Guns N’ Roses Axl Rose is not a likeable figure, by any stretch of the imagination. Throughout his career, the singer has made a fool out of himself on plentiful occasions and narrowing his misdemeanours down to just five is a gruelling task.
While he’s the frontman of one of the most successful rock groups on the planet, the band have often been overshadowed by Axel Rose’s stormy off-stage behaviour. For some, his history of causing mayhem and childish conduct makes them love Rose even more as they live vicariously through his exploits.
The singer plays up to the demands of his ardent fanbase and gives them exactly what they want by being as rampant as humanly possible, but in truth, it all comes off as somewhat contrived.
His ego has been out of control for decades now, and it’s why Slash turned his back on Guns N’ Roses — he couldn’t handle Rose’s company anymore. Although, despite that, it’s worth noting that a sufficient amount of money eventually made him change his mind.
Below, see his five most odious moments.
Axl Rose’s worst moments:
In 2006, Axl Rose and fashion mogul Tommy Hilfiger got into a brawl in the VIP area of the Plumm nightclub in New York, which was nothing short of an embarrassment. The singer was on the receiving end of a brutal beating, and it was all caught by paparazzi who made sure the image circulated across the globe.
“Axl pushed me [out of the way], and I said ‘that was rude’,” Hilfiger later explained. “He turned around and had a huge ring on. He wears all this jewellery. I’m thinking, if I get hit, it’s over. No teeth, no eye. So I hit him before he hit me. It was self-protection.”
Inciting a riot
When the band played at the Riverport Amphitheatre in St Louis in 1991, Rose would end up getting arrested after sparking a riot during their track ‘Rocket Queen’. After seeing a fan filming the concert, his temperament snapped, and he barked at security to confiscate the camera.
Rose then seized the camera himself before assaulting members of the audience as well as the security team before grabbing his microphone and telling the crowd: “Well, thanks to the lame-ass security, I’m going home”.
The frontman was arrested after the concert, and Guns N’ Roses were also banned from St. Louis. They later replied on the artwork for Your Illusion which included “Fuck You, St. Louis!” in the liner notes.
In 2008, Rose made the bold move to criticise Metallica, and unsurprisingly, it ended up with the singer with egg on his face. The comment was strange considering the two bands toured with each other previously, but the singer is not afraid of burning bridges.
Rose was asked about his favourite cartoon and responded, “My favourite cartoon characters are Metallica and Slash”. James Hetfield took this on the chin and he responded brutally with a home truth about the then-Guns ‘N’ Roses line-up, “(Guns N Roses) are a different type of band – and I use the word ‘band’ loosely. It’s a guy and some other guys.” Ouch.
Having dreadlocks as a caucasian man is always a red flag, but Axl Rose didn’t stop at that, and inexplicably he also got cornrows. Considering his liberal use of racist language in his lyrics, it should come as no surprise that he’s guilty of cultural appropriation, and it’s not even his most significant crime against fashion.
He’d regularly don the stage just in his underwear and his trademark bandana. There are no doubts that Rose is in the pantheon of worst-dressed men in rock, and most of the time, it looks like he’s got changed in the dark. In fairness, Rose’s appearance does tell people exactly what kind of character he has when he walks into a room which makes alarm bells go off.
Things turned physical between Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana at the MTV Awards in 1992 after Rose threatened Kurt Cobain and told him to shut up his wife, Courtney Love. The Nirvana singer publically criticised his opponent in interviews after the ceremony, which only worsened from this point.
As revenge, Nirvana still had one more trick up their sleeve before Rose closed the show with a duet of ‘November Rain’ with Elton John. “I spat on Axl’s keyboard, it was either that or beat him up,” Cobain later recalled. “I saw his piano there, and I just had to take this opportunity and spit big goobers all over his keyboards.”
Several members of the band and their entourage then tried to tip over Nirvana’s trailer, but the band wasn’t there, and the only people inside were baby Frances Bean with her nanny. Cobain later said: “Those people are total sexist jerks, and the reason we’re playing this show is to fight homophobia in a [really] small way. The guy is a fucking sexist and a racist and a homophobe, and you can’t be on his side and be on our side.”