In 1989 Howard Stern gave Axl Rose an unexpected wake-up call on his birthday: the whole recording is now online

Howard Stern and Axl Rose in 1989
Howard Stern and Axl Rose in 1989 (Image credit: Howard Stern: Ron Galella | Axl Rose: Paul Natkin )

It's early February 1989, and Guns N' Roses are riding high. Appetite For Destruction is still at the top of the US chart, and the GN'R Lies collection is just three places behind.  They're the first band in 15 years to have two records in the Top 5 simultaneously.

Frontman Axl Rose, meanwhile, is in a hotel room in New York. It's his birthday, and he's asleep. But not for long. Because over on Madison Avenue, DJ Howard Stern has his room number.  

Stern calls, and a groggy Axl Rose answers, and the two – plus long-running co-host Robin Quivers – speak for twenty minutes. For years, only 10 minutes of the conversation has been online, but now the full segment has appeared on Soundcloud, uploaded by a user called TheFuckSong. 

In 2023 he's a decent interviewer of musicians, asking them about, you know, music and stuff, but the Howard Stern of 1989 is after more salacious detail. So he asks Rose about who he's sleeping with, and who Slash might be sleeping with, and about whether or nor he has any celebrity friends, and about whether or not he has an entourage, and about the millions of dollars he must be earning, and if he should definitely be earning more than the others. 

"Let’s see the drummer come up with a good song huh?" prompts Stern. "Who even knows his name? That’s what I’m saying. I know Slash, I know Axl, that’s it. And I listen to that record maybe like once a day at least. I’m being serious."

Rose, meanwhile, refuses to rise to the bait. He defends his bandmates, saying they need as "much as they can to get secure." He defends TV host Dick Clark when Stern goes looking for dirt. He does the same with Aerosmith. Stern goads, Axl is diplomacy personified. 

During the previously uncirculated parts of the interview, Axl appeals for help finding his lost phone book, tells a short story about guitarist Izzy Stradlin and then-band manager Alan Niven visiting a sex club, talks about Bruce Dickinson's singing, and reveals that he never rehearses with the band.

Guns N' Roses appear on the cover of the new issue of Classic Rock.

Guns N' Roses: The World Tour 2023

Jun 09: Madrid Civitas Metropolitan Stadium, Spain
Jun 12: Vigo Estadio Abanca Balaídos, Spain
Jun 15: Dessel Grasspop Metal Meeting, Belgium
Jun 17: Copenhagen Copenhell, Denmark
Jun 21: Oslo Tons of Rock, Norway
Jun 24: Glastonbury Festival, UK
Jun 27: Glasgow Bellahouston Park, UK
Jun 30: London BST Hyde Park, UK
Jul 03: Frankfurt Deutsch Bank Park, Germany
Jul 05: Bern BERNEXPO, Switzerland
Jul 08: Rome Circo Massimo, Italy
Jul 11: Landgraaf Megaland, Netherlands
Jul 13: Paris La Defense, France
Jul 16: Bucharest National Arena, Romania
Jul 19: Budapest Puskás Arena, Hungary
Jul 22: Athens Olympic Stadium, Greece

Aug 05: Moncton Medavie Blue Cross Stadium, NB
Aug 08: Montreal Parc Jean Drapeau, QC
Aug 11: Hershey Hersheypark Stadium, PA
Aug 15: East Rutherford MetLife Stadium, NJ
Aug 18: PNC Park Pittsburgh, PA
Aug 21: Boston Fenway Park, MA
Aug 24: Chicago Wrigley Field, IL
Aug 26: Nashville GEODIS Park, TN
Aug 29: Charlotte Spectrum Center, NC
Sep 01: Saratoga Springs Saratoga Performing Arts Center, NY
Sep 03: Toronto Rogers Centre, ON
Sep 06: Lexington Rupp Arena, KY
Sep 09: St. Louis Busch Stadium, MO
Sep 12: Knoxville Thompson-Boling Arena, TN
Sep 15: Hollywood Hard Rock Live, FL
Sep 17: Atlanta Music Piedmont Park, GA
Sep 20: Biloxi Mississippi Coast Coliseum, MS
Sep 23: Kansas City Kauffman Stadium, MO
Sep 26: San Antonio Alamodome, TX
Sep 28: Houston Minute Maid Park, TX
Oct 01: San Diego Snapdragon Stadium, CA
Oct 06: Indio Powertrip Festival, CA
Oct 08: Sacramento Aftershock Festival, CA
Oct 11: Phoenix Chase Field, AZ
Oct 14: Climate Pledge Arena Seattle, WA
Oct 16: Vancouver BC Place, BC

Tickets are on sale now.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 37 years in music industry, online for 24. 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.