25 Years Ago: Izzy Stradlin Pees on a Plane
Being a member of one of the biggest rock bands in the world comes with many privileges: fame, fortune, women, etc. But apparently whipping out your penis and urinating in front of a bunch of people on an airplane isn’t one if them — something Guns N’ Roses‘ Izzy Stradlin found out on Aug. 27, 1989.
Guns N’ Roses were pretty much at the top of the rock world in at the time. Their debut album, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ had been credited for prying rock ‘n’ roll from the manicured hands of glamorous, MTV-approved groups that looked way better than they sounded. GNR sounded tough, and they lived that way, too.
They were on the road almost nonstop from June 1987 (a month before ‘Appetite for Destruction’ came out) through Dec. 1988, and trouble seemed to follow them around. In Nov. 1987, Axl Rose assaulted a security guard; the next summer, two fans died during their set at the Donington Monsters of Rock Festival. Plus, there were bar fights, lyrical controversy and drug-abuse rumors that would lead to a Rose-issued onstage ultimatum.
The group was on a much-needed break — mostly from each other — when Stradlin hopped a plane from Indianapolis, where he was visiting family, to Los Angeles. But he never made it back to L.A. Sometime before the plane reached Arizona, Stradlin verbally abused a flight attendant, lit up a cigarette in a non-smoking area and, most famously, peed on the floor of the galley in front of other shocked passengers. When the plane landed in Phoenix, he was arrested at the airport for causing a public disturbance.
Stradlin said he was angry for having to wait to use the plane’s restroom. (“I’m not waiting any longer,” he reportedly said.) His publicist said he was merely “expressing himself.” And Stradlin ended up with a year’s probation for the mile-high pee incident. He also had to write a letter of apology to the flight crew. Soon after, he retreated to his mom’s home back in Indiana, where he kicked his drug and alcohol addictions.
Two years later, after another massive world tour with Guns N’ Roses and around the release of their two ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums, Stradlin quit the band. Now sober, Stradlin couldn’t stand the lifestyles most of the other members were living … or Rose’s cavalier approach to showing up on time. “Once I quit drugs, I couldn’t help looking around and asking myself, ‘Is this all there is?’” he told Rolling Stone several years later. “I was just tired of it. I needed to get out.” Apparently, his urine felt the same way on Aug. 27, 1989.