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25 Years Ago: Axl Rose Arrested for St. Louis Guns N’ Roses Riot

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You can’t outrun the long arm of the law forever — even if you’re Axl Rose.

On July 12, 1992, the Guns N’ Roses frontman was arrested after his plane touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, booked on an outstanding warrant calling for his extradition to St. Louis so he could stand trial for his part in the riot that erupted after the band’s aborted show at the Riverport Amphitheater on July 2, 1991.

UPI reported that Rose, who’d been out of the country on vacation, had planned on surrendering himself after returning to the States — but after a year of trying to bring him in, authorities weren’t willing to wait, much to the chagrin of the singer’s publicist, Bryn Bribenthal.

“There was no need for all of this,” Bribenthal told reporters. “The prosecutor was told by his agent and spokesman that when he returned, he would come to St. Louis to turn himself in to face the warrant this week.”

Making his way through a press gauntlet on his trip into custody, Rose claimed that “the prosecutor reneged on a promise” before cooling his heels in custody for 10 hours. After promising to fly to St. Louis later that week — a visit he publicly alleged he’d already promised to make — Rose jumped in a limo with MTV News correspondent Kurt Loder on his way to his hotel.

“I basically spent my time writing autographs for cops,” Rose said of his time in lockup. “And talking with them about rock ‘n’ roll. I mean, all these cool cops, they were telling me about when they went to Woodstock and everything. It was great. New York cops are the best.”

As Rose went on to explain to Loder, he’d been staying away from St. Louis while his representatives ironed out a deal with prosecutors in the city. Saying he’d wanted the case to be “solidified” before he turned himself in, Rose revealed he’d agreed to two years of probation — the conditions of which he wasn’t worried about meeting because, as he put it, “I really don’t spend my time breaking the law.”

That was roughly the sentence that ended up being handed down later in the year, when a judge declared Rose guilty of property damage and assault. In addition to the probation — the conditions of which were amended to allow Rose to associate with felons, specifically the ones in his band — he was ordered to pay $50,000 to five local community organizations.

Fittingly, Rose wasn’t present when the judge issued his decree.

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