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Kurt Cobain Had An Axl To Grind


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DATE: Aug. 20, 2008

SOURCE: NY Daily News

Kurt Cobain had an Axl to grind

Wednesday, August 20th 2008, 2:37 PM

Fans of Kurt Cobain continue to mourn the Nirvana rocker. But Cobain's 1994 suicide did have one upside: He didn't have to listen to loathsome Axl Rose anymore.

Record biz eminence Danny Goldberg recalls in his poignant and funny memoir, "Bumping Into Geniuses," that, early on, Cobain wanted nothing to do with the Guns N' Roses front man. When Rose asked to meet him backstage after a show, Kurt slipped out of his dressing room. "Rose had the kind of macho rock persona that Kurt detested," Goldberg writes.

Tension brewed when Cobain and his wife, Courtney Love, found themselves sitting with Rose and his then-girlfriend, Victoria's Secret model Stephanie Seymour, backstage at the 1992 MTV Awards. Love sarcastically asked Rose, "Do you want to be godfather to our daughter?"

"Perhaps seeking to break the tension," says Goldberg, Seymour sweetly asked Love, "Are you a model?"

Snapped Courtney: "Are you a brain surgeon?"

Goldberg, who was present, says a "glowering" Rose shouted at Cobain: "Shut your bitch up or I'll knock her to the pavement." (Other accounts have had Rose challenging Cobain to "take this down to the pavement.")

Promoters tried to launch a tour with Nirvana, Metallica and Guns N' Roses. "There was a lot of money on the table," says Goldberg, who served as president of the Atlantic, Warner Bros. and Mercury labels. "Kurt really liked Metallica." But there wasn't enough money in the world to get him to share a stage with that other band. Cobain passed.

Goldberg, who became a renowned leftie politico, learned how to look after temperamental, drug-using rock stars early on as publicist for Led Zeppelin. He recalls Robert Plant grumbling enviously about "all the publicity that the Stones got on their last tour!" Yet the band hated doing press. When a young rock critic told drummer John Bonham, often blasted for his 30-minute solos, that he thought he was the "greatest drummer in rock," Bonham grabbed the reviewer's lapels and yelled, "Look, I've had about enough of you people!"

Bonham was "an angry and mean drunk," Goldberg writes, and the atmosphere around the band in 1973 "was one of tension, exacerbated by huge quantities of cocaine. Violence was one bad mood away."

Goldberg recalls that Zep's legendary 300-pound manager, Peter Grant, once had "to settle up with a hotel manager after the band had thrown several TVs out of the windows." Surprisingly, the manager admitted the hotel's rooms were so sterile, he wouldn't mind throwing a TV himself. "[Grant] peeled off another $500 in cash and told the guy, 'Have one on me,'" says Goldberg.

He first met Patti Smith at Max's Kansas City when she was a poet with a day job at Scribner's bookstore on Fifth Ave. "What book do you want me to steal for you?" she asked sincerely.

Sticky fingers aside, "I knew even then she was a genius," he recalls.

The Gotham Book is out next month.


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