25 Years Ago: Vince Neil Punches Izzy Stradlin at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards
Guns N’ Roses’ video for ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ was up for an award in two categories: Best Group and Best Metal videos (they ended up winning the latter). As fate would have it, Motley Crue were tasked with presenting and handing out the award to bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler.
While Motley Crue were all smiles and high fives with the Guns N’ Roses rhythm section, Vince Neil was seething internally. At some point in the weeks leading up to the event, when he was on a white-water rafting trip in Idaho, Neil’s wife had gone out to the Cathouse club in Los Angeles, where she’d been allegedly assaulted by Stradlin.
So while the rest of his band departed the venue after their on-camera appearance, Neil waited around for Stradlin and Axl Rose to finish their performance of ‘Free Fallin’ with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to have some words with Stradlin. “When Izzy walked offstage, looking like a cross between Eric Stoltz in ‘Mask’ and Neil Young, I was waiting for him,” Neil wrote in his band’s autobiography ‘The Dirt.’ “‘You f—ing hit my wife!’ ‘So f—ing what?’ he spat. All my blood rushed into my fist, and I decked him. I decked him good, right in the face. He fell to the ground like a tipped cow.”
Neil’s bodyguard grabbed him before he could do any further damage, but as they were making their way outside, Neil was confronted by Rose. “Axl came snarling after us like an overdressed Doberman,” Neil said. “‘Come on, motherf—er, I’m going to f—ing kill you!’ he yelled at our backs.” The situation was ultimately defused, and both singers went on their way.
The incident, however, was far from over. Rose went on to take a number of potshots at Neil in the media, claiming that he threw a punch “like a powder-puff,” and even vaguely offered to fight him in Atlantic City. The Motley Crue singer responded in kind with his own challenge. Yet, for all the hype it generated, nothing more became of the tussle.