Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose is an undisputed expert at antagonising others. He’s made countless enemies, caused fights with other bands, and his exploits on one occasion made Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson live to regret not punching him.
Rose, of course, is no stranger to a fight backstage after his shenanigans at the MTV Awards in 1992 with Nirvana. Verbally, the pair had been jousting for some time after Kurt Cobain labelled them “sexist” in the press, a comment which led to the Guns N’ Roses loudmouthed frontman referring to them as “junkies” during an on-stage rant.
Things then got physical at the awards ceremony after Cobain spat on Axl’s keyboard before he closed the show with Elton John, a move that led to Guns N’ Roses attempting to tip over Nirvana’s trailer in response. Things could have turned tragic, however, as Rose discovered that Frances Bean Cobain was on board the trailer moments before stopping his revenge.
Nirvana were not the first group that Rose had angered. In fact, four years earlier, during a show with Iron Maiden in Quebec City, Guns N’ Roses were handpicked to support the British rockers, but it all ended disaster.
The first issue they ran into was a lack of a soundcheck due to the mass preparation needed for Maiden’s stage show, a situation that already riled up Guns N’ Roses before they’d even performed.
Later on, Rose began to speak rudely to the crowd and mocked them for speaking French, despite it being the native tongue of Quebec, which infuriated Dickinson. Not only is it an unnecessary and uncourteous move, but it also created a hostile atmosphere for the rest of the evening.
Looking back at the show with Le Journal de Montréal in 2015, Dickinson opened up about this harrowing incident. He said, “I should have come on-stage and given him a punch. How could he dare speak to my audience in that way? I always regretted not having done so.”
There’s no lost love between the duo, and when Rose briefly replaced Brian Johnson as the singer in AC/DC, Dickinson admitted he feared it could be “horrible”. “It’s an odd situation,” he said. “I hope Brian can get some respite for whatever his medical issue is. He’s a lovely guy. There’s just Angus [Young, guitar] in AC/DC now as far as original members. I hope Angus ends up holding up the amazing reputation and the name of AC/DC.
“It’d be horrible to see it end with people not turning up on stage or being very late. I hope it works out okay for everyone,” he brutally added in a dig at Rose.
Although that night in Quebec was decades ago, it’s evident that Dickinson still has no time for Axl Rose, and he’s not alone with this perspective. Rose is one of rock’s most popularising figures, with his cliched cartoonish antics ruffling feathers wherever he goes and continuing to get his name chalked off more Christmas card lists with each passing year.