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August 8th-1992. The Montreal Riot

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I remember being glued the MTV watching Tabitha Soren report on it.  Then I was all worried my Minneapolis show the next month would be cancelled because of it etc... 

 

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AUGUST 8, 1992 - RIOT IN MONTREAL

At the August 8 show in Montreal, disaster struck again.

Slash: "In Montreal it was just really creepy. Nothing against the people in Montreal, we had a great time hanging out there. I think it was the building itself" [MTV, September 1992].

It started during Metallica's set when James Hetfield accidentally walked in front of pyrotechnics and suffered severe burns.

Gilby: "Metallica was halfway through that Montreal set when the flash pot blew up on him" [Lakeland Ledger, August 1992]

Slash: "Metallica went on, and midway through their set, James Hetfield caught on fire when a pyrotechnic malfunctioned. He sustained serious injuries to his arm and shoulder, and the band was forced to end their set immediately" [Slash's autobiography, "Slash", 2007, p. 358]

Duff: "Metallica front man James Hetfield inadvertently stepped into the plume of one of his band's pyrotechnics pots at the show and had to be rushed to the hospital with extensive burns. The other members of Metallica came back onstage after James had been whisked away, explained what had happened, and apologized for suspending the show" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 206-207]

With Metallica having to cut their set short, Guns N' Roses was asked to step in early.

Gilby: "We were still back at the hotel, and they called us and told us that the fans would have to wait four hours if we came on at the time scheduled" [Lakeland Ledger, August 1992].

Gilby: "That thing happened so fast. I mean, you're probably gonna get the same story from absolutely everyone. We had gotten word -- you know, we were all just hanging out at the hotel -- and somebody said that there was a big accident. James had burned his arm, and their set got cut short. The audience is, you know, going a little crazy. It would be really great if we could go on early today (Laughs)" [Spin, June 1999]

Slash: "We were still at our hotel when it happened, and we were asked to go on early - it was a noissue; of course we agreed to do so" [Slash's autobiography, "Slash", 2007, p. 358].

Duff: "We could have saved the day by going right on and playing a long set. It would have been a great gesture to the fans and to the guys in Metallica. It would have been the professional thing to do, the right thing to do. And we were capable of an epic set" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 206-207].

Unfortunately, they did not step up to the occasion:

Axl: "We had just stopped the tour because I had a throat problem. I came back and I realized: “I’m gonna hurt myself.” I told Slash, “Two more songs; if we can’t get it fixed, I gotta go,” you know? And then we did more than two more songs, and finally I was just kind of like, I don’t know what to do, and I looked over, and Gilby was like, “Dude, I can’t hear.” […] And Duff was like, “I can’t hear either.” We had a little huddle, kind of, and it was like, “we’re out of here”" [MTV, September 1992].

Gilby: "So we rushed around, threw everything together and raced over to the stadium, only to find out that the whole P.A. system was screwed up. [...] We all tried, and Axl - whose voice had been bothering him - really tried, but the sound couldn't salvaged. The fans were getting this half Metallica set, a Guns N' Roses set they couldn't hear - they weren't getting their money's worth" [Lakeland Ledger, August 1992].

Axl: "So, basically, I was happening to, like, sing over 50 kilowatts of sound or something. I didn’t do major damage to my vocal cords, but I did enough that if I sang anymore under those conditions, I wouldn’t be singing. In order to hear myself, to see if I’m on key and tell how loud or how hard I need to push to sing a song properly, I have to try to sing all over the PA, which was impossible" [MTV, September 9, 1992]

Gilby: "So we all got ready, and we got there, and we did. But the problem is, is because of all the frantic stuff that happened -- from, you know, Metallica's crew, our crew, all the things of, you know, everybody trying to do the right thing -- by the time we got onstage -- which was early -- it wasn't together. You know, the sound was just like -- it wasn't just bad, it was like almost unplayable. And I just remember Axl coming up to me and just going: You know, I can't hear myself -- I can't hear anything. What do we do? (Laughs)" [Spin, June 1999].

Slash: "We got out, the PA fed back the entire time, the monitors fed back the entire time, the crowd was, like, non-existent" [MTV, September 1992].

Slash: "The band headed to the venue right away and discussed what we'd play to fill up the remainder of Metallica's slot and ours as well. We had plenty of time to go over our options but it couldn't happen because Axl did not show up. Not only did we not go on early enough to fill the void left by Metallica, we went on three hours later than our own scheduled stage time. In the end, there was something like four hours between the time Metallica were forced to stop the show and the moment we took the stage" [Slash's autobiography, "Slash", 2007, p. 358]

Slash is wrong in claiming it took four hours, contemporary reviews said it took about 2 hours [The Montreal Gazette, August 9, 1992: The Vancouver Sun, August 10, 1992], Duff and Matt also disagrees with Slash in the quotes below.

Matt: "When I left the hotel and they said James was burnt, I just felt it, it just felt wrong. So we hustled on as soon as we could – it was a couple of hours people were waiting. So already they were like, “uhh”, you know. And when we got up there it was just really dead. The people were sitting down…" [MTV, September 1992].

Duff: "The same shit happened in Montreal as elsewhere, us going on late - more than two hours after Hetfield was rushed to the hospital - playing to pissed-off fans. Our own fans, pissed off at us. I sat backstage monitoring the sounds drifting in from the arena, drink in hand, and could feel the crowd's mood change. The rumble of tens of thousands of people beginning to get angry is a deep, low sound that penetrates walls and vibrates the fundaments of buildings, where dressing rooms are located. It's a horrible sound, and the panic and embarrassment and frustration in my own head was compounded by that rumble. After letting the crowd reach its boiling point, we finally went out and started playing" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 206-207].

Axl had obviously been agitated during the show and at one time said, "In case anybody here is interested this will be our last show for a long time" [The Montreal Gazette, August 9, 1992]. And not only that, Axl ended the show early after just 9 songs:

Gilby: "So we announced they'd get their money back and we'd play the date again" [Lakeland Ledger, August 1992]

Gilby: "You know, and the next thing you know, he left. And that was the end of it" [Spin, June 1999]

Slash: "And once we did [take the stage], Axl ended it early, after we'd done just ninety minutes out of a scheduled two hours. I am sure he had his reasons, but neither I nor the crowd, as far as I know, knew quite what they were. I can't say I was surprised when the audience started rioting" [Slash's autobiography, "Slash", 2007, p. 358]

Duff: "Then, forty-five minutes into our set, a microphone stand hit Axl in the mouth. He threw down the mic and left. This time the riot didn't start near the stage. We didn't even see it. The crowd blew up back at the concession areas and merchandise stands, and then spread outside into the streets. In fact, our crew did their normal teardown of the set, oblivious to the riot already raging out of view. Only when our buses pulled out of the parking enclosure did we see the full extent of the situation - cop cars turned over, vehicles on fire, lots of broken windows. Once again there looked to be lots of injuries. Once again I felt anguished and heartbroken. This time I also felt deeply embarrassed, a feeling that managed inexorably to worm its way into my vodka-numbed psyche. It didn't have to be like this" [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 206-207]

Contemporary accounts said Axl left after 55 minutes [The Montreal Gazette, August 9, 1992: The Vancouver Sun, August 10, 1992].

Lars Ulrich would be gracious in describing what went down:

"You know, Axl Rose is one of the most real people I've ever met. Okay, probably like one of the truest and more real people that I've ever met. When Axl is in the right mood and the right frame of mind, I mean, there's nobody that touches him as an artist and as a performer. But he's also the kind of person that it's sort of like if the monitors aren't 110%, then he can't deal with it. And then he just, instead of trying to find a way to deal with it, he chooses to walk off. And I'm sort of in a situation where I can sort of relate to both sides, because I think that there's a kind of purity in what he does. [...] It just so happens that that night, when James blew up onstage, and Guns N' Roses needed to come out and save the day, you know, Axl had one of his nights where he just wasn't really feeling it, and couldn't really pull it off. And that was the night where it really needed to happen -- do you know what I mean?" [Unknown source].

And Dizzy would trivialize the event and be protective of Axl:

Dizzy: "That was a bummer, obviously. [...] The way all went down, it wasn't really cool. I just remember that we were, you know, we wanted to come back in it and give them the full show and their money's worth because obviously Metallica couldn't finish their set [...] But some people didn't like that and eh, I am not sure exactly, I know that in a lot of cases, not all cases, but the press sort of blows up, blows out of proportion and likes to call it a riot. I know there was some bad things happening there... […] I do remember that we had full attention and just wanted to come back on for the full show" [One on One with Mitch Lafon, July 2014].

The riot resulted in minor injuries to eight police officers and twelve arrests [Associated Press, August 1992].

In interviews not many days after the incident Duff and Gilby would bemoan that there were blamed:

Duff: "The poor guy [=James Hetfield] got fried, but the audience didn’t know that. They speak French. They couldn’t understand what we were saying. They were all drunk, and they got French in them to begin with. It just escalated. […] But we get blamed for it" [El Paso Beacon Journal, August 28, 1992, August 1992]

Gilby: "It's ironic, since we were trying to save the day. Oh, well" [Lakeland Ledger, August 28, 1992]]

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Our band causes riots! Usually thats just a simple fact that I know as a fan knows, but stoping to think about it, its absolutely bonkers! :lol: 

5 minutes ago, SoulMonster said:

Duff: "The poor guy [=James Hetfield] got fried, but the audience didn’t know that. They speak French. They couldn’t understand what we were saying. They were all drunk, and they got French in them to begin with. It just escalated. […] But we get blamed for it" [El Paso Beacon Journal, August 28, 1992, August 1992]

Classic drunk Duff. The people of Montreal - especially those who like GNR dont understand a word of English? Nah, that is not true :lol: "And they got French in them to begin with" If I can make any sense of this sentence then Id agree with Duff here. Montreal still throws good riots to this day. Must be "the french in them" :headbang:

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I feel this this quote from above:
 

Quote

And Dizzy would trivialize the event and be protective of Axl:

Could apply to literally anything in the history of Guns N' Roses :lol:

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51 minutes ago, Original said:

Forgot about Metallica's thoughts on the night- 

 

That guy saying history has erased Guns N' Roses cracks me up.

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The article in The (Montreal) Gazette the day after the show:

1992_017.jpg

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51 minutes ago, -W.A.R- said:

That guy saying history has erased Guns N' Roses cracks me up.

At the time this was made, it was the dark ages of GNR. Nobody expected them to come back to filling stadiums ever again.

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Do the riots say more about the band and how people feel about them? Or were these just happen stance, just bad luck that it evolved into a riot? I've heard of other artists doing shitty stuff, like Migos showed up for a show 3 hours late and played 5 or 6 songs if I remember what my friend said correctly. I love GN'R and I'd be absolutely mad if something like this happened, but I don't think I'd try to destroy everything. Maybe try to find the proshot stuff ;). But in all seriousness, it's strange to me that this has happened to GN'R so much

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It certainly was not happenstance, Axl was a prima donna.  That's not unusual, most great frontmen are.  But Lars summed it up perfectly, if things weren't perfect Axl couldn't or didn't want to deal with it.  

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Crazy night. Throw in the fact that the whole dust up with Kurt/Courtney at the MTV Awards was a month later, and it was really (IMHO) that 60-90 day period that opinion began to significantly shift against Guns. They still had millions of diehard fans (especially overseas)- but they really had lost control of their reputation with the general public in North America. I remember coming back from summer break, and at least half the kids that had gone into summer w/Guns gear, patches, etc. all came back with Nirvana, PJ, Metallica stuff that fall (September ‘92) and  were making fun of Axl/Guns. Amazing how quickly tides can turn.

To be fair- Skin n’ Bones helped stop the bleeding a bit that next spring (‘93)- but then they released TSI? and oddly the “Estranged” video, etc. and basically disappeared...

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1 hour ago, AXL_N_DIZZY said:

Crazy night. Throw in the fact that the whole dust up with Kurt/Courtney at the MTV Awards was a month later, and it was really (IMHO) that 60-90 day period that opinion began to significantly shift against Guns. They still had millions of diehard fans (especially overseas)- but they really had lost control of their reputation with the general public in North America. I remember coming back from summer break, and at least half the kids that had gone into summer w/Guns gear, patches, etc. all came back with Nirvana, PJ, Metallica stuff that fall (September ‘92) and  were making fun of Axl/Guns. Amazing how quickly tides can turn.

To be fair- Skin n’ Bones helped stop the bleeding a bit that next spring (‘93)- but then they released TSI? and oddly the “Estranged” video, etc. and basically disappeared...

I don't think what happened in Montreal or at the MTV awards had much to do with their dwindling popularity.   It was simply the fickle nature of the music business.  In fact it was a testament to their greatness, I don't know if that's the right word, that they were able to survive that change at all.  

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15 minutes ago, lame ass security said:

In fact it was a testament to their greatness, I don't know if that's the right word, that they were able to survive that change at all.  

I don't know how much they truly survived, everyone left Axl and they just meekly disappeared from public view, except for Jungle getting played at sports games. That and the truly strongest singles got airplay on radio still. But as far as the public knew, they were ghosts as of 1994.

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Just now, moreblack said:

I don't know how much they truly survived, everyone left Axl and they just meekly disappeared from public view, except for Jungle getting played at sports games. That and the truly strongest singles got airplay on radio still. But as far as the public knew, they were ghosts as of 1994.

Ghosts who were inducted into the rock n roll hall of fame then mounted one of the most successful tours ever. 

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Just now, lame ass security said:

Ghosts who were inducted into the rock n roll hall of fame then mounted one of the most successful tours ever. 

How many years later?

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, moreblack said:

How many years later?

That even proves my point to a greater extent.  That after all of those years they were relevant and people still cared about the band.  

Edited by lame ass security
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3 hours ago, lame ass security said:

It certainly was not happenstance, Axl was a prima donna.  That's not unusual, most great frontmen are.  But Lars summed it up perfectly, if things weren't perfect Axl couldn't or didn't want to deal with it.  

Agreed!  You got 53,000 paying customers wanting to see a show with 2 huge bands and an opening act(Faith No More?). Metallica had to leave mid-set.  2-3 hours later Gn'R comes on and leaves after 45 minutes or so.  OK, the monitors weren't working right, but you gotta play thru it.  Give the fans their moneys worth.  Don't leave!  

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11 minutes ago, JONEZY said:

Agreed!  You got 53,000 paying customers wanting to see a show with 2 huge bands and an opening act(Faith No More?). Metallica had to leave mid-set.  2-3 hours later Gn'R comes on and leaves after 45 minutes or so.  OK, the monitors weren't working right, but you gotta play thru it.  Give the fans their moneys worth.  Don't leave!  

In all fairness to Axl, he did say he was having throat problems and was concerned about doing permanent damage trying to sing through it.  That is perfectly understandable.  But, I think the Axl of the NITL tour would've handled that situation differently.  He probably would have communicated to the crowd exactly what was happening. Trying to help the situation instead of fueling the fire. 

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32 minutes ago, lame ass security said:

That even proves my point to a greater extent.  That after all of those years they were relevant and people still cared about the band.  

Kind of. But there was a whole lean period in between. 

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1 hour ago, lame ass security said:

In all fairness to Axl, he did say he was having throat problems and was concerned about doing permanent damage trying to sing through it.  That is perfectly understandable.  But, I think the Axl of the NITL tour would've handled that situation differently.  He probably would have communicated to the crowd exactly what was happening. Trying to help the situation instead of fueling the fire. 

The night he was sick i think in europe where they h ad to play a shorter set and  axl communicated via twitter to apologise i think hes handling situations occuring beyond his control, alot better nowdays.

Also the broken piano incident 😆

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8 minutes ago, Sydney Fan said:

The night he was sick i think in europe where they h ad to play a shorter set and  axl communicated via twitter to apologise i think hes handling situations occuring beyond his control, alot better nowdays.

Also the broken piano incident 😆

He definitely is.  Like the London show in 2012 when he was trying to accommodate the people who had to catch the last train. What was the phrase he used, bad jesus or something like that.😄

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4 hours ago, AXL_N_DIZZY said:

Crazy night. Throw in the fact that the whole dust up with Kurt/Courtney at the MTV Awards was a month later, and it was really (IMHO) that 60-90 day period that opinion began to significantly shift against Guns. They still had millions of diehard fans (especially overseas)- but they really had lost control of their reputation with the general public in North America. I remember coming back from summer break, and at least half the kids that had gone into summer w/Guns gear, patches, etc. all came back with Nirvana, PJ, Metallica stuff that fall (September ‘92) and  were making fun of Axl/Guns. Amazing how quickly tides can turn.

To be fair- Skin n’ Bones helped stop the bleeding a bit that next spring (‘93)- but then they released TSI? and oddly the “Estranged” video, etc. and basically disappeared...

Very accurate post.. We must be about the same age...  That is exactly how I remember those days.

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3 hours ago, lame ass security said:

In all fairness to Axl, he did say he was having throat problems and was concerned about doing permanent damage trying to sing through it.  That is perfectly understandable.  But, I think the Axl of the NITL tour would've handled that situation differently.  He probably would have communicated to the crowd exactly what was happening. Trying to help the situation instead of fueling the fire. 

Ah there's no way to spin it. The thing to do was say to the crowd "We're sorry for all the delays, but we need a little longer to get the sound right for you and to get the sound on stage right, bear with us, we'll be back ASAP". Simply saying "I can't hear anything" and smashing the mic is and was a crazy thing to do. I understand not wanting to damage his vocals and he may very well have been worried about doing that, but if management, the band and Axl were in their right minds that is what they would have done as soon as the realised the sound was a mess. The whole thing was totally avoidable, and I agree that, that show was the catalyst for a lot of the hate towards GNR and Axl. I know a lot of people who watched the metallica-behind the music and completely wrote off Axl and GNR after hearing the story. 

The reason they stuck around and managed to have a career, was that those early records were huge... and Axl unintentionally created a buzz about gnr through the 90s and 00s surrounding GNR with the CD saga, making them both mythical and a bit of a joke, which helped make websites like this and the almost underground nature of GNR fandom. 

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9 minutes ago, Tom2112 said:

Ah there's no way to spin it. The thing to do was say to the crowd "We're sorry for all the delays, but we need a little longer to get the sound right for you and to get the sound on stage right, bear with us, we'll be back ASAP". Simply saying "I can't hear anything" and smashing the mic is and was a crazy thing to do. I understand not wanting to damage his vocals and he may very well have been worried about doing that, but if management, the band and Axl were in their right minds that is what they would have done as soon as the realised the sound was a mess. The whole thing was totally avoidable, and I agree that, that show was the catalyst for a lot of the hate towards GNR and Axl. I know a lot of people who watched the metallica-behind the music and completely wrote off Axl and GNR after hearing the story. 

The reason they stuck around and managed to have a career, was that those early records were huge... and Axl unintentionally created a buzz about gnr through the 90s and 00s surrounding GNR with the CD saga, making them both mythical and a bit of a joke, which helped make websites like this and the almost underground nature of GNR fandom. 

I wasn't trying to spin it, I don't care enough to do that.  I was stating a fact that Axl was having throat issues.  And I said that he should've handled it better by communicating to the crowd what was happening.

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