Tensions between opening acts and headliners is commonplace on tours, but that drama inevitably becomes exacerbated when Guns N’ Roses enter the scene.
In one episode, Bruce Dickinson found himself so angered by Axl Rose that the Iron Maiden frontman contemplated getting in the metaphorical ring with the rocker.
According to Le Journal de Montreal, the heated incident went down during a show at the Coliseum in Quebec City on May 16, 1988, where Guns N’ Roses were the opening act for Iron Maiden. As Rose directed a string of disrespect towards the audience, ridiculing them for speaking French in their native Quebec, Iron Maiden famed air raid siren simmered with escalating irritation.
“I should have come on stage and give it a punch,” said an incensed Dickinson. “How could he dare to speak to my audience in this way? I always regretted not having done so.”
For their part, Guns N’ Roses were less than thrilled with how they were treated as the support band on this leg of the “Seventh Tour Of A Seventh Tour” run. During an interview from the road at the time, Slash told Much Music: “Yeah, they’ve got this major stage production happening, and this is the first time we’ve ever been on the beginning of a tour with another band, so this might happen with every band. So it’s nothing against Iron Maiden. It’s just that their production is not together, and we never get sound checks, and their monitor guy doesn’t work for us, so he doesn’t know what we want. And it’s just been sort of like a disaster.”
In Duff McKagan’s autobiography, the bassist spoke about the lukewarm response his band received from the Iron Maiden crowd, saying: “Much as I respect metal, we didn’t fit the bill musically. We wanted to be different. After all, Steven had only one bass drum. And while Axl sang in a high voice much of the time, he wasn’t operatic. […] Oh, and also we didn’t write songs about elves and demons and shit-unless of course, you considered Mr. Brownstone a demon.”
This isn’t the only time Dickinson expressed animosity towards Rose. When the Guns N’ Roses frontman briefly replaced Brian Johnson as the touring vocalist for AC/DC, Bruce leveled a harsh dig his way, saying to Adelaide Now: “I hope Brian can get some respite for whatever his medical issue is. He’s a lovely guy. There’s just Angus [Young] in AC/DC now as far as original members. I hope Angus ends up holding up the amazing reputation and the name of AC/DC.
“It’d be horrible to see it end with people not turning up on stage or being very late. I hope it works out okay for everyone.”