“They weren’t your typical, calculating LA wannabes”: famed manager Alan Niven on meeting Guns N’ Roses

“They were a disaster waiting to happen on a regular basis,” Nven shared.

Guns N' Roses

Credit: Kevin Mazur / Getty

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Former Guns N’ Roses manager Alan Niven, who ushered the band through their Appetite for Destruction era, has shared his first thoughts on meeting the band in 1986.

In a new interview with VWMusic, the New Zealand-born manager discussed how he first came to manage Guns N’ Roses through Tom Zutaut, who famously signed the band to Geffen Records.

“Having done some research on them, my reply was, ‘Good fuckin’ luck.’ They were a disaster waiting to happen on a regular basis,” Niven shared.

“[Zutaut] came a third time and asked me to pretend to manage the band. [President of Geffen, Eddie] Rosenblatt 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.”

When asked of his first impression of the band upon meeting them, Niven replied, “Fuck-ups. But that meant they weren’t your typical, calculating LA 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.”

Niven then shared that band chemistry must be given time to develop, adding that Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards once imparted some telling advice on the value of band chemistry to Slash. “Keith Richards told Slash he could never leave the band,” Niven revealed. “Keith understood this to the marrow. He may have hated Sir Mick [Jagger] 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.”

Guns N’ Roses recently wowed fans with a decade-first performance of Street of Dreams. It was also the first time Slash, Duff McKagan and keyboardist Melissa Reese had ever performed the track live, and joined several other GNR deep cuts that have been played on their recent tour, including Reckless Life and You’re Crazy – the Appetite for Destruction version.

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