Conflicts between artists are inevitable, especially in the rock scene, and you might ask what’s one feud that is more memorable than the rest. That would be the infamous dispute between Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose. Let’s look back on how everything started, so we can get the whole picture of what truly happened between the two rockers.
There was already some anger bubbling between the two as Rose wouldn’t stop with his constant calls, which turned into making some rude statements about their respective bands. Of course, we can’t forget the infamous fight right before the MTV Video Music Awards in 1992 that was the final straw that tipped Cobain off the edge. The two musicians already couldn’t see eye to eye, and after that incident, they became even more cross with each other than before.
One of the major reasons Cobain had walls up against Rose was that he would constantly call Cobain to convince him to open, for you might recall the ill-fated Guns N’ Roses and Metallica Stadium Tour. Nirvana had recently released their ‘Nevermind’ album, which had reached the top of the Billboard Charts. This movement Nirvana had created, where grunge was becoming popular by the day, caught Axl’s eye, and he was desperate for Nirvana to be their opener for the tour.
Former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl even recalled what fired up Kurt Cobain in an Esquire Q&A he did in 2006. He said, “I remember that when ‘Nevermind’ first came out, Axl was a huge fan of ours. Guns N’ Roses was about to do this massive stadium tour with Metallica, and they wanted us to open. So Axl had been calling Kurt non-stop. One day we’re walking through an airport, and Kurt says, “F*ck. Axl Rose won’t stop calling me.”
“I think it represented something bigger,” shared Grohl about Cobain not liking what Guns N’ Roses stood for and represented in the rock scene. “Nirvana didn’t want to turn into Guns N’ Roses. So Kurt started talking shit in interviews, and Axl started talking back. It went back and forth like tenth-grade bullsh*t.”
“Then we got to the awards, and our trailers were all in the same one hundred yards. And Courtney was there, which never makes anything easier. So it didn’t take much to blow up into a full-fledged showdown,” shared Grohl about the scandalous fight between Cobain and Rose just before the MTV Video Music Awards in 1992.
The former drummer continued, “Kurt and Courtney were screaming at Axl. Axl screamed back. It was all just soap-opera bullsh*t. Krist, our bass player, almost got in a fistfight. I was just the drummer, so I shouted some loud, funny shit and hit the bar.”
Apparently, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were casually sitting backstage with their baby. When they saw Axl Rose walking by, they jokingly asked him to be the godfather of their child. Although it was just a silly joke, Rose was not in the mood to go along with it and started a fight by shouting and threatening the couple, which turned into a full-fledged argument between the two leads.
The most insane part is that Cobain shared the details of the incident on the stage of the award show with everyone there and everyone watching at home to witness, which became the scandal of not only the year but one we still talk about today.