New Musical Express

Originally Published: March 31, 1973

Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies on the road

Author: Linda Solomon

The Alice Cooper Show - America 1973 Philadelphia Itinerary - reads thisaway:

"You are residing at the Penn Centre Inn, 20th and Market Philadelphia, Penn, If you lose this - You're LOST!! Now that we've got you captive for several hours of Philadelphia frolicking, into every great party some rules and regulations must fall.

First of all, the schedule for all the madness goes like this: FRIDAY, March 9: Comfortable dress for the entire evening is preferred, as time does not allow for changes. 5.30 p.m. cocktails - North and South Gallery located in hotel 6 p.m. dinner Alice Cooper. (Item: Alice wasn't present at dinner).

7.00 p.m. Board buses to Spectrum Auditorium. 8.00 p.m. The Amazing PHLO AND EDDIE go on. 9.00 p.m. Intermission. 9.30 p.m. Introduction of ALICE COOPER by Kal Rudman (of Kal Rudman's "Friday Morning Quarterback" tipsheet).


Board buses for party to S.S. Showboat after show. 2.00 a.m. Buses begin shuttle to Penn Center Inn.

SATURDAY, March 10: 9.30 a.m. Wake-up call (with apologies and hangovers). 10.30 a.m. Brunch-North and South Gallery. 11.30 a.m. Press conference with Alice Cooper, a must - North and South Gallery. (Item: Yes, Alice was there, wide awake, drinking a Bud, bright eyed and bushy tailed and verbal, too).

Noon: Board buses to 30th Street, Amtrak station. 12.45 p.m. Metroliner to New York, 2.00 p.m. Arrive Penn Station N.YC. Note: Please have your baggage packed before coming to brunch so we can leave promptly for the train after press conference. Check-out is handled by Warner Bros.

A few more theatening words? Alice Cooper Press Office and Hotel requires that all room service or non-Cooper functions are to be paid in cash (i.e. drinks, cigs, haircuts, manicures). Calls from rooms must be made collect. (Please comply to avoid billing).

Neither Alice Cooper, Alive Enterprises, Warner Bros. Record or Ren Grevatt Associates can assume liability for any property lost or stolen on this trip.

Please keep in mind that all functions and rooms are booked under the name of Alice Cooper, and we are responsible for any and all of your mischief Alice Cooper, Warner Bros. Record, Alive Enterprises and Ren Grevatt Associates wish you a bon voyage!"


All right, campers, we're off to the hinterlands! The adventures actually began around noon in an Italian family-style bar and restaurant in the West (Greenwich) Village, where 56 writers, photographers, and assorted Cooperites gathered to cop some breakfast/lunch or drink brunch before being herded into a hired bus bound for La Guardia Airport

There we boarded Alice's very own Rentaplane (which featured a giant red dollar sign on its tail and the legend "ALICE COOPER" on both sides of the belly).

An announcement and welcome number from the captain and the hostesses announced there'd be no smoking of ANYTHING until we got airborne.

Said hostesses were in jeans and beautiful black ALICE COOPER long-sleeved tee-shirts, and those seemingly impossible to navigate in ugly-cum-trendy playform shoes that weigh about a pound each (and cost a lot more).

It didn't take long for the hostesses to start pouring champagne into the plastic glasses, and they kept it coming. (Good stuff, too!) Meanwhile our captain attempted to liven up the trip by providing a horrendous dip - straight down. Personally, I could have done without that particular non-funny event.

One guy on the plane had never flown before, and swears he'll never do it again - drunk or sober. Even PR man Ashley Pandel paled a bit during that dive.

On our seats for visual consumption was the "Billion Dollar Babies" Press Kit, which included one button "which will assure your entry to the party," and one Press Back Stage Pass for the show on the 9th.

"Please do not loose these as they are your only guarantee to these two event," said Ashley's note. Also in the packet - an A.C. tee shirt, as worn by our hostesses - featuring an enormous white dollar sign ending in a snake's head, with "The Alice Cooper Show - America '73" on the back, and a golden circular "Billion Dollar Babies" symbol on the front.

An Alice Cooper Magazine, the spittin' image of the theatrical world's "Playbill", was also included, with "The Mystique Of Alice Cooper" story inside, along with pictures of the group, mention of various awards, and a rundown on the new album.

Landing at the Philly, we were once again bussed, this time to the Penn Central Inn, where everyone lined up (like campers) at the register for our room keys. In the rooms, lo and behold, was the forementioned itinerary, plus an enormous basket of fruit, all gift wrapped.

Everyone also got a bouquet of dyed carnations.

(Item: The whole weekend bash cost Alice Cooper Promotions some £25,000, but you can rest assured that they'll get it back in publicity, reviews and word-of-mouth. Out of the mouths of babes...)

After barely time to catch breath, it was the pre-dinner cocktail bash, where the band of strolling violinists drifted about - presumably for our amusement, since I didn't exactly dig the music. Local colour. I suppose.

Bus again, from the hotel to the Spectrum - which is the kind of place where circuses and ice shows feel at home. 17,000 people can sit comfortably there, and two thousand mare can be squeezed into the area nearest the stage, sitting on the floor.

Capacity is about 20,000, and Alice certainly got a capacity audience. We're supposed to be fortunate in having the Press Box area for ourselves, as that is where the sports writers sit when they do their stuff from the Spectrum.

Unfortunately, there were too many of us, and a few had a clear view of the stage.

But vibes from the audience came through loud and clear, and they sure were enjoying it and the sound wasn't bad.

Alice and the band were dressed in white from head to toe. They opened with "Hello, Hurray" and the audience were ecstatic.

You can just sum it up by saying the programme is as spectacular as you'd expect.

Like Alice does this dance with a giant tooth, and uses a high speed drill with the sound magnified many times. He's enough to scare you out of your wits and away from dentists for time immemorial. I guess you could call it effective.

Opening the bill were Phlo and Eddie (formely the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie) comprising of course or Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan, Jim Pons, Aynsley Dunbar, and Garry Rowles and John Herrop.

Phlo and Eddie are zanies, but they sure can rock and roll. They were an excellent opening act for Alice, turning on the audience to freaked out receptiveness.

Among other goodies, they performed "Afterglow," their current single.

After the show... you've guessed it... back to the buses and off to the S.S. Showboat, a river ferry rented for the occasion. There were a lot of people on board - so many that the ferry never did leave its mooring. The safety inspectors wouldn't allow it. I guess they didn't want another Titantic.

Anyhow, the people on board were soon floating anyway, on booze.

All in all, if our weekend taste was any indication, the 1973 Alice Cooper America "Billion Dollar Babies" tour ought to rack up a billion dollars worth of new fans for Alice and Phlo and Eddie.

Alice ought to come away from all this a very wealthy rocker. "The more people get sick out there, the sicker the act will be," commented Alice the next day at his press conference.

Sure his act is "sick", but this is one of those times when you catch yourself laughing at sickness because of its very humanness. There is a method to his madness, and it does pay off.