Edinburgh Evening News

Originally Published: July 19, 2004

Snakes alive - Alice's pet is Scottish

Rock legend Cooperís boa constrictor hails from East Lothian

Author: Duncan Forgan

He is world renowned for the use of snakes in his wild stage act.

Not so well known is the fact that the current reptile of choice for US rocker Alice Cooperís live European show is a boa constrictor named Lady Macbeth, who lives in East Lothian.

The 12-foot long snake, whose owner Murray Bain hails from Longniddry, has been part of Cooperís entourage on four European tours to date.

Travelling from venue to venue on Cooperís tour bus in a custom-built heated container, Lady Macbeth has lapped up the adoration of audiences from Berlin to Barcelona while draped across the singerís shoulders.

And she has only recently returned from yet another sojourn around the Continent, making her final appearance at the singerís last European tour date at Londonís Hammersmith Apollo on June 27. The snakeís star status as the focal point of the singerís stage act is a dream come true for Haddington-based Alice Cooper superfan Bill Crowe.

Mr Crowe, 47, was secretary of the Scottish Herpetological Society between 1986 and 1996 and kept reptiles for many years before his wife Mary banned them from the family home.

A fan of Cooper since the 1960s, Mr Crowe finally met the star in 1997 at a record signing in the London branch of Tower Records.

While at the signing, he got talking to members of the singerís management team and told them that he would be able to supply a snake for Cooper if one was ever required.

To his astonishment, the singerís personal assistant, Brian Nelson, e-mailed him the following year to ask if the offer still stood.

Mr Crowe got in touch with Mr Bain, whom he knew from the Herpetological Society, and it was agreed that he would take Lady Macbeth to London for Cooper to take a look at.

The star approved and the snakeís ascent into Rock ní Roll Valhalla was confirmed.

Mr Crowe, who runs a website devoted to the singer, has since become firm friends with his hero and was invited to join the musicianís crew on a date on the German leg of this yearís tour.

"It was absolutely amazing," he said. "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.

"I was collected from the hotel in London and taken to the band bus.

"I enjoyed air-conditioned plush leather upholstery and surround-sound DVD facilities all the way to Germany.

"When I finally got to the Sheraton hotel in Essen, I had the chance to hang out with Alice and the band. He was absolutely first class."

With Lady Macbeth now firmly ensconced as part of the Cooper team, Mr Crowe is still brimming with pride at the role he played in bringing the snake in contact with the star.

He said: "I have been an Alice Cooper maniac since I was about 14, so it would be a bit of an understatement to say that I am deeply honoured to have played even a minor part in his career.

"My passion for snakes has always run in parallel with my love of Alice Cooper and it has been absolutely mind-blowing to have been in such close proximity to Alice on so many occasions thanks to the Lady."

Known for his heavily made-up shock rock image, Cooper has been making records since the late 1960s.

Among his hits are the prototype punk anthems, School's Out and Eighteen.

However, despite his status as a rockíníroll wild man, Cooper is also a successful businessman and a keen, low-handicap golfer.