Axl Rose had written Guns N' Roses' most romantic ballad, Sweet Child O' Mine, about her. So, on October 10, 1989, when the heavy-metal king of paranoia accused David Bowie on a video set in Los Angeles of flirting with his model girlfriend Erin Everly, there was only ever likely to be one outcome. Axl punched Bowie in the face.
Despite the omens not being good, on April 28, 1990, in Cupid's Inn Chapel in Las Vegas, Everly and Axl were married. The bride asked for an annulment less than 48 hours later. Their marriage was officially ended in January 1991. "Erin and I treated each other like shit," Axl would later say. "Sometimes we treated each other great, because the children in us were best friends. But then there were other times when we just f**ked up each other's lives completely."
In March 1994, in a law suit that was settled out of court, Erin - whose father was Don Everly of legendary duo The Everly Brothers - alleged that her ex-husband believed he had within him the spirit of the dead Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham (Axl also claimed, allegedly, that "in a past life we were Indians and that I killed our children, and that's why he was so mean to me in this life.")
As dysfunctional, messed-up rock-star tantrums and psychosis go, Axl was his own category. In the summer of 1992, he bizarrely lambasted movie star Warren Beatty at a Guns N' Roses show in Paris, because Beatty had once, very briefly, courted Axl's supermodel ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Seymour. Beatty, roared Axl, was "a man who likes to play games… a parasite… an old man who likes to live his life vicariously through young people and suck up all their life because he has none of his own… a cheap punk... Well listen home-f**k - if you think Madonna kicked your ass, I'm bettin' my money on Annette, you stupid f***ing asshole," Axl raged, referring to Annette Bening, who Beatty has been happily married to since 1992.
Not that anything ever made truly sense in the world of Guns N' Roses. In May 1990, the band, who were in the dictionary under 'drug excess' fired their drummer Steven Adler for drug excess; in particular, Adler was found, according to Rolling Stone, "crawling on the floor with his nose to the carpet trying to inhale cocaine remnants he had spilled. Adler later sued Guns N' Roses for $26 million claiming that they fired him for being a junkie despite introducing him to drugs in the first place." (In 2008, Adler appeared on the VH1 reality series Celebrity Rehab With Dr Drew and then the spin-off show Sober House.)
Being fired was, of course, de rigueur with this motley crew. In Over the Top: The True Story of Guns N' Roses, we heard how Axl sacked a staff member on tour for allegedly disturbing his sleep. This was despite Axl having expressly asked him to wake him at that precise time.
If you weren't fired from Guns N' Roses, you quit, having had enough of Axl's moods. In 1991 guitarist Izzy Stradlin left; in 1996 fellow guitarist Slash walked; a year later bassist Duff McKagan followed him. Control freak Axl was now Guns N' Roses. He had effectively got rid of everyone he formed the band with in 1985. He brought in a guitarist named Buckethead, which tells you all you need to know. Axl appeared to be a bigger nightmare than usual around that time. On May 19, 2006 fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger punched Axl, ten years his junior, at a party in New York over something the singer had said or done at a birthday bash for Rosario Dawson. In late 2008, Guns N' Roses released their most recent studio album, 17 years in the making, and absolutely awful, Chinese Democracy, with its 18 musicians in all. Then in late 2018, after being in exile for 20 years, Slash returned to the band; Duff was already back a year or so. Guns N' Roses were back, sort of.
Long ago, they were dubbed the most "dangerous band in the world". The Independent in 1991 published an interview entitled 'Just say Yo; Guns N' Roses put sex and drugs back into rock'n'roll'. They combined drug taking and drug dealing with knuckle-dragging misogyny. "We sold drugs. If one of the guys was f***ing a girl in our sleeping loft, we'd ransack the girl's purse while he was doing her," Izzy said in Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses. "We managed." They managed because their debut album Appetite for Destruction, released in 1987, was a nihilist masterpiece of scorched-earth LA rock (Welcome To the Jungle, Paradise City) which sold over 30 million copies; its double-album follow up Use Your Illusion I and II in late 1991 sold even more; despite being bloated - 30 songs, two and a half hours of music - and flash (the video for one of the tracks November Rain cost $1.5million and featured Axl's then girlfriend Seymour laid out in a customised $8,000 coffin.)
The hype around the band was enhanced by their drug addictions - mountains of cocaine and heroin chased down with three bottles of Jack Daniels whiskey a day - as well fights with other bands (Metallica, Nirvana, Bon Jovi) and each other, plus problems with the law, problems with going on stage hours late; that kind of thing.
So I should have suspected that an interview in America with Guns N' Roses would not work as planned.
In early 1992, I flew 3,500 miles to Detroit to meet the band in advance of their sold-out show at Slane Castle. Upon arrival, it was quickly discovered that Axl had caused a riot at the show the previous night and the band, to avoid arrest, were now safely across the border in Montreal. I spent four days in a hotel room in Detroit before I got to interview Slash for ten minutes on the phone to Canada. Two months later, in Lillie's Bordello nightclub in Dublin, I bumped into Slash. He and the rest of the band had just come from playing to 80,000 fans in Lord Henry Mountcharles' back garden. I mentioned the Detroit tale. Despite seeming too busy orbiting another planet to take in properly what I was saying, Slash did drawl "Sorry, maaaaaaaaaaaaan," smiled, and walked on. An absolute gentleman, out of his gourd or not.
In his memoirs, Slash recounted the tale of how after Guns N' Roses' 1989 world tour, during a hazy hiatus in LA - "which turned out to be the start of a long and nightmarish obsession with heroin that lasted from 1989 through 1991" - he was in the midst of an opioid-induced hallucination that ended up with him running naked run through an Arizona golf resort. Slash thought he was being chased by "predators" with "rubbery-looking dreadlocks" with machine guns. Whereupon, Slash put his fist through a glass door, climbed through it, and legged it off to hide from the predators in his hotel room, briefly stopping en route to use a maid as a "human shield".
A few years later, in another animal-related incident at a hotel, Slash sneaked his pet mountain lion cub Curtis with him into the Marina Del Rey Four Seasons after an earthquake in LA. Curtis will have plenty of space to run around when Guns N' Roses come to Marlay Park.
Guns N' Roses play Marlay Park in Dublin on June 27 Tickets are priced from €99.50.