By Martine Ehrenclou
Rock & Roll memoirs about life in the music industry can be fascinating depending on who writes them. David Libert’s Rock and Roll Warrior: My Misadventures with Alice Cooper, Prince, George Clinton, In Living Colour, the Runaways and More…is a rollicking ride through the music industry from an insider’s perspective in the late 60s to the 80s.
Smartly written, Rock and Roll Warrior is a page turner, entertaining and funny. Complete with outlandish and detailed stories of the rock & roll lifestyle, we get a behind-the-scenes view of Libert’s experiences managing some of music’s famous rock stars, with the main focus on his tenure as tour manager for Alice Cooper.
Out September 30th on Sunset Blvd Books, Libert’s story starts with him rising in the ranks of the music business as a founding member of the 60’s band The Happenings that released several hits. From there, he became tour manager for Alice Cooper, booking agent and manager for the Runaways, George Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic, In Living Colour, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Sheila E. and more.
Libert didn’t become tour manager for Alice Cooper because of his experience. A job he was unprepared for, the famed Shep Gordon (Cooper’s manager) pulled him in, but only after bailing Libert out of jail for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell.
With the ability to think on his feet, Libert learned quickly how to orchestrate Cooper’s tours, coordinating most everything for the theatrical shows, including the details of the rockstar’s guillotine act, a python snake that needed special care and feeding, dancers and props. Libert became the master coordinator for just about everything on the road, including arranging hotels, drugs and women for the band.
One laugh-out-loud story after another keeps the book rolling, some about behind the scenes music industry shenanigans, others from an insider’s perspective of the famous musicians themselves. All told by the self-effacing Libert who has the uncanny ability to brainstorm solutions for insurmountable problems, most of which are almost too outrageous to believe.
Shep Gordon arranged for celebrated DJ Wolfman Jack to ride a camel on stage to introduce Alice Cooper at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Libert writes, “If the camel took a dump onstage, which union would be responsible to clean it up?”
Libert was also in charge of the caring and feeding of Cooper’s boa constrictor “Eva Marie Snake,” part of the rocker’s live act. Libert’s story about her is both outlandish and believable at the same time. And funny. You can’t make this shit up. And if you’ve ever seen an Alice Cooper show, you know it’s true.
Libert was the problem solver, the nuts-and-bolts guy as he puts it, the one to attend to all details of the road. And that meant also servicing the band’s every need. Tasked with obtaining drugs for them while touring in different countries via Cooper’s private plane, Libert figured out how to do it without the risks of crossing borders, substances in hand.
The masses of women that met up with Cooper at each tour stop posed a few problems that had to be managed. Libert did, thankfully, instill guidelines and restrictions that served the young groupies as well as the band members. Libert shares a few cringe-worthy stories befitting the rock and roll lifestyle in the 70s.
Part of the interest with Libert’s Rock and Roll Warrior is his humble attitude even in the face of his successes. After his job as tour manager for Cooper, he moved to Los Angeles. Assuming that with his experience, people would be “breaking down my door, begging me to work for them. I assumed wrong. No one seemed the least bit interested in hiring me.”
Through hard work, research, connections, and a willingness to gamble on a band that he felt sure was about to explode, he worked for free to re-establish himself. The band was Parliament-Funkadelic. Libert understood the band, its music and its audience. He worked the L.A. music scene, picking up the band the Runaways on the way to opening his own agency. Setting his sites on George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, he lured them to the David Libert Agency.
In the midst of encounters with many famous musicians including Slash, Axl Rose and Prince, Libert admits to a key to his success. He writes, “As much as I liked partying, women, doing drugs, debauchery and decadence (you know…fun rock ‘n roll style), I had two saving graces that kept me from going over the edge. I loved food and I loved sleeping every night far more than I liked cocaine.”
It is his appeal as a storyteller that keeps the pace moving in Libert’s memoir, his ability to share outrageous stories of life on the road and the ups and downs of the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle. And his triumphs are a result of his ingenuity, his smarts and charm, qualities that served him well on his journey. Until they didn’t.
Just when he thought he had it all with a house in the hills, new Mercedes, drugs and women, an interloper convinced George Clinton to fire him. Now, he was out of money with major expenses. Always thinking like an entrepreneur, Libert decided to sell cocaine to pay the bills.
After he got arrested and spent serious time in jail, Libert rebooted and reunited with George Clinton and managed In Living Colour, Vanilla Fudge and more. He secured record deals, licensing and publishing deals for artists. By 2015, Libert called it quits with the music business. He moved outside of Los Angeles and at 75 years old, is now happily retired while caring for older dogs.
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