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1991.03.17 - Interview with Alan Niven in Los Angeles Times

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1991.03.17 - Interview with Alan Niven in Los Angeles Times

Post by Soulmonster on Tue May 13, 2014 1:00 am

Wanna Talk to Axl? Just Sign Right Here
POP EYE
March 17, 1991|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

Guns N' Roses has appeared on innumerable magazine covers, been described in the press as one of the most significant groups of the '90s and has even seen its superstar hero Axl Rose called the new Jim Morrison.

But why take any chances?

In a move that breaks new ground in image control, even by entertainment industry standards, the group's management is now requiring that prospective interviewers sign a lengthy contract guaranteeing the band total control over all aspects of interviewing the band and any resulting story.

The two-page document gives Guns N' Roses copyright ownership and approval rights over any "article, story, transcript or recording connected with the interview," control over any advertising or promotion involving the story and indemnifies the band from any damages or liabilities in connection with the story.

(The band has prepared a similar three-page contract for photographers, with similar clauses, including band ownership of all pictures taken by any photographers.)

"We're fed up with being misused and abused by all the scurrilous (scum) who pass themselves off as journalists and photographers," says Alan Niven, the group's outspoken manager. "I can't begin to tell you how many writers and photographers have misrepresented themselves, made up quotes or made money selling substandard photos of the band. It's amazing, but people can peddle any kind of (junk) if Axl's picture is on it. The press always says, 'Trust us,' but whenever we do, we get screwed.

"We started (using these contracts) with the European press, who are notoriously untrustworthy and incompetent, and we've found it keeps incompetence and inaccuracy to a minimum. We're not trying to deprive people of their opinions. But we do want a formal document that will prevent the abuses we've endured in the past."

According to Niven, media exploitation of the band has been widespread.

He cites the March issue of Hit Parader magazine, which put Axl Rose on its cover with Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, touting: "Bas & Axl Interviewed Together For the First Time!" Inside, the magazine admits the joint interview was simply a transcript from a Howard Stern radio show phone interview with the duo.

Niven also said that a November Spin magazine story about Rose, written by Danny Sugerman, was "full of inaccuracies and self-serving embellishments from Sugerman, who is a star in the firmament of his own mind."

The band's contract edict puts Geffen Records, Guns N' Roses record label, in an awkward position. As a rival label exec put it: "If they go along with the contracts, they'll antagonize the media. But if they don't, the band will complain they're not supporting them."

According to Geffen publicity chief Bryn Bridenthal, four magazines, including Guitar World and Venice, have signed the contracts, though none has been granted an interview yet. A host of better-known magazines, most notably Rolling Stone, Playboy, Spin and Penthouse, as well as two newspapers, the Milwaukee Journal and the Detroit Free Press, have seen the contracts and refused to sign them. (The Los Angeles Times' policy prohibits signing any such agreement.)

"I can't believe anyone would go along with anything like this," says Rolling Stone music editor Jim Henke. "We're always having people asking to be on the cover, but we've never had anyone try to dictate the editorial content of a story. I have to wonder whether the band is going to still go through with this even after their album comes out."
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Re: 1991.03.17 - Interview with Alan Niven in Los Angeles Times

Post by Blackstar on Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:11 am

The rest of the article:
It's possible that the band is attempting to steer the media into writing about its music, not its bickering, drug use and after-hours escapades. Still, with GNR's new album expected as early as mid-May, its label is keeping its distance from the contract dictum without actually criticizing it. "This wasn't something we proposed," says Bridenthal. "But if the band wants to do it, I'm willing to go along with it.

"My immediate reaction was that this might provoke a lot of hostility. But the band is just reacting to all the inaccurate information that's been disseminated about them. In my 25 years of doing publicity I've never dealt with a press contract before, but when you deal with this band, you deal with a lot of firsts."

The band's management doesn't sound particularly concerned about a possible media backlash. "I realize that we can't control the uncontrollable," says Niven. "But we believe these contracts are a good defense mechanism for the band."

He laughed. "If this is really going to cause lots of consternation, we'd be happy to send out Advil and Tums with the contracts so all the journalists don't suffer too much."

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The contract for the press, as was published by Spin magazine:
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The band did interviews, however, without a contract, saying that the policy was aimed only at specific media and journalists:
[The contract] was for people we didn't want to talk to. It's been blown all out of proportion, because there's plenty of stuff the band wants to talk about openly. [Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1991]

Garry Graff (Detroit Free Press, May 26, 1991) wrote:That the members of Guns N' Roses have been largely inaccessible during the past two years only heightened their mystique. They've kept a tight control over the media; earlier this year they required reporters and photographers to sign contracts giving the group full copy control and copyright over stories and pictures, with $100,000 fines as punishments for violators. Though designed as an easy way to deflect interview requests, McKagan acknowledges a sincere distrust of the media.

"The critics are looking for us to fall on our a__," he says. The group went from being critics' whipping boys to being "the press' darling, then the press turns around on you."

New York Magazine, August 5, 1991:
GUSH Ν’ ROSES: Rolling Stone is running a positive profile of Guns Ν’ Roses— and some journalists are upset. When it was reported in Spin that lead singer Axl Rose and the other members of the group required potential profilers to sign a contract, several writers were angry. The agreement gave the band full control over the text; if the deal was broken, the offending magazine had to pay $100,000. ‘‘The thing about that contract has really been blown out of proportion,” says Kim Neely, the Rolling Stone senior writer who has profiled the band. She says she didn’t have to sign any contract because “there are certain magazines that have never done them wrong in the past, and Rolling Stone is one of those magazines. We submitted two names to them, and they said either would be okay.... I’m a big fan.” A Guns Ν’ Roses spokesman says the notorious contract is no longer in use.
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Re: 1991.03.17 - Interview with Alan Niven in Los Angeles Times

Post by Blackstar on Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:17 am

There was more in the original printed article (Los Angeles Times, March 17, 1991) regarding the story by Danny Sugerman in Spin magazine. Danny Sugerman claimed that Spin had misquoted both him and Axl:

MEDIA MAELSTROM: Are rock stars too thin-skinned about their media image? Or is the rock press sometimes guilty of shoddy journalism? A look at Spin’s feature story on Axl Rose, titled "Axl Comes Clean to Danny Sugerman," offers an intriguing glimpse at the often messy aftershocks of a celebrity profile. According to GNR manager Alan Niven, the piece was “full of inaccuracies and self-serving embellishments.”

And guess what—Sugerman· agrees. “I don’t blame Alan for being upset,” says Sugerman. “Spin rushed the story out two months early and they totally misquoted Axl and me. They never
showed me a final draft of" the piece, and they didn't make most of the corrections I’d suggested. In fact, they took sentences I’d written and put quotes around them and attributed them to Axl. Ϊ was livid about the whole thing.” Sounds awful, doesn’t it? But Spin publisher-editor Bob Guccione Jr. insists that’s not what happened at all. “Actually Danny came in wildly late with his piece. His story was the only story in later than mine. We only made so many changes because the piece
wasn’t very well written. We never changed any of Axl’s quotes, not a single one. The only fixes we made were so Danny’s language would be more understandable. Afterwards we discovered that the best part of his story [an account of a police raid on Axl’s apartment] turned out to have been lifted' straight out of a People magazine story. So I had to run an apology in the next issue of Spin saying that we’d run portions of the People story without attributing it to them.”

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I didn’t really ever do an interview with Danny [Sugerman]. Danny and I are friends now, but I talked to him for 15 minutes in a bar and that story came out in a magazine a few weeks later. [Rockline, November 1991]

The Spin article in question:
1990.11.DD - Spin - Axl Rose comes clean to Danny Sugerman

Danny Sugerman replies to Alan Niven and Bob Guccione Jr. (Los Angeles Times, April 7, 1991):

Danny Sugerman wrote:Regarding the March 17 Pop-eye column: I’m not sure whether being called a liar by Alan Niven and Bob Guccione Jr., two of the sleaziest people in the music business—a business with no dearth of sleaze—is either the biggest insult or the highest compliment I’ve ever received.

Despite such ambivalence, I’m prompted to inform readers that Guns N’ Roses manager Niven is upset because he couldn’t slop me from writing a book on his band and couldn’t stop Axl Rose from speaking with me or, for that matter, stop me from speaking with Axl, whom I found to be infinitely more sensible and intelligent than his manager.

As for Guccione, all I can say is consider the source. We all know to what high moral standards this paragon of virtue aspires.

DANNY SUGERMAN Beverly Hills
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And Niven replies to Sugerman (Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1991):

In response to Danny Sugerman’s April 7 letter:

1— Two years ago, Sugerman contacted our (management company] expressing a desire to write a book about Guns N’ Roses. Our clients told us they wanted no part of it. Despite their wishes, Sugerman secured a contract from a publisher. Since our clients preferred to have any such volume compiled under other authorship, we were instructed to tell the publisher and Sugerman that they would be denied any access or endorsement.
2— As for Axl Rose’s meeting with Sugerman, Axl elected to deal with the inevitable. He decided out of responsibility to his following to read the manuscript in order to extinguish the inaccuracies he anticipated after Sugerman’s piece in Spin magazine. What's more, Axl is quite capable of recognizing an exploitative sycophant when he meets one.
3— In regard to Sugerman’s slur, I am prepared to have any aspect of my business investigated by anyone at any time. My firm prides itself on its integrity and ethics, and our reputation is unimpugned. Check with anyone who is actually a part of the business (as opposed to being an opportunistic parasite).

ALAN NIVEN Slravinski Brothers Los Angeles.
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Re: 1991.03.17 - Interview with Alan Niven in Los Angeles Times

Post by Blackstar on Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:45 pm

Sugerman accepted Axl's factual corrections on his book draft, so, although the book was unauthorised by the band, Axl wasn't negative about it eventually.
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Re: 1991.03.17 - Interview with Alan Niven in Los Angeles Times

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:02 pm

That is interesting. What is the name of that Sugerman book?
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Re: 1991.03.17 - Interview with Alan Niven in Los Angeles Times

Post by Blackstar on Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:25 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:That is interesting. What is the name of that Sugerman book?

Appetite For Destruction: The Days Of Guns N' Roses, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1991.

It's out of print, but you can find used copies on Amazon and elsewhere.

It's less a biography than an essay with references to Greek mythology, philosophy, Jim Morrison, etc., but nonetheless very interesting imo.
Danny Sugerman was manager of the Doors and wrote "No One Gets Here Out Alive" (Jim Morrison biography).


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Re: 1991.03.17 - Interview with Alan Niven in Los Angeles Times

Post by Blackstar on Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:27 am

Axl on Danny Sugerman's book:
It wasn’t authorized, but I proof read it ‘cause I got a copy right before it was about to come out, and I just went back and changed... Danny agreed and worked with me on just changing the facts, [like] if he said “Izzy and Slash” and it was actually Izzy and I. We changed those things. But I didn’t change any of his opinions. It’s a really interesting book and it’s kind of flattering to be, you know, compared, and have, like, this college thesis written about you, and your place in the world, and rock ‘n’ roll, and Greek mythology. But other than that I just wish it would’ve been more fun for people to read.

[On his comparison to Jim Morrison by Danny Sugerman and others]:
For me, it’s an honor. But he [Jim Morrison] was a different type of writer than I am. He was much more educated and I really don’t compare in that way. But Danny sees certain things in Jim that he sees... and he sees those same things in me. Maybe it’s just the drive, you know, and the intensity. I’m flattered by that. [...]  I think it’s the intensity and how much you stood behind what you were doing. And there was also a bit of the energy, and the violence expressed, and the way the emotion was expressed that is somewhat comparable. [Rockline, November 1991]
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