Why Alice Cooper’s Manager Refused to Manage the Beatles
In a new interview, Alice Cooper described the moment his manager Shep Gordon was asked to take on the Beatles – and why he refused.
In a new episode of Joe Bonamassa’s Live From Nerdville podcast, Cooper said he was in Gordon’s office, presumably during the period when the British band were attempting to rearrange their business concerns, when the potentially life-changing call came through. The episode is available below.
“He was managing Luther Vandross, Blondie, everybody… Gypsy Kings, Groucho Marx, Raquel Welch,” Cooper said. “He calls me into the office one day and he’s like, ‘Look, everybody’s driving me crazy, except you and Groucho… I want you to be here when I call and resign from everybody.’ I went, ‘Okay.’ I’m sitting there as he goes, ‘Yeah, I think I’ve done enough, I think you can move on…’ We open a bottle of champagne. He says, ‘It’s done – it’s me and you!’ I went, ‘Great!’”
But that wasn’t the end of the episode. “Phone rings. He goes, ‘You’re not gonna believe this… it’s George Harrison. Wants me to manage the Beatles.’ I went, ‘Do it! You have to say you managed the Beatles!’”
Despite Cooper’s insistence, Gordon took a different approach when responding to Harrison. “[H]e said something really wise. He said, ‘I’m not going to manage you. I’ll take care of your merchandise… but I don’t want to be there when Paul and John and Ringo and George are arguing over money. That ruins the Beatles for me for the rest of my life.’ … And George goes, ‘I totally get that; I totally understand that.’ And so he took care of the merchandise. But you know, the very moment that he resigns from everybody, the Beatles call him!”
Looking back on his 52-year affiliation with Gordon, which has never been cemented in a contract, Cooper said the secret was their deep level of trust in each other. “I have never once asked him how much we made on that show,” the shock-rock icon explained. “I’ve never once said, ‘How much are we making on t-shirts?’ From the very beginning I said, ‘Look, I don’t want to do business… I’ll do the music and the entertaining, and you do the business, and I’ll never question you.’ And it was all based on that – we’ve never had a contract.”
He added: “I talk to young bands… they break up over, ‘Well, he had 12 percent of the t-shirts, and he had 9 percent…’ I say, ‘You shouldn’t even know that! You shouldn’t even know what a t-shirt costs!’ I don’t know what one of my t-shirts costs. I don’t care – I do care that every night that show is dead-on. That’s my responsibility.”
Watch Alice Cooper on ‘Live From Nerdville’ with Joe Bonamassa