BOOK REVIEW – Rock and Roll Warrior: My Misadventures with Alice Cooper, Prince, George Clinton, Living Colour, the Runaways, and More, by David Libert

As with the many books in the ever-growing pile of rock memoirs, the foundation story is intriguing. Before getting on to dishing the dirt about his encounters with big-name stars, we find David Libert mucking about in New Jersey, being forced to take piano lessons, which he later acknowledges were incredibly important in launching his career. Not fitting into the military or any traditional job, he found improbable success as part of The Happenings. Their song “See You In September” was wisely released in spring and fortuitously went to the top of the charts by autumn 1966.

A few things lead to a few more and soon our hero finds himself as tour manager for Rare Earth. Although not much is said about the band, they do have an interesting corner in Motown history as one of the few all white bands on the label. I always liked their song “I Just Want to Celebrate.” A few more lucky steps and Alice Cooper’s manager Shep Gordon hires Libert as the band’s tour manager. Libert further reinforces Gordon’s persona as Supermensch, providing Libert and anyone else associated with the band full leeway to get the job done. An encounter with the irascible Bill Graham provides several enjoyable pages of storytelling. The discussion about coordinating the logistics of a major rock tour is actually quite interesting. What vehicles go where, who is allowed to be in what vehicle and how to move the entire crew from town to town…it’s complicated, and Libert humbly describes how he improved the efficiency. His writing style is breezy and laced with humor.

David Libert with Alice Cooper, shortly after being hired as the Alice Cooper Band’s road manager. (Photo by Eliot Holecker)

Dog lovers will enjoy the chapter about Libert’s pet beagle, which became the only dog to be awarded a gold record. The “ball scores” delivered each night on the tour plane reflect the state of society in the 70s among willing adults. 

Insights about the means of Alice’s death each night are intriguing (he was evil, it was a morality play, Alice had to die). The electric chair, hallows and guillotine were designed by The Amazing Randi, who knew? 

Libert finally says goodbye to Alice and hooks up with George Clinton. George’s unique strategy of leading two separate bands introduces a whole host of revenue generating opportunities, but Libert make sure not to let his commission slip out of sight. Sage advice indeed.

The author’s fortunes begin to turn. Libert rents out his house to Jimmy Iovine, who is producing mammoth records by Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks, and the latter rearranges the furniture in Libert’s house. Libert left it untouched. Libert comes within inches of signing Guns N’ Roses as their first manager, but instead turns to dealing cocaine. Jail time cures of him of that mistake. 

Libert is an engaging narrator. He takes us on a journey he can’t quite believe himself and we rapidly turn the pages to see where he is headed next.

Rock and Roll Warrior: My Misadventures with Alice Cooper, Prince, George Clinton, Living Colour, the Runaways, and More, by David Libert (273 pp., $19.95, Sunset Blvd. Books).

Full disclosure, this author has been handling merchandise activities with George Clinton for several years. Also, many years earlier this author was set up on a blind date with a fellow attorney, who turned out to be the bass player of The Runaway several decades earlier. As I recall, we enjoyed seeing Oasis in their LA debut in relatively small club, but I have not seen her since.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.