Alan Niven managed Guns N' Roses from 1986 through 1991, before he was fired in acrimonious fashion by Axl Rose. Since then, Niven has been dropping little nuggets of history from his time serving the band, and—perhaps not surprisingly—he doesn't have too many nice things to say, save for a few pleasantries about guitarist Slash (the enemy of my enemy is my friend, maybe?)
"Slash and I used to keep in contact – he even came and played a benefit in our little Arizona mountain town ," Niven said. "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."
Niven continued, "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."
Yikes, sounds like some sour grapes there, folks. Especially since it was only a few months ago that Niven was dropping more disparaging Guns N' Roses bombs, claiming that Axl Rose paid artist Mark Kostabi $75,000 for use of his artwork on the covers of the Use Your Illusion albums—which were reissued this month—as well as all merchandise, with Niven asserting that Rose, not knowing the images were public domain, and claiming the images could have been used for free. That remark prompted a response from Kostabi on this website. Regardless, I can tell you this with certainty: the painting hangs above a grand piano in Axl Rose's home to this very day.
"Niven is absolutely wrong. My painting, called Use Your Illusion, was not in the public domain. That would be like saying many of Andy Warhol's most valuable paintings are in the public domain because Warhol quoted Da Vinci's Mosa Lisa or other old masters. Warhol transformed the subjects into his own style, cropped, changed colors, repeated in patterns, changed titles, etc. Niven's $75,000 price quote is wrong too and how could he know? It is contractually protected private knowledge and as Niven said, he did not negotiate the deal for Axl.
"If Axl had used the public domain original from the Renaissance it would have had muted colors, would not have had my signature black-and-white chiaroscuro and sfumato contrasting to the simplified bright serigraph colors in the background. He also could have not used my title: Use Your Illusion (which my brother Paul Kostabi actually provided.) And IMO it would not have sold as much because it would have looked old-fashioned. Axl now owns the copyright to my transformative version of the Raphael detail, so he can sue anyone who copies and sells the Use Your Illusion merchandise. It was a great deal for everyone involved!"