23 Years Ago: Guns N’ Roses and Metallica Launch Stadium Tour
Guns N’ Roses were about a year and a half into their two-and-a-half-year Use Your Illusion tour when they hooked up with Metallica for a two-and-a-half-month run of North America in the summer of 1992. The metal titans were no strangers to the road by this point either: They were still touring in support of 1991’s breakthrough self-titled LP (better known as the Black Album).
Both bands were tour-tight and just a little road weary when they teamed up for a run of 26 shows on July 17, 1992. The tour kicked off at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium, where both groups filled their sets with songs from their latest albums, catalog classics and even some covers by some of their favorite artists.
It was a match made in heaven … or hell, right?
It didn’t take long for things to go wrong. On Aug. 8, eight shows in, during a stop at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, Metallica frontman James Hetfield received second and third degree burns to his left arm after he stood on top of a pyrotechnics cannon. They ended up canceling the second part of their show that day.
But instead of taking the stage early to calm the increasingly restless audience, Guns N’ Roses — a band not known for keeping schedules and times very well — instead started late. They later said that their crew still didn’t have enough time to properly set the group’s monitors, so they couldn’t hear themselves as they performed. On top of all this, GNR singer Axl Rose had a sore throat, prompting the band to cut its set short.
And just like at a show in St. Louis a year earlier, the fans didn’t take it too well. They headed into the streets of Montreal and rioted, setting fires, looting stores and generally acting like the type of rock ‘n’ roll fan community watchdogs used to worn parents about in 1958.
The tour resumed two weeks later in Arizona, with Hetfield sporting a giant bandage, and a temporary rhythm guitarist joining Metallica onstage. It finally wound down on Oct. 6 with a show at the Kingdome in Seattle. Rumors have persisted for years that it was a financially successful run for Metallica, who’d continue their Wherever We May Roam Tour through mid December.
Guns N’ Roses, on the other hand, reportedly lost money on this leg of their tour. Not that it mattered too much. They stayed on the road for another nine months, finally wrapping up their massive 27-country jaunt on July 17, 1993, with a show in Buenos Aires, capping one of rock’s lengthiest and most successful tours.
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