The Night Guns N Roses Almost Started a Riot in Denver
September 19, 1992, is a day that I'll never forget.
Instead of attending the homecoming dance that night, I went to see the concert of the year, Guns N' Roses and Metallica at Mile High Stadium in Denver.
Little did we know at the time, it would be the last time GnR would perform in Denver for nearly 25 years.
In fact, Axl Rose was lucky to make it out of Denver alive.
Nearly 50,000 headbangers packed into Mile High to see the show, which had been rescheduled after Metallica singer James Hetfield was burned during a concert several weeks earlier.
After a rousing opening set from Body Count, Metallica came out and proved their status among the greatest bands of the era.
Even with Hetfield wearing bandages on his arms and unable to play guitar, they delivered a powerful two hour set as the crowd roared on in approval.
Would Guns N' Roses be able to follow them? Sadly, on this night, the answer was no.
After a 45 intermission between bands, GnR finally came on.
Halfway through their first song, "Welcome to the Jungle," Axl Rose threw his microphone down and stormed off the stage.
Struggling to fill time, Slash led the rest of the band through an extended jam session.
The crowd began to grow restless and, as the minutes passed, started to boo.
Finally, over 30 minutes later, Axl Rose re-emerged and immediately scolded the audience, yelling "shut the (bleep) up," which was received by an even bigger chorus of boos.
Through the remainder of the show, Rose complained several times about the sound, the security and his road crew.
By the time they had finally finished their uninspired set, more than half the crowd had already left.
It was eery silence, especially in comparison to Metallica, who whipped the entire stadium into a frenzy only two hours earlier.
Even die-hard GnR fans, myself included, admitted that the band was outclassed by their opening acts.
Then, the following Monday, legendary Denver concert promoter Barry Fey called a local radio station to deliver his account of the evening.
According to Fey, Axl Rose was already headed back to the hotel room after leaving the stage during the first song.
Fearful that disgruntled fans would start a riot similar to previous GnR shows in Montreal and St. Louis, Fey instructed the limo driver to bring Rose back to the venue.
When Rose arrived, Fey met him in the parking lot and threatened to file a lawsuit if he didn't get back on stage and finish the show.
According to some accounts, Fey also pulled out a loaded handgun during the "negotiations."
We'll probably never know exactly what happened that night in the parking lot at the old Mile High, but somehow Fey convinced Axl that the show must go on.
Hopefully, when Guns N' Roses return to Denver in August, for the first time in nearly 25 years, Axl won't have a temper tantrum and storm off the stage again.