The Riotous Life of Stump Stephenson

There is only one Stump Stephenson.
There is only one Stump Stephenson. REUBEN HEMMER

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click to enlarge Stump and his band Southside 5 performing a Babies Born Addicted benefit concert in High Ridge. - REUBEN HEMMER
Stump and his band Southside 5 performing a Babies Born Addicted benefit concert in High Ridge.

Prior to the events of Riverport, had you taken photos of Axl Rose before?

Oh yeah, man, when they opened up for Aerosmith before, and I had Axl posing like a Penthouse model. He was all cool with it. I've been taking pictures as long as I have been riding motorcycles, concerts from all over. Mostly it was never an issue, but I knew that in some places photography wasn't allowed. I would carry a dummy film with me just in case; it was all part of the cat-and-mouse game. If you would film me and my buddies running around at these concerts you'd get Beavis and Butthead. Have you ever seen that movie Detroit Rock City? That is so my life!

In your words, what happened that night at Riverport?

Riverport was brand new at this point, and I was just as excited to see this place as anyone else. It was no different than any other day, so me and Beavis and Butthead got our film, then hopped on our bikes and headed to the concert. We got in the front row, and I always try to give the band a Saddle Tramps card with my name on it and stuff. Sometimes they read it; I've had Motley Crue pull me on stage, I've had Whitesnake bring us backstage, but this was the first time I ever had someone look at my club card and act like a little bitch. He threw it down, and all I thought was, "Well, you're not gonna get your picture with the Stump." I blew it off as the concert went on. They began playing "Rocket Queen" when I took the photo, and all of the sudden I realized Axl was screaming and pointing right at me. I started moving around, but his finger kept following me. At that point I thought, "Oh shit, he's on me." I immediately yelled for my friend, and I handed him the camera because there was no way they were getting this film. As soon as I turned around, boom! It all happened so fast. It also seems like an eternity. It was so surreal, because of all the celebrities why couldn't it have been Gene Simmons or a Spice Girl, you know? Instead it was a Rocket Queen in spandex and feathers. It was so crazy, man. Security was also confused, because usually they're protecting the band from the crowd, but it was the other way around. After me and him tussled around on the ground for a little bit, someone snatched him off of me. Once I sat up, I realized my back was really screwed up. Knocked the wind all out of me. At this point in time I was looking for my knife, and my cousin just looked at me and said, "No!" I then looked up at the jumbotron and saw myself on the jumbotron. I'm a short dude, so it was wild to see myself so big ... never seen myself like that before. The rest of that night was so weird, man, time was so elusive. Things really started to kick off. What I remember is being taken on a gurney as the riot was really beginning. I was seeing bottles and cans and chairs being thrown around, and all of the sudden I see a bush on fire go right over me. A burning bush. That's when I knew this whole thing was of biblical proportions. I laid up in the hospital watching it all on TV; they were covering it immediately because it was a full-scale riot. My mom later told me that she knew it was me once they mentioned "camera, concerts." "I knew it was you!" she said.

About The Author

Reuben Hemmer

Reuben Hemmer is a registered nurse living in St. Louis, Missouri. The influences of his upbringing have produced an insatiable curiosity for the human story and a powerful fascination with people and culture. Inspired by the beauty, pain, and honesty of the Midwest, he attempts to objectively document the complexities...
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