Nikki Sixx Says Refusing Guns N’ Roses Was A Mistake

Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx recently gave an interview to The Aquarian and revealed that he made a mistake by passing on the opportunity of producing Guns N’ Roses album ‘Appetite For Destruction.’

Although Nikki Sixx is mainly known as Mötley Crüe’s bassist and lyricist, his interests don’t end with that. He is also a radio host, author, and producer. Recently, the guitarist added another book to his writing career titled ‘The First 21: How I Became Nikki Sixx.’ Released on October 19, Sixx revealed how he became a metal icon by sharing key moments from his career and touching upon his childhood.

As the nephew of Don Zimmerman, the producer, and president of Capitol Records, Sixx also worked with numerous artists by producing their songs. For instance, he holds the production credits of three songs from The Last Vegas’ ‘Whatever Gets You Off’ album and the song ‘Reason I’m Alive’ from Drowning Pool’s ‘Full Circle.’ According to the recent interview with The Aquarian, Sixx also had the opportunity to produce GN’R’s ‘Appetite For Destruction.’

During their conversation, the host, Tim Louie, talked with Nikki Sixx about his new book ‘The First 21.’ At some point in the interview, Nikki said that he answered several questions musicians would want to ask him in the book. Following that, Louie asked the bassist if his Uncle Don’s refusal to produce London and Mötley Crüe affected their relationship.

As a response, Nikki Sixx said that Zimmerman couldn’t do that because he was his nephew, and he was in a band that didn’t fit the music industry back in those days. Sixx then said his uncle once admitted that not signing him was the biggest mistake of his career. Saying that record companies make $10 a record, Sixx revealed Zimmerman made a $1.5 billion worth mistake.

Following that, the bassist stated that he knows this because he passed on producing GN’R’s ‘Appetite For Destruction.‘ Sixx said it was a mistake because he feared he couldn’t do his best as he struggled with addiction back then. Moreover, the bassist added that he is unsure what would happen if he had produced that record.

The Aquarian’s host Tim Louie asked Nikki Sixx in the interview:

“I thought that was interesting that you bullet-pointed those tips on creativity at the end of the book. You basically answered many questions that musicians would want to ask you if they had the chance. Now, you mentioned your Uncle Don, did his passing on London and Mötley Crüe ever put a strain on your relationship?”

Nikki Sixx then responded:

“No, because from his perspective, being the president of a label, it’s like he’s going to go into a board meeting and he’s going go, ‘So, we’re gonna sign my nephew!’ And they’re going to say, ‘What?’ He’ll have to say, ‘And he is not in a band that fits the music industry right now, but I’m gonna sign my nephew because they’re selling out clubs!’ And they’d be like, ‘You’re out of your mind!’

I can understand that from him and his A&R guys that this isn’t a good fit for our label. Later in life, Don told me – and this is a guy who worked with The Beatles, Bob Seger, Steve Miller, and one of my favorite bands, Sweet – ‘Man, the biggest mistake I ever made in my career was not signing you. You were living in my house, writing songs in my guest room…and I didn’t see it.’

If we do the math, just do a rough guesstimate, record companies make like ten dollars a record, let’s say, especially when records were actually selling. I sold 150 million records. That’s a $1.5 billion mistake. How would we know? I also passed on producing ‘Appetite for Destruction.’ That record made $24 Million, and if I got a dollar a record as a producer? You don’t know!”

He added:

“I made that mistake because I was fearful that I would not do the best job because I was addicted at that time to heroin, and if maybe my mom had not passed down all that information to me about how shitty my dad was, carrying this stuff… maybe I would not have got addicted, maybe I would have produced that record…. I don’t fucking know! All I know is that when I didn’t get signed to that label or any other label, my band said, ‘Let’s just form our own label.’

I told Mike Clink once, who produced ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ that story, and he said he heard that and he said, ‘You know, I basically…’ which is what I love about GN’R and that first album. He says, ‘I basically just pushed records.’ It was what it was. Axl Rose came in later and did some vocal parts. It was those low vocal parts he had going in. He said that it was like in and out. It was like capturing the magic in a bottle, so maybe he was the right man for the job. Those are my friends, so I was so happy for them.”

Released on July 21, 1987, ‘Appetite For Destruction’ became a phenomenal commercial success a year after the release. It seems like Sixx isn’t wrong about calling his refusal to produce the record a huge mistake, especially considering the album’s success with over 30 million copies sold worldwide.