“I am the TRUE AUTHOR of Steven Adler’s Tell-All”
Steven Adler is well-known for his years of whining and complaining about how he was kicked out of Guns N’ Roses. How all the people he thought were his friends turned their backs on him, and how management and the guys in his band, his “brothers”, got him to sign away his rights. These claims make it all the more distasteful as such injustices are exactly what he inflicted upon me. And I never would have believed it. It was I who wrote his book, “My Appetite for Destruction”, then named, “No Bed of Roses”, back in 2003.
I was a huge GNR fan when I met Steven. My hobby was collecting GNR memorabilia. After we became friends, I started the “Official Steven Adler Fansite” and ran it, on my own time and dime, for ten years. Oddly enough, as the only real ‘fan’ among Adler’s people, I was the only one keenly aware of how big Adler actually wasn’t. When he’d ask me to do outrageous things such as put his nail clippings on eBay or sell signed DVR’s at $100 a pop, I refused. It is no small satisfaction to see the negative feedback Adler currently gets at how his web presence is handled, particularly when he was selling “Fan Experience Packages” (lunch with Steven, $7500!?).
During my tenure, I’ve seen no less than a half dozen management teams & new official websites come and go. The last group of people I worked with really had a yen for power. Among them, one in particular I had known for months by the time business with the book was getting into high gear. I received an email from her with an attachment, stating to the effect of, “here’s your book contract, when can you come in and sign it?” This was a surprise, I was never given any hint that she was involved with our book dealings. In fact, I was further dismayed to see just how many new hands were in the ‘book pie’ - and that they intended to pay me after each newcomer’s commissions! Needless to say, the contract gave me no rights and I refused to sign.
I had initially signed on in 2002. The contract was with Steven’s mother, Deanna, for a fee of $10,000 upon publishing. In 2003, I renegotiated, and signed a contract for 10% of all book earnings ‘received from Adler’ plus the credit ‘by Steven Adler with Brooke Ellis’. It was Deanna’s intent to find a publisher to combine her own memoir with Steven's book. A few years had passed and she failed to secure a deal (I need to say that I hold nothing against Deanna Adler, and I am sorry to mention her here).
In 2007, I was told by Steven’s brother, Jamie, to sign a Release of Authorship, which retained only my 10% interest. I refused, and was told, “It’s this or nothing. If you contest this we will fight you hard, and you’ll lose, etc…” I didn’t have money for lawyers! I was further told that writer Larry Spagnola was going to weave Steven and Deanna’s stories together. I appreciated what a task that would be. They attempted to pacify me with the reassurance that I would have a special acknowledgement in the book, complete with a picture. I signed reluctantly, under duress & without counsel. Meanwhile, Deanna had forged Steven’s signature on the notarized contract.
Unbeknownst to me, Steven had previously sued his mother. Estranged from her since 2007, by ’09, with his new representation he had gotten out of book contracts that Deanna signed on behalf of him - on the grounds that she did not have power of attorney to do so. I breathed a HEAVY sigh of relief! I learned that Larry Spagnola had brokered a “big deal” with Harper Collins which they still wanted, now without the mother’s involvement or added story.
The 2009 “agreement” emailed to me was almost identical to the 2007 one, with the addition of an open-ended “after expenses” clause (tacked on to the stipulation of my 10% interest). Angered, I called Steven and said, “Don’t let them fuck me!” he said he would “never let that happen!”, and was shocked to learn my name wouldn’t be on the book, "There wouldn't even be a book without you!" he shouted. He told me to “go ahead and make your own contract”. That was the last time I spoke to him. His number was quickly changed and none of our mutual friends would return my calls.
Utilizing what money I had, I acquired the services of a literary attorney. Steven’s lawyers tried to tell her that all I had done was transcribe interviews. She had the original fleshed-out chaptered manuscript and told them so. Then they tried to say it was poorly written, she told them it WAS NOT! She made some headway. A perplexing conversation with Mr. Spagnola revealed that he maintained a bitter sense of entitlement to my work, and was stressed over the matter. Insanely, my lawyer then botched everything by accidentally forwarding our private correspondence in which we discuss strategy and my own admission of waning financial resources (thereby limiting any potential threat of a lawsuit from me).
While I had the lawyer under retainer, the first advance installment was paid in full (she argued that they COULD NOT deduct expenses). After she was out of the picture, the second advance installment was paid @ only 4.5%, the third @ ½. In my continuing effort to resolve the matter, I waited three months on a lawyer-friend of my family’s who promised to take action on my behalf. He never did. Then I retained the services of a contingency-based lawyer. After six months, all he did was acquire sales figures. Needless to say, lawyers suck. However, each lawyer had agreed the 2007 contract is void primarily because Steven’s signature is forged, further compounded by the fact that Adler deducted massive expenses from my 10% interest, before refusing to pay me at all. Therefore, they are using my work with NO VALID CONTRACT. The book has since been released and I have not received a penny. The book, meanwhile, is very much in the form of my initial draft (I had always planned to develop it further), fully edited with a few extra pages added. My name is changed to “Chuck” in stories that feature me. For the record, much of the real ‘dirt’ had been taken out.
From the opening segue into the first chapter, “Let’s start from the beginning, so we can see how things began to unravel until they got so fucked up” (the gist of which I borrowed from the opening narration of the 1999 movie, Tart) to the closing line, “It’s gonna take a lot more than that to spoil my appetite!” (a cliché phrase I was actually embarrassed over), it’s all me. I can tell you exactly what came from the 20 hours of audio I have with Steven, what facts came from an existing book, magazine or TV interview - or what I just made up! Ultimately, it was my aim to paint a sympathetic portrait of the man. You’ll notice there’s not much in the novel accounting for the years 2003 – 2009. These are the scant few pages Larry actually contributed.
I always appreciated Steven’s friendship greatly, and we had been through a lot together. But he allowed this injustice against me. He let his people trample and humiliate me. He is a backstabber of the highest order. Many people have attested publicly that he is not a good person. I always defended him. Then I learned just how right they were. In fact, given the seedy element he associates with, I wonder if I should fear for my safety after this comes out. It’s been me alone against his army. They ganged up and treated me like shit to maximize their potential cuts.
Sadly, it is Lawrence Spagnola with the last laugh. He has credit for a New York Times Bestseller he did not write, and (as it was he who brokered the Harper Collins deal) the lions-share of profits and a strong contract to protect him. I will never cease in my mission to expose him for what he is, a THIEF who STOLE my work and took credit for it.
I’ve done everything in my power to resolve this matter peacefully. I told them I’d sign their contract if they simply got rid of the open-ended after-expenses clause. They refused! I may have reluctantly gone along with it all, settled for the special acknowledgement – I didn’t want to make waves, or jeopardize my friendship with Adler - but I was not going to allow them to exploit me further by finding new ways to screw me! They saw this as an OPPORTUNITY. They appealed to Steven’s tampered sensibility by making exaggerated and defamatory claims, saying I was “crazy” and making “unreasonable demands”. Ultimately, they knew I didn’t have the resources to fight this, so they kicked me when I was already down, over and over for the last two years. Recently, I was told that this New York Times Best Seller which has been re-issued in paperback, did not make back it’s advance and there was no money coming to me. I’ve had it. This is my attempt at setting the record straight. I never wanted to go public with this, but Steven hasn’t seen fit to make this right, and I have no choice. I have retained a new lawyer, an aggressive fellow by the name of Michael Lotta, and we are taking this to court.
This has been hurtful and stressful. Adler robbed me. People are lucky if they get one big break, and this was mine. A saving grace has been my own music passion project, “Vintage Quixotic” (New music for Old Hollywood) which, to my satisfaction, proposes more talent than Adler ever will have with his clumsy drumming.
- Brooke Ellis
Well, makes me glad I only paid £2 for my copy...