TIME MACHINE TUESDAY NUMBER 2

The second of what will hopefully be many memories from a life of both rock and roll, not to mention radio, television, drinking, and debauchery. Shall we begin?

Me and Alice

Today, February 4th, happens to be the birthday of a Legendary rock Superstar whose path has crossed mine several times over the years. We have known each other since the late ’60s, when I, and all of Hollywood California, first espied this groundbreaking artist, whose singular presence once cleared a packed club in L.A. of its entire audience within 10 minutes of walking onstage.

Frank Zappa signed them to Straight Records on that ability alone …and Shep Gordon signed on as the manager for the same reason.

This …they thought …is something special.

The first time I heard the band on the radio, we were driving on a highway in the middle of nowhere to a gig. I had never hear anything like it, and it remains my favourite Alice Cooper recording to date. Here was a guy speaking for an entire generation …putting into words what everyone was thinking. It was, and is, a game changing anthem released at exactly the right time. …even though most of the public didn’t get it the first time it was released.

A couple of years later, I had relocated to Montreal Canada, and The Wackers were conscripted to do service in the name of Rock and Roll.

When Alice was gearing up for tours of the United States, he would do 3 or 4 ‘warm up’ dates in Canada to work out the kinks and get a running start when the main tour began.

The Wackers were called upon to be the opening act for these ‘Mini-Tours’ 2 or 3 times, and they were always too much fun. They also generated one of my all-time favourite road stories.

…but let me paint the picture first ….

Some of the dates were in out-of-the-way small towns and performed in local hockey arenas that usually existed for the local high school games, or regional hockey leagues where dads could beat up referees and each other, and kids could learn to get ready for an NHL career by donating their front teeth to a youthful slapshot designed to kill whether it went in the net or not.

It was in one of these blink-and-you’ll-miss-it  small, roadside towns, that the entire circus spent the night in the only accommodations within 50 miles of the hockey arena.  A run down, past its best before date Holiday Inn that motorists could see from the highway. We arrived shortly after the show. The crew, semi trucks laden with stage gear, lights, and sets, followed an hour or two later, and the parties would run all night. fueled by Alice’s fully stocked Budweiser truck.

Seriously …

A whole Budweiser delivery truck.

Full of Budweiser beer.

I was impressed. …and grateful. Grateful because drugs (remember this was in the early ’70s when drugs were cool and fun and made touring bearable) were scarce in the hunter-lands, and most  LCBOs in rural areas had yet to hear of Bourbon, Jack Daniels, or Vodka that didn’t double as a rust and varnish remover.

So thanks to Alice, Shep, and maybe a lucrative sponsorship, there was always beer.

Coop, even then, would always be treated like royalty (renting an entire floor of a hotel or motel next to a grain silo or rendering plant was always looked upon with fondness by the owners) and more than once the entire Sideshow would party after shows in the local Holiday Inn’s Penthouse suite …which always reminded me of a ’50s Rec Room, covered in faux wooden paneling that gave the whole suite the cachet of Middle Class excess and poor taste …The basement/den of a successful Insurance Adjuster during the Eisenhower Era. So it was with elation we found we would be doing a date on the latest tour in London, Ontario, a fine Ontario city and a step up from some of the dates we had previously been on.

Swingin’ London Ontario 1972

So …the story.

By this tour we had learned to stock up on ‘Road Medicine’ before leaving Montreal to hit the road. And like Boy Scouts, we were anxious to “Be Prepared” for the road ahead.

Let’s see ….

Good Afghani Hash, some stellar weed, couple of grams of Peruvian Marching Powder, a bottle of Industrial strength time-release Dexamyl, several cases of Brador, and a BIG bottle of Rorer 714 Qualuudes, for which I had had an open end prescription, but were now illegal.

Not being strangers to touring, the Dexamyl was kept in a Pill Bottle for Contac, a time-release cold remedy that looked pretty much the same as the Dexamyl, and the ‘Luudes’ were in an Excedrin bottle.

We check in to a nice downtown hotel, check out the tube, and head downstairs for a drink or two and over to the arena.

…and then a detail we had forgotten.

It’s Sunday.

The bars are closed.  But that is not the worst of it.

Clever lads, we drag a case of Brador to the gig with us, find our dressing room, get ready, have a pre-game beer (Kootch and Ernie partaking in their traditional Rhythm Section ritual of a sweet slow haul of good Afghani hash from one of Ernie’s teak and brass hash pipes), and 3 minutes later find ourselves onstage pumping out the Wacker playlist and rocking London’s Hockey arena with some Bonafide Rock and Roll.

Applause, the lights go down, the crowd starts chanting “Alice”, and we make our way through the backstage area, down the hall, and open the door to our dressing room. Hmmm …I don’t remember leaving any policemen in here …I wonder who they belong to.

I look at the hand written sign on our dressing room door.

‘The Whackers’. Close enough, but  …cops?

We learned something we didn’t know up until this moment – In London, on Sundays, in the Dark Ages of the First Half of the Seventh Decade of the Twentieth Century, it is ILLEGAL to have alcohol in ANY public place without a permit.

They don’t tell us this right away.

They tell us when Ernie opens a beer.

They search Ernie. Oh Look …a pipe.

They start arresting Ernie.

The door opens and in walks Shep Gordon, who tells us to step into the hall while he speaks to the constables.

We step. The door closes behind us.

Apparently looking like a flight risk, we were accompanied into the hall by a matching pair of officers, one of whom, pencil and notebook in hand, jots down our names, etc, and then dispatches his partner to our hotel to search the rooms.

Gulp.

A few more minutes and the “Whackers” dressing room door opens again, and Shep calmly exits the room and walked leisurely toward Alice’s dressing room. A few minutes later, and the remaining policemen filed out and disappeared down the hall. They didn’t even look at us.

We go back in.

The case of beer is sitting on the bench where we left it. Nothing looks like it has been disturbed, and we realize Ernie  doesn’t appear to have an escort downtown.

WTF?

I bolt down the hall and catch up with Shep.

“What happened in there?”,  I asked.

“Just making sure our opening act van make the rest of the dates”, he explained, and headed off to herd Alice to the stage.

When I got back to the dressing room, everybody again looked very anxious.

“Now what?”

“We’re not out of trouble yet”, and I realized what they meant.

The police had gone to the Hotel to search our rooms.

We had nothing to fear, and later we found out what happened in the dressing room, and the rest of it was sheer luck.

It was obvious they had gone through our stuff, but whoever went through my room had probably never seen Ludes or Dexamyl before, and just assumed they were what they looked like; cold medicine and headache tablets.

As far as the weed and hash were concerned, most of it was in Ernie’s drum cases and some in Kootch’s bass case. All of it backstage at the arena and overlooked by the police.

As far as the dressing room scare?

Shep eventually told us what happened.

He started to  chat to the police with tremendous respect, and praised the work they do, especially at rock concerts where so many things can go wrong. While he is doing this he is casually walking around the room dropping US 100 dollar bills from his wallet onto the floor.  He finishes talking, explaining that he hopes something can be worked out so Canadian fans can see Alice’s  only Canadian shows, and how awful it would be for us and after all, we didn’t KNOW we couldn’t have beer in the dressing room because we’re from the States and don’t understand the civility of Canada yet.

“So …what did they say?, I asked.

“They didn’t say anything. I just finished explaining the situation and left.

“But…”

“Were there any 100 dollar bills on the floor when you went back into the dressing room?”

…and THAT”S when I learned about the need for great management and professional touring.

Thank you, Shep.

…and thank you, Alice.

My Granddaughter LOVES Alice

…and here’s a song that was written by April Wine founder and great guitarist/writer that Alice Cooper should record. This is the demo. Never been released.

Give my love to famous Toby Mamis.

=0=

The Tuesday Time Machine is a new feature of DBAWIS and will run on Tuesdays for as long as I can remember where and when I parked the WayBack Machine.

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

One Response to “TIME MACHINE TUESDAY NUMBER 2”

  1. Those are the good stories !!

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