Kirk Hammett recalls the moment Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose came to blows. tt

When it comes to the American rock music scene of the late 20th century, there are a few unavoidable names: Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, and the grunge heroes Nirvana. This unlikely trilogy of rock stars, despite producing wildly different forms of rock music, did have a brief moment of crossover during the early 1990s, something which ended up with Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain coming to blows with Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose.

It is perhaps unsurprising that Cobain and Rose did not have the most harmonious of relationships. The two frontmen represented completely opposite ideas of masculinity. Kurt Cobain was the voice of a sensitive and angsty generation of youth alienated by archaic ideals of the American dream, whereas Axl Rose was the poster boy for jockish hyper-masculinity and nationalism.

Nirvana feud: Kurt Cobain and Guns N Roses brutal clash | Music | Entertainment | Express.co.uk
On top of his catalogue of substanceless bubblegum rock, Axl Rose was also criticised for his overtly misogynistic, homophobic and often racist views. The abhorrent lyrics of Rose’s track ‘One in a Million’ act as a fairly good summation of Rose’s character, awash with racist, homophobic and Islamophobic lyrics which were totally at odds with the punk manifesto of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.

This tension came to a head during the 1992 MTV Awards, when Axl reportedly threatened Cobain backstage, telling him to keep his wife, Courtney Love, quiet. Luckily, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett was there to witness the entire saga, telling Revolver, “I was sitting there talking to Kurt backstage, and all of a sudden fucking Axl walks up, sees me, and looks at Kurt and … I’m like, ‘Oh no!’ And he goes right up to Kurt and says, ‘What’s your problem, motherfucker, what’s your problem!’ And so Kurt’s like, ‘Whatever, dude.’ … And [Axl’s] like, ‘I’ll fucking beat your ass. Come on. Let’s go!’”

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The attempts by Kurt to shrug off the bandana-wearing frontman were futile, as Hammett explains, “Then at another point I was just standing, minding my own business, and then Axl fucking shows up again, and he says to me, ‘What’s up with your fucking friend?’ I go, ‘I don’t know what’s up, man. You guys have to work it out.’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, well, I’ll fucking work it out with him.’”

In a subtle act of revenge against this raucous display of toxic masculinity, Kurt later recalled, “I spat on Axl’s keyboard. It was either that or beat him up. I saw his piano there, and I just had to take this opportunity and spit big goobers all over his keyboards.” However, this only seemed to worsen the situation. Soon enough, members of Guns N’ Roses entourage attempted to tip over Nirvana’s trailer, which only contained Cobain’s infant daughter Francis and her nanny.

So it seems there was no love lost between Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana, with the latter refusing an opening spot on the Metallica/Guns N’ Roses tour as a result of Rose’s laughable behaviour. Years later, Metallica themselves would be the victim of Axl’s infallible ego, calling them a “cartoon” band in 2008. Frontman James Hetfield responded to the comment with some brutal quips about the then-current line-up of Guns N’ Roses, saying, “[Guns N’ Roses] are a different type of band – and I use the word ‘band’ loosely. It’s a guy and some other guys.” Touché.

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