Before telling this story, I must set the stage for some context of the night Zoe met Axl Rose. I’ve kept it short and haven’t taken liberty with the facts.
1988. A high school in the outskirts of Düsseldorf, Germany.
Bonne (16), a loner at school, sits on his blue Yamaha SR500 in the parking lot, very Marlon Brando. He waits for Zoe (16), from a poor family and stigmatized by her father being the town drunk. (He has his own unfortunate story). She keeps her hair short, yet feminine, complimenting her prominent Slavic check bones and stoic expression.
With her schoolbag on her back, she makes her way to Bonne. He hands her, her helmet.
He asks, “Do you have your ticket?”
“Yes, do you have yours?”
They show them to each other. They secure their tickets again on their persons.
Bonne and Zoe ride out on a pilgrimage, into the city, an hour away. As young people are, they had little sense of danger on their adventure. Although Bonne looks like an irresponsible rebellious teen, he is not, and obeys the rules of the road. He remains focused and asks Zoe if she’s okay back there. They’re both good kids, disciplined, yet with wild hearts. They journey country roads, through a village and onto a truck route with the city on the horizon. It’s a lot of time to think, time to forget and dream beyond the world they know. Tonight was theirs! A taste of another life.
Bonne and Zoe get to the city and find their destination, Gate 4, the nightclub venue. The Marquis says Guns & Roses Appetite for Destruction tour. They kill some time in a coffee shop, doing homework.
Night falls, Bonne and Zoe go to the concert (with her schoolbag). In Dusseldorf, they don’t really get rowdy like the New York crowd at rock shows. Although fans were drinking and getting high, there was more of a mellow atmosphere. Bonne and Zoe loved the show. The band was larger than life. They were happy with their adventure.
The encore, Welcome to the Jungle ended. After the applauds, the house lights came on and the crowd shuffled out. Bonne and Zoe went up to a roadie and asked about the tour, curious how the business worked. The friendly roadie saw the kids were sober and sane. He asked if they wanted to come backstage. The couple agreed and the roadie brought them back to the band’s green room. Slash, Duff, Izzy and Steven were there drinking and partying. There were about six girls hanging out and partying too. A topless girl crazy on cocaine runs by Bonne and Zoe.
Everyone sees the teens but leaves them be. As they’re talking about leaving, Axl Rose comes in the door and sees everyone hanging out. About to join the party he finds himself face to face with these two odd kids hanging out and not partying.
Axl to Zoe: “What’s your problem? How come you’re not partying?”
Zoe: “This is not really my thing!”
Axl: “What is your thing then?”
Zoe: “I like to read.”
Axl “What are you reading now?”
Zoe reaches into her schoolbag and pulls out a copy of the book Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. She shows Axl. He takes it from her for a closer look.
“It’s about Buddhist spirituality. If you are searching for enlightenment, you will never find it, because you are looking for it.”
Axl: “Can I borrow it?”
Zoe: “No! It’s my schoolbook I need it for class. I have all my notes in it.”
Axl: “I’m a quick reader. Write your address in the book. I’ll mail it back to you in a couple of days!”
Bonne nudges Zoe to give Axl the book. Zoe reluctantly concedes and writes down her address in the front cover.
One week later, there’s a package addressed to her. It’s Siddhartha. She opens the cover. There’s a new handwritten entry. It says, “you’re a true angel. – Axl.”
Zoe and Bonne did get out of that small town and in 1991. Zoe, while at law school at the University of Cologne, receives a bouquet of flowers and a card at her childhood home, which were subsequentially thrown out by Zoe’s sick and suffering mother, because “only whores get flowers!”. One could circumstantiate that they came from Axl, days before the show and the card was an invitation to his 1991 show in Mannheim Germany, the Use Your Illusion album world tour. During the show, Axl stormed off stage, but there was no incident. A reliable inside source said that, Axl wouldn’t go on stage because his invited guest did not show up and insisted that the powers that be, find her and get her over here! – to paraphrase. That is the conjecture behind this event published in this article about the Manheim show which did not include those details.
Thank you Zoe, for letting me write this personal story of yours. You have always been my inspiration. Axl was right, you’re a true angel! – Michael