GLEN BUXTON, Part 2
GB & Neal at the Houston show
by Patrick BRZEZINSKI
with the help of Janice Buxton, Jeff Jatras and Serge NadeauTRIUMPH, TRAGEDY AND PEACE, HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF...
Photos: Jeff Jatras & Janice Buxton
Translation: Caroline Stephenson
Who better than my friend Jeff Jatras, in those days manager of Michael Bruce and today the instigator of the Alice Cooper Band reunion, to tell us about the last days of Glen Buxton. The next lines are yours, Jeff:
In early 1997, Michael Bruce moved to Houston, Texas under contract with Torn Ticket Productions. On the heels of his new book, No More Mr. Nice Guy - The Inside Story of the Alice Cooper Group, and with the emergence of the Internet, Michael was reaching out to fans who'd wondered over the last twenty years what had happened to the original members of the Alice Cooper Band. Internet groups brought new interest in the members, and Michael's new website at michaelbruce.com offered fans their first glimpse in decades of the members as they reemerged from years of being out of the spotlight. By October 1997, arrangements were made for a reunion with Glen, Michael, and Neal, their first time together since 1974. Though Dennis Dunaway would not make the trip (because of health problems), and Alice and Michael were currently not on the best of terms, the reunion in Houston was still a watershed for fans of the original Cooper band, and many came across the country for the events. The Coopers arrived on October 3 with, among other goals, to record a new song or two as well as a reworked version of "I'm Eighteen."
Neal Smith flew in first along with Richie Scarlet, a talented guitarist and producer. Richie, who played lead guitar with Ace Frehley and Sebastian Bach, was currently playing bass for Leslie West in the legendary band Mountain. As a big fan of the original Cooper band, Richie was the perfect choice to play bass for the Coopers. After leaving Neal and Michael at my home, Richie picked up Glen at the airport. "Hi, faggot," grinned Neal to Glen on seeing his old comrade in arms come through the front door. The mood was relaxed and cheery as the Coopers spent the evening catching up on the previous twenty years and looking forward to a busy ten days of rehearsing, recording, radio appearances, and live events.
The first evening was spent at the Hard Rock Cafe Houston. As the band walked through the front door, Neal noticed the "Alice Cooper" star displayed out front. Looking down at the star, Michael said it didn't matter what people thought, that the star was not just for Alice, but for all of them. Glen got down on the ground and humped the star. Inside, the management at the Hard Rock proved to be kind hosts and many patrons brought Hard Rock menus up to their table for the band to sign.
Their first public appearance was as guests at a local record convention, signing photos and Alice Cooper albums. Fans, ecstatic to meet the Coopers, lined up to have their pictures taken with these rock legends. Glen repeatedly remarked how surprised he was to be so well remembered after all these years and how much he enjoyed signing for fans and having his picture taken. Lunch that day was at a Chinese restaurant and it's true that that Glen sucked the eye out of a fish right off his plate. And Richie Scarlet, who hates seafood with a passion, was indeed sitting next to him just about jumped out of his skin and nearly got sick. Glen was larger than life both on and off the stage. During the convention, representatives of radio KLOL, at the time the largest rock station in Houston, offered to host an early morning simulcast to 400,000+ radio listeners, an event that occurred on October 10 at the Billy Blues club on the Stevens and Pruitt show. With the simulcast at Billy Blues and their recent decision to make a full appearance at Houston's Area 51 club on October 12th, rehearsals took a turn toward the original material as the band hit the studio to work up the set.
Heidi and Glen
As promotion for the show at Area 51, Torn Ticket arranged for what later came to be known as the "Bikes 'N Babes" photo shoot. Michael had recently seen an Easy Rider CD compilation of classic rock songs and from there came the idea of a Cooper band photo shoot revolving around an All American motif of girls, motorcycles, and rock and roll. One of the girls was a beautiful seventeen year old model named Heidi Heidelberg. Against a backdrop large American flag, local photographer Dave Lovelace shot the session.
Glen, Michael, and Neal spent the next days rehearsing at Bundrick Studios. Songs like "Be My Lover" and "School's Out" came together quickly, as if it had been perhaps only a week instead of twenty three years since the last time they'd played them together. However, since Michael had been performing live all year, and Glen had spent his time working up new material with the Buxton/Flynn band, Glen needed more rehearsal for the old tunes, and tension regarding the pace of rehearsal occasionally flared between Glen and Michael. In addition, both guitarists had, over the years, become used to playing some of the same licks. "That Michael Bruce, he always stepped on my leads! " Glen complained before kicking an amp in frustration. Still, little marred the good vibes and the nights were spent reminiscing while watching TV and drinking beer. Glen liked to stay up late watching TV's 'Nickelodeon' with its reruns of Leave It To Beaver and I Love Lucy. And just as Alice was once rumored to have been Beaver's 'Eddie Haskell,' Glen had named Michael Bruce 'Lumpy.' It was Neal who seemed most aware of the special intimacy of the times and it was Neal and Laurie, my wife, who kept a watchful eye on Glen. Nearly 50, Glen Buxton had spent so many years abusing his body with various substances and alcohol, and though he kept up rehearsals and late night talk-a-thons, Glen's delicate nature bordered on a frailty beyond his years. Glen made no bones about the fact that back in Iowa, he was a challenge to his doctors and that it took them years to understand his complex medical issues. So when, toward the end of the trip, Glen complained of a slight ache in his chest and it was suggested that he go to a local clinic, Glen refused, claiming instead that he would soon be back in Iowa and that it was pointless to have someone new and unfamiliar with his history start again from scratch. After that, as nothing else was said, everyone's attention turned to their first live appearance since the Cooper days, the radio simulcast at Billy Blues.
Billy Blues show: Neal Smith, Jeff Jatras, GB
The show was scheduled for 7:30AM, which meant the band needed to arrive by six. The night prior, Glen was so nervous that I expressed my concern that Glen might not be able to perform. Neal pointed out that in the history of the band Glen had never missed a show and that he was 100% reliable. So with little sleep from a pace revolving around long rehearsals, late nights, and feeling under the weather with a strange ache, Glen was up and ready at dawn and even seemed to grow in strength as show time approached. The Billy Blues club was already packed by fans who'd heard about the simulcast, and the band walked in to rousing cheers. The atmosphere was surreal with microphones, radio personalities, even Houston sports figures. Flyers for the show at Area 51 were laid out and many of these became instant collector's items when signed by members of what was now billed as 'Rock Legends from the original Alice Cooper band.' And true to form as the "shock jocks" of Houston radio, the Stevens and Pruitt Show hosted a five-song 'mini-show' at Billy Blues that went off like clockwork from the opening leads of "Hello Hooray" to the finale of "School's Out," interlaced with interviews, topless girls picking raffle winners, contestants in drag for an Aerosmith transvestite contest, and lots of early morning beer. Afterward, most attendees stayed for a live rehearsal in preparation for Area 51.
Meanwhile, Glen already missed his fiancee, Lorrie Miller, back in Iowa. Glen and Lorrie were getting married in November, and Glen was looked forward to seeing her again. He wanted to bring her something back from Houston and ended up with a twin necklace heart set, the kind where the heart is broken in half, one side for him on a chain and the other chain for Lorrie. As he drove along, Glen sang "Sun Arise," though changing the words to be about vampires, "Some arise, some don't... Some arise, some don't..." Glen was having a ball.
The night before the show at Area 51 the band went to see Aerosmith perform live at The Summit, an 18,000+ arena in Houston. Earlier that day, Aerosmith's road manager, James Ayer, had heard the Coopers were in town and offered up front row seats to the show. Sometime during the evening, Glen had tripped on some stairs and twisted his ankle. Though not serious, it obviously hurt and for the rest of the evening Neal Smith served as Glen's inseparable crutch. At one point, Glen looked around the sold out venue remarking, "This was our crowd once." Many fans recognized the Coopers and were overjoyed to meet them.
Area 51 show - Ritchie Scarlet, Neal Smith & Glen
On October 12, 1997, 'Rock Legends' played their only full show. Earlier that day had come the announcement that country singer John Denver had died in a plane crash. Glen remarked that perhaps "today is a good day to die... but not for me." As the band set up for the sound check, the crowd grew outside. The venue filled as the opening act, a local guitar slinger who called himself 'Mr. Sinister' warmed up the crowd. When the Coopers finally took the stage at first they just stood there smiling, looking out at their fans, drinking in the cheers and posing for pictures as flashbulbs popped around them. When the music started the crowd surged to the front of the stage. From "I'm Eighteen," "Be My Lover," "Desperado" and "School's Out." True to form, Glen on stage was cool as a cucumber, completely at home again in front of his audience as before, during, and after the show fans chanted "GB! GB! GB!" Glen and Michael, though having completely different styles, had always blended their respective sounds well, like oil and vinegar. This night was no exception as for the only time in all those years there they were, onstage, together again. Michael worked hard to cover some leads that Glen simply was not prepared to play on such short notice. They reversed themselves on "Desperado," with Michael playing the lead. Glen asked for and was given a microphone to sing or talk to the audience. Being the first of what was sure to be many shows, this night was more of an experiment, an easing into a new groove, with no pressure and nothing set in stone. In addition to the rehearsed set, Michael added a spontaneous version of "Titanic Overture" and Neal Smith surprised everyone, launching into an incredible extended drum solo that stunned both audience and band during "Muscle Of Love." Glen improvised a new lead on the song using his own signature style, creating yet another classic Michael Bruce/Glen Buxton counterpoint. Also, after the set list, the band played an unrehearsed "Hard Hearted Alice" and even covered the classic "Train Kept A Rollin'." Later, Michael and Glen jammed on stage with members of the opening band and even some audience members as the music ran late into the night.
The next morning, October 13, Glen was the first to leave, catching an early flight out of Hobby Airport. Everyone was in a great spirits, flush with success and anticipation as the ten days came to an end and the band went their separate ways. With these events under their belts after so many years apart, there was talk of plans to be made, plans that would include Dennis, and hopefully Alice. Everything was going so well.
Glen Edward Buxton died on the morning of October 19, 1997, one week after the show at Area 51. Earlier that night, his fiancée Lorrie Miller had come home to find Glen lying on the bed and had called an ambulance. Glen was rushed to the hospital but an infection from pneumonia had reached his heart and he was gone. As the news reached Alice, Michael, Neal, Dennis, and the fans who had reveled in attending and reading on the internet about the recent reunion, triumph turned to tragedy. From across the country, cards and flowers poured into Clarion as preparations were made to bury Glen. A few days later, the band met at the Iron Horse hotel in Clarion.
It was a cold October day. In fact, it had been cold all month and in hindsight, cold in Houston too. And now, here they were, together again so soon, this time saying their last goodbyes- Glen's parents, his sister Janice and brother Ken and his Alice Cooper brothers Michael, Neal, and Dennis. Reggie Vinson was there too, and local friends Mike Flynn and Mike Stevenson, and so many others from across the country. In the church in Clarion, Glen lay in state in an open casket surrounded by flowers from all over the world. In the casket, Glen was wearing an Alice Cooper "screaming skull" pewter pin. In addition he was wearing his half of the "broken heart" chain he brought from Houston. Lorrie Miller wore the other half, her half. After the service, everyone gathered at a country club restaurant outside of Clarion and with the knowledge that barring something extraordinary they would not see each other again anytime soon. Addresses were exchanged, stories told about Glen and the days of the Alice Cooper band, the events of the last few weeks, how Glen had relished seeing his old friends and playing the music once again. And how much Glen was looking toward the future. Later that night at the Iron Horse, as the cold wind whipped across the flat Iowa plain, Michael Bruce commented about how it just felt wrong that Glen was still out there, alone in the night.
John Speer, Michael Bruce, Jaff Jatras & Neal Smith
The seeds of the First Glen Buxton Memorial Weekend began as two long time friends, Paul Brenton and Bill Risoli, began a fundraising effort for Glen's headstone. Donations from across the country paid for the stone. The unveiling occurred on the weekend of August 7-9, 1998 in Clarion. The new 'Michael Bruce Group' on tour arranged to be in the area in order to attend the weekend and play a show in Glen's honor. Once again, family, fans, and friends came from across the country, this time in a celebration of life for, as Alice had called him, "a genuine rock and roll rebel." In contrast to the funeral, the unveiling was held on a warm summer day. As Michael Bruce, Neal Smith, and original 'Spiders' drummer John Speer looked on, the cloth was lifted from the stone to reveal a spectacular marble rendition of the cover of "School's Out ," a masterpiece complete with the classic opening notes of the song etched on it, Glen's best remembered legacy to music and one of the most well known riffs in rock and roll. And just as each band member had their initials carved into the desk on the original album, so were they carved in the stone along with the added initials "LR" for Lorrie Miller. Michael Bruce, admiring the stone turned to Heidi and remarked, "Hey, my name is on that tombstone." Notwithstanding, everyone agreed it was a masterpiece.
That night at Slick Willie's bar, the music of the Alice Cooper group blew the top off Clarion, Iowa. Torn Ticket premiered as yet unseen footage of Glen's last performances along with live performances by the Michael Bruce Group, Neal Smith, Glen's band mates from Iowa and Arizona and many others playing into the night. The party continued at the Iron Horse well into early morning, and in a special way, for the first time everyone who loved him were finally able to say goodbye in the way Glen would have wanted, not with sadness and regret, but with a big party in a little town called Clarion, where after so many years of turmoil Glen Buxton had finally found peace and come home.
Rather than go on and on, I wish to make you share an intimate moment with GB: the contents of a letter written to Michael Bruce on October 17th, 1997 and which never reached its addressee.
My name is Janice Buxton Davison. As music fans may know, Glen Buxton was lead guitarist for the original Alice Cooper band. Glen was also my brother. As executor of his estate, this letter is an appeal to Glen's fans to help his family gain control of the domain name www.glenbuxton.com that was hijacked by a cyber squatter in 1998 and never returned.
The Anti-Cyber squatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 defines cyber squatting as "registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad-faith and with the intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else." The name Glen Buxton is a legal trademark. It's distinctive because its owner, my brother, was the first to use it in business, and Glen's name was well known at the time the domain was registered by Mr. Bryan Erickson without signed consent or any legitimate interest in the name. Since then, Erickson has used the domain name to deceptively attract Alice Cooper fans for his own internet ventures including selling items unrelated to Glen, displaying unauthorized videos of Glen, and repeatedly making offensive and disrespectful comments about Glen on lists and other sites that are upsetting to Glen's family.
For many years Glen's family has attempted to avoid fanfare by quietly appealing to Erickson behind the scenes to relinquish the domain name. And though it should not have been necessary we even offered Erickson money in order to avoid expensive litigation. To date, Erickson has not only refused but now ignores all attempts at contact. He appears to enjoy holding Glen's name hostage for the prestige and the power it gives him over Glen's family. He continues to sell his products by misdirecting internet traffic by the continued misuse of Glen's name.
Erickson once wrote that he "borrowed" Glen's name. It's time to give it back.
It is our hope to avoid costly legal action. Cyber squatting laws are clear and we are confident that any litigation would find in our favor and force him to give it back. But, legal action is expensive and time consuming. Like most families, spending thousands of dollars on attorney fees is something our family including Glen's parents can ill afford. We hope Erickson will understand that Glen's name belongs with his family, not with him.
Until then, we appeal to Glen's fans for help. Under the alias "KaTman", Erickson directs traffic to www.glenbuxton.com from various sites including his Yahoo Group, Myspace and YouTube. We appeal to Glen's fans to boycott www.glenbuxton.com and to not promote his sites that link to www.glenbuxton.com
Please post this notice as your own blog and send it out as a new bulletin so that others will see it and do the same. Please help us inform Cooper fans what is happening with www.glenbuxton.com
Thank you in advance for your help and your support for Glen's family.
Janice Buxton Davison
Executor - The Glen Buxton Estate
Alice Cooper Group :
Pretties For You - 1969
Easy Action - 1970
Love It To Death - 1971
Killer - 1971
School's Out - 1972
Billion Dollar Babies - 1973
School Days - 1973
Muscle Of Love - 1973
Greatest Hits - 1974
The Beast Of Alice Cooper - 1989
Live At The Whisky-a-go-go 1969 - 1992
A Fistfull Of Alice - 1997
The Life And Crimes of Alice Cooper - 1999
Billion Dollar Babies / Deluxe Edition - 2001
Lunar Muzik - 1996
Live At Area 51, Houston, TX - 1997
Medecine Ball Caravan - 1971
Diary Of A Mad Housewife - 1971
Rock Legends From The Original Alice Cooper Group - 1997
Live At Area 51, Houston, TX
Glen Buxton Memorial Video - 1998
Prime Cuts - 2001
Alice Cooper Special Edition EP - 2002
Good To See You Again - 2005
Bob Greene Billion Dollar Baby (Signet, 1974)
Steve Demorest Alice Cooper (A Circus Magazine Book) (Popular Library, 1974)
Alice Cooper and Steve Gaines Me, Alice (Putnam, 1975)
Micheal Bruce & Billy James No More Mr Nice Guy (SAF, 1996)
Paul Brenton Me & GB (1998, sold at the first Glen Buxton Memorial Weekend Aug 7-9 1998)
Paul Brenton Phoenix & GB (1999, compiled for the Annual Glen Buxton Weekend)
Dale Sherman The Illustrated Collector Guide To Alice Cooper (Collector's Guide Publishing, 1999)
Paul Brenton Pretty & Easy: The Glen Buxton Memorial Book featuring the Alice Cooper Band (2001)
Paul Brenton Love 'em To Death (2003)
ED NOTE: All Paul Brenton books are self-published, limited editions of 150 copies. The books contain a collection of pictures of GB with family, friends and band, pictures of Alice Cooper band early stuff (The Earwigs, The Spiders, The Nazz and Alice Cooper) and lots of quotes from band members, family and friends.
Special thanks to Si Halley of Sick Things ("the largest source of Alice Cooper information on the Net") and Jeff Jatras for helping to track down information about the books.
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