Rock Feuds: Axl Rose vs. Kurt Cobain
As the frontman of Guns N’ Roses, Rose was on top of the world as the ‘90s dawned. The band’s first album, Appetite for Destruction (from 1987), ranks among the best-selling LPs of all time, and 1988's follow-up EP, G N' R Lies, went five-time platinum. But while Rose was held high as the poster child for the Sunset Strip music scene, another sound was fermenting in the Pacific Northwest.
Grunge was the antithesis of Hollywood’s bright lights, and the genre’s breakout band was Nirvana. Like many of his contemporaries, Cobain was staunchly anti-corporate rock and despised many of the ‘80s hair-metal acts, including GNR.
Initially, these contentious feelings were one-sided. Rose was a fan of Nirvana and even invited them to tour with Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. When it became clear that Cobain had no interest in being friends, Rose went on the offensive. “They would rather sit at home and shoot heroin with their bitch wives than tour with us,” Rose told Metallix magazine.
Still, Cobain’s animosity toward Rose wasn’t just about musical differences. As a steadfast liberal and feminist and someone who advocated for equality and LGBTQ causes, the Nirvana singer took umbrage at many of Rose’s remarks.
“The guy is a fucking sexist and a racist and a homophobe, and you can't be on his side and be on our side,” Cobain once declared. “I’m sorry that I have to divide this up like this, but it's something you can't ignore. And besides, [GNR] can't write good music."
The legendary frontmen exchanged many more heated words over the years, and infamously had a face-to-face altercation backstage at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.
We dive deep into the rock feud between Axl Rose and Kurt Cobain in the video below.