The schism between Axl Rose and Slash is one of the most notorious feuds in rock, in many ways marking the end of Guns N’ Roses’ glory years. Theories abound as to why the duo’s relationship soured beyond repair, but now we may have the spark. According to the band’s former manager Doug Goldstein, Michael Jackson is to blame for their beef and subsequent split.
Goldstein revealed to Rolling Stone Brazil that the fight stemmed from Slash agreeing to perform in concert with the King of Pop. “In 1991, we were on the road, and Slash went to my office and said ‘I’ll be leaving tomorrow to play with Michael Jackson on a tribute concert.’ I told him not to do it because Axl was molested by his father when he was two and he believed the charges against Michael Jackson. Everyone knew Eddie Van Halen received $1-million to play in “Beat It.” So, I asked Slash, ‘How much are you receiving?’ and he said, ‘I’ll just get a big screen TV.’”
Axl was apparently more than hurt when he learned about the collaboration. “When Axl found out Slash was going to play with Michael Jackson and that the payment was a big screen TV, he was devastated. He thought Slash would support him and be against all abuse. From the point of view of Axl, that was the only problem. He could ignore the drugs and the alcohol, but could never the child abuse.”
Slash continued working with MJ, most famously contributing the fiery guitar solo to Jackson’s 1991 hit, “Black Or White.” This only exacerbated the tensions in the band. Slash played his final show with Guns ’N Roses in July 1993, and by October 1996 he announced that he was no longer part of the band.
From Goldstein’s perspective, resolving this issue would reunite the pair once again. “Slash would have to apologize for the episode with Michael Jackson. And I really believe … I’d be the manager to reunite them, I don’t think anyone else could do it.”
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