September 9, 1992, Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles. The biggest stars of the music world are in attendance at MTV’s annual Video Music Awards, but all is not peace and love. In fact, the tensions between two of rock’s biggest bands looks as if it might spoil over into a physical confrontation.
Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses were not pals, despite the fact that Gn’R vocalist Axl Rose had openly expressed his admiration for Kurt Cobain’s band. Rose had actually wanted Nirvana to play with Guns N’ Roses and Metallica on their stadium mega-tour, and had also invited the Aberdeen, Washington trio to play at his birthday party, but both offers were rebuffed: “To go out and play to thousands and thousands of people who’d have fucking kicked our asses if they’d known us in high school didn’t necessarily seem like the right place to be at the time,” Dave Grohl later stated about the tour offer.
Irritated, Rose subsequently weighed in on rumours that Cobain’s wife Courtney Love had used heroin while pregnant, and suggested that both she and Nirvana’s frontman should be sent to prison if their daughter was born “deformed” as a consequence of this. Word of this clearly got back to the Nirvana camp, for when Love spotted Rose ahead of the MTV Awards, she shouted out to him to ask, “Axl, do you wanna be the godfather to our child?” Axl responded by telling Kurt Cobain to “shut [his] bitch up.”
“Shut up, bitch!” a mocking Cobain then told Love, to the huge amusement of all in the Nirvana camp.
Time, though, is a great healer. And so fast forward to October 3, 2009, and you’ll find Love sharing a stage with Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash (plus future Motley Crue man John 5 and future Black Sabbath drummer Tommy Clufetos) at a Slash & Friends show at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas.
Watch footage of Slash and Love playing Hole‘s Celebrity Skin, and a snipper of T-Rex’s 20th Century Boy.
Dave Grohl and Guns N’ Roses too have also become close pals in the intervening years: “We were fucking kids,” Grohl told Classic Rock. “And the years went by and we all realised: ‘Come on, man, life is too short’.”
In 2017, Duff McKagan actually called Dave Grohl to ask if Axl Rose could borrow Grohl’s ‘throne’ after the singer hurt his leg onstage, to which Grohl readily agreed to. Axl Rose later expressed his thanks for buying Grohl a new guitar.
“He had Slash go pick me a guitar,” Grohl revealed. “And he picked me an early-’60s Gibson ES 335 Dot, which to this day is the nicest fucking guitar I have ever played in my life. It was an incredibly kind and classy gesture, and I was very appreciative.”