The band Kurt Cobain claimed “had nothing to say”

In the 1990s, bands had to do more than write meat-headed odes to rock and roll. Thanks to the grunge movement leaving its mark on the world, bands were picking up guitars and writing about their innermost feelings rather than the traditional sex, drugs and rock and roll angle. There was a clear dividing line now in rock and roll, and no one understood that line better than Kurt Cobain.

When talking about his upbringing, Cobain was initially raised on acts like The Beatles and The Monkees. Though musically inclined from a young age, Cobain was itching to listen to heavier music before gravitating towards acts like Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin. While Cobain’s flair for 1970s rock would be immortalised in the Nirvana B-side ‘Aero Zeppelin’, one of the successors to those bands filled him with a rage that he couldn’t quantify.
Although Nirvana was responsible for breaking down the hair metal genre, Guns N’ Roses also partially had a hand in bringing down the Sunset Strip empire. Coming from the wrong side of the tracks, GNR represented everything the hair metal bands wished they could do without the credit to back it up. Even though acts like Poison may have been able to play their hearts out for their fans, all the hairspray paled in comparison to the gang mentality of Slash and Axl Rose.

Though Guns N’ Roses managed to make it out of the 1980s with their mammoth double album Use Your Illusion, Cobain was not impressed when they first heard their music, remarking, “We’re not your typical Guns’ N’ Roses type of band that has absolutely nothing to say.”

Cobain would eventually double down on his claims, turning down the opportunity to open for Metallica and Guns N’ Roses on a joint tour. As Kirk Hammett recalled while talking to NME, “I had to make the phone call to Kurt to talk to him about the possibility of joining our tour… and he just went on and on about how he just didn’t like what Guns N’ Roses stood for.”

While Rose considered himself a fan of the grunge icons in their early days, the gauntlet was thrown down once Cobain insulted their approach. At every opportunity, Rose tried to patronise Cobain, eventually making open threats to him at the MTV Awards in 1992. Even when trying to pick a fight, Rose couldn’t help but give Nirvana the high road, with Cobain remarking that he hadn’t been treated like that since high school.

Nirvana’s eventual disdain for GNR would manifest when they played their piss-take version of ‘Lithium’ at the same show. After Cobain destroyed Dave Grohl’s drum kit, Grohl went to the microphone and desperately pleaded for Axl Rose’s attention in the audience. Regardless of how many verbal sparring sessions they had, Grohl at least seems to think of it as water under the bridge.

After going through a tour with a broken leg, Grohl got word that Rose had gone through a similar situation and asked if he could use his singing throne during Guns N’ Roses’ following a string of gigs. Even for a band as off-the-rails as Guns N’ Roses, it’s nice that Rose has more emotional stability these days.

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