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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:59 am

NOVEMBER 24-29, 1987

After the November 22 show in Atlanta, the band played another five shows on the Motley Crue tour.

The last show of the tour took place at the Sportarium in Hollywood, Florida, on November 29, 1987. As customary, the headliners decided to prank the opener band:

We had one bomb explode on us once. And we didn't even do it! The guys in Mötley Crüe when we toured with them. Scared the shit [interrupted]. It was the first song [interrupted]. 'It's So Easy', and it comes in goes "bom-cha-bom-bom-cha-BOOOOM!" and I watched everybody in the band, standing in front, in one leap they were all behind me.

Scared the shit out of me, too! […] It was sick. It was the last show. They did it as a joke to us.

Presumably, later that very evening, Slash and Nikki Sixx visited the Rainbow club in Los Angeles for some post-tour partying. Sixx overdosed and was wheeled out of the Rainbow on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital where for a period of six hours doctors feared for his life [Hit Parader, November 1988].

According to Izzy, they should also have continued touring with Motley in Europe after the US tour, but this was cancelled when the guys in Motley had to "go into detox" [The Face, October 1987]. This was likely due to Sixx' overdose. This planned European tour with Motley is mentioned in other contemporary sources, and was planned to extend into 1988 [Interview with Steven Harris, December 1987; Rock City News, January 1988].

Obviously, this was a very raucous period for the band and the match between Guns and Motley was explosive:

These guys are nuts. I mean, they keep me hopping, all the time. I'm getting about two hours sleep a-night. […] They are the craziest guys I ever worked for. […] I have to make sure that I always have enough alcohol. It doesn't matter if it's 8 am or when.

That was the craziest tour we'd ever been on.

One incident happened when Slash and Nikki Sixx were wrestling, resulting in neck injury for Slash:

When I was on tour with Motley Crue, Nikki Sixx fell on me when we were wrestling one night when we were drunk, and dislocated through the vertebras in my neck, and I had to go onstage – I had to go to chiropractors every day and stuff. I was in serious agony, I couldn’t move on stage. It was like, I just had to stand there..

Another incident was when the Motley guys fooled Steven into sniffing washing powder:

Talkin' of sick. Y'now Motley Crue? Sick fuckin' guys, man! Real sick fucks, those guys! […] You wouldn't have believed these guys. Like they're doin' an ounce of cocaine each a fuckin' day. These guys are walkin' into fuckin' walls, man. And they're doing this shit... Y'know, havin' this chick tied to the bed and stuff. And they tried to get us into that shit too, just to fuck us up, right. Which is what happened. I mean, can you believe... These guys gave fuckin' Stevie fuckin' Ajax to snort all fuckin' night. Fucked him up. You don't pull that kinda shit on another musician!

But all in all, the band was happy about the tour and their increased popularity:

And then we went out with Mötley and that was that was pretty insane, you know, 'cause like any night that we did two nights in a row, the first night, you know, we got them going, but if we did two nights in a row when we came back to the second night they were like, "Whoa, now we know who these guys are. The first time people see us, a lot of times unless they've really heard us and are into us, they are more into watching and checking us out and watching every little thing. But by the time you do a second night they lose their minds. They're like, "Yeah, now I can let myself go. It's it's cool to act like I like these guys."

Then we went out with Motley Crue, which was great. I mean, playing 15,000 seaters and stuff with bands like ourselves just fresh out of the clubs. It went over real well.

I had tonsillitis the whole two weeks of the tour. It was a real bitch just getting on stage, one of the hardest things I've ever done. But the guys [in Motley] were great. Every night they were on the side watching our show. We did the same with them. They gave us 50 minutes, we'd go to 52 or 53 and it was cool.

[Reminiscing about walking around at the arenas when they were opening for Crue] and just freaking - our little band as a part of this huge, major thing.

In June 1988, Axl would list some of his favorite musician to be Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee [Metal Edge, June 1988].

There were many similarities between Guns N' Roses and Mötley Crüe, something Sixx would acknowledge:

We've had our influences, and Guns N' Roses have theirs. We've toured together, and hung out together, and I think we call each other friends. That's cool. I don't see them as competition to us because we're all working towards the same goal - to play rock and roll for the kids out there. They're going through some of the things that we went through five or six years ago, and they're having a great time. More power to 'em. Bands like Guns N' Roses are what rock and roll are all about in my book.
Hit Parader, November 1988

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:04 am

DECEMBER 3-17, 1987

The Mötley Crue tour ended after Nikki Sixx' overdose on November 29, and the band, who had planned to continue touring with Motley in Europe [The Face, October 1989] was without a job. Fortunately, the band got a call from Alice Cooper asking them to open for him for two weeks in December (December 3-19, 1987) [The Face, October 1989].

We said, 'Alice Cooper... Fuckin' A!' Hey, I grew up listening to y'know "Sick Things", "I Love the Dead". It was a lot better than fuckin' reality. So we did 'em. Alice was cool. He's still... Y'know... "Alice".

Opening for Alice Cooper was monumental because me and Izzy, it's funny, we leave Alice Cooper onstage and go backstage to get our showers and have an old Alice Cooper taped in, you know, in the deck playing, and not because we were on tour with Alice Coopers but because it's stuff we listen to. And I go, "Wait a minute man, we'll shut the tape off and go out and watch it live for the first time in our lives."

We did a tour of a stage with Alice Cooper, and he just really likes the band. And it was a huge compliment to have someone like Alice Cooper actually have any kind of respect for us, only because we've loved Alice Cooper for so long. So when he said that he liked the band, we were like, "fucking great!", you know?

Alice Cooper would reminisce about taking them on tour, but here he probably mixes up shows, because the Rolling Stones shows at the Coliseum took place in 1989, well before Guns N' Roses opened for Alice Cooper in 1987:

It was backstage at the Rolling Stones show at the LA Coliseum during the Steel Wheels tour. Axl found me and said, "You have to do me a huge favor. My mom is here. Could I please introduce you to my mom?' I came over and he says, 'Hey mom, remember that time back in 1974 when Alice Cooper was on TV and you wouldn't let me watch it? Well, guess who I'm friends with now?' And I was very charming. She was a lovely lady. I said, 'Don't worry, I'll take care of Axl on the road.' I've been sweet revenge to a lot of people. I've met so many mothers. Even better when somebody comes up and says, 'Hey, dad, this is Alice Cooper. He can beat you at golf.'

The first show took place at La Villa Real Special Events Center in McAllen, TX, USA, on December 3, 1987. While touring in South America in late 1992, Axl would mention how Mexico is one of his favorite states to tour in and that the McAllen show in 1987 was particularly good due to all the Mexicans attending:

We did a show in McAllen, Texas when we were opening for Alice Cooper, and there was 5,000 people and the majority was Mexican. It was one the most exciting crowds we’ve played to.

The band then went to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Midland (this show was likely cancelled due to too few tickets sold [Odessa American, Dec. 8, 1987], Cape Girardeu (?), and Louiseville.

Alice Cooper would look back at the shows:

They had a reputation for fighting and getting in trouble and getting thrown in jail but they were never late for a show. Never late for a soundcheck. They had a lot of respect for us. Slash knew every Alice Cooper song. He was the invisible member of Alice Cooper. He's still got an invitation at all times to come up and play guitar, whenever he's in town...without asking. Sometimes I'll be playing and singing and I'll hear this extra guitar and I'll turn around and it'll be Slash.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:10 am

DECEMBER 18-19, 1987

During the tour with Alice Cooper as the band was about to travel to Chicago for their UIC Pavilion show on December 18, 1987, Steven broke a finger in his hand, according to Izzy after having got in some trouble at a Holiday Inn.

I’ll explain to you very basically what happened with my hand. I went to this bar in Michigan for lunch, and I had 14 Kamikaze’s (7 but they were doubles). Anyway, I got drunk, got a little out of hand, got into this fight with the manager, no, what do they call them? [...] Lumberjacks. This big old dude just pushed me around, tossed me out of the door of the bar. There was this lamppost outside, I got mad, punched it, kinda missed and hit the metal part. I wasn’t the nicest guy in the universe after that.

He drank 7 double kamikazis and punched a lightpost outside the bar.

Izzy would mention that it was connected to Alice Cooper's father passing away:

Anyway, after like a week Alice's old man died or somethin', a gig was canceled and we got, like, really slaughtered in a Holiday Inn like somewhere in West Michigan. And it's snowing, right, fuckin' Stevie's fucked up, he goes and punches out a fuckin' electric light bulb in the fuckin' street, man. His hand's fuckin' swellin' up like an egg and he's on the bus cryin' and shit. We're goin', 'Shut the fuck up!' This shit tends to use up an awful fuckin' lot of our time.

And the rumours in the newspapers had it that Steven was frustrated with having to be longer on the road due to logistic surrounding the death of Cooper's father [L.A. Weekly, December 25, 1987].

Apparently, Steven was so messed up Slash and Duff had to drag him away across the street, resulting in wounds to his back. Doug Goldstein then took him to the hospital [Late Night Bull, December 1987]. To step in for Steven, the band used Fred Coury, the drummer in Cinderella:

Right now we're using Fred Coury from Cinderella because our drummer has a broken hand, and so him and Fred are really good friends and Fred flew in and Fred knows all the songs because he has time off right now. And so the other night we were playing with Alice Cooper and Fred played two songs he'd never played before all his life live. [...] He did great, he did great [?]. I told the crowd, "Not bad for a guy who's never played the song before, huh?" and they went screaming.

So, we were up in the northern part of the country a maple of months ago and we met the likes of this character right here (points to Fred). He came to a few of our shows. You know, he told us that he practiced to our album. Drummers do that, Steve practices to Frankie Vallie and Fred practices to our album. We thought, Stevie broke his hand but we’re obligated to finish this tour. We’re obligated to a lot of things actually. So we called Fred Coury and he was gracious enough to come out and do this for us.

Fred’s really cool, and he came and filled in at the last minute, and he knew all the songs and he really saved our necks.

That was very strange. Freddy is a great drummer, but every drummer has a different feel, and even if he's playing exactly what Stevie's doing on the record, it's not the same. You know, I was a drummer before I played bass, and that gave me more insight into working with a drummer, because you know what's going on inside his head. So it creates a much better groove because we can talk to each other. Most drummers are odd things to begin with, and usually the band can't understand what he's saying. But me and Stevie are real tight, so I did not enjoy playing with a different drummer.

Coury would claim to be paid $ 25,000 per show [Late Night Bull, December 1987]. In August 2018, Coury would describe how he became the stand-in for Steven:

I got a call on my answering machine that simply said “learn the song on your outgoing message, I’ll call back in an hour”. (I had Welcome To The Jungle on my machine) it was GNR’s manager. 3 hrs later I was on a flight to Minneapolis to play a show that night with them. Steven had broken his hand and they asked me to fill in for the remainder of the tour.
Thunder Bay Arena Rock, August 2018

Interestingly, Slash would admit to having broken his hand, too, some time before Steven's incident, in Seattle and having to wear a cast for eight weeks [Late Night Bull, December 1987].

The band would be doing the final two shows on their tour with Alice Cooper, with Coury on drums.

The band would remember the shows with Alice Cooper this way:

We were the epitome of Red Dog surviving on the road. Plus we had to play in the corner of the stage because Alice’s stage set was so large.

Everybody in the band on the Alice Cooper tour was really cool to us, they dug it. They’d be walking down the halls going, “Welcome to the Jungle”, you know. And we hung out with Alice and was like, you know, this is a great band and stuff, and we did photos with him.

The last night of the tour he was getting off the stage, and me and Axl were hanging out on the side, and he goes by and says, “Hey man, thanks for everything.”

With Alice [Cooper] we had to be a strict 45 [minutes' set]. Alice has still got it, and he's a really nice person. We didn't meet him until the next-to-last show. He likes his privacy.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:14 am

DECEMBER 18, 1987

Their first show with Fred Coury replacing Steven was at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on December 18, 1987. Before the show, the band got in a major brawl at their hotel.

Rolling Stone Magazine would describe what happened:

[…] the band members got hassled when they tried to check into the hotel early. A fight was narrowly averted. Later that night, in the hotel bar, Axl punched a business man who hassled his friends and called the singer a "Bon Jovi look-alike." Dozens of cops broke up the brawl, and Axl and Steven went to jail.

This story is corroborated by Monica Gregory, an old friend of Axl whose ex-husband, Dana, was with Axl at the time:

[…] for very little reason, these guys started hassling them: 'Who do you think you are? Bon Jovi?' It was like: 'No, leave me alone'. The guys with the ties and short hair were yelling obscenities at Axl and Dana 'cause they got long hair. All the cops came in and basically beat the crap outta Axl.....Just because.

Steven would later prefer to not say too much about this incident:

I went to jail in Chicago once. We got into this big fight, a major fight in the bar of a hotel. But I better not say anything else about that

Axl would later talk about the incident:

We got in a fight in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency. It was about a 60 person fight, cops and paddy wagons, security guards, guys in suits from a wedding who started throwing the first punches. They told us they knew it wasn't our fault.

Rolling Stone would describe what happened later at night:

Afterward, Goldstein found Slash drunk in the bar, threw the guitarist over his shoulder and carried him back to his room. To show his thanks, Slash peed on Goldstein's shoulder.

From the stage in Madison the next day, Axl would say he got in a fight because he had long hair and that one guy grabbed him and told him he looked like Bon Jovi, causing him to utter the now famous "Bon Jovi can suck my dick":

Now last night, what happened was, five guys in suits decided in the Hyatt Regency Hotel that we were scumbags. They were right, we are scumbags, But that doesn't mean we're gonna take their shit. So, first off this guy grabs me and calls me Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi can suck my dick. Second off he tried to hit me, that's when Steven cracked him in the head with his cast. [...] You never try to hit one of the family. Then another guy tried to hit me [...]. And after that they kicked us out of the bar and the same five guys holding ice bags on their heads blocked us off in the hallway and called us out away. He knocked the same motherfucker out twice. After that the cops came and started arresting people who weren't even involved in the fight! Because they have typical cop mentality. The reason I went to jail was because this real big fucking cop told this 17 year old girl who they were trying to arrest her boyfriend and she was upset, that if she didn't shut her fucking mouth he'd kick her fucking ass and that she was a stupid bitch. Pretty low, right, for a big fucker? And then he went to hit her, and so, to distract him I told him to fuck off. This guy chased me for about 20 feet and threw me ten feet [?] into the bar. I wasn't een fighting and it took 5 fucking assholes to hold me down. People wonder what we write our songs about. I think you can get the general idea when we write a song like...out to get me!.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:16 am


You get warned that when you go on the road, people will try and push drugs and booze on you. In this in­stance, we're going to push it on them.



During the 'Appetite for Destruction' touring in 1987 and 1988, the band lived out lives of sex, drugs and rock and roll. This was a period of constant touring, gigs every week, and learning from the headliners, especially Mötley Crüe, who had been on this circuit of debauchery for much longer.

One famous incident in this period was when Nikki Sixx,, bassist of Motley Crue overdosed on December 23, 1987, in a party with Slash and Steven:

So I was kicking around, getting drunk, doing drugs in Hong Kong. And the soothsayer said, "You'll die before the end of the year if you don't change your ways." Ah yeah, fuck off and whatever. So I fly home and pick up the phone and call Slash, and say, "Hey dude, I'm going to get a car, a couple bottles of Jack, and I'm coming over. And we're going out."

I came and I picked him up and we went out to the Cathouse and you know, doing everything that we could get our hands on, and I was asking around to get some smack and this guy had showed up after we had gone back to the Franklin Plaza Hotel and Slash passed out, and I think his girlfriend was stumbling around, and Steven was stumbling around out somewhere in the hallway, and I think there were some other people in the hotel they were hanging out with, and the drug dealer came, and almost always you shoot yourself up, you never let anybody shoot you up. Drug addicts are very particular about that. And I don't know why, I guess I was so drunk, I said "Go ahead and fix me" and I fuckin' turned blue instantly. Steven Adler and Slash's girlfriend at the time came around the corner and there I was turning blue and they started beating on my chest, and they sent me into the shower, and they called the paramedics, and Slash was passed out through the whole thing.

I saved Nikki's life. I dragged him into the shower and put cold water on him. I had a broken arm and I was slapping him in the face with my cast. Then I finally got Slash's stupid girlfriend to call the paramedics. Nikki called me the next day and said, "Dude, what happened? My face is killing me."

According to NME, this wouldn't be the last time Nikki Sixx was to OD while partying with a member of Guns N' Roses. As the story goes, and it might not be true at all, Slash found Sixx blue from an overdose but instead of calling for an ambulance, he called a friend who saved Sixx while Slash left to not get in any trouble himself [NME, December 25, 1999].

But compared to before they were signed, this was also a period with substantial down-time between recordings and between tours:

Yeah, I’m kind of bouncing off the walls. Getting prepared to record [Appetite] is involving a lot of time sitting around with nothing to do. And that’s time that I need to fill. It’s not just me. We all really need constant activity. We hate the dead time, sitting around waiting for something to happen.

It pretty much began when we signed with our record company. Before that we were rocking out and kicking ass all the time. Then all of the sudden we found ourselves sitting around with a lot of money, being told not to do anything, there’s only one thing you can do. Party!

When I’m at home the thing that gets to me the most is being inactive. You know, just sitting around and doing nothing. We actually had an eight-week break in Los Angeles before we started our tour.
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 1988

'The thing about being on the road constantly is that you never really have any big problems hanging over you. When you’re moving around from place to place the whole 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 it so it can start fuckin' with you again. I mean, I hate having to deal with normal day-to-day shit. It leaves no time for anything else...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

That downtime in-between activity would get the boys in trouble, and especially Slash, would become a recurring theme.


And "party" would mean lots of alcohol and drugs, something the media would love to write about.

Before the release of 'Appetite for Destruction', Slash sobered up [Melody Maker, August 10, 1991], and around the time he would claim the band was through with heroin and that it was "an old thing now":

At the moment, I'm on three bottles of Jim Beam a day. Yeah, I fucking know that's a lot. It's a heroin thing, a tapering off from that. The heroin thing in this band is an old thing now but it was bad at one time. Me and Izzy were addicts at one time, even dealing it. You'd be surprised though. We've had and have a lot of integrity. Sure, we have a very loose attitude to things but we also have a very cheeky attitude. We're not stoopid. We're smart enough to be able to put things in perspective. No denying it's a sex 'n' drugs 'n' rock 'n' roll lifestyle but we're not overblown with it.

Despite the band's transparent drug abuse, band members would occasionally, and outrageously, deny any drug addictions:

I'll put it this way, there's no chemical de­pendencies in Guns N' Roses.

There’s not really any drugs involved.

The junkie thing, the drug thing, all that shit is sort of like an easy thing for people to stab at. But the fact is, the band’s been pretty much clean for a really long time, whether you want to believe that or not.

Izzy hardly even smokes anymore! Steven doesn't have any problems in those regards and Duff and I drink.

We’re not saying we’re angels in this band, because that would be a fucking lie. But we don’t use drugs, and we really never have. When you live in a place like L.A., you get to see what cocaine does to people every day. It’s not cool.

Again, in early 1988, Slash would claim the band was through with drugs:

Like with the drugs, they've pretty much gone now and that's because we've never met a single person that took a substantial amount of drugs over a long period of time who didn't have to go into rehabilitation or who didn't go down the drain. It just leads to instability and insecurity.

The drug thing is no big deal. Two years ago, maybe it was. [...] [Being asked if it is part of the past] As far as you know.

At times there was no way of escaping the drug rumors, but the band tried to downplay the seriousness:

[…] it wasn’t even the whole band [who struggled with drugs], you know. I mean, there was a period that - like, Duff has always been really clean, as long as I’ve known him, and Axl has always been pretty cool. And we’re just like, we’re just bored kids sometimes and we get involved in stuff that people don’t necessarily, you know, relish (laughs).

I'm not saying we're angels in this group - in fact we're just the opposite. But when it comes to drugs we're pretty smart. We know how that shit can really screw you up. When you've had as much good luck as we have over the last few months, why would we want to run the risk of fucking it up?

You know, things like that gets blown way out of proportion, but uh, I mean, yeah, we probably do party a lot more than most people. But, you know, I don't see death in the imminent future here. It's a real morbid thought, you know, I wouldn't like to think that any of us are going to die.

Our drug situation's not as bad as it was. Yeah, I have been out a few times - 'blue' and all that. We used to sing 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door'; that's dedicated to my best friend Todd, who died in a hotel room in New York a while back. We'd copped some stuff and he got it right there. I tried to bring him back... and he was like my best, best friend. That really scared me. I had a habit and I finally stopped it. And every so often, I'll 'chip,' you know, just for the fun of it. But that's not something you talk about because you don't want people to think, 'He's a drug addict.'

Well, the funny thing is, you know, everybody tries to make it out to be this fucking sort of outlaw fuckin vino renegade, outlaw rock and roll band that like is constantly getting involved with like all this really bad decadent shit. And there's tons of people out there who've done way worse stuff than we have. You know, I mean, it's like none of us really, you know, like compared to, say, Sid Vicious. Right? I mean, you know, that was a guy who was way out there, you know what I mean? We're not even that bad. […] They like it, it is sensationalism, you know, and it just so happens that this particular time, you know, in this place and time that we're in right now, that we're in the middle of it, just so happens that everybody's into like bright colors and physical fitness and, you know, not doing drugs and not drinking and eating healthy and taking vitamins and all this other stuff. And everything's real, you know, techno pop and smooth and glossed over. And it's like we just happen to be the opposite of that so everybody is like, "!", you know what I mean?

Although when it came to drinking they would be much more forthcoming, and any denials would, of course, be difficult since they regularly drank, or were drunk, during interviews. Slash, for instance, would insist on being drunk before interviews due to being too "introverted" to talk sober, asking the interviewers to bring Jack Daniels [Rock Scene, September 1987].

I do have a chemical dependency. Just one. I drink. But it's all-Amer­ican. When I get thrown out of a bar I say 'How un-American!'

I don't think I'm gonna buy a car for a while, though… I'm too psychotic behind the wheel, I'd kill somebody. I lost somebody's car the other night. I borrowed a car to drive myself home from a friend's, and I was so drunk that I parked it somewhere, but I can't remember where. It's just gone, kaput! I have the keys sitting on the table in my living room, and I don't even know where it is. And the thing is, I always want to drive when I'm drunk. It doesn't really interest me as much when I'm sober. I get drunk and I want to drive fast, and I just know it's gonna get me into big trouble one day if I don't watch out… I've been through the experience once already of hitting somebody in a car… I hit a van, it was when we were recording [Appetite]. I realised pretty quickly then that one drunken night just isn't worth years in jail, or being responsible for somebody else's misery…

We don’t do drugs - but we do drink a lot.

[After having ordered his fourth vodka double during the interview]: This sounds sort of childish, but I have to drink a certain amount before we go onstage or I'm awkward and I can't play right. Otherwise I'm too jittery. But a lot of people see me hanging around clubs drunk off my ass, and they think that's all we're about. We get this image for being irresponsible punks who don't care about anything. Well, we are sort of like that, but we don't do it on purpose, we're just being young! I think the Stones were like that.

Axl would be more forthcoming and indicate that Izzy and Slash had a serious heroin problem in late 1986, and indicate it wasn't over in 1987:

It happens lots of times and we kind of kick each others ass. 'Put the bottle down or l' m gonna put it over your head!' It's come down to that. It came down to that with heroin about a year ago. Izzy and Slash were way into it and everybody else was dabbling. It came down to this shit has to go or we might as well just stop right here.

Axl would echo this sentiment in mid-1988:

I think we keep [the drug use] under control because we all want what we’re doing. It does get out of hand sometimes – but then the guy who’s getting out of hand all of a sudden has the other four guys coming down on his ass.


When describing his new apartment and domestic life, Slash would happily comment on Izzy being drunk:

Except the vodka - that goes in the freezer. Until Izzy comes round... Izzy’s classic when he gets drunk. Me, when I get drunk I fall over, I puke, I do whatever is stupid. Izzy is like one of those drunks you see in the movies. He’s so entertaining, he’s so un-Izzy...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

At some point in 1988, Izzy got in a scuffle with Vince Neil's wife at a party. According to Izzy, he had her ejected from a private room at a local rock club; but according to Neil, Izzy had attempted to remove Neil's wife's clothing and later kicked her in the stomach. Neil's wife pressed assault charges against Izzy, but they were dropped. In September 1989, Neil would try to get his revenge when he would attack Izzy at MTV Music Video Awards [Los Angeles Times, September 1989].

Izzy also got in trouble at the very end of 1988 when the band headed to Japan for some gigs. Alan Niven told the band to get rid of any drugs they had, resulting in Izzy swallowing his stash and allegedly sending him into a 36-hour coma.


As mentioned above, Slash had cleaned up before the release of 'Appetite, and he also cleaned up before the start of the tour in 1987 [Detroit Free Press, May 6, 1988; Melody Maker, August 10, 1991].

It just caught up with me. You can’t sustain a drug habit and keep doing good work.

[…] there would be no Guns N’ Roses right now if I hadn’t stopped and Izzy hadn’t stopped. […]Drugs in general but, like, heroin, too. That is one of the things that has fucked up so many people. It really has fucked up a lot of people. So you have to quit. But look at Clapton, he was really lucky, he did some good albums on it. The same with Aerosmith. They all did some great albums. If Keith had a fuckin’ buzz he’d probably still be doing it...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

But early in 1988 he was back at it again. Again, it was the period between activity that got to him. The band spent most of January 1988 in Los Angeles because a tour with Motley Crue fell through, and Slash did not handle the idleness very well:

We just spent a month in L.A. that I really thought was going to be the end of me. I have to keep moving because it isn't healthy for me to stop.

I haven’t mellowed at all. I’ve actually – that’s sort of my trademark, having not mellowed out so far. But it’s been obviously doing irreparable harm (laughs), just haven’t noticed it yet. You know, I’m thinking what a hard day I had yesterday, because I can’t get off the floor over there, right? But it’s life, you know. This is what rock ‘n’ roll to me was all about, you know? I wouldn’t give it up for anything. If it cuts my life, like, a little bit shorter and all that stuff, it’s alright, because I had a good time when I was here, you know? I had a lot better time than a lot of kids I know who’ll be here for the next 60 years or whatever.

I can't live comfortably any other way [other than when touring]. I’m a lot happier when we are going from city to city and I don’t have to feel attached to anything. Being off the road is probably the worst time for me. I like living out of one bag, knowing where my stuff is, and not having to deal with the same people every single day. You don't see your girlfriend on a constant basis; it’s better.

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'.

At some point, probably beginning of 1988, Slash would move to a TraveLodge apartment in Hermosa Beach to get away from Hollywood [Spin, May 1988].

I'd rather be on the road. See, living in a hotel actually gives you that feeling of not being tied down. But I've just never stayed in L.A. for so long. That's the thing. Staying in one place for too long is uncomfortable for me, and I don't really know how to live in one place. I want to get going, and I end up get­ting f**king bitchy and stuff. The other nice thing about living in a hotel is that nobody knows where I am except for the people who I want to know. And I don't have to have peo­ple coming over all the time, and interrupting when I'm practicing, and I can get a lot of recording done. When I was living in Hollywood, I can't even begin to tell you how decadent it was. It was ridiculous.
Creem Close-up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

His drinking was also getting out of control:

I've suddenly got a lot more friends now than I did before. I've never been one to be real close to people in general, so on the whole, I don't find people trustworthy and I don't hang out with a lot of them. That's probably why I drink so much, 'cause it brings me out of my shell. […] Realistically, it's not the wisest thing .. . to drink yourself into the ground. People don't give me too much shit about it because they know what my reaction is going to be. I don't like being told what to do I make my own decisions. If I decide I want to be an idiot, then I'll be an idiot on my own accord. But I never get drunk before a show.

I've got a bad drinking problem. It's the only thing that brings me out of my shell enough to be able to deal socially. [...] I'm an alcoholic in the sense that I need to drink all the time, but I don't have a physical dependence on it the way some people do.

This sounds sort of childish, but I have to drink a certain amount before we go onstage or I'm awkward and I can't play right. Otherwise I'm too jittery.

After the early ending of the Iron Maiden tour in June 1988, Slash put his drinking and heroin use in high gear again due to the idleness.

The afternoon we found out we would have to quit the Maiden tour I went around grabbing every bottle of Jack I could find stashed around our dressing room and took it all back to the hotel. That was five days ago and I’ve been living off it ever since. But now I’m down to my last bottle and a half. After that, I guess I'll be back to buying my own. It’ll be the first time I’ve had to go out to a liquor store for my own booze in ages . . . Maybe I won’t remember how to do it.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

I mean, to this day I still have a tendency to go out and screw up once, you know, because I’m bored. And that’s just life, and just because I’m in a big rock ‘n’ roll band, and this and that and the other. I’m not gonna tiptoe through life just because of –it’s like, I’m an extremist, you know?

When asked if he ever considered sobering up:

I don’t know what’s gonna happen with me. I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future. Right now I’m just doing what I do... […]

I don’t know how long my system will hold up. I could be superhuman and drink forever, you know what I mean? We are a young band and we’ve got a real hunger for... everything! And that will last as long as it lasts. I know anybody who thinks they’re gonna be king of the hill forever has got it wrong. See, I learned that, ’cos of my background with my parents and shit. I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen the worst. And I’ve never met a person who hasn’t quit while they’re ahead, or it’s fucked up their lives.

The thing about coke and dope and valium and shit like that, you have a great time and it’s the best, but eventually it catches up with you. And if it catches up with you and you don’t take notice and you get real arrogant about it, it’ll... you’ll be sitting in a rehab centre going to AA meetings every fuckin’ day. It’s just not worth it to go through all that shit.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

Yet not long after this interview the band management sent him on an 8 day trip to Hawaii to get him away from the toxic environment of Los Angeles and to sober up:

All in all I can't say that it hurt me. I took vitamins for, like, eight days, didn't drink that much, got a suntan. I hadn't been out of a pair of black jeans since I was about 14! I was getting ingrowing hairs on my legs!

I know a lot of people think that [we are gonna die]. But when we really start going over the edge I have a lot of self-control. I don’t often fuck up that hard. Alan will send me out to some ungodly place to clear my head. Or Steven, or whatever. Other than that I don’t see anything really happening to us.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

[When asked how many times he had been sent away to sober up]: Once. I got sent to Hawaii... […] But he can't beat me. I had a girl fly out.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

They forcibly sent me to Hawaii before the Aerosmith tour. I hated it. There was nothing to do there. […] when I went to Hawaii, that was like, I've never been so [?] crazy in my life. I hated it.

It’s boring. I’ll never go there again unless we’re touring. It’s gor­geous, but I’m a city kid. I need action all the time.

Slash will tell you this: We used to basically kidnap them every now and then and take them to Hawaii to clean up. We'd call Slash and say, 'Interview tomorrow with Guitar Magazine, 12 mid-day.' He'd arrive at the office, we'd put him in a car, drive him to the airport, and take him to the island. These were people I cared about and I just didn't want to see them destroyed.

Izzy would imply the forced trip was justified:

You'd really stepped off the edge, though.

By October Slash had switched from Jack Daniels to Vodka:

It's just that my tongue got black stripes on it. It’s a mix of the tobacco in cigarettes and the Jack, which has charcoal in it. That’s what was making these black stripes on my tongue. The first time I noticed it I was like, what the fuck! My teeth were really getting stained, too. Then I started drinking it with Coke, thinking that would help, but that didn’t work either. Then eventually I thought, fuck it, and Duff talked me into switching to vodka. Duff always drinks vodka. So then I started drinking vodka and my tongue returned to a normal colour and my teeth are clean again.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

When the interviewer joked about the moral being that if you want beautiful teeth drink vodka, Slash responded:

Uh huh. And don’t drink Jack for five years straight. A bottle a day for five years, that’s what I was doing. Plus, you have really bad breath in the morning - you know, you can't have sex in the morning till you’ve brushed your teeth, which is a real fuckin’ drag.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

But by March 1989 he had switched back to Jack Daniels again, because he "got bored with vodka" [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989].

Slash would talk about cutting down on his drug use occasionally:

[…] I admit there's a conscious thing to like, you know, at least on my part where, you know, I know when I hit my limit, when it's time to like mellow out and, you know, don't lose touch with it, with what it is, you know, that I'm really doing. That happens all the time. You know, like I get back on the wagon, you know, for like a couple weeks sometimes just to fucking clean my system out. And like, just concentrate on being and just get rid of all the fucking chemicals and shit.

Any sobriety reached by Slash as the result of the trip to Hawaii did not last long, if it happened at all, because about a month later, on July 18, 1988, he would be shooting heroin together with Todd Crew, with fatal results for Crew. So Slash claims that from that point onwards he reduced his drug use, is not entirely true. And if this is true, then it was only temporarily because Slash would be struggling with heroin addiction in 1988 and 1989, too.

In August 1992, Slash would say the last time he and Axl fought was in 1988 during his worst drug period, saying the drug abuse had cut him off from the band:

The last fight we had was four years ago and that stemmed from the fact I cut myself off by being completely loaded.

Apparently, he cut down on the use while touring in the second half of 1988, but started again when the tour came to Australia in December:

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!

Slash was given a man, Ronnie Stalnaker, whose job it was to "follow Slash around when he was drunk" [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

I have to take a security guard with me when I’m on the road now, though, ’cos they’re scared I’m gonna die, or something. It’s sort of embarrassing ’cos nobody can just walk around and hang out with you or whatever. So it’s a drag in that sense, but it’s also cool because when a flock of people come up and they all want autographs, I don’t have the personality to just say fuck off. So he’ll keep them off my back and make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993
; interview from June 1988

I'm one of those blackout drunks. I get so fucked up I don't remember anything. I probably give the impression of being a real asshole most of the time, but I'm not really that bad.

When I get drunk I get like [Steven] does but I still manage to keep enough up here [in his head­] and to not fuck up things that concern my ultimate surroundings. [...] My most immediate surroundings I fuck up, but not the band stuff. Just my own personal shit. And, when Duff gets drunk he just gets very jovial, nice, and short-tempered. See, we take everything very unseriously, very lightly because, how really important [no matter what], in the general scheme of things [life in general], how important is a Rock & Roll band?


Duff soon realized that his panic attacks were triggered by flying, and he dulled his senses by drinking in excess before flights [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 130]. He would not talk publicly about his anxiety before his own biography, but his fear of flying might be gleamed from an interview he did at the day of Monster of Rock festival at Donington in August 1988:

[Being asked what it meant to him when he heard Guns N' Roses was on the Monsters of Rock bill]: It meant we'd have to fly over here and fly back. [...] We took the Concord out here. It was great. We ate dinner and we were here. We get to the airport and they send us to this Concord lounge, which has got a bar, free bar. I was in heaven. Food. Then you get escorted to the plane. We almost didn't make it. We actually got into a fight in the airport with some guy. So all these cops came. The pilot said, "one foul word out of any of you guys and you're out of here!" Fair enough.

Despite trying heroin together with Steven and Slash and experimenting with pills like quaaludes [Rock City News, January 1988], Duff mostly kept to alcohol. Alcohol would later also become the end of his pancreas and almost the end of him [more about this in later chapters].

[Recalling how the drummer from Faster Pussycat passed out in Duff's bed]: I couldn't understand it, but this made Duff super-pissed. Duff's the mellowest guy, but the booze could turn him into one mean mother. "Fuck this shit," he said. He wanted to play a practical joke on the guy, so he had me help him grab and tie the drummer's legs and wrists with duct tape. We taped all around his mouth and head too and we carried him to the hotel elevator. It was one of those really old lifts with the gate that you have to pull open. We threw him in, and at that point, I thought it was funny as hell.

Then Duff pressed all the buttons in the elevator, closed the door, and let him go. The next day at the show, Duff and I saw hi, bruised and very hungover. He avoided us completely, never uttering a word about the previous night.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 134-137

Duff writes that a turning point in his addiction came at the very last show of the Aerosmith tour in Costa Mesa at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Orange County, CA (September 15, 1988). Actually, this show was not their latest of this tour, they would do one more show in USA before heading to Japan for 9 more shows. During the Costa Mesa show, their friends from Los Angeles came out to party. Duff, who had been careful about being sober during the tour with Aerosmith, was handed an eight of an ounce of cocaine and took it in combination with Valium and vodka.

When I hit the stage with Aerosmith, I was experiencing that toxic mix of uppers and downers for one of the first of what would become countless times in the future. Little did I know it would become my secret potion and cure-all for the next six years. I did it when I was happy. I did it when I was sad. I would do it until I was almost brain-dead, hopeless, and left for dead.

In hindsight, I can see that night as the moment I started the transformation from a guy who had spirit and soul and who looked at the cup as half full into a blackened shadow of my former self.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 139


Steven was also becoming a heroin junkie. He tried it for the first time in Amsterdam in October 1987 [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 133]. Steven had his first heroin overdose in August or September 1988:

I woke up in a hospital room the day we were supposed to be filming our second scene for [The Dead Pool]. I had no idea how long I had been out. In fact, I had no idea where I was or what has happened, but as my Visio cleared it was apparent someone was keeping vigil over me. Someone was at my bedside patiently waiting for me to come out of it, though no one knew if or when that would be.

I blinked. I blinked again. It was Axl. Axl got up and was now standing over me. He smiled. He looked genuinely relieved. He said, "Man, that was close, Stevie." He was the only one there. Later, a nurse told me he had sat by my bed the whole time, The other guys went ahead to do the movie but Axl stayed at the hospital.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 162-163

During the tour with Alice Cooper in December 1987, Steven broke a bone in a finger when he in anger hit the door of a bar where he had just been thrown out. As a result of this, Fred Coury from Cinderella had to step in for Steven on drums on the following shows.

After that incident, things started to accelerate downhill. The band was just like, "What a dumbass, breaking his hand." They didn't care about me one bit. No one called the hospital while I was there. There was no talk of postponing anything until I knitted up. They just went out and got someone else to fill in. I swear, if it was anybody else in the band, they would never have gotten a replacement. No way in hell.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 152-153


While his band mates where in different stages of addiction to hard drugs and alcohol, Axl was going in the opposite direction, and cutting down on any excess to prevent his voice:

And then on top of that, it's like Axl just because his voice, don't drink or do drugs or hardly smoke at all.

Josh Richman, friend of Axl, would confirm that Axl stayed away from hard drugs:

People got the impression that these guys were junkies, but Axl wasn't that way.


In July 1988, Alan Niven would describe the band this way:

Where there's smoke, there's fire. Their reputation is not unjustly earned. But I also think there's been a tremendous amount of exaggeration about their exploits. [...] Let's just say that they are very willful and they do like to enjoy themselves. In fact, sometimes they really enjoy themselves. And right now I'd just like them to enjoy their career.

Later, in 1997, he would look back at managing addicts:

Oh it was horrific! It got totally out of hand. Izzy went through a period of appalling self-destruction with cocaine. He got himself into a mess, which scared me personally very much indeed. Steven Adler was the worst. He became quite tragic. I remember one time in San Francisco when Steven was rushed to the hospital for an overdose. Doug Goldstein was literally running up the streets with him on his shoulders!

When the band toured with Aerosmith in July to September 1988, they did their best to hide alcohol and drugs from the recently sober Steven Tyler and Joe Perry [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 135]. In fact, according to Rolling Stone in November 1988, their rider said they should confine drinking to their dressing room and leave the arena right after their set as to not tempt Aerosmith [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

Originally that was their managers plan, but there was no need for it. I mean, by the time the second show rolled around, it was that soon, it was like "Come on, let's go hang out". There was no problems.

And Aerosmith wasn't just aware of the rumors of drug use in Guns N' Roses, they had themselves directly bought drugs from Guns N' Roses before, according to Slash [Rolling Stone, November 1988]. This was likely from Izzy or Slash who both sold drugs at a time [Melody Maker, June 1987].

Raz Cue hung out with the band in September 1988, and noticed a change in the intra-band dynamics although he wouldn't go in any specifics:

Less than a year before, whenever I'd hang out with any of the guys, we'd have a blast. Get two or more of them together, and it was a legendary, good-time rock 'n' roll fun. When I headed out on the road with the second-most dangerous band in the world, I fully expected to live it up like we used to. But sadly, there were no big bags of blow or endless partying. [...] And although I left out all the gossip-column-style tell-all dirt, you might have heard that, at times, the guys didn't get on well. So of course there were a few tense, stressful interactions amongst folks during my visit.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 268

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:16 am

DECEMBER 16, 1987-JANUARY 21, 1988

After the Alice Cooper tour the band played four shows at The Perkins Place in Pasadena, California in late December (26., 27., 28. and 30.).

We only booked one, and then that sold out and then we tried another one. And then after 4 shows we were going to try for 5, but the people at the Rose Bowl wouldn’t let us. Can you imagine booking the Rose Bowl?

The Perkins Palace shows were some of the best shows we'd ever done...and Fred Curry [sic] was playing.
Slash's autobiography, p. 223

After the final show at Perkin's Palace Axl invited everybody down to Riki Rachtman's invitation-only party at The Central, resulting in long queues before 8:45pm [L.A. Weekly, January 8, 1988]. Guns N' Roses would then play two songs there and Axl would lead everybody in an a capella rendition of 'Honky Tonk Women' at closing time, before invitation everybody to continue the party at his West Hollywood hotel room [L.A. Weekly, January 8, 1988].

The band started 1988 with selected shows in the Los Angeles area. The first one was a 'Find the Children Benefit' show in Santa Monica (January 5). 'Find the Children' is involved in putting missing children's faces on milk cartons. The bands playing at this charity show included Armoured Saint, Great White and Party Ninjas [Los Angeles Times, January 7, 1988; L.A. Weekly, January 15, 1988].

Then, at least some of the GN'R members, did a Drunk Fux (now going by the name 'Drunks') show at the Coconut Teazer in Hollywood (January 14). For this show Steven had got rid of his cast [L.A. Weekly, January 29, 1987]. Axl would also join the Fux this evening and one of the songs played would be 'Honky Tonk Women' [L.A. Weekly, January 29, 1987].

A few days later, on January 18, a couple of members of GN'R and a couple of members of Drunk Fux would come together with some other guys and play a show under the moniker Pigs at Large on Coconut Teaszer [L.A. Weekly, January 15, 1987].

This was followed by a proper Guns N' Roses show at The Cathouse (January 21). This was an unannounced show in support of a well-known Hollywood DJ (likely Joseph Brooks) who had gotten into financial straits after an incident with his car and having no car insurance [L.A. Weekly, January 29, 1988]. For this last show Steven was finally back on drums again, and Vince Neil would join the band for the closing song, Whole Lotta Rosie [L.A. Weekly, January 29, 1988].

The band was likely happy to finally have Steven back on drums again, although Duff would later joke about Fred Coury being a good replacement:

That’s always been a philosophy of the band, that we’d be around for a long time, not just a flash in the pan— here’s our record; see ya. And [jokingly], if Steven dies, we’ll just get Fred Coury.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:21 am


The internal rivalry in the band would be fully apparent in the 90s, but already in the 80s were the seeds for these conflicts sown.

In June 1987 the band members were asked how the band operated, and Axl would reply:

It’s democratic, like many other bands [Unknown French Publication, June 1987].
Still, Axl quickly took a leading position and would to an increasing extent describe the band as his, as in an interview with Steven Harris in December 1987:

Being asked if he is the moral head of the band: With the direction, yeah. With the direction and with, you know, my real strong believes and faith in what we do as artists, yeah. I'd say so [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].
A year later, Harris would interview Duff and Steven and took the opportunity to ask for their comments about Axl's comments in-which he claimed Axl said he had to take care of the rest of the guys in the band:

As far as he knows! [laughter] Fuck! Did he say that?! Yeah right! […] He wasn't laughing when he said that or anything? [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].
Yes, he is just there, every day, taking care of us! […] Don't get me wrong, we love Axl and we always will, but that's just the way he is. But we are all big boys, we can take care of ourselves [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].
During interviews Axl was often the most vocal, both due to his strong personality but also due to his band mates invariably being under the influence. Here is Karen Burch's description in April 1986: "Although I hate to focus solely on Axel Rose, the vocalist's personality certainly demands attention. Axel appears to be the creative force that drives the band. Soft-spoken and intensely serious, he prefers to converse mainly about "the music." While the band refutes that there are any one leader, per se, Axel emerges as the dominant figure [...]" [Music Connection, April 1986]. In this interview Slash would also famously quip that Axl wants to be the Ayatollah.

In the very early days, Izzy was more vocal, but as the band grew in popularity, he gradually slid into the shadows, allowing Axl and, to an increasing extent, Slash to front the band. As Izzy would state in September 1988:

I don't really enjoy being a center of attention. [...] It suits me fine. I don't even have to think about actually planning out what I want to say in interviews, or what topics I'm gonna talk about. It's funny, because I can walk through a club without anybody recognizing me, knowing me or bothering me, whenever I want to. [Axl and Slash], they're so out front, no matter where they go they get spotted [Circus Magazine, September 1988].
I never was the leader, in fact. I was the member that gave balance […] [Popular 1, November 1992].
Duff would echo this statement:

I don't give a shit. Slash and Axl are vocal and they like talking a lot. I mean, we're all onstage when we play, and that's what's most important. As far as magazines and stuff like that goes, it doesn't matter who does what. It's a band, and our fans know it is. They know it's not just Axl and Slash. There's no jealousy about that between anybody in this band [Circus Magazine, September 1988].
In late 1987, Axl would also indicate that any disagreement in regards to the musical direction of the band had been put to rest by late 1987, and that the band now was on the same page:

[...] we were practising in a one-room studio and I was standing outside because there was no PA, so I stood outside to listen clearly, in a parking lot, I heard 'Nightrain,' and 'Rocket Queen,' and 'My Michelle' coming together for the first time in rehearsal, right, and these guys were all okay, they were on top of it. I was like, my eyes were watering and I had chills, and I was like going, "We finally got the songs I've been looking for," and Izzy told me, you know, out [?], "Now I see what the fuck you've been talking about for the last three years." It's hard to convince someone, they don't know what they had, I'm real good at seeing a person's potential, okay. Sometimes so much so that it costs me problems because I see the potential in this person and I put so much belief in them, you know, but they never, but they don't have the guts to dig for what I see inside of them, you know, so some times that's been problems. But other times, like with Izzy, I was always pushing him with songs and now he's really glad I did and it worked out good for the both of us. [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987].
Again, Steve Harris would confront Duff and Steven a year later with this comment from Axl, receiving the following response:

No, no, no [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].
We were going nowhere when we were in the studios. We didn't even have a record out the [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988].
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:27 am

JANUARY 31, 1988

On January 31, 1988, the band played a show at The Limelight in New York City. The show was semi-acoustic and for some reason the band was drunker than usual:

Well, we pulled off the acoustic set pretty well. The problems started when we tried to do an electric set afterwards (laughs). It was pretty nuts if you ask me!
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 5, 1988

(Grimaces) I hate to say it, but that was more of a money thing—we had this gig at the Limelight for $7,500 for 45 minutes. So we said O.K., but my heart wasn't into it. I didn't want to do it because . . . my major problem with acoustic stuff is that we've never sat down and arranged any acoustic material. Those songs weren't written as Guns N' Roses rock & roll. No one's really got their own parts; Axl sings, the rest of us just wing it. I got really drunk before we went on stage, which is something I never do.

The worst [gig we ever played]... I can easily tell you the worst gig I personally ever played. There is no such thing as a worst gig for the whole band, because - like bad gigs and good. We’ve had bad gigs all the time, to the point, like, we have – when we’re bad, we’re bad, when we’re good, we’re good, you know? It’s like, when the inspiration is there and everything, it’s happening. You can’t always go out and be great. But the worst gig I’ve ever done was, we played a gig at the Limelight, not too long ago, and if you’ve ever heard about that one, where I was just completely wasted out of my mind and fell into the crowd three times, and all that stuff. That was sort of a drag. It was fun, though, at the time. […] I fell into the crowd with my guitar, like, three times. Something like that. That’s happened to me just a few times, though. I’m never – I make a point never to get so bombed before we play that I can’t keep it together.

[...] we played The Limelight, acoustically, or semi-acoustically, everyone was so fucking drunk. Slash fell off the stage like three times, Steven fell off his drum set, Izzy, just, like fell over, and the only people left on the stage was Axl and myself.

Two night before [the Ritz] show, we decided to play a semi-acoustic surprise show at a venue in Manhattan called the Limelight, a former church. By the time we headed into the sanctuary, everyone in the band was so fucked up that we lost members one by one as the set progressed. eventually everyone except me and Axl went down. It was a comical gig, but I took something serious away from it. I told myself I would never get so deep in my cups that I wouldn't be able to play.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 132

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:29 am

FEBRUARY 2, 1988

On February 2, 1988, the band would play a show on The Ritz that was videotaped by MTV. The Ritz show was extensively aired on MTV and got the band much publicity.

In New York, we filmed a show for MTV, which was another one of those nights that was a great show for fun, and the crowd was crazy. The show didn't necessarily go as well as I think it should have. We had a monitor man, and on stage, it was the twilight zone. I stage-dived, and my Thin Lizzy shirt got shredded right off my body. The crowd grabbed my necklaces and started choking me, pulling my hair. Some little kid had my arm between his knees with his legs wrapped around and his hand behind his back holding onto my hand, trying to steal my bracelets and was not going to let go of me until he got them. I couldn't get a hand free to punch him in the head because Doug Goldstein (GNR's tour manager) had my other arm and was trying to yank me back to the stage, an I'm getting split in two. There like, 30 people trying to throw me back on stage and another 30 trying to get a piece of Axl. It was a blast!

Personally, I think we looked like a bunch of idiots on it [...]

You see on that live MTV thing, everything was pro except this monitor man who didn't have a clue what was going on. The crowd's hearing the show, everything's great, we're hearing spaceships' landing onstage, backwards echoes, screaming feedback, and the drummer doesn't know what, Steven doesn't know what's going on. Finally I tried to nail the monitor man with my microphone and my tour manager moved and I nailed him [laughs]. That was messy. But it leaves for some excitement.

Like, there’s gigs where we’ll go out, like the Ritz. We did a show at the Ritz in New York as an MTV special – I don’t know if you ever saw it. I mean, playing-wise it was just one of those nights where we’re using borrowed gear - you know, rented gear and all this stuff; and we hadn’t rehearsed in a month, it was the first gig on the tour. But, I mean, the energy level and the attitude was so right on, that even though the fact that some kid grabbed my guitar and knocked it way out of tune, it was, like, still very hardcore; you know, a very New York gig. […]  There was no guy [to tune the guitar]. I only brought one guitar with me. No, I brought two with me, but I think – see, the problem with me is I get so manic, that switching guitars is a hard thing for me to do, you know?

Ahh, I hate that concert. [...] You know everybody likes it, but it was the worst playing...especially on my part. It was just bad. [...] Yeah, [the audience] did everything to me! They untuned my guitars and they pulled my jacks out. [...] We were all out of tune for the first three songs. It was chaos.

It's bad, it's terrible![...] My bass went out of tune for two songs.[...] I think people like it more like in the way when you drive past a car accident and somebody's mutilated, you know, it's like you can't help but look at it!

The Ritz show in New York we played that trip was hugely popular on MTV. It wasn't one of our greatest shows by any means: Axl was having vocal problems, and though we didn't play badly, we'd played so much better in the recent past. In any case, it was loose and out of tune and punk rock, and for those reasons alone, it is something to be recognized. That footage is important because it is the essence of the band. The crowd was great, and like so many memorable moments, it was over and done before I knew it.
Slash's autobiography, p 225

MTV had contacted our management about taping one of our live performances while in the Apple, and it was scheduled for our appearance at the Ritz on February 2. Label mates Great White opened for us. After their set, it was time for us to hit the stage. I'm all ready to go, and fucking Axl is holding us up. Of all the times for him to do this. MTV was there, and this was huge, but eventually the MTV guys were like, "We gotta go, we gotta get this going, guys". Axl's like, "Fuck it. I'm not going on unless I have my bandanna!" Apparently, he couldn't find it after tearing apart the little hovel they gave us backstage. Of course the rest of the band was avoiding any eye contact with Axl, preferring to wander off, out of earshot, to do their grumbling. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. "What's wrong with you, Axl?" He shrugged me off and continued with his insane tirade. He had all of our roadies looking around for people who had scarves or bandannas. I said, "C'mon, Axl, let's just go on." He blurted out, Fuck that. Fuck you. I need a bandanna or a scarf or I'm not doing this. Now, we're thirty minutes late. The cameramen were tired of standing around and said, "We're outta here." I was the only one who was openly begging them to stay: "Please, don't go, we'll go on." I'm sure that's why I am featured prominently throughout the video, because I showed some respect for the MTV crew. Axl finally found a fucking scarf, some bowder-blue, girly-looking thing, and the show began. He put it on, and he got this Little Rascals Alfalfa look going, because his hair was pushed up, like a ridiculous cowlick, on the back of his head. I'm sitting there playing and just laughing. "You dick, look at you. You couldn't go on without your scarf, and now you look like you're in an Our Gang movie."Someone must have tipped him off, because he finally got wise to it and adjusted the bandanna. In spite of all the drama, the show went off fantastically. It's become one of the most widely bootlegged performances of the band.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 156-157

I think that was the same night that I stage-dove and the crowd parted like the Red Sea and let me hit the floor. I lay there for a moment taking stock of whether I'd broken any bones or not. Then I got back on stage and tried to maintain some semblance of cool.
Slash's autobiography, p 225

Slash would later talk about dealing with unruly crowds:

Like, in the middle of our sets, there’s been a lot of times where somebody will throw something on. I mean, some people get really carried away and one of the main things I really don’t relate to, because it never happened to kid, is that rock stars are bigger than life always, and some people just want to see you react and they throw stuff at you. This is actually sort of something I learned about from Aerosmith when I got the firecracker or whatever thrown at them in Philly a while back. And it’s the same thing with us; like, all of a sudden, you’re standing there and a kid reaches out and un-tunes your guitar. And that really throws things off, you know? It completely deletes your energy level for a minute, because what if you need that particular string, right? You got to rethink your solo out, right? And then people hit Axl with stuff. So there’s a lot of me kicking somebody in the first row or Axl inviting somebody on for a scrap, or whatever. That kind of stuff happens, but that makes – I think it’s great, you know?

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:30 am


Getting their debut album out was in itself a great success for the band, and Axl would sound optimistic of its fate when interviewed on October 8, 1987, about two and-a-half months after its release:

Commenting on the "success they have achieved": Yes, things have started to roll very fast and in a very exciting way for us. […] Well, we're selling more and faster than any other new rock band of the latest batch. We’ve had some problems with certain radio stations and with MTV, because the owners of those companies don’t support rock. We believed that rock 'n' roll was going to have a great come-back on those stations, but the owners shattered our hopes and didn’t give us any air play. It’s like we were the last straw for them. They are willing to go up to a certain point, but when they see us they say: 'No, we won’t go there.' That’s why we had to fight a lot to be accepted. […] It's very hard. We’re just street kids and we want to scream, 'Fuck you!' But that’s exactly what makes these people ditch our album after they hear it [Popular 1, April 1988 (translated from Spanish)].
This was after the release the single, 'Welcome to the Jungle' (released on September 28, 1988), and the band was expecting the single to drive sales of the record. In the December the same year, Axl would again lament over the observation that radio wouldn't play their music:

[...] it's been going up and down, between 60 and 50 for the last month and a half. It's doing okay with very little radio play and limited video play. So, for that it's doing great. Especially since we are a new band, you know, people don't really know who you are. It's doing really good. […] The record's selling alright. [...] You know, people think every song on our record has the word 'fuck'. Four songs have obscenities in them, four songs. Not twelve, four. You know, and we're were not asking them to play those four, you know, pick one of the others. Also, that, you know, we have loud guitars, real guitars, real drums. [...] I'm getting limited by a radio station that plays 'Welcome To The Jungle' as a joke because they've got all these papers and everything sat on it. They play it as a joke, a top-40 station, [?] said we're the number one request so that they decide definitely not to play it. That makes me mad. That frustrates me. People are scared that they're going to open up a can of worms and what really frustrates me is the fact that fucking radio is basically run by advertising dollars. We are not talking money, okay, we are not talking art, we are not talking music, we're talking, "What kinda of music can we play that we can get this guy to put his commercials on our radio station so we can make lots of money?" You know, to me that's, I mean, then you have no business being in radio. Get the fuck out. Go home. If you want a job like that then work in a factory or something. Get the fuck out of this and leave these people that really care about their music alone, because these people are screwing with my bank accounts when I am being sincere, I got some insincere fuck worried about paying his rent so he is kissing ass and playing Madonna songs that he hates and he won't play Guns N' Roses that he loves. That guy's fucking with my bank account. I don't like wimps like that. That makes me mad [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1987]
Well, there was profanity all over the album, and radio didn't want to touch us. People wouldn't play us 'cause of the original album cover, MTV wouldn't touch us [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989]
When in Seattle, in early February 1988, the band was informed that Appetite had sold to gold:

[...]at the time, I knew it was gonna happen. The day before, I got woken up in the middle of the night. And I was like, 'If this is about going gold I'm gonna be so pissed off.' God, if other people had my problems, right? [Rock Scene Magazine, June 1988]
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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:31 am

FEBRUARY 4-12, 1988

In late January 1988, it would be reported that Guns N' Roses would tour with the band T.S.O.L. [L.A. Weekly, January 29, 1988]. It would take place in the beginning of February, and the band would do eight shows in California with T.S.O.L. as the opener (February 2-12). Originally, they should have done nine shows, but crises happened.

One of the gigs took place on February 8 at Montezuma Hall in San Diego. Apparently, Axl caused some problems when he changed the setlist around too much for Slash's liking:

[…] there’s been a few gigs we’ve done, like in San Diego, where we had a gig where we came on late, we were really late coming on. And, you know, it was just one of those shows where I didn’t know what the next song was gonna be, because Axl was changing the setlist all around - we do that anyway, but sometimes it can be really inconvenient because it screws up pacing and stuff. So it was one of those shows where we basically stood around on the stage for, like, 45 minutes headlining, right? And the whole crowd was, like, confused trying to get into it.

The band then came to Phoenix for two shows that were to end the tour. The band had been intended to play in Phoenix while opening for The Cult, but that show had been cancelled [Blast! November 1988]. The first show in Phoenix, and the eight of the tour, took place on February 12, at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Axl ended the show early, right after 'Nightrain' preventing the band from going through their encore [Yahoo Music, April 2016]. According to Circus Magazine, Axl had actually "collapsed" during Nightrain [Circus Magazine, May 1988].

Axl would blame it on an accident leading to a split lip:

In Phoenix, everything went wrong! The first show we did was okay, but there were a lot things, like the wireiess wouldn't work because of radio signals or something, picking up radio stations. I had a chord mike, and it was a different-shaped microphone, and the chord kept getting tangled on everything. It was a jinxed chord that had a mind of its own. All of a sudden, when I pulled the mike back, it whipped and smacked me in the mouth real hard. Someone else's chord got tangled on mine or someone tripped on mine. It cut my top lip in half. They were telling me to get stitches and everything like that. I couldn't go back on, so the band did a blues thing, and we were outta there.

As a result, the next day the band had another show scheduled at the Celebrity Theatre, but Axl was not in the best of shapes:

By the time of the next show. I was trying to avoid everybody in the band--not because I don't like anybody, but because when you're mad, you tend to say things you don't really mean, and I wanted to wait until I'd calmed down. I wasn't feeling well. I started feeling pretty down and out and sick. My lip was bothering me. The hotel kept sending maids in, and they couldn't get anything right when I ordered food. I wasn't in any condition to go out. I was just trying to get myself together for the show, so I ended up ripping my phone out of the wall and smashing it, as well as smashing a couple of lamps and some tables. I was just trying to get some peace and some sleep before the show. The next thing I know, there are people knocking on my door, and I'm telling 'em to get away from me. They're trying to break in my door, but I had it chained. No one knew what Axl's doing. They think I'm in there shooting up or killing myself or I'm mad at the world and won't do the show. I had every intention of doing the show. I was feeling pretty sick, and I got to the show late, and they'd already cancelled the show, unbeknownst to me.

We cancelled our last show there because I was late, and the band thought I wasn’t gonna show up, and when I got there, they had already cancelled the show, thinking I wasn’t gonna show up.

The show promoter for the Celebrity Theatre shows, Danny Zelisko, recalled in 2016 that he had been across town when he got the call from the manager at the venue on that fateful night: "Man, you better get down here right away. This place is going to explode" because, as Zelisko would describe it, "The opening act had been on for 90 minutes and Axl wouldn’t come out of his hotel room" [Vulture, 2016]. T.S.O.L. was only intended to play a 40 minute set, but Niven had told them to continue playing.

Dean Mitch from TSOL would recount the experience:

We do our set in Phoenix, and the whole band is there except Axl, and they say, "Play another song." Then it's "Can you play two more?" By that time, we were in the middle of John Lennon's "Cold Turkey."

I was trying to buy time. Finally, these poor guys in T.S.O.L. came offstage after playing Beatles covers. They looked at me mournfully and said, ‘We’ve played absolutely everything we know. We’re beat. Can we quit now?’
Yahoo Music, April 2016

Niven would try to get into Axl's room:

We tried everything to get him out. We banged on the door and shouted, ‘C’mon, dude we got a gig. Come out!’ and he’d shout back, ‘Fuck off!’ I don’t know if Axl and Erin were fighting. That was probably something that happened more often than not, but he refused to come out no matter what we said.
Yahoo Music, April 2016

Niven told Zelisko that Axl wouldn't come causing Zelisko to wonder, "How are we going to get out of this building alive?” then turning to Niven, "You have a nice British accent. You make the announcement. I’m not getting torched.” Niven complied, saying to the audience that Rose had "throat problems" [Vulture, 2016].

That was the moment I had to walk onstage and say, 'Tonight’s performance by Guns N’ Roses, unfortunately, will not occur due to a medical emergency.' Immediately, people started throwing shit at me and it got ugly fast. The crowd rioted and it spilled out into the parking lot, and at least one car was turned over and set on fire.
Yahoo Music, April 2016

According to Blast Magazine a "full-scale riot broke out" with damages "into the thousands" [Blast! May, 1988]. But Axl was on the way to the venue, and would describe the scene as he arrived:

I saw, like, 12 cop cars--cops everywhere, kids smashing in windshields, kicking in cars. I realized the show had been cancelled, so I took a cab real slow around the place, watching the whole scene and then went back to the hotel.

Zelisko's story of the riot differs, saying that "the crowd dispersed peacefully".

Rolling Stone Magazine would later describe the cancellation of the show:

Axl decided not to show up […] leaving the opening band, T.S.O.L., to improvise Zeppelin jams until the Gunners' cancellation was announced.

This incident was the final straw for the band and Axl was fired:

Axl was kicked out of Guns N' Roses in February 1988. He disappeared before a show in Phoenix, Arizona, which was subsequently cancelled. When Axl finally showed up the band told him he was no longer singer in Guns N' Roses. The split lasted two tense days before Izzy and Slash decided they'd hear Axl out and let him explain his absence. Clearly, his explanation was a good one.

Axl Rose began acting too unpredictably for the other members of the group, and a vote was taken to kick Axl out of the band. Thankfully, cooler heads soon prevailed, and Axl was sent to a clinic where he was quickly able to regain control of his life and resume responsibilities as Guns' front man.

While the band was, in Slash's words, in upheaval over Axl's behavior, Niven cancelled the planned 3-month tour with David Lee Roth [see later chapter].

Axl would comment on what happened:

There's really not much to say about what happened. It got blown out of proportion in the press. It was something that went on within the band, and it's been settled now. So let's just put it behind us and look ahead, okay?

The band would comment on it this way:

That was no big deal. Except when you cancel a gig it starts this whole big upheaval. Everyone freaks out and the press plays up about it. We weren’t scared that the band was gonna fall apart, we were pissed off at Axl. But we sat down and talked about it over a couple of beers and everything was fine.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

[…][Axl] didn’t get fired! We just got pissed off. […] Well, things always get thrown out of hand, I mean, thrown out of proportion.

Axl had a problem one night; we missed a gig and we decided not to continue the tour for the sake of keeping him all right. Axl is a singer, and there is a certain mentality you need to stand with a microphone in front of a bunch of people and sing to them. That and acting, I think, are two of the most nuts things you can do. Also, because he is a singer he is probably one of the best singers in a long time — he is a real deep person. Axl is what you would call a tough guy, but at the same time he is sincere, and when it comes to lyrics there is no lying in him. Axl lives for getting up and doing the show and being really good at it. Sometimes he is impossible to work with, but he doesn't do it just to be a pain, but because he doesn't want to deal with it. It has taken a long time to adjust to what he’s all about, and we’ve gone through major changes to go along with his day-to-day happenings, but that’s just the way he is. I don't want to make a big deal out of it.

That's been one of the stories that's gotten bigger than all of us. And, as little as it was, it's past tense and it's not worth talking about cos it doesn't relate to what's going on now.

Look, there were some problems a while back, but those are more-or-less in the past now. This is the kind of band probably always have something strange going on in it. People don’t really understand us. They hear part of a story and they try and guess their own ending. The truth is that we had some problems with Axl. He started pulling some weird shit on everybody and we just didn’t dig that. But we’re pretty close, and we were able to sit down and work things out.

We’re not breaking up. if that’s what people want to know. Let’s just say that some of the talk people might have heard over the last few months is true and some of it isn’t. I really don’t want to get into it much deeper than that. Things are pretty cool within the band at the moment, and that’s the way we want to keep it.

Slash would defend his colleague and friend:

Hey. I don’t think it’s fair to dump everything on Axl. We ended up getting the Aero­smith tour, so we probably got the best tour for us of the four. There were some problems with Roth because his people got wind of those rumors about Axl and that the band was breaking up. They really never bothered to confirm what they heard. If they had, I think we would have been able to patch everything up.

Axl not showing up for the gig prompted Los Angeles Times to ask "what's wrong with W. Axl Rose? speculating that he was either "seriously ill" or "had suffered a breakdown" [Los Angeles Times, February 1988]. Other newspapers would claim Axl had suffered an OD and that the band had broken up, as mentioned by RIP Magazine although they checked this story out and reported that Axl had indeed been hospitalized but that it wasn't drug-related and that the band was still together [RIP Magazine, June 1988]. A spokeswoman for Geffen Records said Rose had been sick, but "it was not drugs or a deadly disease. We don’t know exactly what—his management company says they’re still waiting for test results" [Los Angeles Times, February 1988].

As a make-good, the band agreed to return to play a benefit show later in the year, on July 9 and 10 [see later chapter], and everybody, except Axl, came to Zelisko's barbeque the day before that gig [Vulture, 2016].

Axl would later talk about the incident:

I flew back to L A. and have since gone to a doctor, who said I was just exhausted. He also said I suffer from insomnia. They're taking blood tests and stuff. A lot of people think it's drugs or I have AIDS because that's the new popular rumor. It's nothing that serious, but it's something serious enough that it caused problems in the machinery of Guns N' Roses. Now we're taking the time to regroup. We've had countless meetings, and everybody's on really good terms. Everything seems to be worked out real well, and we're planning our next stages. I know everybody says that--a lot of bands say that, and the next thing you know, they're trying to kill each other, but we're actually trying to put things in order. It's good that we're doing this now rather than selling a million records and then everybody splits and no one in the band talks to one another because you hate each other's guts. This band is a family, and that's very important to me. […] One of the things that makes Guns N' Roses work is the fact that we are very volatile. We put that into our music. At this point, we're not breaking up. As a matter of fact, it seems to be tighter than ever. Everybody realizes there's a lot more work to do and a lot more communication needed. Duff came up to me the other day, and I explained that the situation in Phoenix didn't have anything to do with the band. I said, 'I felt really bad because I love you guys, and he goes, 'I thought you hated me.' I was like, 'No, man, I don't hate you.' He's like, 'Well, call me,' and I'm like, 'I didn't know you wanted me to.' I didn't know he wanted to hear from me because I thought he was busy with his own life. What we found out is that while we thought everybody was mad at each other, and we were in a position where it looked like breaking up would be the best thing, everybody basically digs the hell our of each other and was mad that we don't hang out together more. We've sat down and talked it all out and found out that we really care about each other much more than we real thought. Nobody wants to play with anybody else.

And say they band had overcome their problems:

We haven't had a lot of those problems now. We work together a lot better. We're on the same wavelength. […] [the conflict's] the reason we weren't together five years ago instead of 2 1/2. And now we have a lot more common ground than we did six months ago

In 1989 Slash would be confronted with the rumors that the band had been on the verge of breaking up the previous year:

We've had some things we've had to live through and overcome. The stuff you've read about in the mags is basically true, but it's nothing that serious. We all have always gotten along pretty well, and when there's a problem we confront it. That's the only way to make sure it doesn't grow into something more serious.

This incident and Axl being fired is also discussed in the chapter about Axl's mental health.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:31 am



Axl had his share of issues in 1987 and 1988. The problem with Axl was not drug and alcohol use, though, he would steer away from excesses to perform at his best:

Axl doesn't do any drugs or even drink hardly anymore. He lives to be on that stage. He eats, sleeps and plays. That's it.

Since injuring his voice earlier in the year, and his future's uncertainty while recuperating, Axl was all business. No "champagne  and cocaine" rock star lifestyle, at least while I was around. Wahhhhhhh! Believe it or not, Aerosmith were a good influence on G N' R, who had agreed to substance-ly change their behavior when the Aero boys were present. Whatever the reason, Axl was attempting to live as healthy a lifestyle as the road would permit, all the while valiantly attempting to get adequate rest between performances.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 258-259

I don't really go out to clubs anymore -- although I used to love to. I don't really drink that much either cause I try to keep my voice in shape, I'm using it a lot, you know. If I go out to clubs, I have to talk to so many people about so many different things that have who knows what to do with, and I'll end up having a few drinks or something. I kinda miss it, but that's fame for you, that's show biz.

Throughout the history of Guns N' Roses, media would invariably report that Axl was a drug addict. Clearly he wasn't. Slash would also deny this:

Like everybody thinks that Axl is a major drug addict. that's never been the case. Axl's never been addicted to anything - except maybe cigarettes.

In 1987 and 1988, Axl also started to distance himself from the band, allegedly to not be tempted to drink and use drugs:

And for me personally it's like I'd like to party as much as the other guys, but, you know, it's like they don't have to worry about if they're able to sing. They can get up play the guitar even if they got trashed the night before, or the next day. Doesn't hurt my energy so much by running around but where it takes [?] me first is in my voice. So I gotta monitor my social life more closely. I can't really go party unless I know I know I have a few days off.

You gotta understand that with this bunch, excess is best an' all that shit. Axl knows he has to keep from smoking or drinking or doing drugs to maintain his voice. He doesn't hang out that much because the atmosphere that's created by the other four members of this band is pretty, uh...

[Finishing Slash's sentence]: ...conducive to deterioration.

He just hangs out by himself. He takes it all pretty seriously. I couldn't do it. He's doing well to maintain a certain sanity level seeing as he can't go out cos of his position in the band. If he was doing what we were doing he wouldn't be able to sing at all!

Rolling Stone would report that by November 1988, Axl was traveling on his own tour bus, both because he slept during the day and stayed awake at night, but also to avoid friction with his band mates [Rolling Stone, November 1988], furthering the distance between himself and the rest of the band. In an interview with RIP in April 1989, Axl would comment on this:

First of all, it was Izzy's idea to get a separate bus, and secondly, after shows I can't afford to party out like the other guys. There's been several times when I had to leave the bus because of nerves. It's impossible to sit there completely straight, listening to someone who is annihilated go off about something or another. Also, it gives us more space. We all used to live together, but we've outgrown being crowded in together. Not because we don't like each other, but because we have different lifestyles.

Axl's tendency to sleep in is also implied in this quote from an unknown Geffen representative: "We now know not to call him too early in the morning – that way he doesn’t become disoriented and start freaking out" [L.A. Weekly, June 1988].


Axl's problem was his temperament and mental stability. He would often get in fights, and, according to himself, not always through his own fault:

I have the worst temper. It's a hair-trigger temper and I am not proud of it. It's just something I learned to live with.
Juke Magazine, July 15,1989; quoted, unknown original source

People pick fights. You can see it in their eyes, that in the back of their minds they're thinkin', "I can sue this guy."

[...] people are always trying to provoke some kind of fight so they can sue me. I'm scared of thrashing an asshole and going to jail for it. For some reason I can walk into a room and someone will pick a fight. That's always happening with me. Like, I went into a store once to buy a stun gun. We were headlining the Whiskey and things were getting out of hand, so I figured, 'I'll buy stun guns. We won't have to break their jaw; we'll just zap 'em and carry them out.' So my brother and I walked into the store and I said, 'Excuse me, sir, can I see this stun gun, please?' Being very polite. And the guy goes, 'Listen, son, I don't need your bullshit!' And my brother says, 'Listen, he just got signed, he can buy 10 of these,' and the guy says, 'I don't care, I'll sell them to you but not to him.'


Axl's extreme mood swings would also send him into depression and according to Sounds Magazine he overdosed just two weeks prior to the band's trip to England in June 1987 for their gigs at the Marquee [Sounds Magazine, November 1989]. Later it would be reported that Axl entered a "deep depression" just before the release of Appetite for Destruction [Juke Magazine, July 1989], and almost died from a drug overdose "soon after [Appetite's] release" and had to have his stomach pumped, which would mean it happened in July or August 1987 [New York Times, December 8, 1991]. This is likely the same incident, and thus occurred some time in the summer of 1987, likely connected to stress from the first overseas tour and/or the release of the band's debut record.

In July and August 1987 Axl would mention having partied to hard and ending up in a coma, although he makes it sound like the coma was the result of having a fight with cops:

The incident in Los Angeles just kinda happened real quickly. I got hit on the head by a cop and I guess I was just blacked out and was still raging and fighting. Two days later, I woke up in hospital tied to the bed with electrodes over me. I guess they had to give me electro-shock. I don’t know a whole lot about what happened.

I just got out of the hospital a little while ago, 'cause I partied too much one night, blacked out, got into it with the cops, got stun-gunned, was knocked out, went into a coma for a coupl’a days and woke up strapped to my bed, plugged into a catheter.

This is likely the same incident he mentioned from stage at the Ritz in October 1987:

A little over a month ago, I OD’ed, and I ended up in a hospital called Cedars-Sinai. I was in a coma for about two days. When I got out of the hospital, the first person I saw was a guy named Todd Crew. Todd used to be in a band called Jetboy, and one of the reasons he got kicked out – Jetboy sucks. One of the reasons he got kicked out, was for hanging out with us. I think we were more friends than the people he knew all of his fucking life. When I got out of the hospital, the first person I saw was Todd, and I really didn’t wanna see anybody I knew, because I didn’t know if I had any friends left. Todd came up to me, and gave me a hug and said, “You can’t do this to the family, man.”

This incident is also highly likely described to MTV in 1990, when Axl mentioned an OD resulting in a coma, and which now sounds closely like a failed suicide attempt:

I started to write about when I OD'ed four years ago, and the reason why I OD'ed was because of stress, I couldn't take it, and I just grabbed this bottle of pills (?) in an argument and gulped it down and I ended up in a hospital. But I liked that I wasn't in a fight anymore and I was fully conscious that I was leaving. I liked that. But then I go, all of a sudden my real thoughts, though, were that 'Okay, you've haven't toured enough, the record's not gonna last, it's gonna be forgotten this and that, you've got work to do get out of this,' and I went 'No!' and I woke up, you know, pulled myself out of it. But in the describing of that some people could take it wrong and think it means to go and put yourself into a coma, so, it's a little tricky and I'm still playing with the words to figure out to, like, show some hope in there.

According to Raz, some time during the summer of 1988, Axl overdosed, again, although Raz may have the timing off and describe the summer of 1987 overdose:

Not long before that muggy summer day in New Jersey [August 1988], [Axl] had arrived in an emergency room on the verge of experiencing an untimely death by misadventure. As he lay atop the gurney, fearing the end was nigh while fighting loss of consciousness, he sang to himself, "Axl 'made a record, went straight up to' number four." He then thought, "Whoa... I can't die like this." So he gathered the will to fight on and finish what he'd begun. Plus, the E.R. folks probably gave him a shot of something to send him in a different direction, and he was not twenty-seven.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 260


In addition to his mood swings, Axl also behaved unpredictable in ways that caused problems for his band mates.

In October 1988, Hit Parader wrote: "Over the last three months there’s been a constant stream of talk concerning the bands breaking up" [Hit Parader, October 1988].

The next month Hit Parader would also claim that around the time when Appetite for Destruction went platinum, "Axl Rose began acting too unpredictably for the other members of the group, and a vote was taken to kick Axl out of the band. Thankfully, cooler heads soon prevailed, and Axl was sent to a clinic where he was quickly able to regain control of his life and resume responsibilities as Guns' front man" [Hit Parader, November 1988].  This incident is described in more detail in a separate chapter.

Hit Parader in October 1988 would further state that "Axl's unpredictable behavior cost the band tours with David Lee Roth, AC/DC and Iron Maiden." This would also be mentioned by The Calgary Herald in July 1988.

[Inferred from Hit Parader [March 1989], Axl was also kicked out of the band for three days in February/March 1987, but likely this was meant to be February 1988.]

Vicky would recall that when they were to start the tour with Aerosmith on July 17, 1988, no one knew where Axl was or even if he'd make the gig. People who knew the band were sitting in the Hard Rock Café taking bets on it. He did appear that evening, one hour before showtime [Musician, December 1988; Juke Magazine, July 1989]. And Doug Goldstein, the tour manager at the time, would recall that toward the end of the Aerosmith tour in September 1988, Axl approached him and was concerned that others felt he'd become a prima donna. "I haven't changed, have I, Doug?" Axl inquired. "Of course not," Goldstein replied affectionately. "You've always been a prick" [Musician, December 1988].

Axl's a real temperamental guy. He's hard to get along with. [...] He does a lot of weird shit no one understands, but I love the guy. I mean he's a real sweetheart.

If it wasn't for the band, I just hate to think what he might've done. [...] He can still be a tyrant, but then he can turn around and be the nicest guy in the world.

[Axl] has tendency to break down every so often.

Here's the thing about Axl. He demands emotion. "Love me, hate me, but don't you dare fucking ignore me." He will not tolerate a vacuum. Sometimes I think that's why he would keep fans waiting for three hours before going on. He demanded an emotionally charged atmosphere at all times. He wanted a life spent on the frantic jagged edge, and that's why he could deliver that unique urgency in his lyrics: he lived it.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 153

In December 1988, when the band was touring in Japan, he seemed to have a good period:

He's temperamental, he's a pain in the ass, but we love him too. He is really... He's been great since we've been in Japan, he's been really cool. So it's like the kind of thing where when Axl's, like, easy to be around, he's great; when he's hard to be around, he is a pain in the fucking ass.


Axl's mental problems goes back a long time. According to the Rolling Stone interview in November 1988, a psychiatrist who evaluated Axl back in Indiana noted his high IQ and "decided that his behavior was evidence of psychosis." In an interview in October 1987, Axl would describe himself a "maniac depressive" [NME, October 1987], but whether this was self-diagnosed or as a result of a psychiatric examination is not clear. The media started to question his mental stability: "Is Axl Rose crazy? Or is he just a sensitive, high-strung kid whose band wants to be successful without compromising what made them so good in the first place: attitude and street credibility" [L.A. Weekly, June 1988]. In later 1988, though, he had definitely been diagnosed being manic-depressive and he put on lithium, although "[Axl] thinks it's ineffective and claims to be in control of his moods" [Rolling Stone, November 1988]. It would be claimed that he didn't always take his medicine [Musician, December 1988]. In the beginning of 1989, radio host Howard Stern would refuse to accept that Axl was manic-depressive and Axl would jokingly attribute it to him just always having been pissed off [Howard Stern, February 1989].

I’ve really learned to control myself. It used to be that I would get mad, break everything in the fucking room, smack somebody in the face and then leave. Now I work real hard at trying to keep things cool and together.

Basically, right now I'm just trying to get myself together. I know I'm seen in a lot of different ways. Without being humorous, it's like I have multiple personalities -- schizophrenic. It depends on the situation and the mood I'm in.

I'm psychotic, and that's a real problem to try to like, you know..."Ok, now I'm done with business. Now I can go in this room and be psychotic and tear it up. You know, I have to like, balance up. You know, when can I destroy everything around me to when I have to be nice to everybody. [...] I usually end up trying to take vacation and destroying everything around me, because I can't calm down. I don't know, it just... [...] I just destroy my apartment and then rebuild it.

I can be happier than anybody I know. I can get so happy I'll cry. I can get completely opposite, upsetwise.

A lot of things about my mood swings are, like, I have a temper and I take things out on myself. Not physically, but I'll smash my TV knowing I have to pay for it, rather go down the hallway and smash the person I'm pissed at. […] With all the pressure it's like I'll explode. And so where other people would go, 'Oh well, we just got fucked,' Axl's going, 'God damn it!' and breaking everything around him. That's how I release my frustration. It's why I'm, like, pounding and kicking all over the stage.

[…] I react to everything. I react to thoughts. I can be sitting here in a good mood and think about something really fucked, and if I can't get it out of my head, I'll react to it. If I hold it back, I walk around frustrated for a very long period of time. When I talk with an interviewer, it hurts my feelings if they act like my best friend, then chop me down. I always try to let people know what they want when we're talking.

I'm very sensitive and emotional, and things upset me and make me feel like not functioning or not dealing with people, the band or anything. I went to a clinic, thinking it would help my moods. The only thing I did was take one 500-question test - ya know, filling in the little black dots. All of sudden I'm diagnosed manic-depressive. "Let's put Axl on medication". Well, the medication doesn't help me deal with stress. The only thing it does is help keep people off my back because they figure I'm on medication.

I have a lot more control over [mood swings] compared to when I used to break every single thing in my room. This way I can go for two months before I do that. That's a long time.

I think his inner turmoil is derived from the external turmoil that we have around us all day. A lot of us either choose to, or are more adept at, shutting it out. He doesn't. He doesn't choose to shut it all out. He looks it right in the eye.

In 2000, Howard Stern would ask Slash if Axl "had a sort of disorder of some kind", to which Slash responded:

No - well, Axl is Axl. You gotta talk to him about him, alright?

Axl's sensitivity also shone through in his live performances and made for intense experiences:

There are a lot of bands where the guitar player or someone else writes all the words, like Cheap Trick, where Rick Nielsen writhes most of the lyrics. Robin Zander’s able to put this heart and soul and feeling into it, but I don’t think it really rips up and destroys his life. Because it’s not really him. Me, it’s like I put exactly where I’m at into every song. There’ve been times when I’m singing a certain song onstage and it’s, like, I get all chocked up and I’m havin’ a problem singin’ the next line, because I’m so emotional about it. Maybe something happened that day that I feel relates to that song, or whatever. Nowadays, I’m trying to work out some problems, like why I want to grab somebody by the fucking neck, and instead of just doing it, trying to understand it. So I’m writing, not necessarily nicer words, but ones that I can read and sing in my head. And they’ll, like, help calm me down or whatever.


As if all this wasn't enough, Axl was also struggling with insomnia:

I flew back to L A. and have since gone to a doctor, who said I was just exhausted. He also said I suffer from insomnia. They're taking blood tests and stuff. A lot of people think it's drugs or I have AIDS because that's the new popular rumor. It's nothing that serious, but it's something serious enough that it caused problems in the machinery of Guns N' Roses. […] now I've switched it around. Now I'm sleeping at night instead of during the days. I've had insomnia since I was a little kid, and I never really realized it until this past week. I've talked to my parents, my brother and my sister, and I've traced it all of the way back to when I was a baby and I wouldn't go to sleep. I only sleep after staying up for countless hours or doing various drugs or doing whatever to the point of exhaustion. Then you'd sleep through the day, and the only reason you'd go to sleep then is because the light hurt your eyes so bad and you've had so many beers or so much alcohol and taken whatever that you finally just go to sleep.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:23 pm


After returning home from touring in 1987, the band recorded some acoustic songs originally intended to be used for "B-sides or whatever" [Duff's biography]. According to Axl, they "wrote some of the songs during or before the recording of Appetite and revised them until we felt they were strong enough to put out" [RIP, April 1989]. The new acoustic songs included 'Patience' and 'One In A Million' [Duff's biography].

Only a few months before they would release these tracks on an EP, the band didn't know exactly what to do with these songs they had recorded. Steven thought they would be put out on an album with "some real surprises: songs that you'd never expect us to do. There's one about 15 minutes long with strings, synthesizers, piano, and a lot of big drums" [Superstar Facts & Pix, No. 16, 1988], obviously thinking that this album would also include the song 'November Rain'. As it turned out, the band did not include 'November Rain' and decided to put the songs out on an EP instead.

In June 1988, Axl would describe the plan in detail:

Well, it's something we always planned on doing. We always planned on releasing an acoustic thing and when the record [=Appetite for Destruction] starts to die off, it will do good for us there, financially, and keeping the buzz going about Guns N' Roses, while we take the time to make the next record. Also, it's a way to get out certain things that we don't necessarily want to put on our albums.

We've got so many other things we want to put on the record, so this gives us a way to get rid of excess material. Like we did the live thing, now we want to do an acoustic thing, and stuff like that, and so we don't have to spend like $50,000 dollars to go in and record this thing. This way we can get out a lot more of our material and I think it will help make us... with the EP, the record, and then the new EP, that will be like having two records out. So, that will give us a lot stronger base quicker. There will be a lot of stuff for people to pick from, in a lot less time than it would take to release three albums.

In the same interview, Axl would imply that the acoustic songs came out at the end of an electric recording for Appetite for Destruction:

[Being asked what is happening with their planned EP]: That's what we're doing next week. We've just been recording, and we might even leave it intact, as it is, or use it as a B-side. When we went into the studio initially, to do some test tracks and lay down some songs and see what we had together, we had about 27 songs together when Geffen first signed us. So we went in, laid that down, and we were in there for like two days, and at the end of the second day we just got into an acoustic jam.

Axl and Izzy would talk more about the acoustic EP:

Well, it’s a lot rougher than we in­tended it to be, and that’s because we didn’t spend a lot of time on it.
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 5, 1988

We've already recorded another EP. We did it all in one night.

[Talking about the songs they recorded]: 'Patience,' "I Used to Love Her But I Had to Kill Her,' the original version of 'You're Crazy,' done slow and acoustically, with maracas, tambourines, congas. It's heavy in its own way. There's a song called One in a Million,' about living in L.A..

We recorded the new tracks at the Record Plant recording studio off Sunset by Paramount Studios. The entire process was done over a single weekend.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 176

And when it would be released:

Hopefully next fall. We'll probably rerelease the first EP and this'll be the flip side. At this time it's called The Sex, the Drugs, the Violence, the Shocking Truth. I don't know what that has to do with the record but we love the title.

Duff would elaborate:

The acoustic stuff we did in like, a day, right. So, I mean, we didn't... It wasn't a huge project or anything like that. It's just, I think, to show another side of the band, sort of. And also, you know, our next album is not gonna be out for a while. So, there's a huge void space then we'd like to fill in a bit.

Slash, though, would be unsure of what would be next:

We still haven’t decided exactly what to do next time, but we have thought about doing some acoustic stuff. For those fans who don’t know, we like to play acoustic sets every now and then when we get the chance. We do those when we have in-store record signings and things like that, and people really get off on it. Maybe it would be too radical a departure from what people now expect after Appetite For Destruction, but we kind of like keeping everyone a little off balance. If we can keep doing that, we’ll be around for a long, long time.

The band would stress that this EP shouldn't be looked upon as their second album but rather as something quick between Appetite and its follow-up:

[…] we did all of this in just an hour. We sit around when we get we're at home together, we drink and you know we have bongos and tambourines and all kinds of percussion stuff, acoustic guitars, we sit around at home, you know, get drunk and write stuff, so we say, "Hey, let's record some of this stuff, maybe the kids might like it." […] It's for the kids, the fans! But this is something, you know, we're hanging out, and we had no gigs, nothing up, and you know we were hanging around and said "Hey, let's just go in the studio and record this." [?] "Let's go and do it, see what happens." And that's what happened.

[…] we just did it in like two days. We recorded that. This is not our next album, you know, I must clarify that, it's just an in-between. The next album we'll start recording in January. That's when we're gonna to take a lot of time, months, okay? So this is do I word this, I don't wanna say it's filler because it's not, but it's just in between the two records, it's a different side of us.

This EP is just to hold everyone off until we get the next album done. Since this record's done so well, we stayed on tour longer than we expected. That pushed our recording plans back a bit. We want everyone to understand that this EP isn't our second album - it's just to fill the gap until that record's done. We've already gotten a lot of songs written for that one and they're really good. We think it's safe to say that we're gonna be around for a long time to come - no matter what everyone says about us.

The EP's not meant to be taken all that seriously. It's not done... It wasn't done expensively. It's not like, a major album. It's not anything... It's just like, a sort of filler. [...] I didn't think should go on the actual album. And we needed something to put out to fill the gap between the first record and the next one. It's really not that big a deal. [...] It's not meant to be taken as seriously as, say an album is taken. It's real sloppy, it's got us talking in the background, guitar picks dropping. You know, stuff like that. It's out of tune at a lot of places. It's just us sort of hanging out, getting drunk and playing.

One motive was to make the songs on 'Live Like A Suicide' more accessible to the fans:

We wanted to put something out between the last tour and the next album. We heard that kids were having to pay $50 to $100 for original copies of our first EP, Live Like A Suicide. We also wanted to do some new songs that showed another side of us. So what we did on Lies was re-release the four songs that had been on Suicide, and we added four new songs that are very different from anything we've done before. These are songs we just felt like doing. This is a rock and roll band, but there are a lot of different influences within Guns N' Roses. We write a lot of our songs on acoustic guitar, so doing Lies seemed a natural thing for us.

Yeah, for the fans you know. And we saw the live stuff, the earlier stuff, being sold now -- because it was a limited release -- being sold in L.A. for 150 bucks a copy which is ridiculous. What fan of ours can afford that? So we re-released that and put out this new stuff which is just another side to us, we do play sometimes acoustic, we do acoustic shows, so and the daring part of, we've never really kind of clung to the commercial, I mean, we've never clung to that road that like Whitesnake say or something like that would take.

It was only because our first EP [‘Live ?!*@ Like A Suicide’] was selling for enormous amounts of money in record stores that we released it. If the kids wanted it, we’d give it to them for the right price. And we had some acoustic shit lying around, so we threw that in too.

Another motive was to show the world a different side of themselves:

So now we have come to the point where the industry, we're accepted now in the industry, something we actually despise, but we can do, the success that we have gotten we can do really what we want to do now, you know. And which is both sides, you know, acoustic stuff, you know, I'm sure kids are interested if they're interested in the album they're gonna be interested in some acoustic stuff and how the songs are written and all that, and it's just, you know, it's not to be taken seriously.

In an article in Musician, it is implied that Axl in September was putting the final mikes on the acoustic tracks [Musician, December 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:26 pm


In late January 1988, it would be reported that after the February tour with T.S.O.L., Guns N' Roses would tour with David Lee Roth [L.A. Weekly, January 29, 1988]. But after the infamous Celebrity Theater gig in early February [see earlier chapter], and Axl being fired only to be allowed back into the band, Alan Niven cancelled the Lee Roth tour:

And what happened was, the management - in order to keep a good steady relationship in this business, you can’t screw around; you have to be a week, two weeks, a month on top of things. And when that happened [=Axl causing problems] and everybody was pissed off, Alan, our manager, had to make sure to connect with the Roth people and set things straight before - you know, if we had broken up and he didn’t tell them anything until the last minute, that really would have screwed them up. So when we were in upheaval over this Phoenix gig that we missed, he called them up and said, “Look, there’s some problems,” so that they got somebody else. Then, when the problem was resolved, we wanted to do it, but it was too late. You know what I’m saying, it was no big deal, except for we were off the road for three months.

According to RIP Magazine, the planned tour with Lee Roth was cancelled the day after Axl missed the gig in Phoenix [RIP Magazine, June 1988], which corroborates with Slash's story above.

The band then took a 6 week hiatus from touring [Circus Magazine, May 1988; Blast Magazine, May 1988] in February/March 1988. For the Lee Roth tour, GN'R would be replaced by Faster Pussycat [Blast! May 1988].  That the band had to cancel the tour with Lee Roth due to Axl's behavior would be reported by numerous magazines [Hit Parader, October 1988; The Calgary Herald, July 1988; Blast! May 1988].

The cancellation would also be explained as Roth hearing that "one or more of the band were about to enter a rehab clinic for drug problems".

Blast Magazine would directly connect the cancellation to Axl not showing up on time for the second Celebrity Theater show (February 13) resulting in a riot [Blast! May 1988].

Slash would defend Axl:

Hey. I don’t think it’s fair to dump everything on Axl. We ended up getting the Aero­smith tour, so we probably got the best tour for us of the four. There were some problems with Roth because his people got wind of those rumors about Axl and that the band was breaking up. They really never bothered to confirm what they heard. If they had, I think we would have been able to patch everything up.

Axl himself would feel bad about the situation:

I feel real bad about it. I feel real bad for the kids who were planning on it but more so for Dave Roth, himself, because he was planning on us doing something, it was all set up, and we let him down. They (Roth's people) think we shined it for other opportunities, and that's not the case at all. The last thing we wanted to do was let down someone who's been influencing us for years and was giving us a break.

With free time on their hand, the band members found other things to do. Duff played in a side band with his girlfriend, Mandy Brix, called Dr. Love and the Love Connection [L.A. Weekly, February 19, 1988]. The band would play a show at the Coconut Teaszer on February 22, 1988 [L.A. Weekly, February 19, 1988]. Duff would be "Dr. Love" [MTV Headbanger's Ball, April 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:27 pm

FEBRUARY 26, 1988

In January 1988, Alice Cooper decided to re-record his song 'Under the Wheels' with Axl singing duet with Cooper [L.A. Weekly, January 29, 1988]. The song was originally released on Cooper's 1971 Killer album. The new version would be released in June 1988 as part of the documentary film "The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years".

Axl and Slash were thrilled getting to participate on the song:

It was really cool because I'd originally heard that some other singer had gotten [to sing on it]. Well, we were on tour with Alice, and I didn't even know that we were going to get to do it, so I was really bummed out. And we heard that the singer from Cinderella had gotten it [= Tom Keifer], and we'd become friends with those guys. In fact, we had the drummer from Cinderella out on the road with us because Steve had broken his hand. And he said, "Yeah, Tom got this gig." But then something didn't happen with that, and all of a sudden I get this phone call, and it was like "Do you want to do it?" And it was like "Yeah!!" Because "Under My Wheels" is more his rock 'n' roll type song - less of that horror type thing. And we were psyched to do it.

We did a tour of a stage with Alice Cooper, and he just really likes the band. And it was a huge compliment to have someone like Alice Cooper actually have any kind of respect for us, only because we've loved Alice Cooper for so long. So when he said that he liked the band, we were like, "fucking great!", you know? And then somewhere along the line he had to record this song so he asked Axl to sing on it and me and Izzy to play guitar on it. So we just said, "fuck, yeah!", you know, and just did it.

Then when Alice Cooper visited Long Beach on February 26, Axl, Izzy and Slash joined him onstage for 'Under the Wheels'.

And then we got up on stage with him in, like, Long Beach and did it live, you know, and Motorhead opened, it was great.

Slash and I also went onstage and did it live with him when he played in Long Beach. It was intense. It was fun being onstage with someone you'd looked up to since you were a little kid. We had toured with him, of course, but then to get up onstage with him in L.A. was phenomenal. He's such a mellow guy.

It was 1988. We were playing the Long Beach Arena, our big LA show. Guns 'N Roses were just breaking big. For the encore, we did 'Under My Wheels,' and Axl, Slash, and Izzy came up to play. That was the first time ever that anybody ever joined Alice Cooper onstage. They were the only guests ever in 20 years to be allowed on an Alice Cooper stage because that was my holy ground. It was the only time I ever felt comfortable with someone on my stage. My show doesn't really allow for guests, but I just said, let's go ahead and do this.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:29 pm


I must say that our manager [=Alan Niven], our road manager [=Doug Goldstein] and our security guy [=Ronnie?] are the best.

Everybody in our organization is great. Ronnie, Toddy, Mike, Bill (Bartholomew Augustus Cezar), are great. Then we have Dave Kehrer, McBob, and Doug Goldstein.


During their touring of Appetite, Guns N' Roses started to obtain a larger crew of professionals who helped them out. Slash's guitar tech was Adam Day, who had been working with George Lynch of Dokken. Adam would stay with the band for years and actually live with Slash at times [Kerrang! April 1989].

Mike "McBob" Mayhue was Duff's bass and Izzy's guitar techie.

I met [Duff] in '87. […] If was after they recorded Appetite for Destruction and they were preparing for their first real tour. […] We met at a rehearsal studio. I had just fin­ished working for the Everly Brothers and then I got this gig working for Duff. […] You don't have to really hit it off with a tech, but I guess we did a bit. It takes a while to get to know someone and I have been working for him ever since then.
Conspiracy Fan Club Newsletter Volume One Issue Two, July 1995; unknown publish date, but before July 1995

In an interview in 1995, Mike would talk about having worked as stage manager for the band, too (like his brother Tom, see below):

I take care of all [of Duff's] guitars, amps and equip­ment. Now, actually, I take care of all the band's equipment up at the studio except for the drums. I used to be their stage manager. There is a lot of things to do in terms of keeping up the equipment. I make sure the equipment has all the new things and is in repair, ready to go.
Conspiracy Fan Club Newsletter Volume One Issue Two, July 1995; unknown publish date, but before July 1995

At some point, Izzy had a guitar tech called Scott [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 125].

McBob's brother, Tom Mayhue, came onboard as the drum tech and also remained for years [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p 135]. In December 1988, Tom Mayhue had become the band's stage manager and Steven would joke about Tom sitting behind him during shows to make sure he didn't make any drumming mistakes [Interview with Steve Harris, December 1988]. Steven developed a particular fondness for Tom:

He's my mentor. He's my idol. I do look up to him and I respect him more than anything.

Their press manager which they got before the London tour in 1987, was Arlett Vereecke [Unknown UK Source, June 1987]. She had been hired by Alan Niven [Kerrang! March 1989] and was described as "flamboyant and free-wheeling" and owned an apartment in West Hollywood [Kerrang, April 1989]. In 1989, when the band refused to do interviews with US magazine, she would interview Axl for the British magazine Kerrang! [Kerrang! June 1989].

In this period they also worked with Bryn Breidenthal at Geffen [Unknown UK Source, June 1987].

Peter Paterno, the lawyer who Vicky Hamilton had asked to have a look at the band's contracts, was still employed by the band [Rock Scene, September 1987].

Steven's drum tech for this period was his friend, Ronnie Schneider [Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 125].

Slash had a guitar tech called Rudy Leiren [Metal Edge, January 1989].

In late 1987, Axl had a bodyguard named Ronnie [Spin, January 1988]. Later the band would have two security guards because, according to Slash, Axl and Slash had received death threats, but would later go back to only Ronnie [Circus Magazine, May 1988].

In 1991, one of their bodyguards was Earl Gabbidon:

Earl is part of Guns N' Roses security. He's a large black man. He's played for several professional football teams. He has been around.

Axl would also have his younger brother, Stuart Bailey, who was studying in Los Angels to become a lawyer [Metal Edge, June 1988], acting as his personal assistant [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

We've been hangin' out together and we're havin' a blast.

In early 1990, Stuart was the lead singer in the band Dr. Whiskey [L.A. Weekly, January 19, 1990].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:30 pm


The band then lost a planned tour with AC/DC [Hit Parader, March 1989; Juke Magazine, July 1989] in North America (this leg of the Blow Up Your Video World Tour lasted from May to November 1988), because AC/DC "wanted to hold their pay as security for three weeks, and then planned to kick them off the tour at the end of the grace period; they declined the offer" [Spin, May 1988]. Axl would confirm this story and express his disappointment:

We were gonna do the AC/DC tour, but AC/DC got cold feet and decided to withhold money from us. Then they decided to sign White Lion for the rest of the tour without telling us. That was real nice of them. That's not what I expected out of someone I'd looked up to for years. AC/ DC was a dream tour, so it was a big letdown.

Well, that was actually minor business technicalities. Nothing too serious.
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 1988

Circus Magazine would describe it as due to "a disagreement between AC/DC's management and Guns N' Roses". Hit Parader, on the other hand, would again claim the real reason was Axl's behavior [Hit Parader, October 1988].

Regardless of the reason, the decision was likely also devastating to Slash who had said that opening for AC/DC would be "a total turning point in my life" [Concert Shots, May 1986]. Axl had also mentioned that he wanted to tour with AC/DC because he figured they "could learn so much" from such a seasoned band [Metal Edge, June 1988].

In May-July 1988 they would also be refused to join the Monster of Rock tour which featured Van Halen, Scorpions, Metallica, Dokken, and Kingdom Come, to which Slash would comment:

I mean, what am I going to do? Get the bassist from Van Halen or Judas Priest strung out on something? We’re just a bunch of kids, you know.

With little else to do, the band would hang out at Hollywood clubs, jam with other bands and party. Duff did another show with his girlfriend Mandy in their band, Dr. Love and the Love Connection on March 24 at the Cathouse and the same evening Slash would get up on stage with T.S.O.L [L.A. Weekly, March 25, 1988].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:30 pm

APRIL 26-MAY 11, 1988

Instead, the band did their first headlining tour of the US with Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction and UDO as the openers from April 26 to May 11, 1988, taking them to 11 smaller cities in the Midwest.

The first show took place at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington, VT on April 26. In preparation of the tour the band had spent a week rehearsing at the Memorial Auditorium [Burlington Hawk Eye, September 17, 1991]. The show itself got mixed review with the Burlington Hawk Eye reporter complaining about the feedback and the vocals dropping out [Burlington Hawk Eye, April 27, 1988].

Before their April 30 show at the Danville Civic Center in Danville, Slash commented on playing at smaller places:

It’s amazing playing these small towns. There’s not a whole lot to do. It’s like these people are starved for this type of thing. […] And the people are so friendly. We left our door (at our hotel in Burlington, Iowa) cracked and people just kept walking into the room unannounced. I didn’t know what they were doing, but I am getting used to it.

On May 5 they played at the Music Hall in Cleveland. The day before the show, Izzy had met with Tom Garcia from the local radio station WSBC during a Ted Nugent concert and promised to play DJ for a few hours at the station the next day, possibly together with Axl [Rock Scene, December 1989].

[Talking about getting back to his hotel after the Ted Nugent show]: (Laughs) Oh Jesus! When I got dropped off at the hotel, a cop caught me pissing inside the car garage. “What do you think you’re doing,’’ he said. I answered, “What does it look like I’m doing,’’ and I continued piss­ing! So he took me into the lobby. To make matters worse, I lost my room key! But I managed to get back in.
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 5, 1988

Unfortunately, because of "red-tape", as Izzy phrased it, he was not allowed to come in to the radio station so instead he called in to the show and did an interview on-the-air that would be released in Rock Scene Magazine in December 1989 [Rock Scene, December 1989]. During the broadcast Izzy would be asked how the tour was progressing:

I guess I’m straddlin across the US of A. Man, that Nugent concert last night was excellent! I couldn’t see that much of it, but it sounded pretty good. I thought Tracii Guns—(Izzy’s good friend and guitarist in LA Guns which opened a few shows for Nugent in the south—Ed.) was gonna be there though. The tour is going great, we’re getting a good response wherever we play. It’s nice to have a day off once in a while. Man, I love hearing all those classic tunes on the radio again, especially that old Accept. I love Accept.
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 5, 1988

Being asked about how they hadn't been to Cleveland before, preferring to talk about the Ted Nugent show:

You know what? It blew my mind when we went to that concert last night. I took a cab down there and got dropped off in front of the theater, I didn’t see one person hanging around—not one! Then I cruised to the back of the theater and saw all the cars in the parking lot. When i went inside... WOW! Millions of Rock & Roll fans getting into the NUGE!
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 5, 1988

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:31 pm


In 1988 the band started thinking about making a documentary or home video [Metal Edge, June 1988] about the band supported by live footage:

We have stacks of videos of all the shows we did in the clubs. We plan on trying to do another club taping. We've taken video cameras on the road and we'll see what comes out of that.

The idea of a documentary goes back to 1986, when Izzy says it was part of the contract with Geffen [L.A. Rocks, August 1986].

In early 1989, Slash would talk more about this home video in connection with them making a raunchy music video for 'Its So Easy':

[…] 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... […] I want some special stuff on the home video anyway, that’s just ours and that you can’t get anywhere else. […]  Erm... I really haven’t got a clue at this point [about what else would be in the home video]. I want... I mean, the next album’s got to come out first before we even start to focus on that.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

Axl would also mention a book about the band, but that "the project may take two or three years" [Screamer, August 1988]. Nothing came out of either the documentary/home video or the book.

In 1988 the band also started a fan club titled 'Conspiracy Incorporated'. The membership fee was $12 for domestic and Canadian members and $15 for overseas members, and members were promised membership card, band photograph, 'Appetite' sticker, tour dates, discounts on merchandise, press clippings and a quarterly newsletter [Membership form, 1988]. By March 1989 the fan club was comprised of 1500 members [Conspiracy Incorporated Fan Club Newsletter, March 1989].

In April 1989, Axl would mention that they might makt a movie [Unknown Source, April 1989]. This might have been the same documentary movie, or something else entirely.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:32 pm

MAY 13-JUNE 8, 1988

Having missed tours with AC/DC and Monster of Rock, Guns N' Roses then opened for Iron Maiden in Canada (May 13 -June 8, 1988) on their 'Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour'.

Axl was grateful for the opportunity:

I'm looking forward to doing Canada again. I'm also looking forward to doing the West Coast in larger venues. Maiden has a faithful following, and this is a big challenge, winning them over. Rod Smallwood [Maiden's manager] has been great. This is a chance for us to learn things from a band who's been doing it for years. I can't wait to start playing live again.

At the beginning of the tour Slash was not happy with how things were being done:

Yeah, they’ve got this major stage production happening, and this is the first time we’ve ever been on the beginning of a tour with another band, so this might happen with every band. So it’s nothing against Iron Maiden. It’s just that their production is not together, and we never get sound checks, and their monitor guy doesn’t work for us, so he doesn’t know what we want. And it’s just been sort of like a disaster. But we’re, you know, basically...[…] The other thing is, that it’s like two sides of coins as far as music goes. You know, it’s like, Iron Maiden sings about Vikings, and gothic-influenced this and that, dragons and stuff. And we, just basically, just hang out (laughs).

Mick Wall would later claim that there was significant animosity between the two bands [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993].

The Iron Maiden fans were also not very receptive to Guns N' Roses, as mentioned by Duff in his biography:

To be fair to the audiences, what they were picking up was correct: much as I respect metal, we didn't fit the bill musically. We wanted to be different. After all, Steven had only one bass drum. And while Axl sang in a high voice much of the time, he wasn't operatic. [...] Oh, and also we didn't write songs about elves and demons and shit-unless of course, you considered Mr. Brownstone a demon.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 133

When playing at the Felt Forum in New York on May 9, Axl almost came too late for the show after having been passed out from drinking. Fortunately, the show was delayed due to problems with the barricades, and Axl managed to get there on time [RIP, April 1989].

Bruce Dickinson (the vocalist of Iron Maiden) was not impressed with Axl. At the May 16 show at Quebec Coliseum, Dickinson claims Axl treated the audience poorly because they were talking to him in French:

I should have come onstage and given him a punch. How could he dare speak to my audience in that way? I always regretted not having done so.
Journal de Montreal, September 2015

But Guns N' Roses received great reviews, this one from the May 23 show at Winnipeg Arena, in Winnipeg, Canada:

Guns N' Roses managed to do the impossible for a rough-hewn metal act - it sounded better live than on vinyl. And singer W. Axl Rose is a completely commending presence on stage.

The band has mature songwriting and arranging ideas and played with dynamics under an appealing rough, explosive edge. far superior to Motley Crue and their ilk, Guns N' Roses deserves to be tough metal's next star.

Also in May, Duff broke off from touring to travel home for his wedding with Mandy Brix of LA's Lame Flames and hostess at Japanese restaurant in LA [L.A. Weekly, April 22, 1988; L.A. Weekly, June 3, 1988; Metal Edge, January 1989; Sounds Magazine, November 1989]; they'd been engaged since at least January 1988 [L.A. Weekly, January 22, 1988]). Reportedly, the church was decorated with white orchids and Duff wore a custom-made leather tuxedo [L.A. Weekly, June 3, 1988].

Duff arranged for Kid "Haggis" Chaos, from The Cult, to fill in for him for the May 27 show at Olympic Saddledome in Calgary, Canada, and was back for their next show [Circus Magazine, September 1989]. According to Duff, Niven was at fault for Duff missing that gig. The wedding arrangements had been prepared before the Iron Maiden tour was settled [Metal Edge, January 1989]:

We had planned the wedding for a year prior, and I asked our manager [Alan Niven] when he thought a good time would be, that we wouldn't be touring. So he told me to make it for May. And he promised me. So every two weeks I would remind him: 'All right, we've set the date, we've paid all the money, and made all the plans.' And then, a month before the wedding, he calls me and he goes, 'Yeah, we're on the Maiden tour now!' And I said, 'What about May 28, Alan?' And he says, 'What's May 28?' And I said, 'My fucking wedding!' It pissed me off, but you've got to deal with it, so I called Haggis, took one day off to get hitched, then came back on the tour.

In June, Metal Edge would publish an interview were Axl would talk about touring and show performances:

I just try to get myself in tune with how I feel and get my feelings over to the crowd. I try to make sure that the people get some kind of real feeling out of what we do instead of just 'that was a blast party!' and then they forget about it. I try to leave some kind of emotion in their mind. Afterward, I usually need to sit down for an hour and just get my head together. I can't eat, my stomach's in knots, not in a bad way but I gotta come down from where I was on stage. Most of the time I'm usually so concerned about the show the next day even if I want to run around I won't let myself. I want to give the people my best.

The Iron Maiden tour was cut short with their last show on June 6, 1988 when Axl needed to save his voice. It also meant they had to postpone a planned tour of Japan:

[...]Man, it is a fuckin' drag having to pull out of the Iron Maiden tour. But there's nothing we can do. We just have to sit tight for three weeks and wait for Axl's voice to heal. […] I guess it's something that had been building up for some time. In the end he just completely lost his voice. Right now we're waiting to see if Axl's going to be OK to make the tour of Japan we have lined up […] The bottom line is, if Axl has to have surgery, we'll have to wait a week for the swelling to go down, and then give it another week or so to heal. So it's feasible that with something like three weeks to go before we start the Japanese tour Axl could make it. […] But more than anything else I don't want anything to jeopardise us going out on the Aerosmith tour, which we're due to start in a couple of months. If rushing Axl into singing by going to Japan is going to fuck up his voice and make us blow those dates out, I'd rather forget all about going to Japan...

Ah, man, it’s fucked. The guy’s not even allowed to speak. Can you imagine that - Axl not being able to open his mouth?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

Axl would explain what had happened to his voice:

Well, basically, driving over the mountains over and over again to get to the last five shows we did with Iron Maiden caused my ears to clog up in such a way that I couldn’t hear that well, so I would yell twice as loud and overstrained my vocals on the tour. Plus, getting back to the West Coast shows, there were more GNR fans, and it was real hectic and a lot more fun, so we were yelling twice as loud. We were slamming onstage, and, basically, I overused my throat, and the doctor told me if I didn’t take some time off, there was a good chance I’d never sing again! I went to four different specialists, and I was told I needed surgery immediately. I went to the top specialist in the world, who treats severe throat problems like I had - a guy named Hans Von Laiden, and he said I didn’t need surgery, but what I did need was a lot of vocal rest and then proper training to bring the voice back. So, rather than take a risk of coming to Japan and not being able to give a good show or only being able to give, like, half a show and not guarantee that we’d be able to make all of the dates we promised, we thought it best to postpone and do the shows at a later time when we could give the people exactly what they pay for.

About a week after aborting the tour Slash would describe the damage to Axl's vocals:

I'm no doctor. But what it is, he’s got nodules on his vocal chords and he can’t hit a certain range - which is his whole high voice. The chords crowd each other because of these bumps or nodules or whatever. So he just can’t sing right now. It got to the point on stage where it just sounded awful. Trying to sing 'Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’, or one where he really screams it, he would get to this note and just go. It was like, where’s he going? It was like no key at all, it was really strange.

We did a date with Maiden in Palo Alto which was really bad, to the point that I was having to do guitar solos to fill the space ’cos Axl couldn’t sing. So he went to the doctor there and the rest of us drove to the next gig in Sacramento and set up our equipment. We sound-checked, everything sounded great. We were waiting for Axl to show up when our road manager gets this phone call saying that not only is Axl not going to be able to make the gig, but they didn’t think he’d be able to finish the tour!

The fucking thing is, what they did was go back out after the doors had been opened, after our banner was up on stage and everything, and start taking off the gear. The kids saw the gear going off and started freaking out. I had to go out in front of, I think it was like 22,000 kids, and go, “Axl’s voice isn’t working right at the moment, we’re not going to be playing tonight.” They just went nuts! Then Axl showed up about ten minutes later and we drove straight to LA.

Since then he’s seen another doctor here in LA who says the problem with Axl’s voice has been developing for a long time. So he’s going for a final opinion on Tuesday and we’ll know then if we’re going to Japan at the end of the month or not.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993
; interview from June 1988

And when asked how long they would have to wait for Axl's voice to heal:

If he has to have surgery, we have to wait a week for the swelling to go down before he has the surgery. Then we have to wait for that to heal. We’re looking at about two weeks - if the operation goes well and Axl stays out of trouble. Basically, we have three months on the Aerosmith tour coming up, so I don’t want anything to fuck up that. Of all the tours we’ll have done in the last year - besides the Monsters of Rock thing in England which we’re doing this year - that is the tour for us. Us and Aerosmith - that is really a great combination for a live show, doncha think?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993
; interview from June 1988

Fortunately, after inspection by four different doctors no nodules were found and Axl didn't have to undergo surgery [Sounds Magazine, August 1988]. IT would later be said he had developed polyps in his throat [Metal Edge, January 1989]. Kerrang! would say he was "ordered by his doctors to take to his bed and rest his voice completely for three weeks" [Kerrang! March 1989].

During an interview with Rockling in July 1988, Slash, Duff and Izzy is asked how Axl is doing and they would reply that it is inevitable that his singing style after so much touring would lead to problems but that he is coping well [Rockline, July 1988].

Steven and Slash would indicate that it was important to restore Axl's voice before the (more) important tour with Aerosmith:

We took him off the road because we didn’t want to up the Aerosmith tour.

[...][Axl] had dropped out of the end of the Iron Maiden tour to give his voice a good rest. You see, Aerosmith meant so much to him, and so much to us, that he didn't want to blow out his voice. He wanted to be well rested.
Steven's biography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, page 165

Another explanation for ending the Iron Maiden tour was that the band was kicked off because of Axl's unpredictable behavior [Hit Parader, October 1988].

The Iron Maiden incident was when [Axl] accidentally knocked over a meal tray in the dressing rooms just before the first show, and the Maiden boys heard Axl was thrashing the dressing rooms. They decided it'd be tiresome to put up with this behavior for the two-month US tour and gave the band its walking papers.

Raz Cue would comment on such alternative explanations:

The grueling pace caught up with Axl, and because of an injury to his vocal cords, he wisely shut [the tour] down before doing any further career-threathening damage. But there's an old saying about journalists: "They never report that a plane landed safely." The truth is, "It if bleeds, it leads," so those highly ethical rock "journalists" had a field day conjuring up several contradictory "real reasons" G N' R had departed the Iron Maiden tour early.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 252

To replace Guns N' Roses, LA Guns was drafted in, and for their first night Duff and Slash would jam with LA Guns. For the next night, after LA Guns' set, GN'R minus Axl would go on stage and play 'It's So Easy' with Duff on vocals [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993]. Duff felt it an ordeal:

I was never so fuckin’ scared in all my life!
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

In August 1988, when Guns N' Roses and Iron Maiden met again at the Monsters of Rock festival at Donington, UK, Axl would also comment on the band's differences:

[Being asked if there are any similarities between Iron Maiden and Guns N' Roses]: I hope not. I don't know whether or not, I mean, they're nice guys but, you know, it's like political organizations. Your band's like a political thing and your music or your albums kind of like your political stance. Well, theirs completely different to ours and I think this doesn't have anything to do with rock and roll as far as I'm concerned. We're a rock and roll band, what they do is what they do, I don't know what it is and I hope to never be like that. I hope it's not catching.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:32 pm

JUNE 1988

The third single out from 'Appetite' was to be 'Sweet Child O' Mine.' The single was released in late May 1987 in the UK and June 1987 in the US.

Tom Zutaut had big hopes for the song and considered it a gem on the record:

I didn't tell anyone at Geffen about "Sweet Child O' Mine," and I buried that song towards the end of side-two. I did that because I knew that promotion people and radio people at that time very rarely listened past the first two or three songs. I did not want that song to be discovered until later. And my reason was, that Guns N' Roses needed to start based on its punk roots. And that song was way too refined. In some ways it was almost like a song for the second album. But I figured, if we buried it on side-two, we'd eventually get to it and there would be enough of a buzz and a base on the band that we could get an opportunity to take a shot at a song like that to mainstream radio. So I didn't tell anyone that. It was my little secret.
Marc Canter, "Reckless Road", 2007

The hope was that this ballad would boost record sales which was low for the first period after the release of 'Appetite'.

[...] we're hoping 'Sweet Child' will have a chance to get through in a lot of ways, you know, we don't know. I think it should, you know, and I believe it should and I don't see any problem with that. I can see the hassles with 'Jungle,' I can see the hassles with 'It's So Easy,' definitely, I can see the hassles with 'Paradise City' because it's really long and the verses are a little bit too heavy for a lot of radio stations. But I don't see a problem with 'Sweet Child' and I didn't write 'Sweet Child' to get it on radio but I don't see the problem with it doing that. And it doesn't do it, then someone's just slamming the door on us, purposely.

And according to Duff, it did:

You should have seen the difference in crowd reaction before and after that single came out. Before, only the people up front knew who we were. People came to see us who were our fans, and there weren't very many, to tell you the truth. Afterwards, when that song came on, all the cigarette lighters switched on and everybody was on their feet. It was amazing, like night and day. And it happened that quickly, too. […] I've actually seen a full-on preppy guy - the type who wouldn't even say hi to me - whistling that song. I stopped dead in my tracks and just stared at this guy.

Before recording the music video it seems like the band discussed their approach to music videos:

We really want to do [a video] for 'Sweet Child.' We're trying to decide if we should take the Metallica route and just not worry about videos, but we really want to make them. 'Welcome to the Jungle' was a blast. The most fun I ever had.

It is likely that Axl argued for more elaborate music videos, as he would later push for the cinematic videos for songs off 'Use Your Illusion' and also later discuss taking up acting.

In the end, the band did make a music video for 'Sweet Child', although Axl wasn't happy with the result and had more ambitious plans:

We did "Sweet Child" the other night and I wasn't thrilled with it. I like where we have the band playing live, and working on that. Other than that, I have to see what came out. We filmed a lot of stuff with us just hanging out, so I have to see that. What we did, the filming, was pretty fun, but some things came up, like "Sweet Child" is used when they roll the credits to the movie Bad Dreams, and we had come up with this whole concept of how we were gonna film our video in an insane asylum, then when we went and saw the screening of the movie and no one, including our manager, knew that the whole movie was filmed inside an insane asylum! That kind of shot down all the fun. I really wanted to do the conceptual footage, and we really didn't do any for this video. So that's the part that I guess, that little bit of acting, that I like doing.

Slash, on the other hand, would be happy with it:

Then the second [video] that we did, which I don't know if that's out there yet, Sweet Child O' Mine? […] You've seen that, okay. That was just basically just us, it was very candid. And we were happy with that.

'Sweet Child O' Mine' became a very popular single and won both an American Music Award (AMA) for “Favorite Single, Pop/Rock” and the MTV award for “Best Metal/Hard Rock Video” [Geffen Press Release, September 1991].

The video would feature Steven girlfriend Julie and Slash’s guitar tech Rudy Leiren’s dog [Metal Edge, January 1989].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:46 pm


The band had to make sacrifices when they released radio edits of songs and music videos:

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. [...]Like, with 'Sweet Child,' the video version will be... they'll be an even shorter version put out for the single. To me, that's like a heart-wrenching compromise, and I just don't like to make any compromises with our art, so it's really hard for me to live with an edit or anything. At the same time, I can see what it will do for us, but I have to keep weighing back and forth, what's it gonna do to me? I don't know. It's something that I have to live with and figure out what my values and things are. I don't want to end up like a lot of bands that have been out playing the circuit for so long and they want to make this amount of money, and be looked at a certain way, so they'll do whatever they have to do to their song. They'll delete all the hard rock or mellow the guitars out for a version of it. If that's something I set out to do, fine. If I want to put out three versions of a song, that's one thing. But if I'm doing it just to get sales, that will really bum me out [Rock Scene, April 1988].
We're not a product to be sliced up. Editing really sucks...that's not what we're all about. ['Sweet Child'] was our first experience with a single, so we didn't know what was going on. [The editing] was done behind our backs, and we're not gonna let it happen again. [...][We've shot] a video for 'Paradise City' in Giants Stadium and at Donington. Whether or not we'll release it as a single, I can't really say. They'll take the whole thing or nothing - we're not gonna let them edit this one [Circus Magazine, November 1988].
We weren’t too proud of editing use of our songs purely for radio purposes, but we finally broke down and did it anyway at the request of our record company. We figured if it will wake that many more people aware of us who normally wouldn’t be, then cool [Hit Parader, July 1989].
Not that any of our songs compare, but if you hear a short version of "Layla," I think you're gonna be pissed off, especially if you're planning on hearing the big piano part at the end. I hate the edit of "Sweet Child o' Mine." Radio stations said, "Well, your vocals aren't cut." My favorite part of the song is Slash's slow solo; it's the heaviest part for me. There's no reason for it to be missing except to create more space for commercials, so the radio-station owners can get more advertising dollars. When you get the chopped version of "Paradise City" or half of "Sweet Child" and "Patience" cut, you're getting screwed [Rolling Stone, August 1989].
It's fuckin' stupid. This scene is harmless. There's no nudity or obscene behaviour. And yet MTV object to it. What sickens me is that the George Michael video for 'I Want Your Sex', which is far more suggestive than ours, is allowed to go out uncensored. Explain that one if you can. We're just being picked on [Kerrang! October 1987].
The experience of having to edit 'Sweet Child O' Mine' may be the reason why Slash would argue that they might never release another single:

I don't think we'll ever release another single. The success of Sweat Child O' Mine was more a fluke than anything else. We only did that as a single because the record company wanted us to. It was successful, but we're not a singles band. We want people to react to our entire album. I'm sure we'll do some more videos, but we'll really have to have our arms twisted to do another single [Hit Parader, June 1989].

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:47 pm

JULY 1988

A sales pull came when 'Welcome to the Jungle' (and band members) were featured in the Clint Eastwood movie 'The Dead Pool', allegedly after a suggestion by business affairs executive Debbie Reinberg.

[…] the reason Clint used us was because they wanted a popular rock and roll band for the first song, I think, to help to help sort of tie the movie in with current trends and stuff. And so someone suggested Guns N' Roses and that's how that happened.

The band members would talk about their appearance in the movie:

We're the friends of this rock star who OD's in the movie. And so we're at a funeral. And then there's another scene where me and Izzy and Duff are, like, on this boat where they're shooting a movie within the movie. You know what I'm saying? And so the three of us are on this boat. And I shoot off this whale harpoon. And it's just like a scene that they're shooting for a movie within the Clint Eastwood movie.

Clint Eastwood! One of the most intimidating people I've met. You'll have to try and picture this: we're on location in a graveyard, all these people and then this funny looking rock band, totally out of place. And in between takes this nine-foot character comes over and goes, Uh, nice record, and walked away. And that was it. I bet he never heard it and they're obliged. But he was more Clint in person than he is on the screen. He seemed nice.

Oh! That was amazing. I was nervous. First, we were in a group, with Stevie, drugged up, totally hungover, early in the morning waiting in a cemetery and I told myself “What are we doing here?” A big black car appeared, two guys came out, which I guess must be Clint Eastwood’s managers or bodyguards or something like that; while we wondered if he liked our album or not, and what we were doing there… he approached us and simply told us “great album!” (laughs) and he left, it was really intense, shit.

The song played throughout the film's heavily-publicized 90-second trailer [Los Angeles Times, July 1988].

Afterwards, the band members and management was not impressed with the movie

I'm a little disappointed that it's not a better film, but the trailer is really spectacular. And I'm sure it helped our momentum. After all, it was on practically every TV station in the entire country.

It's actually a really horrible movie. It's really bad. But we did it because it was Clint Eastwood and we thought that would be really cool.

Actually the film isn’t very good. The trouble was that we were so naive and green about the movie business that in the end we came across as kinda dumb. Perhaps we shoulda asked more questions about what was going on. And I can’t help feeling that Eastwood fucked us over with his direction. In fact, Clint didn’t talk to us much on the set at all. We had very little contact with him. Just about the only thing he said to us was, ‘Hey, great album’.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:48 pm

JULY 17-SEPTEMBER 15, 1988


In July 1987, Axl said they were supposed to tour with Aerosmith in England in the fall of 1987 [Melody Maker, July 18, 1987] but later this European tour fell apart in "the 11th hour" [Kerrang! March 1989], allegedly because Aerosmith hadn't got their new record out [Endless Party Magazine, August 1987] or due to "finances" [Kerrang! October 1987]. This record was 'Permanent Vacation' and it was released on August 21, 1987, so the argument that the record wasn't out yet doesn't make complete sense timing-wise.

In connection with the planned tour for the fall of 1987, Axl had stated:

[Aerosmith is] a tradition I grew up with. They were the only band that the people who lived in my city in Indiana would accept wearing makeup and dressing cool. These people thought the Stones were fags, but everybody liked Aerosmith. We’re coming to England with them this fall. It’s something we always wanted. We are influenced by them […]

Commenting on how they hadn't managed to tour with Aerosmith earlier:

[An Aerosmith/GN'R tour] has been rumored for about a year and a half. We were supposed to have done the Done With Mirrors tour too. Basically, something just always comes up with them or us.
RIP Magazine, February 1989; quote from unknown original source in 1987


In July 1988, Aerosmith was ready to tour their new album and wanted Guns N' Roses to be the opener.

As Steven Tyler had said previously:

Blues had a baby and called it rock ’n' roll. L.A. had a baby and called it Guns N’ Roses.
RIP Magazine, February 1989; quote from unknown original source in 1988

Apparently [Aerosmith are] real excited about having us out. I talked to their manager and he said they’re looking forward to it because we kick ass and we’ll make them kick ass that much harder. So now I’m thinking, I’m gonna have to go out and play my ass off if we’re gonna make any kind of mark on this tour.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

Guns N' Roses, on their side, had cut the Iron Maiden tour short, and rested for a month and a half, and were open for Aerosmith's national summer tour which was going to last from July 17 to September 15, 1988.

The Aerosmith tour was a highly anticipated tour, Slash would refer to Aerosmith as their "teenage heroes" [Musician, December 1988].

I think that’s gonna be one of the best tours going in the summer.

Of all the tours we’ll have done in the last year - besides the Monsters of Rock thing in England which we’re doing this year - that is the tour for us. Us and Aerosmith - that is really a great combination for a live show, doncha think?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993
; interview from June 1988

Man, it's gonna be the best! We're going out together for three months and, aside from the Monsters Of Rock tour that's currently going on, I think this will be the Summer show to see ... If I was a kid looking to go to a hot rock and roll concert this Summer, I know I'd be there.

As Slash would say at a later date:

In the days when I really started playing and like, getting into the whole thing, amongst other guitar players, Aerosmith and Joe Perry and Brad Whitford were definitely an influence. They're just the coolest, most screwed up band in the world [laughs].

Axl had also listed Aerosmith among the bands he most wanted to tour with:

Metallica. We're so into those guys. AC/DC, I figure we could learn so much. Aerosmith, that's always been a dream.

And Izzy had expressed excitement about touring with them:

We’re going out with Aerosmith throughout Canada, which should be a really great tour. The last time we played in Canada was with The Cult and our album wasn’t even out yet—you know because of the postcard cover [the original 'Appetite' cover]. Now the album is out and we’re looking forward to playing there again. We had a great time in Canada last time. The kids in the au­dience were really great.
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 1988

Apparently, Aerosmith was also impressed by Guns N' Roses, as Doug Goldstein would say in November 1987:

I get calls from Aerosmith's management and they told me the guys love the band.

And Keith Garde from Aerosmith's management team concurred:

The guys were very, very excited about going out with an act that was really rock ’n” roll.


But apparently, bands were afraid of touring with Guns N' Roses due to their reputation, and Aerosmith had recently sobered up:

I cut a deal with [then Aerosmith manager] Tim Collins for the band to open for Aerosmith. He made a rule that nobody in GN'R could be seen with a joint, hard drugs, or even a beer in front of Aerosmith. If Slash was caught in front of Joe Perry with a beer, they'd be thrown off the tour. So all the insanity was happening behind closed doors.

We're working on [a tour with Aerosmith], we're pushing for it. But everybody's worried about the influence we might have on other bands. We're the trouble that all these guys used to get into.

It’s a drag. I mean, I’m glad they’re clean and all that but I wish they hadn’t got as fucked up as they had, because we’re not allowed to hang out with them at all now. This happened to me with Nikki Sixx from Motley. Like, Nikki and me are pretty good friends. But after we did the tour with Motley Crue and Nikki got clean, he grew away from me, I never saw him. Then I ran into him in the Cathouse one night. I was sitting up in the VIP section, just sitting there. And I had four of these tall glasses filled with Jack, and Nikki came by and was sitting next to me. He said, “That Jack smells good.” I said, “Oh, do you want one?” Not thinking. He was like, “Oh, no, no...” That was so fucked, I shouldn’t have done that. So for a while I didn’t hang out with Nikki. And it’s that kind of thing with Aerosmith, it’s very strange. But I respect trying to clean up before you kill yourself.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

As Aerosmith manager Tim Collins would state:

We thought about the ramifications, but each member of Aerosmith is responsible for his own sobriety. I hope maybe some of Aerosmith rubs off on Guns N’ Roses.

Still, the Aerosmith management would make some precautions to shield the Aerosmith members, as Keith Garde from Aerosmith's management team would say:

Our request was that, if they’re drinking, keep in it a cup rather than walking around with the labels sticking out.

But in the end there was little to worry about:

Steven [Tyler] is a cute man. He would just go up to Slash and say, ‘You can really drink that much?!’ It was obvious the point he was trying to make. Slash would say, ‘Yeah, dude, it’s no big deal. I can still walk an' shit.’

As the photographer Gene Kirkland would recall:

The night before a show I was talking to a crew member from Aerosmith, and he told me that he saw Joe Perry and Slash talking at a table. Joe was drinking tea or coffee or something out of a cup, and Slash was drinking his Jack— but out of a cup. I laughed. I thought I’d never see Slash drink anything out of a cup!


Before the tour started GN'R did two warm-up gigs at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on July 9 and 10. Phoenix was chosen to make up for the two cancelled gigs from February 1988, when Axl had had a breakdown and was fired from the band [see earlier section]. The band used the opportunity to raise money for a benefit cause, raising $16,000. The concert promoter, Danny Zelisko, who had been the promoter in February, was asked to choose the charity and chose the Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Cancer Center. Zelisko's stepdaughter, Abigail, had died of leukemia two years ago [Arizona Republic, July 17, 1988].

We cancelled our last show there because I was late, and the band thought I wasn’t gonna show up, and when I got there, they had already cancelled the show, thinking I wasn’t gonna show up. So, we wanted to go back and make some amends with the fans and the people there, and the money from those shows went to charities. We did a benefit because we felt that was another way of showing we were trying to make amends for things. One of the promoters involved had a child who died, I believe, from leukemia, and we felt that would be a good cause because one, he was a promoter who worked the shows in Phoenix, and two, it didn’t necessarily have anything to do with money going into his pocket. It had to do with a cause he believes in, and it’s also a cause anybody should basically believe in. These shows were also to get warmed up for the Aerosmith tour and to get used to playing live again so that by the time we got out with Aerosmith, we’d have a couple of shows under our belt. I had no idea of what to expect from the Phoenix, Arizona shows, but I had hoped they weren’t going to be so much smash-crash-boom type of shows... at least, not on my part. I was just going to try and take it a bit easy and try to have a good time. I gave it everything I’ve got. It was basically to get the feel of things back together and play with some new songs in front of a crowd I thought deserved to see them.


To promote the tour, Geffen released promotional-only "tour" CD featuring songs from Aerosmith as well as GN'R's 'Welcome to the Jungle' and 'Sweet Child O' Mine' [Goldmine Magazine, May 1989].

Doug Goldstein would remember the first time the two bands met:

It was cool. Actually, Steven Tyler put everybody at ease when he walked into the room. He said, ‘Hey, guys, how ya doin’? I love the album, and it's great to have you with us. Hopefully we’re gonna have a lot of fun out here.' That broke the ice.

Although Slash had met the band earlier:

Yeah, I’ve met the whole band. I went to see them when they played here in LA last time. I got dragged into this room where they were all lined up against this table, signing posters and stuff. I got pushed in front of them and introduced by someone from Geffen. I was like, “Hi...” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. These guys have been my heroes for life, you know? But I didn’t get nervous, I got speechless and it was real weird. They were all looking at me - I had my top hat on, leather jacket and jeans - and there was this vibe like I was being checked out. The only one who actually spoke to me was Steven Tyler. He was like, “How’re ya doin’?” and “Where’s Axl?” He was real cool. He called us once when we were in Amsterdam. He called us from America and spoke to Axl - to apologise for something he’d said on radio or something like that, which was cool.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

The tour got off to an ominous start when Axl was late for the very first show at Hoffman Estates in Chicago on July 17, 1988:

The First night of the Aerosmith tour was tumultuous: it started in Illinois, and while the rest of us showed up early enough to watch them sound-check, Axl was missing in action until half an hour before show-time. I remember Steven Tyler coming up to me and saying, " where's your singer?" It's become a recurring punch line; it's his standard greeting whenever he sees me. Axl showed up the very last minute, which obviously caused tension to be high all around, but we played well enough to make up for it.
Slash's autobiography, "Slash", 2007, p. 233

As Keith Garde from Aerosmith's management team would describe it:

At that very first show in Chicago, there was a reticence initially on the part of the crews and some of the guys in Guns. Axl had exhibited reservations, and he always does, but unfortunately, they're misread by people. It's not that he’s saying, 'Hey, f?!k you.’ It’s more of an indication of whatever his habits are that cause him to get up late. He’s a unique character—part of what makes him the star is that.

But Garde would emphasize that Aerosmith made an effort to make everybody feel comfortable:

We would invite the band and their crew to eat with us after the show, kind of like family. And really early on that came across. There was a very strong sense of, ‘We may be two acts and two separate companies, but we’re all out together, and this is one show.

And the GN'R guys would be happy about how the tour progressed:

This is like the first rock 'n' roll tour we've done. The Mötley tour was fun, but this is the most compatible. The vibe between the two bands is great. These guys are around their thirties or forties, they've been through a lotta shit and we have a lotta respect for them. We grew up listening to their music; this and the Stones and AC/DC, that's what sorta formed what we are. That's the only way you get any kinda personality — through influences. [...] It's funny. They like to talk about drugs. They don't do drugs, they just like to talk about them! It's cool to be around that. [...] They're eating watermelon and drinking tea. They love to ask you about what you did last night and how fucked up you got. They go, "Man, I've been up since nine o'clock this morning," and you say, "What drugs are you doing?" They say, "No, I just been up since nine"!

Everything's going great. Even better than what we expected. [...] [The reception]'s been really good. Everywhere we've been going and the package [?] on his tour is working out phenomenal for us.

On August 2 the band visited Indianapolis and played on Market Square Arena. Some of the reviews from the show:

Guns N' Roses - two of its members, singer Axl Rose and guitarist Izzy Stradlin, hail from Indiana - opened the evening with a 45-minute set that served to whet one's appetite for seeing them perform as headliners.

It's hard to imagine that the crowd could have been screaming as loud as the band was playing, but fans worked hard to display the intense level of devotion the group inspires. This was not lost on Rose, who termed the audience "the most responsive we've ever played to."

Guns N' Roses earned the applause for both its exciting performance and its knack for storytelling. Rose amused fans with details on his 20-odd arrests in this state, all of which he alleged were on false charges.

Seven or eight years ago, he noted, he was nabbed while trying to enter MSA to see and AC/DC concert. "I haven't been back since then," he said, "but it's always been my dream to open an Aerosmith concert right here at home. This is the most important gig in our career."

Opening the show was Guns n’ Roses, one of the only acts in America that can make Aerosmith look clean cut. Touring in support of an immensely successful album, Guns n’ Roses lead singer Axel Rose spent an inordinate amount of time Hoosier-bashing.

It seems Axel lived for a time near Lafayette at least seven years ago and has bad recollections about local teachers and police officers.

Guns ’n’ Roses is perhaps the most outrageous of the bands promoting teen-age anarchy, with songs like "It’s so Easy" (flouting parental authority; "Mr. Brownstone” (flouting the 9 to 5 workday routine) and "Out to Get Me" (flouting cops).

Frontman Rose did make a plea for fans to party responsibly. "We’d like you to be careful ’cause I’d like to see you again when we headline this arena."

The response of the crowd indicates that may be soon.

"Guns-N-Roses" should be mentioned for their fine performance. Lead singer Axl Rose, originally from Indiana, showed extreme enthusiasm.


An incident during this tour took place on August 4 when the band was visiting Philadelphia. According to Rolling Stone magazine "just minutes before a concert, Axl got into a fight with a parking-lot attendant who, Axl says, shoved Stuart, Axl's younger brother and personal assistant. Doug Goldstein, the group's tough but temperate and shrewd tour manager, persuaded the police to release Axl in time for the show" [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

Goldstein would recount the episode:

In Philadelphia, Axl was coming to the show a little late. When Axl and his brother come to pull in, Stuart, Axl's brother, jumps out of the car and pulls the parking cones out of the way so they can get in. He tells the parking guy he’s got the lead singer in the car. The guy tells Stuart to f?!k off. Axl doesn’t want that to happen— he’s one of the most loyal people I've encountered—so he jumps out and gets into it with the parking attendant. It turned into a pretty big scene. So the lead singer’s being taken to jail with a half hour to go before the show. I practically had to blow every cop within a five-mile radius to get him out of jail. Stuff like that would happen, and Tom Hamilton and Brad Whitford would come and go, 'Man, you're not making enough money.’


Just two days later, on August 6, the band was playing in Saratoga Springs and had to cut the set short when fans stormed the stage:

There was nearly a riot. I get off on that kind of vibe, where everything's just about ready to crack. When there's 25,000 people and they have, like, three security guys. God, it was intense, man. It was just on that fucking edge of 25,000 people coming down to the stage.

Schenectady Gazette, in their review of the concert on August 8, would contrarily imply that the band finished the set: "By the time the band launched into their closing anthem, "Welcome to the Jungle", the area in front of the stage had broken out into a full-scale melee, with dozens of fans rushing forward and trying to climb on-stage. As the band left the stage at the end of the song, Rose grabbed the microphone and dressed down the stage-climbers with, "It took me ten years to get up here. You don't get five minutes for free" [Schenectady Gazette, August 1988].

Three night later, on August 9, the band would play a show in Weedsport, NY, which Axl would describe as "just, like, psycho" [Rolling Stone, November 1988].

A few shows later, the band would play on Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, on August 16. This tour was a huge thing to Slash:

Man, if I was a kid and going to see a concert that would be the fucking one! I’m really looking forward to it. . . There’s one gig we’re playing on that tour, at the Giants Stadium in New York - it’s Aero­smith, Deep Purple and us. Fucking monster gig!
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993
; interview from June 1988

And afterwards:

We played Giants Stadium on that tour, with Deep Purple on the bill. That stadium is so huge and we had so much room on that stage that we could really run around; we were always good at that. We did a forty-five-minute set and we played "Paradise City" twice because we were shooting it for a video. The crowd just freaked. That stadium can hold eighty thousand, and even though it wasn't completely full, we'd never played to a crowd that large. The energy was incredible. It was one of those moments when I truly realized how popular we were becoming in the "real" world. It was a moment of clarity.
Slash's autobiography, p 233

Raz Cue came out to see this show and was not impressed:

I arrived to my luxury box just as the boys kicked in with "It's So Easy." A oppressively hot and muggy day meant Axl must've been burning up in his leather outfit, but was forced to stick it out for at least a couple of tunes so they could capture enough live footage for the "Paradise City" video. Axl constantly viped away sweat and picked hair from teeth after every headbang, It was after this show that a hat, bandana, or some sort of headband became a staple of his stage wear. It's something I realized when watching images shot three days later - the black-and-white footage of the sea of pulsating humanity during the song's double-time part - at Castle Donnington, England. I have no way of knowing for sure, but the Giants Stadium gig might have been the first time Guns N' Roses ever played a stadium. It was for sure the first time I heard "Used To Love Her." Either way, the band rocked a good set, but not even close to the best show I had seen from them.
Raz Cue, "The Days of Guns, & Raz's", 2015, p. 266

While in New Jersey, Axl had a little tumble with a coffee table:

Axl threw a coffee table out of a hotel window in New Jersey. It's easy to see when he's feeling stressed. We just leave him alone.

Not long after that this, the band travelled to England for the Monster of Rock Festival at Donnington Castle where two fans would tragically lose their lives, before returning to the US to continue the Aerosmith tour.

On August 24, 25, and 26 the band did three shows in Mansfield, MA, and while spending time in Boston, Aerosmith invited the band out on a cruise [RIP Magazine, February 1989].

By August 1988, the band had been touring for 14 months and they were starting to feel exhausted:

They didn't expect us to last a week! Touring really doesn't faze you. If you get twisted backstage, the walk to the bus is only a few yards, y'know? But, yeah, if you get twisted every night, you start draggin'.

Touring has its downfalls. It's a distorted kind of reality but, I swear to God, that 45 minutes makes it all worth it. When you're not touring you're always looking for something to fulfil that buzz.

Doug Goldstein was also feeling exhausted:

I basically live in hell when I’m on the road with the guys, because something's always happening that’s major shit.

[Talking about the band trashing hotel rooms at this tour]: [Hotel rooms were trashed] all the time. I told the guys, ‘I really appreciate what you've done. I’ve been touring for seven years now. In one year’s time you've managed to destroy every relationship I've put together over the past seven years!’ […] When I met the crew, they’d already been out with the band. They saw me and thought I was going to get eaten alive—I was wearing Bermuda shorts and a polo shirt.

The tour ended with two shows at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on September 14 and 15. During the first of these shows, Steven would pull a prank on Aerosmith. As the band played 'Dude Looks Like A Lady' Steven would scoot across the stage on a motorized skateboard. Garde would recall the incident:

[Steven] had that innocent look on his face, of a mischievous little child who’s not doing anything terrible, who’s definitely doing something he thinks everyone is going to laugh at [chuckling]. And everyone did. It was a real ‘Little Rascals' move.'

As customary, Aerosmith would prank the opener band on the last show, and they did this by dressing up as monkeys for Welcome to the Jungle, as Robert John would recall it:

I think one of the funniest things was during the last show with Aerosmith. They were playing 'Welcome to the Jungle,' and the guys in Aerosmith dressed up in ape costumes. There was a guy dressed like Tarzan, and there was a rope tied to the rafters, and when they started that song, he came swinging down. Then there were apes all over the stage, with bananas. It was great. It was so funny.

Kirkland remembers the prank:

I looked up and saw Axl being very professional, but cracking the biggest grin. After the gorillas left, Axl went to the mic stand and said, ‘Just remember, they have to play next!'

But GN'R did not prank Aerosmith, instead they came on stage to play 'Mama Kin' with the band [RIP Magazine, February 1989].

After the tour, a gift waited for the GN'R crew:

They [Aerosmith] had bought me, Alan and the guys a set of Halliburton luggage. That’s the luggage of rock. It’s amazing stuff and very expensive. That’s the nicest thing anybody has ever done for me or the band in my time with them. They gave us an Aerosmith jacket that had our name on it. I almost started crying. I went to say thank you to Steven Tyler, and I was in tears. They [GNR] were so blown away by it. To get something from people you admire, you know.


Despite the exhaustion, GN'R would fondly look back at the Aerosmith tour:

[...] we just finished touring with Aerosmith. It was the best tour we've ever done. [The band would in fact do another leg of the tour in August and September 1988, maybe Slash did not know at the time of this interview] It was so much fun that it was like a dream come true. And we got along with them! Y'know, sometimes you have tours you don't really enjoy but you just go out and play. This was one of those tours where we felt comfortable and had a ball. We looked forward to the shows no matter what city. It was great. All the shows sold out. We sold tons of merchandise and all that other business stuff.

Great. [...] It was killer. [...] It was one of those things, that was nice to be respected by a band that's been around that long, you know. They watched us, we watched them. We hung out. We had a really good time. It was one of the best tours we've ever had.

It was great.

It was great, some funny shit happened on that tour. Those guys are all clean now - Joe, especially - and they stay in one central place and do four or five gigs, then move on to another part. But they always have one central base. Even so, they were exposed to us for a lot of the time and they hung out with us.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

[When asked about the drinking]: I tipped it all in a cup. That was still in my walking around with a bottle of Jack stage, so I used to tip it in a cup before we hung out. So it was cool, you know. Although there was one point where Steven Tyler came into my dressing room - I have a dressing room apart from the rest of the guys to do my guitar stuff - and I had one empty bottle of Jack and one half full one in there. Anyway, I left the room for a while and when I came back Steven was in there, looking at tapes and stuff. I said hi, you know. He said, “You drink all that today?” I said, yeah. He just gave me this look and didn’t say anything. He started to then stopped... that’s the way the whole tour was as far as that kinda shit goes. Anybody who wanted to go to him for help, though, he was always available. But he didn’t push it. Like, Steven [Adler], who was a little bit disillusioned about - just about everything in general. He talked to Tyler about it and he gave him some good advice. In other words, he’s been there. They all have. And yet they were so much fun to be with. Oh, we had a ball! We got up and played together here in LA - we did "Mama Kin” together. And they used to stand at the side of the stage and check out our set just about every night... […] it was weird. Also ’cos of the similarities - especially, like, me and Joe. Then all of a sudden to look up and see Joe standing there with Steven - it was just... wow, you know?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

[Being asked if they were intimidated from opening for a band that was so similar]: We thought about it. But the band just decided to really hang on to just being us, regardless of the similarities. So we never had any problems. We never really got too intimidated. I mean, I am a fan. We used to watch them from the soundboard every night. There was a lot of personal stuff happened, too, between the band, which I can’t really get into... It was just like no other tour that we’d done as far as being close to the people you’re touring with.

The only other band we’ve been that close to is Motley... I used to hang out with Nikki and Tommy. But this was different because it was like, we managed to earn a little bit of their respect just for being a half-decent rock ’n’ roll band. Just going out there to kick some ass, regardless. That was the one thing that they really appreciated. I was doing one of those slow blues guitar picking things one night and afterwards Steven took me aside and said, “That was amazing!” That really made me feel great. I mean, seriously. That and a couple of other things he did, which I won’t mention.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

Aw, man, it was great... Some funny shit went down on that Aerosmith tour. We were so similar, and yet we made such a contrast. They're all 'straight' now; clean. And their whole operation runs like clockwork; they stay in one place for four or five gigs, then when the tour moves a little further up the road they move to another place and make that their base for the next five gigs, or whatever. The whole thing is kept well under control... Which is exactly the opposite, of course, from the way we usually get things done. we travel the whole time, and very little of what we do is done, uh, straight... But it didn't seem to matter. They were exposed to us the whole time, and we got to hang out together a lot. Which was really cool, because those guys have all been heroes of mine since I was a kid and first started listening to rock 'n' roll. […] It was nice, too, because we were told by the people that worked for them that they would never go to the side of the stage and watch any of the bands that opened for them, usually. But for us they were there just about every night. There was always one or two of them there, and sometimes even the whole band. […]The first time I looked over and saw them all standing there watching us play, yeah, that fucked with me. It was weird… All of a sudden I look over and Joe's standing there watching me, and I almost froze. It was like, 'Wow! What do I do now?" In the end, it was a real family vibe going on between the two bands. They used to watch us, we used to watch them, and the rest of the time we'd hang out together. We managed to earn a little respect just by being a half-decent rock 'n' roll band, just really going out there and fuckin' trying to kick some ass, regardless. I did a guitar solo one night - one of those finger-pickin' slow blues things - and after the show, Tyler got me to one side and said, 'That was amazing!'. I just stood there and said, 'Well, thanks', and couldn't think of anything else to say. I was blown away. Seriously, that's something I'll never forget... That, and a couple of other things he did, which I won't mention because it would get us both into too much trouble....

[Being asked why they did so well in Circus Magazine's Readers Poll]: I bet a lot of it had to do with the Aerosmith tour we completed in September. There we were again, for the third time, in every major city on a great tour. I think that probably left a good taste in a lot of people's mouths.

[The tour was] far and away the best. Far and away. It’s the best tour I’ve ever been on as far as everybody just really, really meshing together.

[…] touring with Aerosmith was really a pleasure. They helped us out as much as they could. They knew that we were going completely over the top for the first half of the show, and that they'd have to justify themselves later in the night. The challenge didn't bother them — not at all.

[Being asked if the guys in Aerosmith preached to them about the evils of drink and drugs]: No, not once. They don't do any of that shit any more, but it hasn't turned them into preachers. I used to drink around them all the time and nobody said anything - though I did use a cup! But that was when I was still carrying a bottle of Jack around with me the whole time. […] There was one time when Steven [Tyler] came into the room I used to use for tuning my guitar. I'd stepped out of the room for a minute and when I got back there was Tyler standing there looking through my tapes and stuff. I had one empty, one half-empty, and one full bottle of Jack lying around in there. Anyway, I walked in and we started talking. And he says, 'Did you drink all that today?' And I was, like, yeah, I did. And he just gave me this look. He started to say something, but then he changed his mind. He's been through some scenes of his own, I guess. […] I remember Steven [Adler], our drummer, was very disillusioned about just about everything at one point, and he sat down and talked to Tyler about it, and Tyler gave him some sound advice.

Also Aerosmith seems to have grown fond of Guns N' Roses:

It’s real easy for a band to go out, and buy the image, and watch other bands performing and kind of mimic it and pick it up. But these guys seem to have it, you know, right down the bone.
MTV, August 1988

They remind me of Aerosmith in the early years a whole lot. A real rock band. They're not trendy at all. They do what they want to do. They have the attitude. The kids really eat that up. It's a rock 'n' roll attitude. It's a Rolling Stones attitude.

Joe Perry would shed lights on dealing with Axl:

We didn’t have to deal with him. His road manager had to deal with him. They were always nice around us.

Roger Glover, the bassist for Deep Purple who was on the bill with Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses on August 16, 1988, would illicit laughter with his sardonic assessment of the newcommers, "Well, they seem to be doing it all wrong right from the start" [MTV, August 1988].

The tour was also well-received in the media:

In concert together, Aerosmith were by far the more polished performers. But Guns N' Roses were thrashing out the dramas of their lives, and Axl's Janis Joplin-like stage presence connected on a deeper emotional level. By tour's end they were the opening act in name only, drawing half the crowds and running away with the T-shirt concessions.

The tour may be over, but the memories will linger on forever. Those fans lucky enough to catch one of the Aerosmith/Guns N’ Roses concerts witnessed rock history in the making.

The success would also be reflected financially, when it became one of the two hottest-ticket-in-town draws of the year - only Def Leppard's tour did comparable business in America [Kerrang! December 1988].

And Keith Garde, from Aerosmith management, would praise Doug Goldstein for the work he did:

Doug has to be credited as a major player in the success of the tour. He’s unusual for a tour manager. He didn’t seem to wear down and become intolerable.

After the Aerosmith tour the band had planned an European tour with Metallica [MTV Headbanger's Ball, April 1988], but they decided to take a break, according to Izzy to preserve Axl's voice [Sounds Magazine, August 1988]. The band wouldn't tour again until December 1988 when they travelled to Japan.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:52 pm

AUGUST 6, 1988

The slow success of 'Welcome to the Jungle' and the immediate success of 'Sweet Child O' Mine' together with the band's almost constant touring activity helped album sales.

On August 6, 1988, almost exactly a year after its release, 'Appetite for Discussion' reached the number one spot on the Billboard sales list in USA [Circus Magazine, November 1988; Rolling Stone, November 1988].

It was a big surprise! When I talked to you [=Mick Wall] the last time [=June 1988], I wasn’t expecting it at all. But it’s like, it’s just words and numbers, you know?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

We were in a place called Sandstone, just outside of Kansas City, when we found out. And we were like, 'Ok, we're Number One.' There was no big fanfare. It was during our soundcheck, so we didn't even celebrate or anything. Geffen sent us a cake, though.

It's kinda like those Izod shirts that were fashionable once, a while back. We're cool to like now. Six months ago, kids were afraid to like GNR because their parents, teachers, or friends would come down on 'em. When I was on the track [in high school], if you said you liked Alice Cooper, you had to run an extra lap.

Now it's cool to like us. And don't get me wrong, we're all happy and everything that we went Number One, and that so many people like us now. But it's gotten to the point where you walk down the street and you'll see some preppy guy singing 'SCOM' and you'll go 'wait a minute...'

I mean, did that really happen to us? It's like, there's that, and then there's regular life. The rest is just words and numbers that don't really mean a thing.

I was surprised, man. It was pretty exciting while we were on tour. We had been touring for six or seven months, and none of us had any kind of root. Nobody had apartments, nobody had a house. We didn’t even have a penny. David Geffen arrived one day and told us “Your record is number one. You are going to make a lot of money”. Someone said “Uaau!”
Popular 1, November 1992; translation from Spanish

The single 'Sweet Child O' Mine' was released in August 1988 and went to no. 1 three weeks later.

With the success of Appetite, the label started to push the band into milking the success:

Because of the success of the record, everybody in the business is getting so damn excited. (mimicking) "Gee, we have such a big seller now, we can push this one." So because in the record company world, our album has been moved into a position where it's now the record to push. And with us being out on the road all the time, things are getting goddamned out of hand! There's people preparing to put out different mixes and edits of songs before we even get a chance to get a grip on what's going on. It's really not a representation of what our band stands for… or what our sound is. Hopefully, what will happen is they'll do their bull, we'll sell another million records, and that'll give us more power next time to say, "No, you sons of bitches." […] it's rough to hear about some of our "b"-sides being put out while we're on the road and can do nothing about it. We only hear about it after they go on and do it and we ask, "What do you mean?" It gets kinda weird with people taking liberties with your music. We could throw a big monkey wrench into the thing but that would mean a complete halt and right now we don't wanna do that, so we're gonna have to put up with this over the next few months and we're not real happy about it or proud of it. We'll show a change by our next record and I just hope the kids out there don't think we're coming out with some of the stuff they'll wind up seeing… because it has nothing to do at all with us. Y'know, you battle to a certain point and all of a sudden you're face to face with the big monkey-making machine.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:53 pm

AUGUST 20, 1988


In August, the band took a break from the ongoing Aerosmith tour to return to England to play at the Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donington. The show happened on August 20.

Slash and Duff were excited:

Going back and doing Donington is the greatest, though. We’ve been told they’re expecting maybe 100,000 people. That’s just like the most important gig... Do you know how we’re doing it? We’re doing the Aerosmith tour, I told you, right? Well, we’re taking Concorde, playing Donington, then flying back. We’re flying back commercial, but we’re going business class,’ he said with undisguised glee.

See, Alan our manager is a really good manager, and the cool thing about him is he has a tendency every so often to break down and get indulgent. Like get drunk and suddenly decide to take a limo on to the next place. We need that kind of vibe. Just let’s throw all the money into the pot and let’s just go!
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

Oh, man, that should be the coolest! Originally, the idea was for us to come back to Britain and tour with Metallica in September or October. But it seems kind of redundant to keep on touring off the back of this one album. So when the chance to play at Donington came up we just grabbed at it! I'm told they're expecting a really big crowd this year, too, so that should be awesome. I tell ya, this is such an important gig for us. I've always loved playing in Britain, fuckin' loved it! […] Also, have you heard how we're doing it? We're scheduled to play a gig with Aerosmith, then jump on Concorde and fly straight to the show at Donington. Then after we've finished playing, we're straight back on a 'plane and back out on the road in the States again with Aerosmith! Fuckin' bang, bang, bang! […] We don't need the money. We just wanna make sure we play our part in making Donington this year a real motherfucker of a gig.  […]There's the pinnacle of what this is all about for me right there...

About a week after the sheet-cake ceremony [for reaching no. 1 on Billboard for Appetite], we flew to England again to play the outdoor Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington. This was the kind of thing you heard about other band playing - big bands, household names, not grubby kids a year or two removed from living in a back-alley storage space and treating their venereal diseases with fucking fish food.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 136-137

Looking back at the flight over in Concorde:

Too small. Nice, though. We crossed over fuckin’ Texas in about five minutes flat, and on the plane it’s almost festive, everyone’s like, yeeaaahhhhh... here we go! Then they have these, like, high-class meals, right? Which is just expensive microwaved shit - it's the worst! But you get all this food and they treat you very nicely and stuff. And the thing is it was only like a three-hour flight, so we were there in no time. I just drank - to compensate for the shitty food.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

This was by far the largest show the band had done, playing for 107,000 festival goers.

Slash would recount going back to England:

The whole going to England thing was... weird. I was put into a situation where I was away from the rest of band, doing things like press and radio. Apart from when we were actually on stage, the only real time I spent at the gig was at soundcheck. The rest of the time I was busy either screwing or doing interviews, so I didn’t leave the hotel room...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988


Guns N' Roses was near the bottom of the bill and played early in the day.

What’s kind of lost is that people think Guns n’ Roses headlined Donington. We played at noon. We were really low on the bill and we were just happy to be here
Classic Rock Magazine, June 2013

Unfortunately, tragedy occurred when two fans, Alan Dick and Landon Siggers, died during GN'R's set. The deaths were likely the result of asphyxiation and crushing when the audience pushed towards the stage.

Izzy would describe what went down and claim he had tried to get the band to stop the show but that they wouldn't:

That was... very strange. I mean, I saw it all go down. I stopped the gig three times. Kids were lookin' at me, givin' me this real intense look, like "something really, really bad is going down." You could read it all in their faces. I tried to stop the band... like three times... but they just kept playing, y'know on and on. Then I turned around and I could see the bodies being pulled out.

Later, Slash, Steven and Duff would on the contrary say they did stop the show a couple of times:

Well, it got a little bit out of hand and, I don’t know, we stopped cos we had to stop. ‘We just looked out and it was like, oh fuck... From where we were standing, which was right above it, it looked really hectic. You couldn’t tell what happened exactly but there’s a certain amount of force which goes into the first ten rows. You could see that surge when we came on, you could see the force. And they’re just people… We stopped because we were scared.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

We stopped the show a couple of times at Donnington - a big racetrack in England - when things started getting out of hand. It was people as far as you could see. It rained; people would fall over and asphyxiate in the mud. We didn't know that a couple of people died untill after the show.

Looking out on the sea of faces on August 20, 1988, I realized I'd never ever seen a crowd that size, much less stood in front of one. The festival had been going for a few years, but this was the biggest one so far - 107,000 in attendance. It was stormy, and the lawn - the infield of a racetrack - was thick with mud. Wind swirled. The PA had problems and a giant video screen blew over. We were near the bottom of the bill and played early in the day. When we started laying, tens of thousands of people surged forward. 'Shit almighty, people really want to see us. This is fucking crazy.' As fans swarmed toward the stage, I could see people getting pushed around, losing their footing. "Back up!" Axl screamed at the crowd. Security stopped the show during the third song to fish a few people out of the scrum. But they were also occupied dealing with the video screen that had collapsed in the wind., People refused to get out from under it - it was still showing the video feed. We continued playing after getting the okay from security. When we played 'Paradise City' the crowd surged forward again, a writhing mass of bodies, singing, screaming, nodding. Suddenly I could see kids piled on top of other kids, horizontal in the mud. It looked like some kids might be getting hurt. 'Should I jump in and try to do something?' I was too scared. We stopped playing again. "Don't fucking kill each other," Axl said to the crowd. This pause lasted about twenty minutes. Dozens of people were pulled out of the mud by security, Then once again we were told we could resume playing and finish our set.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 136-137

In the middle of the afternoon we hit the stage. It was a madhouse. Over a hundred thousand kids were cramming against the front. The racetrack were selling these big thirty-two-ounce beers. The kids were drinking, and they weren't about to go through this whole fucking crowd just to urinate at a stall, so they pissed in the bottles. Before we went on, we were standing at the side of the stage looking at the size of the crowd.

Suddenly, we saw what looked like a swarm of giant locusts flying through the air; they were actually hundreds of these plastic bottles of urine soaring over the crowd. We were like, "What the fuck?" Bam, pop! People were getting hit in the head and splattered with pee. But it wasn't going to change anything. We had gotten spit on, we had bottles of booze and beet thrown at us, and we had gotten in shoving matches with fans and other bands, so what's a little projectile piss?

I was surprised to see so many Guns N' Roses banners waving in the crowd. By the time we went on there were 120,000 people screaming and jumping up and down. It was really an impressive sight for us all. Everyone was so out of control, and we had to stop the show several times because people kept rushing the stage. Axl asked the crowd to settle down and back up. People were getting crushed at the front of the stage.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 168-170

That the band stopped the show would be confirmed by Mick Wall [Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993].

Promoter Maurice Jones would recount the tragedy:

I saw the whole thing happen. The problems were created by idiots, absolute idiots. They were pushing stage right and the crowd compressed. They just couldn’t go any further, then about fifteen feet from the stage, a hole in the crowd opened and people went down. I went down to the front of the stage and I saw First Aid people and the doctors working and I felt so useless... I can’t describe how it felt. I saw five bodies on the ground and I knew somebody was dead.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

Just minutes after the show Duff would be interviewed about how it had been, and indicate that he thought people might have died:

I think our performance is kind of secondary to what's happening in the crowd. They have casualties here. Were you out there at all? I think I saw a casualty happen. It was really weird. It was really strange. We had to stop the show. The P.A. system is kind of screwed up and you don't get time to have a good sound check so we couldn't really hear ourselves but we pulled it off. I think we did a good show. But I'm still stunned at the size of the audience and what was happening up front. It was real scary. We all went like, "woah!" [...] It was kids piled on kids horizontal on the ground. They were unconscious. And more people kept on falling on them. I saw them! It took about 20 minutes to get everybody out. We stopped the show and they finally pulled the last couple of people out and I think they were dead. It was really weird. I saw no life in those bodies at all. [...] ['Patience's] on the EP. The crowd needed to settle down and that's a song that says, "ok, everybody relax and listen."


A few hours after the show while still not informed there had been casualties, Slash would do an interview:

Don't get me wrong, we hate to see violence, people getting hurt, and we feel sorry for the kids that are right there in the middle of it. But a rowdy crowd, a crowd that knows how to rock, is the best. It makes you feel great that people can get that into it and the kind of energy level we're talking about is good for the band.

That's why we like playing in England. The whole situation is heavier here, work is harder to get, money's tight, opportunities are fewer than they are in the States. So the kids need to have that one release from a rock 'n' roll show. They'll die for it.

Then, some hours later, as the band was celebrating, Niven gave them the awful news:

Like, let’s clear this up. We didn’t find out two kids had actually died during our set until we got back to the hotel that night. Alan [Niven] was really bummed out about something and I sort of sat down with him and he told me about it. It just destroyed the whole thing for me...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

At that show we experienced a frenzied reaction like nothing we'd seen before. The festival broke attendance records that year, surpassing the hundred-thousand mark. There couldn't have been a better place for us to record live footage...except for the fact that two people were trampled to death at the front of the stage during our set. The audience was crazy, just this sea of surging people. Axl stopped the set a number of times in an effort to control the crowd, but there was no calming them down. We had no idea that anyone was actually hurt let alone killed; after we'd done the gig and were celebrating in a nearby pub, Alan came in completely distraught and gave us the news. It was horrible; none of us knew what to do: something that had been a cause for celebration a moment before had become a tragedy.At that show we experienced a frenzied reaction like nothing we'd seen before. The festival broke attendance records that year, surpassing the hundred-thousand mark. There couldn't have been a better place for us to record live footage...except for the fact that two people were trampled to death at the front of the stage during our set. The audience was crazy, just this sea of surging people. Axl stopped the set a number of times in an effort to control the crowd, but there was no calming them down. We had no idea that anyone was actually hurt let alone killed; after we'd done the gig and were celebrating in a nearby pub, Alan came in completely distraught and gave us the news. It was horrible; none of us knew what to do: something that had been a cause for celebration a moment before had become a tragedy.
Slash's autobiography, 2007

It's hard for me to talk about it. We went back to the hotel, had dinner, and learnt about the deaths when we were in the bar. We've sort of been attacked for it, as if we were directly responsible, but with all those people — 100,000 — and the mud, y'know, no one thing can be blamed. Everybody was there for a release, to get away from their jobs, their parents, their problems, to get drunk and have a good time, but then you have this insane inconsideration for others. That ruined what it was supposed to be about — for everybody.

The Donington gig was our third major open air appearance and there were riots at both the other two. We just go out there and play, try to generate some excitement, but when it gets out of hand, when it fucks up the kids, you get to the point where you don't want to go out and play those kind of gigs.

Only later did we hear the news: two fans had died, suffocated beneath other fans in the mud. 'Oh, fuck, no, no, no, no.' Those two fans, Alan Dick and Landon Siggers, had just come to see a rock concert. They had tried to see us, to sing with us. And now they were dead. All I could think about were their final moments of anguish, the horror they must have faced as they struggled to breathe in the knee-deep mud and other fans fell on top of them. 'Oh, God, no. I wish we'd never played this fucking show.' I wanted to apologize to their families.
Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 136-137

Steven would claim they first heard the tragic news when flying back to USA:

It wasn't until the next day, after we flew the Concorde back to the U.S., that we were told that two kids were killed during our set. They were trampled to death.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 168-170

Mick Wall would write that the UK newspapers went sensationalistic about the incident:

Despite the swift issuing of a statement by Chief Superintendent Dennis Clarke, of the West Midlands police division, in which he described the crowd at Donington that year as ‘otherwise superb’ and announced that there had in fact been no arrests, reaction in Britain’s notoriously tacky tabloid press was predictably over the top and the more scurrilous Sunday editions published the following day ran sensationalistic, wholly inaccurate stories claiming, amongst other things, that the stage collapsed and that Guns N’ Roses had refused to stop playing even after being informed of the plight of the injured fans.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993

Promoter Maurice Jones would concur:

We even had very well known and supposedly responsible news­papers saying the stage had collapsed. The stage didn’t collapse and was never in any danger of doing so! The one thing I did learn from all this, was never trust a reporter. A lot of the press had absolutely no respect whatsoever for the kids who had died and I thought it was completely disgusting...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993


Slash refused to feel responsible for what had occurred:

Not personally, no. The way I see it is - too many people in one place, there’s no security, there’s no nothing. It’s not like doing, say, 80,000 people at Giants Stadium in New York, where there’s a line of security at the front and there’s a line of security that goes all the way around the entire thing. Donington is just like a stage and a huge field, and 100,000 people is a fuckin’ lot of people. When we get back I’ll show you the video. We have a new video coming out - it’s from Giants Stadium and Donington and you can see the difference.

Donington’s just like, here’s the tickets, have a great time... What bums me out the most is whoever it was who was standing on top of somebody - you can’t stand on somebody and not know they’re there! They were so self-involved and selfish that they had to be as close to the stage as possible, and somebody was gonna suffer for it and have to lay under their feet in ten inches of mud. That’s what really sucked about it. It was front row security, then a huge fuckin’ field - further than we could see - and a bunch of kids who wanted to go out and see a good rock show. The craziest ones are always gonna be the ones in the first fuckin’ twenty rows - they’re the diehards. But you don’t fuckin’ have that much disregard for human life that you just have to see a show no matter what the repercussions are or what happens to somebody else during it...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

We didn't tell people to smash each other. We didn't tell people, 'Drink so much alcohol that you can't fucking stand up.' I don't feel responsible in those ways.

Duff, on the other hand, would not so quickly dismiss personal responsibility. He would also indicate that the tragedy had weighed so heavily on Slash and Izzy that it helped to explain their drug addictions:

The band were really brought down by the event. And we did try to stop the craziness down the front by changing our set, slowing things down, I actually don’t know it the accident was our fault or not. If someone were to ask me face-to-face whether Guns n’ Roses were to blame, I couldn’t say with any conviction that we’re not. I don’t think we can be held responsible, but I’d have to think very hard before giving an answer. Maybe we have to take some of the blame. After all, we were onstage when those kids died, and had Guns n’ Roses not existed then perhaps the tragedy wouldn’t have occurred.

It weighs very heavily on us and whatever anyone else may write or say about the incident can’t make us feel any worse. Quite honestly, we couldn’t give a fuck about the media trying to make us the scapegoats. That thing will haunt me forever anyway.

It’s strange, but tragedy and pain do seem to dog our career, A lot of weird shit happens to this band. We seem to attract it. I dunno, I can’t help wondering if the reason why Slash and Izzy were so strung out on certain ‘substances’ recently (they’re now cleaned out and revved up) was their way of attempting to hide and numb the pain they felt.

When asked if they would consider returning to Donington:

I don’t know. It was a big fuckin’ rush for us to be asked to play it. But we won’t be able to do it next year, anyway. If it was the year after, maybe, and it was a good time, I’d like to do it. But if we were headlining I’d change a few things. […] I would change the way the whole thing’s run... Not the whole thing, but I’d change the way it’s set up. You’ve got to compile areas of people into sections and try to do your best to patrol them. A heavy duty English crowd - that’s impossible, I know, but if you’re gonna do it you might as well make the attempt at it. There’s a lot of money made from that gig and the promoter can afford it, right? ’Cos Don­ington next time... a lot of kids are gonna be scared of going. I mean, the kids that died, chances are they hitch-hiked from some way out place and saved up for a month to go; their parents probably didn’t want them to go but they had to go, you know how it is... And then they lose their lives in, like, fifteen minutes at some rock festival - which, all in all, is a really insignificant event. And it’s their entire existence gone! It just bums me out.

I’ve been worrying about whether we should write something to their parents or not. Nothing that comes out of our mouths is gonna sound right, though - some simple rock band they don’t even know, that are responsible, as far as they’re concerned, for the demise of their children...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

Years later, Duff would again express strong feelings about the tragedy, and emphasize that they did stop the show and tried to prevent the casualties, again apparently in contrast to Izzy's recount above:

Well, obviously that’s totally the other side of the com, but yeah, that was a fucked thing… It makes me cry - every day, if I think about it.

[…] Saw the whole fuckin’ event, man! I saw it going down. And we stopped, man. We stopped and screamed, “Back the fuck up!” ’cos we saw the kids going under... “Back the fuck up! Back the fuck up!” And the mud was this thick, it was about a foot deep and we saw the kids go under and then some other people came over them. They couldn’t tell they were stepping on people they thought it was just mud. And, man, we were like, this is our fault, man... But we were frantic - back up, back up! I was there and I was watching it and there just seemed like nothing we could do except scream at them. I was ready to jump into the crowd, but I was scared to die myself. Maybe that’s chickenshit...

[…] I tell you, Mick, it really crushed us all. It really crushed us all. We went back to the hotel that night and we were watching the fuckin’ news - they didn’t know who the kids were yet but one of them had this tattoo. We were just... At first I felt that it was totally our fault for months and months. I probably will for the rest of my life.

[…] look at it this way, if we weren’t there then maybe it wouldn’t have happened. So I’ve got that to live with for the rest of my life. I don’t think it was our fault, in so much as we didn’t say step on these two guys. But then again... if we weren’t there, Mick, if we hadn’t caught the plane and missed the gig, maybe two guys would still be living today. That is a big fuckin’ responsibility, man. There’s a lot of shit that goes on, a lot of responsibility, that just fucks with our heads. I'm still learning how to deal with it, you know? Like, I ride a mountain bike now and I try to, er, just keep my head straight. I hang out with Slash and I... er... it’s difficult, man. It’s hard. I went through a lot of shit in my head about Donington. It just gets difficult sometimes...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

After Castle Donnington I felt, and still feel, somehow responsible for the deaths of those two kids. If we wouldn't have been there playing…

The band was upset about it. They wondered what kind of security they had at a gig if people could be crushed.

Slash would also express strong emotions about the event:

Those fans dying at Donnington has stayed with me, for sure. We were so excited to be playing there, but of course the phrase 'bittersweet' is way too light to cover it. We'd come off stage on a total high, feeling complete elation at the reception we'd got, and then we went to some pub near the venue, some hotel, and our manager Alan Niven told us what had happened and it was numbing. It just erased everything. I still think about it to this day. Two kids who had got up that morning to go to a rock concert...
The Truth, Mojo, June 2008

Steven would also refer to it as the worst show he had while in GN'R:

Donnington was the worst show we've ever played. You don't know what's happening so you can't stop it.
The Days of Wine and Roses, Classic Rock, April 2005

I was shell-shocked. Numb. I couldn't believe it. Of course, the media blamed the band, fueling our notorious bad-boy image. And we were just starting to get a broader, more friendly public image going when this happened. [...]

To this day, the Donnington tragedy still haunts me like a nightmare.
Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 168-170


It was likely during the band's travel to England for the Donighton show, that Slash heard the phrase "It's Five O' Clock Somwehere" which would end up being the title of the first Snakepit record in 1995:

When we went to England, I think It was Donington, we were going to the airport and I was in a really bad mood. I went to the bar at the hotel and I said, "I know it's only 10 o'clock in the morning, but can I have a Jack and coke?" He said "It's five o'clock somewhere." and I've lived by that over since. The whole reason behind the title is it's really wide open. It's five o'clock somewhere, there's something happening going on.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:55 pm


There was that rape charge. Three of us had supposedly O.D.’d. We had been busted in England on drug charges and been dropped from the label. I was supposedly this bisexual heroin addict who had AIDS and was into small animals. There’s been about a rumor a week with this band.

Everything that happens gets blown out of proportion in certain ways but it's got a basis in fact, something that got said or got done. Somebody OD'd or wrecked a car, had a rape charge or laid 10 girls in a row. Stories just start stretching all over the place. We got in a fight in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency. It was about a 60 person fight, cops and paddy wagons, security guards, guys in suits from a wedding who started throwing the first punches. They told us they knew it wasn't our fault. That's gonna get blown into like 300 people.

It could be said that we have a pretty nasty history. The thing is, I don't give a fuck about the image that everyone buys. It's all been blown out of proportion, the bad-boy' thing, how much we drink, how much drugs we do or don't do. It's boring. While everyone's talkin' about what we did or supposedly did yesterday, we're already working today on the music they're gonna hear tomorrow.


The band seemed to have enjoyed the initial press coverage, a true sign of success.

Slash, though, was not comfortable in interviews, being naturally shy and an introvert. In the beginning he had to do interviews to create buzz, and he was also forced to by Alan Niven after being signed to Geffen:

I hate doing interviews. Because they’re boring. At this point in time we’re at the mercy of the press because we don’t have a record out, so as soon as we get a record out, the shoe goes on the other foot. Then we’re not going to brown-nose to the press anymore. That’s why we’re so docile in our interview. You can’t fuck around too much or people badmouth you. Our manager says, ‘Listen, Slash, if you do this and that and the other, I’m taking the van away from you, I’m taking this from you. You can’t go on living up to this reputation of yours.

The UK press was the first to start writing in-depth about the band with 'Live!? Live A Suicide' gaining some popularity there, motivating the band to travel to London in June 1987 for three gigs at the Marquee. This also gave the band the first experience with tabloid English newspapers who were more interested in shocking headlines than facts and the truth. One example is Axl and his alleged hatred of small dogs [see earlier chapter], another example is an article by Andy Secher in Hit Parader from December 1987 where Slash is quoted as saying the band had toured with Stryper [Hit Parader, December 1987]. The band never toured with Stryper although according to Steven's biography there had been plans to do that.

There was one [rumour] that said we were on tour with Stryper, and that we burned all their bibles onstage - we’ve never even been on tour with Stryper! Yet there was a whole article about it!

In the Hit Parader article, Andy Secher would quote Slash talking about the tour and how they had different religious views to Stryper.

Slash would later refer to this rumour as among the most bizarre:

The one that we played with Stryper, did a tour with Stryper, was pretty bizarre. I don’t know where that came from.

There was some stuff in Hit Parader about us touring with Stryper. We never toured with Stryper. Slash never said we toured with Stryper.

We never played a gig with Stryper. It says in Hit Parader, ques­tion: ‘So how was the tour with Stryper?’ Slash, answer: ‘Oh, it was great. If they knew what we were doing while they were up playing onstage, they would have a shitfit—stealing all their booze.’ It was just a false answer, like, ‘What would he say, I wonder.’ I guess you come to expect this kind of stuff.

Although Slash in the previous quote expresses bewilderment over where the Stryper rumour came from, the Hit Parader article and blatant falsifying of quotes is likely the reason why Secher would be called out in the song 'Get In The Ring' from 'Use Your Illusions' in 1991.

As the band grew in popularity, and 'Appetite' sold more and more, the press would love writing about them. They lived dangerously on the edge and many magazines would be more interested in stories about drugs, sex and violence than the band's music and live shows. In 1987 and 1988, the band was challenged by this tabloid interest from the press, fuelled by their own assuredly wild behavior which they often did little to hide during interviews, resulting in less attention to their music and ambitions as artists.

Already in October 1987 would Axl express a hope that in the future people would be more interested in the messages in their lyrics than the band's controversies:

I’m looking forward to the day when people will forget about the controversy, and anyone who listens to our music will sit and think: 'In the third verse you say such and such; what do you mean by that?' I'm happy that there are people who have this approach already from our first album, without having to wait for the second or the third one, like it has happened with many bands.
Popular 1, April 1988; translated from Spanish

Talking about doing interviews in the mid-1988:

Well, it's sort of weird because you start feeling like a pop star, you know? And you start going to newsstands to see what magazines you're in and shit. It's like a habit I got now. Every week, I go by this magazine stand I used to work at, and check out all the magazines to see which ones we're in. It's still like a novelty to me at this point, you know?
Creem Close-up Metal, October 1989; interview from mid-1988

At this stage they didn't have to do interviews to create a buzz any more, either, and especially Slash was more at liberty to not take interviews as serious any more, with a good example being the interview with NME from October 1987. At the same time this more seedy focus from the press helped fuel the band's "wild boys" image which would undoubtedly help sell records and tickets to live shows.

You know, I really liked it when the kids loved us and we were still sort of underground. Now it's gotten to the point where we're sort of a circus act for normal society to go, 'Look at them fall down. Isn't that cute?' Sometimes it just pisses me off. I always thought of us as basically nice guys who were over-exaggerated about. I mean, we don't rob banks, we don't beat up girls, we don't smash guitars over kids' heads in the front rows. I don't see why it's such a crime to be us.

In November 1987 Rolling Stone magazine published an article on the band and gave them the front page even though they had intended to use it for Aerosmith [MTV, October 1988]. To GN'R's consternation, the magazine described in detail the band's post-gig antics and wrote much less about the band's music:

Well, he was with us for three days. I mean, I like the guy. He was with us for three days. He saw, basically every side of us. But he kinda exploited just one side, which happens from like, after the gig till you go to sleep on the bus. That side, you know.

I mean, apparently with us, it's like, the main thing people wanna hear is how bad we are. This and that we did, and so and so did that. That's like, sort of novelty of Guns N' Roses, right. And so that's what... Rolling Stone just printed the stuff that's gonna make their magazine sell, basically.

Okay, here's what they did, and they really misled us, because they sent this guy out...Rob? Tannenbaum. And, uhm, spent three fucking days with us, day and night, right? He was asking questions about the music and this and that, which is the most important thing, it's our music… […] But we were trying to be... we fucking showed him a great time, we hung out and actually really became friends within those three days. And we really believed he was going to focus on the music of the band so when the article comes out really was disappointed because he focused on the drinking and the fucking and the sake...[…] I think the reason they write this shit, I mean, that's all that's been written about us, it's the's just, these guys fucking drink and do this in that, fine! […] You know, everybody in the fucking world drinks, almost, you know, so what? You know, so let's focus on the music, you know. That's what was promised to us and it didn't happen.

It’s kind of one-sided. ‘Okay, let’s exploit the dirty side, all the dark sides of this band,’ ya know? The writer was with us for three days. I mean, I liked the guy. He was with us for three days, he saw basically every side of us. But he kind of exploited just one side. Which happens from, like, after the gig until you go to sleep on the bus? That side.

Apparently, with us, it’s the main thing that people want to hear is how bad we are, and that’s the sort of novelty about Guns N’ Roses, right? And so, that’s what Rolling Stone just printed, the stuff that’s going to make the magazine sell, basically.

I mean, it was basically focused on Guns N’ Roses’ chemical intake, and violence, sex, groupies and all those sorts of things. The guy who wrote the article was on the road with us for a while on the Aerosmith tour, and there was a lot of other things going on. But he used quotes that were, like, just made in passing, just bits of conversation and somehow he managed to pull them out of context and put them in the article the way he wanted. It was just me going. “Oh, you know... blah blah blah”, it was a conversation, it wasn’t part of the interview. But he managed to take that and put it in the magazine. It was sort of a drag to read that and see how you can be had so easily. […] You can’t really trust them. You sort of, like, want to, you really want to. But when you’ve got a journalist with you and you’ve sort of taken him into your confidence and you’ve allowed him into your surroundings, it’s only because you think you can trust him, you think maybe he’s cool. So you expose stuff to him that normally you wouldn’t expose, and it’s a drag when one of those guys turns round and kicks you in the ass and makes you feel like a fool.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

To make a mockery of the press, the band would design the layout of the EP G N' R Lies to look like a typical tabloid newspaper with fake stories about the band.

In 1988, the press would regularly report than one or more of the band members had died, likely fuelled by true reports of ODs and accidents [example in Los Angeles Times, December 1988].

Talking about some of the crazy rumours they had heard:

One time Geffen got a call from the Long Beach police department because they had a body in the morgue and it had been identified as Izzy. But the best story I heard was, after having to cancel a show in Phoenix, everyone there knew that the matter was that I died of AIDS.

That we abuse women, and that we are the total f?!kin’ dogs and stuff—like we have a chip on our shoulder, which isn’t true. I hate that shit. We never put across an image like that, I don’t think. I guess it’s very stereotyp­ical rock-and-roll-band-type stuff... that we drink a lot, we do this, we do that. Obvious­ly we f!?k girls all the time. We destroy hotel rooms. And some of it is true, but there’s no particular forte.

I saw this thing on MTV the other day. They did a ten-minute spot on the fact that I did not kill Axl... Axl is not dead! I went, what!? They ran these pictures on the screen: “AXL - NOT DEAD”... “JIMI HENDRIX - DEAD”. Then a picture of me and the band: “NOT DEAD” then “JIM MORRISON - DEAD”. Then they showed a picture of the band again: “NOT DEAD”. Then they showed a picture of Elvis - “DEAD?” with a question mark.

It was a classic! I mean, when it gets to that level, you just can’t take it seriously any more.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

People Magazine wanted to do an article on how America is accepting us as sleazy as we are, so we turned 'em down. [...] The press... It’s like they expect us to live up to this reputation that they've tagged us with. Well, maybe deep down inside I might feel I have to, to some extent, still, none of us have ever tried to be anything that we weren't. We never wanted to be role models for anyone.

The press tries to glamorize us - they make it seem like we're always strung out or trashing a hotel or something, and that's not the case at all. I mean, we're worked really hard to get here, and they choose to ignore that aspect of the band. To me, destroying a hotel room is boring. It's a waste of time and money.

I don't like 90% of the writers out there. I don't trust 'em. I might slip and say one thing I shouldn't and two months later, I'll see an entire five-page article built around ten seconds of an hour-long interview. After this album, I'll let the other guys deal with the press.

Though, the band would admit that many of the rumours contained a kernel of truth:

[People] hear about shit on the street. They would come to us about it. We’d deny most of it. It’s like half and half—half’s true and half's bullshit.

RIP Magazine would summarize the situation:

These guys have created more good ink for the rock scribes than any band since, dare I say, the holy Sex Pistols. Thing is, whereas many of the competition’s activities appear contrived (as in, the product of a publicist’s imagination), Guns N’ Roses’ seem to be for real. If it’s all an act, give these dudes some Oscars!

Speculating on how the false rumours starts:

Different people like to start different shit and feel they're in a position to get away with it, and if you don’t like it, well, then you’re not in their magazine. We’re really not in too big a position to bitch about it. I don’t know... wannabes... people who are jealous you’re in a band and they’re not. Or, you know what I’ve noticed? People in almost every field have to feel that they have one up on everybody around them. I’m not necessarily saying it about the press. People working with us as managers, tour managers, have to feel like they have one up on you. It’s like, ‘No, you’re working for me. I hired you because of your expertise in this field. It doesn't mean that it’s your show. It’s our show. We’re the band. We’re calling the shots, and we’ll work with you, but not like you’re the coolest motherf!?ker on the entire planet and I’m a peon!’

In late 1988, Slash would mention he had written a song called Not Dead Yet as a response to the press' constant rumours and negativity towards the band, and was trying to write the lyrics to it:

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. […] It's just because, I mean, there was just so much bullshit. It was such a pain in the ass having to listen to all this crap, like this preoccupation with, you know, our lifestyles and this and that and the other, and people going, "ah, those guys", you know, everybody sitting around waiting for our demise, you know what I mean?

Slash would doing the brunt of the interview by late 1988:

Yeah, I do it. I’m up for it. If I don’t do it then I’ll just sit around and do drugs and get drunk. There’s also a feeling of if I don’t do it no one will.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

When asked if he was alluding to Axl:

Axl's very involved - he does it and gets really into it, then other times he doesn’t want to do it. He’s very emotional, so I’ll do it. But if he wants to he could be talking to fuckin’ somebody from Trouser Press for three hours... Axl does this, this and this - and this, this and this, Axl doesn’t do. It’s not any particular thing, it’s just what his frame of mind is.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

As for the other three band members:

Izzy doesn’t wanna do it. He wants to stay very much in the shadows. Steven doesn’t do a lot of stuff because it’s never been his role. Duff likes to do stuff, but right now Duff’s at a wedding so I do it because this is like twenty-five hours a day for me...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

In mid-1989, Axl would talk about the press and say the exaggerated stories just helped the band:

The press seems to be more interested in our off-stage activities than in the music itself! But a lot of the time, it's our own friends who start the ball rolling because we might tell them something that happened, they'll tell somebody else, who'll tell somebody, and by the time it reaches a journalist, it's been blown out of proportion. A lot of the stories really aren't much. We've had some run-ins with the cops, most people do, but because we're in Guns 'n' Roses, it's blown up to be something totally astounding. People think we're criminals, or something. […] We don't really are about these rumors. I heard we were all dying of AIDS, and the times I've heard that I'd died of a drug overdose, it's laughable. The way I figure it, these stories just make us seem more interesting than we are. It'll just encourage people to listen to the records or come and see our concerts; and when they do, the music's good enough to hook them right in. So let these people warn the kids away from us, they're just helping our cause!

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:57 pm


After the Aerosmith tour the original plan was to do a tour with Metallica in September or October [Kerrang! July 1988]. Instead they did a one-off festival with INXS as headliners at Texas Stadium in Irving, on September 17, 1988. This would be a notorious show the band members would talk about for years:

Two days after the end of the Aerosmith tour in September 1988, Guns played a strange festival-type gig at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Texas. INXS headlined and the opening band included the Smithereens, Ziggy Markey and Iggy [Pop]. I was excited to meet [Iggy]. After the show, Iggy and I boh ended up at a party in the hotel suite of Michael Hutchence, the vocalist for INXS. I was nervous as hell to be in a room with Iggy, a guy who had inspired a dream that stuck with me for the rest of my life - a dream that cemented the direction of my life in many ways. So I commenced to get really fucked up. Michael Hutchence was already as famous for dating models and appearing in paparazzi photos as for singing "Need You Tonight," and I think Iggy felt as out of place as I did - so he joined me. We got fucked up together [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 136-137]
The show was the absolute worst we ever played. For some reason, the guys just weren't into it and the reason was simple: they wanted to go home. [...] To add to our misery, it was raining that day. We were in Texas Stadium, a partially covered arena that had a huge opening over the playing field. From the stag, I could see rain pouring down on the crowd, but we were kept mostly dry, except when it would get gusty. It was the weirdest-looking setup. We played out set in record time. just wanting to get it over with[Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 174-175]
We just did one date with [INXS] and, well, the gig itself was a disaster because it was in the Texas Stadium which has a big hole in the top and the hurricane Gilbert, or whatever it was, was forty miles south of us so it was pouring through the hole in the roof, and we were getting rained on, and the sound was crappy, you know[Interview Sessions, December 1988]
We don't think that we've made any serious fuck-ups in the course of our career. There are things that we regret but we never talk about. Like playing with INXS, for instance. Why? Because they're assholes. They wouldn't let us turn up the sound, they wouldn't allow us a sound-check, and no lighting show [New Musical Express, April 1989]
Looking at pictures in Robert John's photo book: This picture, right here with Ax, was at the Texas Stadium - the Cowboy Place, Dallas Stadium, whatever – and it was at the very end of our first two year tour. It was the last show, and it was the worst show we ever played. INXS was headlining and we were playing before them. We were supposed to play for about an hour and a half, and we played for about 45 minutes. The sound was terrible, the crowd – the show itself, the lineup was Iggy Pop, Ziggy Marley, The Replacements, us and INXS. I mean, it was really screwed up, so the crowd was really confused in general. And we were terrible. Then, a few months later, I got a cassette in the mail, Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction broken in half. It was some former fan (laughs), who said after seeing us at the Texas Stadium that he would never listen to us again["Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History", Documentary, June 19, 1994].
INXS were not impressed by Axl at all. Tim Farness, the bassist, would say, "He wouldn't last ten minutes in a Melbourne bar. All that macho, tough guy shit. He'd get killed" and Michael Hutchence, the singer, would follow up, "Axl's problem is that he's always looking for a fight. It's not just that he won't walk away, he actively looks for trouble. When Guns N' Roses were supporting us, his monitors weren't working properly so he came looking for me. He wanted to fight me! I was just thinking, Oh, Axl, grow up!" [Q Magazine, January 1991].

This show in Texas concluded touring until December 1988. The band would now return back home and release their new EP, Lies. The band needed a break from touring:

The promoters, the booking agency, they want us to keep going. We've been getting offers to headline the Forum, Madison Square Garden... but we knew this had to end. And Axl's voice is getting to the point where he can't keep going. Everybody's been having a good time. The thing is, we're burned out [Musician, December 1988]

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


Already before 'Appetite' started to sell well, in October 1987, Axl would explain what set them apart:

The fact that we focus a lot on our music. There are many people out there who are great pop stars, but don’t send a message with their music. There are also people who can sing very well, or are surrounded by studio musicians that may be really good, but play just for the money, without feeling anything special for what they’re doing. We try so that every little part of each song is as special as possible, and has a real and honest meaning coming straight from the heart. In the years I’ve been into this, I’ve seen many people who want to live the life of a rock star without wondering about the merit of their art. That’s something we care about. Each song is like a painting for us; we try to turn it into a work of art that we can be proud of in the next ten years. I don’t want to look back one day and say, 'I made a million dollars with this song, but it's the biggest crap ever made.
Popular 1, April 1988; translated from Spanish

Later, when asked about why Appetite became so successful, the band mostly showed humility:

When we went gold I was surprised. When we went platinum I was shocked. The fact that we broke the top ten is unreal. I mean, this isn't supposed to happen. This isn't right.

That void is something I was looking at for a long time. The punk movement was dying out, and there were all these metal bands starting up, so [guitarist] Izzy and I put out these ads for a guitarist for a “punk metal glam thrash band.” So we were looking to fill this void. Now it’s starting to get across in a big way. For a time there, we didn’t think it was going to. I thought after Poison we’d be welcomed with open arms as the logical next step. It didn’t quite happen the way we thought it would. But now it’s starting to explode. It took a lot of patience. When we first started out this band was banned. No one wanted to book us, manage us, take us on tour or play us on the radio. Now our video’s been in the Top 5 on MTV for nine weeks.

Well, right at this very point where, you know, we’re sitting down talking and everything has changed, we just broke into CHR, which is top 40, with Sweet Child O’ Mine. We’re basically getting picked up now by a lot of major stations. But what you’re saying is – I know what you’re saying - it’s that we could never get any airplay at all. You know, radio stations wouldn’t touch us, there’s profanity all over the album; people wouldn’t play us just because of the album cover, the original album cover; MTV wouldn’t touch it. And what happened is, it was really the way I guess things should be, which is we went out and played, and proved ourselves to our own audience to the point where word of mouth caused a big enough buzz where we were req... requested a lot – I can’t even pronounce English anymore. Anyway. And it was just getting to the point where the kids wanted it that bad, and the radio, in order to stay – you know, they’d better do something about it. And the record company put out more records and it just sort of snowballed. It’s still going, we’re almost two million. It just, like, went back to number 7 in Billboard, so –.

We weren't gonna let it not [become a success]. This may sound egotistical but I'm in my favorite band. I'm playing with my favorite people. The songs are close to my heart. We didn't know what was gonna happen initially. We had to hold on with everything we could just to get this record done. If everything else fell through, and I end up pumping gas, at least I'll have the record on tape.

[Being asked why he think they reached no. 1]: I'm not sure. I think the only reason it could have possibly gone to Number One is we're filling some sort of void. That's really the only thing I can attribute it to. It's not because the songs are all huge hits - that's the last thing they are, they're just a bunch of dirty rock 'n' roll songs. So I figure, we're just like the resident down and dirty rock band in town at the moment. Everybody wants to have that record because it's not really that safe... and it looks cool next to George Michael records in their collection.

I think the only reason it could have possibly gone to No. 1 is that we’re filling some kind of gap. A gap that hasn’t been filled by this particular kind of music for however long it’s been. That’s the only thing I can attribute it to. It’s not because the songs are, like, huge hits. They’re not, they’re just rock ’n’ roll songs and fuck the Top Forty, you know? I figure we’re just the down and dirty Guns N’ Roses band,’ he continued. ‘Everybody wants to have that album because it’s not that safe and it looks good next to the George Michael album...[…] Like I said, we filled a void which someone had left a long time ago. Aerosmith used to do, I think, what we do. But even Aerosmith isn’t the same thing any more. Even though they’re still around, because they’re older and experienced, been through the mill and this and that, they’re on another plateau now where they’re not gonna fill that gap that they left. So along come these guys... us, right? And we’re, like, fuckin’ ... just going for it.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

What is the reason? Timing. We didn't time it, it wasn't like, "Okay guys, let's get together here in 1985 and then," but it was just, we're at the right time at the right place, you know. There wasn't very many honest bands.

It's not that we are that great or anything, but at least, you know, at least we're realistic and we're sincere about what we do. […] we're like affected by shit the same way that most normal people are affected. We don't, like, pose so that we can fit into the business. So it's like you don't get up in the morning depressed and you put on a smile on your face and go out to the offices and start going through the bullshit. We're, like, get up depressed, go to work depressed, and it's like, you know, one way or the other, you know. If we're happy, we're happy. That's just the way it is. So the album is, sort of like, very emotional, you know, and all the shit we do is usually very emotional. We have a really shitty crowd we get, you know, affected by it, we get pissed off, sometimes we really insult [?] the crowds because it's like, "Well, fuck you!" [laughter]. So somehow, I guess, that works, I guess. I mean, I don't think we would be as popular in 1976 or 77 as we are now because it was, I think there was more bands sort of like us. So I think would have been different. But we're the only band like us right now so it's just timing and shit, you know […].

[…]Aerosmith and AC/DC were still around, they're great bands, but I think kids, you know, of the late 80s here didn't really have a band who were their peers to cling on to […].

[…]everybody asks us that question, like, "Why do you think you guys have hit this point". It's a hard question to answer. I think one of the main things is that we sort of, like, filled, you know, a gap in music business right now, because for the last, since 1970-1980 it's been pretty bland as far as rock and roll is concerned, and so at least, if nothing else, the attitude of the band has come over and people are like, "Yeah!". I mean, that's sort of, like, what rock and roll is all about. And also that freedom-kind-of-thing.

You wanna know why I think it is? Because Steven is one sort who nobody can really explain. Izzy is another sort that nobody can really explain. Axl is like... Axl - who has brought this whole new thing with him that people try to imitate all the time now. And Slash is... what? He’s a "what?", that’s what he is. And there hasn’t been a “what?” in years, do you know what I mean? Am I making sense? Basically, it's obvious we’re all different kinds of people into different kinds of things. We don’t like absolutely everything about each other, we don't agree on everything. But we don’t lie about it, and somehow it works.

They just look at us and go, “What!?”
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from January 1990

Yes, Slash could also be proudly honest:

We've sold six million LPs because it's a good album. It's a fucking good album, it'd be fucking false modesty if I pretend it wasn't.

Andy Secher, the editor of Hit Parader, would shed his thoughts on why they caught on:

They’re presenting an image so strong that the music is almost secondary. They've presented this wild-man image. ... To a lot of kids, that's very appealing. […] It’s a major dilemma — how do you present these guys without glorifying what they do? You can only hope that they're just an outlet for their fans, that the kids can feel like they’re living vicariously through the wild actions of a Tommy Lee of Motley Crue or an Axl Rose of Guns 'n’ Roses, so they won’t feel the need to do anything nasty to themselves.

Axl would also discuss why it had taken to long:

Well, we've been working really really hard, we haven't let up. It's not necessarily so quickly to us. I thought it would happen a lot quicker because of the acceptance of Poison and Cinderella. I thought we'd get welcomed with open arms, but we were finding radio stations going, 'That's a little too much,' and 'We played too much rock 'n roll for the last couple of years, and we gotta get our advertising dollars back.' So it's just like it's always been.

Then, when other rock bands started to become more mainstream, door were closed:

[…] then they turned around and came out with the more commercial type stuff. That's helped close a lot of doors. They're going, 'Well, you have to write songs like that.' FORGET IT.

Looking back:

I mean, Guns was a fluke, to come out of LA at that time - it was a mesh of five people who just happened - I don't know if it was fate, however we met, but none of us were from LA, none of us were born there, and we all happened to meet - and we went through different bands, and we all ended up meeting each other over and over and over again, to the point where we the only band of its kind that could possibly exist in Los Angeles, we didn't get along with anybody else, inevitably, that was the case. And then at that time, it was during the 80s when music was during its weakest stage, and we were like the Anti-Christ, you know what I mean? And for some reason that caught on in Los Angeles, we got picked up by Geffen, they had the one guy with the ears to hear what was genuine - and I won't brag, but I will admit that Guns is probably one of the best rock'n'roll bands that came around at that time. And so we went on and we were like totally - not so much irresponsible, but we scared everybody! We couldn't get a manager, the record company wanted to drop us because we were more trouble than we were worth, and so on and so forth. So when we got signed they put us on the shelf for a while, you know - "We got to find someone to work with these guys, someone with a little bit of adventure..." And when the record was finally released, we toured opening for - you know, you name it, The Cult, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, all these different bands - Iron Maiden - and that's - all of a sudden, a year after the record was released, we broke, just from being an opening band. And that was just genuine fuckin' down-and-out rock'n'roll stuff. And it had nothing to do with exactly what style of music it was, it was the attitude.

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Post by Soulmonster on Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:26 pm


Axl seems to have thought about the progress of the band a lot, and would define success as making some kind of musical mark, hopefully achieving this with 'Appetite':

We want to be huge and be able to play the biggest places that we can. But as long as the record keeps up there and we keep playing with new bands and learning stuff it's okay not to be headlining right now. It doesn't really bother me. We could sell a few more copies, but it's happening just the way we want it to. I want to make a mark, so that no matter what happens to us, it won't fade away.

And his plan for success was as follows:

Don't give up, and make sure to cover all the bases. And try not to make too many enemies.

With 'Appetite' finally becoming a success in 1988, the band would enjoy having made it as musicians, and having made it on their terms:

Well, I could care less about Billboard and all those fancy numbers. Numbers don’t tell you if the kids love the music—just that they bought the album. As far as album sales go, we hoped it would go well. We’re very ecstatic that it’s doing well.


I guess if I really think about it, the album’s success is pretty bizarre. A band like ours right up there with those kinds of artists [Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Michael Jackson, George Michael]. (Pauses for a few seconds.) Yeah, that is pretty wild.
Rock Scene, December 1989; interview from May 1988

We get all these phone calls - yesterday it was 35,000 record sales, today it’s 91,000 sales and we just got a breaker on the single ... It freaks my ass out! So I guess you could say that we are turning into what you’d call a big band. I think the thing for me, though - what would really solidify it for me - would be to do the next record and see where that one goes. If we’ve done two albums and we’re still going on that steady uprise kinda thing, that would be cool. The material for the next record, by the way, is great...
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

[Talking about his reaction when Appetite sold a million copies]: At first, I didn’t really know. I'm pretty naive about all this stuff. I try to keep my wits about me in most things. But in this whole band there’s a certain naivety in the way we approach this whole business. When we went out in the beginning, it was like, we’re a rock band and we don’t know about any other shit. But we were playing so we knew how to book a gig. Then it was like, there’s all these record companies who want to sign us and our attitude was, well, fuck ’em. We’re only gonna sign to the one who gives us what we want.

So we went with Geffen and the next thing is we’re gonna go on tour, on the Cult tour. I was like, wow, the Cult tour! It must be huge! Then six months later we were going out headlining the same places those guys were when we were backing them. Then it was, ah, I guess they weren’t really all that big, were they? Now it’s moved up another gear again and recently we’ve had promoters coming up to us and saying, “You guys shouldn’t be opening for Iron Maiden, ’cos you could headline here. […] The concept of us headlining somewhere like the [13,000-capacity] LA Forum - I can’t swallow that. But the promoters risk a lot of money booking tours and if they want to do that maybe they know what they’re talking about, who knows?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from June 1988

Up to this point, we’ve proven ourselves. A million and a half records gives us the stamp to say, 'Don’t fuck with us because we don’t have to listen.’ There are no standards by which the business can tell me to do this or that. That’s why I’m so proud. We’ve gotten as far as we have and did at least fifty percent more to stay true to ourselves than anyone else.

It's a great dream come true, it's like an ongoing memory. Every day I'll be able to say, `Yeah, I had a Number One record'. That isn't something that will die off or diminish.

We’re headlining places that I remember Aerosmith and AC/DC headlining when their best albums came out. And we’re playing those places now. It’s a trip!

You dream about it for so long, go through utter shit to get there. It doesn't matter what happens to the band now. Once you've got a No. 1, then everything is...well, it's not an anticlimax, but whatever happens now won't matter because nothing can take away that experience of going to No. 1. Even if the next album doesn't do anything, I can still say I had a No. 1 record.

I like being successful. I was always starving. On the other side. When it came to people with money, it was always "The rich? Fuck them!" But I left one group and joined another. I escaped from one group where I was looked down on for being a poor kid that doesn't know shit, and now I'm like, a rich, successful asshole. I don't like that. I'm still just me […].

But Slash was quick to point out it wasn't going to change him:

But I’m not gonna take it to the point where it’s gonna have an effect on my personality. I'm not gonna let it turn me into one of those completely insecure rock star types who actually doesn’t know the limits of what a fucking pop star means. I deal with it my way, and my way is to treat it very fuckin’ vaguely. Like the money... I know it’s really nice to afford an apartment. I know how many records we’ve sold, I know all that shit 'cos I’m real business-oriented now. I know what I can and can’t do. […] I’m a basically happy person, anyway. Things still get fucked up and piss me off. But I don’t sit around getting depressed about it like a lot of people do. It’s like, I could be working at Tower Records again... I have nothing to complain about.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from October 1988

And later he would downplay the feelings of success:

Erm... actually, it hasn’t really been a real high. The initial high was doing those first few tours, that was the best of it. Being off the road and realising you’re as successful as you are doesn't really make you feel... at least it doesn’t make me feel all that excited. Because to me it’s like, well, we’re off the road and now we have a lot of money and we can do whatever we want. Except there’s nothing that I want to do but fuckin’ play.
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

Well, I’ll tell you, there’s a weird thing that happens, for me, anyway. It’s like, certain compliments come from different people and l take them in different ways. Like getting voted best guitarist in a magazine like Kerrang! - that is like one of the all-time greatest compliments for me! I mean, that’s something that’s real, that you can see. Now Gibson say they want to put together a Slash model Les Paul, with a special Slash pick-up and shit like that. That, to me, is another amazing compliment. It actually means something to me, you know?    

But instead of letting it go to my head, the way that I feel about it is, like, I really don’t see my playing as really being worth that. I put it down to record sales and because it’s hip to like Guns N’ Roses at this time. It would be a real joke for me to go, “Oh, wow, I’m the best guitarist in the world!” ’cos that’s just not true. Although I do like the playing on Appetite, I think it does have some feel to it. I would hope I’m better now, though. Ultimately, when I get a real big compliment it gives me the energy and the motivation to play my ass off on the next record, so that I can at least prove to myself that I’m worthy of it. And also, to, er...

[…] It’s like, all this attention and energy devoted to one album, it’s scary. It’s almost like this one album has taken us as high as you can possibly go - on one fuckin’ record! So you've gotta fuckin' look out, you know? You can’t be complacent. I told Gibson I won’t let the guitar come out, or the pick-ups, until this next record is out and the tour starts. Because we could be given all this great stuff and not even come out with a second album. Then I’d feel like a real putz, wouldn’t I?
Mick Wall, GUNS N' ROSES: The Most Dangerous Band in the World, Sidgwick & Jackson, U.K. 1991, 1993; interview from March 1989

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