"If you see anyone throwing things, beat them up": Watch Axl Rose berate a crowd in Argentina via his translator in 1992

Axl Rose and translator onstage
(Image credit: Telefe)

In late 1992, Guns N' Roses were heading towards the end of their Use Your Illusion tour. Having played more than 120 shows in North America, Europe and Japan, they flew to South America to round things off, with eight shows lined up in five countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Argentina in Brazil. 

It wouldn't be a Guns N' Roses tour if things didn't go entirely to plan, and trouble followed the band around the continent. The Calgary Herald reported that 178 fans had been arrested at the National Stadium in Santiago, Chile, after becoming violent when the show started late, and that 20 policemen had been injured at the previous show in Bogota, Colombia. 

Argentina was no different. The country's president, Carlos Ménem, referred to the band as “outlaws" and suggested that young people should not attend either of the scheduled shows at the River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires.

"Prohibiting them [from performing] would’ve been the logical thing for us to do," he said, "but that would’ve certainly given rise to the world to criticise us and call us authoritarian."

Meanwhile, local newspapers in Buenos Aires reportedly stoked the fire by claiming that Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose had burnt an Argentine flag, while the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, suggested that Axl & Co. were in need of "very serious and deep psychological therapy."

In the end, both shows went ahead, and both were completed, but not without incident. During the first show, on December 5, Axl was twice required to bring a halt to proceedings and berate the crowd for throwing things onstage. And, unusually, his message was clarified via the band's local translator, for those in the crowd that didn't speak English. These moments were captured by local broadcaster Telefe.

"We have some really fucking stupid people here tonight," says Axl, before patiently waiting for the message to be translated, "who think that throwing things at the stage will relate into a better show." 

Another pause for translation. 

"It won't happen that way."

Another pause.

"Because we will fucking go home."

The second time Axl stops the show, he tells the crowd that if they see anyone throwing things, they should "beat the fucking shit out of them". 

Not put off entirely by the experience, Guns N' Roses would return to River Plate the following year, and again in 2016, when, as if to demonstrate that trouble still followed the middle-aged GN'R around, dozens of fans broke through fencing to force their way into areas with a better view of the stage, some of them engaging in running battles with security personnel as they did so.   

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.