Revisit the moment Axl Rose and David Bowie came to blows over Erin Everly
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a salacious moment of rock and roll history as we look back at the fight David Bowie and Axl Rose had over their shared interests of Erin Everly.
In Slash’s best selling self-titled memoirs he revealed a curious story that involves the two starring frontmen and a bout of fisticuffs. Slash’s Guns ‘N’ Roses bandmate, Axl Rose, and the iconic chameleon of rock and roll David Bowie, were said to have clashed over the latter’s pursuit of Erin Everly, Rose’s then-girlfriend.
The daughter of Don Everly of The Everly Brothers was caught in the middle of a ridiculous story. It was a rock and roll soap opera episode we just had to bring you. It puts Bowie in his usual starring role as a rock lothario and Rose, his counterpart, as the jealous boyfriend — it’s salacious backstage gold.
Bowie, as well as being one of the most enigmatic men on the stage also had a reputation for pursuing friends’ girlfriends. It appears whether their boyfriends were part of the biggest band of the moment mattered very little to him. The Starman was a proven casanova with his different-coloured eyes and flamboyant style, he wooed many women in his time. In fact, Bowie had become somewhat infamous for pinching the girlfriends of his contemporaries.
That kind of attitude would again land him in trouble in 1989 after he crossed paths with Rose and his girlfriend Everly. Bowie’s relationship with another member of Guns ‘N’ Roses group; Slash.
Bowie had known Slash and his mother Ola Hudson for a very long time, with Slash’s mother designing some of Bowie’s iconic stage clothes and costumes since their first meeting in 1975. Slash even claims he once walked in on Hudson and Bowie in the nude… underestimate that rock star of The Thin White Duke swagger at your peril.
Back to 1989. At the time Guns ‘N’ Roses were well and truly on their road to the major leagues. The band were announced as the warm-up act for The Rolling Stones at their favourite haunt — The Cathouse. With Bowie and Slash’s mother Ola in attendance, sitting in the front row no less, Axl started to throw some nasty insults in his direction, sneering and posturing toward the singer.
The story goes Bowie, seemingly disgusted with Rose’s actions, stood up and left mid-way through Guns’ set. Ola didn’t understand any of it until Slash revealed later the full story; Axl was angry at Bowie for allegedly hitting on his girlfriend Erin Everly.
Prior to the gig, the band were at the shoot for their new video ‘It’s So Easy’ (which only saw the light of day very recently). Bowie rocked up to The Cathouse that day very drunk and in a mischievous mood — as he often was. With the video set to feature Everly in leather bondage gear, handcuffs, with a ball-gag in her mouth, the temperature inside the shoot was rising.
According to the owner of The Cathouse, who spoke to Kerrang, when Axl caught wind of Bowie actively pursuing Everly, he lost it, and then the two began throwing punches. It all ended with Axl chasing Bowie and screaming a lasting line befitting any aforementioned daily drama. He said, “I’m gonna kill you, TIN MAN,” it’s reported.
Rose later ran into Mick Jagger who was hanging around the shoot ahead of the gig. The Rolling Stones singer had fallen victim to the charms of Bowie before and met Rose alongside Eric Clapton, who at the time of their meeting, had heard about the skirmish and was interested to hear of any blow landed on Bowie’s beautiful bonce.
Rose said, “I was out doing a soundcheck one day when we were opening for the Rolling Stones, and Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton cornered me. I’m sittin’ on this amp and all of a sudden they’re both right there in front of me. And Jagger doesn’t really talk a lot, right?
“He’s just real serious about everything, and all of a sudden he’s like (adopts exaggerated Dick Van Dyke-style Cockney), ‘So you got in a fight with Bowie, didja?'”
Axl continued: “So I told him the story real quick, and he and Clapton are going off about Bowie in their own little world, talking about things from years ago. They were saying things like when Bowie gets drunk, he turns into the “Devil from Bromley” (Bowie’s family moved to the London Borough of Bromley when he was a teenager). I mean, I’m not even in this conversation. I’m just sittin’ there. Listening to ‘em bitch like crazy about Bowie. It was funny.”
Axl and Bowie did eventually make up. Having moved in similar circles, they agreed to move on and one assumes Bowie also moved on to find his next girl and leave Axl’s girlfriend alone from now on. A fair deal if you ask us.