Axl Becomes Azoff’s Thorn

The split between Axl Rose and his former manager, Irving Azoff, had already turned acrimonious when Azoff’s Front Line Management filed suit against the singer in March. It’s on the verge of turning into a blood feud as the mercurial Rose fired back May 17 with a suit of his own.

In it, he accuses Azoff of trying to force a reunion of the original Guns N’ Roses lineup by setting up Rose and the band’s current configuration for failure by refusing to properly market and support tour efforts and botching the release of Chinese Democracy, according to court papers.

The suit, filed by attorney Louis “Skip” Miller, follows Front Line’s March 25 filing in which the company claims Rose owes it nearly $2 million in unpaid commissions for overseas performances. Rose reportedly earned $12 million on the shows, and Front Line says it is owed 15 percent, or $1.9 million.

In calling Front Line’s suit “baseless,” Rose lays out a personal beef with Azoff, who he accuses of filing the suit against him using his pre-fame, given name in order to upset him.

“[Azoff] named Rose personally in the lawsuit but not by his legal name ‘W. Axl Rose,’ but by his adopted name ‘William Bailey.’ ‘William Bailey’ does not appear on any of Rose’s legal documents,” the papers say.

“Azoff knew that the name ‘William Bailey’ carries significant emotional damage from Rose’s childhood as a result of numerous personal and confidential conversations he had with the singer. Azoff did this out of spite and vindictiveness to cause Rose emotional distress and harm.”

Rose – the only original member remaining in GNR – filed the countersuit against Front Line not only disputing that claim but accusing Azoff of using his power as chairman of Live Nation Entertainment to “punish artists and harm their career if they do not follow his orders” with unfavorable touring deals.

The filing further accuses Azoff of plotting to sabotage GNR’s last tour while he was its manager, break up the band and force a reunion tour of the original members against Rose’s wishes.

Rose also accuses Azoff and Front Line of neglecting to manage the marketing and promotion of Chinese Democracy, lying about a prospective tour with Van Halen, and mishandling GNR shows in Asia, Canada and South America. “Azoff resigned and abandoned Guns N’ Roses on the eve of a major tour, filing suit for commissions he didn’t earn and had no right to receive,” court documents say.

It also alleges that Azoff failed to pursue a suit against Activision for the use of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in its popular “Guitar Hero 3” video game.

The suit charges Front Line Management with breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and breach of contract and seeks at least $5 million in compensation, interest, legal costs, disgorgement of commissions and punitive damages.

When reached for comment Azoff, through a spokesperson, said, “On advice of counsel I cannot respond at this time, but will discuss in my upcoming book, My Life with William Bill Bailey.”

Guns N’ Roses is now managed by Doc McGhee.