We recently put "Five Questions" to Vicky Hamilton, author of the book Appetite For Dysfunction: A Cautionary Tale. The book explores Hamilton's career in the music busines— where she signed Guns 'N Roses — becoming Hollywood’s most controversial A&R woman and band manager. She would later win a Grammy Award for producing the June Carter Cash album Press On>. Hamilton now concentrates on her blog, The Aesthetic V Blog, a forum of interviews with creative people, and her website, www.vickyhamilton.com, where you can purchase an autographed copy of her memoir!
Your story starts as the “typical” small town kid who moves to Hollywood and ends with you at the top of several labels and ultimately producing a Grammy Award-winning record. Was that the plan when you left home?
When I moved to LA from Fort Wayne Indiana, my plan was to become the greatest female manager in the world. I think, from my standpoint, I achieved that goal. Once I was living in LA, the goal post moved and I wanted to do A&R at a record label. Starting my own label and having a Grammy win was never in my plan, it was just something that happened because I couldn’t find anyone to joint-venture the June Carter-Cash record with me. So I said screw it, I’ll start my own label! I have always had a DIY attitude if I didn’t like the answers that were mirroring back at me.
Initially you were involved in the “hair metal” LA scene, working with Motley Crue, Stryper, Poison and, of course, Guns 'N Roses, whom you signed. Did you find GnR a cut above even then?
I always loved the band I was working in the moment. Guns 'N Roses did appear a little more dangerous than the others, and perhaps a little more appealing to me. I had no idea that they would be as popular and iconic as they have become. I just knew I loved it and wanted the world to hear them.
GnR is made up of a bunch of giant personalities. Can you describe each member in a word or two?
Axl: Emotional, and creative
Slash: Logical, driven, gifted and easy-going
Duff: Smart, sober and healthy
Izzy: Cynical, talented
Steven: Happy-go-lucky, optimistic
June Carter Cash is a long way from the Sunset Strip. What was it about her or her record Press On> – which you produced and which won a Grammy – that made you start your own label and initiate some personal change?
Hard to explain, but the best as I can say is that I wanted what she had…faith, love and the ability to know that things will work out as they should. June and Johnny Cash were soul mates. It was very clear to me and I had never witnessed that kind of love before. Also, I knew the party was over, that it was time to become responsible.
Who are you listening to now?
There are a lot of great acts out there right now.
I’d have to say my favorite artist right now is Alex Turner. I love The Last Shadow Puppets, Arctic Monkeys and his solo stuff. He is just a brilliant writer, singer, musician and producer.
I really love Butch Walker, Lana Del Rey, Imogen Heap.
Then of course there is my all-time favorite, David Bowie. So sad that he is gone.
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