Throughout 1978, I was expanding my musical listening horizons, branching out from just KISS to discovering bands such as Aerosmith and Ted Nugent. During that time, I discovered the one artist that made KISS look tame: the legendary Alice Cooper. Alice's 1978 tour brought him to Lexington (with AC/DC), but being only 14, finding a ride to Lexington wasn't an easy task, and I missed the show.
In early 1979, I found that Alice would be performing in Louisville on March 3, 1979, on the "Madhouse Rock" tour, supporting the then-new album From the Inside. I was determined to not miss miss this show, and my mom agreed to provide transportation for a friend (Alan Jackson) and me. The opening band for the show was The Babys, who had had a couple of big hits by then. I was excited: a concert with two bands I wanted to see.
In one of those funny quirks of memory, I vividly recall most of the concert itself, but have no real memory of events leading up to it. I remember being very excited to see "Alice Cooper March 3, 1979" on the marquee when we arrived at Freedom Hall, and I remember seeing people with Alice makeup on and wishing I'd put some on.
Our seats were not very close to the stage---not horrible, but not very close. When The Babys hit the stage, Alan and I left our seats and wandered up to the front, getting within a few rows back from the stage for their performance. The Babys were great, and Wally Stocker became our new hero---he was just too cool. During the intermission, the crowd started getting kind of pushy and crowded, so we decided to make our way back to safer seats.
Lights dim. A spotlight flashes, illuminating a giant Cyclops on stage, wearing a doctor's outfit and with light shining from its eye. And in one of the coolest moments ever, Vincent Price's voice boomed over the P.A., "Ladies and Gentlemen. Doctors and Inmates...." and introduced the "the strange case of patient number eleven-eleven, also known as, Alice Cooper." After the Vincent intro, the band begins playing "From The Inside" while a movie plays on a giant movie screen, showing whiskey bottles being filled in a whiskey plant. Then there's an outside shot of a little figure running toward the screen. As soon as the figure, now identifiable as Alice, is life-sized, the real Alice jumps through the movie screen onto the stage, and the crowd went nuts. The movie screen was slotted to allow people to step into and out of the screen. Later in the show, several characters moved back and forth between the movie and the stage in a wonderfully-choreographed show.
Alice was Alice. He was incredibly skinny---too skinny, actually. As a human being, he was scary looking, he was so thin. But as Alice, he was incredibly cool.
My concert souvenirs: a tourbook (which my sister would take to school a couple of years later without asking and have it stolen from her) and a T-shirt, which I pretty much wore out over the next three years.
Photo by Alan Jackson
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