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25 Most Destructive Guns N' Roses Moments


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The ‘Appetite for Destruction’ album cover is one of the most recognizable pieces of album art in rock history, but the iconic ‘skulls’ graphic wasn’t the album’s original cover art.

Based on the Roger Williams painting ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ the Guns N’ Roses original album cover depicted a robotic sex offender about to be destroyed by a metal avenger. Due to the controversial nature of the art, the band and Geffen Records chose to include the original art inside the album’s booklet after various music retailers refused to stock the monumental record.


If we know just one thing about Axl Rose, it’s that the frontman loves himself a good physical confrontation. Perhaps the earliest of the Axl Rose incidents, the vocalist was arrested onstage during a 1987 show in Atlanta for punching a security guard.

Guns N’ Roses wouldn’t return to Atlanta until 2006, where Rose reportedly told the crowd that while sitting handcuffed in a police paddy wagon, the singer had the chance to avoid being taken downtown if he apologized to the security guard. Unsurprisingly, Rose responded with these two words, “F— you.”


Axl Rose wasn’t the only Guns N’ Roses member partial to fisticuffs. Drummer Steven Adler found himself in a fight during a tour with Alice Cooper in 1987.

After getting into a barroom brawl, Adler broke his hand after a misguided punch connected not with a dude’s face, but a street light. Unable to play drums after breaking his hand, Adler was replaced with Cinderella drummer Fred Coury until the GN’R drummer had recovered from the pole-punching.


On August 20, 1988, two people were tragically trampled to death during Guns N’ Roses‘ performance at the Monsters of Rock festival in England. As the band began their set, the 100,000-person crowd surged forward.

Although Axl Rose addressed the crowd in an attempt to get them to calm down, his words were unable to prevent the deaths. GN’R were unjustly vilified for the incident by the media, but the head of security for the festival defended the band, who stopped their performance when the environment became too dangerous.


Guns N’ Roses found themselves in another controversial situation in 1988. With the release of the album ‘GN’R Lies,’ the track ‘One In a Million’ was laced both racial and homophobic slurs that caused fans to wonder if Axl Rose was a bigot.

The lines, “Police and n—-rs, that’s right / Get out of my way,” and “Immigrants and f—-ts / They make no sense to me,” were placed under a microscope by media outlets, with Rose defending his lyrics, claiming that John Lennon and NWA had used the ‘N-word,’ and adding that he was “pro-heterosexual,” but not homophobic.


Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin found himself on the receiving end of a punch from Motley Crue vocalist Vince Neil at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards.

Stradlin was reportedly hitting on Neil’s wife, and when the news of the flirtation was delivered to the Motley crooner, he took a swing at Stradlin and connected. The incident led to Axl Rose challenging Neil to fisticuffs, and although Neil accepted Rose’s invitation, no such fight ever occurred.


As various members of Guns N’ Roses began to encounter serious problems with drugs, namely heroin, Axl Rose decided to give the band an onstage ultimatum during a 1989 opening slot with the Rolling Stones.

Rose declared that if certain members of the band didn’t stop “dancing with Mr. Brownstone,” which references a GN’R song about heroin, Rose would quit the band. Slash reportedly promised Rose that he would kick his addition, but drummer Steven Adler was unable to kick his habit. See what happened to him next.


Drummer Steven Adler was fired from Guns N’ Roses because of his continued addiction to heroin. However, Adler was welcomed back into the band to record the ‘Use Your Illusion’ double album, even signing a contract promising that he would not use drugs again.

Yet, when Adler entered the studio to record ‘Civil War,’ he was unable to perform due to his heroin use. After 20-30 failed takes and continued problems in the studio, Adler was fired once again and replaced by Matt Sorum of the Cult.


Alan Niven was the first manager of Guns N’ Roses. According to Niven, he took a job that no one else would. “I knew what I was getting into: Half the band were smack addicts.” Against the wishes of several GN’R members, Axl Rose fired Niven in 1991.

Axl Rose also wrote an open letter to fans when he fired Merck Mercuriadis in 2006, and filed a $5 million lawsuit against former manager Irving Azoff, claiming that Azoff sabotaged the record sales of ‘Chinese Democracy’ and lied about a “super tour” with Van Halen.


In possibly the most infamous Guns N’ Roses onstage incident, a riot broke out in St. Louis, Missouri after an altercation between Axl Rose and a cameraman in 1991.

While performing the song ‘Rocket Queen,’ Rose spotted a fan taking pictures and began to order security to confiscate the camera. Security not acting quickly enough for Rose’s standards, the frontman dove into the crowd and began to throw punches. After being pulled out of the audience, Rose slammed down his mic and left the stage. The rest of the band followed, leading to a full-scale riot which left dozens of fans injured. Rose was later arrest a year later for inciting a riot, but the charges were eventually dropped.


On the Guns N’ Roses album ‘Use Your Illusion II,’ the band released the track ‘Get in the Ring.’ The track’s lyrical content took shots at various critics who had given GN’R negative reviews due to their topsy-turvy stage performances.

Amongst the critics mentioned by name was Spin writer Bob Guccione, Jr. The lyrics of ‘Get in the Ring’ refer to the journalist’s father, who is the founder of Penthouse magazine, and how he “gets more p–sy” than his son. Guccione, Jr. accepted Axl Rose‘s challenge to ‘get in the ring,’ but just like the Rose vs. Neil debacle, the fight never happened.


In 1991, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin left the band. Having become disillusioned with incidents such as the St. Louis riot and Axl Rose‘s constant tardiness to live shows, Stradlin decided that leaving the group was the right decision.

“Once I quit drugs,” Stradlin began. “I couldn’t help looking around and asking myself, ‘Is this all there is?’ I was just tired of it; I needed to get out … “When you’re f—ed up, you’re more likely to put up with things you wouldn’t normally put up with.”


Of all the destructive Guns N’ Roses moments, it’s pretty clear none were as damaging or terrifying as the August 1992 riot sparked when the band cut a show in Montreal short.

GN’R were in the middle of a co-headlining tour with Metallica, and tragedy had already struck that group earlier in the evening when singer James Hetfield was badly burned in a pyrotechnics mishap, forcing them to cut their set short. When Axl Rose was forced to end his group’s performance after less than an hour due to vocal problems, many in the crowd, well… lost their minds. Windows were smashed, cars overturned, fires started and a street lamp was even uprooted. Three hundred cops had to be called in to get things back in control again.


We’re not sure if we’d be so brave and crazy as to pick a fight with Axl Rose while we were holding a three-week old baby in our arms, but by his own account that’s exactly what Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain did at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.

As Cobain tells it, “Axl Rose walked by us (Cobain and wife Courtney Love), and we yelled at Axl, we said (sarcastically), ‘would you be the godfather of our child?’” Reportedly, the Guns N’ Roses frontman turned to Kurt and declared, “You better keep your wife shut, or I’m gonna take you to the pavement.” Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and nobody was hurt except Nirvana’s goofball bassist, who threw his instrument high in the air and caught it with his own head that same evening.


Covers albums are a great way for bands to honor their heroes — the influential musicians and artists who helped shape their own music. So what does it say when you also include a little-known track written by one of the world’s most notorious convicted murderers?

That’s what happened when Guns N’ Roses‘ 1993 covers record ‘The Spaghetti Incident’ was released with Charles Manson’s ‘Look at Your Game Girl’ included as a hidden track. Most likely, there’s no true deep meaning to be had here — maybe singer Axl Rose just fancied the song, and as we’ve seen, the threat of stirring up some negative publicity never stopped him from following his muse. The rest of the band perhaps wasn’t as keen on the idea, with only Dizzy Reed joining Rose on the track.


In August of 1997, after 12 years with the band, bassist Duff McKagan quit Guns N’ Roses, leaving singer Axl Rose as the sole remaining original member of the genre-revitalizing group.

In a 1999 interview, McKagan explains that he was tired of the band becoming run almost entirely by Rose: “I went out for dinner with Axl and I told him, “Enough is enough. This band is a dictatorship and I don’t see myself playing in those conditions. Find someone else.”

Although the two didn’t see eye to eye then, it seems there is much respect between these bandmates, with McKagan even joining the new-look GN’R on-stage at several shows over the past few years.


Not even a month after Guns N’ Roses‘ 2002 tour started with a riot-starting cancelled show in Vancouver, a second nixed performance again sent fans into a violent frenzy, and ultimately caused the whole trek to be called off.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, after a 90-minute wait following the end of the opening act’s set, an announcement was made that the show was cancelled due to ‘Health Issues.’ The crowd threw beers, chanted ‘Axl Sucks,’ and ripped the seats off some chairs. No arrests were made, but soon after the tour’s promoter, Clear Channel, cancelled the rest of the dates.


It seems destruction can follow in the wake of Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose even when he’s simply trying to be a polite gentleman.

According to the singer, his much-publicized 2006 nightclub brawl with fashion designer Tommy Hilfinger began with Rose simply trying to help out a fellow party-goer. As he told KROQ (via USA Today), “I moved his girlfriend’s drink so it wouldn’t spill… it was the most surreal thing, I think, that’s ever happened to me in my life… he just kept smacking me.” Rose later performed a short set at the event, making a witty and inspired dedication of the song ‘You’re Crazy’ to his recent sparring partner Hilfinger.


It’s hard enough for an opening act on a big tour to deal with an impatient audience; imagine what it’s like to also get dissed publicly by the headliner, specifically, Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses!

That’s exactly the situation Eagles of Death Metal leader Jesse Hughes found himself in after the first show of a planned 15-date trek supporting GN’R on Nov. 24, 2006. Although he admits the audience wasn’t into his band at first, he felt things “had become ‘Paradise City’” by the end. Apparently, Rose didn’t share this view, later asking the crowd how they liked the “Pigeons of S— Metal” and promising the band would never share the stage with him again. True to his word, the Eagles of Death Metal were off the tour the next day.


OK this one’s more of a funny, not destructive Guns N’ Roses moment, but it did result in the website for a major soft drink company crashing.

In March 2008, Dr. Pepper issued a public challenge to Axl Rose, stating that they would give a free can of soda to everyone in the country — except ex-GN’R members Slash and Buckethead — if the band’s long-delayed album ‘Chinese Democracy’ came out that year. When the album did in fact arrive later that fall, the company was unable to keep up with demand, resulting in a downed website, frustrated customers and even the threat of a lawsuit. Oh, and tons of publicity, which… was obviously the whole point.


Eighteen years after being the first original member fired from the world’s most dangerous band, Guns N’ Roses, drummer Steven Adler will still having big trouble managing his substance abuse issues.

Even a 1996 stroke failed to slow down his lifestyle, and a decade later he found himself on a series of televised “reality” programs including ‘Celebrity Rehab’ and ‘Sober House.’ During the filming of the latter, Adler showed up on the set high and in possession of heroin, and as a result was arrested by police.

Luckily, by all accounts is seems Adler is on the straight and narrow now, actively pursuing his music career.


Quick — someone with a time machine travel to 1991! We need you to tell a Guns N’ Roses fan still trying to wrap their heads around the just-released ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums that it will be nearly two decades before the band releases another collection of new music.

While you’re at it, tell them GN’R would reportedly spend as much as 13 million dollars crafting this LP — don’t use the “Dr. Evil” voice, they haven’t seen that film yet. Then, show them a picture of the band’s 2008 lineup, and offer them a new car if they can identify more than three members of the group. Finally, play them the sprawling, somewhat spotty record and ask if it was worth all that time, money and turnover. Oh, and get their reaction on YouTube, will you?


The months of drama and public sniping leading up to Guns N’ Roses‘ 2012 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame suggest that there may never be peace among the former band members.

After months of speculation, Axl Rose issued a lengthy open letter explaining his decision not to join his former bandmates for a celebratory performance, or even to attend the ceremony. This didn’t sit well with drummer Steven Adler, who also threw some nasty words (“scabs,” for example) at the current members of Guns N’ Roses. Guitarist Izzy Stradlin declined to attend in a much quieter way, leaving original members Slash, Duff McKagan and Adler (plus 2nd drummer Matt Sorum) to deliver gracious speeches and a strong performance.


Edited by AGS
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