Circus

Circus - February 1973 (USA)

Circus
(February 1973)

Originally Published: February 1973

Hurricane Alice Takes Europe By Storm

Author: Barbara Graustark

In a matter of moments, Alice's grin of excitement turned to open-mouthed terror as three thousand of Glasgow's screaming meanies gave the band its wildest reception ever.

"Alice, Alice, Alice," screamed three hundred frenzied fans as the red, white and blue fifty-two seater plane gliding to a landing at Glasgow, Scotland's Prestwick Airport. But when the group triumphantly stepped down the ramp, their expressions of delight turned to open-mouthed horror as mobbing supporters broke through police barricades and caused such a disarray that Alice and the band were forced to flee to waiting limousines, leaving their baggage behind. Hurricane Alice, as the Glasgow press soon dubbed the tangle-haired superstar, was whisked off to the safety of the Central Hotel for the awesome beginning of Alice's most tumultuous European tour ever, a tour that opened with the most frightening twenty-four hours in the history of Cooper madness, soon produced a maniacal superstar recording session destined to make the sessions for The Who's new Tommy look like a dull summit meeting for stuffed-shirt octogenarians, and reached its peak with a Paris bash that made Jagger's New York birthday party look like a shoe salemans convention at a second-rate resort.

Beginning the reign of terror: The first tremors of the Glasgow scare were felt back in New York two days before the band was slated to appear at Glasgow's Green's Playhouse. Already notorious for their frequent outbursts during soccer matches, the young people of Glasgow had erupted in a bloody battle royale, at a hotly-contested soccer exhibition game, and thee front page of the London Times showed a young girl being carried out of the Glasgow Stadium with a knife stuck in her head. It was no wonder that members of the Cooper team were literally quaking in anticipation of their own concert and hastily cancelling plans to have Alice go onstage carrying two scarves from the opposing soccer teams.

At first, their worst fears seemed confirmed: surrounded by hundreds of agitated devotees, the boys were held virtual prisoners in their hotel. And forty personal bodyguards had been added to the swelling entourage by the time the boys reached the Playhouse to kick off their first European gig.

The three thousand fanatical admirers inside greeted Alice's arrival with the biggest exhibit of pop frenzy ever to hit Scotland. Before Alice had even reached the stage, hundreds of eager girls had broken through the police lines, collapsing three rows of seats under the crush. As the act unfolded with a flood of bubbles gushing around the musicians, Alice slunk into the spotlight, resplendent in bone-crushing tight gold lame pants and a black leather top. Strutting and primping, his eyes smeared with black goo makeup, he primed his band into one of their most historic concerts.

Getting off on the violence: With the grace of a grotesque ballerina, Alice sidled through his staple motions. His pet boa, Yvonne, curled sensuously around the singer's torso and slithered between his legs with a primitive, yet graceful, savage beauty. Hysteria mounted in the crowd as Alice slashed his sword inches from his own throat, the goaded the band into their West Side Story stage fight. When the din died, drummer Neal Smith reigned triumphant; the rest of the band lay mangled and spread-eagled on the floor. Suddenly, Alice was up again, stalking Neal with a broken bottle. He lunged, then stabbed the drummer between the shoulder blades. "Hang him," screamed the audience, thirsting for blood. As Alice was bound and dragged to the awaiting gallows, scuffles broke out in the audience, and for one moment it appeared that Alice had lost control of his crowd. Quickly, several youths were dragged away by Scottish officers, and the show resumed as the drummer tolled a solemn beat while Alice was fitted with a noose. The frenzied crowd erupted into a mass roar as their hero dangled lifeless from the noose. Suddenly, smoke poured out from the gallows obscuring the stage, police, and entire front section of the hall billowing clouds. When it finally cleared - presto, out strode Alice in top hat, cane, and long white tails in the garb of a Presidental candidate, throwing chewed up posters into the seething crowd... and strains of "Elected" filled the hall. But the time Alice reappeared for the School's Out finale, the fans were dancing wildly in the aisles.

When the dust cleared, the only casualties were the dozens of unconscious girls sagging in the rest rooms and several unfortunates who were treated for bruised ribs and shock at the Royal Infirmary. But there was little doubt in the minds of many spectators that Alice had held his gloved hand on the violent pulse of Glasgow that night. Backstage after the show, Alice calmly fed a dead rat to Yvonne, and denied that his violent act encouraged fans to follow in his footsteps. "It doesn't get me off watching someone else get violent, so why should it affect the kids?" he shrugged. In fact, the fans staggered out of the hall drained by Alice's cathartic spell and returned placidly to their homes, quelling any predictions of a riot.

Historic recording session: But the group's managers breathed a deep sigh of relief when the boys boarded their place for a brief rest stop in London. Little did they suspect that this short breather would prove equally freneric. On the surface, a Warner Brothers press party held for Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie), who were touring with Alice, seemed a calm oasis after their London tempest. Alice and the band mingled with the likes of Donovan, Harry Nilsson and Marc Bolan, then invited the superstars down to Morgan Sound Studios where Alice was about to lay down tracks for his new LP. When the superstar ensemble R.S.V.P.'ed in person eighteen hours later, the results were totally chaotic. Nilsson, Donovan and Bolan brought with them Keith Moon and Ric Gretch; and the results of that session yielded almost a dozen new Cooper tunes. "Billion Dollar Babies," presented Alice and Donovan in a duet; "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Raped and Freezing," "Hope I Die In My Slick Black Limousine," "I Love The Dead," "Sick Things," and "Unfinished Sweet," were but a few of the more picturesque titles. The highlights of that session came when a dog shat on the studio floor precisely as the boys wound up "Sick Things" and Keith Moon was dragged to his car, the victim of a cognac overdose (Alice stuck with his usual beer).

Tout Paris: If their London and Glasgow receptions had dazzled the group, their riotous, revelous welcome to gay Paris raised the feverish pitch to a climax. They sold out one show and fans threatened to riot until another was added. The scene was the famed Olympia Theater, France's most respected, most prestigious hall. Over twelve thousand fans viewed the two concerts with all the fevor of their Glasgow neighbors to the north; but the footnote of that blast came after the show was over, at a reception thrown by Alice's good friend Omar Sharif. New Jimmies, Paris' leading discotheque was the scene of the celebrated "Tout Paris," and truly all of Paris society was out to welcome Alice to their shores. Dukes and Duchesses mingled over champagne glasses with the continent's most glittery, sparkling superstars. Princesses kicked off their shoes and danced to loud, pulsing rock beat emanating from the live band.

As Alice waved good-bye to gay Paris and winged off for more concerts in Rotterdamn, Amsterdam, Germany, Copenhagen, Switzerland, and a final week's rest in London before returning home to the States to prepare for a week on Broadway in February, there was no longer any doubt in any one's mind... Alice was causing more excitement in Europe than any American group in musical history.