“Hey-Hey!”

alice_cooper_13med
CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

HEY-HEY!

Concerts at Sherwood Forest were becoming ever more infrequent. Band prices were starting to soar and major booking agencies were grabbing up the bigger acts and demanding much higher guarantees and percentages.
Without exception, all of the Michigan-based attractions still worked with me on a fifty/fifty basis when they were available. Bob Seger was now playing regularly throughout all of the Midwest and, for some odd reason, had developed a strong following in Florida and Texas. Ted Nugent was appearing throughout the entire country. Alice Cooper and Frijid Pink were international. I was grabbing occasional dates on new national talent by spotting them early and booking them far in advance before the rest of the world caught on. Other than that, Rock ‘n Roll had become quite corporate.

In the early ’70’s, almost every city had one or two promoters who would bring in major headliners and use area talent to open each show. The exposure and identification afforded the opening acts by this procedure made it possible to use the same local groups to draw five or six hundred to area halls, amusements parks or smaller auditoriums as the “baby bands” developed individual followings of their own. It was a natural.

As Premiere, ATI, Banner, IFA and other New York/Los Angeles agencies starting signing acts and calling shots, middle rungs of the Rock ‘n Roll ladder disappeared. With consolidation came compression. A requirement in obtaining a “major band” was to use other artists represented by their agency on the same bill. Local acts were out. Unless one could ante-up with massive guarantees for staggered dates in multiple cities, a local promoter was out. Everything went big-time. As the generation aged and became “legal”, the only remaining venues for local or even regional acts became taverns and inns. The Rock ‘n Roll world became divided between the “stars” and those playing bars. Musical Darwinism had seized the scene. Only the strongest survived.

“Long live Rock ‘n Roll! “

How could it ever have been otherwise?

The most natural form of society is feudalistic.

A most natural form of music is Rock ‘n Roll.

We all listen to the Master’s call.

It was time for a powerful combination.

On Tuesday, June 20th, Alice Cooper broke in his new “School is Out” tour at a sold-out Flint Industrial Mutual Association Auditorium. Alas, this time there was a major production problem at the end of the show.

Shep Gordon, now having to top the “hanging from the neck until dead” finish to “Killer”, had reached into his magical bag of terrifying tricks and come up again with what promised to be a real winner. At the end of the act, Alice would be loaded into the barrel of a cannon and shot through the air over the audience to a net stretched across the very back of the auditorium. Talk about cool!

It would have been SUPER-COOPER- COOL!! Had it only worked.

The dramatic staging was far past intense. It was transfixing!

Alice slowly donned his “cannon-suit” with masterful suspense. The band was droning a solid, throbbing tone. He courageously marched up to the giant cannon and, waving a last, pathetic salute to the anxious throng, bravely climbed into the weapon and disappeared. The cannon was flooded with lighting. The drum-roll began. A moment of sheer climax was at hand. Everyone held their breath. There was an ear-shattering explosion of fire and light. Smoke was everywhere. Protruding from the cannon’s mouth was a life-sized, sad, rag doll dressed like Alice. The mother-fucker hadn’t even cleared the barrel.

The real Alice, of course, was hidden inside the cannon. It was goddamn dark in there, but he could sure hear the explosion. He counted to five. The stage lights would be struck by now with the attention of the crowd diverted by spotlights on the flying dummy. In the absence of ejection, the lighting operators kept their massive beams trained on the main set. Alice emerged. Now there were two Alice Coopers on stage! Which one was the dummy? Ummmmmmmmmmm. Hi!!

Mercifully, the crowd enjoyed a special treat during Alice’s encore. WTAC had brought Mickey Dolenz into Flint in conjunction with a major client campaign. I had escorted Mickey backstage to meet Alice prior to the performance. Alice was thrilled greeting a real “Monkee”. Mickey was excited meeting Mr. Cooper.

After his roadies removed the “fuckin’ cannon” from the stage, out came Alice Cooper, his band and Mickey Dolenz. The encore turned-out to be a spontaneous ten minute rendition of “Hey-Hey-We’re the Monkees!” which Alice and musicians knew by heart. They had been fans of the TV show in their early teenage years back in Phoenix. No rehearsal was needed. As soon as the crowd recognized Mickey, it erupted in loud, rapturous celebration. Six thousand voices joined right in.

“We’re too busy singin’ to put anybody down!”

The cannon episode was completely forgotten. This was a FINALE!!!

Alice Cooper went on to perform before hundreds of thousands as he traveled across the land with “School is Out!”. The cannon was also out. It stayed in Flint. So did Mickey Dolenz. He was part of our next day’s “Wild Wednesday ’72” at Sherwood Forest.

I always used a fairly obscure instrumental track by The WHO called “The Ox” from their very first album under all “Wild Wednesday” advertising and had done so since “Wild Wednesdays” were born. I would pick it up a few seconds into the cut at the exact instant Peter Townshend established his first guitar note and it had become the “Wild Wednesday Theme”. Copy was delivered with dramatic precision and measured intonation against the frantic background energy of the music. It was powerfully effective. 1972 was no exception.

“Wild Wednesday Theme” — The Who

:60
(Establish “Who” Bed)
(Double Phasing/Heavy Read)

“A Single Point in Time and Space! Outdoors! Under the Summer Sun and Stars at Sherwood Forest in Davison! Twin Concert Stages Explode with Non-Stop Rock ‘n Roll For Twelve Solid Hours from Noon ’til Midnight!

“Wild Wednesday ’72”!

“Bob Seger!”! King Biscuit Boy! “S.R.C.!” “The Rumor!” The Whiz Kids! “Dennis Coffey!”Julia! Ormandy! “Teegarden and Vanwinkle!””The Original Johnny and the Hurricanes!” “Frut!”

“Wild Wednesday ’72”!

Twelve Groups! Twelve Hours!

“Wild Wednesday ’72” is Tomorrow! Rain or Shine! At Sherwood Forest!

Take I-75 to I-69 and the Davison Exit to Richfield Road.

Gates open at 10. Admission Five Dollars.

“Wild Wednesday ’72”!! A Peter C. Rock ‘n Roll Presentation! ”

We drew fourteen thousand, more than half the crowd from Detroit. We introduced Mickey Dolenz on stage, but didn’t repeat the “Monkees” number since it had already been done the night before and we wanted it to remain an “Alice” thing. There was no violence or trouble of any kind. Marijuana smoke filled the air. There was not a drop of alcohol in the crowd, nor a single empty beer can to be found anywhere on site following its departure. 1972 marked the last “Summer of Love”. 1973 was to become “The Year of the Quaalude” in Michigan.

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