Douche Lord Axl Rose Dares to Return to St. Louis with Guns N’ Roses
Posted By Jaime Lees
Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 11:04 am
It was 25 years ago this summer that Axl Rose sparked the infamous “Riverport Riot” and just a few days ago Guns N’ Roses announced that it will return to St. Louis for the first time since the incident. (Location and date of concert still unknown.)
The Riot story goes like this: On July 2, 1991, Guns N’ Roses came to St. Louis to play one of the first shows at a brand new outdoor shed venue called Riverport. (Now known as Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre.) During the show, Rose spotted a fan up front taking photos, he then flipped his shit and jumped into the crowd in an attempt to wail on the offender, a motorcycle enthusiast named Stump. After being caught on the big screen going berserk on his fans and lashing out at security, Rose was pulled out of the mayhem, said “Well, thanks for the lame-ass security, I’m going home” into the microphone, and then threw the mic down and exited the stage. The rest of the band followed.
The fans in attendance weren’t about to tolerate Rose’s antics (or the show being cut short) and they promptly rioted: ripping up the seats, lighting small fires, starting fights, tearing down signage and generally trashing the joint. The band fled the Riverport area and were driven across state lines into Illinois to avoid arrest.
Rose’s bratty behavior was already well-documented by this point. His fragile ego always came across as insecurity wrapped in peacocking machismo, but on this night he seemed extra volatile. Dude was wearing Mormon underwear and a hideous gorilla jacket that would make even Dian Fossey cover her eyes but he still decided that he was going to jump into the audience and try to be the alpha male.
Because his aggro, immature outbursts were commonplace, this particular tantrum couldn’t have been entirely unexpected, but the reaction of the crowd was immediately beyond the capabilities of Riverport security. The police called in every available officer and the rioting crowd was mercilessly escorted to the exits. The riot resulted in sixteen arrests, 60 injuries and a reported $200,000 in damage to the amphitheatre.
It took a year for Rose to finally be arrested on an outstanding warrant when he landed back in New York after a European tour. He was released on $100,000 bail but soon faced a St. Louis judge on multiple accusations of assault and a property damage charge. In the end Rose was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $50,000 to St. Louis-area charities.
But before he even went to trial in St. Louis, Rose had already declared his own personal war on the city. His vendetta was long-running, too. Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I & Use Your Illusion II were released a few months after the incident and included “FUCK YOU, ST. LOUIS!” in the liner notes. Rose was also seen on stage wearing a “ST. LOUIS SUCKS” t-shirt and he trashed the city at every opportunity. (Riverport is technically located outside of St. Louis in Maryland Heights, but a shirt that reads “MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO SUCKS” wouldn’t have been nearly as flashy.) He also wore a St. Louis Cardinals hat for approximately one second in the “Don’t Cry” video. (At the 1:11 mark.) He must’ve wanted us to know that he was thinking of us because it’s not like he wore hats and bandanas in an attempt to hide his thinning hairline or anything. Nope, not at all.
Maybe Rose has since softened his stance on St. Louis after working with our native son, wizard guitarist Richard Fortus. Fortus became a member of GNR in 2001 and has decades of high-level professional experience under his studded belt. (He founded Love Spit Love and played with Thin Lizzy, to say the least.) He’s smart and talented and any city would be proud to have him as its ambassador. Fortus recently gave an interview where he explained that he missed the 1991 riot entirely. On the night of the riot, he said, he was playing across town at Kennedy’s. (For local rock fans of a certain age, this statement will read as pure, undeniable St. Louis street cred.)
So where and when will this new Guns N’ Roses concert happen? We have no official information on that yet, but we’re guessing that they’re implying that the show will happen sometime this summer. But making plans is not GNR’s strongest trait— you know how it went down with Chinese Democracy. And assuming that “Riverport” still has a ban on Rose (and doesn’t want a reenactment of 1991 on its hands), GNR would have to find another large venue to play.
When discussing this dilemma with a friend, he offered what appears to be a very reasonable venue prediction for the upcoming event. Keep in mind this is entirely conjecture, but he pointed out that current Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt recently mentioned on a podcast that in addition to welcoming the much anticipated NHL Winter Classic hockey game, that he was also planning on hosting an upcoming concert at Busch Stadium downtown.
In the last few minutes of The Ryan Kelly Morning After podcast Episode 37 (titled “Segment 1 – Show Open 03/10/16”), DeWitt says, “We’ve had a couple of false starts on concerts, so I don’t want to jinx it, so I’ll leave it at that. But we’re trying to get one good one this summer and then one or two big ones next summer.”
Could it be Guns N’ Roses? Absolutely. Not many other major touring bands could hope to even partially fill a venue that holds more than 46,000 attendees. Furthermore, if this show is at Busch it would almost surely have to take place during the All Star break between July 8 and July 12. This location might also be good insurance against another riot— most St. Louisans would think twice before damaging the Cardinals’ nest.
What’s a St. Louis rock fan to do? We have ambivalent feelings about Guns N’ Roses. We remember what happened on that hot summer night long ago, but years of prolonged exposure to KSHE has weakened our resolve. We, as a city, have always liked to party, but we still have very little tolerance for ego trip bullshit.
So to Axl we say this: Remember what happened the last time you tried to act a fool here? We don’t play that mess so don’t even try it again. We’re primed and ready. If you try to step to us on our own territory we’ll turn on you even faster than last time. Behave yourself because we promise you that this, sir, is the jungle.
Missed the action? Check out a short two-part documentary on the Riverport Riot below. It includes an interview with Mr. Stump and a hilarious “only in St. Louis” story about Izzy Stradlin’s lost amplifier from witness Sebastian Bach of Skid Row.
link: Riverfront Times
No Fear of Music: Fear’s multi-talented founder, Lee Ving, is more than just a punk icon
By Jaime Lees
Published on March 30, 2009 at 5:08pm
As the lead singer for the punk band Fear, Lee Ving earned a reputation as a sharp, acid-tongued agitator. His commanding, drill-sergeant vocal delivery and surly attitude helped to build a new breed of bad-tempered hardcore. With songs like “Let’s Have a War” and “I Love Livin’ in the City,” Fear put on a legendarily abrasive stage show, disguising complicated music beneath a blanket of punk-rock attitude.
Still, Ving is not at all what you might expect. College-educated and thirsty for theoretical physics, the clearly intelligent Ving runs his own MySpace page and is starting a record company to release his many musical ventures — everything from out-of-print Fear albums to new recordings by his bluegrass band.
We caught up with him in early March to ask about his history and upcoming solo shows. Warm and enthusiastic, with a voice like sweet honey whiskey, Ving is honest and funny, offering up quotable bits like “I have to say, I was really overjoyed when Guns N’ Roses recorded a cover of ‘I Don’t Care About You.’ That was…lucrative.” And: “I like that John Mayer. He’s a good player, and that’s the kind of thing I respond to.”
Jaime Lees: Aside from Fear, you have a rich musical past. How did you get into playing these solo shows?
Lee Ving: I’ve been doing it for a while, and I get to do a lot of different kinds of music. I don’t try to stick to the Fear format, or try to be Fear all by myself. I do other kinds of music. You know, pop tunes, jazz standards, solo tunes, songs that I liked over the radio — things that the Fear crowd might not readily accept. But they’re songs that I like to sing; I sing them well, so I really want to do them. It gives me an outlet to do it. I’d been playing for a while when I started Fear. I didn’t learn to play as Fear began, as some other groups did. Some of the first bands I was ever in were blues bands in Philadelphia — we played with Buddy Guy and B.B. King and Junior Wells. I was in this band in Philly called Sweet Stavin Chain, and it was a full-on blues band. Michael Brecker would come and play with us on weekends. Let me tell you, as a blues soloist, there was no one better. So that band really smoked. Now many people mention Michael Brecker and John Coltrane in the same breath. I mean, Michael Brecker had Junior Walker down so good. He played better than Junior Walker. You know who Junior Walker is, right?
Yeah, I love all those old Motown guys. So how did you transition from blues to punk?
OK, so I moved from New York to Los Angeles, and then eventually I discovered this punk-rock thing. And I thought that the players I saw were beginners and that the shows weren’t thought out. I knew that I could put a band together that had far superior players, and I knew that I could incite better than the people I was seeing. But what I really liked about it was the audience! The band starts playing, and the audience starts jumping up and down and bashing the living daylights out of each other! With punk you could say whatever you want, play whatever you want and give the audience a hard time if you wanted to. I thought, Wow, this is great. So that’s what inspired me to start the Fear thing. And we’ve been at it ever since.
See, but I think that all of your different musical training came through in Fear.
Absolutely. I was in New York and Philadelphia listening to these jazz musicians play live three to six nights a week for most of my life, and that still comes out of every pore when I write something. There’s no way to keep that under wraps, and that education is priceless. I mean, I heard Charles Mingus play live many, many nights. And Stanley Turrentine many, many nights. And Freddie Hubbard. And Archie Shepp and Art Blakey and Beaver Harris and Clifford Jordan and McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Jones and Tony Williams, Rahsaan Roland Kirk… I could just keep going all night. So it was a very advanced musical platform that gave birth to this punk-rock band. Which I think is reasonably unusual.
How did Fear relate to the other bands in the punk/hardcore scene? Many of them were straight-edge and writing songs like “TV Party,” but you were singing about wanting more beer.
Well, you know, I was aware that there was this straight-edge thing, but it just seemed ridiculous to me. I didn’t believe it for a minute. And it’s OK to say what you believe in, and it’s OK if you do that. It just didn’t seem like something that was real. I couldn’t believe that none of these people were having any sex or drinking at all or taking any drug. But maybe they weren’t.
Also, I think that the idea of being cloistered or monastic in some way may free the mind to concentrate on some things; maybe there’s benefit in it. But you know, we just did what we did. And we wanted to say shit that was funny to the audience — and we certainly consumed our weight in beer, no problem. [Clears throat] But if we weren’t going to be accepted among bands that didn’t seem like they had a sense of humor, then so be it. Black Flag said they didn’t like us because we were telling jokes. They didn’t think that there was any place for that.
Well, Black Flag was serious business. I love them for it, but most kids just want to laugh, scream at people and be loud.
Yeah, you’re a kid! That’s what to do. That’s what feeling good is all about! So it all just seemed funny to me. The fact that there were causes also seemed funny to me. For people to try to say that their band really stood for some sort of political movement or something? I didn’t believe any of that shit for a minute, either. I thought that the band stood for, you know, trying to make some money — if it was getting paid $17 or $10,000. And we wanted to put across entertaining shows musically and verbally, you know, the banter between the band members and the back-and-forth with the crowd.
That’s why it was so great! Because you never knew if you were joking, and it made it very confusing and very excellent.
Yeah, that’s right! That’s exactly where I wanted it! I wanted the boneheads to think that I was completely serious, that I really wanted to “have a war,” and I wanted those that were capable to see the satire in those sort of ridiculous statements and song titles. That way, everybody could go home happy!
8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 4.
Deluxe, 2733 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood.
$15 advance, $17 day of show. 314-646-0370.