The Hidden Story Behind Axl Rose’s Feud With David Bowie
via Intelligentsia / Youtube
Rock music is full of controversy and strife, as the legendary lead singer of Guns N’ Roses Axl Rose is well aware of. Over his career, a number of high-profile confrontations have resulted from his combative approach.
But one very noteworthy rivalry involved none other than the Thin White Duke himself, the late David Bowie.
The history of this notorious altercation dates back to 1989 when Bowie is said to have crossed lines with Rose’s then-girlfriend, Erin Everly, while the band was filming the music video for Guns N’ Roses song “It’s So Easy”.
The exchange quickly turned tense, with Axl Rose punching Bowie and then ejecting him from the set. Strong personalities colliding in the music industry can lead to violent dynamics, as this occurrence became a significant chapter in the history of rock.
Axl Rose and David Bowie reconciled privately
Even after the violent altercation, things gradually calmed down. In a Kerrang! interview from 1990, Rose described how he and the late David Bowie reconciled, showing how the iconic musician reached out to offer an apology. Axl revealed:
“Bowie and I had our differences. And then we talked and went out to dinner and then went down to the China club and stuff. And when we left, I was like, ‘I wanna thank you for being the first person that’s ever come up to me in person and said how sorry they were about the situation and stuff.’ It was cool, you know? And then I open up Rolling Stone the next day, and there’s a story in there saying I’ve got no respect for the Godfather of Glam even though I wear make-up and all this bullsh*t…”
This information reveals a more complex story and clarifies what happened after the encounter. Even though they had first disagreed, Axl Rose and David Bowie had an open discussion and even had dinner together, which helped to create a private reconciliation.
But the interview also reveals the complexity of celebrity dynamics, as the GnR frontman laments the sensationalization and misinterpretation of their interactions in the media. This episode perfectly captures the complexities of interpersonal relationships in the music business as well as the difficulties of managing public perception in the spotlight.
Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton got curious about the fight
Beyond their direct confrontation, the two iconic singers’ dispute had wider consequences. Another legendary frontman, The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger became embroiled in an impromptu meeting with Axl, demonstrating his strong interest in the rivalry.
Rose remembered clearly an event at a Rolling Stones soundcheck when Jagger and iconic guitarist Eric Clapton approached him regarding the widely reported fight:
“It’s laughable. 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?’”
With a lighthearted question concerning the alleged brawl, Mick Jagger lightens the tone and provides a glimpse into the lighthearted banter and camaraderie that can exist among music icons.
A light-hearted chat about Bowie’s drunken antics
As Rose continued to reveal the specifics of his conversation with Jagger and Clapton’s conversation, the story progresses. The frontman went on:
“So I told him the story real quick and him 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… 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.”
During their chat, Rose also made it clear that, despite their lack of friendship, he had a real affection for the legendary rock star David Bowie. They had in-depth conversations regarding their own lives and careers, and they found unexpected parallels in their intense and unorthodox methods.
Axl, who was well-known for his wit, humorously expressed worries about his own future and compared himself to Bowie, adding a hint of self-deprecating humor. This aspect of the tale highlights the friendships and shared experiences that go beyond the surface-level turmoil of the rock and roll industry, demonstrating the bandwagon that artists can maintain in the midst of well-publicized disputes.