David Libert talks about a crazy career in ‘Rock and Roll Warrior’

When it comes to having juicy material for a book about a life in music, David Libert is perhaps second to none.

The New Jersey native started out as a performer and had hits with the Happenings (“See You in September,” “I Got Rhythm”) in the mid-’60s before transitioning to the business side of the business. He became famous, or at least infamous, as Alice Cooper‘s high-flying tour manager between 1971-75, then went on to work as a manager and booking agent with clients who e.g. George Clinton and ParliamentFunkadelicBootsy’s rubber band, the one RunawaysBrian Auger, Sheila E., Vibrant color, Cactus and many more. These days, he is mostly retired and spends time as an animal rights activist living in California’s Yucca Valley.

Libert’s new memoirs, Rock and Roll Warrior: My Misadventures With Alice Cooper, Prince, George Clinton, Living Colour, the Runaways and more… is indeed a juicy 273 pages, he strove to keep it free of cheap shots and gratuitously tacky details.

“When I started writing it, I decided I didn’t want it to be too snarky a book,” Libert, 79, tells UCR. That said, he’s the guy who kept the “ball scorers” on the Cooper trips, dividing the entourage into “teams” that scored points based on who engaged in specific recreational activities.

“There’s a little bit of that in there – it’s rock ‘n’ roll, you can’t help it,” admits Libert, who also spent time in prison for dealing cocaine. “But I didn’t want it to be that kind of book. I wanted it to be more of the adventure that I went through. In the end, I had to decide if there were things I didn’t want to put in book. I didn’t want to throw anyone under the bus. I just hoped it would be a good read for someone who just wanted to see what it was like to be inside all of this, what it felt like to be there. It was mine Goal.”

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Libert’s glimpses are nonetheless detailed and mostly unapologetic. “There’s no doubt I had a good time, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he says. Rock and Roll Warrior is filled with great and occasionally historical characters, from his Happenings bandmates and early record executives to Liberts Rock & Roll Hall of Fame employers. He particularly credits Cooper’s manager Shep Gordon with educating him on the many nuances of building and maintaining a global superstar act.

“Shep Gordon was a real ballbuster and just fascinating to deal with because he was so creative in terms of marketing Alice Cooper,” says Libert. “So I learned an incredible amount there and I learned a lot about the infrastructure itself – how the whole booking process worked, how the money was divided. You can’t buy that kind of knowledge. You can’t read it in a book and you can’t really go in college for that It’s mostly on the job.

“So I consider myself lucky because I was kind of like a sponge, soaking up everything I could possibly learn. And I had some great teachers.”

Libert maintains a friendship with the Cooper camp, and he considers the artist “a really cool guy who never really took himself very seriously. He never wanted to be seen as a prima donna by his friends and other tour members. We just had fun Everyone wanted to have fun and I made sure, at least from my position, that it was smooth and fun, like a big party.

“It was pretty crazy looking back on it, but it actually worked out pretty well. And it was my job.”

There were of course bumps in the road. Libert had a front-row seat to the disbandment of the original Alice Cooper band and saw the situation worsen as Alice Cooper, the man, became the star of the show, much to the chagrin of his bandmates.

“When I first got the job, it seemed like everyone was on equal footing,” Libert recalls, noting that the downward spiral began when Gordon decided Cooper should lead the pre-tour press conferences solo because he didn’t feel that the others were as comfortable in the situation.

“That’s when I started to realize that there was kind of a wedge growing between Alice and the rest of the band. I used to say to them, ‘Look, let Alice be the star. It’s good for business. You all manage together money.’ But they had a hard time dealing with it and they started to resent all the gimmicks and props on stage, which is why people came to the Alice Cooper show. The rest of the band felt that kind of took away from the music. It was an untenable situation. Oddly enough, they’re all friendly today. So it wasn’t irreparable, and that’s a good thing because I like those guys. When the band broke up, it made me a little sad , but I’m happy to see them doing things together again.”

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Rock and Roll Warrior portrays Libert’s time with Clinton as the most arduous of his career, juggling a circus of shifting desires and inspirations as well as countless staff and hangers-on—including drug dealers to whom Clinton was indebted—who were part of the Parliament Funkadelic universe . “If I threw anyone under the bus in this book… I suppose it would be George, as much as I praise him for a lot of things,” explains Libert. “Let me put it to you this way: When I was working with Alice Cooper, I had a lot of bushy hair. I’m completely bald today, and I blame George.”

Libert’s relationship to Prince, meanwhile, seems almost random. Libert, who was involved in the management of Sheila E. in the early ’80s, first met Prince at a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Clinton at his farm near Detroit. When Sheila E. was on the road as the opening act during Purple rain tour, Libert was often invited to hang out in Prince’s hotel suites and help critique the concerts.

“I liked Prince,” Libert says now. “He was a tough guy to deal with, but not to me. He was very nice to me. Prince was very antisocial; he felt awkward in social situations. He didn’t really know how to deal with people in a certain way level so he just pretended to be angry the whole time. But he was nice to me because I guess he didn’t want to look stupid in front of me, which is amazing that Prince would even care what I thought of him . But I was older than anyone in his inner circle, and because I worked with George Clinton, that gave me some respect. But I guess all of this.”

Watch Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ Video

Humorously, Libert writes about how he eventually tried to find ways to avoid or escape from Prince’s company. “I liked him, but I didn’t want to be obligated to go to his room every night with the select group of people he invited,” explains Libert. “Prince wasn’t fun to hang out with, that’s for sure. But yeah, it was an interesting experience. I seemed to go there once in a while and he seemed happy to see me when I did, so it was nice.”

Libert acknowledges that “they’re talking about a movie” based on the book, while he remains involved in the marketing and promotion aspects of the project. “This book is one of the highlights of my life, probably the last highlight, so I want to make it as good as it can be and then we’ll see what happens,” he says. But Libert will not rule out doing a little more Rock and Roll Warrior– at some point in the future.

“I get calls all the time from people who want me to produce something or manage them,” he says. “I turn down almost everything because unless it sounds really interesting, or I can make a quick buck, or they want to hire me as a consultant, I’m not really interested in doing much more. I kind of enjoy my life as a consultant . free time, hanging out with my boyfriend and my dogs. It would take a lot to take me away from that.”

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