Unfortunately, Axl Rose embracing Nirvana seemed to confirm Kurt Cobain’s worst fears about signing with a major label. For Cobain, Axl Rose represented everything horrible about corporate rock. On a personal level, he found Rose to be a despicable human being, the epitome of racist, sexist, homophobic, proudly redneck and macho assholes that his music was intended to irritate and destroy…Rose signified old-guard, cock-rock superstardom, and Cobain was never more deliberate in his desire to dismantle that institution than in his outspoken criticism of Guns N’ Roses. Cobain’s aversion to turning into Axl Rose bordered on obsession…
It’s convenient shorthand to paint Axl Rose as the meathead rock cliché and Kurt Cobain as the genuine artist, but what gets left out? Looking back, I see the crucial difference between Axl and Kurt being how they chose to act out their darkest, ugliest sides. Both men had troubled childhoods that led to adult lives distinguished by intense mood swings and a compulsive need to control their surroundings. Both men hated the press for spreading “lies” that often turned out to be true, and both were drawn to complicated women who created as much misery as ecstasy in their lives. Both men saw fame as a double-edged sword; it gave them the attention they craved after a lifetime of being ignored, and yet it also seemed to intensify their feelings of self-loathing. They were, to use medical terminology, a couple of fucked-up individuals, which both men expressed eloquently in their music.
Ah, so it was one of those situations where the surface animosity distracted from the underlying similarities, eh? Perhaps Kurt saw more of himself reflected in Axl than he would have ever admitted? If so – may we wildly speculate? – maybe what led Cobain to suicide was a vivid premonition of what a sad joke Axl would eventually turn into, and he decided sticking a shotgun in his mouth was preferable to risking the same fate himself:
Ladies and gentlemen, the man who terrorized parents and teachers for several years in the late ’80s and early ’90s. No, that’s not a Photoshop job. That’s an actual outfit that MC Chiquita apparently wore on purpose, un-ironically. I wonder if he was dressed like that when he had his slap-fight with Tommy Hilfiger.