this, and we wanted to contribute some money to help stop a deadly disease that's killing humans of all kinds. A friend of mine who's homosexual and was largely responsible for the record companies taking notice of us was upset about it because we didn't even get a chance to clear ourselves, to make good. AIDS is something very scary. The concert was something we wanted to do and felt it was important to do but we were denied the opportunity. We were even denied the opportunity to say anything about it. It was just publicly announced that we weren't allowed to do it because the Gay Men's Health Crisis wouldn't let us. I don't feel they have the right to deny the money and attention they would have gotten from us playing. It's pride, it's ignorant and it's childish.

As a consequence of being kicked off the event, Axl was reported to consider doing an AIDS benefit of his own [L.A. Weekly, April 21, 1989].


The homosexual friend Axl mentioned in the quote above is likely Joseph Brooks or Henry Peck, whom Axl had mentioned when he was discussing homosexuality on a previous occasion:

The only people I deal with that are gay are [Cathouse DJ] Joseph Brooks and [DJ-about-town] Henry Peck, and I try not to offend them. Their sex life doesn’t come into any view of mine, ‘cause I’d just flip out. So it’s not like some kind of aggressive-against-gays shit.


The quote above is telling about Axl's views on homosexuality and homosexuals at the time. While he would be bending over backwards to explain and defend the 'One In A Million' verses on blacks [see previous section], he had a harder time, or didn't want to, defend the homophobic portions of the song:

I don't know what to think about gays. They're in a world of their own. I'm not too happy about AIDS.

When I use the word immigrants, what I'm talking about is going to a 7-11 or Village pantries - a lot of people from countries like Iran, Pakistan, China, Japan et cetera, get jobs in these convenience stores and gas stations. Then they treat you as if you don't belong here. I've been chased out of a store with Slash by a six-foot-tall Iranian with a butcher knife because he didn't like the way we were dressed. Scared me to death. All I could see in my mind was a picture of my arm on the ground, blood going everywhere. When I get scared, I get mad. I grabbed the top of one of these big orange garbage cans and went back at him with this shield, going, "Come on!" I didn't want to back down from this guy. Anyway that's why I wrote about immigrants. Maybe I should have been more specific and said, "Joe Schmoladoo at the 7-11 and faggots make no sense to me." That's ridiculous! I summed it up simply and said, "Immigrants."

And he would explicitly state that he had an "attitude" towards homosexuals caused by a prior bad experience:

I've had some very bad experiences with homosexuals. When I was first coming to Los Angeles, I was about eighteen or nineteen. On my first hitchhiking ride, this guy told me I could crash at his hotel. I went to sleep and woke up while this guy was trying to rape me. I threw him down on the floor. He came at me again. I went running for the door. He came at me. I pinned him between the door and the wall. I had a straight razor, and I pulled the razor and said, "Don't ever touch me! Don't ever think about touching me! Don't touch yourself and think about me! Nothing!" Then I grabbed my stuff and split with no place to go, no sleep, in the middle of nowhere outside of St. Louis. That's why I have the attitude I have.

When pressed in whether he is anti-homosexual, he would state:

I'm proheterosexual. I can't get enough of women, and I don't see the same thing that other men can see in men. I'm not into gay or bisexual experiences. But that's hypocritical of me, because I'd rather see two women together than just about anything else. That happens to be my personal, favorite thing.

And when asked about his thoughts on gay-bashing and if he had ever beaten up someone because of their sexual orientation:

No! I never have. The most I do is, like, on the way to the Troubadour in "Boystown," on Santa Monica Boulevard, I'll yell out the car window, "Why don't you guys like pussy?" 'Cause I'm confused. I don't understand it. Anti-homosexual? I'm not against them doing what they want to do as long as it's not hurting anybody else and they're not forcing it upon me. I don't need them in my face or, pardon the pun, up my ass about it.

But Axl wasn't the only one who had expressed negativity towards gays:

We're not sexist, but that's no reason for the groupies who hang around backstage to start wanting respect. We treat them like shit because that's what they are. […] We're talking about groupies, not women in general. Anyway, one day one of those tramps is gonna catch AIDS from screwing some faggot and end up giving it to every group in town. That'll be the end of the rock scene in LA.

In June 1993 Slash would again deny they are homophobic and perhaps imply his own mother was gay:

I mean, as people, we're definitely not homophobic. You know, my mom… The closest I grew up around… You know, gay... I'm very fond of gay women. So, I mean, I'm not homophobic.


In a review of the band's show in Houston on January 9, 1992, the Houston Chronicle wrote that Axl "allegedly told 'Rolling Stone' magazine he liked to 'beat up faggots after a concert, to relieve stress' [Houston Chronicle, January 10, 1992]. It has not been possible to find the original source for this quote, and it is not found in any of the known Rolling Stone magazines. The conclusion that this is either entirely fictional or a misunderstood and tasteless joke.  


When invited to play at Freddie Mercury's tribute concert in April 1992 [see separate chapter], the band would again be targeted by anti-homophobia groups who would use the lyrics of 'One in a Million' and statements in interviews to protest against the band's inclusion on the lineup.

Around the same time Axl would discuss the allegations that he is homophobic and for the first time admit he had been wrong and imply his views on homosexuality had matured:

When I used the word faggots [in 'One in a Million'], I wasn't coming down on gays. I was coming down on an element of gays. I had just heard a story about a man who was released out of the L.A. county jail with AIDS and he was hooking. I've had my share of dealings with aggressive gays, and I was bothered by it. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not judge," and I guess I made a judgment call, and it was an insult.

Axl's would also argue that his problems with homosexuality came from being raped by his father when he was two years old:

Homophobic? I think I've got a problem, if my dad fucked me in the ass when I was two. I think I've got a problem about it.

I don't know, maybe l have a problem with homophobia. Maybe l was two years old and got fucked in the ass by my dad and it's caused a problem ever since, but other than that, l don't know if I have any homophobia. How was that? […] So anyway, homophobia? The song [=One in a Million] is very generic. it's very vague, it's very simple, it was meant to be that way, it was written that way. It was like, O.K., I'm writing this song as l want to -- l want this song to be like "Midnight Cowboy." That guy was very naive and involved in everything. The cowboy. My friend who got robbed, he was like Dustin Hoffman's character. l wanted the song to be written from that point of view. l wrote it to deal with my anger and my fear and my vulnerability in that situation, that l still felt uncomfortable with, that happened to me. That was the "police and niggers" line. But now we move on to another line that says, […] "Immigrants and faggots, they make no sense to me/ they come to our country and think they'll do as they please / like start some mini-Iran, or spread some fucking disease / and they talk so many goddamned ways / it's all Greek to me." […] The line about "faggots" was written after I heard a story from a sheriff about a man they had just arrested after just releasing from jail, and he had AIDS, and he was back out on Santa Monica Boulevard hooking. We were like, "Oh, my God." And this just happened to get stuck in the song, since we had a radical line like "police and niggers" -- we might as well go all the way now, we'll write something else just as obnoxious, because we were just writing off-color humor at the time. We were dealing with a situation that was really heavy, ugly, and scary, and so we were making light of it. l was being encouraged to write as l was writing. […] Then we move on to the gay issue. I hitchhiked a lot and I got hassled an awful lot. I was very naive, and very tired, and a guy picked me up and said l could crash at his hotel, and l woke up with the man trying to rape me. l almost killed this man, l was so frightened. l had a straight-edge razor and was freakin' out: Don't ever touch me again! Then the guy ran out the door. l was so scared and l felt so violated. l didn't know that l felt even more violated than l was in the situation because of what had gone on in my childhood and what l had pretty much buried-and didn't even remember.

People can do whatever they want to, but I'm more pro-hetro. I'm not knocking it -- I have friends that are gay. It's just that it's not my cup of tea, l guess. That's all. People can do what they want. l can sit and watch the Madonna movie and enjoy it very much and feel I'm learning something, and then I have other friends that can't handle it at all. […] I don't make any judgment, you know. Sometimes we can be stupid, like somebody rooting for their team and just going, "Oh, our team's the best." That song sounds like l am, because when we went in the studio it came out very forceful. l played it on guitar and it was done very slow and in a different tone of voice and done very humorously. Well, that didn't work out when we recorded it because I had Duff play it on guitar -- because he could play it better and in better time -- and Izzy put this other guitar thing to it, and it evolved into something of its own. We didn't plan that song to be as forceful as it was. We walked into the studio, and boom, it just happened.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:55 pm

OCTOBER 1987-MAY 1989

Already back in 1987 did Slash muse on the follow-up to 'Appetite':

I’d like to go a little bit farther with it on the next one. I would like to see the sound get even heavier.

They had music left over from 'Appetite' that was ready to be released:

We have a handful of songs that we deliberately didn’t include in the first album, because both the label and us thought that it would’ve been a big shock for people. We took a big step from the EP to the album, and our second album will be a new step for sure, because we already have many of the songs that will be on it.
Popular 1, April 1988; translated from Spanish; from an interview dated October 8, 1987

The same month Axl would even indicate that it could become a double album and that they had as much as about 40 songs ready:

[…] we’ve already talked with Geffen and we will record a double album whenever we’re done touring. And hopefully we’ll put out a double album. We’ll see how it sounds, and if it’s a smart move to put out a double record cuz it’s gonna cost more. But we got all the material ready for it and we’re still writing new stuff, so... We have about 40 songs ready to go that we believe in.

A follow-up to their debut record was something the band looked forward to, especially as they toured extensively after the release of 'Appetite' in 1987 and were getting fed up by their old material. But also because they wanted to show the word a different side to themselves:

I hope [the next] album's more successful because I just want to bury 'Appetite.' It's like, I like the album but I'm sick of it. I don't live my life through that one album. I have to bury it. So rather than just throwing a bunch of songs together, we thinking far more [?] going over it, you know, with a fine-tooth comb and just working on everything to try... That's the goal, bury 'Appetite'.

But with the success of their debut LP, the pressure was on:

Yep, the pressure's kind of on. Still, its nothing we can't handle.

The biggest thing we had to deal with at one point was like the follow-up thing, right? And we were like, 'Ah f***, we don't care'. But finally, when we were off the road and it was time to go back in the studio, people were trying to put really heavy pressure on us and we were just like, 'WHAT?' And it did start turning into a pressure. Even Steven Tyler goes, 'Is there another "Jungle" on it?' and I was like, 'Of all people to ask me that!' And at that point we just cut it off from everybody. Y'know, ‘We're gonna do OUR record' […].

Although Duff was unfazed:

And there's really no pressure on us, you know, the success of the last record... there's absolutely no pressure on us at all, you know. Maybe if we only sold 50,000 copies or something there would be, but... And even if that happened we'd say "screw you" to the record company.

There was also a question on how their success would impact their music which had been so rooted in their gritty and vagrant lifestyles. As Jon Bon Jovi Would say, "I think Guns n' Roses are a great band. But what will happen to them when they lose their street feel? I worry for them at that point" [Raw Magazine, May 1989]. Still, all they could do was their very best:

Our next album will come out, and it'll sell a lot, but I don't think it will be like this, the way things are right now [with Appetite]; crazy. But it doesn't matter. What matters is whether the next album is actually any good or not. As long as the material is all there, I'm happy. We'll just make the best record we possibly can, as sincerely and as honestly as everything else we're ever done, and that's it. After that, it's not our problem any more.

I don't know what [the next record]'s gonna do in terms of sales or our following. But it should be, for us, a very weird experimental process and coming up with a lot of new things. Because "Appetite For Destruction", a lot of the material written on that was done when we were in the club scene in L.A. That's over two years ago. Sometimes three years ago, some of it. And "Anything Goes" was first started about four years ago. And so, during this time, we've had a lot time to grow and mature, I think, lyrically and musically, and the next record we get to, like, fuses all this and see what we come up with. [...] Yeah, it's like a lot of people right now are getting turned on to 'Appetite for Destruction', like it's brand-new, and we still have the same momentum behind those songs as we've always had and we still find something and then we get excited, but, you know, the next record for us will be, like, anywhere from a two to four year jump and a lot of people, you know, are going to get that jump in one year's time and it's got to surprise a lot of people.

Axl had long admired different musical styles, and bands who would be able to master them:

[...] that doesn't mean we won't play a heavy metal song, or we won't play a country song. The Rolling Stones, to me, have done the best, 'A Girl With Far Away Eyes', 'Far Away Eyes' to me, that's the best country song ever written, you know. Rolling Stones wrote whatever kind of music they felt like writing. They wrote 'Miss You', one of the best disco songs ever written. Just, you know, whatever you feel like and basically we're just a rock and roll back playing whatever we feel.

I like variety in music. I don't want us ever to hem ourselves in. I think you can go from writing a heavy metal song to writing a mellow song without selling out. The important thing is approaching the music with the same conviction.

I've always looked at things in a versatile sense because of Queen, ELO, Elton John, especially early Elton John and groups like that. With Queen, I have my favorite: Queen II. Whenever their newest record would come out and have all these other kinds of music on it, at first I'd only like this song or that song. But after a period of time listening to it, it would open my mind up to so many different styles. I really appreciate them for that. That's something I've always wanted to be able to achieve. It's important to show people all forms of music, basically try to give people a broader point of view.

But getting the follow-up album out would turn out to be a very laborious process and plans and release dates would ne continuously delayed for different reasons.

In mid-1987, before the release of 'Appetite', Axl talked about wanting to have Dan McCafferty (from Nazareth) guest vocal on their second record. They had already figured the song out [Unknown UK source, June 1987] which was 'November Rain':

When we got back to the States [likely after their June shows in England], I was informed that Dan had listened to our ballad 'November Rain' and liked it a lot. So I asked him if he wanted to sing with me, and he told me that he’d love to do it, if he could.
Popular 1, April 1988; although interview from October 1987; translated from Spanish

This did not happen and it is not known what song Axl had in mind, but likely a cover of Nazareth's 'Hair of the Dog' which would later be recorded for the The Spaghetti Incident.

After having released 'Appetite' in November 1987, the band spent most of their time touring until the end of 1988. During this time they did not have much time to properly work on their follow-up (although they did record for the EP 'G N' R Lies'). Still, Axl made some thoughts on how the second record could turn out:

The next record will be a lot of different material on it and I am sure that some people that like the EP or this record, they'll go, "Oh they've changed, they sold out," but they don't know when those songs were written.

Right now I'm really into writing, not necessarily ballads, but they're not like blazing fast rockers either. Things that have a lot of feeling, and that show some growth in understanding the world around you, and trying to relay that to other people. I've been writing a lot of different stuff for myself. I feel I'm growing as a songwriter. I don't necessarily know what the kids will think of it, or the majority of the public will think about it, but it's something I want to do. Like the next record, or the record after that could just fall flat on its face, but if I'm writing songs that I like, that I feel good about, that's all that counts. I'll still be happy.

There was a lot of stuff written before the last record, before we even went into the studio, in which case we picked 12 songs to go on the first album, and so that left a lot of ideas and material that we didn't use left over. This is stuff we care about. There's songs that Slash wrote guitar parts for, like, four or five years ago, and I just started writing words to one of them about a month ago. It was something I always liked but never found the right words for. There's a lot of stuff like that. There's other tracks that we decided we didn't want to put on the first album, we wanted to wait until we had a larger listening audience and spring it on them. [...] I've written a bunch of stuff, and Slash has written a bunch of stuff, and Izzy's written a bunch of material, and we've just started putting it all together. Basically what we do is, everybody just writes a whole song on their own. Those guys might delete words. I might delete guitar parts, but I have an idea of how I want them to go. Then we get together eventually, throw it in a pot and see what we can pull out.

Axl would also talk about the specific songs that might end up on the follow-up:

We've got over 40 songs and we're still writing. We'll be writing all this year. There'll be a lot more ballads, songs that are a lot heavier than 'Sweet Child of Mine' on the next record. We may do a version of `Knockin' on Heaven's Door.' It depends on the number of ballads. We've got at least eight, and we've got a lot of hard rockers already written. On the thank you on the record it says, 'With your bitch slap rappin' and your cocaine tongue, you get nothin' done.' That's a song called 'You Could Be Mine.' We already had that done before we even recorded this record. We have enough for the next one and then a few for the third.

And as for who the producer would be:

[Mike Clink is] presently at the top of the list. There's a couple songs that we may be talking to Roy Thomas Baker about. An arrangement with strings. We need someone that's used to that kind of thing.

Axl would also indicate that the band might start using synthesizers:

On our next record, we should have a pretty broad range of what we're able to give the public. But it won't be lack­ing the loud guitars because that's something I'm a fan of. On the other hand, on some of the Top 40 stuff, you'll hear loud guitars, but they sur­round it with synthesizers. I'm not against that, but I sometimes think it's not being played with a lot of orig­inality or heart. I don't want to do that. If we use synthesizers-which I hope we do on the next record - it'll be a bit more experimental.
Cream, September 1989; quote is from mid-1988

and that they would explore different styles:

[...]there will be a lot of different styles of material that's gonna come out of us that I don't think people are really gonna expect.

Not even his band mates seemed to expect the extent of variation that Axl wanted to express, and the inclusion of November Rain, a piano-driven ballad, was discussed between the band members:

[Being asked if the next record will contain a "15-minute song" "filled with synthesizers and strings"]: [laughing] Could be. There's talk. We constantly disagree and keep changing our minds about everything from one day to the next.

In June 1988, Slash would comment on the status:

Oh, we've got lots of things written . . . different parts to different things already laid down on the road. We get a surprising amount done while we're actually touring. […] I'm relied on to come up with a lot of the guitar parts, the main chord changes and the so-called bitchin' riffs and shit, and then Izzy comes in with some real cool rock and roll guitar licks, and Axl gets pissed off at something and starts to write words ... Just making it up as we go along. […] It's really friendly, really easy the way we write together. We never sit around in a room some place waiting for something to happen. We don't have to. Axl will just grab me at a gig and take me into the showers and say, 'Listen to this!' And he'll stand there singing me a couple of verses to something he just made up that will completely blow me away. […] [The new stuff] looks like it's going to be really good, but it looks like it's also going to be even more angry and bitter and twisted than the stuff on the first album […] There's a song called 'Perfect Crime', then there's a song called 'You Could Be Mine'. That's really about it for actual titles. I don't concentrate that much on the lyrics anyway, until we come to lay the slit down on the tape.

We’ve been writing on the road. How it works is, I write a lot of the guitar parts and chord changes and the so-called bitchin’ riffs, and Izzy writes real good rock ’n’ roll chord changes, you know what I mean? Then Axl gets pissed off at something and starts writing words. He gets these melodies and these rhythms happen. Like, he’ll take me into the shower at the gig and say listen to this and start singing something he’s just made up.

It looks like it’s gonna be really good, too. It looks like it’s gonna be even more angry and anti-radio and stuff. The first album, everybody was shocked by it ’cos it said “fuck” on it, like, twenty-five times. This one could be even worse. The subject-matter on this one is a little more...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

When asked about any song titles:

I don’t really concentrate on the lyrics until we’re actually putting the shit down in the studio. I have to sit with Axl and see what the reality of the album is gonna be about. There’s one called “Perfect Crime”. Another called “You Could Be Mine” . . . Hey, that rhymes! And that’s about all I can remember right now.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

Slash would also say they he thought they would start recording in October 1988 [Kerrang! July 30, 1988] or October/November [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988]:

The plan is to have the album out late Spring, early Summer next year, and then we'll maybe hook up with one of the big outdoor Summer tours that will be happening around America at that time-maybe the Monsters Of Rock thing, I don't know. […] Then after that we'll go out on our first headline world tour and we'll come home never wanting to open for anybody ever again!

This would be corroborated by Axl, who in August 1988 said they planned to release their second album in the first half of 1989. Again, Axl shed more info on what the next record would be like:

For the next record the lyrics I've written don't have anything like that [=profanity] in them. But there's a lot of stuff that Slash has written... a lot of heavier stuff. We'll get together and see what happens with it.

In the second half of 1988, Slash and Axl would say they already then had enough material for a double album [Melody Maker, March 1989] and looked forward to touring it in 1989:

[...] we've got about enough stuff planned for a double album and we don't know exactly what we're gonna put out on the next one, we're looking forward to being able to get out there again next year, and give the people even more of a show in a headlining position, so that they can, you know, see more of what we're about.

But when October came around the band had not visited the studio yet. When asked about this, and if they were anxious to work on the follow-up to the by now very successful debut record, Slash would respond:

I’m not going to sit around worrying about how good or how successful the next record is gonna be - I don't fuckin’ do that shit. We'll just make the best record we possibly can. As sincere and as us as possible. ’Cos I know damn well the reason this album is going where it’s going is because we hit a certain fuckin' particular place at a certain time. That’s fuckin’ great. But I'm not going to walk around with my fuckin’ nose in the air. If you think about it, rock ’n’ roll bands on the average - with the exception of gigs and albums - are pretty insignificant. You’re there, then you're gone and then there’s somebody else. […] Everybody listens to it at the same time and everybody burns out on it at the same time. I mean, like the new Bon Jovi record [New Jersey] is great but I don’t see the same kind of excitement to this record as I did their last one. I saw it happen to a lot of bands... Zeppelin and the Stones, same sort of thing. I mean, the Stones died out real quick - well, they eventually died out to the point where no one was really that excited by them any more. Zeppelin put out shitty records, though, and people were excited by them. It’s a weird kind of thing. You can’t sit there and try to predict it and analyse it. We’ll just go out and do another record.

My attitude is I’m just a guitar player in a band that’s doing real well right now, and I’m gonna have the best time I can have while I'm here...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

In between all the rest of the shit that goes on every day, I’ve been writing stuff. I've got an eight-track machine at home, so I’m putting it all down on tape. I’m pretty productive.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

And when asked when he now thought they would start recording:

[When asked when the recording would take place]: Some time in the New Year. There’s talk of going to Japan and Australia at the end of the year, so there’s no point trying to go in the studio right now. Plus, we’re pretty burnt out right now. We were on the road for a year and a half... We’ll start rehearsing to go to Japan and I’m sure we'll start jamming then, ’cos we have the place block-booked. So we'll jam a lot, play Japan - which I’m really looking forward to, we’re playing the Buddokan, which is pretty legendary. But we'll actually go into pre-production right after we get back from Japan.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

This would be confirmed by Circus Magazine, who, in September 1988, would state that the band intended to start working on their second LP after coming back home from their shows in Japan in December 1988 [Circus Magazine, September 1988].

It's hard to say what the next album is gonna sound like. It'll definitely be interesting. I don't think anyone's given any thought to it, so we'll just go and see what comes out. It'll definitely be varied. I think the first album has diversity to it, but the next one will have even more. We've got a ton of stuff to sort through. It'll be a rock & roll album, that's for sure.

Uncertainties in whether the band would actually succeed at releasing a second album came through in an MTV interview with Slash and Duff that also took place in October 1988, when Duff said they "hoped" they would make a second record and Slash insisted they would [MTV, October 1988]. Slash claimed they expected to have the album out by the summer of 1989, and start touring in the fall that year [MTV, October 1988]. Slash would also emphasize the amount of material they already had:

There's just a lot of material. I can't really say... I mean, there's tons and tons of stuff. And we'll just do whatever we really like and you know. I think there's at least gonna be two songs that are slow on the album.

In late 1988, Slash would mention one song he had written, Not Dead Yet, and which he was trying to write lyrics for:

I've got a song that I'm trying to work the lyrics out to called Not Dead Yet, which is sort of like a stab at the people who told us that we couldn't pull it off. And, you know, we'd fall apart. And it sort of just like saying, you know, it's sort of like it's about how we've made it to this point and done everything that we've done. It's sort of like, fuck you to everybody that said we couldn't. But I'm trying to work the lyrics out enough so that I know that Axl will be able to sing them.

In December that year, Duff and Slash said they were going to start recording in January 1989 [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988; Kerrang! December 1988] but Duff doubted they would have the album ready for the summer that year [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].

It's gonna be all kinds of stuff. Again, the success and the respect that we've gotten from the industry and from our company will just give us more time and more of ourselves to put into the next record. You know, we'll be able to, the first one it was rushed, and while "these guys ain't shit, they gonna do shit," you know, and blah blah, so, and so we were kind of rushed, in a way mentally, and, and, eh...

In February 1989, Duff commented on what they had so far:

We've got a lot of songs. Songs we wrote even before we did the first album. We had songs that weren't right at the time, so we said we'd save them for the next record.

And Slash would talk about the record:

It's turned into something that keeps me awake at night. I'm super excited about everything we do, jazzed like a little kid! I think about guitar licks, what to do live, and I write lots of guitar stuff geared to the next album. There's so much going through my head.

He would also say that they had finished ten songs while having a two-month break, likely in October-November 1988:

During the two months we had off, we got a studio, worked on new songs, got basic formats to start and end. We finished ten, and I've written four or five more since. Axl’s got a surplus of lyrics and ideas. It will be a natural progression. The only difference will be more ballads because we didn’t have the opportunity to do all we wanted on the first record. It will be heavier, more involved in the guitar aspect. We'll probably experiment more, but it will be the same thing — an adolescent pissed-off album!

In March 1989 Slash would again talk about where they were in the process of making the new record:

[We are supposed to be] writing and rehearsing. ‘Supposed to be, anyway. There’s a lot of songs I’ve written that Axl’s really excited about. I have to teach them to the rest of the guys in the band. That’s basically what I’m supposed to be doing now. But I’ve missed rehearsals with them. They’ve missed rehearsals with me... Izzy’s got a few songs. I had him over for a few days and we managed to get them onto tape. Then in a couple of weeks Axl’s gonna come down and start putting melodies and lyrics to this stuff. Hopefully, we’ll be in full-blooded pre-production in about a month and a half...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

And comparing the process to when they made 'Appetite':

The whole thing now is completely different. A lot of the songs on Appetite were written over a space of time. There was no kind of deadline or anything. But there was a couple of the songs which were written right during pre-production for the album - like "Mr Brownstone” and “Sweet Child”. So we had all the various song- writing scenarios on the first album. But I don't think this is gonna be too far off - writing all the songs and then going in and doing it. It’s just getting us all in the same room at the same time that’s the hard part...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

In fact, to make sure they were together the idea to rent a house for everybody to be in, had been considered:

Axl was keen on the idea, but I was... hmmm. But I got to the point where I was very seriously thinking about it - because the situation that we’re in now, we tend to get too distant. So, I was getting to the point where I was going to live at Izzy’s house, or maybe with Duff or Axl, or something like that. The main thing was, Axl and I were going to get a house together - if it was big enough, right?


I went and looked at this house with him, but it was too posh and ritzy for me. Anyway, so now we’re all basically living in the same area, so that’s good enough. And we have the studio block-booked twenty-four hours a day so we can hang out there and stuff...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

When asked when they would start recording the album:

We’re not adhering to any kind of plan at all. There are no deadlines or anything any more. So that being the case, the way we’re writing now... it’s the beginning of March, right? April, May, June, July... Maybe June or July. […] But then that’s all in a purple glow. We shall see...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

Still, Axl would continue talking about his ambitions for the record:

The next record will definitely be much more emotional. I try to write so the audience can understand what emotions I was feeling. Also, I think the songs are worded in a way that a great number of people will be able to relate to the experiences; it's not so personalized that it's only my weird, twisted point of view. […] The most important songs at this point are the ones with piano, the ballads, because we haven't really explored that side of the band yet. They're also the most difficult songs to do - not difficult to play, but to write and pull out of ourselves. The beautiful music is what really makes me feel like an artist. The other, heavier stuff also makes me feel like an artist and can be difficult to write. But it's harder to write about serious emotions, describing them as best as possible rather than trying to write a syrupy ballad just to sell records.

We found ourselves trying to, you know, write the next 'Jungle', write the next 'Paradise City', you know, and it's... we didn't want to but it was happening... Lyrics were coming out with lines about our other songs. That took a few months to get past that, to where... to put those to rest.

Slash would indicate he wasn't too concerned with meeting people's expectations:

The next record will be as good as we can possibly make it, so we’ll be happy. But whether it will be flavour of the month when it comes out, I don’t know and I don’t care. Some people might not be as interested, but, you know, so what?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

In the beginning of 1989 the band was supposed to rehearse and write, but apparently things weren't going as planned. Slash would also say they had "the rehearsal studio block-booked 24-hours-a-day so we can hang out there whenever we want" [Kerrang! April 1989]. Around the same time, the Beastie Boys had relocated to Los Angeles to work on their second album and booked studio time at the Record Plant where they would later say they recorded in a studio next to Guns N' Roses [Q Magazine, November 2018].

There's a lot of songs that I've written that Axl's heard and that he's real excited about. I still have to teach them to the rest of the guys in the band, though . . . And that's basically what I'm supposed to be doing right now. Izzy's got a few songs, too .. . I had him over here for a few days, and managed to get those songs on tape. In a couple of weeks we'll be ready for Axl to come down and start putting melodies and lyrics to the stuff. Hopefully, we'll be in full-blown pre-production in about a month-and-a-half.

In April 1989, Slash would also indicate they had the material ready for recording:

The material actually came together a little easier this time. We knew what we wanted to do, so every time we had a break from the road we'd all get together in an L.A. rehearsal hall and try to get some new songs together. The four musicians in the band would work on some basic song structures while Axl would be off working on his lyrics. Then we'd get together and see what fit together. It was amazing how even if we didn't know what the other guy was doing how the words and music just naturally fit together.

In April 1989 Duff said to MTV that they might go in the studio "in about a month in an effort to record, but it could take about five years" [MTV, April 1989]. The same month, New Musical Express would publish an article where it would be said the band was working on their new LP and intended for a summer release with touring in the fall [New Musical Express, April 1989].

Axl, on the other hand, would say they would "possibly" make a new record [Unknown Source, April 1989], either in jest or revealing that thigs were not all going according to plan.

Slash would again point out the amount of material they had:

I don't have to worry about us being able to make this next record even better than the first one. We've already gotten all the songs written, and Axl's come up with some incredible lyrics. Being able to tour the world and experience all we have during the past 18 months has given us an incredible amount of energy to draw from. Appetite for Destruction was only the beginning of what this band is going to do. This next record will kick-ass just as hard, but it'll be different, too.[...] The material actually came together a little easier this time. We knew what we wanted to do, so every time we had a break from the road we'd all get together in an L.A. rehearsal hall and try to get some new songs together. The four musicians in the band would work on some basic song structures while Axl would be off working on his lyrics. Then we'd get together and see what fit together. It was amazing how even if we didn't know what the other guy was doing how the words and music just naturally fit together.

In May 1989, Slash allegedly had started teaching the other guys the songs he had written:

I've written seven or eight tunes and the others are learning them at the moment. Some of these are more complicated than anything we've previously attempted. And Axl's coming up with some cool shit on the lyrical front.

And Axl would shed light on his approach to lyric-writing:

[…] unless it's a song we wrote a few years ago, I don't want to be singing about starving on the streets, because I'm. not. [The new songs will be] as real as possible in the world we live in now.

The idea now was to start recording in the studio with Mike Clink as the producer in September 1989 [RAW Magazine, May 1989]. This could imply that a trip to Chicago (June-July) was planned by this time and that they would immediately enter the studio afterwards.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:00 am; edited 25 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:57 pm


[Drug abuse] is very scary, I mean, it almost killed us, almost broke this band. It almost, you know, killed a few of us a couple times.

It was the biggest test to my sanity — getting off the road after being on for two years and having to mature enough to handle my own life. That was a hurdle.


Although trying to keep sober while touring in 1988, the heroin habits picked up again at the very end of the tour when the band travelled in Australia:

But the last time I was here [in late 1988], I can’t remember a fucking thing! […] drugs. […] We’d nearly finished being on tour, and dabbled with this and that, but we were more or less clean the whole time... then we found all these junkies in Sydney, and got the taste back! […] Then we went back to the States tor a hiatus to write and record - except there were more drugs available. And we had the money to buy them.


Duff and Izzy would confirm that the drug problems escalated after returning to Los Angeles in early 1989:

Put yourself in our shoes ... going from s— poor, seriously, getting $100 a week. All of a sudden you’re handed a gold card. You get a thing in the mail saying, ‘This is how much money you’re worth. You should probably look for a home now. You can actually buy a car.’ We were on the road for at least 2 1/2 years, and that’s what we got hit with when we came off. That’s when the drug prob­lems ... started happening.

We left Hollywood as the dirtbags, the band that everyone was betting would crash 'n' burn the first week out. We were gone almost two years, and suddenly we were so popular in LA, everybody loved us, everybody had something they wanted to sell us. The drugs came easier, everything.

We left Hollywood as street urchins. When we left, everyone was betting that we'd never last and that we'd burn out. We were on the road continuously for almost two years and when we got back we were suddenly really popular. Lo and behold, suddenly everyone wanted to be our friend, everyone wanted to hang out with us. Everyone wanted to sell us something or get something off us.

Getting drugs was as easy as getting bread from a baker. I just slipped into a totally crazy way of life. I'd spend all night, right 'til the early hours, in bars and clubs or at parties that were always going on.

We've been living in some strange sort of vacuum for so long, going at such a high pace and just living in this little world that the band was all about, that we didn't know anything else. So when the tour ended, we just go back out on the streets, more or less, and end up fucking up because we were bored. The whole success thing and the rockstar-kind-of-persona that we got labeled with, made it difficult to walk around in the neighborhood, so to speak, you know, Hollywood, without being recognized. And that was awkward. So we started hiding away and, you know, getting into drugs and all the stuff that goes with it, you know, drugs and chicks and chicks always had drugs, and it was all day-in and day-out. And it finally took its toll and that's what happened to Steven.


One story that was mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine in November 1988, was that the band was invited to Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen's house for a party [Rolling Stone, November 1988]. According to Rolling Stone, Nielsen challenged Slash to a tequila challenge which resulted in a brawl that ended with Izzy kicking Nielsen in the balls [Rolling Stone, November 1988]. Nielsen would deny this happened and claim he "decked Slash" [Rolling Stone, November 1988]. Izzy and Axl would later deny this version of the events from Rolling Stone:

Absolute shit. (laughs). That’s absolutely a lie. […] No, that’s not true at all. It was something that appeared in the Rolling Stone magazine totally twisted and the rumor got bigger. […] a great party, the only thing that happened was that at the end of it, we all ended up face down on the road. That’s the only thing that happened (laughs).
Popular 1, November 1992; translated from Spanish

There was a thing in Rolling Stone where [Rick Nielsen] said he fuckin’ decked Slash. He didn’t deck Slash. Do you think fuckin’ anybody’s gonna deck Slash with Doug Goldstein stand­ing there between Slash and them? It’s not gonna happen... [...] [The band provokes that kind of reaction] because Guns N’ Roses have this reputation for being bad and the new bad boys. And so, like, hey man, it perpetuates fuckin’ Rick Nielsen in the youth market and whatever else, and he’s bad, you know?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993


Especially Slash was struggling with adjusting to the more sedate life between tours, as he had done previously too [see previous chapter]:

The thing about being on the road constantly is that you never really have any big problems hanging over you the whole time. When you're moving around from city to city all the time you don't think about anything except getting to the next gig. Then when you come off the road, it's like this whole other world that you thought you'd left behind, but that's been waiting for you to come back to so it can start fuckin' with you. I mean, I hate having to deal with normal day-to-day shit. It leaves no time for anything else. […] To me it's like, well now you're off the road and you have a lot of money and you can do anything you want... But there's nothing that I wanna do except play. I just wanna get back on the fuckin' road... I envy all the bands that have their new albums done and are getting ready to go out. I'd love to have the album finished already and go back out. That's life as I know it, y'know?

I want to be back on the road so bad.

We were on the road when [the success] happened so, when the tour was over, they dropped me off at the airport and I was standing on the kerb going, 'Now what? Where do I go?' That's where the drugs trip came back.

Being an impatient sort of workaholic type, before the band went on the road and before the record came out [in 1987], we had our problems. Then I cleaned up, went on the road and it was great for two years and then bam! Back again. I said, 'Okay, all right, I can make a phone call and kill this time.

As he would tellingly say:

As pathetic as this may sound, my personal life and existence has nothing to do with anything beyond the band and being a player. I'm very single-minded. All I do is music, or else I do something—entirely different.

Slash got back on heroin "right away" [Melody Maker, August 10, 1991].

Steven would recall a haranguing story that likely took place before October 1989:

Somehow I had it in my head that not shooting [heroin] gave me some moral high ground to shake my head and feel that Slash was out of control with the shit. Even though I had dabbled with needles, I had backed off a bit and was a little freaked by Slash's behavior. Not long after that first day of scoring together [after they had both moved to houses near each other], Slash started to really lose it. We had been partying for a few days, and as the sun was peeking up, I couldn't find Slash in the house.

I went out back, and he was sitting by the pool. He was so out of it, just blindly jabbing a syringe into his arm, over and over.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 186

Duff was also mention Slash's paranoia around the same time:

I would hang out with Slash from time to time, but things were getting dark up there at his house in Laurel Canyon. One day he pulled out a stack of Polaroid pictures he had taken around his house. "Duff, look at these," he said. "It's some of those Martian bugs I was telling you about. They're infiltrating my house and watching me all the time." There was of course nothing on those Polaroids. But he kept flipping through the stack and pointing.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 155

Slash also had numerous OD's:

I really should be dead by now That's how bad it was. I guess I always felt I was indestructible. And that if I died, I didn't care about that either. I'd OD'd lots of times, would wake up and go, 'What happened?'

I've OD'd so many times. I’ve woken up in the hospital so many fucking times. I don’t like to get into it, but I've been through some shit. I’ve been in jail over drugs. You’d think things like that would make you stop, but they don't.

When the band relocated to Chicago in mid-1989 to get work done [see other chapter for more information], and Slash, Duff and Steven had to wait for the arrival of Axl and Izzy, Slash's drinking got really bad:

I'd wake up with the shakes so badly, detoxing just from waking up.

He would later describe his drinking:

I seriously used to go through one and two bottles of Jack Daniel’s a night. Easy. Sometimes a half gallon. I used to get up in the morning and I’d just be drunk all the time. I passed out on the floor of a guitar store in England — really stupid shit.

While in Chicago Duff and Slash went to a The Cult show and met Matt Sorum. Matt would describe them this way:

That’s when I first met the guys and they were in kind of a state.

In August 1989, Izzy was asked about how Slash was doing:

I hear he's doin' better, y'know. Haven't seen him in three to four weeks but I hear he's doin better than in a long time. He seems to realize now that with this new album to be made there's like a... uh, time period he has to be sustainin' right. Which he couldn't do before because of the way he's livin' his life.

In 1989, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith would also call up on Slash to hear how he was doing [Musician, December 1990]. And Slash would later comment on David Bowie having a talk with him:

And when I was going through a really bad drug period, David was the guy who told me, `You're in a bad way. When you get so strung out you weaken yourself.' And I was sitting there going, `Yeah, right.' But at the same time, it helped me get clean.

In September 1991, Izzy would describe an incident that happened "about a year and a half ago", which would indicate it happened in late 1989 or early 1990, but more likely it happened before October 1989:

Like, about a year and a half ago, Slash got pulled over in LA for drunk driving and this was when he was using a lot of heroin, right? Anyway, I was staying in a hotel in Venice and he showed up at four in the morning, fucked out of his mind. How he managed to drive there will always remain a mystery to me! So I let him spend the night. The next morning I find two rigs (syringes) hidden in my closet. I told him: 'Listen, fucker, I got problems and I just can't have this shit around,' 'cos I was on probation for six months at the time. And I had to do drug testing - fuckin' involuntary piss-tests almost every day for about a month as well.

Slash's escalating drug and alcohol abuse led to Axl's famous "Mr. Brownstone" speech at The Stones show in October 1989 [see separate chapter for more information]. In a retrospective perspective in 1991, Slash would shed light on the incident as reported by The Los Angeles Times:

The problem that led to the Coliseum showdown, [Slash] says, wasn't the endless months on the road in 1987 and 1988, but the days and weeks after the tour ended in September, 1988--when the band members didn't have each other or their crews for support. Like Axl and the others, he thought he had found a new family in Guns N' Roses and felt isolated when the band returned from the marathon tour and there was no support group.

So again, it was the isolation that he felt after returning from the extensive touring in 1988, caused by newfound celebrity, little to do, and band members who drifted apart, that fueled Slash's addiction and ultimately leading to Axl's ultimatum.

Slash would not deny his problems, in Rolling Stone he would describe it as a "really serious heroin problem" in the period leading up to the shows with The Stones in October 1989, and that he promised to quit smack after these shows [Rolling Stone, January 1991]. From Steven's biography and Axl's "Mr. Brownstone" speech, it could seem like Slash actually promised to quit smack before the shows with The Stones.

Regardless, after the shows with The Stones, Slash promised to clean up.


Izzy and Steven were into heroin, too. Duff would remark that Izzy's and Slash's extensive drug abuse may be linked to coping with the tragedy at Donington, but that they at the time of the interview (July or before) were now "cleaned out and revved up" [Raw Magazine, July 1989]. As seen from the quotes above, this was likely not correct for Slash although Steven might have been in the process of cleaning up [see later chapter on Izzy getting sober].

Another night, Slash and I paid a visit to Izzy at his new place. He had a loft in his apartment where he would hide from the world, shooting smack and smoking coke. We came by unannounced and evidently disturbed him. He was all weird and strung out from the drugs. He just said, "Hey," and kind of circled the room a few times, scratching his shoulders and his head like he had lice or something.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 187

At the end of 1989, Izzy went to Indiana to clean up [see later chapter on Izzy getting sober].


Steven was in increasingly worse shape as Duff would recount:

[Steven] had bought a house just three blocks from mine and as a result I was able to check on him more often; what that amounted to in practical terms was watching helplessly as his crack and heroin use escalated. It got so bad, and he seemed so incapable of reining it in, that at one point I found out where his drug dealer lived and took a shotgun to the guy's house.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 155

And while in Chicago in the summer of 1989:

Unfortunately this was also the point at which Steven really started to go overboard with his cocaine and heroin intake. I was nothing close to sober then, but I maintained a line I would not cross-which meant, first and foremost, that I would not let my work suffer. Also over the line: putting my life in jeopardy, putting someone else's life in jeopardy, getting arrested. Slash maintained a similar line-especially when it came to rehearsing and playing live shows. [...] In Chicago, Steven started to become frightening even to us, a couple of guys not accustomed to getting spooked when it came to intoxicants.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 151

The episode with the shotgun might have happened in 1990, though, as the band was trying to get Steven off drugs so he could perform in the studio [see later chapter].

Steven would be convinced by his techie to go in rehab in January 1989 [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 187], which caused him to miss a show on American Music Awards. It would be the first of many attempts at sobering up. As Izzy would phrase it, "Stevie has probably been on several of those missions, yeah" [The Face, October 1989]. Axl might have been referencing this, when he in February 1989 said that "Stevie's got a way like, things just come up in his life" when explaining why they split the revenues almost equally between the band members, implying that he had a costly habit [Howard Stern, February 1989].


Similarly to his band mates, Duff's drinking would increase after returning from the touring in early 1989.

For a while, we were separated . . . we didn't have each other to talk to every day. We were on our own. I was drunk, Slash was doing smack. There was an adjustment period because we were used to living in (crap) around town, but all of a sudden, there was all this money and you'd go to a club, the Whisky or whatever, and people would mob you. […] It (messes) your head . . . and I wanted to escape. I didn't know how to deal with things. The easiest thing to do was go to the liquor store and get two half-gallons of vodka and drink it.

The drinking and drug abuse escalated while Steven, Duff and Slash were holed up in Chicago in the summer of 1989 waiting for their band mates to join them.

One night I was so fucked up that somebody pulled me aside and said, "Here, do a little coke and you'll sober right up." And there you go, that was the secret potion. [...] Coke just allowed me to pursue my favored mind-altering regimen-vodka-harder and for longer periods of time.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 151

Unfortunately this was also the point at which Steven really started to go overboard with his cocaine and heroin intake. I was nothing close to sober then, but I maintained a line I would not cross-which meant, first and foremost, that I would not let my work suffer. Also over the line: putting my life in jeopardy, putting someone else's life in jeopardy, getting arrested. Slash maintained a similar line-especially when it came to rehearsing and playing live shows. [...] In Chicago, Steven started to become frightening even to us, a couple of guys not accustomed to getting spooked when it came to intoxicants.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 151

After returning to Los Angeles after their ill-fated Chicago trip, Duff was able to cut back on his excesses, he started exercising a bit and rarely did coke or took pills [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 155]. Steven, on the other hand, would claim that both Slash and Duff's addictions caused them to show up to rehearsal drunk, or not at all [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 192].

All the abuse caused troubles for the band and their plans to work on a follow-up to 'Appetite'. In his biography, Duff would relate how he and Axl were worried about their comrades:

"What are we going to do?" [Axl] asked. I had no answer. We talked, but all we could do was hope they would find it in themselves to pull back and get into the swing of things as far as the band was concerned. We never thought of rehab or interventions back then.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 148

When the band started rehearsing for the Rolling Stones gigs in October 1989, the heroin use started to affect the band professionally, with some of them coming in late, or leaving early, or not meeting at all [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 156]. Duff would probably be discussing this period in the quote below:

Drugs are bad, yeah. I will always be the first to say that. And everybody in this band has had his bouts with drugs, but that’s all over now, really. It doesn’t mess with the band anymore, that’s the thing. Before, it used to mess with the band; guys weren’t showing up for rehearsals, guys were coming to gigs all fucked up. But it’s like, that’s all over now, man.
Kerrang! March 1990

By late 1989 Duff's alcoholism was starting to affect his appearances. Duff would describe how he looked "a couple of months" after the Coliseum gigs with The Stones:

I was like 20 pounds heavier than I am now . . . just from alcohol. My face was all puffy and pale, and I said to myself, 'This is not me.' So I quit drinking and I poured all the alcohol in my house out, but I almost died from the withdrawals.

This would imply that Duff quit drinking some time in early 1990, yet, when Mick Wall interviewed him in January 1990, Wall would describe Duff as "half-cut" so at best Duff had only cut down on his drinking by this time. Wall would also describe Duff's looks:

I took a good look at him. At a glance, he looked fine, just like his pictures... tall (bottled) blond in faded 501s squeezed into tight black leather chaps, heavy black motorcycle boots, black cotton shirt undone to the stomach and a battered blue denim jacket with the sleeves sawn off. You could see the ladies’ eyes flash like traffic signals every time Duff appeared in the room. But looking at his face close up he wasn’t such a pretty sight. The corn-coloured hair was lank and greasy; the pink cherubic features pale and unshaven. His eyes were the shade of deep red eyes go when they’ve been up all night drinking, or crying. Or both.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

[The implication Wall makes of Duff having cried was related to Duff and his wife just breaking up.]


Axl, in contrast to his bandmates, continued to put his career before drugs and excesses:

I have a different physical constitution and different mindset about drugs than anybody I've known in Hollywood, because I don't abstain from doing drugs, but I won't allow myself to have a fuckin' habit. I won't allow it. I'll have done blow for three days and my mind will go "Fuck no". I'll have the physical feeling of knowing my body needs it, and I'll just refuse to do coke that day. I'm not going to do it, because if I was going to do it, I know I won't be able to hit my goals with what I want to do with this band. I can't let myself get into coke as much as I'm into the band. The same thing with heroin. I did it for three weeks straight and had one of the greatest times in my life, because I was with a girl I wanted to be with in this beautiful apartment, and we just sat there listening to Led Zeppelin, doing drugs and fucking. It was great, 'cause at that time I had nothing to do but sit on my ass and make a few phone calls a day. I stopped on, like, Saturday, because I had serious business to attend to on Monday. I felt like shit, sweated, shook, but on Monday I was able to function. I can't hide in drugs. A lot of people can, but whenever I do any drugs - pills, booze, smack, whatever - to enjoy it, my life has to be perfect - no fuck-ups, nothing going wrong. Otherwise, when I'm high, I'll analyse the shit out of everything that's happening in my life and why things are going wrong. That's not enjoyable. And if I have shows to do, I won't touch drugs because it fucks up my throat. My advice is don't get a habit, don't use anybody else's needle and don't let drugs become a prerequisite to having a good time. Do things in moderation, and just be careful.

A few months later, Axl felt a need to comment on his statements to RIP:

I'm not and never have been a junkie. The last interview in RIP Magazine got taken out of context about me talking openly about my drug use. That was over two years ago and was only for a few weeks when there was nothing to do. I was also very safe about it. That doesn't mean that at some point I won't get really sick of life and choose to OD. Then people will go, "He was always a junkie." That's not the case, but you can believe what you want, I don't give a fuck. No one's really gonna believe anything I say anyway as far as what I do or don't do with drugs, 'cause it's such a taboo subject. Lately I've been drinking champagne for fun, a few beers, you know. Right now drugs get in the way of my dreams and goals. I really don't want drugs around me now, I'm not necessarily against the use of drugs, they just don't fit in my life right now. Then again, I could be out on tour for six months and a blast might be what cheers me up that night.

Right now, for me, a line of coke is too far. A line of coke puts my voice out of commission for a week. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I did a lot of stuff before. Maybe it's guilt and it's relocated in my throat. All I know is it's not healthy for me right now. And if somebody goes, "Oh, man, he's not a partyer anymore," hey, fuck you! Do you want a record or not?

In early 1995, Slash would comment on one of the "huge misconceptions about Guns", that Axl had been hooked on heroin, and say, "he never was strung out. Ever" [The Howard Stern Show, February 1, 1995].


Looking back at this dark period in their lives, Slash would say:

But the point of what I’m saying is, there was that whole change in our personal lives [when returning to Los Angeles after touring in late 1988], which people may or may not be interested in, but it was really serious. There was a lot of — well, I’m surprised we’re all still here! Cos there was a lot of stuff to swallow, to establish a sense of security or to be able to deal with money or houses and all that crap, which we’ve never been interested in in the first place. After the tour they basically dropped us off at the airport and it was like, ‘Well, touring’s done, guys. Go make another record’. We went through a lot of emotional and personal changes. [...] We were gone for a long time, and during that period we watched everything go back down the toilet.

Slash would also say the band's drug problems had continued well into 1990 when Matt joined the band:

When Matt happened, it was the one final thing that we needed to pull it all back together. It was just loose; we were all together but we were all just hanging on the edge, trying to figure out how to keep the band going. There were a lot of, uh, chemical situations going on and so forth, and Matt was like a godsend because he was the one thing we needed.

Duff, on the other hand, would in early June of January indicate the drug use was over:

Everybody in this band has had his bouts with drugs, but that’s all over now. Before, it would mess with the band; guys wouldn’t show up for rehearsal; guys would come to gigs all fucked up. But it’s like, that’s all over now, it really is.’ He took another large swallow from the bottle.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

And that Axl's "Mr. Brownstone speech" was partly responsible for that:

[Being asked if the speech pushed Slash and Izzy into sobriety]: Yeah. Slash definitely, he’s really fuckin’ happening right now. Izzy and Steven too... I think, I hope. I mean, we don’t know what the fuck’s going on. We don’t! Axl will tell you the same. I don’t know what the fuck's going happen in the next five minutes in my head! But in this band I consider myself pretty stable
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview in January 1990

Truth is likely found somewhere between these two statements from Slash and Duff. Compared to the worst periods of 1989, the start of 1990 was better: Izzy had quit heroin (likely before the shows with Rolling Stones) and was soon to quit alcohol, Slash was trying to stop using heroin (partly because of Axl's speech), Duff was fighting his alcoholism. Unfortunately, Steven was still a hardcore junkie and this made him the odd man out when the rest of the band was trying to take responsibility. More on this in later chapters.

During the court trial following Steven's suit against the band in August 1993, Axl would be asked about the band members drug use in the period from the band's formation until Steven's firing, and say that every band member at times had drug problems [Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit, August 23, 1993]. Axl would more specifically say that Duff had been using cocaine and various pills; that Izzy had been arrested for heroin use (likely prior to the touring in 1987-1988); that Axl himself had occasional used heroin; and that Steven, Izzy and Slash used heroin [Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit, August 23, 1993].[/right]

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:59 pm


In mid-1988 Slash had said the following:

We love each other. The whole band... we’re, like, real tight, so that kind of fear of someone leaving is not in the back of my head all the time. I don’t worry about it. It’s like, I would only worry if something happened to them, you know? ’Cos I couldn’t continue this band minus one of these guys. The whole reason this band works is because of the chemistry between the five of us. We aren’t what you’d call superior musicians or anything like that, but we work within the framework of Guns N’ Roses. It’s like, Steven changes the dynamics of the song and I know how to play with that. I know how it works. I’m used to playing with these guys, you know? I have a real strong bond with all of them. We have our fights and arguments but l wouldn’t try and stick somebody else in the middle of all this shit. Are you kidding?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988


Yet in late 1988 and onwards the band tightness started to splinter. Adjusting to wealth and popularity was difficult for guys who had been living together for years and suddenly found themselves having to adjust to celebrity status.

Our reality is that we came from nowhere--or maybe even a subzero level, being on the road, doing that every day—and having no other life. And there is a pace to that, which is kind of exciting. Then all of a sudden, bam! That life comes to a screaming halt. You don't have your crew guys, the maid doesn't come in, you're laying in bed wailing for the gig to happen...and it's not gonna happen.  […] But there was no other life for us to come back to. We'd never had any other life. And now we were all separated—we had our own little places, which had never happened before. I remember a point where I was just sitting in bed bored and uninterested In anything. You hear one of the guys in your band on the answering machine and you don't even pick up the phone.

The band members found themselves separated:

The worst thing of it, though, was because of no longer having to live in one room, the band got separated, getting their own homes. And that was the hardest part. It's like Slash is here, Axl's here, Izzy's over there, Duff's here, and I don't even know where Steven lives, right? Like, Duff, can we come over? "Well, the gardener's coming today..." That was a whole huge experience that took a really long time for me to adjust to.

There was a period back there after ‘Appetite...’ when we got off the road and everyone bought their own houses, and there was no interaction between the members of the band other than sharing the same drug-dealer. That was it. That was me and Izzy’s relationship the whole time the band was together.

In fact, in early 1989, to make sure they were together to facilitate song-writing for the follow-up to 'Appetite', the idea to rent a house for everybody to be in had been considered:

Axl was keen on the idea, but I was... hmmm. But I got to the point where I was very seriously thinking about it - because the situation that we’re in now, we tend to get too distant. So, I was getting to the point where I was going to live at Izzy’s house, or maybe with Duff or Axl, or something like that. The main thing was, Axl and I were going to get a house together - if it was big enough, right?


I went and looked at this house with him, but it was too posh and ritzy for me. Anyway, so now we’re all basically living in the same area, so that’s good enough. And we have the studio block-booked twenty-four hours a day so we can hang out there and stuff...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

Although Slash would be quick to point out that this separation didn't mean they weren't as close as before, rather the opposite:

No, actually. Because the success had fucked with everybody’s heads so much, we're, like, clinging to each other for support, just to keep some sort of mental balance.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

In 1990, Axl would comment on the band members growing apart but that they had found a way to make it work:

Yeah, everybody has their own lives. I mean, Izzy basically has five Harley's, and every time you're looking for Izzy, you find out he's in Mexico or he's in London or he drove to Texas or he's up in Yellowstone or something, you know. He's always somewhere. […] [Slash is] always working on something, working on his house or working on someone else's record or something like that. So we don't really hang that much but we call each other up on the phone to tell each other what we did, you know. We’re best friends, even though we have separate lives somewhat, you know. And we brought that friendship back together, you know, because otherwise it was getting to a point where “Okay, then we are gonna go separate.”

In late 1989 or early 1990, rumors spread that Axl considered quitting the band [Hot Metal Stars, 1990].

The press would report that the band was on so bad terms that they had to record their studio parts at separate times [New Musical Express, November 1990].


Especially Izzy would be drifting away:

We’ve gotten so – you know, we’ve gone through those periods where everybody was used to living together or staying in the same hotel, then when we go home we all live in different places. And I’d be busy doing my thing completely obsessed with what the band is doing, and Axl would be doing his thing, and everybody - so we wouldn’t see each other that much. And so Izzy just really got farther, and we got farther and farther away from him. And that had been developing over the years anyway.

Izzy, on his side, started to distance himself from the band. In August 1989 he was travelling Europe, visiting both France and Germany, where he had an appointment with a dentist to "have all this new scientific shit pumped into my gums so my teeth won't keep fallin' out" [The Face, October 1989].

He also bought a home in Lafayette to get away from Los Angeles:

Away from just the insanity of Los Angeles. I'd been out there for six years trying to get a band together that we could work and try to make a living off of. It's six years of living in your car, sleeping on couches, sleeping wherever you can, no money for food. […] By the time we left L.A., we were the least-likely-to-succeed band. We came back a year-and-a-half later and all of a sudden everybody loved us. I was like, screw this. I want to go back to Lafayette and get myself together and take a break and just look around.

And basically moved to Lafayette:

I moved back to Indiana in 1988, 89 — after Guns N' Roses had been out on tour and made some money. I bought a house (in Lafayette) and I've been based out of there since. I’ve got family and I've got old friends back there and I kind of got to know the place again, I suppose.


And while Steven was becoming less and less important to the band, Axl was increasingly taking a leading role:

Word was getting back to me that people were whispering in Axl's ear, saying all the ass-kissing cliches: "You're the guy, you're the basis of the band's success". That's cancer for any band.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 148

When famous radio host Howard Stern called Axl in February 1989, he wasn't merely whispering in Axl's ears, he was repeatedly telling him that Axl was the one writing all the songs in the band and should have a bigger share of the revenue [Howard Stern Radio Show, February 1989]. In this same radio interview, Axl would mention that he had been "very, very mad at Slash" but not explain why [Howard Stern Radio Show, February 1989].

Axl would also imply that he was in charge:

I can't be doing drugs every night because, after selling six million records, the business I have to deal with is a lot more intense than most people's. Once you reach a point where you're platinum or projected to go platinum, all of a sudden you're dealing with major record executives and business people and MTV and everything else.

I'm like the president of a company that's worth between $125 million and a quarter billion dollars.

Yet, when asked in March or April 1989, Slash would deny that they were growing apart:

Actually, because the success has fucked with everybody's heads so much, we're sort of like clinging to each other for support, and to keep some sort of mental balance, y'know?

And Axl would also emphasize that they made decisions together as a band:

[Discussing Axl's desire to do big stageshows]: Probably, but it will all be with the say-so of the band. I mean, the band will be the judge of everything that is involved with it.

When asked explicitly if he considered himself "the leader of the band," Axl would reply:

That's a good question. I'm gonna do what I want to do. That may be selfish, but it's the best way for the most to come out of me. When we write a song, nobody in this band plays anything they don't really want to. When we write a song, the bass player plays his line and it ends up being what he wants to do on bass. It ends up working that way and fitting, so we end up with a set of songs that everybody likes. I couldn't say I'm the leader, like "We're gone do what I say." It doesn't work that way.

When recounting how the rest of the band would consider him a dictator when they worked on songs in Chicago, Axl would dismiss that:

Listen, after working with Jagger it was like, don't ever call me a dictator again, man. You can go and work for the Stones and you’ll learn the hard way...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

Axl would also state that he was gradually taking over more aspects of running the business side of the band after having seen how Jagger steered The Rolling Stones:

That guy walks off stage and goes and does paperwork. He says “Excuse me, I’ve got to do paperwork..." […] That guy is involved in every little aspect, you know, from what the background singers are getting paid to how much we’re paying for this part of the PA. He is on top of all of it. It’s him and his lawyer, OK? And a couple of guys that he hangs with, you know, part of the entourage. But basically, it’s all him...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

One of the issues between band members were differences in approach to working, and especially frustration with Axl's attention to detail:

I'm too much of a perfectionist, I know that. I'm a perfectionist so much, that I don't get a lot of things done. [...] My main motivation for all of this, and it could never be anything but, is the music, the songs. I look at it like I'm a painter or something, and that's my motivation, just to be able to get the material out the way I want it. I'm not driven for financial things, those are a bit more than secondary. It's like, I can get as excited about making money as the next person in that I'm gonna be able to buy this and that, but if the song doesn't come out the way I really wanted it to then I'm more disappointed, and the money doesn't really mean anything to me then. I now that's hard for a lot of people to believe, but that's something that we've kinda stuck by the whole time, as much as possible


Despite this, the media increasingly wrote about the friction in the band. To them, the battle was between Axl and Slash, with Axl slowly gaining the upper hand, as it would be phrased in Raw Magazine in May 1989: "This is very much [Axl's] band and very much his driving force that keeps everything on certain rails. He is the leader, Slash (at least in band terms) his own man. Of necessity that puts the onus more on Axl to keep the Guns n' Roses juggernaut motoring, leaving Slash more time to ruminate on his own position" [RAW Magazine, May 1989].

Maybe because of this, in the first half of 1989 Slash started jamming with Dave Mustaine and there were rumours that they would start a separate band together. It went as far as Mustaine inviting Slash to join Megadeth [Blast! April 1989], a "joke offer" according to Slash:

And I toyed with the idea of winding up the rest of Guns n' Roses by telling them that I'd accepted this offer. Ha!

This implies a growing frustration with Slash and how things were developing in Guns N' Roses. This was picked up by other media outlets as well: Axl and Slash was developing frontman-lead guitarist syndrome [MTV, 1989]. In 2018, Mustaine corroborated this story when he mentioned that he and Slash had recently talked about how they, in the 80s, had talked about "[Slash] joining Megadeth and leaving Guns N’ Roses and we were jamming together a lot" [Metalhead zone, October 2018].

Duff considered Slash and Mustaine jamming as frustration on Slash's part with the "directionless path that GN'R was on" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 148].

Slash just wanted Guns to get back to being a gang of dudes who hung out together all the time. As equals. With no bullshit. But there was no communication.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 148

According to RAW Magazine from May 1989, Slash also "talked about getting involved with other outside projects [beyond Megadeth] simply to let off certain creative instincts that don't fit into The Gunners' style." This was allegedly not so much a frustration borne out of a "directionless path" as Duff would claim in his biography, but frustration arising from increasing musical differences between two uncompromising musicians, Slash and Axl, that resulted in Slash having to yield and compromise [Raw Magazine, may 1989].

Axl would be frank about conflict issues in the band:

We have to work on pulling things together because we definitely have our own lives and individual personalities and dreams and goal. And, so then what you try to do is to try to find a way to make all those things fit together, and it's not necessarily easy, none of us are trained in psychology. Maybe we need a child psychologist on the road. She could look great too, that would help [chuckle].

The friction between Axl and Slash would be magnified when Axl called out the band for doing too much heroin during their shows with The Rolling Stones in October 1989, and demanding that Slash addressed the crowd and apologized. In December 1989, media would report that both Axl and Slash played with Michael Monroe, but not together suggesting that "their unwillingness to appear on stage together may be another indication that relations between the two band mates are still not completely thought out" [MTV News, December 1989].


In 1989 the relationship between Steven and the band continued to deteriorate. In the previous year, 1988, Steven had openly expressed his admiration for Slash and Duff, "I look up to those two guys more than anybody else" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No 16, 1988] which, according to his biography, made it so much harder for him when he now felt ostracized by them.

In January 1989 the band played Patience on American Music Awards with Don Henley stepping in for Steven who was in rehab at the time:

WTF! when I got out [from rehab], someone asked me why I hadn't appeared on the American Music Awards. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about. He proceeded to tell me that GNR performed "Patience" [...] with someone else on drums. [...] I was completely blindsided by this, so stunned and hurt, I can't begin to describe the feeling of betrayal.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 188

At the time the band would claim, through their fan club, that Steven was suffering from "a bad case of the flu" [Conspiracy Incorporated Fan Club Newsletter, March 1989].

Later, when Steven, Slash and Duff hang around in Chicago waiting for Axl and Izzy to show, Steven was the one who were the most pissed at Axl [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 152].

Ever since the band had started, there had been some vague animosity between Axl and Steven. This happens in bands. All bands. I could never quite figure out what these two guys had against each other [...].
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 151-152

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:00 pm

APRIL 1989

After having released a few singles and music videos in support of 'Appetite' the band would only release one single and accompanying music video from 'Lies', for the song 'Patience'. It was released in April 1989 in the US and in June 1989 in the UK.  

The 'Patience' video would be mentioned in the fan club Conspiracy Incorporated newsletter from March 1989:

The band has just completed filming a video of “Patience”. The video has life footage of the band while utilizing a sub plot about Axls vision of what “Patience” really means. We don’t have much more information about the video but we’re sure it will be hot! MTV first aired it on March 22nd.

Talking about the new video and whether he liked making videos in general:

It depends... We’ve done three videos already ['Welcome to the Jungle', 'Paradise City' and 'Sweet Child O' Mine'] - four now, with the new one we’ve just done for “Patience”. That was OK. Easy enough... I just sat in this bed playing with my snakes. It was kind of cool. There’s something about all our videos I like. I just don’t like the boring side of actually making them. I’d always rather be doing something else...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

In 1995, Slash would talk about the snake scene:

I just took Pandora down to the video shoot and we did a scene where I'm laying in bed. She's just a regular red-tailed boa—it's a he, actually. He's a real sweetheart. I named him Pandora because I thought it was a she. I didn't really check him out too well when I got him.

So, I took him down to shoot this scene in the video, a scene that I wrote. I always write my own scenes, and I had this idea to use a snake. It's pretty cool.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:01 pm


Some time in 1989, Axl added vocals to Steve Jones' 'I Did U No Wrong' [The Munster Times, November 12, 1989] which would be included on Jones' 'Fire and Gasoline' album. Jones would describe how the collaboration came to be:

"I was on my bike on Sunset Boulevard. And Axl was standing there surrounded by girls. I had no idea who he was at first. But he says, 'Hey, you're Steve Jones!’ After that, every time I'd see him, he'd rave on about lovin' the Pistols. Finally, I asked him if he'd like to join me in doing an old Pistols song for my album. He loved the idea" [The Munster Times, November 12, 1989].

"I’d see Axl out at the clubs and he’d always come over and ask me all these questions about the Sex Pistols. When I decided to include the Pistols’ ‘I Did U No Wrong’ on my album, I just asked Axl if he’d want to sing on it" [The Record, November 12, 1989].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:02 pm


In 1989, Axl was also asked by Don Henley to provide backing vocals on the song 'I Will Not Go Quietly' to be included on Henley's third solo album.

[Henley] just wanted a background singer on the song, and actually the guy he’s working with, you know, suggested me and it just fit. And I went in. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Don Henley, except that he didn’t really know that I was so into his music. But I used to practice with the Eagles to learn certain melodies. There’s a lot of, I don’t know, street-wise and worldly-wise wisdom in all the Eagles material and I learned a lot from them. […] He was somebody I always wanted to meet, you know. I was in there making fun of the tea he drinks, singing Wasted Time [Eagles song] but changing the word to Sunbirds tea, and stuff like that [Rockline, November 27, 1991].

The song would be featured on Henley's 'The End of Innocence' album which was release in June 1989.

Not long after Guns N' Roses would ask Henley to return the favorite by sitting in on drums for Steven during the 1989 American Music Awards while Steven was in rehab.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:03 pm



In the summer of 1989 the band moved to Chicago for two-three months to try to write for their follow-up record.

We went to Chicago to get a place to rehearse and record—we wanted to get away from the hassles of Los Angeles.

According to Duff in his biography, Axl was the guy who had originally suggested to relocate the band to Chicago. The idea was partly to get the band back together again (similar to their Gardner street days when they had lived together and been efficient at writing songs), and partly because Axl wanted to be closer to his roots in Lafayette, Indiana. In Duff's words, the band "bowed to Axl's wishes" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 149].

Slash would say both Izzy and Axl wanted to get away from LA and be closer to Lafayette, and that it was he, Slash, who chose Chicago:

[Izzy and Axl] wanted to go there and get some sort of foundation, as far as having a home life, and so on. Living in LA was so crazy, people at you all the time. You couldn't think, it was constant. I personally didn't have anywhere to go, so I picked Chicago because it's a big metropolis and it's close.

In 1990, Duff said the idea was to try to get some of the songs they already had down on tape [Kerrang! March 1990].


Exactly when the Slash, Duff and Steven, who where the first to arrive [Kerrang! March 1990], got to Chicago, and how long they stayed is not known. In December 1993, Duff would claim Slash, Steven and him were there for three months [Metal Express, December 1993]. Steven claims in his biography that the stay in Chicago took place already in March 1989. But from an interview with Duff in March 1990, it can be implied they arrived in April/May [Kerrang! March 1990].

It is also clear they didn't stay there constantly throughout the summer, since Slash and Duff went back to Los Angeles at least for the period June 16-19 when Slash took his mother to a David Bowie show in LA (June 16 or 17) and Slash and Duff went to a Faith No More show at the Roxy (June 19) [L.A. Weekly, June 30, 1989]. If Steven is correct in them going to Chicago before April 1989, then he too, likely left Chicago for a while when he got married in Las Vegas on June 6 [The News Journal, June 30, 1989].

The band would use the vacant Top Note Theatre above Cabaret Metro on Clark Street [Chicago Tribune, May 1991].

Steven claims in his biography the rest of the guys avoided him when they were in Chicago:

We'd always have blow on us at the studio. But when I'd offer to cut them a line they would refuse. Then Slash and Duff would go in some other room to party. "Hey, where ya going?" I would begin to follow them only to find that they had shut the door on me. To this day I have no idea why, other than I felt they believed I just wasn't cool enough to hang out with anymore.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 190-191

At rehearsals, I felt I was getting pushed out of the songwriting circle as well. we would be working on the dynamics of a song and the three of us would throw around ideas. Then suddenly the exchange would be limited to Duff and Slash. I learned just to sit and wait patiently. They would agree on something, then turn to me and say, "Okay, Steven, this is what we're going to do"
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 191


The band members wanted little press attention while in Chicago, presumably to concentrate on working on the music, but this didn't work out since they made little attempts to hide and were spotted around town. One place they visited was Kelly's pub where three of the band members (highly likely Steven, Duff and Slash) was immediately recognized as GN'R band members by the proprietor's daughter [Chicago Tribune, February 15, 2019].

On June 24, New Musical Express would report that the band was in Chicago "rehearsing for a US tour" [New Musical Express, June 1989]. And The Chicago Tribune deciding to run a story on the band being in their city with an article being published on June 26. According to L.A. Weekly, the Tribune tried to get an interview with members of the band, but when they refused the Tribune retaliated by publishing the band's Chicago address.

As part of that story the Tribune also contacted Doug Goldstein, one of the band's managers, to get a comment:

Why do you think we sent them to the Midwest? They couldn't get (expletive) done in L.A. They left to do the early work and rehearse for the next album. Who the (expletive) do you think you're (expletive) dealing with? If you (expletive) print anything that says they're there, you'll never talk to this (expletive) band. Ever.

In complete disregard to Goldstein, The Chicago Tribune published their story. As part of the article they also asked Geffen Records to comment on the band being in Chicago, with a spokesperson from Geffen saying:

Only management knows where they are. All we know is that they're working on the album outside the city.

The Tribune also talked to Tom Mayhue, the band's stage manager, who would claim the band had only been in Chicago for four days for the National Association of Music Merchandisers convention [Chicago Tribune, June 1989].

Duff and Slash would later comment on the press attention they received when supposed to be laying low:

And then we tried to go to Chicago and get away from the LA scene, Just so that we could get together and rehearse. The next thing you know they printed in the paper where we were living. So there were hundreds of kids outside the apartment and there was just no concentrating there. Ever.

On top of that, a Chicago newspaper did a piece about the band living there in town, writing songs for a record, and even revealed the street where we were living and the location where we were rehearsing. Perhaps the lone advantage Chicago could have offered was anonymity, and now kids came to seek us out from all over the place with the hope of getting a glimpse of us or even partying with the band now tagged as the most dangerous in the world. This was not good.
It's So Easy (and other lies): The Autobiography (p. 151)


Slash, Duff and Steven got resentful when Axl and Izzy did not come as expected, especially since the whole idea had been Axl's idea [Steven and Duff's biographies]. Duff would later say the three of them (Duff, Steven and Slash) sat in Chicago for three months waiting for Axl and Izzy, and that it got "kinda suicidal" [Kerrang! March 1990].


According to Steven, Axl arrived "seven weeks and five days" after Slash, Duff and Steven, with only "two days left of studio time" [Circus Magazine, October 1991; Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 192]. This is remarkably precise to be from Steven, and perhaps not accurate considering his heavy drug use in the period.

When Axl finally arrived, Duff would recall that the rest just "wanted to go home" [Kerrang! March 1990].

We know that on May 12, Axl was still in California since he introduced Queenryche at a show at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre [Santa Ana County Register, May 15, 1989]. We also know that Axl got inspirations for the lyrics to the song 'Civil War' from an article that was published in Chicago Tribune on July 9, where he basically lifted a quote from a Peruvian guerilla officer. In addition, rock journalist and friend of the band, Lonn Friend would state that he had been with Slash and Axl at the cinema in Chicago watching Batman [Lonn Friend, Life On Planet Rock; July 2006]. Batman premiered on June 23. All this implies that Axl was in Chicago in late June until at least July 9, possibly longer.

Axl would explain his late arrival on "weird timing schedules" and having to drive his "truck to Chicago from LA", and that he spent at least a couple of weeks in Chicago:

We got into these fights in Chicago. I was, like, just into fuckin’ everybody’s music, getting into Slash’s stuff, getting into Duff’s stuff. Our timing schedules were all weird and we kept showing up at different times. But when I would show up, I’m like, OK, let’s do this, let’s do that, let's do this one of yours, Slash. OK, now let’s go to this one, and Steven needs to do this... And then they decided I was a dictator, right? I'm a total dictator and I’m a completely selfish dick. I was like, fuck, man...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993


According to Slash, it took "like three months or something" before Izzy arrived [Raw Magazine, March 4, 1992]. Duff writes than when Izzy arrived he saw the mess Axl had made, the drugs that floated in the place, and left [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 149]. Steven does not mention in his biography that Izzy would show up and hastily leave when he saw the mess and drugs, as Duff claims in his biography.

Izzy talking about traveling to Chicago:

A brutal city. Maybe not as violent as the south of the States, but by no means the right place for choir boys. We thought it was a cute, peaceful town, not far from the place that Axl and I come from. I have to admit afterwards that it was a damn bad idea.

In March 1990, Duff would comment on Axl and Izzy's late arrivals:

]Axl had his reasons for not coming out. He was just waiting for us to do our trip as musicians. And Izzy - Izzy was having a hard time with life at that point, and he was just travelling the world.


The band members would have different opinions on the success of the Chicago stay, with Slash being particularly negative:

Axl showed up in town, and nothing was really getting done. I don’t want to point my finger at Axl, because that’s not fair. I was angry with him. And I had my problems too. I was drinking too much. I drank up to a half gallon of vodka a day, easy. I got to the point where I was drinking so much, I would have the shakes so bad the next morning, I would have to drink a fairly tall, stiff vodka and cranberry just so I could drive. […] We were both upset.

Axl and Izzy would disagree:

And we were on a roll, man! You know, we were cranking.

Slash is like, “We’re not gettin’ nothin’ done.” I was like, “What do you mean? We just put down six parts of new songs, you know we’ve just got all this stuff done in, like, a couple weeks!” He was like, "Yeah, but I've been sitting here a month on my ass...”
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

We put the album together there. […] It was a very intense environment. But that was OK, because our music has always been intense; maybe it needs such a push. In Chicago we cobbled together nine or ten songs within three nights. No problem, man, after a few start-up problems, things went like clockwork. I mean, we lived in a bus for 14 months - Stevie (Adler - drums) , Duff (McKagan - bass) , Slash (guitar ), Axl and me. In that time we wrote all the music. What else can you do while touring? You live on the bus and in hotels, so you just use the gaps and compose the basic structure of a song.

I will say, we came to Chicago and the songs just needed to be brought into the final form. We had a studio there and - importantly - our guitars. Axl and I sat down and put together a list of over 30 titles. In three nights we tore it down. It was cool. The cops came and asked questions. They always want to be part of the action. As I said, Chicago was very intense. Even creative in this regard.

Although years later Izzy would also say the following:

I don't remember a whole lot of work getting done there. That was a nasty time, there was a lot of negativity and sarcasm in the air.

Duff would also argue that they "got a lot of shit done" [Kerrang! March 1990] although that was possibly referring to the period before Axl and Izzy showed up. So perhaps Duff, Slash and Steven got work done in the period before Axl and Izzy arrived, and then Axl and Izzy got some work down after Slash, Steven and Duff left?


According to Steven, when Axl arrived he got into a fight with a girl they had befriended, thrashed the place, and left [Steven's biography]. That Axl came and immediately left is contradicted by quotes above and by another part from Steven's biography, where Steven claims Axl wasn't interested in the songs Slash, Duff and Steven had worked on when they presented them to him:

He sat there like we were putting him through some kind of torture. Plain and simple, Axl wasn't interested in our material! He just wanted to record a new song he had been working on called "November Rain."
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 192

So although Steven is wrong when he claims Axl immediately left, that Axl thrashed the place at some point seems likely based on Nick Kent, who interviewed Izzy extensively, writing hat the Chicago stay "culminated in Axl destroying the group's apartment building there and staying in the rubble while the rest returned west in disgust" [VOX, October 1991].


According to Musician Magazine, Slash got so furious about Axl that he "scribbled a goodbye note and flew back to L.A" and that he and Axl "didn't speak for a long time after that" [Musician, December 1990]. This is confirmed by Slash:

I finally just packed up my bag and left him a note saying. "It’s not happening here, and I can’t deal with it anymore.” I went back to L.A. I guess the week following that things were kind of up in the air. I didn’t call him, and he didn't call me. Finally, however, we sat down and talked about it. You see, with me and Axl, there’s nothing that can’t be resolved with a few words.


Entertainment Weekly would report that Axl thrashed the apartment, but remained in Chicago as the rest of the band members left [Entertainment Weekly, August 1991]. That Axl left while the other three returned to L.A., is also confirmed by Slash [RIP, February 1990].


That this incident, and the fight between Axl and Slash, almost pushed Slash out of the band, is implied in the following quote from Slash. But Slash rallied around:

When I got back from Chicago, I decided, f?!k it, I’m just gonna play certain songs or something—play them with Duff and Steven, or something. F?!k it. The three musketeers! Izzy was traveling around God knows where, and Axl was still in Chicago; so there was nothing else to do but keep jammin'. I didn’t really know what we were working toward, except that the new songs were good. If anything kept my faith in GN’R at this time, it’s the fact that Axl is the best f?!king singer around these days, and he writes great lyrics; Izzy’s a great rhythm guitar player; Duff’s a great bassist; and Stevie’s a great drummer. We had a chemistry... I was determined to get back to what we had.


In his biography, Duff would mark their stay in Chicago as a turning point as far as Izzy's involvement with the band:

[Izzy] would still send in riffs and ideas for Use Your Illusion and didn't officially quit until 1991, but his day-to-day involvement with the band pretty much died that day.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 153

Up to then I had not wavered in how I perceived us-as a band and a family and a gang. But this trip solidified some of the flimsy walls that had begun to go up between various parties in our unit. [...] Steven was fully strung out and babbling incoherently much of the time. Slash had one foot out of the band as a result of feeling betrayed. Izzy had all but checked out. [...] The damage was done and all forward progress stopped for quite some time.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 155

It also was a stay where Steven's issues became really obvious to the band:

Was I so fucked up that I didn't realize my drum playing was beginning to suffer? Was I lucid enough to even ask myself that question at the time? [...] All I know is that my opinion didn't matter anymore. It bummed me out. We were always a team; it had always been a combined effort. But not any longer [...].
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 191

In late 1990, Slash would talk about the stay in Chicago, but not mention the serious problems they had as a band, instead focus on the media problems:

But we had more of a problem there. They printed in the paper where we were staying, all kinds of shit. So it got hectic there. We did write some good songs which are on the record, things did come out of it. But finally we ended up leaving.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:14 pm


After the attempts at getting work done Chicago in the summer of 1989, Izzy and Axl travelled to New York. On July 22, Axl and West Arkeen jammed at the Manhattan bar The Scrap Club where they later met The Cult.

Later that same evening, Axl and Izzy joined the Cult for a night of jamming at The Loft with only "30 or so fans and followers", a private rehearsal room in Manhattan [New Musical Express, August 1989]. Ian Astbury, the singer of The Cult would describe the night this way: "We jammed for what seemed like seven hours, everyone was changing instruments, but Jamie [Stewart, bass] and Matt [Sorum, drums] played throughout. We did mostly Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Sex Pistols songs" [New Musical Express, August 1989].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:18 pm

AUGUST 27, 1989


Earlier in the day of August 27, 1989, an inebriated Izzy had been bitten in the face by his father's dog while in Indianapolis, resulting in a hole in his eyebrow [Musician, November 1992], but the day would become much worse later on when he was arrested at Phoenix airport while on a stop-over on his way to Los Angeles [Arizona Republic, October 1989] and charged by the FBI for "interfering with the duties of the plane’s crew" [Arizona Daily Star, October 1989]. Under the influence of double Bacardis and coke [Musician, November 1992] Izzy had been obnoxious to flight attendants, smoked in no-smoke section, and pissed in the galley when the restroom was occupied [Arizona Daily Star, October 1989]. He then returned to his seat and passed out for the remainder of the flight, only to be arrested by 12 cops in Phoenix [Musician, November 1992].

Bryn Bridenthal, the band's publicist, would excuse the event, saying that Izzy "relieving himself in the galley was just his way of expressing himself," and that "he’d been bitten in the face by a dog in Indianapolis and he was still a little bit shocked by that,” so "when he got on the plane, he was bumped from first class into coach. It was just sort of one band thing pilling up on another" [Arizona Daily Star, October 1989].

Izzy would be a little bit more frank in his description of what happened:

I was on this plane going to LA to work on the never-ending albums, and I was drunk in the middle of this bunch of senior citizen types. I was smoking, and the stewardess came over. I told her to fuck herself. I was drinking so much I had to take a piss. The people in the bathroom… Man, it seemed like I waited an hour. So I pissed in the trashcan instead. And one stewardess saw me, right? Next thing I know we've landed, I'm walking out and I see ten policemen, and the other passengers are pointing at me, shouting 'He's the guy!' And I remember thinking: 'Uh-oh! I think I fucked up again.'

It's a federal offence If you f**k up on an airplane. I was outta my mind, there was a queue to the bathroom, and I was going, 'Well, I'm either gonna piss in my pants or piss on the f**king rug'! Everything was real quiet on the plane after that. […] I was happy I'd pissed, I was completely numb, drunk, and of course when we landed, the police were there. I was also carrying a nine millimetre pistol, but when my bag finally got to LA it was gone.

Slash would later claim it happened as the plane was about to land, which contradicts Izzy above:

[Izzy] had to take a piss and they wouldn’t let him because the plane was landing or something. So, you know, he said, 'I’ll do it right here in the wastebasket'.


On October 17 (the day before the first show with The Rolling Stones) his case would be brought to court and Izzy would plead guilty and apologize. He was fined $2,000 "for urinating on an airplane and lighting up in the non-smoking section" and $1000 to USAir for "cleaning up his mess." Additionally, he was put on probation for six months and ordered to see a psychiatrist back in Los Angeles for counseling [Arizona Republic, October 1989]. Allegedly, he also had to write an apology to the plane crew [Santa Ana County Register, November 5, 1989]. His attorney, Edward Novak, reacting to the sentencing, would state that Izzy "is an individual of few words, but someone who can keep his word and is... anxious to find out whether he has a problem with alcohol [Arizona Republic, October 1989]. The probation included, in Izzy's words, "fuckin' involuntary piss-tests almost every day for about a month" [VOX, October 1991].

That probation officer was an okay guy, they're pretty fair people, but it made me realise that it doesn't matter how f**king big your band is, when it comes down to the legal system, you're just the same as anyone else.

The incident would lead to Izzy earning the nickname "Whizzy" from his band mates [R/R Countdown, February 1993].

According to Entertainment Weekly, the probation "prohibits him from flying on public or private aircraft, an odd stipulation that explains why he’s making his [Use Your Illusion] tour rounds on a private bus" [Entertainment Weekly, August 1991]. This is likely not correct since the probation should only last for 6 months (and thus end in March 1990) and since Izzy likely flew when travelling to Brazil for the Rock in Rio shows in January 1991 and later to Europe for their 'Use Your Illusion' tour.

Duff would suggest that the flight incident spurred Izzy on into sobriety [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 150] although Duff would say that by October 1989 Izzy was back on heroin [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 156]. Likely the court case would help Izzy get out of his addictions, because about a month later, around December 17, 1989, Izzy would take his last drink in the company of the Rolling Stones when Izzy and Axl guested on a show in Atlantic City [VOX, October 1991].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:19 pm



As 1989 came along, Axl still suffered from violent outbursts despite hopes that having both a possible diagnosis and medication would be of help.

He's very crazy, y'know. Like, sometimes he can be very rational and other times he's just deep left-field. It's always up and down, up and down with Axl. He just has a very hard time relating to other people. […] Sometimes he just goes off the deep end and if anyone can make sense to him in those states, I think it's me. Because we still relate as friends coming from "bumfuck" Indiana. The rest doesn't mean much. I can kinda talk him down when he freaks out and locks himself in his room and we've got to play a gig or record.

You gotta just deal with it. [Axl] knows sometimes he’s an asshole, and he’ll admit it, and he’ll say sorry later. But it’s something that can’t, really, help right now. It’s fine, you know. He’s an interesting guy and he's very creative, though. I mean, he’s a good guy. He doesn’t do a lot of, like, drugs and stuff. He’s got good control. I think he’ll outlive us all, actually.
Rapido, September 1991; from unknown 1989 interview footage

In June 1989 Axl would describe how losing control of situations caused episodes:

Frustration and not being able to handle a situation that you feel you should be able to take control of, which can be anything with dealing with our success in any way; dealing with, you know, money, interviews, fans, record companies, radio stations, all of that; and not really knowing how to do it. I mean, a lot of strange things happen to piss you off, and you’d like to smash somebody with that. But that's gonna get you in a lawsuit or something like that. So, you know, it's just for pent-up frustration, not knowing what to do, and releasing it, you know. And it's like, it's not, like, okay, yeah, now I've got money so I’ll just break things all the time, dah dah dah... I’ve always broke things. […]  I feel a lot like... It’s the character of The Godfather, Sonny, who gets pissed off and he goes and does something; and then, eventually, you know, he has that used against him, and he goes out and it's a setup and he gets shot. And that fear also breeds, you know, frustration of, like, okay I'm mad, I want to do something, I want to take action and I wanna get (?) with this person that just screwed me over. And you don't, and you know you can't, because you know that there's gonna be consequences that you're gonna have to face up to out of whatever you do and you not... and you can't pinpoint all of them, you know, to make sure you can get away with whatever action you decide to take. So, instead, I'll just break something of my own and that depresses me too, but it's better than sitting in jail, I guess.

In August 1989 he would suggest his issues were exasperated by stress:

When I get stressed, I get violent and take it out on myself. I've pulled razor blades on myself but then realized that having a scar is more detrimental than not having a stereo. I'd rather kick my stereo in than go punch somebody in the face. When I get mad or upset or emotional, sometimes I'll walk over and play my piano.

This could also explain why he would be agitated before live shows:

If I’m psyched for the gig, great. Nine times out of ten, though, before the gig I’ll always not wanna do the fuckin’ show and hate it. I mean, I love it when I’m psyched, you know, let’s go! But most of the time I’m, like, mad about something, something’s fuckin’ going wrong... I’m nervous. I’m like, “I'm not playing for these fuckin’ people!” […] It’s like, I’m not playing for whoever’s putting on the show, or like that. We have a lot of good relationships with promoters and stuff, so I don’t want that to be taken as the main example,’ he added cautiously. ‘But you know, situations are always different before a show. Something always fuckin’ happens. Something always happens. And I react like a motherfucker to it. I don’t like this pot-smoking mentality.’ He sucked in his cheeks. 'I feel like Lenny Kravitz... Like, peace and love, motherfucker, or you’re gonna die! I’m gonna kick your ass if you fuck with my garden you know? I like that attitude more.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

Axl's strong emotions also helped to fuel his emotive performances:

The rest of the band'll bounce back quicker after a show. I mean, Steven, you know, runs out of the dressing room, wants pizza, and he's out to find the girls and everything. It's like, I need about an hour to pull my head back together because every song I sing, when I'm singing it, at the same time I'm like dealing with the crowd and stuff I'm also thinking about the situation when I wrote the song, which could be nine years ago, and where that person is now. All this stuff's going through your head like a million miles an hour.

Being asked if his fame and popularity allowed him to get more away with such behavior:

No. I’ve always been that way. But now I’m in a position to just be myself more. And the thing is people allow me to do it whether they like it or not, you know? […] I’m just an emotionally unbalanced person. Maybe it’s chemical, I don’t know. ’Cos maybe emotions have something to do with chemicals in your brain, or whatever. So then it’s a chemical imbalance.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

His early personal assistant, Colleen Combs, would also say that at some point, Axl were getting more and more paranoid:

Axl became more and more paranoid. He really thought someone was going to take him out. He thought someone was going to kill him.

It is not sure when this was, though.


By Christmas 1989 Axl was suffering from depressions:

[...] these people didn't know anything about the Christmas before [in 1989], when I was driving to your house [=Del James' house], trying to find someone with dope on the way because I wanted to OD. I could always relate to the Hanoi Rocks song "Dead by Christmas."


As his band mates Slash and Duff were cursing at the VMA back in the US in January 1990; Axl and Erin were on vacation in France where Axl got in problem; Arlett Vereecke would recount what happened:

As I mentioned before, Axl and his girlfriend vacationed in Paris for 10 days, and were actually attacked by some seven or eight French loonies, whose only reason for hating them was the fact that they were Americans! They never even heard of GnR, and that happened on the posh Champs Elysees. Axl and Erin counter-attacked, and the total damage was a shiner of a black eye to decorate Erin’s beautiful face and two broken fingers for Axl.

A few months later he would recount this episode to Howard Stern, saying they fought twelve guys and that  he still had one broken finger as the result of smacking one of them in the head [The Howard Stern Show, July 1990].

Izzy would also comment on this:

After this tour's finished, I'd like to go hang out in Europe, preferably somewhere near the ocean, and just keep writing songs. I think Axl will probably end up living over there at the end of this tour too. He's talking about getting a place in Europe, in Paris or Spain maybe, 'cos he really liked it over there, even though a bunch of French guys ended up macing him. He phoned me up straight afterwards: 'Izzy, man, I just got into a gnarly fight'. He said these guys were talking shit - though I don't know how he'd know 'cos he doesn't know any French. Maybe they were looking at him funny.


In the 1990s Axl's relationship with Erin Everly was under severe strain (see below), they were fighting and had to go through the experience of a miscarriage. Axl had bought a house in Beachwood Canyon Hollywood Hills [Daily Herald Suburban Chicago, November 25, 1990] where he intended to start a family. Strain and tension caused him to wreck the place:

I had a piano, which I bought for $38,000, and there’s a $12,000 statue in there and a $20,000 fireplace, and I stood there and I just snapped. I’m standing in this house going, ‘This house doesn’t mean anything to me. This is not what I wanted. I didn’t work forever to have this lonely house on the hill that I live in because I’m a rich rock star. So I shoved the piano right though the side of the house. Then I proceeded to destroy the fireplace, knock all the windows out and trash the statue and everything. The damages were about $100,000. What’s wild is that the next day Erin went to the house and she trashed the three rooms I didn’t.

To which Erin would comment,  "I had my own different reasons” [People Magazine, November 1990].


After having been kicked out of home in Indiana, his relationship with his stepfather had been gradually improving, and in 1987 he would say it was good:

[...] I got kicked out. […] when I got told to leave. When I got told, "cut your hair," and I said, "no," and they said, "go," and I said, "I'm leaving." You know, but that was like when I was 16, but now my dad is like one of my closest friends I have. It's taken us 10 years to build up that kind of relationship, but we worked at it a little by little and it didn't start happening just because of my band, it didn't [?] just happen this year. It's been coming back together over the last five years.

In the late 80s and early 90, Axl tried to find out more about his biological father:

Like I found William Rose. Turns out, he was murdered in 84 and buried somewhere in Illinois, and I found that out like two days before a show and I was fucking whacked! I mean, I’ve been trying to uncover this mystery since I was a little kid. I didn’t even know he existed until I was a teenager, you know? Cos I was told it was the Devil that made me know what the inside of a house looked like that I’d supposedly never lived in. So I’ve been trying to track down this William Rose guy. Not like, I love this guy, he’s my father. I just wanna know something about my heritage....weird shit like am I going to have an elbow that bugs the shit out of me when I get 40 cos of some hereditary trait? Weird shit ordinary families take for granted. […] he was killed. It was probably like at close-range too, man. Wonderful family.....

In November 1991, Axl would say that it wasn't certain his biological father really was dead:

There’s a lot of issues around this person, you know. He is believed to be dead, I don’t know if that it’s true or not. But in a weird way it’s, you know, probably the best place for him if he is. […] You know, they’ve said that he’s buried in 7 miles of strip mining somewhere in Illinois because of a bad deal he made with somebody. […] [Chuckles] It’s in court, you know, they’re looking for the body.


In 1991 it would be rumored that Axl had asked a "member of Guns personnel to wake him at a certain time then sack[ed] the hapless minion for waking him" [Melody Maker, August 10, 1991].

By December 1990, Axl was suffering from depressions. He moved into the recording studio to work on the record and when Christmas came a friend would spend time with him because they were worried he "wasn't going to make it through":

There was no heat in that room. It was a cold, lonely place, but it was the only place I could stay to keep myself in the work. It was cool-looking, but it was dark, cold and weird! It got to the point that certain people could tell just by the way I was talking, the tone of my voice, that I wasn't right. A friend brought by some Christmas presents. Another flew out unannounced and stayed with me Christmas Day, because they were very worried that I wasn't going to make it through. I couldn't leave the studio, but I couldn't go back to my condo because of my neighbor. That was a nightmare.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:19 pm


When the band returned from Chicago late in July [Raw Magazine, July 1989], they continued rehearsing at Bob Mates Studios in North Hollywood [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 192], and Duff would comment on the path forward:

In August we begin working with producer Mike Clink on actually recording the LP - probably at studios in Los Angeles. And hopefully the record will be out by November or something through Geffen

Duff would also comment that if they didn't release all the good songs they had, they might "get lost":

We’re seriously thinking about making the album a double record, because we’ve got so many songs together. Slash and I have written some cool shit. And Axl has come up with some great stuff.., including the songs left over from ‘Appetite…, we’ve got about 40 numbers knocking around at the moment. And if we don’t do a double LP a lot of good tracks will be lost.

In the summer of 1989 it was reported that the band was sifting through 30 songs, 10 of which ballads that Axl thought was "more credible than 'Sweet Child 0' Mine'" [Kerrang! June 1989], and Axl would confirm they had enough material for a double set and that they wouldn't tour until the beginning of 1990 [Juke, July 1989]. It was also reported the band was ready to enter pre-production [Patience CD Single, June 1989]. In Kerrang! from June 1989 (this interview was likely done before the Chicago trip) Axl said he focused on writing ballads but wanted to write harder songs together with his band mates, indicating that they hadn't been in a studio/rehearsal space together yet:

Right now I'm waiting to write hard rock songs with the band. I have a lot of subjects to choose from that I'm very interested in, but I'm waiting to see where their heads are at when we sit down with the guitars and everything. Right now I don't want to veer off too much in my own direction, because it would probably not be very heavy, I want to write some hard rock songs. The reason I wouldn't be writing so much hard rock songs my own is because I know I can do it with the band. A lot of riffs were going around in the air at the sound checks during the Japanese tour, things I've been hearing Slash and Duff go over, and I've had a lot of ideas for words, but I'm going to wait until we get in the studio to see what we put together.

[…]we wanted our first record ['Appetite'] to be a full hard rock record from beginning to end. The next record will have other variations, there may be some heavier songs as well as some softer ones.

When the band attempted to get work done in Chicago in the summer of 1989, UK press speculated that they would return to Castle Donington and the Monsters Of Rock festival in August that year as headliners. NME contacted a spokesman for the band's British record company who denied this would happen because the band would still be recording at the time of the festival, but that they may play concerts in UK in October or November (presumably as part of the touring that would follow the launch of the new record) [New Musical Express, June 1989].

In July 1989 it was reported that the band had started pre-production in studio with Mike Clink. Yet also that Axl was collaborating with Sex Pistol's Steve Jones on his second solo album [Circus Magazine, July 1989], indicating that his attention wasn't 100 % directed at his band. This would also be implied when he talked to Rolling Stone later in 1989:

We're trying to regroup. I'm ready to work. I'm creating, and finally I have an environment in which I can work. I haven't had that for a long time, since three years ago, when we all used to live in one room, sitting around writing songs. Until recently, I haven't had peace of mind. There were always distractions, but now it's like we can finally work on our songs.

In 1989, Izzy started to keep some distance from the rest of the band. In July he and Axl spent time in New York before travelling back home together to Lafayette, Indiana and spending some time there. Then Izzy, in August, travelled to Europe [Metal Hammer (Germany), September 1989; The Face, October 1989]. After this trip, Izzy was supposed to return back to Los Angeles to regroup with his band mates and work on the record, according to The Face "in order to once more attempt the seemingly impossible dream of completing their next album without anyone dying" [The Face, October 1989].

It cannot be ruled out that we will already have half the record in the box, because as soon as I am back we will record the basic tracks for the new album. In a perfect world the record would have been on the market long ago, then we would have gone straight to the studio after the last gigs in Japan, Australia and New Zealand and recorded the part. But nothing's perfect, you know? It just didn't work.

[…] what I can tell you now is that I'm going back to LA, then it will be recorded. We have almost 40 songs in our pockets. Not all of them are fully worked out, but if we record 20 tracks, it may be a double album. I myself have no need to release 20 or 30 songs to the public right now, but if we do it, we will do it.

When asked about possible song titles, Izzy would mention 'Could Be Mine', 'Rock 'n' Roll Rose' and 'November Rain' [Metal Hammer (Germany), September 1989]. 'Rock 'n' Roll Rose' was a song stemming from Hollywood Rose.

These interviews were likely from late August.

During the songwriting for the Use Your Illusion records, Izzy would send the band homemade cassette tapes of his songs and ideas. According to Duff, "there was no animosity about his reluctance to come to rehearsals" (page 162-163).

In November 1989, Duff would comment on the songs they had written:

The new songs are a lot harder, so it’s an improvement on my bass playing. I think Slash has improved my bass playing, because some of the riffs he comes up with are, like, these guitar riffs. And Slash and I almost always play the same thing, and then Izzy plays off of that. And so, I have to play, like, these incredible things that Slash comes up with. This guy has, like, the quickest left hand of anybody I know.

To conclude, it seems that the band struggled to get work done both because of Axl not being in the right headspace and because of interfering drug problems.

Looking back at 1989, Slash and Duff would explain what happened this way:

We had some shows to do….

We toured for a long, long time. Off and on for two-and-a-half years…

Two-and-a-half…I know my facts, man. Martin Luther King died in 1965…

Yeah, yeah, yeah…

But the album started to happen for us over a year into the tour. And then we had to tour some more. And there was a certain type of demand, and then there were the three Stones gigs at the LA Coliseum…and just adjusting to all this Rock star bullshit. Getting a house together….a life. Just getting a life.

It’s a whole new life compared to what we were used to. It’s like going from one extreme to the other. It takes time to adjust to it all.

Duff had his own issues to struggle with in particular his failing marriage, as evidenced in an interview from January 1990:

In the last eight months or so I just wasn't sure if I, or if we, were mentally capable of making the next record. When we made the first record, man, I had one foot like this and one foot like this… In those days, man, there was two-inch deep marks where I was dug-in to do this. I wasn’t sure that I could do that again - just dig in and do it. But I’ve just gone through a bunch of shit in my personal life and now I hope I’m dug in again. I’ve been hanging with Slash, we’ve been playing together, and I’m ready again...

You know, shit has happened in my life. But shit happens for a reason, and it happened for a reason in my life and I’m fuckin’ happy. I’m so ready to do this fuckin record, man, I’ve got callouses all over my fuckin’ hands already. I’m just ready to kick fuckin' ass! I wanna go on tour and make people happy. I wanna give a purpose to someone’s life. No, really. If I can give a purpose to one person’s life, that’s pretty fuckin' cool by me... I mean, how many people can do that to someone else? It doesn’t happen very often... But when it does, you go home at night and you just freak out.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:21 pm


On January 17, 1989, Axl was allegedly arrested for "disorderly conduct and public drunkenness" with his brother Stuart when partying at Slash's apartment. They were detained in the drunk tank for six hours but no charges were filed [People Magazine, February 1989].

And in May 1989, it was reported that Axl had gotten in a fight with a woman at Club With No Name [L.A. Weeks, June 2, 1989]. The woman allegedly had a knife and Axl kicked her in the stomach [L.A. Weeks, June 2, 1989]. After investigation the police decided to not press charges [L.A. Weeks, June 2, 1989].

In August 1989, Izzy, while in France, would complain about the police being after him:

I'm supposed to go back [to Los Angeles] on Friday to do the album [work on the follow-up to Appetite] and already it's worryin' me 'cos the police have our names and numbers there, y'know. And I've been arrested once already. It's just a nightmare. I don't go out anymore. All my friends are the same way. But that's LA for you. I go out for a drive, I get pulled over. First thing, the cop pulls a gun in my face. I'm sittin' there... "Officer, what did I do?" […] Right now in West Hollywood it's a complete Gestapo situation. If you're walking down the street they'll jump you, beat you up, plant shit on you and haul your ass off to jail. Then you're in court and it's your word against theirs. I mean, who are they going to believe? When I go back, I'm just going to stay cool and not hang out in the city. I've seen too much shit go down. I know too many people associated with Guns N' Roses whose lives have turned into absolute shit because of this drugs media angle. I mean, that's why I'm over here.

The same month Izzy would be arrested by the FBI for pissing at the galley carpet in a plane [see post further below].

Axl was having problems with the West Hollywood police. On August 1, 1990, and Axl filed a complaint over "police harassment and heavy-handed intimidation":

My wife [Erin Everly], my friend [Sebastian Bach] and I were sitting there on the balcony having dinner, and my wife suddenly saw about seven to nine police cars pulling up below. She thought someone had been killed. It took some 13 or 14 cops about 40 minutes to organize downstairs. They thought they were pulling some big sneak attack or something. My wife couldn’t see through the eyehole to see who was knocking, so she opened the door, and there they were, and they said to me, ‘Step out,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, right.’ This cop shoved my wife, walked into my place and is saying that I invited him in. He’s lying. That’s assault and trespassing, and I want an investigation. I don’t know if they’re out to get me, but they hate my guts, and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because if you’re working the [Sunset] Strip and you saw long-haired guys with earrings who have no socially redeeming qualities going out with these girls you wished you had, it might tend to piss you off after a few years.

The police had come to Axl's apartment after complaints about loud music [Del Rio News Herald, August 9, 1990]. Axl would later speculate that his neighbour from the flat that he owned, turned the police against him [Pirate Radio, October 1990 - copied in Melody Maker, November 1990]. This neighbour would later claim Axl had hit her in the head with a bottle, leading to Axl being arrested [see later chapter].

Not exactly involving the law, but at some point the band was banned from all Four Season hotels because of damage to the rooms, and this ban was not lifted until 1992 when the band was touring again [The Washington Post, July 18, 1992].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:23 pm


Axl operated slightly different than the rest of his band mates in regards to music. He was very particular about the music they created, often to the point of obsessing over minor details:

There isn't really anything we want to change [with Appetite for Destruction]. There's two words in that whole record that I didn't quite say the way I wanted to, and I forgot which ones they were, didn't have time to go back to find them and redo them. And they are not out of key, so no one else knows it. I am the only one who personally knows it.

Sometimes six lines take two years. It’s just got to say exactly what I mean. Sometimes I write some great words, and then hear this fabulous music in my head, and I think, ‘Wow! This is really happening! This is better than Led Zeppelin!' And then I go home and put on a record and I realise, shit, it was Led Zeppelin.

I'm too much of a perfectionist, I know that. [...] I'm a perfectionist so much, that I don't get a lot of things done. It's like, I used to run cross country and when you're working at everything, it wings a lot easier when everything's going right, of course, because everyone's doing what they're supposed to do. When it's going a lot smoother, then you can give a lot more and you can maybe break a record or something. That's what people want to see, and that's what I like to give 'em. I like to be able to go out there and give my ultimate rather than just get by by the skin of my teeth. Everyone may have loved it, but I know it sucked compared to what I should have done. Like, I can go out and not be able to hit the notes in the end of 'Rocket Queen' and I can make up a melody on the spot, right there on the stage, and people think they're getting something special cause they're hearing it in a different way, but I know the fact is that I couldn't hit the fucking notes cause I haven't slept for two days, because of insomnia. I don't think that's fair to the people in my own mind.


My main motivation for all of this, and it could never be anything but, is the music, the songs. I look at it like I'm a painter or something, and that's my motivation, just to be able to get the material out the way I want it. I'm not driven for financial things, those are a bit more than secondary. It's like, I can get as excited about making money as the next person in that I'm gonna be able to buy this and that, but if the song doesn't come out the way I really wanted it to then I'm more disappointed, and the money doesn't really mean anything to me then. I now that's hard for a lot of people to believe, but that's something that we've kinda stuck by the whole time, as much as possible. You have to make compromises here and there, because... Since this is our first record, we had to make compromises to get a certain level of sales so that we could get a certain level of power to do exactly what we wanted next time around.

Slash would agree:

Axl works on his piano songs for ages. He’ll play a part and sing along, and we don’t know where it’s going to go and six months later, ‘I’ve got an arrangement!’

Alice Cooper would recount working with Axl on the vocals for 'The Garden':

I was in LA, staying at the Sunset Marquis. I was watching an old movie when Axl called me. It was about two in the morning and he says, 'Hey, listen, can you do the vocal on this song 'The Garden'? I went down there and I listened to it and said, 'Yeah, I'll do it.' So we do it but when Axl sings, you can't stay with him.

I'm sitting there and I'm trying to do a duet with him and I said, 'Listen guys, this is my range. I end right here.' He was two octaves ahead of me and I'm going, 'Okay, okay. You do the real high parts and I'll stay down here.' When you're in the studio, a one-on-one with him, it's really amazing. When he's on the other mike, you're like, 'Jeez this guy can really sing.' Axl was a definite perfectionist . Almost to the point where you wanted to say, 'At some point, Axl, it's gonna be good enough.' With 'The Garden,' it was an easy bit for me to do. I did my bit maybe three times but when Axl was doing his vocals, he treated it very intricately. Rock and roll isn't supposed to be perfect. I'm afraid of it sounding too perfect. I mean, Bob Ezrin recorded Pink Floyd's The Wall three times. They probably did it like six times before they put it out. You never know if a person is not happy with it or if they're afraid of the material. The Beatles must listen back to Sgt. Pepper and go, 'Oh, man, why didn't we do this?' As an artist, you gotta know when the painting is done.

Alan Niven would make some interesting observations on Axl:

Axl has a capacity to really focus and analyze circumstances and situations, which is part of what makes him a gifted lyric writer. However, a major element of the frustration of being involved with him was that while everyone else was basically being gregarious and dealing with a normal life, Axl was shutting himself away in his room and thinking about one thing and one thing only for days or weeks on end. It was as though he was picking something up and looking at it from this angle, then that angle, then another over and over again. That minute focus of Axl's is both a curse and a gift.

Axl's perfectionism also affected Axl's touring in the first years:

Being the perfectionist that I am everything must be in order, or I'm a wreck! So nine times out of ten, I'm completely disorganized! When we first went on tour, things were just a mess and it took awhile to get into the swing of things. I pretty much got everything down smoothly, and as soon as I can figure out hotels, and the way they don't know how to run their own phone systems... 'OK, no calls to this room please,' and five minutes later the phone is ringing! As soon as I can get that worked out, I'll be fine, and until then, I buy a lot of phones! [...] I just wish that I could function more smoothly on tour, so that I wouldn't end up upsetting so many people. They never know what's gonna happen. It's like, 'What's Axl gonna do next?'

Gina Siler, and old girlfriend who knew Axl back in Lafayette, would talk about Axl's perfectionism:

He is extremely intelligent. That was one of the things that attracted me to him. He is just a nit-picky perfectionist and when things don’t go smoothly and to his liking he just loses it. He blows up. I’ve seen him do it on many occasions, smashing things and breaking things and yelling and screaming - holes through walls. Seen him do it one too many times.

His perfectionism may also be related to his stage nerves and anxieties regarding their live shows:

I'm very stressed about the shows, which are the most important thing to me. Nothing ever really works right for this band.

This was very different to Slash's approach that was usually to finish his in a few takes [source]. Naturally, such different philosophies in regards to music would cause friction, and this would be more pronounced as Axl started spending longer and longer time on his work.

Axl was also strongly opposed to any compromises. To Axl, the art came before anything.

I believe in art first [...] Sometimes people talk about money being the success, that's second. That's being lucky and people being generous to you by buying your album. Your being accepted. That's success on its own terms. But success to me is like you do a painting, it might not have been what you wanted, because when you think of a painting in your mind sometimes what comes out on the paint is a shadow of what you thought of, but still, it is something you are proud of, and if you can get that and you're really proud of it no matter what anybody says, whether someone offers you a dollar or ten thousand dollars for that painting, if you're proud of it, that's to me what counts. And that's what we strive for.

I'm not going to not believe that we can't [make it with Appetite for Destruction], but anything's possible, you know, and if it doesn't happen then we're going to figure out another album without compromising our music because once we compromise our music there's no reason to be in this band. Get the fuck out. Go home. You know. If I wanted to fucking compromise I could have cut my hair and I could be, you know, a car salesman somewhere, or I could be climbing the corporate ladder or something. I'm not in this to compromise. Not at all.[...] I just don't like compromises just for the sake of being successful. That bothers me. To pay the rent. I'd rather starve than paying the rent by bending over and taking it in the ass, and that's how I consider it.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:24 pm


We go out and we play, you know? And we record and we rehearse when we go through our own personal problems. And the differentiation between the media and your personal life is starting to become a really big hassle.


In early 1989 Slash had a quite relaxed perspective on the press and inaccurate reporting:

It's obvious from the hype they generated at the beginning. "So and so are eccentric junkie hellraisers." Then they turn around and say, "He got smashed by a car due to alcohol and drugs." Sensationalism keeps the press going. It's an extreme type of things. At this point, I don't keep up, but I still see things generated about us. Anything shocking in the tiniest sense gets printed and blown out of proportion. I attribute it to one of those inside-information mongers who make it up if they can’t find it out. It goes with the territory and doesn't bug me. For us, there's no good or bad press. Any press is cool.

Around the same time, Slash would say that Axl wasn't into doing interviews:

I take care of all the interviews and make sure that they all get done, because Axl doesn't really like to do interviews […].

This could possibly be because Axl, in difference to Slash, was becoming increasingly frustrated with the press. And not long thereafter, the band would stop doing interviews with US press:

From now on, interviews will be very limited. That must sound like, 'Oh, he's being a rock star', but the truth is, I don't need the headache of not getting things across to the public the way I feel they should be. I'm only doing this interview because I believe in RIP and some of the friends I've made there.

I’m not totally anti-press, though. The only reason we’re not doing any American press at the moment is because so much American press has been done, we don’t want to get to the point where we’re over-exposed. We don’t want people to burn out on us. It’s got to the point lately where we’re almost on cereal boxes. The magazines are gonna put out stuff on their own anyway, they really will. They make up shit all the time. We just have to lay back a bit. Which is cool, ’cos I don’t really feel like talking to anyone right now. I feel I sort of have to get my life in order. Try and, try and ... I don’t know. Just try and get comfortable living off the road.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

In RIP from April 1989, Axl said that "there are some magazines that we have some major problems with", and pointed out the November 1988 article in Rolling Stone as particularly disappointing [RIP, April 1989]. When Rolling Stone requested another interview in 1989, Axl accepted on the conditions that it would be a cover feature, that it would be done by Del James, and that the photographs would be taken by Robert John:

Rolling Stone had been after me for months, and I wanted the cover. Then we got it so my best friend could write it, and another friend took the pictures.
Newsday, August 15, 1989

The band was getting fed up with an increasingly antagonistic press who focused on everything but the music:

It seems to me that we're a spectacle, a freak show. Magazines are more interested in who fell over last night than the music. I'm to the point where I'm tired of being a spectacle. One of the things that make this band so controversial is that we tell the truth. We tell what really happens. I like being honest with the press. What bugs me is after reading something about me, people don't have the slightest clue as to what I'm all about. Isn't that what doing interviews is about?

I don't really read the magazines that much any more... I like to look at the pictures.

We've had some run-ins with the press because they seem determined to turn on into something we're not. They love to write how we're always acting crazy and destroying things Well, it's just not true. Maybe they think by writing things like that they're making us seem bigger than we are and badder than we are. But we don't need it and we don't like it.

And a press who continued to be more interested in their wild lives than their music:

I saw this thing in National Enquirer and... It's fuckin' Stevie, man. Apparently he went to Nevada, got fucked up, met some girl and, like, ended up marryin' her or somethin'. And the headline, y'know... It read something like "GN'R DRUMMER MARRIES GIRL: SAYS I CAN STILL FUCK AROUND". Incredible!

A story that went the rounds in mid-1989 was Axl shooting a pig. It is not known to what extent this story is true, and Axl has never commented on it as far as we know. As told by New Musical Express:

Guns N' Roses were at the centre of controversy again this week with reports in the US press that singer Axl Rose had shot a five pig at a barbecue. The incident is said to have taken place after Axl attended the premiere of Depeche Mode's 101 movie in Hollywood [on April 28, 1989]. Axl introduced himself to the band by reciting the lyric's to Depeche's `Somebody' and declared that he was a big fan of the band. He took the British technopoppers to the Cat House, his favourite heavy metal club. Later that night Axl reportedly went on to a barbecue at a friend's house in Beverley Hills and shot a live pig. It is not clear whether Depeche were at the barbecue. A spokesman denied that they, were presents Singer Dave Gahan said he'd heard that a cow, not a pig had been done to death. "As strict vegetarians the band were appalled by his behaviour and do not wish to associate themselves with any who goes round shooting pigs for fun," said a Mode spokesman at Mute Records.

NME mixes stories up. The event with the pig (if it actually occurred) happened earlier and had been told by L.A. Weekly already on April 21, at least a week before the Depeche Mode show [L.A. Weekly, April 21, 1989]. Here is L.A. Weekly's story which likely started the rumour:

I USED TO LOVE HER, BUT I HAD TO EAT HER: They don't call them Guns N’ Roses for nothing: in preparation for a recent barbecue at the home of ex-Cathouse security guy Mike Miller, several other Cathouse security dudes drove out to Pierce College and came home with a prancing porker. They trussed up this overgrown Arnold Ziffel, probably some kid’s 4-H project, in Mike's garage, where the Cathouse posse gathered to watch Axl use Mr. Hog for gunnery practice — and they said Ted Nugent was Luger-loony . . . ouch! After pumping the porker full of lead. Axl made a hasty exit in his brand-new black convertible Bimmer to avoid the arrival of the other sort of pigs. The scary thing is, the cops never even showed up — talk about the wilds of the San Fernando Valley! Mike then strung up. skinned and gutted the hapless porcine beast, threw it on the barbie, and a good time was had by all. All except the pig, of course.

Interestingly, the press would later also talk about another incident that happened while Axl was partying with Mike Miller at his place:

It just goes to show: no good deed goes unpunished, especially when you’re famous, and there never seems to be enough ink when it comes time to record a star’s more heroic acts. Like last summer, when the above-mentioned Axl Rose and his then fiancé, Erin Everly, attended a BBQ at the San Fernando Valley digs on Guns N’ Roses/Rolling Stones/Megadeth tour assistant Mike Miller. It was a pleasant afternoon of eating and drinking (not necessarily in that order), and Axl was demonstrating for Mike the new 10-grand stereo on his Ford Bronco, which he’d conveniently parked on Mike’s front lawn. But no one knew just how convenient Axl’s job would turn out to be until two women went to get into their car and a drunk driver sped by a little too close, completely ripping off their car’s door. Mike’s house is at the corner of a dead-end street, with an alley behind. Mike’s guests began chasing the offender, and two guys were hanging off the car, but of course Mike and Axl had the car stereo turned up so loud that they couldn’t initially hear the commotion. When he caught sight of what was going on, though, Axl jumped into his truck and quickly blocked the entrance to the alley so that the drunk driver couldn’t get out, eventually another car pulled up behind and trapped him until the cops came and took him away. Not only was it Axl’s quick thinking that blocked the guy’s escape route, but the guy could have totaled Axl and his truck.

Likely, the band was also fed up with how the media could create or exaggerate friction in the band:

And I've got to the point where I've come to understand what the media's all about, and what these people really want out of you ... Some people are serious hounds for any shit they—can pick up and print about us, to the point where you just sit there and look at them and you just see them as pathetic.

I'm not really worried about what people think of me. What bothers me is what certain things printed about me do to people who I care about. If I say something, and it gets twisted to where it seems like I'm saying my band's full of shit or something when it's not what I said, that bothers me. That's not fair. Writers have to understand where we're coming from and hopefully print it that way. I've tried to be very open. You know, you've just met the interviewer real quick, you try to answer their questions, try to be as friendly as possible and then you end up with this person looking at your life not through a telescope, but rather through a kaleidoscope. Everything's in pieces and distorted.

An example of the media creating wedges in the band, is the RIP interview that Axl did in April 1989. When confronted with this interview and Axl's quotes regarding drug use that included a thinly-veiled advice to his bandmates, Slash would say:

There’s some stuff about drugs in there I wish he hadn’t said. Because, I mean, at this point in time, being that we have such a bad reputation as it is and having run-ins with the cops all the time, I just don’t think it’s a good idea.

Because of quotes like that, it’s really gotten to the point where everybody’s sort of very wary of the police. Just everyday living could be... you never know what could happen. Did you know the Feds are after Sam Kinnison?

Anything to do with drugs, you have to watch it. And we’re prime targets. Luckily I’m not in West Hollywood any more, so that helps. But as far as I’m concerned you just don’t say anything about drugs - just don’t talk about them.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

Musing on the nature of the press:

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve gotten to understand what the press and media are all about. Some people are serious hounds for the dirt to the point where you just sit there and look at them and you just see them as pathetic. Then there are the ones who are a little more subtle, and they just want to have something interesting to write down. It’s different. I tend to be pretty calm about it. I sort of take the assholes with the nice guys and just try to, like, weed them out. It doesn’t shock me any more, though. There’s nothing left that’s shocking about it. I can understand why somebody wants to write stuff like that because it makes for interesting reading, and interesting reading makes for decent sales.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

All this aside, the band must take a lot of blame for the media loving to write about their lives. As Nick Kent would write in October 1989: "Strictly on a cartoon level, Guns N' Roses are probably the most singularly entertaining and titillating group in the whole of late-eighties rock pop culture right now. After all, they're the youngest, the thinnest, the rowdiest, the most calamity-prone, etc., etc. Plus there are a number of Spinal Tap comparisons (the ongoing drummer problem, the fact that the GN'R manager, New Zealander Alan Niven, apparently bears an uncanny resemblance to the Tap's long-suffering celluloid counterpart)" [The Face, October 1989].

By 1989, the press was mostly interested in Axl and Slash. The vast majority of interviews and articles would focus on these two. The "big guys" as Duff would jokingly refer to them [Kerrang! March 1990] and then follow up:

It’s a joke... it’s all a joke. It's just that they're - and they'd be the first to admit it - they’re the cartoon figures of the band. Whether they like it or not, and I think most times not, they’re focused on because Axl is the singer and Slash is like this fucking guitar player, and they’re both fuckin’ amazing, you know? I don’t blame magazines and shit for wanting to get their clutches into them, ’cos they’re both so fuckin’ great! I mean, Slash... he’s untamed!’ he hollered. And when was the last untamed guitar player - Hendrix? I’m not comparing him to Hendrix, though...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1989

Slash would comment on him and Axl being in the spotlight:

Axl being the front man, obviously, he's the focal point and I'm the kind of guy that's just been aggressive enough to push myself. You know, it's just to be, like, so much in everybody's space all the time that they can't really ignore me. I don't really do it on purpose. It's just that's the way it's developed over the years. But I mean, you know, like in Japan, Duff and Steven are very popular, too, because they are both- [Interviewer suggesting "blonde"] Right, it's the blonde thing. The band doesn't really pay attention to who's like more popular than the person. Izzy tends to be very quiet and likes to keep, you know, likes to sort of keep in the shadows and not get involved in other sort of like social bullshit that, you know, that like me and Axl have to get involved with all the time. But I mean, otherwise, there's not really that big a difference. It's like, me and Axl do all the interviews and we get a lot of pictures taken just because, you know, as far as the live shows go, we're the two guys that are right up there in front all the time and always are just like very pushy about it and and just being aggressive, you know what I mean?

Third in popularity behind Axl and Slash was Duff, who now and then got some attention from the media. Izzy was much less featured, maybe because he, after an active period in the beginning of the band's history, now wanted to take the back seat or was starting to be fed up with the band and industry. He also had a problem with not knowing when the next record would come out:

I prefer just to work, just to go in and do it. With Guns N’ Roses, I had to stop involving myself much with the press because I had no idea when the record was going to be finished. It was such a day-to-day existence, I never really knew what was happening. I didn’t want to make promises unless I planned on keeping them.

But even less attention was given to Steven. No interviews or articles focusing on Steven alone is to be found before 1989 [control check this]. He was by far the most anonymous of the band members. The only time he would be featured was together with others, and often then he would let the others do most of the talking. When discussing who wrote the lyrics to the band's songs, and being asked what part Steven took in this, Slash would reply: "He plays drums. Steven's not the most vocal person in the world. […] Well, no, maybe vocal isn't the right word, more like illiterate would be the word [laughter]" to which Duff would add: "Put it this way, the Navy wouldn't take him!" [Hit Parader, July 1989; but the quotes are from 1988].

When asked if it bothered him that the media was so much more focus on him and Axl, Slash responded and indicated that it was just good for him to be active:

Well, no. No, the reason I am not bugged about it is because if I'm not playing my guitar, writing a song, or if I'm not getting to the gig, if I'm not doing something that's band-oriented, I'm going to go nuts and I get very self-destructive if I'm not busy. So, you know, it takes my time. You know, like I knew you were going to call today, so I got up at twelve o'clock and I just sat here and waited. To you called. You know what I mean? And after I do this, I'm gonna go do another one, down the street and have lunch and talk about this stuff some more. I mean, it's just like, I've got to be working. I've got to be doing something that's Guns N' Roses oriented.

Slash would also point out that it bothered him that the other band members weren't getting enough credit:

It’s just that people always focus in on the predictable stuff. Like, Duff hasn’t gotten anywhere near enough recognition as a bass player, nobody ever talks about how good a guitar player Izzy is. People notice me and Axl a lot ’cos we’re out there at the front. We’re highly recognisable and all that shit. But Duff is like one of the best bass players in rock ’n’ roll. Duff is an awesome bass player, and he doesn’t get any recognition for it at all! So it becomes obvious to me, it’s not so much how good a player you are, it’s how cool you are.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

In the beginning of 1990, Axl would talk about being more selective about which interviews they did:

We haven’t done a lot of press things lately, not so much out of, like, Well, fuck you guys, we don’t need you, or this and that, you know? It’s just been kind of like... I mean, we want Guns N’ Roses to be huge and stuff and we’re glad when we get offered different interviews and all this stuff. But at the same time, you know, we get a bit sick of it, too. Seeing our faces all over the place. And at the same time, you don’t want so much over-exposure and so you kind of like go, OK, I’m gonna do one piece. OK, which magazine am I gonna do that in? What audience do I want to hit with what I’m gonna say, you know? Like, how am I going to approach this interview? It’s like, if I’m doing a Rolling Stone interview, it’s not so much catering to the audience, it’s like I’m just gonna use a different facet of my personality, ’cos I figure I’m talking to different people. With Rolling Stone you’re talking to U2 fans, REM, you know, and different crowds, OK, than you’re talking to in RIP... So maybe what I want to say needs to be said that way. So you do one interview rather than, like, trying to keep on top of Metal Edge, Metallix, Blast, you know, and all the Japanese magazines — Burn, Music Life and all the others. ’Cos it’s like, we’ve had to focus in on trying to get our lives together to deal with this, you know? And we’re just now getting some things under control.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:27 pm


In an interesting premonition of what was to come, Slash would in October 1988 say that he didn't think Guns N' Roses would open for another band again, except perhaps the Rolling Stones:

[…] we won’t open for anybody any more. The only band that I can think of that we would make a good double bill with is the Stones.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

In fact, Slash had been socializing with the members of the Stones:

I’ve met Ron Wood a few times. I met Charlie Watts. Keith I met, and Bill. I’ve never met Jagger, though.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

Although Keith Richards was not a huge fan of the band at the time:

[When asked what he thinks of Guns N' Roses]: Not much. I admire the fact that they’ve made it despite certain resistance from the radio biz. I admire their guts. But too much posing. Their look – it’s like there’s one out of this band, one looks like Jimmy, one looks like Ronnie. Too much copycat, too much posing for me. I haven’t listened to a whole album to be able to talk about the music.
Rolling Stone, October 6, 1988

Slash would comment upon Richards remarks:

Did you read what Keith said about us in Rolling Stone? They asked him, what do you think of Guns N’ Roses, and he goes, “Not much.”

He said me and Izzy looked like Jimmy Page and Ron Wood, and he said we were very poseurish. Then they asked him, have you heard the album? And he said no. I, like, I didn’t take it personally, though. And I don’t look like Jimmy Page. I saw him on TV today...

I can see where Keith’s coming from, though. Having been around some of the greats, like Chuck Berry - it must be hard to see upstarts like us and take it seriously. He needs to hear the record or hang out, I don’t know. We’re not poseurish... It’s just that we-don’t-give-a-fuck rock 'n' roll type of thing. We’re just us, trying not to get carried away with being us. We're just the huge fuck-ups that made it big.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

Then, in March 1989, Slash would again talk about the Stones and almost slip and tell something meant to be a secret:

For some reason people are always trying to put us together with them... the Stones. There’s even talk of us ... oh well. Oh, that's it, I didn't say anything... Forget that, OK?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

Despite Richards comments in 1988, by August 1989 Rolling Stone Magazine mentioned rumors about Rolling Stone wanting Guns N' Roses to open for them on their upcoming tour. This was apparently what Slash had almost revealed some months earlier. Perhaps Richards had now heard 'Appetite' or perhaps Jagger's business sense where more important?

Axl would say that no formal offer had been made [Rolling Stone, August 1989]. But at some point in 1989 Rolling Stones did offer GNR the opening slot for their entire tour for $50,000 a night [Yahoo Music, April 2016]. RAW Magazine would in May 1989 claim that this was summer tour and that the band rejected the offer because they planned on writing and recording the follow-up to 'Appetite' [Raw Magazine, May 1989].

And at some point before September 1989, the bands had come to an agreement:

When will the issue with this interview appear? In September? Then it's too early to talk about certain things. But I can already tell you that we're going to do two gigs with the Rolling Stones on the west coast. Further shows are still being negotiated, but October 19th and 20th are confirmed. Then we open the Coliseum in LA for the Stones ... and bury them!

But before that, I'll go back to the west coast and we'll play at the Coliseum on October 19 and 20. Imagine. Man! This is the largest stadium there, 60,000, maybe 70,000 people have space there. I'm not sure I'm right with the capacity, but it's definitely the largest stadium on the West Coast.

When I left Chicago and drove this car to the west coast to start this band, I passed the Coliseum. Now I'm playing in the Coliseum. it seemed so out of reach at the time that I never even dreamed of playing in it!”

According to Alan Niven in 2016, he had been reluctant to accept the offer mainly due to the compromised state of the band at the time:

From a fiscal point of view, I was dubious about that, because at that point Guns could clearly sell out arenas on their own, which would more than double that take. The other aspect was I didn’t consider the band to be in any condition, whatsoever, to be able to take on a tour of that length and magnitude. Izzy had gone through a really, really bad cocaine period and was just getting out of it. Slash was using too much [heroin]. Steven was using too much. Duff loved his cocaine and his vodka. They were in no condition to take on a venture like that. Much to the bemusement of the band’s agent, I passed. Think about that for a moment. Can you think of anybody who’d been offered to open for the Rolling Stones and said, ‘No, thank you?’ How fucked up in particular is that? […] I was like, ‘The Stones are touring again? F—ing hell! They always sell tickets, but as far as I was concerned, my boys were now the standard bearers of excessive glories of rock ‘n’ roll. Why should they open for a bunch of landed gentry and English financiers? So, conceptually, for me, it didn’t sit very well.
Yahoo Music, April 2016

The Rolling Stones then came back with a second offer: four nights at the Los Angeles Coliseum for $500,000. Though intrigued, Niven still wasn’t entirely convinced by the offer:

My thought was this. You’ve got 77,000 tickets to sell in the L.A. Coliseum. I can see the Stones doing that twice, but four times? I think that’s pushing it, even for the Stones – unless they’ve got someone with them who is going to push it over the edge. And knowing that they had two confirmed and were holding two more shows that they wanted to do, I rather felt that that described the circumstance. So I went back and said, ‘We’d be delighted to accept the offer for a million dollars.’ The Stones’ people just about choked on that, but guess what? Jagger came back and accepted, because he knew he needed Guns N’ Roses to get the four nights. He’s a businessman, and he figured out the formula.
Yahoo Music, April 2016

Slash would confirm that their management was against doing the gigs with The Stones, and imply at least part of it was due to Slash's heroin problem that was very bad at the time:

At that time I was at the tail end of a really, really serious heroin problem. I felt the band had to do the Stones gigs to bring us back together. We were all living in our separate houses, no one saw anybody, I was doing my thing, and only three of us were going to rehearsals on a regular basis. So I said, “Yeah, let’s do the gig,” even though our management was against it. I made an agreement with the band that after the Stones shows were over, I’d clean up. That was agreed upon and understood.

He would also later claim that it was he who booked the gigs:

[…] I was the one who booked those f**kin’ shows!

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:28 pm


That asshole punched me in the dark. What happened, happened. Maybe one day we’ll meet again.



On September 6, 1989, it was time for the MTV Music Video Awards. Guns N' Roses was nominated for best new artist and best heavy metal band for 'Sweet Child O' Mine, and won the latter award in competition with Def Leppard, Aerosmith and Metallica [Lowell Sun, September 7, 1989]. Axl would comment on the award:

I don't like winning anything that has the labeling 'heavy metal.' I don't like the title 'heavy metal' because it cheapens the art form.


The highly touted surprise act to close the show turned out to be Axl singing the songs Free Falling and Heartbreak Hotel with Tom Petty [Lowell Sun, September 7, 1989]. What wasn't reported was that Izzy joined in on guitar, too.


During the award show, as Izzy exited the stage after the performance with Tom Petty, Izzy got in trouble with Vince Neil, the frontman of Motley Crue.

[Neil] jumped out of a crowd of people and sucker-punched Stradlin. Stradlin's lip was cut by Neil's rings but he was otherwise unhurt. Neil, on the other hand, found himself on his back; he scrambled and ran for his limo. […] Fortunately Vince is a powder puff and can't do much damage, but it was a chicken . . . thing to do.

Later, Axl would confirm that Neil had punched Izzy:

That happened, you know, and then he ran past me. And I didn’t know who he was, cuz he’d just had his cheeks done, and I couldn’t tell who he was [laughs].

According to Niven, Neil's animosity towards Izzy stemmed form an incident at the Cathouse in 1988 when Izzy had Neil's wife, Sharise, "ejected from a private room" at a local rock club, resulting in assault charges being filed and later dropped against Stradlin [LA Times, September 1989]. Neil would dispute this and claim "that [Izzy] had attempted to remove Neil's wife's clothing and later kicked her in the stomach." L.A. Weekly would report that Axl had fondled Sharise resulting in her slapping him and him then pushing her [L.A. Weekly, September 15, 1989].

Nikki Sixx, the bassist in Motley Crue, supported Neil's version of the event:

[Izzy] pulled her top off, and kicked her in the stomach. Vince was going to press charges, but instead said, 'The next time I see him I’m going to clean his clock'.
Poughkeepsi Journal, October 15, 1989

So when Neil saw Izzy at the Awards show in 1989, "I did what any man would do" [LA Times, September 1989]. Which would be to "slug him over the eye", as reported by L.A. Weekly [L.A. Weekly, September 15, 1989].

I just punched that dick and broke his f**king nose. […] Anybody who beats up on a woman deserves to get the shit kicked out of them. He hit my wife, a year before I hit him. I called up his management after he hit her and Alan Niven (GN’R manager) was like, 'My bands can do anything they want. Guns can do anything they want’. So I’m like, fine... […] I went looking for Izzy and I couldn’t find him, so I waited to the next time I saw him. That was when I was leaving and he was just coming offstage, 'cos he’d been jamming with Tom Petty. So I walked up to him and f* *king bopped him. […] I f**king punched him and event security dived on me, because they didn’t know who the f**k I was. [...] They threw me over towards the stairs and I’m trying to get at Izzy and he’s trying to get at me. The security told me to get out, so I walked past Izzy and I said, ‘Touch her again and I’ll f**king kill you, man’. I walked right past Axl, past all of them and out. I didn’t f* *king run. […] As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a Crüe v Guns thing, it was something this f* *king wimpy asshole who likes to hit girls deserved. It’s a score I had to settle.
Kerrang! November 4, 1989

[The comments above, published in Kerrang! in November 1989, would infuriate Axl and lead to the public spat between the two frontmen [see later section]].

Izzy would later deny these accusations although admit he had "pushed her back"...with his foot:

Three years ago, we played some club one night and I was hangin' out with these girls when she came backstage. I said 'Hey your pussy's hangin' out!' and she fuckin' punched me! So I just lifted my foot and pushed her back. She fell down. Next thing I know, she's got me on a rape charge. So I have to go to court, right, for this bullshit, and she didn't show up. Anyway, Motley Crue are a bunch of lying cocksuckers. It's gonna be interesting to see how they respond to this.

Here's Nikki Sixx' recollection:

I think some, I can't remember exactly what happened. I think what happened was, Vince's wife or girlfriend at the time was at the Cathouse and I don't know what her dress code was, but it was usually somewhere around having Band-Aids over her nipples only. And I think somebody, grabbed her tits or did something, and she like slapped him or told him to fuck off, and he like kicked her in the stomach. When Vince heard about that he went fuckin' nuclear.

So he said, "If I ever see this guy, I'm going to knock him out" and this happened, we were playing one of these awards shows, I don't know what it was, or they were playing, I think they were playing, and we were getting into the car leaving and Vince heard Guns and Roses, and he turned around and said, "I'll be right back." And nobody even thought about it, and he walked up on stage, and when Izzy walked off stage he dropped him. So then Axl went off in the press about Vince, and then Vince went off about Axl, it turned into a fucking high school shooting match.

In 2019, Sharise Neil did a podcast and discussed the episode:

We had this thing called “The Broad Squad” and it was all the girls from Tropicana. We were like a clique. And my girlfriend was actually dating Riki Rachtman. She was his living girlfriend. [...] So I wasn’t allowed to hang out with them, hardly ever, and definitely not allowed to go to the Cathouse with them, because bad things were gonna happen. [...] So, this night, I wore one of my creations, which was like a pencil skirt made out of spandex, black. And then, up to the side I did a sheer nylon panel, where you could see the side of my legs. [...] And then I wore, like, a little half-top. I made that too, by the way. [...] Like I said, we were the “Broad Squad”. My girlfriend’s boyfriend, it was his damn club. We walked in like we owned the place. [...] I walk into the room, and I see Izzy Stradlin standing by the deejay. He tells me to come over to him, he waves me over. I say, “Oh, cool, Izzy.” You know, we just got off the road with them, I met all the guys, I was out with them, I thought they all knew me, we were all talking, hanging out, shaking hands... So when I get within a foot of him, he reaches down – Riki says this wrong on his show; he says that he grabbed my boob. No, no, no. Izzy reaches down and grabs my freshly made pencil skirt and rips it up, like, to my vagina, and trying to rip it off me. […] And I’m flabbergasted. My mouth falls and I smack him hard across his face. A fuckin’ roundhouse smack to the face, buddy. When I do that to him, he puts his foot up and he kicks me in the stomach away from him. […] Alright. Now you’ve unleased mean Sharise. Now I’m pissed, and I got my bony little finger in his face going, “Fuck you. Who the fuck do you think you are? How fuckin’ dare you touch me? Wait till my fuckin’ husband gets up,” or, you know, “gets a word of this.” [...] Don’t do that to a woman. […] Okay, so then, after I’m done with my tirade, I turn around and I see Axl sitting in a chair in the corner - I think my tirade must have been heard all over the club – and he just came in. He wasn’t there before when I walked in, but I think he saw what happened after. So I said to him, “What the fuck is wrong with him?” And Axl, very nicely, said, “Oh my god, he’s really fucked up. He’s fuckin’ on heroin.” I went, “I don’t care. Wait till Vince finds out. This is not gonna be good.” […] So I tell [Neil], and he goes ballistic: “He did what? I’m gonna kill that guy!” So that is the start of the fight between Axl and Vince and Izzy.
Bobbie N' Sharise Sweet and Sour Hour, April 13, 2019

Sharise Neil would also talk about the incident at MTV VMA:

It was the MTV Awards, yeah […] So, there I guess Tom Petty was on stage, and then Guns N’ Roses were doing the last show of the night, they were doing a song; or Izzy and a couple of the band members were playing with Tom Petty. So Vince – this has been, like, six months since this happened, and Vince has not run into Izzy at all, or Axl. But there they are that night! [...] So now Vince is plotting, “How can I get back at him,” like, “Oh, he’s on stage now. Sharise, go to the car.” I’m like, “What are you gonna do?!” and he’s like, “Don’t worry about it. Go to the car.” So this is what I remember: I was sitting in the limo, waiting, waiting, waiting... And I’m looking behind me, and what I see is hilarious. I see Vince walking very briskly and then running towards the car: “Open the door! Open the door!” I’m like, “What’s going on?” Then I see Axl running after Vince with, like, two big black bodyguards following. Vince gets to the car and he tells the driver, “Go!” So now we’re taking off in the parking lot as Axl is running behind our car. I mean, that’s a scene.
Bobbie N' Sharise Sweet and Sour Hour, April 13, 2019

During the 1989 Video Music Awards a photographer hired by MTV would also claim to have been pulled by a bodyguard for the band, resulting in alleged injuries and a lawsuit [more on this below] [The Dispatch, September 1990].

In October 1992 Izzy would be asked if he would donate bone marrow to save the life of Neil:

Fuck, no! There’s plenty of other donors out there.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:31 pm


In September 1989, Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks released his solo album 'Not Fakin' It'. For the single to the song 'Dead, Jail or Rock'N'Roll', Axl would be featured. This came about as Axl happened upon the photo shoot while in New York; Monroe reminisces:

"[Axl] happened to be walking by 52nd Street and saw some trucks and asked what was going on. He learned I was shooting a video, and he came up and said that I was a major influence on him, that Guns N’ Roses were always huge Hanoi Rocks fans. It was really nice. He told me that if Hanoi Rocks hadn’t split up, Guns N’ Roses wouldn’t be as big as they are—that Hanoi’s breaking up left sort of a gap. […] We were playing the song live during the video shoot, so I asked him if he wanted to come up and jam. He got into it. It was sort of a tribute thing. He said he’s sick of people not knowing who Hanoi Rocks were " [Chicago Tribune, November 24, 1989].

Monroe would later be featured on the song 'Bad Obsession' from 'Use Your Illusion II' where he played harmonica and tenor saxophone, and on 'Ain't It Fun' from 'The Spaghetti Incident!?' where he would add guest vocals.

We flew Michael Monroe to L.A. from New York and he sang - we played harmonica and sax on one song on the record, and he sang a duet with Axl on another song [Finnish TV, August, 1991].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:33 pm

OCTOBER 10, 1989

'It's So Easy' has been released as the band's first single back in June 1987. In 1989/1990n the band was filming for a music video for the song. When asked why they were filming new shots for a potential 'It's So Easy' video and if they intended to re-release the single, Slash responded:

Yeah maybe. We always wanted to do a video for that song. It’s got that sort of punk attitude to it - especially since Duff was majorly into that, you know, being a former punk rocker and all. And we just wanted to... Well, we’re gonna have a home video at some point, so we wanted to do some videos that were, like, completely no holds barred, uncensored type of things. Just live shooting, instead of worrying about whether MTV is gonna play it. Just go out there and do a fuckin' blown out live, real risky video...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

Describing the video:

The video for “It’s So Easy” should be cool, though. It’s not finished yet, though, we’re just going through the final edits. We’re supposed to see it Tuesday. It’s more or less just for us, so we’re gonna tend to put the harsher stuff in and then leave it like that. I don’t care whether MTV plays it or not. Plus, I want some special stuff on the home video anyway, that’s just ours and that you can’t get anywhere else.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

As evidenced from the quote above, filming took place in early 1989. More shots were being captured on October 10 and according to rumors printed in Kerrang! in April 1990, David Bowie visited the set of the video and got "a little too well acquainted with Axl’s girlfriend, Erin" resulting in Axl "aiming a few punches Bowie’s way before having him thrown off the set" [Kerrang! April 1990]. According to Billboard Magazine, Axl had challenged Bowie but the two were separated by security guards [Panama City News Herald, October 26, 1989].

It looks like there also was an altercation between Axl and Bowie at the RIP Anniversary show at the Cathouse on October 11, as mentioned in L.A. Weeks [L.A. Weeks, December 15, 1989] and this quote from Slash:

The day before the Stones gig [Ed: Not correct, the Cathouse show happened about a week before the first show with the Stones] we did a warm-up show at the Cathouse and it was killer. It was the first time we'd played in a while, and we had so much energy to get out; we sounded amazing and it was a classic Guns show. It wasn't without its unpleasantness, though, because Axl insulted David Bowie so much from the stage that Bowie left in the middle of the set [...] That evening was captured for posterity in the video for "It's So Easy," which was never accepted by MTV or aired in the States because we refused to edit out the profanity in the song.
Slash's autobiography, p 277

Riki Rachtman, the owner of the Cathouse, would confirm both that David Bowie tried to pick up Erin and that this resulted in Axl chasing Bowie down the street [Spin, July 1999]. According to another report, Bowie never attended the RIP Anniversary show [Panama City News Herald, October 26, 1989].

When commenting on the incident, Axl would not go in detail on the brawl but tell a long story of going out with Bowie and having a good time:

Bowie and I had our differences. And then we went out for dinner and talked and went to the China Club and stuff, you know, and when we left I was like, “I wanna thank you. You're the first person that’s ever come up and said I’m sorry about the situation.” You know I didn’t, like, try to take away any of his dignity or respect - like Rolling Stone saying I’ve no respect for the Godfather of Glam even though I wore make-up in this or that video and dah dah dah...

It’s like, when we opened for the Stones Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton cornered me, right? I go out there to do the soundcheck, and I’m sitting on this amp and all of a sudden they’re both right there in front of me. And Jagger doesn’t really talk a lot, right? He doesn't really talk at all, he’s just real serious about everything. And all of a sudden he was like’ – he assumed a theatrical Dick Van Dyke cockney – “So you got in a fight with Bowie, didja?” You know, and I’m like... I told him the story real quick and him and Clapton are going off about Bowie in their own little world, talking about things from years of knowing each other. They were saying that when Bowie gets drunk he turns into the Devil from Bromley... I mean, I’m not even in this conversation. I’m just sitting there and every now and then they would ask me a couple more facts about what happened, and then they would go back to bitchin’ like crazy about Bowie. I was just sitting there going, wow...        

But Bowie was really cool. We went to this restaurant and, like, it was just supposed to be Slash and me and Bowie and his girlfriend. Then I’m going and I bring an old friend of ours called Danny, who's an old roadie who’s been through, like, crazy stories with cops and everything. We haven’t been able to find Danny for two years. And Danny was like Dan the Man, he was a big part of our lives. But we couldn’t find Danny. Well, I find Danny and another guy called Eric – two guys we haven’t seen for a while that Slash and I used to hang with. So I bring them. Then Izzy shows up with Jimmy from Broken Homes, and we have this crowded table, right? And everybody's getting wasted on wine and stuff.

Then Bowie comes around the table and he squats down next to me and starts talking. And all of a sudden somebody hit the table and my elbow, like, bumped his cheek, just real lightly. And he goes, “OH, FUCK!” and grabs his eye and jumps up, and the whole restaurant spins round... ’Cos they did not like me and Slash being in the restaurant anyway, OK? This doesn’t usually happen any more but this place it happened in ’cos they were all, you know, all quiet, with an art gallery showing on the walls and all this stuff.

And the people running the restaurant don’t know who... It's not like they don’t know who I am, but they don’t give a flying fuck. They don't know it's Slash and Axl, they just see us coming in in leather jackets and stuff and they’re freaking, right?

So there’s a whole table and we’re all getting loud and stuff. But Bowie s there so they’ve got to let this go on, they don’t know what else to do right? It was great. So Bowie jumps up and goes, “OH FUCK!" and the whole place spins around, and the ladies and stuff are hiding behind their fuckin’ menus. Then he goes, “Just kidding! Just fucking kidding!” It was great, it was great...

We went to the China Club and stuff and he, like, had me do photos with him. He was like, “I don’t know if you wanna do this but...” He was really cool. We started talking about the business and I never met anybody so cool and so into it and so whacked out and so sick in my life. I looked over at Slash and I went, “Man, we’re in fuckin’ deep trouble.” He goes, “Why?” And I go, “’Cos I got a lot in common with this guy. I mean, I’m pretty sick but this guy’s just fuckin’ ill!” And Bowie's sittin’ there laughing... Then he starts talking about, "One side of me is experimental, and one side of me wants to make something that people get into. And I DON’T KNOW FUCKING WHY! WHY AM I LIKE THIS!?” And I’m, like, thinking to myself, I’ve got twenty more years of... that to look forward to? I’m already like this! Twenty more years? It was heavy, man...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

L.A. Weekly would comment on having seen Axl and Bowie together at the China Club, together with Slash and his date, Bowie's fiancee, and others [L.A. Weekly, December 15, 1989].

As a side-note, about a year later Slash would also befriend Bowie whom he had known as a kid when Bowie was dating his mom:

Late last year, Bowie and I got together and went to dinner. We had a great time, and we’ve been hanging ever since. He’s a sweet guy. It’s been really cool, going from being a kid and growing up with musicians and then meeting these people you haven’t seen in a long time who actually have respect for you.

[…] after [Bowie and mum] separated, I didn’t see him for a long time, until – God, I must have been about 20-21 years old when I saw him again. We’ve been friends since.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:39 pm


The band then did two shows in Hollywood. The first took place at the Cathouse on October 11, the day after the It's So Easy video recording. The second was RIP Magazine 3rd Anniversary Party and took place at the Park Plaza Hotel on October 13. For the Park Plaza hotel the band didn't start playing until well after 1 am and played until 3:15 am [Metal Sludge, October 19, 2012]. During the show Mike Monroe would join the band for 'Heartbreak Hotel' and both Axl and Duff would stage dive [Metal Sludge, October 19, 2012]. Duff would later mentioned his stage dive and losing his gold chain he'd been wearing for 9 year prior:

Actually, this [neck chain] is the second one I’ve had because I had on before that I wore for nine year. Then Guns did the third anniversary RIP party - that’s got to be three years ago now - and I jumped into the crowd, did a little stagedive. The place was fuckin’ packed but I jumped and all of a sudden the Red Sea just parted, man! 12 feet straight down - BOOM! Thanks for catching me, you guys! I didn’t think there was any room for them to move. Then everyone started jumping on top of me and somebody grabbed the old chain and fuckin’ ripped it off my neck - it wouldn’t go over my head - to add insult to injury while I’m laying there bleeding on the floor. So I got a new one. It’s just a dog’s collar. I wear it all the time, it doesn’t come off [RAW, September 1993].
The show got glowing review in Los Angeles Times, writing:

"And Guns N' Roses . . . well, woooo! This second of two "surprise" shows last week in preparation for its date with the Rolling Stones at the Coliseum (the first show was at the 400-capacity Cathouse on Tuesday night) preached to the converted in fine style.

Axl Rose writhes like a stripper, slithers across the stage, modulates his voice from Joe Cocker snarl to Steve Tyler shriek--as ferally in control of the stage as any singer since early Bowie, convincing even in an extremely bathetic version of Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," which he dedicated to an OD'd friend. The Cathouse show was more a club show, five guys playing the songs they know for a bunch of friends; this was a full-fledged stadium show, million-dollar lighting apparatus, bombast, half-stepping and all. This band's ready
" [Los Angeles Times, October 16, 1989].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:40 pm


Axl: When I put on my clothes or do a photo session, I want to look the best I can. If you're going on a date, you want to look good for that person or for yourself. I've got enough money now to buy a suit I like and wear it the way I want. I don't wear suits every damn day now. Maybe I'm gonna shave and wear makeup and do my hair fuckin' way up. We're definitely image conscious. I think if Izzy came wearing a clown suit to a photo session, we'd want to know how he could validate his presence in a clown suit. [Laughs] But if he could back it up and convince us there was a reason, then it would be cool. Otherwise, it wouldn't be. Steven has his own way of dressing, in the latest commercial-rock fashions. Steven enjoys the hell out of the clothes he wears, whereas Slash and I wouldn't be caught dead in either. It's just different personalities. If we're gonna do a show, I wear a headband because my hair gets in my face. When we do a photo session, a lot of the time I'll wear a headband because that's how I am onstage. If I feel real dominant and decadent, I'm gonna be wearing my jack-boots and stuff like that. I try to express myself through my clothes. It's another form of the art. I'm not afraid of what people think about different ways I look. I'm gonna do what I want to do [Rolling Stone, August 1989].

Duff: "I’m not taking out big ads or anything [for his solo record]. That’s pretty self-indulgent. That’s why I don’t show my face on the record. I didn’t want stylists and everything to make me look good; that’s not what rock ’n’ roll is about. What’s on the disk or vinyl matters. That’s what has most disillusioned me about bands especially since I moved to L.A. I mean, sure, we do pictures too, but we just stand in front of the camera" [Guitarists Magazine, November 1993].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:42 pm

OCTOBER 18-22, 1989


October 18 came around and the band was set for the pinnacle of their short career: opening for The Rolling Stones. This had been a dream to Axl and a signal that they had made it [Concert Shots, May 1986].

The grandness of these shows were also apparent to Duff, but his band members didn't pull it together:

Despite the work we needed to do to prepare for the Stones shows, Slash and Steven showed no signs of pulling out of their drug habits, and Izzy slipped back into heroin use, too. Sometimes those guys put their drug use in front of band practise. One or the other often showed up late or left early from rehearsal-if they showed up at all.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 156

Slash was "shooting heroin and speedballs" at the time and had his dealer meet him "before and after the gig" [Musician, December 1990]:

I'd built a place in the hotel room to hide my shit. Axl was tripping out on the whole thing but as far as I was concerned I was fine—at least the gig was happening and I was playing.

In Steven's recollection it is implied that Slash had promised to quit drugs before the shows:

I would walk over to Slash's room to hang out and party. Unfortunately, every dealer on the West Coast was buzzing around for the concert, and I fell to temptation again. At this point, Slash hadn't let up at all and was getting sucked deeper into hard drugs. Heroin came packaged in rubber balloons, and that night after we checked in, I bought six of those balloons and went to Slash's room. I walked in and I saw Slash in the bathroom, and he had like twenty of these same balloons lying around, already opened and used. he was just sitting on the toilet, staring down at the tiles, all stoned out. He was going to be no fun, so I just spun around and left.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 198-199

At the morning of the first show, Izzy got an ominous call from Axl:

It was the biggest thrill I ever had working with this band, but it was also pretty nerve-wracking, 'cos - we did four gigs in LA, right? - at six the morning of the first one, Axl called me completely hammered, and told me 'I'm quitting'. I told the other guys 'It's gonna be a long four days, fellas.'

I got a call from Axl on the morning of the first Stones show. He said, 'I'm sorry, these gigs aren't gonna go, I quit!'

Niven would talk about this in October 1992, too, and refer to Axl's decision to quit the band the very day they were going to play with the Rolling Stones for "bad timing" [Melody Maker, October 10, 1992].

According to Niven, Axl was nowhere to be seen before the show, with the production manager saying to him: "Your guy’s not here. Tell me what I’m supposed to do – call the LAPD and warn them we may have a riot with 77,000 people?" Niven would then, allegedly, ask the production manager if he had a contact in the LAPD who was an "absolutely no-questions-asked guy", with his wishes confirmed and the cop on scene, Niven gave him the address where Rose was staying and allegedly said:

I want you to send two uniforms to this address and have them get the occupants out any which way they can and bring them here right away, in handcuffs, if necessary.
Yahoo Music, April 2016

According to Niven, the police did as asked and brought Axl to the venue [Yahoo Music, April 2016].

As Axl walked towards the stage, he allegedly confronted Reid with his comments and said that he never thought of “you guys as niggers" [Spin, November 1990].


The band Living Colour was opening for Guns N' Roses and Rolling Stones. The day before the first show, on October 17, Vernon Reid, the singer of Living Color, was guesting at a radio show with call-ins. He was asked by one caller what he thought of 'One in a Million' and replied that he liked the band but took exceptions to some of the words in the song [RIP Magazine, November 1990].

During their opening set, Reid would again take the opportunity to condemn the usage of the word "nigger" and say that anyone using that word was promoting racism and bigotry [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993].

Slash would later be asked what the deal was between Living Colour and Guns N' Roses:

Well, see, I don't read anything, I don't keep up with the press. As far as Living Colour was concerned, it had nothing to do with me, I was too concerned about my own drug problem at the time. I think Axl had a problem with Living Colour, that's when we were opening up for the Stones, that was it, four shows. There definitely wasn't anything political going on, you know, with Axl's reputation... there definitely wasn't any racist shit going on. Specially, cause I'm around, and I'm half black and half English actually, so there definitely wasn't anything from me.


As Axl took the stage he first defended 'One In A Million', and then continued with his famous "Mr. Brownstone" speech:

I don't like to do this on stage. But unless certain people in this band start getting their act together, these are going to be the last Guns N' Roses shows. I'm sick and tired of too many people in this organization dancing with Mr. Brownstone.

And then, before the encore: "Before we begin, I'd like to announce this is my last gig with Guns N' Roses" [Los Angeles time, October 20].

If it is true that Slash had promised to quit drugs before The Stones shows and not after, that would help to explain Axl's frustration and anger at the time and his ultimatum that his band mates stop using heroin or he would quit the band.

Axl would later explain why he did it:

I was watching my band mentally and physically fall apart. It was a harsh move [talking about it] onstage, but we had tried everything else, and nobody would stop. It just kept getting worse and worse and worse. [...] I remember bumping into [Geffen Records head] David Geffen when I walked onstage and he was all excited about us playing with the Stones and all the people there. I just looked at him and said, 'Well, then enjoy (the show) because it's the last (damn) one.'

That was definite and that was serious. I mean, I offered to go completely broke and back on the streets, ’cos it would have cost, like, an estimated $1.5 million to cancel the shows, OK? That means Axl’s broke, OK? Except what I’ve got tied up in Guns N’ Roses’ interests or whatever. But I didn’t want to do that because I wouldn’t want the band to have to pay for me cancelling the shows. I don’t want Duff to lose his house ’cos Axl cancelled the shows. I couldn’t live with that. But at the same time I’m not gonna be a part of watching them kill each other, just killing themselves off. It’s like, it came down to like, we tried every other angle of getting our shit back together and in the end it had to be done live. You know, everybody else was pissed at me but afterwards Slash’s mom came and shook my hand and so did his brother.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

You should have seen Geffen’s face. I was, like, 15 paces behind, trying to keep up, and I’m waving my hands at Geffen, like, ‘Leave him alone! Leave him alone! Get out of the way! Don’t stop him now!’ And then Axl shut himself off and then went back to his apartment.
Yahoo Music, April 2016

Being asked if he knew what was going to happen:

Of course not! I was pissed off at him for that, too. But I can say I was pissed off with Axl for doing that because I was not one of the guys that he was talking about. I mean, I just walked into that thing. So I was furious, of course.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview in January 1990

Duff wasn't the only one who was pissed off by Axl's speech, Slash was too:

[...]I got the call that Axl wasn't going to do the gigs. His reasoning was that Steven and I were on smack. We were...but that's beside the point; we were opening for The Stones. Somehow we coerced him into doing the first show and it was a disaster. "Enjoy the show," Axl said when we took the stage, "because it's going to be our last one. There are too many of us dancing with Mr. Brownstone." I was so pissed off about that and he was so pissed at me for being a junkie that I spent the better half of the show facing my amps. Nothing was together that night, the band sounded horrible.
Slash's autobiograohy, p 277-278

If Slash had promised to clean up before the shows with The Stones, it wasn't so much that they were on smack, but that they still were on smack.

The rest of the band members also felt remorse and humiliation:

As I neared the stage I could hear the fans. As I rounded the corner, I could see the multitudes screaming their heads off. The sound of that crowd was so powerful that it actually gave me an incredible buzz. When the audience caught sight of us, they all bolted upright. It was like one giant wave of energy, intensely stimulating. We were the proud prodigy, the bastard sons of the Rolling Stones, and we killed that night. We were there to show the world that rock was alive and bigger than ever, and we succeeded in every way.

But at a time when we should have been rejoicing beyond all measure, Axl instead chose to wag his finger. He had become aware of the out-of-control partying that was happening within the band and he made a long rambling statement during the show. "If some people in this organization don't get their shit together and stop dancing with Mr. Brownstone, this is going to be the last Guns N' Roses show. Ever!"

Axl went on and on, threatening to shut us down if the runaway abuse continued. Maybe it was done for publicity, maybe out of genuine concern, I don't know, but it was way over the top. Disbanding GNR for drug abuse was like grounding a bird for flying.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 199-200

I don't think it helps by ridiculing somebody onstage in front or 50,000 people. It would probably have been much more effective talking one to one.

Then came the second night [This really happened on the first night, on October 18, Duff seems to be mistaken here]. Before we played our first note, Axl suddenly announced to the 80,000 people in attendance that "if certain people in Guns N' Roses didn't stop dancing with Mr. Brownstone," this would be our last show. The crowd became absolutely quiet. People in the audience looked at one another; they seemed confused as we were. They really had no idea what Axl was talking about. I shrank. I felt so fucking embarrassed. And I was so fucking mad that Axl felt he could do this to me. I would have been supportive if he was sufficiently pissed off at certain guys to want to confront them for what was going on - I was with him., the situation was bad. But he needed to talk about that shit in private! Not out here. Never out here. Once Axl took his concerns public, the times of being a gang - us against the world - were over. We played the rest of the show, but it was a halfhearted effort at best. Afterward, and really for the remainder of our career, we just went our separate ways. That night officially rang the bell for the end of an era of GN'R.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 158


In his biography, Duff would claim he "never told Axl how upset [he] was" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 159], yet in an interview Duff did in early 1990 he would state that he did:

But the next day we were on the phone together, and you know, it was OK, he explained his reasons for doing it. He was blowing off a lot of steam about a lot of shit. A lot of shit.

The fact that the band hadn’t gotten it together in Chicago, shit like that... But yeah, I was mad at Axl, I was pissed off. Then we got on the phone - and that’s the beauty of this band - we got on the phone the next day and really got out what was going on. That’s what happens with this band, we don’t bottle shit up. We just let it out. And sometimes it’ll happen on stage. It may not have been the right place, but it sure worked!
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview in January 1990

Another person who talked to Axl the next day was Alan Niven. He claims to have headed Axl’s apartment at 10 AM the next day and sat on the rocker’s bed, "trying to talk some sense into him" [Yahoo Music, April 2016]:

I brought a very big bag of donuts with me, and as I sat and listened and listened and listened, and as he complained about everybody and everything, I just kept feeding him donuts. Eventually, he started to get a little bit of a sugar rush, and in the throes of the sugar rush, he conceded that if I could get Slash to humiliate himself by apologizing to him live onstage, then maybe he might possibly think about doing that night’s show. So I got on the phone with Slash and said, ‘Whatever you have to do, do it. You’re gonna have to grovel. You’re going to have to bite the bullet. Just do what he says – that’s the only way we’re going to get him onstage.’ And obviously, reluctant Slash agreed to do it and, bless him, he took a bullet for everybody, and was publically humiliated onstage and apologized to Axl live onstage that night.
Yahoo Music, April 2016

In his testimony in August 1993 during Steven's trial, Axl would say that he had sent a message to Slash, through management, asking for Slash's public apology before their next show, and that it came out of concern for the band's drug use at the time, that the band was a "wreck" and that "everyone had some form of substance abuse" [Excerpt from Axl's testimony at the trial for Steven's lawsuit; August 23, 1993].

Hence, on the second night, Slash addressed the crowd before they started playing, talking about the perils of drugs but concluded "Guns N' Roses is not gonna be a band that falls apart because of it."

Axl said he wouldn’t perform unless I agreed to go up and do what he called apologize, which I refused to do. I said what I said, and he came out, and it was very warm because what I said was totally honest. It wasn’t an apology; it was sort of an explanation. No, not even that — I just opened up and said what I felt about heroin and what it does to people, who it’s killed and how wrong it is. Because that’s how I felt. But I was a junkie at the same time.

Axl then came on stage and thanked Slash before saying, "I'd like to apologize for my actions and comments last night. I just didn't want to see my friends slip away" [Los Angeles Times, October 1989].

The press wanted to know if this was only a media stunt, but "a source close to the band" stated that "There has been real tension in the band. The only thing that surprised me was that Axl went public with it. It might have been the pressure of the big engagement" [Los Angeles Times, October 1989].

This was not the first time Axl had expressed concern about his bandmates lifestyle, in November 1988 he had mentioned to Rolling Stone Magazine that he wasn't worried about the band's violent temper as long as they lived long enough to record a new album where that aggression could fuel the music:

It's cool that this tension is building up, because it's gotta find its release in the music. If we live that long.

And in August 1989 he mentioned to Rolling Stone that "I don't want to see drugs tear up this band" [Rolling Stone, August 1989]. This was just months prior to the ill-fated shows with Rolling Stones.

In 1990, Axl was asked if he had been specifically referring to Steven's heroin addiction when he made the "Mr. Brownstone" speech:

The majority of the band was at that time ["dancing with Mr. Brownstone"] - or too much alcohol or too much something. Me, I was eating too much or whatever, and just sitting on my ass too much.

In 1991, The Los Angeles Times would report that Axl had Slash specifically in mind [Los Angeles Times, July 1991], and Slash would say that "the problem that led to the Coliseum showdown" wasn't the endless months on the road in 1987 and 1988, but the days and weeks after the tour ended in September, 1988 -- when the band members didn't have each other or their crews for support [Los Angeles Times, July 1991]. In January 1992, Slash would also admit that "[Axl] got on my case because I was... killing myself" [Dayton Daily News, January 10, 1992].

Despite the heaviness of admonishing his band mates from the stage and giving them an ultimatum, Axl would look back at playing with the Rolling Stones fondly:

It was great playing with them. It was a definite dream. I mean, it was something that we told people we were going to do and people were going, “No, they broke up.” “I don’t care, we’re going to open for the Stones, you wait. We’re going to do this, I don’t know how, but we’re gonna do this.” And then, you know, I told Keith Richards that and he's like, “Well, you've made it, mate. Let me have a cigarette.”

Yet, he was not happy about their performances:

It was four embarrassing evenings. […] Because we were terrible (laughs).

Izzy was perplexed it wasn't an even bigger disaster:

How we managed to get through those gigs, I'll never know. There was so much shit down on us. Axl's mood to quit, the drug problems, the Steven problem, the whole 'One In A Million' controversy - plus I had a court date the morning after the last Stones date, at eight in the morning, for pissing in a trash can on an airplane, and I was facing six months in jail because I had a prior arrest for drug possession (later dropped). So that was a fuckin' major psycho-time.

[…] we managed to get through [the shows]. That was a weird time for me. Playing to 50,000 people with the Stones is as good as it gets, but the Monday after the last show I had to be up at 8am to meet my new probation officer. That was after I got arrested on a plane.

While Slash would have to admit never meeting the guys in The Rolling Stones due to being strung out on smack:

I never met them. The reason I didn't meet the Stones, one was that I was high out of my gourd - that was during my real wasted days, and basically when you are high like that you don't care who it was; nothing was more important that getting on with what I had to get on with. The other thing was to meet the Stones - there was so much like putting Guns N' Roses up against the Stones, and every time you would be in the same room there would be 50 paparazzi guys taking pictures: Slash and Keith Richards, that whole big generation rock band bad boys bullshit. Basically I wanted to meet them on a more personable level, so I never made any efforts to meet them at all, and when the band did a photo with them I just didn't show up.

We played with the Stones, and I didn’t even meet the Stones when we played with them. If you ever see a picture of Guns and the Stones, I’m the only guy missing, because I was too busy in the limo (laughs).

But also because he hated the inevitable comparisons between Guns N' Roses and the Rolling Stones:

[Being compared to the Stones]: Those kind of labels hit us all the time. That's one reason why, when we played with the Stones, I never took a picture with them or even made an effort to meet them. I'd love to meet them, but not on that level. There were so many paparazzi around. You know the theme: bad boy band of one era meets the new model? Screw that!

And because he was "humble":

We toured with the Stones for three weeks. If you ever see pictures of G&R and the Stones together, I wasn’t in them. Why? I was very humbled by the Stones.


In hindsight, Slash and Duff would point out how important it had been for the band to come together again and the importance of Axl's speech and ultimatum:

[Being asked if the speech pushed Slash and Izzy into sobriety]: Yeah. Slash definitely, he’s really fuckin’ happening right now. Izzy and Steven too... I think, I hope. I mean, we don’t know what the fuck’s going on. We don’t! Axl will tell you the same. I don’t know what the fuck's going happen in the next five minutes in my head! But in this band I consider myself pretty stable
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview in January 1990

Yeah, it started at the Stones shows. That was the first time we'd played since the 'Appetite For Destruction' tour ended. The band had gotten so alienated and even as individuals we'd completely separated. And, even though I was going through my little chemical problem at the time, the idea of doing the Stones' gigs was to get the band back together and get the ball rolling again. Because we were losing touch with not only ourselves but with what we were supposed to be doing and what Guns n' Roses was all about. So we went and we did the Stones' gigs and that's where it started.

[…] the drugs almost broke us as a band. If we hadn't done the gigs with Rolling Stones the fall of 1989 and Axl publicly confronted us with the problems, the band probably wouldn't be around today. He was really concerned and couldn't reach to us others and make us understand how serious it was. But it finally happened.

Yet, in another interview likely conducted in late 1993, Slash would claim it had no influence on his decision to sober up:

That whole situation was really not that big a deal. It wasn’t what really made me clean up, because I was the one who booked those f**kin’ shows!

Slash would later say this was the only argument between him and Axl that went public:

The only argument that ever went public between Axl and I was during the whole heroin time when we played with The Stones. […] That went heavily public and became the representation of our relationship from then on.


In 1997 there would be rumours that The Rolling Stones again wanted Guns N' Roses to open for them at their Dodger Stadium concert on November 9 [News Pilot, October 24, 1997]. The stipulation was that this would be the '92-'4 lineup of the band [News Pilot, October 24, 1997]. Nothing came of it, and if it is even true it is unlikely Axl would be interesting in reverting to a lineup he had just left.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:44 pm


As the band members grew apart in 1989, not living together, not writing together, everybody in their own world of drugs, anxiety, and mental issues, they stopped talking to each other. When they lived together, even a band of strong individuals, would be forced to communicate, to share, and talk things out.

Instead resentment grew and festered. Instead of confronting Axl with his lateness and his growing megalomania, the band fled into bottles and syringes. Instead of confronting Steven and Slash with increasing drug use that started to affect the band, Izzy distanced himself and Axl became more convinced he was the only one that could hold the band together. And instead of confronting Duff and Slash with avoiding him, Steven would keep quiet and to himself.

Instead of confronting them and flushing out whatever the hell it was that seemed to be getting worse, I let the drugs take me into a dark valley of despair, where I could wallow in my own self-pity [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 191].
We were never any good with communication, especially when that meant confrontation. If we could have developed those skills then, the story of GN'R might have been very different [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 156].
For the most part, Axl had been ignoring me during this period. But that was my fault too. I never took the initiative to talk with him and find out what was simmering in that brain pan of his. I wish I had insisted on making the time to sit him down and sort things out to clear the air [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 191].
These problems would ebb and flow, but steadily grow. What broke the band apart can always be discussed and there were many factors, but a lot could possibly have been solved if the band had just communicated directly, honestly and with care.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:48 pm



As mentioned in a previous chapter, there are things that suggest that Slash was supposed to have cleaned up before the shows with Rolling Stones in October 1989, and that his failure to do so led to Axl's emotional outburst from the stage.

Regardless, after the shows with The Stones, Slash promised to clean up and to do that he went to a golf resort in Phoenix, Arizona:

Of course I took 10 grams of coke with me. I'd be telling the limo driver to stop at a restaurant to get me a silverware set and he'd come back with a knife and a fork. I'd be like, 'No, the complete set'....

During his stay at the golf resort the amount of coke he was doing made him see hallucinations. According to Musician, 1990, he "imagined a knock on the door and men with guns" and "destroyed the glass in his shower room, attacked a maid, ran out-side bloodied and naked". He almost had to go to prison because of this incident [Houston Chronicle, April 12, 1992], but with a little help from his friends, he avoided it [Musician, December 1990].

Slash would later recall this incident as a "really gnarly, violent experience" [Dayton Daily News, January 10, 1992], and:

The lowest I went was a little fucking episode in Phoenix, where I flipped out on coke, destroyed a hotel room and was all bloody, running around the hotel naked and shit. Some people tried to press charges, and the cops and paramedics came, but fortunately I lied my way out of it.

You know, I went through enough bad times. Almost, actually, at one point there was the possibility of going to prison. […] And that was, like, harsh, and then I was really racked up, you know? I was in Phoenix, which is a bad place to go to jail.

And it is likely this incident he refers to in the following quote:

The last time I get strung out I almost went to prison and I had all kinds of major issues. I was really far gone, and I took it to a point where I'm lucky to be here, right?

When he returned to Los Angeles after his failed cleaning-up in Phoenix, an intervention greeted him:

And then we got out of [the legal issue in Phoenix] and I went to L.A., and there was this whole welcoming committee there: my mom, the hypocritical Steven Adler – […] And all these people, Alan Niven, Duff - you know, I walk in this room –[…] there was a whole bunch of them.

They then put Slash in rehab, against his will:

They put me in rehab way against my will, so I went for three days and I saw some people that were really screwed up. […] They brainwash you in rehab. I’m sorry, I’m not an advocate of going to rehab. They put you in these groups and the next thing you know, one guys goes in for one thing and they find out that he’s got – or they introduce all these other illnesses that he didn’t know he had.

I was forced into rehab once when I was going through a very big needle phase. Three days. And I saw what that was all about, and looked in the Yellow Pages and got a car and got myself out of there. I said, I'm not this fucked up! I mean, I know when I'm doing something.

Slash lasted three days, then left for Hawaii to clean up on his own [Musician, December 1990; Los Angeles Times, July 1991]:

They tried to put me into rehab, but I left in three days. I was real pissed off and came back home, got loaded, then went to Hawaii and cleaned up. I’ve been clean ever since.

They tried to put me in a rehabilitation institute, and I lasted about three days. So I split and cleaned up on my own. I just locked myself up in a hotel room in Hawaii ... and cleaned myself up.

About why he cleaned up:

It's a long story. I don't wanna talk about it. I just went away and I did it on my own and I've been clean ever since. I just stopped being excessive to the extent where it was really harmful. I mean, it was financially just ridiculous […].

I just got sick of taking heroin. I am a very addictive person and I got to the hilt. I finally realised my first priority was the band and the drugs were detrimental to my career and I said, ‘OK, I’ve had my fair share of ODs, let's kick it’, which I did.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when Slash managed to get clean, but end of 1989 or early 1990 seems likely.

He would later describe the failed forced rehab:

Everybody else told me, “Dude, you gotta do something.” So they tried to put me in rehab, and I’m not the type for rehabs – you know, I fix it myself. So I went there for three days, and escaped, and took off and cleaned up my own house. I’ve been clean since. It’s one of those things where, when you’re on tour, the sex and drugs element becomes sort of like your way of making yourself feel like you’re having a good time. When you’re working 24 hours a day, travelling constantly with no real control over reality, except for the two hours that you spend on stage, the rest of it is a nightmare. So you end up chasing women and getting stoned a lot.

He would also say that the reason he finally cleaned up was that he almost went to prison [Melody Maker, August 10, 1991; The Liverpool Echo, June 8, 1992], likely talking above the aforementioned incident in Phoenix.

Talking about the process of cleaning up:

I had a pretty bad habit, so kicking was always rough. The physical part of it is bad enough, but the anxiety part is the worst. But I don’t see why the subject of kicking dope is such a big deal. It’s personal, really. It’s like asking how I go to the bathroom or what do I wash first when I take a shower. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think it’s anybody’s business. I don’t want to be another Keith Richards. His whole history with drugs has been so heavily publicized, and he’s spoken so candidly about it when he was fucked up because he thought it was cool, I guess. What happens is those stories never go away…It’s a very sensitive subject. But it’s a subject that you don’t try and put across to how many millions of people who read this magazine who don’t do it or haven’t been through it. It’s like one of probably the most disastrous things that a human being can go through. It’s like sitting on your deathbed all the time.

The quote above implies he cleaned up more than once, and we know he also cleaned up in 1987 before the release of 'Appetite' and the band went on tour [Melody Maker, August 10, 1991].

Slash would also say that he cleaned up because the band was "falling apart" [Rolling Stone, January 1991], giving credence to the seriousness of Axl's "Mr Brownstone" speech. When asked, Axl would also agree that his speech had helped push Slash towards sobriety:

It way worked, man! ’Cos Slash is fuckin’ on like a motherfucker right now.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

The following Christmas Slash spent with his girlfriend at the time and her family, and this provided some stability and normality to his newfound sober life [Musician, December 1990]. This, together with Axl's quote from January 1990, would indicate that Slash got sober before the Christmas of 1989. Yet, the Izzy quote from VOX above, could indicate that he was still using in early 1990. Maybe he had a relapse? In an article about Slash from July 1992 it is claimed he had been clean from heroin for three years, indicating he sobered up already in mid-1989, but this is clearly not correct - either Slash implied he had sobered up earlier than he did, or the journalist got it wrong [The Washington Post, July 18, 1992].

By the end of 1990 Slash claimed to still be sober and was hoping to remain so:

But at this point it's not something I'm worrying about. Even though I didn't go through any counseling, I think I understand where it all stemmed from and how it could happen again. If it did happen it would have to be a different reason. To go from nowhere to here was such a huge mind trip; now that it's happened and we've managed to keep it together, I don't think we'll go through that kind of shock again.

He would claim to have reduced the drinking, too:

I haven’t been drinking that hard if I can help it. I still get overly drunk sometimes and have a good time, and it doesn’t bother me. It’s sort of a pain in the ass the next morning, though. But I still have my little quirks and insecurities where I go to a bottle rather than just being sober and dealing with it. I still have those little problems, which are part of a pattern, I guess. But then I haven’t been as depressed as I was. Usually if I’m drinking too much, it’s for a reason. Boredom is my worst enemy, and I get bored really easily. In the history of this band, as long as we were out playing, I never had a problem of any kind. When we’re rehearsing or recording or onstage, there’s not really that much drinking going on, nor am I concerned about it. I’ll have a cocktail when I’m home or whatever, but it’s as simple as that.

Before the 'Use Your Illusion' touring in 1991, Slash would look back at his drug problems in the two previous years:

[After the touring in 1988] I moved into an apartment, the cheapest apartment I could find off of Sunset Boulevard - that's how demented I am, right? - and we just used to party all the time and have amps all about the place and I'd write songs and Duff would come over and every so often Axl would come over and we'd write together. But it was such a long period. And I got so wrapped up in dope and coke and all the fucking scum that goes along with it that finally it just got out of hand. So I cleaned up and bought a house. Then I sat in the house for a while and hated it. I'd lay in bed and stare at the ceiling. There was nothing to do. And then I got back into it and got strung out in a serious way, where everybody was really worried and I had some close run-ins with the police. But then the Stones gigs came around - which I really wanted to do to bring the band back together; that's why after the Stones gigs (and Axl's onstage ultimatum) I went and cleaned up - and then it was Steven's turn.


With the drugs thing, we still drink, do this and that, but within a reason. I couldn't be here right now talking to you if I was completely loaded. I might be tired, I'm not fried (laughs). So there's a point that it just gets old. Either it takes you over or you get over with it.


I've never been strung out on tour ever.

In July 1996, an obviously inebriated Slash would participate on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" talkshow and talk about drugs:

We come from more or less like, where I was born from was in the 60s which drugs didn't seem threatening, they didn't seem... the only conflict of interest in drugs was with the law and that sort of helped feed and you know, alright, this help feed the anarchy that was anything towards, you know, authority…[…]  The way it was put to me was, "is there any future in an anti-drug rock-and-roll thing," and I don't think there's any feature in an anti-drug anything. […] It's in sports, it's in politics, it's a music, and I'm talking about jazz, I'm talking very classical -- wait, wait, let me finish -- it's in the theater, it is in the arts, it's in arts & crafts for christ's sake. You've got people stoned doing tiles. And in rock and roll... I don't see it leaving. It's been around for so long. I'm talking about the history of the human race, it's been it for so long. It's how you deal with it and, you know, the 90s is a certain kind of -- I'm not ready to budge…[…] All right, anyway, okay, I am not pointing at you, you know, but everybody in the entertainment industry has had some sort of background with drugs whether you could survive... [protests from the rest of the panel] Okay, okay, 90 %. In the in the 31 years I've been around, okay, everybody I've noticed…

The same month, Duff would be featured on the Howard Stern Show where they would talk about Slash still partying, to which Duff would respond:

Slash is Slash. I mean, he's like made out of iron.


At some point in 1989 Izzy had enough. He obtained Valium and codeine from a doctor to taper off and drove with his brother to Indiana to clean up [Musician, November 1992].

In 1989, I started to clean up. It was a home detox.

F**k, one day I was sitting in my apartment, f**ked out of my head, and I go, 'Man, I gotta step back to some reality'. […] I think going back to Indiana woke me up from my haze, point blank. I was still drinking a lot, still getting twisted, but it helped me get away from the drugs and that sorta bullshit lifestyle; every night the clubs and the parties and the drugs, just pointless stuff. That shit got old. […] I managed to stop drinking and using drugs for a month or two, and you get all this anxiety, this energy, which you don't know what to do with. I put some of the energy into bikes, skateboarding.

I got to the point where we finished touring and came back and we were very successful. I was in my apartment and nothing seemed to be going right and I knew I just had to fuck off and go back to Indiana. I can't say [becoming sober] was easy. It was just a continious process from day to day. […] I think drugs have always been around and they always will be around. I don't know what to think of it really. I know, for me personally, it doesn't work.

I kicked at my mom's place. I probably weighed about 115 pounds. I was obviously very sick and she let me stay there. That was a pretty traumatic experience, kicking in the house I grew up in. Lying there thinking, `I fucked up somewhere. What was it? What brought me back here?'

The hardest thing about kicking coke is the f**king anxiety. It lasted for what seemed like an eternity. I remember two weeks when I really didn't sleep, and it takes months for your body to begin functioning naturally again. I had a harder time with coke than smack. I kicked smack but would keep starting up again, and the times I'd go cold turkey with no sort of medication; that's bad, but you can get through it. The coke I found even more evil, a real f**ker. […] I'll be getting strip-searched at Heathrow if you print this! [chuckles]. […] Coke is more socially accepted than smack, but I haven't been around it for a long time. I haven't even been around any people using it, cos as soon as you stop using that stuff, you suddenly start looking differently at the people you hang out with. […] For years, I never knew any other way to live. I suppose when you're a kid you do, but as you start f**king around with that stuff, it seems normal. I feel better not using it; it f**ks me up. […] There was a point in LA where I wouldn't go outside without a gun. I was carrying a pistol all the time, and eventually I think that works on you too. It's f**ked, it's no way to live, and when I realised, I said, 'I gotta get outta here before it gets too f**kin' crazy.'

It got to the point where it was just fuckin' me up. Kicking it all was a slow process, it didn't just happen overnight. Rather than kicking smack medically I chose to go cold turkey - and man, that's a hard thing to go through. It took a month or more and, like they say, it's a day to day thing. I can't say, 'Okay, I'm not gonna do that again.' It took weeks before I could stay straight for more than a few days. First it was a month, then two months and then it got a little easier, but it's an ongoing thing where you gotta remind yourself how tucked you felt before.

The thing is, dependency didn't slow my output but it sure affected what was comin' out, man! Even when I was fucked up beyond belief I was writing lots of music, but now when I go back and listen to it I go, 'Oh man, that's dark, that's black, that's grim!' A lot of it I just can't listen to now. It was a state of mind I was in and I don't wanna be reminded of it.

Axl would indicate that it was an overdose in New York that was the final straw for Izzy:

When Izzy woke up in New York with EKG pads all over his body and doesn't know how they got there, and knows, 'I think I OD'd last night and made it back home' - that was pretty much it. Before that he was pulling away, but that was the end.
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999

In October 1992, Izzy would say that he went to Indiana "shortly after" the Rolling Stones shows in October 1989, indicating that he started to sober up in late 1989.

But in early 1993, he would say that he quit drugs before his peeing incident which took place on August 27:

I didn’t go to any rehabilitation center. I went cold turkey. But once I got off drugs, I thought I could still drink, though I then screwed up in an airplane and got very drunk and got arrested.

This indicates that he quit drugs before September 1989, or perhaps that he had more than one trip to Indiana to clean up. He also bought a house in Lafayette in 1988 to escape the drug scene of Los Angeles [see previous chapter].

[The drugs] were doing me in. I felt like shit all the time. I went to somewhere I knew I couldn't score [=Indiana], I had some Codeine with me and a few Valium to take the edge off, and I basically sweated it out. I made it through the 72-hour period, but then I started drinking like a fish. I gave that up as well a couple of months later. I've been told that alcohol's no good for American-lndian blood, which I've got in me. Alcohol really does f*** me up. It makes me crazy. I become impossible to deal with.

[...] I knew that I couldn't afford to f*** up any more. I'd used up all my 'Get Out Of Jail Free' cards. […] I didn't miss using drugs. I'd been used to living with them. But I'd gone through many problems in my life trying to stop, and when I started learning how to get along without them, I felt glad to be free of all the bullshit that went along with it - the scoring, the rip-offs, the bad drugs, the day-to-day hassle.

I never was a good drinker. At 16, like a lot of kids, I’d hang out at a liquor store trying to get older guys to buy for me. Then later that night, I’d end up vomiting face down somewhere.

Axl would later talk about the absurdity of Izzy returning back to Indiana:

Izzy went back to Indiana. That pretty much explains the absurdity of the whole goddamn thing. The fucking idea of going back to Indiana - I am not even bagging on Indiana - I just know how much Izzy hated it. I went to high school with this guy. It's pitiful. It was the fame of the heroin addiction and the fear of death.
Rolling Stone, January 2000; interview from November 1999

Izzy's last drink was allegedly taken in the company of Keith Richards and Ron Wood [Rolling Stone, September 1991], around December 19, 1989, when Axl and Izzy played with the Stones in Atlantic City, New Jersey [VOX, October 1991]. Yet, in a later interview he would claim he was almost cleaned up from everything around March/April 1990 [Rock & Folk, September 1992], indicating that he either cut alcohol before some other substances (which is contradicted by another statement where he says he quit alcohol last [Melody Maker, October 10, 1992]) or that he did continue drinking after the appearance with the Stones.

In March 1993, Slash would say that he and Izzy "sort of quit at the same time, give or take a month" [Calgary Herald/The Hamilton Spectator, March 21, 1993]. Under Duff's testimony in the Adler vs GN'R trial in August 1993, he would say "several band members" "cleaned up" after the Rolling Stones shows [L.A. Daily News, August 24, 1993].

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