1. Billion Dollar Baby by Bob Greene (Atheneum)
Columnist Bob Greene travels with the Alice Cooper Band and plays Santa Claus during a Christmas tour and gets beat up by the band as the finale every night.Perhaps the funniest rock & roll book ever written. Highly recommended!
I first met Alice Cooper at a party on Park Avenue in the mid-1970s. It was really one of those, “I’m not worthy” moments. Alice was one of the few guys I truly respected back then, because he’d made it on his own terms: by “driving a stake into the heart of the peace-and-love Generation,” and by playing delinquent rock ‘n’ roll for punks like me. That night on Park Avenue, Alice invited me to interview him, so we sat down for a long session at his place in Bel Air a few days later. Alice was deeply disturbed by what he’d heard about some of the punk bands, telling me, “I don’t get this scene, I mean, do they wanna make money or don’t they?”
“Really Arturo, ABBA?” I shake my head in disbelief, as I enter the
loft where the Swedish rock band is blaring from the record player next to the table that holds the entire Ramones silk screen operation—one long counter equipped with a wooden silk screen, cans of white acrylic paint, and stacks of black T-shirts. Arturo is busy making another pass with the squeegee over the latest model of the new Ramones logo, the one with the names of Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, and Tommy encircling an American Eagle that’s clutching a baseball bat in one talon and an apple tree branch in the other. It will become their most famous design ever.
ORIGINAL EDIT OF LEGS McNEIL’S VICE COLUMN FOR 6-5-13:
While I was perusing the records in the Williamsburg hipster record store, in my on-going attempt to rebuild my vinyl collection, I came across the new David Bowie album, The Next Day. Since I’ve been enjoying quiet a few lesser known (at least to me) Bowie cuts these days, I decided to throw caution to the wind, really get wild– and buy Bowie’s new record. This is real feat for me, because I’ve certainly never bought a record sight unheard– where I hadn’t heard at least one song off the album. I’ve never bought a record on blind (deaf?) faith alone. It was finally time, since I’d been hearing good things about the record and I was curious to hear what an artist like David Bowie had to say at the end of his career– and if the rumors are true about him having cancer– at the end of his life.
Story and drawings by Legs McNeil.
Originally published in the Nov 78 issue of Hit Parader
“Ah, summer in New York,” I sighed, swatting giant flies that were dive bombing my head as I sat sipping my first beer of the day at Manny’s pool hall. It was a scorcher of a day, temperatures rising to about 102 and it was so humid you had to cut the air with a chain saw in order to get a hunk to breathe. It was so hot, Manny, owner and proprietor of the dive pool hall across from my private detective office, a big black Jamaican, had a block of ice perched on his fat stomach. He grunted. It was an explanatory grunt. He explained that he keeps the ice on his stomach to keep the case or so of beer he’d already consumed this morning cold in his stomach while he was waiting to digest it.
I opened another beer thinking what a primitive genius Manny was, when just then a short male, Caucasian, about 30 or 35, bursts into the pool hall exposing piercing sunlight into the dimly lit bar. The intruder sort of resembled a rat and talked just as fast. “Where’s Leg’s McNeil? Is he in here, huh? Come on, I don’t got all day, what uh?” the mystery man shot out with a cockney accent. I tried to answer but he wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise.
The way that I met Greg Ginn was through his younger sister, Erica, while I was working at this record store, Rubicon, on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach in 1975. The gentleman who owned the record store, Michael, had a mad crush on Erica. So Greg Ginn would walk down to the record store with his sister—and Erica and Michael would go off to do whatever young lovers do—hold hands and watch the seagulls fly or the surfers on Hermosa Beach. You know, they’d get lunch or beer or cigarettes, and I would be left to run the record store while Greg Ginn hung around, waiting for his sister.
“Wanna go for a drink?” I asked Norman Mailer, standing on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 14th Street, when I realized I’d fucked up. I’d been out all night at the Mudd Club with a skinny Jewish girl with large breasts, drinking, doing coke, and getting my dick sucked, when I suddenly remembered that I had a girlfriend…
“No,” Norman huffed, pulling up the collar of his ski jacket. “Not now…”
I never paid much attention to GG Allin when he was alive because I thought he was a talentless bottom feeder who’d do anything to get attention. Consequently, I never bothered with his music, and stayed away from reading about him. I mean, compared to my pals in the Ramones, what could Allin possibly have to offer? GG seemed like a spectacular mess who was just taking up space until he killed himself. I didn’t really need any more garbage heaps in my life. But after he died, my best friend Tom Hearn told me he’d hung out with GG a few times in New Haven, Connecticut, and that he was a nice guy.
“Really?” I asked Tom, intrigued that I let my preconceived notions keep me from checking Allin out. I love it when my prejudiced ideas get shattered and I have to take another look.