Former Manager Calls Guns N’ Roses ’Creatively Impotent,’ Reveals How Difficult Axl Rose Was to Work With

Alan Niven, former Guns N’ Roses manager, looked back on his days with the band in a recent interview for Classic Rock. Working with them between 1986 and 1991, Niven was let go after Axl Rose’s insistence. Reflecting on this tenure, he recalled:

“Guns consumed soooo much of my energy. I have no doubt Great White [Niven used to manage them as well] 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. Who, every now and then, I would have to work against. Iz [Izzy Stradlin], Slash, and Duff [McKagan, bassist] would sometimes call and say, ‘Have you heard what he wants to do now Niv? Y’ gotta nip it in the bud.’

Guns N Roses Live at the Ritz 1988 Full Concert

“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 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.”

Guns N' Roses - Live Rock In Rio (1991/01/20) (Remaster 1080p)

When asked about his contact with Slash, feelings of seeing the band again, and the potential new Guns N’ Roses album, Niven said:

“Slash and I used to keep in contact – he even came and played a benefit in our little Arizona mountain town – but since the reunion, we have drifted apart. Axl is a canister of resentful and unappreciative bile, and it’s best to hope the lid stays on, I suppose. I used to send him books to read on tour – Balzac, Russ Baker, Tolstoy, Colin Wilson, whatever…”

“I have no interest in seeing the band again – their moment was February 2, 1988 [the date Guns N’ Roses: Live at the Ritz was filmed]. The Aerosmith tour was really good too – tremendous band response to tremendous audience response. I have no hope of, or interest in, a new Guns N’ Roses album… the tantrums of youth look absurd on a 60-year-old. It’s a shame they have been creatively impotent since 1991.”

Photo: Ed Vill (W. Axl Rose, Guns n´Roses Poliedro de Caracas 27 de Marzo 2010)

David Slavkovic

David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.

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