Circus

Originally Published: September 1973

Why Britain Wants To Ban Alice

Author: Howard Bloom

"Alice Cooper is peddling the culture of the concentration camp," sputtered the outraged English government official.

The British have blackballed Mott The Hoople from the Albert Hall. They have forbidden David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Slade to play at Brighton's Dome Theatre. And they have ostracised John McLaughlin and The Mahavishu Orchestra from London's Crystal Palace Garden. But never in recent memory have they refused to let a rock star set foot on English soil. Never, that is, until Member of Parliament Leo Abse took pearl-handed walking stick in hand, strode to the floor of Britain's Parliamentary chamber, and suggested that the government ban forever the entry of "and American import which I am sure our parents, teachers and welfare officers can well do without." That import? Alice Cooper.

The 56-year-old Mr. Abse - representing the voters in Pontypool, England - condemned the Cooper menace in no certain terms. "Alice Cooper," blustered Abse to his fellow MP's, "is peddling the culture of the concentration camp with his macabre and bizarre pomp theatricals! He attempts to teach our children to find a destiny in hate, not love." Abse should have known. It was from his own teenage children that he had learned of Cooper's decadence. Though they had never seen a Cooper concert, the mere sight of Alice's photo an accompanying article in the Sunday papers had impelled Toby and Bathsheba Abse to urge their father to keep the blood-covered snake lover away from Britain.

Rage from the pulpit: This is by no means the first time "Establishment" officials have denounced the Coop. In August 1972, Pennsylvania evangelist Rod Gilkeson embarked on a national crusade to turn America's youth against Cooper's "perversion and violence." In Gilkeson's words, Alice was a full-fledged "ambassador of Satan." A few days later a Pittsburgh preacher leaned forward in his pulpit and vividly slammed the Billion Dollar Baby in a sermon entitled "Can The Church Compete With Alice Cooper, or Boredom as An Enemy Of Life." And that November, the president of WPRC-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio, hit Alice with the strongest form of rejection in his arsenal: he yanked the Alice Cooper segment of ABC's In Concert off the air and replaced it with a Rawhide rerun because "the act stopped being music and turned into pornography."

Uproar in the streets:While WPRC's president was censoring Alice's taped performance, and live Cooper was creating an uproar of epic proportions on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. As Alice swished and hacked through his first major tour of England, the London Evening News gasped that he'd turned a party at the Chessington Zoo into "a strip show riot." London's News Of The World gulped that Alice was leading "the weirdest rock 'n' roll band to invade Britain." And the London Sunday Telegraph winced that Alice was "like a cross between Rasputin and Bela Lugosi, or Tiny Tim after tip-toeing through deadly night-shade, or Dracula risen from the grave once too often." But the strongest reaction of all came from the head of England's "National Viewers' And Listeners Association," who stridently demanded that the single "School's Out" be banished from the BBC before it could incite a devastating wave of violence in the schools.

But no one responsible went so far as to suggest that Alice himself be banned until Mr. Abse brought the Cooper problem before the Parliament and requested that Home Secretary Robert Carr deny Alice an entry visa. Now the question is whether the government will follow Mr. Abse's suggestion and bar the Coop from further visits. Hopefully, before they reach a decision government officials will read the words of music writer Steve Peacock, who declared in a London newspaper article: "Alice Cooper's toured this country twice no, and... I haven't noticed hordes of pre-teen child murderers racing each other to the morgue for a spot of necrophiliac sado-masochism. Have you?"