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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2011.03.17/18/19 - RockAAA - Interview with Alan Niven

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2011.03.17/18/19 - RockAAA - Interview with Alan Niven Empty 2011.03.17/18/19 - RockAAA - Interview with Alan Niven

Post by Blackstar Wed Nov 10, 2021 11:56 am

Niven tips Guns N’ Roses reunion for Live Ground Zero performance

In the first of an exclusive three part interview with former Guns N’ Roses manager Alan Niven, he disagrees with Slash about reunion but agrees with him on Axl

Reported by Eric MacKinnon
Published: March 17, 2011

Former Guns N’ Roses manager Alan Niven has laughed off suggestions the original line-up will reunite for a special appearance at next year’s Superbowl – but he has insisted they will eventually put their differences aside and return to the stage together.

And in keeping with tradition he says any reformation of the original five members of the group once dubbed the “most dangerous band in the world” would have to be a global event.

In a RockAAA exclusive he said:

“Forget it – the Superbowl is an absurd circumstance. It would be better to do a pay per view and play a full set ‘Live from Ground Zero’ when the World Trade Centre rises up from the ashes.

“That’s truly Phoenix like – resurrection and resilience expressed in a relevant circumstance – now that would be cool.

“And if Axl started packing now he might make the stage on time.

“My 25-year-old son saw them play with The Stones so figure out how old he was at the time. There is a whole generation who would love to see that reunion happen so that’s reason enough.

“For me, if they were to do it, I’d like to see them write and record something contemporary and relevant and magical.

“I have never been a betting man, but if I were I would definitely bet on a reunion because the odds would be so good.”

Niven managed Guns N’ Roses for five-years and oversaw the massive success of Appetite For Destruction as well as pre-production of Lies and the double Use Your Illusion releases before being infamously sacked by GNR main man Axl Rose in 1991.

He admits he hasn’t spoken to Rose since, in a move he believes was engineered to allow the enigmatic singer to wrestle control of the Guns N’ Roses name and rights from the rest of the band.
Niven added:

“Axl called me in March of 91 and stated he could not work with me anymore. I had put the first headline dates up, Wembley had been sold out.

“Merchandising and sub-publishing contracts had been re-negotiated. The re-negotiation with Geffen was underway. So with all that done he obviously felt I was now disposable and I would not stand in his way when he took control of the name and trade mark.

“I suggested we meet in LA to have dinner and discuss matters. I was on the East Coast at the time he called. He said ‘OK’ and that was the last time we spoke.

“Now I have heard a wild rumour that Axl has bought property in the mountain town I live in, so I have been wondering if we might not chance upon each other in an aisle of the local Fry’s supermarket ‘clean up on aisle 13!’

“It would only be good manners to offer a ‘hello’, a handshake, and after all, we shared an amazing experience and that’s something I always respect and honour.

“If he wanted to, I would share a coffee with him and I suspect we might find it interesting to compare notes as to what happened in 90/91 – and why.”


“Axl was always Axl – he just became more Axl”

In part 2 of Alan Niven’s exclusive interview with RockAAA he explains his time in the early days with GN’R, how he steered them to glory and his eventual fall-out with Axl

Reported by Eric MacKinnon
Published: March 18, 2011

“Axl was always Axl – he just became ‘more Axl”, smiles former Guns N’ Roses manager Alan Niven.

The former manager of the band who earned the moniker of the Most Dangerous Band in the World – the hard way – knows only too well what happens if you get on the wrong side of GNR main man Axl Rose.

Niven was unceremoniously fired by Rose in 1991 despite having helped steer the band to global superstardom and as he reveals, rescuing the band from the brink of being dropped by their label. Guns N’ Roses were chewing up managers across the industry and eating up the patience of Geffen Records when Niven, at the third time of asking, finally relented and took the band under his wing.

“When Tom Zutaut (Geffen A&R) came and asked me, for the third time, to talk with the band, things were in pretty poor shape,” began Niven in an exclusive interview with RockAAA.

“The band had already blown their advance, divvied up a significant amount of money on Zutaut’s office floor, stuffed it into their boots and gone and raged down the length and breadth of Sunset Boulevard.

“Their hellion rep was absolutely deserved and Ed Rosenblatt (President of Geffen) apparently told Zoots I had but three months to get matters productive. Zoots forgot to mention the time limit to me as it happens. I had, at first, been reluctant to divide my focus.

“I had another band newly signed to Capitol and secondly after doing some research into GnR I thought Zoots had bitten off more than anyone could chew. But he was desperate to get help with them, all other major management firms having passed on the band. So I agreed to take a meeting and go see them and I caught the vibe from Izzy and Duff.”

Niven played his part in harnessing the raw energy of the band and lit a fire under their then-slow-burning debut record Appetite for Destruction which subsequently exploded from sales of just 250,000 and into the millions but he confessed nobody knew just how big a hit they had on their hands.

“No one had any idea the album would be as big as it became and there was an element of magic in that occurring and if anyone claims that they always knew it would be so mega they are either certifiable or a liar.

“I thought the band would be a work project, something of an underground entity, and hoped to maybe replicate a Metallica development.

“As for Sweet Child O’Mine the momentum had hit in March of 1988, with Welcome To The Jungle getting MTV airplay after being ignored for six or so months – so I by that time I figured we would have a real shot at going beyond two million sales in the US.

“How far it went still amazes me and it is at almost 18,000,000 in the US today alone. “And yes, I was somewhat stunned when Rosenblatt asked me, in December 87, to prep the band for a follow up album – after all we had been through at that point, and still getting to a quarter of a million sales, on the strength of touring alone, with no airplay and no MTV support.

“My point was simple – imagine what might happen if we got that support.”

In addition to both smash hit singles Sweet Child O’ Mine and Welcome To the Jungle the band also recorded a video for It’s So Easy but it was quickly canned with Niven admitting the subject matter was more than a little risqué.

“Axl had a propensity to want to make videos that were about him rather than about the band and he shot film involving Erin Everly that was not exactly family fare,” explained Niven.

“Under the guise of persuading everyone that the album was in danger of being overexposed I managed to get the video shelved. I think, in light of the fact that after his divorce from Erin that Axl apparently was very keen to get every copy and destroy the video, I might have, again, made the right decision for him.”

The successes kept coming for the band and Niven who oversaw pre-production of their next three albums and even pulled off a masterstroke by successfully renegotiating the band’s record deal – something rock legends Aerosmith or Whitesnake had been able to do. He continued:

“The management of the bands you mentioned went and asked for a re-negotiation in light of their sales and were rebuffed. Informed of this I obviously realised that if one asked one would not get. Oliver’s wretched bowl would not be refilled with crumbs from the label table so I did what I obviously had to do which was to tell David Geffen that if he did not improve their remuneration then the album he desperately wanted to sell prior to his sale of DGC would remain an illusion and that I would take the band out on the road, headlining for the first time, where they would make pots of money and have a great time.

“David wasn’t thrilled, but he came to the table. That was the difference.”

But in 1991 the relationship between Niven and Rose splintered and there was only ever going to be one winner as the frontman gave their manager the boot in a move he believes was simply to push through a control issue Niven would never have allowed.

But Niven remains philosophical on Axl and the rest of the band suggesting success didn’t instantly change them although the way other people acted towards them did. He added: “The famous tend to have to catch up with the change of behaviour in those who come to think of them as famous.

“As Joe Walsh put it ‘I stayed the same and everyone else changed.’ However the lyric in Lifes Been Good To Me goes ‘but, simply, success amplifies characteristics, and he who does not know himself will be defined by fame and consumed by ego and arrogance.’

“Axl was always Axl – he just became ‘more Axl.”


Adler's departure – beginning of the end for GN’R

In the final part of Alan Niven’s chat with RockAAA he says Adler was his own worst enemy and Stradlin was the band’s heart and soul

Former Guns N' Roses manager Alan Niven has told Steven Adler to stop feeling sorry for himself, and playing the victim, insisting the band had no other option than to fire the then-drug addicted drummer.

Adler was booted out of the band in 1990 because of an alleged heroin addiction but ever since Adler has campaigned for a reunion and claimed his band mates turned their backs on him.

But Niven reveals that in addition to his substance abuse problems he was also having problems playing the band's new tracks leaving them with no option but to show him the door. Niven explained:

"I agreed with the final exasperated decision (to fire Adler), with reluctance, because once you change the structure of the molecule that is the band it can become volatile and unstable. And, from an emotional point of view, you don’t want to lose anyone along the way but we had tried all we could to help Steven win his battle with smack, but only he could win his war.
We tried to get him into the material but he just could not connect with Axl's longer piano based compositions. There were constant complaints that Steven would not play the pieces consistently and it annoys me even today that Steven plays victim as he was given every chance over a long period of time. What is more he had been paid composer royalties he did not earn as a courtesy – no one fucked him over but himself."

Niven does believe the departure of the drummer set the ball rolling on the ultimate destruction of the band of which none of the members’ subsequent projects – Axl's Chinese Democracy-era Guns N' Roses line-up or Velvet Revolver – have ever harnassed the magic they created as a quintet.

He added, "How often do you hear those records on the radio or on satellite compared to how often do you hear a track from Appetite? The latter is a daily occurrence here – almost 25 years later. The crack appeared when Steven was fired and burst open when Izzy decided he had had enough. Izzy, was, to me, the heart of the soul of the band."

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