Ex-GN’R Manager Alan Niven: This Is How I Changed ‘Welcome to the Jungle’

Ex-GN'R manager Alan Niven talked about the creative contributions he made to the group, explaining to Mitch Lafon:


“They wrote really, really good material. That said, I obviously paid attention to songs, and in my own mind checked more often.

“There was one song that I was a little concerned about, and I felt that it was going to be an important song, and I felt there needed to be something said about it.

“That was actually ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’

“Originally, it was verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus, and I felt uncomfortable about that arrangement.

“So in a pre production rehearsal, I asked Slash and Axl to look at that, and they came up with a really tasty little guitar bridge to break out of that.

“That was thy only time that I ever had a comment.

“I did question Axl about ‘Rocket Queen’ because it’s so overtly two different states of mind. I said ‘Are you sure you want them in one expression, or are they two different songs?’

“And Axl said, ‘No, definitely it is one song with two states of mind.’ And I said ‘Okay, fine. You know what you’re doing.'”

Focusing on the GN’R tours while he was managing the act, Alan said:

“In a number of respects, there was an aspect of making a break to it. We had a couple of misadventures.

“There was an AC/DC tour that I personally secured for them. It seemed to elude the agent we had at the time, who I think was playing politics, but we got an opening on an AC/DC tour.

“And then we had the incident in Phoenix, and AC/DC went, ‘We don’t want any part of this band.’

“We were out with Iron Maiden, which wasn’t necessarily the most sympathetic of combinations. But at least that I could keep all my smackheads on a bus, and keep an eye on them, and keep them live and keep them mobile and away from their dealers.

“And that had gone down the tubes. From my perspective, we had to go out on at least one more tour to see where the road was going.

“And the only one available was Aerosmith. Of course, Aerosmith at that time were all rehab fellows. So in an ordinary circumstances, the likelihood of Tim Collins [Aerosmith manager] taking on GNR to open for guys that he had rigid control over to keep them from their habits was very slight.

“But we were labelmates, and I went to Eddie Rosenblatt [from Geffen Records] and said, ‘We need the Aerosmith tour, and you’ve got to deliver it for us.’ And David Geffen and Eddie Rosenblatt basically beat Tim Collins up and insisted that he take out GN’R. So, thank you David and Eddie.

“And off we went on the Aerosmith tour, which Axl did not want to do at the time.

“However, from my perspective of my involvement with the band, that tour is the highlight of my experience with the band. That was the highest moment, the magic of an incredible response being manifest by the audience.

“I used to feel bad for Aerosmith having to follow GN’R on stage. Because GN’R would suck all the energy out of huge audiences before [Aerosmith] hit the stage.

“An incredible tour. It remains in my memory as the highlight of my experience with the band.”


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