The spirit of rock music has always been about disobeying, but with Guns N’ Roses’ complicated history, there were times that the band took ‘disobeying’ too far. So, it’s normal for anyone to wonder how the act hasn’t entirely disbanded with the numerous accusations made between bandmates.
For instance, a controversy was sparked between Axl Rose and Slash when the frontman accused the guitarist of sabotaging him. Axl claimed that during the controversial Use Your Illusion tour, Slash didn’t care about his well-being or mental health. Rose also criticized the guitarist for depicting him unfairly in his memoir.
However, this wasn’t the only controversy of the Use Your Illusion tour. Slash also accused Axl of threatening to leave the band if his bandmates didn’t sell him the rights to GN’R’s name. Rose denied all of these accusations; however, it seemed there might be some truth to the guitarist’s words.
Slash’s accusations caused Axl to give an ultimatum and threaten to leave the act, but that wasn’t the first time. A few years before the Use Your Illusion tour, in the late ’80s, Rose had threatened to depart the band if Slash and former rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin didn’t stop using heroin. Years later, ironically, Stradlin left GN’R during the Use Your Illusion tour due to his deteriorating relationship with Axl.
The band carried on without Stradlin, but they knew if Axl were to depart, it would be hard to find someone to fill in for him. So, when Slash disclosed that Rose threatened once again to leave the band if they didn’t sell their rights to GN’R’s name, the band unwillingly signed their rights off.
“Axl refused to go onstage one night during the Use Your Illusion tour in 1992,” recalled Slash to Rolling Stones in 2008. “Unless the band signed away the name rights to the band. Unfortunately, we signed it. I didn’t think he’d go on stage otherwise.”
Rose denied the accusations as he defended himself in the same article. He exclaimed, “[It] never happened, all made up, fallacy and fantasy. Not one single solitary thread of truth to it. Had that been the case, I would have been cremated years ago legally, could’ve cleaned me out for the name and damages. It’s called under duress with extenuating circumstances.”
Two years after the Use Your Illusion tour ended, in 1995, Axl legally departed the band as he formed a new partnership under Guns N’ Roses’ name. The frontman reasoned his actions by saying it was not to steal the act from his bandmates but to salvage it. Later, in 1997, the rocker reportedly bought the full rights to the act’s name.
Whatever Axl’s reasonings might be for buying the full rights to GN’R’s name, it’s pretty understandable for his bandmates to feel betrayed by his ultimatum during the Use Your Illusion tour. Since GN’R had struggled with Stradlin’s departure during the tour, perhaps they knew they couldn’t carry on if Axl were to leave the act.