Countdown - 1990


Originally Published: 1990

The Life of Brian

Crazy Brian Nelson is schlock rocker Alice Cooper's No. 1 fan and personal assistant. Barry Divola hears about how this happened and plenty of tales from the crypt!

Author: Barry Divola

Brian Nelson is crazy. It's OK, though, because he knows he is. Brian isn't just an Alice Cooper fan. He is the biggest Alice Cooper fan in the world. And that doesn't mean he weighs a lot!

When I meet him during Alice's Australian leg of the Trash tour, it's like chatting to Mr. Cooper himself. He's pale, he's thin, he wears black leather with buckles and badges dripping off it, and he's got the same 'bird's nest in a hurricane' hairstyle.

"I remember thinking thta he would be the coolest person in the world to meet, it would be even cooler to know him and it would be unbelievable to work for him. For anyone out there who wants to meet their idol, I'm afraid a big, bigpart of it is luck. When I got to meet Alice it was 10 per cent determination and persistence and 90 per cent luck."

That first meeting came about when he was standing in a foyer of a concert hall, trying to get better tickets for an Alice Cooper gig. A girl walked up to the box office and said she had to pick up a few things - she worked for Alice. Brian got to talking to her and scored a backstage pass! That first meeting lasted five seconds - long enough to say hello and get himself an autographed picture - but Brian was rapt!

Over the next couple of years he got to know Alice better and his Alice collection started to tak on gigantic proportions. he even had business cards printed with his name, address, and the title 'World's Biggest Alice Cooper Fan'! In 1980, the ultimate happened - Alice asked Brian to become his personal assistant. And 10 years later, he still had the job. Waht better man to ask about what the Trash man is like behind the scenes?

"Alice goes into a routine or a ritual when he gets to the show. The television goes on while he's psyching himself up. He has to watch particular videos, and that's my responsibility. On the last tour it was horror movies. Now, for some reason, he has to watch really bad, very poorly dubbed Japanese or Chinese Kung Fu movies. It has to be a really bad one, not a Bruce Lee one. I think he just enjoys the stupidity of the plots and the awful dubbing. They lose so much in the translation that there are some really hilarious moments. He's seen so many of them that it gets harder to find new one!"

The stories about Alice's battle with the bottle are pretty well known, and Brian was there while he was going through it and coming out of it.

"Even during that tiem he was still the greatest guy in the world," Brian insists. "If you had met him at that time, you probably wouldn't even had known that he's had a drink that day. It was part of his metabolism!"

But even Alice has admitted that there are times over that 13 years of alcoholism that he can't even recall!

"Yeah, well that's sort of one of my unofficial responsibilities, to be like a walking/talking Alice Cooper encyclopedia, so if he can't remember something fromhis past, I can fill him in."

Alice even gave Brian a new nickname - Renfield - after Dracula's assistant in the classic horror story. Renfield became Alice's shadow, aide and confidante.

If I tried to list everything that Brian has in his Alice Cooper collection at home, we could fill up a year's worth of Countdown magazines, so I asked him to tell me about his one most prized possession. The answer? The leopard skin six-inch high platform books that Alice wor on the Billion Dollar Babies tour. "Alice hates them because they're so dated and gaudy," Brian laughs, "But I think they're the coolest things he ever wore."