Manager Alan Niven on His 1st Meeting with Guns N’ Roses in 1986: “Only Izzy and Slash turned up for the meet. Izz nodded out at the table” – 2022 – INTERVIEW
Classic Rock Magazine: “Guns N’ Roses have been creatively impotent since 1991” – former band manager Alan Niven.
You can read the entire interview @ this location. An excerpt from the conversation can be found below.
You replaced Arnold Stiefel and Randy Phillips as manager of GN’R in 1986. How did that opportunity come about?
Randy and Arnold wanted out in the worst way. They had rented a house in The Hills for the band, and it was beginning to show signs of Gun wear. A toilet was dumped outside the front door. There was a python in the bedroom eating white rabbits.
Frankly, I cannot imagine the Sunset style of Randy Phillips ensuring any real connection with the band. Further, they were a typical 10 til 4 kind of operation.
For me, rock ‘n’ roll was a way of life. It’s 24/7/365. So when I rolled up on my bike, [then a Kawasaki Vulcan – I had yet to be able to afford a Hog], the band knew that they would be dealing with someone saltier, with both feet on the ground. No bluster and no bullshit.
Stiefel and Phillips wanted out. Fast. And Tom Zutaut [Geffen A&R] was utterly desperate to find a manager, any manager. Rosenblatt, the President of Geffen, refused to allow them to begin recording until they had one, and they’d been rejected by everyone, including myself, twice. On the third time of asking I told Tom; I’d meet and see what happened. Only Izzy (Stradlin) and Slash turned up for the meet. Izz nodded out at the table. The needle and damage being done.
Which left only me and Curly. And I liked him. He was articulate. Very charming. I was intrigued. Enough to go and see what was going on in Pasha Studios. I was asked to sit in on the mix. The bayou began to rise up over my boots. I began to get sucked in.
You previously said that if you were to do something different during your tenure with the band, you would not have signed the contract in September 1986. Is there any specific reason why you feel this way?
Guns consumed soooo much of my energy. I have no doubt Great White (Alan also managed Great White) woulda had a bigger profile had this not been the case. I took Guns from the streets to selling out Wembley. There was no gratitude whatsoever from Axl (Rose). Who, every now and then, I would have to work against. Iz, Slash and Duff (McKagan) would sometimes call and say: “Have you heard what he wants to do now Niv? Y’gotta nip it in the bud.”
One prime example is that Axl refused to do the Aerosmith tour. He told me to cancel. I had signed a contract with five individuals collectively known as GN’R. My responsibility was to the whole, to the entity, not the lead singer alone. I refused. He was pissed. Banned me from the tour for three weeks by which time everyone knew it was going great and the then highpoint of the band’s career.
I had to send cops to his apartment to drag him and Erin (Everly) down to the Coliseum to perform before The Stones. Again, he wasn’t happy, but it ended up being a triumph. I have no doubt he has been an impediment to other projects – UMG [Universal Music] will do anything to get something, anything, from Axl, even if that means I get ignored.
They took prime energy out of my life and gave very little back – they still owe me for the Adler court case and for paying for their tour manager. Users are not friends. Not family.
During the recording process for Appetite for Destruction, what was Slash like? Do you have any memories or stories of how he would be in the studio?
The most memorable moment was when he smashed an SG through the windscreen of the rental van Guns used to get to the studio —a clear and obvious indication he was having sound problems. As you can find on the [inter]net there are many notices of how I found and gave him his AFD guitar, which, to this day, he states is the one guitar he’d keep if he were to only have one.
He and Mike Clink did great work together. Having done a lot of recording with Michael Schenker, I knew Mike would be patient, get great tone, and work at constructing memorable, melodic statements with Slash. History proves my confidence in them working together was correct.
You can read the entire interview @ this location.
full in bloom Interview: That Time Guns N’ Roses Trashed Their Apartment During the ‘Appetite for Destruction’ Recording Sessions