In 1991, Rock in Rio II brought a lot of A-list artists to Brazil. At the City of Rock, set up in Maracanã, the famous temple to sports, there was rock and roll, pop, soul, Brazilian music, rap and variations on all these genres—and more. And there were also a lot of really amazing stories that could only have happened at the world’s biggest music and entertainment festival. The second Rock in Rio brought new music, witnessed a chase through the streets, met the curious stipulations of pop royalty, and was shaken by the disappearance of a lead singer… Yes, we have lots to tell. Have a look at this short list of our adventures:
What’s new, Axl?
“Civil War,” a track from the album Use Your Illusion II, and “Double Talkin’ Jive,” from Use Your Illusion I, hadn’t been officially launched when the audience at Rock in Rio 1991 heard these songs. The albums were launched in the later half of that year, but in January, and specifically on the 20th of that month, Guns N’ Roses played both songs at the festival. That same day, Dizzy Reed (keyboards) and Matt Sorum (percussion) played their first show with the band.
The demands of royalty.
Prince made some pretty awesome requests when he came to Rock in Rio 1991, some that stood out with particularity amongst the huge number of big names that give their wishes and requirements to the festival organizers. There was, of course, the classic order for towels—in this case for 200 of them. Some say that all were eventually thrown into the audience. A few hours before appearing for the show, he also asked that his dressing room be lit in the color purple (“Purple Rain”, get it?). He also asked for an oxygen mask and a white grand piano for his hotel suite. All desires were met. He didn’t let anyone down and gave a fantastic show.
Follow that bus!
You know those chase scenes in action films? It was more or less what happened on the morning of January 22nd in the streets of Rio. It was no surprise that the airport was full of fans waiting for the arrival of New Kids On The Block in Brazil. After confronting the screaming and confusion in the airport corridors, the boy band was able to reach the production team bus that would drive them to the hotel. Do you think the fans gave up? No way. Many of them got into taxis and started to chase the guys. It continued like this until they reached the door of the hotel where they were staying. But the screaming continued for quite some time…
Where’s the lead singer?
Where in the world is Axl Rose? This was the question that everyone was asking before his band’s performance on January 20th. A few days before the show, all of the members of Guns N’ Roses were seen arriving at the airport in Rio de Janeiro, except for the lead singer. The mystery continued until the 19th. He finally arrived in Brazil on the same flight as the band Faith No More. But it was said that he stayed to himself and didn’t talk to anyone. His unpredictability put a lot of people on edge, but in the end it was a great show.
At the hotel pool.
After George Michael had some issues with noise, the Rock in Rio production team moved him to another hotel. He then went to the iconic Copacabana Palace, where he hung out at the pool most days. It was there that the singer met Anselmo Feleppa, the Brazilian designer who was his partner until his death in 1993, and who inspired the ballad “Jesus to a Child.” The song was launched on the album Older in 1996. George Michael closed the nights of January 25th and 27th with two great shows at Rock in Rio 1991.