Craig Duswalt Exclusive Interview - Mygnrforum.com
Craig Duswalt is the creator of the RockStar System For Success - How to Achieve RockStar Status in Your Industry.
Craig's background includes touring with Guns N' Roses (as Axl Rose's personal manager) and Air Supply (as the band's personal assistant).
In his presentations, Craig shares numerous stories of his days with Guns N' Roses and Air Supply, and behind-the-scenes encounters with some of the biggest names in entertainment: people like Bono, U2, Metallica, Queen, Kurt Cobain, Steven Tyler, Liz Taylor, Liza Minnelli, George Michael, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Robert Plant, Elton John, Gianni Versace, the Rolling Stones, Nine Inch Nails, Dave Navarro, Rick Springfield, Eddie Money, Michael Hutchence, and a bunch more.
Craig was also an award-winning copywriter, working as a Creative Director for a Los Angeles-based ad agency until opening up his own ad agency, Green Room Design & Advertising, which was named the 2002 Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.
Craig combined his backgrounds in both music and marketing, and is now a professional speaker and author, promoting his RockStar System for Success all over the country -- teaching entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, coaches and info-marketers how to promote themselves and their business by thinking outside the box at his 3-Day RockStar Marketing BootCamp every March and September in Los Angeles.
Craig Duswalt also speaks to corporations on how to market like a RockStar; to colleges, about drug awareness; and at numerous seminars, associations and conferences on how to use outside the box marketing techniques to attract clients, and how to stand out from the competition by throwing televisions out hotel windows — Like a RockStar.
We had a chance to interview him recently; here it is:
May 1st 2014
Mygnrforum: Hello Craig, it is nice to chat with you!
Craig: Hey Justin. Thanks for having me. Haven’t had a GNR interview in a while, but I suspect I will be doing a lot of these over the next year or so.
Mygnrforum: We understand you were Axl Rose's Personal Manager from 1991-1994. Can you help us understand what it means to be his Personal Manager, how you got there and what duties that entails?
Craig: I was hired as Axl’s “second” personal assistant, under another guy named Blake. Prior to touring with GNR, I toured with the band Air Supply for about six years. In about 1985 or 1986 Doug Goldstein took over as Air Supply’s head security guy, and we became great friends. Doug went on to become GNR’s manager, and one day Doug called me out of the blue to see if I was interested in going on the road again. I said yes. So I joined the Use Your Illusion tour and became Axl’s personal assistant. After I was there for a few months, Blake quit, and I became Axl’s main guy for the next three years.
I basically handled everything to do with Axl. If someone wanted to talk to Axl it either went through me or Doug Goldstein. I was responsible for his house, his backstage area, and his hotel room. I handled his money, set up his travel with our travel agent, scheduled limos to and from everywhere, and coordinated all his appointments. I had an assistant that would also handle shopping for Axl, and run regular, everyday errands. I supervised that as well. I was also responsible for making sure Axl got to the gigs “on time” — the most challenging part of my job.
I also ran Axl’s teleprompter for a while until I handed that job over to another person. There were millions of little things as well, but that was the main stuff.
Mygnrforum: We believe in your book you mention the Freddie Tribute gig and how amazing that was to be at. Can you tell us more and what was your next most memorable time while working with him?
Craig: The Freddie Mercury tribute was truly the 5th best day of my life, behind my marriage and the birth of my three sons. It was an amazing day because I was such a huge Queen fan — something Axl and I had in common. We all met so many icons in the music industry and it was a day where all egos were put aside and everyone acted like a “regular” person. It was very cool to see a different side to the RockStars I met that day.
So many interesting and cool things happened during my time with Axl and GNR, that besides the Freddie Mercury Tribute, nothing else really stands out, because they were all so great. Here’s an idea — buy the book, and you can hear the 50 cools things that happened to me on the road.
Mygnrforum: Have you kept up with what's going on with Axl/GN'R since the late 90s? What is your view on how the group has changed?
Criag: I have a little bit. I keep in touch with Del James a little — he recently hooked my cousin up with some tickets in New York, and of course, Beta. I personally wish the band had never broken up because they were all really great friends of mine, and I hated to see that end. It was an amazing three years. But I’m also a realist, and by the end of the tour I think the writing was on the wall that it would never last.
I’m a big Axl fan, so I’ve wished him all the best over the years with the new lineups, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want the lineup I toured with to get back together.
Mygnrforum: Did you have any personal dealings with Beta Lebeis, and why do you think her role has evolved into GNR manager?
Craig: Beta is a very dear friend. We’ve talked for hours at a time over all the years. We have each been a sounding board for each other and she was very helpful when I was working with Axl in the last year that I was there.
But I haven’t heard this — is she the band’s manager now? Damn, I’m really out of the loop.
Mygnrforum: Have you supported the GNR line-ups from 2001 onwards, and have you seen any shows?
Craig: I support Axl. He was very good to me and my family. I last saw GNR at Universal Amphitheater in 2006, and the show was amazing. After the concert, my friends and I were invited backstage to Axl’s dressing room. Usually my wife Natasha would have come, but she had been diagnosed with cancer and was going through chemo and didn’t have the strength to go to the show. Del James and Beta walk us to Axl’s dressing room — I hadn’t seen Axl in a few years. I go back to Axl’s personal area and Axl gives me a hug, and the first thing out of his mouth was “How’s Natasha?” That is exactly who Axl Rose is.
Mygnrforum: Although you had long parted company with Axl when Chinese Democracy finally dropped, what did you think of the record?
Craig: Loved it. While I was on tour, and while I worked with Axl after the tour ended, I had heard so many versions of the songs that were supposed to be on the album, so it was interesting to hear what finally made it on the album.
I loved the ballad, “This I Love” for two reasons. First, it’s an awesome song, and second, I was there while Axl was writing that song in his hotel rooms during the Use Your Illusion tour. It’s really cool to hear how a song goes through different variations, and what finally ends up on an album.
Mygnrforum: How did you react to Axl being honoured at the recent Golden Gods ceremony? Of all his lifetime achievements, what would you pinpoint as being his most important moment?
Craig: He deserved it.
When I was on the road with him, one of the biggest concerts we played was the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. I remember him saying, after he walked off the stage, that he felt he had “made it.” His dream was always to play the Rose Bowl. Since then, I’m sure he’s had many more accomplishments, including the Golden Gods. I’m happy for him.
Mygnrforum: Thanks a lot for chatting with us, can you tell us what your currently working on?
Craig: First I want to say that my book, “Welcome to My Jungle” IS NOT a tell-all book. If you’re buying the book because you think I’m going to share all the dirt, save your money — you will be disappointed. Over the last twenty years, everyone I meet who knows I toured with Guns N’ Roses, always asks me to tell a story or two. Well, my book is filled with these stories — funny and interesting things that happened on the road, touring with one of the biggest bands of all time.
I am currently a speaker, author, radio host and creator of the RockStar System For Success. I teach RockStar Marketing where I help regular business people become ROCKSTARS in their industry.
Every March and September I hold large large RockStar Marketing BootCamps for between 400 – 500 entrepreneurs in Los Angeles. And just to keep with the theme of “RockStar” I always have a RockStar come as a Special Guest. Past RockStars include Duff McKagan, Gilby and Daniella Clarke, Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees, John Waite, Eddie Money, Ray Parker Jr., and Russell Hitchcock of Air Supply.
To register for the next RockStar Marketing BootCamp, September 18 – 20, 2014, please visit www.RockStarMarketingBootCamp.com
Mygnrforum: Great! Thanks again for your time, Craig!
Craig: Thank you Justin. It was a pleasure.
If you would like to order my new Guns N’ Roses book, please go to Amazon.com and order it there. The book will be released on May 13, 2014.
You can hear more about my book at www.CraigDuswalt.com
Gunsguy Edit - Special thanks to NGOG and the entire mygnrforum team for the input and help on this one!
Edited by Estranged Reality, 01 May 2014 - 10:24 PM.