Guns N Roses’ 1991 double-album pairing Use Your Illusion I & II defined an era with some great outlook. Compared to albums such as The Black Album (Metallica), The Path of Totality (Korn), and most certainly, that other GNR record: Chinese Democracy it still remains to be one of the top albums. The former Guns manager Alan Niven spoke about Axl Rose during a new interview with VWMusic. Niven managed the band from 1986 until 1991, when he was replaced by Doug Goldstein.
Alan Niven opens up on Axl Rose
According to Niven, Axl Rose paid artist Mark Kostabi $75,000 for use of his artwork on the covers of the UYI albums as well as merchandise—not knowing the images were public domain and evidently could have been used for free.
Kostabi’s work was viewed as controversial in the art world at the time as it regularly featured graphic reinterpretations of other established artwork. (The artwork featured on UYI I & II, for example, is an excerpt of Raphael’s “School of Athens”.)
Niven told VWMusic, “The biggest giggle I got was Axl paying [Mark] Kostabi $75,000 for the cover paintings without asking me about the idea first. He did not understand the images were in the public domain – we didn’t have to pay Kostabi anything for their use on merchandising.”
Niven also suggests there were notable instances where Rose could be easily taken advantage of. “Look at how… [psychic] Sharon Maynard conned him. Another $75,000 for an ‘exorcism,’” Niven continued, referring to the psychic adviser to Rose known as “Yoda” in the GNR camp. “The vulnerable being taken advantage of, and [Doug] Goldstein not minding the door,” said Niven.