Does Axl Rose suffer from mental health issues? A look at Guns N' Roses frontman's troublesome past

Axl Rose has led one of the greatest rock bands of all time and that could've been just one of the factors that have affected his wellbeing


                            Does Axl Rose suffer from mental health issues? A look at Guns N' Roses frontman's troublesome past
Singer Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses (Getty Images)

With Guns N' Roses member Slash having recently confirmed new music by the rock icons coming this 2021, you're understandably excited and back into discussing all things Guns N' Roses. You may be recall classics like 'November Rain', 'Sweet Child O' Mine' and more and if you're inclined to follow more personal details about the band besides their music, here is a curious read for you.

Axl's mental health

While some hardcore fans may know already, the answer to the question posed in the headline is a simple yes. Although he has been clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Axl has been doubtful about the condition over the years and has also seemed to have found inner peace of late. 

Presenter Axl Rose poses in the press room during the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall August 31, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

During the frontman's late teens, a psychiatrist concluded that Axl showed evidence of psychosis but also noted his high IQ. In an early interview titled 'The world according to W. Axl Rose by Del James' the singer opened up about his condition. When asked if he considered himself manic-depressive, the singer said, "I'm very sensitive and emotional, and things upset me and make me feel like not functioning or not dealing with people, the band or anything." He added,  "I went to a clinic, thinking it would help my moods. The only thing I did was take one 500-question test - ya know, filling in the little black dots. All of sudden I'm diagnosed manic-depressive. 'Let's put Axl on medication.' Well, the medication doesn't help me deal with stress. The only thing it does is help keep people off my back because they figure I'm on medication."

Axl has been known to have his fair share of disagreements with bandmates and other names in the entertainment industry. He also had ugly split with famous model Stephanie Seymour. In 1991, between her two marriages, Seymour had embarked on this relationship with Axl. According to The Sun, she also appeared in the music videos for two of the band's hits, 'Don't Cry' and 'November Rain'. The couple were reportedly at one stage engaged, but separated in February 1993.
Later that year, Axl sued Seymour alleging she had assaulted him and stolen $100,000 worth of jewelry. Seymour countersued, claimed Rose had been physically abusive. The suits were eventually settled.

Additionally, you may find a discussion or two online which notes his fast-switching moods, an inclination to be in control and other indications of troublesome behavior.  

Painful roots

Singer Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses performs at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino December 30, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Axl has noted that a lot of the things that have stressed him in the past have come from a demanding career: taxing touring hours, fulfilling expectations in business, and more, but for many observers, the singer's health issues may run deeper.

Born as William Bruce Rose Jr, Axl grew up in Lafayette, Indiana and had a troubled childhood. His biological father, William Rose Sr, left when he was still a toddler and his mother Sharon later married Stephen Bailey. Having his surname changed at the time, he grew up thinking Bailey was his real father. When he was 17, he took his father's surname of Rose once again when he discovered the truth.

Those pains were tame, however, as Axl revealed after regression therapy that he was sexually abused as a two-year-old by his biological father. Additionally, Axl claimed that he and his two younger half-siblings were physically abused by his stepfather. Axl said it all stunted his emotional growth: "When they talk about Axl Rose being a screaming two-year-old, they're right." As a teenager, Axl was reportedly getting into a lot of trouble with authorities. The behavior continued well into his 30s because Axl's bad behavior found him in the backseat of a police car. He was arrested from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport on an outstanding warrant calling for extradition to St Louis, Missouri to stand trial for his role in the 1991 Riverport Amphitheater riot.

King of the world

If you're the lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands of all time with one of the best-selling albums of all time, it is likely to get into your head with negative results in some way. If you talk about iconic rock bands, chances are you would have heard the name Guns N' Roses crop up, and that doesn't imply they don't deserve it. But it requires a foundation proverbially built on a rock to manifest humility and inner security. Axl is a visionary and that could also have played a part in affecting his wellbeing, especially when there are times when reaching goals requires you to just find your centered self as a human being.

Musician Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses performs onstage during day 2 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2016 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

In the band biography 'Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses', writer Stephen Davis made the connection that Axl tried to model his band management after Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. The author saw it as the singer mimicking Jagger's stranglehold of control over the business and other things. Axl explained that Jagger had been in the music business for decades and seemed to know what he was doing.

Some people claim that Axl while the rock star had desires to do greater things than others in music, he also got away with poor behavior because few would call him out for his bullshit. That might be speculation, but Axl could certainly have soaked up some normalcy away from work or expectation to find a sound mind.