Fan at center of ‘Riverport Riot’ would welcome Guns N’ Roses back

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Some rock fans wonder if it’s a joke. They find it difficult to believe Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses would return to St. Louis. But the GNR website indicates St. Louis will be a stop in 2016. July 2, 2016 marks the 25 year anniversary of the “Riverport Riot.”

“No pun intended, but I think it’s a riot,” said Bill “Stump” Stephenson.

Stephenson was at the center of the 1991 concert. He was taking photographs at the concert, even though photography was prohibited. Rose called for security to get the camera and eventually jumped into the crowd himself. The concert ended and fans started ripping out chairs and throwing pieces of equipment from the stage.

Stephenson said he was eventually strapped to a medical board even as the riot continued.

“I’m still seeing bottles and chairs and all kinds of stuff flying around,” he said.

Stephenson said he told the medic to either flip him face down so he couldn’t see what was hitting him or to get him out of there as quickly as possible.

Stephenson believes there was plenty of blame to go around for the riot, but does not regret taking the photographs. He believes Axl Rose should have welcomed the attention.

“If you want to be a celebrity and be in the limelight, autographs and pictures are part of that,” Stephenson said. “If you don’t want to be a celebrity get on the couch, get out of the way. There’s somebody that wants that job.”

Rose was eventually dragged into court over the riot and has repeatedly bad-mouthed St. Louis (consult the liner notes for Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II). Stephenson said even after everything that’s happened, he will attend the concert if Guns N’ Roses returns to St. Louis. Stephenson plans on reuniting his own band, South Side 5, for an upcoming concert at Kenny’s Bar and Grill in Barnhart. His band has also played with a GNR tribute band.

Stephenson hopes to copyright some of the photographs he took in 1991 and sell a limited number of them for the upcoming 25-year anniversary. There is no specific date or venue location for a 2016 concert in St. Louis.

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