An Interview with Former Guns N’ Roses Manager Alan Niven

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons


By Andrew DiCecco
adicecco@vinylwriter.com

As renowned rock ‘n’ roll manager Alan Niven recalls, the spark that ignited his immersion in music can be drawn from various sources.

Born into unconventional roots – Niven’s mother was an opera singer and his father performed Maori songs using a guitar – a young Niven would sing along to the likes of Ferlin Husky in the car with his mother to compensate for the lack of radio.

When Niven first heard Hank Marvin’s guitar tone on “Apache,” his musical horizons were further broadened, capturing his imagination and effectively shaping his vision.

Ultimately, though, the explicitly defiant proclamations of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” – which blared from seemingly every radio speaker at the time – sealed Niven’s fate and provided him with the inspiration he needed to deviate from what was expected.

Shortly thereafter, the New Zealand-born Niven found himself behind the wheel of the Virgin go-fer van and working for Chris Stylianou of Caroline.

Through his roommate, Don Dokken, Niven discovered the Los Angeles band, Dante Fox. After being successful with independent releases like Berlin and Mötley Crüe, Niven backed the band and provided the initial foundation in hopes that a major label would take notice. Dante Fox, of course, morphed into Great White, a multi-platinum selling rock outfit that Niven subsequently presided over, navigating Great White amidst constant turmoil as the band’s manager.

In Sept. 1986, Niven assumed perhaps the most daunting task of his career – managing Guns N’ Roses, an infinitely talented, albeit troubled, quintet that personified debauchery and depravity — where he served with unwavering loyalty until 1991.

Recently, I caught up with Niven to discuss his recent undertakings, inspirations that sparked his desire to take the plunge into the music industry, and his retrospective musings of managing Great White and Guns N’ Roses during their heyday.

Andrew:
I appreciate you taking the time, Alan. Before we dive in, I wanted to give you the opportunity to share and promote any projects you are working on.

Alan:
He’s no longer our project in the works but definitely a major player in the making – Chris Buck. My partner, and occasional wife, Heather, literally discovered him online, playing in his bedroom, when he was 16. We nurtured him for a while, and once he formed a serious trio, The Tom Hollister Trio [the name will indicate something of Tom’s ego and the fact he was older than Chris], we brought them to the U.S. to prep them for an album. Just as we were ready to start recording, Tom left, taking the drummer with him. I suspect he was jealous of the respect Chris was earning already. 

Left with no band and no uncompromised songs, there was nothing more we could do but bring Chris to Arizona and make an album with him – Postcards From Capricorn. It was enough to keep him going. Avoid the onset of depression. I was worried he’d just stay in his bedroom, wounded and depressed.

He formed a terrific partnership with Sally Anne Evans, who has one of the best female voices I have ever heard. Chris has since reconnected with Tom, and the trio is currently a quartet called Cardinal Black. They are recording their debut as we speak. Simply put, Chris is the most articulate and eloquent guitar player I have ever worked with. He’s gonna be out supporting Peter Frampton on his last U.K. dates. Two great guitar players. Most underrate Peter; too damned pretty for his own good, but his playing is incredibly expressive and memorable; he and Steve Marriott were a powerhouse.

Other entities Heather and I have worked with include Storm Of Perception, Razer [perhaps the best classic rock album of the last ten years], 3Eighty3 [whose frontman was struck down by cancer], Moontan Montana [from the actual Great White band – the best all-around talent that band had], and even a go-round again with Letchen Grey, 36 years after the original recording relationship. Rock ‘n’ roll is like malaria – always in the bloodstream. The difference is whether you get a fever or not, and every now and then, I can catch the fever.

Anyways, they are all bands and music worth investigating. In another time and space, and with old-fashioned label support, they would all have made a mark.

Andrew:
I realize this is going back a bit, but could you share how you were first introduced to music and ultimately came to parlay that passion into a successful career?

Alan:
My mother was an opera singer, and my father liked to perform Maori songs using a guitar; they were New Zealanders. Had they done rock ‘n’ roll, perhaps I’d have been into Maori opera. My mother and I used to sing stuff like Ferlin Husky in the car to make up for the fact it had no radio, but it was Hank Marvin’s guitar tone on “Apache” that first spoke to me in mysterious ways.

Once, when hitchhiking, I was given a lift by an Oxford PPE professor. I took the opportunity to ask him about a new topic emerging in my school’s common room – overpopulation. 

“We’re fucked,” he said. At that point, “Born To Be Wild” came on the radio. Now there’s a siren call to take an unconventional path in life and an encouragement to avoid the humdrum. I eventually got the job of driving the Virgin go-fer van, working for Chris Stylianou of Caroline, and that was my portal into the world of the rock ‘n’ roll circus.

Andrew:
Great White’s 5-song EP Out of the Night was released on your independent label, Aegean. When did the band first come to your attention, and how did you contribute to its subsequent rise to prominence?

Alan:
My roommate, Don Dokken, told me about them when I was just starting Enigma; for its first six months, I was its only functionary. My first signing was a band called Berlin. Anyways, I introduced him to Cliff and Peter at Q Prime and to [Tom] Zutaut. That was the start of a friendship.

Having learned what I could do with indy releases, Berlin and Mötley Crüe – basically, take a band and give it an initial foundation from which to get a decent major label contract and a real shot at being supported by that label – I obviously decided to do the same with Dante Fox, as they were then called. Originally, I was going to sign them to Enigma, but I fell out with Bill Hein.

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

Andrew:
My understanding is that it was Jack [Russell] who persuaded you to manage the band, but he was both the band’s and his worst enemy on many levels. How was your experience working with him?

Alan:
At times sublime. At times just wretched. If rock ‘n’ roll should appear to be spontaneous and haphazard, Jack personified that. Authentic is a much-overused word, but Jack was genuinely rock ‘n’ roll. In all ways. K’pan Fuckin’ Jack – truly pirate blood runs in his veins. Steal yer rum, rape yer women, and piss all over your rug where you’d find him passed out.

Andrew:
Great White’s inherent musicianship and blues roots set them apart from their contemporaries, effectively putting them in a league of their own. Yet, the band never quite garnered the reverence it deserved. What do you feel prevented Great White from becoming more widely recognized?

Alan:
Jack’s disastrous drug-taking derailed the band’s first headline tour with [Michael Schenker Group] and Havana Black. Moving up to headliner from support is perhaps the most critical development in a career. Had I left him on the road; however, I’d probably have gotten him back in a box, and no one was gonna die on my watch. I had to take him off the road and detox him. He could smell and distinguish chemicals at a quarter mile.

Anyways, the idea of having all three bands from one label on the tour, and getting really focused promotion, obviously backfired on me. Capitol [Records] were not happy when the tour had to be canceled. The tragedy was that it was working; the Northeast was sold out weeks in advance.

The promoters never forgave the band, and they never got that shot again. We also suffered from the revolving presidential door at Capitol. Hale Milgram, our third in four years, made it clear he thought little of the band. His A&R man only had disdain – selective amnesia prevents me from recalling his name, but he rents property in Hawaii now. Oh, yeah. Simon Potts. They were into English club music, and R.E.M. Satin balloon pants were cool to them. We were a road band most akin to early ’70s English blues rockers. Wonder why! Anyways, they did not connect. Milgram never came to a gig until just before we left the label. At least he released us, and we escaped getting Gershed again.

Andrew:
Is there any insight you can provide regarding what it took for you to get the band re-signed once EMI dropped them?

Alan:
I had to make an album myself. Find the money and promote it myself. I went “indy” again. All the other labels who put in offers in 1983 were now the pissed-off bridesmaids. Not one thought it sensible to re-sign the band. It shows the dumbass thinking of the Sunset Strip – if we were worth an offer in ’83, then we were a better prospect in early ’85. We’d learned how to make a record; I learned how not to make a record. The band had been six months on the U.S. road with [Judas] Priest – and that’s a hell of a fuckin’ boot camp. We’d also done a month on the road in the U.K. with The Snakes in ’84. We had been on a steep learning curve. But nah, there was no value in that to the labels we went to.

So, I put Shot in the Dark together on my own. “Face The Day” owned L.A. radio in the summer of ’86, which was unprecedented for an indy record. Sixteen weeks of heavy rotation on KMET [thank you, Judy McNutt] and No. 2 Song of the Year on KLOS, behind “Arc of a Diver.” Deep tracks from Shot in the Dark on KNAC, whose format changed to heavy rock, was timed perfectly for us.

Andrew:
You also served an integral role as a songwriter and producer with Great White. Describe the creative dynamic within the band during your tenure.

Alan:
Either Michael Lardie or I would grab a riff that [Mark] Kendall was amusing himself with, or Michael would come up with a piano statement that would speak to me. “Rock Me” began as a simple directive from me – let’s write a long piece like “Face,” but instead of a repetitive dynamic, let’s construct a progressive dynamic.

Andrew:
As you alluded to, you contributed to “Rock Me,” which I consider to be among the truly great rock ‘n’ roll songs. Mark’s solo is absolutely brilliant. How did that one come about?

Alan:
Lorne Black, the bass player, came up with the establishing riff, and Michael arranged it from there. Kendall did not “get it” until he heard the final mix. It’s to his credit he played with such feel as he was guided through the recording of the song, despite being skeptical.

After the incredible response to “Face” on premium major market radio, I was convinced we could get a long piece in which everyone could stretch out, accepted by national radio. Beat the four-minute limit. Well, for one thing, it was one way to double your airplay! For another, having had my own show on WINZ Zeta 4 in Miami, I knew you always wanted that song that would let you have a bathroom break – or a coffee run. But thank you – I believe that “Rock Me” has proven to be a standard. Maybe “House of Broken Love,” too. We had some moments. My favorite video is “Big Goodbye.”

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

Andrew:
Switching gears. As I understand it, you replaced Vicky Hamilton as Guns N’ Roses’ manager in 1986. How did the band first appear on your radar?

Alan:
I replaced Stiefel and Phillips; they bounced Vicky.

The band first came on my radar when Zutaut asked me to be part of a cattle call for management. I wasn’t interested. Having secured a new contract for [Great White], I was going to apply myself exclusively to their progress. No distractions.

[Zutaut] came and asked again. Having done some research on them, my reply was, “Good fuckin’ luck.” They were a disaster waiting to happen on a regular basis.

He came a third time and asked me to pretend to manage the band. Rosenblatt [President of Geffen] had refused to let them start recording until they had a manager. Tom, then and once a friend [my first wife worked as a receptionist in his office], I told him there was no way I would involve myself in such a lame ploy, but, alright, I’ll meet with them and see what transpires. 

Andrew:
What were your initial impressions of the band?

Alan:
Fuck-ups. But that meant they weren’t your typical, calculating L.A. wannabes who had more ambition than talent. Y’know, throw a demo together, shop it, not get signed, all change, join other musicians. Every three months.

A band is something that must be forged in the fire of adversity. Stay together and allow personal chemistry to percolate. Take on impossible odds. Fuck ’em all; it’s us against them. That was Mötley. That was Great White. That was Guns. Us against everything. One for all and all for one. I am raised British – we invented the fuckin’ underdog and took one-sixth of the planet for empire while being a tiny country no bigger than New Zealand.

Keith Richards told Slash he could never leave the band. Keith understood this to the marrow. He may have hated Sir Mick at certain points and thought the knighthood a betrayal of the blue-collar rock ‘n’ roll spirit, but he was Keith’s knight of the realm. So, fuck ya all.

Andrew:
How do you remember the Live ?!*@ Suicide recordings, which I believe were tracked at Pasha Music House?

Alan:
I came in on the mix. Hans Peter Huber was generous enough to ask me to sit in on the mixes. I liked Hans, but his boss was an arrogant, rude ass, and his rudeness to me gave me the “out” I needed to get Guns out of the Pasha situation – which I thought was wrong for the band. History proves I was right. History proves Clink was a good choice.

Andrew:
What role did you play in negotiating the initial deal with Geffen?

Alan:
Geffen had already signed GnR when Tom first came to me. I had nothing to do with the first contract. 

I did, however, manage to get David to open negotiations on improving it. I have no idea how that turned out since Axl and Goldstein got rid of me before the negotiations were even seriously begun. I had already improved the Brockum [merchandising] and Artemis [sub-publishing] contracts.

I had invited Rosenblatt to a birthday dinner for my then-wife. After the chardonnay had been flowing, I quietly told him that he should tell David that I was about to put the 1991 tour on sale and that we would go out on the road and make pots of money but leave the record unfinished if David did not improve the band’s royalty rate. It was at a new signing rate of 12%.

David invited me to lunch. He went ballistic, yelling and screaming that he would not be intimidated or taken advantage of. The more he yelled, the more I realized he understood that he was going to have to relent. Jane Seymour, the actress, was at the next table, shrinking into her seat as Geffen raved and ranted. In the previous months, he denied both Tim Collins and Howard Kaufman royalty increases for their mega-selling bands, Aerosmith and Whitesnake. From that, I learned that you could not ask David to do the right thing; you had to force him to do the right thing. Thus, my stance of putting the Use Your Illusion Tour on sale.

I didn’t hear anything for ten days after that. We were getting near tour pre-production time. I was beginning to think my move had not worked when I received a summons to Geffen’s office. I arrived to find all his A&R and executive staff in the room. I was there alone. Most significantly, I was alone and without the band’s legal representation. I had been bushwhacked. 

Geffen asked what I wanted in a contract. Truthfully, I had not had time to think of any such details, but I knew what my concept was – “I want the best contract you have with an artist on Geffen.

“Can’t be done,” Geffen replied.

Why would that be,” I asked.

Because [Don] Henley has that, and he has a favored nations clause.” Which means it’s a position only he can have.

Well, that’s not a problem,” I responded. “We’ll have the same terms as Henley, and every time you account to the band, I will go to City National Bank and get a perfect, uncirculated, one-dollar bill and send it personally to Don.

At that, David stared at me for what seemed like the longest L.A. minute. He dismissed the others in the room and told me to get the band’s lawyer to call and start renegotiation. The door had been pried open.

David was a bully. He scared people. Deliberately. He had piercing, ball-bearing eyes and an abrupt and steely manner. Necessarily, I suppose, he had the soul of a fierce jungle beast. There was a rumor that when he ended a personal, intimate relationship, he’d buy a parting gift of a Wrangler Jeep – which, once insured, would mysteriously catch fire in the following week. A small message about remaining discrete. Fierce but smart.

As far as I am concerned, he may have been a telephone screamer, but he always did what he said he’d do.

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

Andrew:
Oh, wow. As it turned out, that proved to be a defining moment in rock history. I appreciate you sharing that, Alan. Regarding Appetite, was there something about Mike Clink’s approach to recording that enabled him to capture the band’s true essence?

Alan:
Clink had the patience of Job. He had a modest ego. He was content just to get things on tape, which was difficult enough. He was a great, great engineer for guitarists.

Bash it down and sort it in the mix. Clink instinctively knows the perfection of recording is found within knowing which imperfections to keep. And [Steve] Thompson and [Michael] Barbiero understood that.

Andrew:
I imagine you were on hand to see some of the most iconic guitar riffs being recorded. Are you able to recall what it was like to watch Slash at work during those Appetite recordings?

Alan:
I wasn’t around; I had my own record to make. I had Clink. I got Slash his all-time recording guitar. I did what I needed to do so that they could do what they needed to do.

Andrew:
How did you come to the decision to seek out another guitar?

Alan:
I dropped by the studio to see how Curly was doing. As I parked, I noticed that the rental van had an SG sticking out of the windscreen. That was a message no one could misunderstand – [Slash] was having tone problems.

I went to visit Jim Foote at Music Works in The South Bay, my guitar guru, to see what he might have. He brought out a ’59 bootleg handmade by Kris Derrig. Kris had the idea that he could build a better ’59 than Gibson had. In ’59, they were constructed on a conveyor belt system. Kris thought one good luthier building the whole guitar would be better. He used hardware from the period. He built a dream of an instrument.

I knew Slash might not connect with the historical voice, PAFs, so I had Jim replace the pick-ups with Alnico 2s. It worked. Slash talks about it on that Gibson Collection show you can find on YouTube.

I bought another Derrig LP [he made 13 in all] with a slightly slimmer neck. I gave it to my son, who traded it to Slash for several guitars, including his #5 LP. Which he used when he came and played a benefit in Prescott for the 19 firefighters who got killed one summer.

Andrew:
Did your input affect any of the recordings on Appetite in any measurable way?

Alan:
“Jungle.”

When Zutaut gave me the band demos, I told him that perhaps the weakest track on the tape [Jungle] needed special attention because it had that lyric.

I approved Clink. I approved [engineers] Thompson and Barbiero. I got rid of [Spencer] Proffer. I kept the cheeseheads [let’s smooth it out, make it radio-friendly, etc.] from the label at bay. History exonerates the decisions.

Andrew:
Retrospectively, are there any songs you would have omitted or included?

Alan:
No. UYI [Use Your Illusion] is another matter altogether.

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

Andrew:
What do you recall about the initial proceedings for Use Your Illusion, which marked a drastic departure from the band’s roots?

Alan:
The main difference was that we had problems with Stevie. He couldn’t get into Axl’s new directions, and Slash complained that he could not remember his parts. The cracks were beginning to show – there were Elton Rose songs, and Iz was being sidelined to a troubling degree. They were all living separately now, in very expensive houses, marrying girlfriends who should have remained so. The combine no longer communed in the Hell House. The corrosion of affluence had begun.

It was my idea to do two separate albums. I was really concerned that a double record, which Axl demanded, at a double record price, would not be as well received as a single strong album. How do you follow Appetite for Destruction and meet expectations, anyways?

Over lunch at Le Dome, Rosenblatt asked what I thought Use Your Illusion would sell. If two albums, I reckoned they’d do four million each, equaling the then eight of Appetite for Destruction. I wrote it on a napkin, which he pocketed. During the initial album cycle, I was correct.

It was not hard to persuade Eddie since the economics of two albums are greatly superior to a double album. Better for both the band and the label. And it was ballsy – no one had really done that before – very GnR, although Electric Ladyland could be bought in the U.K. as two single albums sometime after the original release. There are no original ideas, just astute judgment as to when to use what you remember.

The biggest giggle I got was Axl paying [Mark] Kostabi $75,000 for the cover paintings without asking me about the idea first. He did not understand the images were in the public domain – we didn’t have to pay Kostabi anything for their use on merchandising. But then, look at how Yoda, Sharon Maynard, conned him. Another $75,000 for an “exorcism.” The vulnerable being taken advantage of, and Goldstein not minding the door.

Fave tracks? “Dust and Bones,” first and foremost. “Civil War” – I thought that one indicated a real development in Axl’s writing. “14 Years.” The three holdovers from Appetite for Destruction – “Don’t Cry,” “You Could Be Mine,” and “November Rain.” “Double Talkin’ Jive.” “Dead Horse.” “Knockin’ On Heavens Door.”

Andrew:
Apart from the Appetite holdovers, I’ve always wondered: which songs did Steven [Adler] demo for Use Your Illusion?

Alan:
Stevie couldn’t play anything the same way twice. We persevered way past the point when the obvious was apparent. Had he been able to, our only issue would have been keeping him alive.

Andrew:
Given the band’s volatile nature and hard living, were you ever concerned that Appetite might not see the light of day?

Alan:
I had just become a parent; the album put us $365,000 in debt to Geffen. Now would come the costs of video and touring on top of that. I figured I’d never see a goddamn penny.

I acquired insomnia at this point in my life. It was no longer fun. It was stress, worry, and pressure from there out. I wondered if I had made the biggest mistake of my career. In some ways, I had.

Andrew:
What was your approach to dealing with all the explosive and diverse personalities in the studio?

Alan:
Let the producer do his job.

Andrew:
You have mentioned before that you do not consider Duff and Slash to be great songwriters. Are you able to expand on that?

Alan:
Just look at their ‘output’ post Appetite for Destruction. Slash – a great player, extremely empathetic to a composition’s feel – but cannot write a song. 

At the end of the day, songs are about content and lyrics. Otherwise, it’s just musical wallpaper. A song needs to say something. I’ll send you an example or two of some things I wrote some time ago. They make my point.

Duff is not quite as brilliant as he thinks he is.

Andrew:
Despite Guns N’ Roses’ collective effort and chemistry, can it be said that the band would not have worked without Izzy Stradlin?

Alan:
As far as I was concerned, it was his band – he had the cool disposition and the unimpeachable street vernacular. Add to that the syncopation of his right rhythm hand, and you have a personification of rock ‘n’ roll right there. He was always the one who was always available for conference, for discussion. Axl was insular. Slash and Duff were mostly fucked up.

Andrew:
What is your opinion of Appetite For Destruction 35 years later?

Alan:
It’s still here.

But then, so are many other great records that were not bought en masse. Would it have been so huge if they had looked like .38 Special? If the first four videos had not been so cool? Had they not connected in the U.K. before the U.S.? 

It was a perfect storm timed to perfection, well strategized, and none of us saw it coming. If they claim they did, they are a blustering buffoon of a liar [Zutaut] or certifiable.

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

Andrew:
How responsive was Axl to your feedback and suggestions, and how did you navigate the relationship?

Alan:
His first insult was to thank me in the liner notes after his fuckin’ dogs. He didn’t bother to show for the dinner with [Peter] Paterno and the rest of the band where they offered to extend my original contract for another whole three years. That was when I knew I’d be fucked over by them. They did offer to raise my commission rate to 20%, but I turned down the increase. I did not want my company being paid more than a band member, although I had to pay for offices and staff. I never charged back a dime in expenses, as I had the conventional right to do so. The only time Axl ever said thank you was from the stage of the Hammersmith Odeon – so even that was more about him than me. See me being gracious. He wasn’t a nice person back then. He may have changed. To me, he’s kinda like the Tonya Harding of rock ‘n’ roll – capable of being sublime but best known for other reasons.

I was there for him, taking him from Hollywood streets to Wembley Arena. He repaid me by believing Goldstein’s lies because he wanted to.

Andrew:
And what were Goldstein’s lies?

Alan:
Whatever he told him to put distance between us.

I had a telephone conversation with Axl in which he asked why he had trouble getting people to do what he wanted. I told him he was prickly, difficult to get near, and that his tantrums scared people. A couple of days later, when I was at the Meadowlands, he called the production phone and told me he could not work with me anymore. I suggested we have dinner on my return to L.A. and talk about it. He agreed, but I never spoke to him ever again.

A few weeks previous, I had held a dinner at Le Dome for his birthday. Earlier in the day, I had delivered him a white Ovation guitar. He failed to show. Zutaut arrived with Goldstein; they had been with Axl. Before seating himself, [Zutaut] leaned over me and whispered in my ear, “Goldstein is not your friend.” A few days later, Axl said he wouldn’t do Rock In Rio if I went. No big deal. I thought. He’d had me banned from the Aerosmith tour for its first three weeks because I refused to cancel it. My job was to get them all there. Their job was to produce excitement on the stage.

I had signed a contract with five individuals collectively known as Guns N’ Roses. I did not sign a contract to exclusively represent his whim. My responsibility was to the whole.

Goldstein is a liar, and a fake – a schmoozer, a glad-hander – Barry Fey once described him as an overpaid security guy. He was without loyalty and appreciation – he was a security guy when I gave him a shot at tour managing. He decided he was there to indulge Axl. Ingratiate himself. Screw the others – as happened. He presided over the dissolution and implosion of what I helped create. He helped engineer Axl’s grab of the name. To this day, Axl takes 50% of the gate, thus cutting Izzy out. Ego and greed. The corrosion of affluence on a soul that comes from impoverished childhood.

Andrew:
In many respects, Chinese Democracy is an immensely polarizing album. You obviously have no affiliation with the record, but what are your thoughts on it as a whole?

Alan:
Guns N’ Roses have been creatively impotent since 1991. Over 30 years. Under Goldstein’s stewardship, nothing was achieved. Chinese Democracy is neither a Guns record nor exciting. It might have been of some notice if truthfully called a Rose solo record, but then it’s so tired and even turgid; so overworked. Energy dissipates the longer you record – unless Mutt is on the board, and he does drums last. Even he only took three years on Hysteria.

Axl got in a bad way when he oversaw the original mixes of Use Your Illusion by Bob Clearmountain. They were lifeless. Once those two were done, Bob asked for all DATS to be destroyed, and we went out to get Bill Price to save the day. Of course, Zutaut kept his DAT – I wonder if he lost it when his storage was sold off.

Had it been my call, [Chinese Democracy] would never have been released. I’d have suggested that the best songs be performed live but left the studio recordings as one of the great rock ‘n’ roll mysteries. 

Whatsmore, these songs do better live when Slash plays on them.

It was a bad decision to release [Chinese Democracy] determined by fiscal imperatives… yet if they’d reformed then, the cost of Chinese Democracy could have been expunged by part of a single tour. Certainly, whatever UNI wanted would have been taken care of in three weeks.

Poor management.

Andrew:
Looking back on your time with Guns N’ Roses, what would you have done differently?

Alan:
Not signed the contract in September 1986.

Andrew:
Last one, and thanks again for being so gracious with your time, Alan. When I spoke to KIX guitarist Brian Forsythe, he mentioned that you initiated the release of their hit single, “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” Can you tell me more about that?

Alan:
Jason Flom [Atlantic A&R] and I had a lunch at Le Chardonnay. I had known him since he was a teenager. He asked me to do him the favor of putting KIX on the Great White/Tesla tour. We needed another band, like an organizational hole in the head, but I told him I would do it for him and the band if they released “Eyes” and made a video for it. It was an obvious hit, a terrific little ditty – but apparently, Atlantic couldn’t see the obvious. Years later, I needed Jason to do something for me. He didn’t. So it goes.

Image courtesy of Alan Niven

Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is the Senior Editor for vwmusicrocks.com and may be reached at adicecco@vinylwriter.com

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