With being at the top of the charts for many years, Guns N Roses knew it was time to fry bigger fish and that’s just what they did with the help of their former manager, Alan Niven.
Recently, Alan Niven recalled the political ploy he pulled to secure the band a better deal for the release of their Use Your Illusion albums.
Via the 1991 launch, he told head of the label, David Geffen that he’d put production on hold and send the band on tour if its percentage wasn’t increased. That led to an argument that included Eagles member Don Henley, as Niven told Vinyl Writer Music in a new interview.
Niven stated: “I had invited [Geffen executive Eddie] 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 percent.”
This would draw mega emotion from David Geffen.
Geffen, he continued, “went ballistic” on hearing the news, “yelling and screaming that he would not be intimidated or taken advantage of.” But, Niven added, “the more he yelled, the more I realized he understood that he was going to have to relent.”
When 10 days had passed, Niven started to think his plan had failed, but the label boss then pulled a trick. “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.”
Niven recalled, “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 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, $1 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.”
Unfortunately, when a new deal was drawn up, he would no longer be the manager for the group.