a Rock and roll Elmer Gantry.

On April 22nd of 1972, I went with my closest pals Manny and Will and every teenager in a forty-mile radius to see Alice Cooper at the Commack Arena. It was a sixteen-year-old Long Island Knucklehead convention! Seeing Alice Cooper was a dream fulfilled for my pals and me. It was as if the circus had come to town, and we were there without parental supervision! We had come prepared for a public execution.
In the dark confines of the Long Island Ducks’ old hockey rink, the stage was set. Basically, the arena was a giant Quonset hut design, which caused an abysmal sound to reverberate and ricochet around us like a thunderstorm. It made it nearly impossible to make out any words that came out through the PA system over the avalanche of guitar volume. But no matter to us! We waited with bated breath through the local opening act “Blue Oyster Cult.” Who appointed themselves with dignity, but could not compete with the soon to be a spectacle of horror provided by Alice!
Wading through the muddy sound, the band and Alice ripped through the most recent record, “Killer.” It was for my sixteen-year-old ears his most significant record. Alice seemed to have a very keen understanding of who his audience was. He would menace us with his Boa Constrictor while slashing at us with a saber. Setting Hearts pounding and thrilling his denim wearing teenage hordes. He knew us well and what we had come for.
Tonight we would witness his faux public execution.
He had American teenagers figured out and understood that what the mob wants is blood. Alice’s sexual ambiguity and confused androgyny had the crowd wanting to burn him like a witch.
This sets him apart from the other glam rockers of the time: David Bowie or T.Rex, who also trafficked in ambiguity. The English version of glam did not have the Horror rock element in it. This fact made Alice more palatable for your average Long Island suburban knucklehead. Teenage males who were afraid they might be viewed as queer for digging androgynous entertainment of English Glitter Rock.
Alice let them all off the hook by the grand finale of his show, where he was hung from the mobile Gallows that he toured with. We were giddy with glee to be there to see it. But Alice got our attention despite the awful sound system with the words to his teen anthem “Eighteen.” I personally connected deeply with the confusion expressed in the lyrics. “Lines form on my face and hands Lines form from the ups and downs I’m in the middle without any plans I’m a boy, and I’m a man- I’m eighteen, and I don’t know what I want!” I still had a couple of years to go,but I connected!
Alice gave the mob what it wanted and packed up his show and moved on to the next town of knuckleheads like a Rock and roll Elmer Gantry.




“George Gilmore has been a long-time fixture on the downtown NYC alt-roots music scene, as well as having some indie screen writimg credits.

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George Gilmore

George Gilmore

“George Gilmore has been a long-time fixture on the downtown NYC alt-roots music scene, as well as having some indie screen writimg credits.

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