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2001.12.04 - Court TV - The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll (Steven)

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2001.12.04 - Court TV - The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll (Steven) Empty 2001.12.04 - Court TV - The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll (Steven)

Post by Blackstar on Wed Apr 29, 2020 4:11 pm


Gene Simmons: From the very beginning, rock ‘n’ roll has been blamed for inspiring violence and sex. But perhaps its worst crime was introducing millions of kids to the so called wonders of drugs.

Art Alexakis (Everclear): I hate drugs. They’ve ruined my family, they’ve ruined my nervous system.

Vanilla Ice: I took enough drugs. You know, I overdosed on heroin, coke, ecstasy...

Cherie Currie (The Runaways): Quaaludes and cocaine. If you didn’t do it, you were strange.

Rikki Rocket (Poison): You know, like David Lee Roth said, “I don’t have a drug problem, I can afford them.”

Steven Adler: I went past the rock bond through the crevice of hell.

Voice-over (Gene Simmons): Steven Adler used to be a rock ‘n’ roll star. One of the biggest in the world. Drummer for the band Guns N’ Roses. But that was before drug abuse led to what he considers the greatest tragedy. It got him kicked out of his own band.

Rikki Rocket: You know, I liked what Steven did in Guns N’ Roses as a drummer.

Voice-over: Guns N’ Roses would sell tens of millions of albums in the 80s and 90s. Led by the unpredictable vocalist Axl Rose, they’d fill arenas around the world and define every excess in rock ‘n’ roll. The sex, the outrage, the mayhem. And the drugs. Drug abuse that would lead to Steven Adler’s heart attack and a stroke that now affects his speech.

Steven: Yeah, every single (?) it’s a party. Next party.

Voice-over: Fellow drummer Rikki Rocket knows firsthand. His band, Poison, competed with Guns N’ Roses. On the charts and on the road.

Rikki Rocket: No matter where you are at the night before, and you have a party afterwards and you’re having a great time. The next day when you come in the next town the party is new to them, and you get into a pattern. Pretty soon you’re hooked. And then it’s like, “Okay, now what?” you know (laughs). That’s where the teardrops start falling.

Voice-over: Steven Adler and other members of his band became addicted to drugs like heroin and cocaine. But in 1990, with a very important album to record, Guns N’ Roses decide to clean up. Steven Adler had to detox on deadline.

Steven: I heard them say that I was very weak and it took, like, about 25-30 times to play the song, and they are really, really frustrated with me.

Voice-over: Drug withdrawal affected his drumming, so his fellow band members told Steven Adler he was being put on probation until the drugs were kicked. The manager had him sign a series of papers.

Steven: All I remember, there’s colored paper clips. Doug was saying, “Just sign all the colored paper clips.” All handed on, you know, “Just sign it on.” And I had no idea what I was doing.

Voice-over: As it turns out, Steven Adler wasn’t on probation at all. He was out of the band, signing away his partnership, his royalties, his reason to live.

Steven: I tried to kill myself.

Voice-over: Three years after he was fired, Steven Adler sued Axl Rose and the rest of his band.

Alan Light (Spin Magazine Editor): In a nutshell, the Guns N’ Roses suit with Steven Adler comes down to that the rest of the band maintains that they all cleaned up and Adler didn’t.

Voice-over: Steven Adler’s argument was unique, at least to those outside the secret world of rock ‘n’ roll: he’d been on drugs because that was part of the Guns N’ Roses job description.

Steven: I was just (?) in doing it, because the other guys were doing it. I just wanted to be a part of my band. Again.

Voice-over: Midway through the trial, the case was settled. Steven Adler was awarded two and a half million dollars and his royalties. The jury’s sympathies were obvious as Adler left the courtroom.

Steven: Oh yeah. They gave me hugs, because, I don’t know, they got sick of these guys, what they did to me. They saw that was wrong.

Voice-over: Today Axl Rose leads a new version of Guns N’ Roses. And, like so many kids dreaming of rock stardom, Steven Adler plays along to Guns N’ Roses albums in his bedroom – softly, so as not to disturb the neighbors. And after all these years, he still dreams. Only this time it’s for a chance to try again.

Steven: The secret of any business, (?) about music and entertainment, it is really – it’s very simple: just don’t do the drugs.


In the same TV program there was a segment about Charles Manson (the part about GN'R and "Look At Your Game, Girl" starts at 5:56)

Voice-over (Gene Simmons): In 70s punk and 80s heavy metal, Manson was a symbol of evil. By the early 90s, he was just another pop figure. Kids even wore Manson t-shirts following the example of rock star Axl Rose, singer of the top-selling band Guns N’ Roses.

Alan Light (Spin Magazine Editor): I think Axl in particular saw it as a sort of punk rock gesture just to try to piss everybody off.

Voice-over: But no one expected this would lead to the top of the charts.

Dave Dalton (Dennis Wilson’s friend): In 1993 Guns N’ Roses recorded a Charlie Manson song called “Look At Your Game, Girl.”

Voice-over: The song, composed by Charles Manson, appeared as a so-called hidden track on the top 10 Guns N’ Roses album “The Spaghetti Incident?” The song wasn’t even listed on the cover, but royalties were still owed to the writer.

Alan Light (Spin Magazine Editor): He got the publishing rights on a song on a multi-platinum album.

Voice-over: In maximum-security prison, convicted killer Charles Manson stood to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in songwriting royalties. There was immediate public outrage and protests led by Sharon Tate’s sister, Patty.

Patty Tate [from contemporary interview]: From what I’ve heard some young people speak about, you know, they think that Charles Manson is this really cool weird guy. And this is what Axl Rose has allowed to happen.

Voice-over: Rikki Rocket of Poison saw the method behind the apparent madness.

Rikki Rocket: I thought it was a brilliant move, personally.

Interviewer: Why?

Rikki Rocket: Because they wanted reaction and they got it, you know?

Voice-over: But more surprisingly, amid the uproar, an attorney saw a chance to find justice.

Nathaniel Friedman (Bartek Frykowski’s attorney) [from contemporary press conference]: 23 years ago I fought a lawsuit on behalf of the young man sitting to my left. And we were able to obtain a judgement of $500,000 for this young man, for the loss of his father.

Voice-over: Back in 1970, attorney Nathaniel Friedman had won a wrongful death suit against Charles Manson, on behalf of Bartek Frykowski whose father was murdered along with Sharon Tate, no one ever expected to collect.

Nathaniel Friedman (Bartek Frykowski’s attorney) [from contemporary press conference]: Thanks to Geffen Records, they have indicated cooperation that they’re going to pay any royalties arising from that song to Bartek Frykowski.

Voice-over: Because of the judge’s ruling in 1970, Guns N’ Roses record label diverted Charles Manson’s royalties to the survivor of one of his victims.

Bartek Frykowski [from contemporary press conference]: It seems the American justice system has its own way of working things out. And I’m grateful for that.

Voice-over: Axl Rose and his band mates gave their portion to a “Save the Dolphins” foundation.

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