Cobain the Aggressor


From AV Club:

The irony of the Kurt/Axl rivalry is that Cobain—the wimpy feminist who took to wearing layers of sweaters in order to look less scrawny—was the clear aggressor while Rose, who demanded that any and all critics “suck his fucking dick” in “Get In The Ring” and once threatened to fight Vince Neil of Motley Crüe outside of Tower Records in L.A., seemed to shrink away from a man he seemed to have genuinely admired. It’s sort of sad, really, though Rose was not above insulting Cobain; when Nirvana turned down the GNR/Metallica “Get In The Ring” tour, Rose crabbed to Metallix magazine, “They would rather sit at home and shoot heroin with their bitch wives than tour with us.” (Artless wording aside, Rose wasn’t completely wrong.)

Things finally came to a head backstage at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, where Cobain and Rose had a mythic encounter on par with some of the most iconic pop-star tête-à-têtes ever. It was like Bob Dylan smoking pot with The Beatles, or David Bowie singing “Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby, only this time the participants unequivocally hated each other. You could liken it to that scene in Heat where bank robber Robert De Niro has a cup of coffee with rival cop Al Pacino, but Axl and Kurt couldn’t even work up some grudging mutual respect. The details of the meeting are already well known to fans of Nirvana, GNR, and celebrity pissing matches: It started when Courtney Love, who was sitting with Cobain and their baby daughter Frances Bean, called out to Rose and his girlfriend Stephanie Seymour and snarkily asked if Axl would be the godfather of their child. Rather than acknowledge Courtney, Axl instead strode up to Kurt.

“You shut your bitch up, or I’m taking you down to the pavement,” he growled, sounding more menacing in that one moment than at any point over the 150 minutes of the Use Your Illusion albums. (At least that’s how I imagine it.)

Without missing a beat, Cobain turned to his wife, and said sarcastically, “Okay, bitch. Shut up.” Not wanting to miss out on the insult-trading couples competition, Seymour disingenuously asked Love, “Are you a model?”

“No,” she replied. “Are you a brain surgeon?” Game, set, victory for Team Grunge.

1991: “What’s so civil about war anyway?”’, Steve Hyden, AV Club