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Axl Rose Once Turned Down $50,000 To Leave Pre-Fame Guns N’ Roses

Axl Rose
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

It seems Axl Rose was well aware of the splash that Guns N’ Roses would someday make, even before anyone else. In fact, legendary producer/manager Kim Fowley says Rose turned down an offer to leave his then-unsigned group — though this proposal came complete with $50,000 in cold hard cash.

Speaking to Antimusic, Fowley says he was at work on a separate recording project when the band’s manager admitted that he was looking to replace his unruly frontman. The manager said he wanted someone “who’s weird and strange and difficult, but possibly platinum,” Fowley says.

So, perhaps inevitably, the mercurial Rose’s name came up. Fowley made the introductions, and the manager began trying to lure Rose away from Guns N’ Roses, ultimately opening a suitcase filled with money. Rose, Fowley says, would have none of it: “That’s not enough for Guns N’ Roses,” he remembers Rose saying. “We’re going to be bigger than that.”

The well-traveled Fowley had managed the Runaways (Joan Jett, Lita Ford), and produced Paul Revere and the Raiders, Soft Machine, the Modern Lovers and Warren Zevon. He co-wrote songs with Kiss, Leon Russell and Alice Cooper, and had appeared as a sideman on Frank Zappa’s 1966 album Freak Out! Still, this memory of Rose has stuck with him.

“I always thought of all the starving musicians I’d ever seen,” Fowley said. “He was the only one who knew exactly how valuable he was, and how not to panic. Because that’s a lot of money for anyone, and he just wasn’t interested.”

Next: Top 10 Guns N' Roses Songs

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