Guns N' Roses cancel tour after fans riot -- Following Friday's chair-throwing fracas in Philadelphia prompted by Axl's no-show and the concert's last-minute cancellation, the band scraps the rest of its comeback tour

By Gary Susman
December 09, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
Axl Rose: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect

The rest of Guns N’ Roses’ North American tour — some 14 more dates between now and Jan. 3 — will be scrapped, Interscope Records told MTV News on Monday. Interscope did not give a reason for the cancellation, and concert promoter Clear Channel offered no comment. On Friday, GN’R fans in Philadelphia had trashed the First Union Center arena when they found out just before showtime that the band wouldn’t be appearing because frontman Axl Rose couldn’t make it — a reaction not unlike that of fans in Vancouver last month. Initially, the band responded to the Philly near-riot by canceling Sunday’s show at another City of Brotherly Love venue.

Interscope told MTV it didn’t know why Rose failed to appear on Friday, though earlier reports had said the singer had taken ill. The 20,000 fans attending the concert didn’t hear that Rose had called in sick and that the band wouldn’t appear until nearly two hours had elapsed after the two opening acts had already performed, according to local TV station WCAU. At that point, the NBC affiliate reports, some of the fans began tearing up the seats and throwing them. Some 100 police officers quelled the riot without making any arrests, and several people were hospitalized.

The event came a month after what may have been an even more chaotic disturbance in Vancouver, when police had to use pepper spray to subdue the crowd after another Axl no-show, that one attributed to a flight delay. That Nov. 7 date was to have been the first show in the band’s first North American tour in nine years. Instead, the tour began the next night in Tacoma, Wash., and continued without incident for 15 shows, through Thursday night’s performance at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

In the old days, fans also rioted occasionally at GN’R shows, most notoriously, in St. Louis in 1991, when Rose jumped into the audience in pursuit of a camera-wielding fan, effectively ending the concert.