World Music Theatre, Tinley Park, IL
July 4th 1991

- Laurie Goering, Chicago Tribune

Fireworks are still expected Thursday night in Tinley Park, but one potential keg of dynamite has been defused, much to the relief of village police.

Following a melee at a Guns N` Roses concert near St. Louis Tuesday night, Chicago promoters canceled the group`s 4th of July show at the southwest suburban World Music Theatre.

It wasn`t because of fears about a repeat of Tuesday`s violence, which left 64 people injured and heavily damaged a new theater, promoters said. It was because the rock band-known for its hit album ``Appetite for Destruction``-just didn`t have enough undamaged equipment to perform.

``They expect to tour again as soon as possible,`` said Holly Hutter, a spokeswoman for Jam Productions, which books acts for the Tinley Park outdoor theater. But ``it`s not going to happen tomorrow.``

She asked would-be concertgoers to hold onto their tickets, saying the show is ``in the process of being rescheduled.``

Tinley Park police, who had planned to call out extra officers for Thursday`s concert, said they weren`t sorry to hear about the cancellation.

``We`re relieved, definitely,`` said acting Police Chief Charles Montgomery, whose officers will now patrol only the regular fireworks show in town.

At Tuesday`s concert in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights, Axl Rose, lead singer of the heavy metal rock band, leaped into the audience and toward a front-row fan who had been taking his photograph against his wishes, authorities said. That touched off the riot.

Though the band quickly left the Riverport Amphitheatre, more than 2,000 of the 19,000 fans at the show remained for an hour to uproot shrubs, set fires, knock over fences and destroy some of the band`s amplifiers and large video screens. The amphitheater sustained $200,000 in damage during the riot, authorities said.

The 64 injured included 13 police officers. Sixteen people were arrested. Rose left town soon after the trouble.

Rose shouted at security guards to take a camera from a fan before leaping into the crowd, witnesses said Wednesday.

``He was yelling about it and then he said, `If security`s not going to do anything about it, then I will,` and he just dove, like three rows back,`` said Jason Lester, 29, who was about 20 feet from Rose.

``I couldn`t believe he would be so stupid. It was such a dumb thing to do.``

Security guards moved in and lifted Rose, who was swinging his arms, back on stage, but the angry singer picked up his cordless microphone, slammed it to the stage and stomped off, Lester said.

The six-member band had been on stage for more than an hour and had just finished a song when Rose jumped from a section of stage that extended into the audience, he said.

``Then all hell broke loose,`` said security guard David Boelhof.

When police brought out fire hoses to try to quell the violence, some fans scrambled onto the stage, wrestled the hoses away and began shooting water into the air, witnesses said.

Fans were seen rolling amplifiers up a grassy hill and leaving the area carrying seats.

Lester said he crawled under the stage, but fans began ripping it apart and he decided to try to escape.

``I had to punch and kick my way out,`` he said.

Hundreds of police officers were called to the theater, and witnesses said they acted with restraint in trying to calm things down.

The theater 20 miles west of St. Louis opened just last month. Its owners said they had to cancel a 4th of July laser show because of the damage. After the riot, the band returned to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and quietly checked out, said Jennifer Massey, a hotel spokeswoman.

The band`s lyrics have been criticized for being homophobic and racist, and two band members created an uproar in January 1990 when they accepted honors at the nationally televised American Music Awards with obscenity-laced speeches.

Rose was arrested last October for allegedly bashing a neighbor with a bottle, although prosecutors later dropped the case for lack of evidence.

The band was fined $5,000 last month when it ignored a curfew at an Indiana arena. Authorities said they acted mainly because of Rose`s remarks to the crowd, in which he berated the ``scared old people`` of Indiana, and compared the state to a Nazi concentration camp.