I first met Alice at the Tower Records signing in London in 97. I travelled down from Edinburgh and was first in the queue. I waited for about 6 hours in the rain for what musta been 60 seconds with Alice. Despite much rehearsing in the queue, I was far too star-struck to offer him much conversation while he signed an 11 x 14 photo, onstage at Edinburgh Playhouse in '86.
Alice said "Nice pic" and I managed to tell him where it was taken before being whisked aside for the next queue member.
Little did I know that next year was gonna be sooo much better !!
This is the story, as related to the Sickthings list, at the time....
Boy, have I got a story to tell you!!!!
It's taken a couple of days to calm down and try to focus on what has just happened to me.
It all began on April 20th when Brian mailed me to ask if I still had a
snake. Alice needed a snake for the London dates and possibly, if things worked out, Europe too.
Chances like this come once in a lifetime and I was eager to seize the opportunity.
Four weeks went by until Brian mailed me and confirmed that I should bring the snake down from Scotland for the show.
Nothing was certain until they had actually seen the animal but I knew the snake had Alice`s name all over it.
On Friday, 22nd, Brian phoned me from London at 10pm. He told me Alice and the band were rehearsing the show on Saturday from 2pm at the Astoria.
"Bring the snake down around 3pm" said Brian, and "we'll take a look"
I didn't sleep much that night!!
Mike Drew and I left at 7am Saturday, arriving London at midday.
We got settled in the hotel which was only 5 minutes from the gig and the adrenalin was really pumping as 3 o'clock got closer.
We arrived at the Astoria on the stroke of 3. Alice, Brian and the band were on the stage and the guys were running thru HOF.
Brian came over and we took the snake out of the box and draped her over his shoulders. He walked to the stage and put the snake round Alice, who seemed pleased with her.
When Brian returned, I got a thumbs up.
ALICE COOPER was going to use MY snake for HIS show!!!!!
The good Lady Macbeth
Alice wanted to know how long the set was, so he asked the guys to play thru.
"If you make a mistake, just keep going!" he said.
Mike and I sat as Alice ran thru the songs for an HOUR AND A HALF!!!
We got Lullaby, Devil's Food and Some Folks which were never actually played on the night(s).
They took a break.
Brian and Alice came over and we talked about the snake.
Alice looked good in t-shirt and jeans, smaller than you think in his flat-soled shoes.
He said the snake was great and that he was looking forward to working with her!
He was very patient and allowed us to do the photo thing. I got some epic shots although was not permitted to photograph during the rehearsal. He signed a couple of my A4 photos and Killer and Dada CD's. Brian 'signed' a pic of himself which I took at Tower last year.
I guess we had about 30 mins of Alice all to ourselves before he returned to the stage to carry on with the practice.
More songs. We stayed and soaked up the experience.
Alice then ran thru the choreography of the theatrical elements with some new guys who had not been in the show before. I was impressed by the amount of time Alice spent working on the details of the show.He knew exactly what he wanted and exactly when he wanted it.
"I want ice on BML and don't want to see it again until ...."
During this time a large balding, well-tanned gentleman was taking an active interest in proceedings. Mike thought he knew the man`s identity so, when he came to the back of the hall, I asked "Excuse me, are you Shep Gorden?"
"Sure" he replied.
Shep was great and we had pics taken with him. He signed my Dada and Killer CD's.
The guys stayed until after 7. I spoke to Alice's driver and he told me Alice was returning to his hotel at 7.30. As he left, he shook our hands and said "See you guys tomorrow"
Four-and-a-half hours of Alice in rehearsal - WHAT A BUZZ!!!!
We returned to the hotel with the snake, VERY HAPPY MEN.
It took me 28 years to get these pics and they are very highly treasured.
At 10.45pm, that night, Brian phoned me at the hotel and said to bring the snake down to the gig at 6pm on Monday. We would collect our "Working Crew" passes and leave the snake in Alice`s dressing room!
I won't review the show except to say that Monday was great but Tuesday was, as our US cousins would say, TRULY AWESOME!!!!!
I had the good fortune to be able to tell Reb as much on Tuesday as he was beside me in the crowd as we were leaving the stalls to go upstairs for the meet 'n' greet.
We saw Alice after the show both nights. I got more really cool pics.
When it was all over, we went for a drink in a little blues bar nearby to reflect on our weekend.
As we returned to the hotel, around 1.30am, we saw the StageTruck and the 2 buses pull away on their way to Germany.
The show was over, but the memories of it will last forever!!!!!!
The haul over the weekend was as follows:
Killer CD signed by Alice and Shep
DaDa CD signed by Alice and Shep
The cane from Tuesday night. (I fumbled the catch TWICE on Monday) Thanks Si!! (will be in touch soon)
2 x A4 B&w pics signed by Alice
Ticket stub signed by Alice
Large piece of Balloon
Reb Beach plectrum
6 dollar bills from the sword (without the snakeskin back)
"Working Crew" pass
"After show" pass
Set list from one of last years shows (not these ones, unfortunately)
Pic of Brian signed "Renfield!"
3 intact tickets for the shows (including the cancelled gig of which only 52 were issued)
Not bad, eh?
Plus, I only discovered last night, BOB EZRIN was at the gig on Tuesday. I didn't know at the time.
Imagine getting ALL THAT .... and missing Bob!!!!
At 11.30 pm on Tuesday night, I was standing in a room no bigger than my loo with Brian Nelson, Toby Mamis and Shep Gordon.
The snake is in Europe. I tried to tell them they should take me too! :)
She`ll be back in a couple of weeks.
It's taken me 28 years but what a story!!!
I'm a lucky man. I could die now.
Thanks to Brian, Alice, Shep, John Camp, Andy Michael, Reg at Raven Security, Toby and Steev .... and all the UK Sickies that I met.
Thanks to Mike Drew for being my Renfield for the weekend. IT'S ME!!!!
I HAD A BALL!!!!!!
Alice and Renfield at the Calloway table aftershow.
Mike Drew, Alice, Me and Ken Bloor aftershow London Astoria
Next was Manchester 2000 and the famous Burger King incident.....
Leaving Manchester, Ken Bloor, Mike Drew and myself were driving in circles trying to find the motorway to Leeds which would put us on the road north to our destination in Newcastle.
Hopelessly lost and out of ciggies and other provisions, we stopped at a motorway service station to get supplies.
The lady in the shop saw Ken's shirt and said that Alice was here. Ken agreed and told her we had seen him the night before and were on our way to see him again tonight.
'No..no!!'..she insisted. 'Alice is HERE!!!!'
She pointed out a row of large conifers behind which, completely hidden from view, was a Burger King. Alice had apparently arrived some 20 mins earlier..!!
Ken rushed back to the car just as we saw the bus reverse into view and park in the bus park, confirming the assistant's claim immediately!!
Armed with cameras and strategies, we hurriedly, legged it to the BK...
Calico and her friend were walking along the path towards us and said hi as we approached the entrance.
As soon as we entered the place, we were confronted by Alice and Brian who were just leaving. Alice was munching a bag of onion rings.
Claims of following the bus were quickly denied as we had no idea where we were...the odds against bumping into 'em musta been staggering ( but I should be getting used to that !!!)
I asked Alice for a quick pic and he obliged with this!!!!....
Friday: morning of
Realised I had left my phone charger in hotel in Manchester. Decided to go
into town to try and get a new one and pick up a copy of Mojo Collections
I also wanted to
replace the 3 Alice CD's which were lost when the young
fellows, of questionable parentage, decided to rip out my Sony CD changer
from my car and exchange it for a small bag of skag!!
May their next bowel movement be a porcupine!!
Anyway...... I set off into town having decided to take the camera. (I came
very close to leaving it as I was going back to the hotel before the show)
Got Mojo Collections with ease in the first store.....
I tried to get a new charger but each shop laughed louder than the last when I pulled out my dinosaur mobile phone from the early days of the era........
Realising the folly of my quest, I allowed a young assistant to bleed me of
a sizable purse of monies for a new WAP...which is nice!!
Sauntering around Soho (This is the good bit)
Found myself in Brewer Street which had a fruit market running its length.
As I walked down I spotted a little record shop and almost didn't go in, as
I saw a 'Reggae' sign pointing to the basement which I interpreted was a
specialist shop. But then I noticed beside that, it said 'second-hand
vinyl' and 'memorabilia'
I popped inside looking, of course, for Alice stuff....
Musta been there 5 - 10 mins without success when I was looking thru a rack of second hand CD's.
Suddenly I hear an American accent behind me saying "This guy is in the
front row of all our shows" and receive a tap on the shoulder!!!
I turn .....
I immediately extend a gloved hand......
Alice, in customary black jacket and baseball cap..hair well tucked, was
standing beside me!!!
He introduced me to his friend who he called "a collector"
I was stunned ...but thought I did a great job of holding it together....
I asked if the BP tour definately ended in Edinburgh or whether it was going back to the States or Canada. He said 'No'....Edinburgh was the last night of this version of the show. He said Dragonstown was out in September and he would be bringing it back to the UK, prolly after S.America, USA and Canada.
He told me a couple of titles but sadly I dont remember 'em (others have
been told and will prolly post elsewhere)
I asked him if he was intent on a round of golf while in Scotland but he
said it was too cold.
Not wishing to hog his time, I asked if I could get a pic outside. (ALWAYS
CARRY A CAMERA ON TOUR....EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!)
He said "Sure" so I left and went outside to wait... and gather my wits!!!
A few minutes went by.. and Alice didnt appear....so... I sidled back into
the shop...only Alice and R were there....
Alice had found a flyer from early 70's (can't recall what it was). It had a
collage of many celebs of the time and he called us over to see it...
I was standing in the shop, with Alice Cooper, looking for him in a photo.
I suggested a long-haired individual, who was prowling on a roof, might be
"No" said Alice "In those days, I was much closer to the floor"
While Alice replaced the item, he noticed an ACG flyer from ?69 ....
which I had failed to spot earlier.....
R examined it and I thought at that point that it was gone forever, since he
was a collector.
"Too rich for me" he said....
"Too rich for me, too" I thought..... but the plastic was burning a hole in
my leg.....and Alice was standing beside me......what do you do???
Throwing the plastic at the man in the shop, I asked Alice that if he was in
a hurry, we should do the pic quickly, as the transaction would prolly take a little while.
We went to the doorway of the shop and Alice stood with the flyer and I got 3 shots of the event.....
It was truly amazing!!!!.... Alice left saying "Cya tonite" and I stumbled
off down Brewer Street in the opposite direction, pinching myself to assess consciousness levels.
I had completely forgot about my credit card, still in the shop,
unsigned-for........ I am sure the guy thought I had done a runner and he
was holding a stolen card....lol
He seemed pleased to see me when I returned to pay!!!!
THE BARE BONES MINI TOUR UK
JUST WHEN U THINK LIGHTNING NEVER STRIKES TWICE...IT DID!!
One week before the tour was due to start i received an email asking if the good Lady was available for the shows. At this stage there was only a 50/50 chance she would be required.
Not wishing to be unhelpful, the Lady agreed to do the shows, if required. Its summer and she doesn't get out much.
on sunday 29th june, confirmation was received that Alice would indeed like the lady to do the uk shows.
much excitement ensued!!
On the day of the show the good lady and myself bundled off to waverley station to get the train to wolverhampton. while walking along the platform, we were accosted by an enthusiastic Virgin (train) employee!! she seemed certain that the lady's luxurious polystyrene travelling quarters would be an ill-fit within the confines of a carriage and suggested an airier repose in the guardsvan!!
most excellent i replied as she only had to share her carriage with a bicycle.
the staff tried hard to get me to reveal the cargo but i resisted well and assured them that the box was indeed secure and that nothing breakable was inside.
later, while checking my ticket, the staff expressed concern about the box, in another futile attempt to get me to reveal the contents.
we arrived in wolverhampton around lunchtime and i got settled into the hotel which was but a stumble from the station.
i went to get fed before sauntering down to the gig to find renfield and collect my pass.
having got my necessary clearances, i went back to the hotel to collect the good Lady and we returned to the gig where she hastily made her way past crowds of adoring fans, to the stage.
met pat, eric's singer and dover, and brian appeared to take the lady to her new residence on Alice's bus.
toby, alice, brian and calico were going to get fed .. and just as i found that out, alice himself appeared on stage and came down onto the main floor to discuss stuff with the tech's.
spinning on his heels, he walked over to me.
'ah..the snake man!!'
we shook hands and he said he was looking forward to using lady macbeth again. I was able to quell the rumours of a new song during this tour, as Alice confirmed it would be october before the new album is heard live.
he also advised me that the snake was not going to be on 'be my lover' as i expected. she was to open the second half of the show during 'nightmare'
soon he was gone and i returned to the front of the venue.
all-access is a weird concept ... u always feel like you shouldn't be there!!!
and, of course, under normal circumstances...i shouldn't!!
the show was great. dodgy sound, but i elected to be on front barrier for wolves, as i like to see a new show before i get the camera out and there really is no other place to be at an Alice show!!.
as usual, i couldn't resist and took the point 'n' press!!
Lady macbeth appeared, and she was a star!!!
she had a good grip of Alice and was very animated during her brief appearance.
no aftershow this time so i returned to the hotel, grinning like an idiot, no doubt!!
brian kept her on the bus until after guilfest. as she was not required for saturday's belgium gig.
i collected her from the bus on friday night and she/we stayed with brian and lisa harrington over the weekend.
major photo shoot with the lady in their garden on saturday morning.
on sunday morning, july 6th, we packed everything into jolly jon's sturdy wheels and departed for liverpool ... the last show!!
after welcome ablutions at the hotel, i headed down to the venue in a cab.
Arriving at the gate, the security were thrilled to receive a 12' boa into the compound. (i swear if i had a dozen, they would all be sold...lol)
another handling session with security
backstage at liverpool was a highpoint of the weekend. hospitality was great and the band and crew were milling about going about their business. Alice wasn't there tho. i believe he spent most of that time on the bus.
the liverpool show was stunning!!!
after dodgy sound in wolves.... and sets cut short in london... liverpool stood out as a cracking show!!!
sound was crystal. alice was on good form. guitars worked and worked well!!
Bare Bones it might be, but there is more meat on this show than you expect.
Liverpool was a tour-de-force by alice and the band!!
after the gig we returned backstage while the band freshened up. then it was time to go and collect the lady and meet Alice!!!! ....... again!!!
i was first of a small group who went into the dressing room
'hi bill' said Alice
i swear you could have knocked me over with the proverbial plummage!!!
alice called me by name!!!!!!
that made the day!!!
i got stuff signed and we did the photo thing.
Alice said the snake was great and thanked me for bringing her.
Louise gave me a lift back to the hotel.... and the tour was over
I had a ball .... again!!!!
many thanks are due to Brian nelson, Alice Cooper, pat Novak, Gary, and all the Alice guys .
more thanks are due to Brian and Lisa Harrington for accomodating me soooo well at their house.
mr jon lansley for the lift to Liverpool and all matters ovine.
louise strommel for driving me back to the hotel.
mike drew for the lift back to edinburgh
andy michael for backstage guidance
Glad of the help...thanks a lot!!!
The next story gets a page to itself. Go here to see the pics. Here is the text from the page as it belongs here too...and its a good story!!!
Essen Grugahalle, Germany
Its only Rock 'n' Roll but I loved it to death!!! ........
I had always thought that I had had my best Alice story, (and I have had a couple), as described on the Meeting Alice page .... but in fact, that was bollocks!
I was about to have an even better one!!
I was invited over to Essen, with the snake, to meet up with the band on their return from Greece, stay for the show, and fly home the day after. The good Lady will do all the European dates and I will get her back in London at the end of the tour.
It wasn't a problem if I couldn't make it but who am I to question Mr Mamis' judgement!!
I was definately up for the adventure!!!
Grugahalle .. here I come... !!!
I left Edinburgh at noon on June 8th 2004 for Clevedon where the band and crew buses were to leave the following day for Essen. I was to be dropped off at the hotel and the band bus would go on to pick up the band from Dusseldorf at 10.30 on the Thursday night.
Star-line put me up at the very pleasant Walton Park Hotel in Clevedon where I got the chance to spend a pleasant evening in the bar explaining the Lady's celebrity status to the locals.
Next day, at 3pm, I was collected from the hotel and taken to the band bus which had had new tyres fitted and was waiting at the motorway services.
Rob introduced me to Brian and Jane ( Mr n Mrs Zippy hereafter) and we were ready to roll. Star-line personnel had been winding Zippy up that he was looking after a snake all the way to Germany!!! An idea he didn't relish and he seemed happy to learn that she was being escorted!!
The Star-line fleet are state-of-the-art. I enjoyed air-conditioned plush leather upholstery and surround-sound dvd facilities all the way to Germany!!
The fridge was full and Zippy even had my bacon and eggs in there for brekky!!!
After enjoying dinner in the drivers restaurant on the Dover-Calais ferry, I settled down in the top lounge and watched Gladiator and Vanilla Sky while we drove through Antwerp and onto Essen.
The coffins (beds) on the new buses are very comfy and have drop-down LCD screens, headphones, a/c and lights. I settled down for a snooze around 2am as Zippy continued on the drive.
I half awoke around 5am while the bus was parking up at the Grugahalle and snoozed again til 8.30am whereupon facilities were required with some urgency!!
We found the woeful convenience inside the park behind the hall and after returning Zippy got up and started preparing the breakfast. Not £9.72 this time!!! .. lol
...and delicious it was too!!!!!
I checked into the Sheraton around 1pm and attended to the vital ablutions. It was warm and muggy all the way to Essen!!
Once freshened up and snake settled in, I went for a wander around the hotel and down into town. The main shopping was a goodly 20 min walk behind the station but I took note and returned to the hotel, dodging the rain as I went.
The band weren't arriving at the hotel until 11pm so I had time for a wee kip and then went down for dinner!
During my meal I was asked by the Service Manager if the band would require dinner on their arrival.
I had no idea!!!
Not wishing to deprive Alice of essential vitals tho, we agreed to keep one chef on til midnight...just in case!!!
Just after 11, the band bus pulled up outside the hotel. A bizarre traffic management arrangement which prevents it getting anywhere near the entrance!!
I was sitting in the lobby and watched as everybody piled in and porters ferried bags into the lift.
After getting settled Brian came down for a blether and I chatted to Eric and Toby. My flight home had been arranged and the details would be under my door in the morning.
I went to bed and tried to sleep .. but it was warm...and I was way tooo excited to get much shuteye.
Next morning I went down for breakfast just before 9am. The restaurant was quiet so I just had my bacon and eggs and on leaving, in an annexe to the dining area, sat Alice and Toby. Alice waved and I said good morning. And so...the day began!!
I was to phone Renfield around 1pm so I left for a wee wander round Essen. Essential gifts were to be purchased for Mary and I needed a bigger card for the digi camera.
Alice, Dash and Calico left the hotel before me for the obligatory shopping trip. Calico knew there was a Wallmart in town and they were to get stuff for the show.
The band were being picked up for a soundcheck at 4pm and the snake was to be on the bus at that time. Alice was doing radio interviews at 4pm from his suite and was going to the gig around 7.15pm. Toby was arranging a car to take me down around 7.30.
All was set until Brian suggested afterwards that 2 cars seemed unnecessary and he asked if I would like to go to the gig with himself and Alice in their car!!!!!!!
My blood pressure had been coping well up until then!!!
I courteously accepted the lift if it was absolutely unavoidable!!!...lol
Sadly tho.... young Mr Cooper had been in town overlong attending the hairdressers ... and missed his lift to the rehearsal at 4pm!!
Brian phoned me to tell me that due to this overstay, he would be travelling with them.
My hopes had been Dashielled!!!!
Hey!! I was doing ok!!
I got a cab down to the show about 7.30 and went to see Brian and Jane at the bus. Eric (crew bus driver) was there too. He was also doing 'spots' that show. When the rain came on (again) I took the tradesman's entrance and made my way down to the merchandise stall to purchase a few bawbles!!
Was accosted by 2 enthusiastic Ukranian fans who were determined to bleed me of Alice's hotel details in a futile attempt to justify their 5000 km journey. Somewhat fuelled by a hipflask o brandy, they persisted an onslaught of 'best' english to achieve their goal.
A father and son team, the younger member was later seen to be ejected from the barrier for attempting to rush the stage!!
Nice to meet Jutta before the show too.
Toby had granted me full-show photo access so I made my way into the pit as the stage was prepared for Alice.
Was nice to see Jill Kogliatis from the Sickbus in the front row!! Also saw Cindi from Holland and Seb and Tom on their Polish fans assault of Europe.
I was kinda disappointed with my photo efforts in Dublin but........then there was Essen!!!!!!
After the show, I was lucky enough to talk to Alice for a while backstage. I was invited back with 2 ?German girls who talked about his radio show. I said many UK fans were saddened they couldn't hear it over here and he said moves were underway to get it on satellite in the near future. I also asked him about Sheryl's dance school anniversary thing, which he helped write and which includes 3 Alice songs. It hasn't been filmed yet but may be available later in the year. I also asked him how Dash was enjoying being in the show. He was having fun but was leaving Germany the day after the Essen show to go climb a glacier in Canada this week!
He was picked from a shortlist of 20 for a group of 10 to go from his Church. Calico has also done the trip in her earlier years. Its not for the faint-hearted and he was anticipating the challenge.
Toby had permitted me a lift back to the hotel in the bus!! After collecting the Lady in her new box I climbed onto the bottom deck. I sat with Calico beside me, then Tom, then Alice. Brian stood in the doorway (tho I did offer him a pew). Eric and Toby were sat opposite me. Ryan, Dash and Chuck were upstairs.
I resisted the glaring photo opportunity but will have THAT picture in my head for a looooooong while!!!!!
We enjoyed a tirade of abuse from Ginger (wildhearts) 'read' by, and directed at Mr Nelson. The conversation also involved altering the band intro's to include Satan's Piss ala ' from the smouldering realms of putrid death, dripping in Satan's Piss.....Tommy Clufetos!!!'
I 'think' Alice was.. joking!!
Back at the hotel , I settled the Lady down for the night and returned to the bar for a light libation.
Chuck, Tom and Calico were already there and were happy to let me join 'em as I showed off a few snaps from Dublin. Sigs secured we chatted a bit. I assured Tom that his place as tub-thumper extraordinaire was much appreciated by the UK fans who saw him in Ireland.
If you haven't seen the show yet, Tommy is a treat to behold on the double Sonor kit. A truly astonishing drummer and only 25!!!! Very Cool guy.
check out www.tommyclufetos.com and "HIT EM HARD"
Also ask Chuck for a 'The Druts' CD when you see him. Find out about that here.
The guys retired to bed and I got to speak to Calico for a goodly 45 mins before she went to bed. She spoke of her mum's dance school, fears of getting kidnapped and held to ransom, her black Volkswagon beetle and her job between tours. She also told me a story of Alice and Kane (Roberts) in a mall during a holdup!!
Kane asked Alice "Whadda we do?!?!?''
"Run" came the reply. So they took off like hares ....... under a hail of bullets!!!!
She is a sweet girl. I assured her we were watching her back!!
I wished her goodnight and chatted with the barstaff before retiring to bed myself.
Had been a great day!!
Next day, Saturday, I awoke heavy of heart (well not THAT heavy). I had to go home today. Deep sorrow.
Saw all the band as they appeared for the bus and got the obligatory me and thems.
Thanks to Biggi and Bea for taking the shots.
Pickup was originally scheduled for midday but this was put back to 12.30 to allow Alice time to take Dash to Dusseldorf airport for his return trip to the States.
On the way back he was popping into Wallmart for a picnic table for the ensuing card game. ( The bus didn't have tables)
Around 12.45 Alice returned, picnic table under arm and they were ready to leave for Holland.
Alice kindly signed a few more photos for me in the seconds before departure....
'Get off the bus, Bill' said Mr. Nelson
'But the ink isn't dry'
'Get off the bus, Bill'
'But it's raining'
'Get off the bus, Bill'
'But ... Ok Brian'
I rushed back to the hotel thru the torrential downpour, clutching my spoils.
I watched the bus disappear into the distance and walked back into the hotel with a grin the felines of Cheshire can only aspire to!!!!
Later that day I was flown home via Amsterdam and arrived back in Edinburgh at 8.45pm.
I hope to see 'em all again at Hammersmith on June 27th 2004 when the Lady will end her tour of Europe.
Good story eh???