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Musicians reveal their most embarrassing gigs ever in new book ‘No Encore!’

August 13, 2019
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Journalist Drew Fortune has been covering pop culture for Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Esquire and Vulture for the better part of a decade.

Inspired by the mayhem he witnessed during an opening set performance by Matchbox 20 during a Rolling Stones concert in 1997, Fortune set out to interview dozens of artists in multiple genres about their best and worst gigs of all time. As he explains in the following interview, the focus for his new book “No Encore!” shifted toward just the weirdest, wildest and most embarrassing stories when artist memories of the good gigs failed to generate a compelling read.

The book contains exclusive contributions from a variety of musicians, including Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne’s band, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Stewart Copeland of the Police, Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts, Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad and dozens more.

The Maine Edge: Your book has many OMG moments, and one of the highlights must be the story from Alice Cooper. I’ll just let you tell the tale as Alice told it to you.

Fortune: Alice was a guy I’d never interviewed before. He came in excited to share this story for the book. He said ‘Drew, I guarantee no other story will beat this one in terms of embarrassment.’ This story happened on Alice’s ‘Rock and Roll Carnival’ tour in the late ‘80s and it was kind of a horror-themed circus vibe. The show was in LA and members of The Sex Pistols and KISS were in the crowd and it was packed. All of his tech guys and roadies were dressed up as psychotic clowns and it was supposed to be a big night for Alice.

Halfway through the show, Alice brings out his 22-foot python and drapes it around his neck. Everyone in the first few rows began laughing hysterically and Alice could see that from the stage. He was thinking ‘This is the scary part of the show. Nobody laughs at the snake’ – and then the smell hit him. The snake had defecated all over Alice’s stage clothes.

Naturally, my next question for Alice was ‘What was the consistency like? Was it liquid? Was it solid?’ He said ‘Imagine what a Great Dane or a small horse would produce. There were piles of the stuff.’ The snake’s diet consisted of dead rats so you can just imagine. The evil clown roadies came out to clean it up and began retching and vomiting.

Johnny Rotten comes up to Alice after the show and says it was the best live theatre he’d ever seen and asked Alice how he got the snake to poop on cue. Alice made up a story that the snake had a spot on his stomach that he could push to create that effect and then said, ‘I’m glad you enjoyed the show.’ Alice ended up burning his stage clothes later that night.

The Maine Edge: Does rock and roll as a genre tend to generate more shocking concert stories than other musical forms?

Fortune: I think so, and it’s not all due to drugs and alcohol. Anytime you’re dealing with a lot of big productions, you’re going to have problems. I tried to explore almost every genre through this book. I interviewed country artists, hip-hop artists, rock artists, but also people like Debbie Gibson and En Vogue. I was curious to find out if they had any crazy tales they’d like to share.

The Maine Edge: As you kept interviewing musicians, did you discover any patterns or something many of them had in common?

Fortune: Yeah, I discovered that nobody could really remember their best gig ever. The original title of this book was “Rain or Shine.” I was going to spotlight each artist’s best and worst gig. I wasn’t getting very far with the best gig angle. The stories weren’t very compelling for whatever reason. They were charming and heartfelt but not what I was looking for. Once I shifted focus to just the worst gigs, every artist came in hot with all of these incredible tales. They could all remember their worst show ever and that’s when I knew I was onto something special.

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