Alice had all the usual early influences - Elvis when he was very young, Beatles is what started it all and the Rolling Stones made him realize how important attitude was in rock n roll. But, he always sites the Yardbirds as his main musical influence.
(Renfield June 1995)
- One of Alice's biggest influences (at least as far as stage 'presence' or 'persona') is none other than the 'Lizard King' Jim Morrison. The Jim thing is covered pretty well in 'Me, Alice'. They used to get DRUNK together. Supposedly, the line "I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer" was written for Alice. Alice's penchant for morning beer is covered very nicely in the 'Billion Dollar Baby' book.
(Sickthings, June 1996)
It has been mention that Alice 'stole' his act from various people including Arthur Brown (of 'Fire' fame). There was an article about Arthur Brown in Discoveries magazine (1995) which mentioned Alice. They talk of Brown's theatrics which included him being trapped in a giant syringe. It goes on to say that such theatrics inspired Alice and Arthur even says that Alice has acknowledged the influence before.
- I have never seen an interview that I can remember with AC speaking on this - anybody else seen one? I spoke to AC briefly about this once and he said he had virtually no knowledge of Arthur Brown except for perhaps his "Fire" routine.
(Brian Nelson, June 1995)
Alice influences From Melody Maker:
1. CHUCK BERRY: "Sweet Little Sixteen"
It was the first record I bought which really got to me. I mean, when I first heard it I thought I was imagining it - I couldn't believe a record could be so exciting. I still love it now - to me, Berry is the best lyricist of all time. If the guy couldn't think of a word, he'd invent one. Don't give me no botheration.' Ha ha! That's brilliant!
2. ELVIS PRESLEY: "Hound Dog"
This is the record which changed my life. I was six at the time and,when I heard it, it opened me up to rock'n'roll. I realised then that the lyrics didn't have to make any sense for the record to affect you. As soon as I heard that song, I changed my hairstyle: I got myself a quiff. I guess I must have looked a pretty strange six-year-old kid, huh?"
3. THE BEACH BOYS: "I Get Around"
They were such a band. They were the classic white pop band before The Beatles started making their mark in the States, and this song's still in a league of its own. I remember my family and I were living in Arizona at the time, and this song made even people living in the desert try to find somewhere to surf. It was the archetypal youth song. It mentioned everything a teenager ever wanted - cars, girls, hanging out with your buddies... what a wonderful world.
4. THE BEATLES: "She Loves You"
This record made me change my hair again. From a slicked-back Elvis quiff to a bowl haircut overnight. Like 'I Get Around', this said so much to teenagers about their life. When I heard this, it was like being struck by lightning. I was stunned: I walked around the house in a daze.
5. THE ROLLING STONES: "It's All Over Now"
As you can imagine, my parents didn't take too kindly to me walking round the house with a bowl haircut, so they absolutely hated The Beatles. That all changed when they heard the Stones. They loved The Beatles after that. As far as they were concerned, anything was preferable to the Stones, who were just dirty punks. Needless to say, like any teenager I figured what annoyed my parents was fine with me. I remember thinking that, when I started a band, I wanted to make the Stones look like saints.
6. THE KINKS: "You Really Got Me"
It was the sound of the guitar that hit me. I'd never heard anything like it before. Someone told me Jimmy Page played it, not Ray Davies, but I don't know if that's true Still, the song is so cool. It was all jittery, and that riff was so sharp, I was blown away.
7. THE YARDBIRDS: 'Rave On'
This album became the most played record of my youth. Aerosmith would say the same - any guys who were 15 and at high school when the British Invasion happened will cite all those bands like The Kinks, the Stones and The Yardbirds as the soundtrack to their teen rebellion. It was these records which made us decide to be in rock'n'roll bands, so we all grew our hair real long and got thrown out of school. Being from Detroit, I was never a Motown fan - a song had to have a guitar riff for me to care about it - and hearing Jeff Beck play in The Yardbirds was the ultimate guitar experience for me for many, many years.
8. THE BEACH BOYS: "Pet Sounds"/THE BEATLES: "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band"
I've chosen The Beach Boys and The Beatles again, but they sounded like different bands by the time they made these albums. There's so much going on on 'Pet Sounds'. It advanced recording techniques beyond any known limits and, although 'Sgt. Pepper' copied that, it still had a style of its own. 'Pet Sounds' was a very American album, 'Sgt. Pepper' was much more exotic and mysterious. Brian Wilson invited me and Iggy over to his house one day, and he took us down to his basement and there was this 72-track tape of 'Pet Sounds' set up. He turned to us and said, 'Want to mix it.' We just looked at him blankly and he said, 'Go ahead, mix it the way you want to hear it.' So there's me and Iggy playing around for six hours with these tapes, and Iggy kept shouting, 'Turn the f***ing guitars up, man!' It was wild. Should they have released our version. What do you think?
9. PINK FLOYD: "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn"
So far, all these records have been an influence. The rest are records I love dearly. When this came out, my band played it to death, to death, to death... the original line-up lived with us for a while in Los Angeles. It was a - uh - weird time, I guess. Syd Barrett didn't speak for a fortnight. Good record, though.
10. THE DOORS: "Strange Days"
I used to think that, when you know people in bands, you knew the real person behind the stage persona. That all went out of the window when we met The Doors. We got to know them pretty well in LA - and, you know, Jim Morrison was really like that. He passionately believed all that Dionysian stuff. The lesson I learnt from him was that you can't live the rock'n'roll lifestyle for very long. It's just not designed that way. Look at people like him, Keith Moon and Janis Joplin - they all thought they could carry on forever. Strange, though - it's often people like that, people on the edge, who make the greatest records.
11. JOHN BARRY: "Goldfinger"
Yeah, yeah, laugh if you like, but Barry has a brilliant grasp of sound. We were all big movie fans, so, to us, people like John Barry were as much stars as The Beatles or the Stones. There's a great moment in this film where fighter planes dive bomb a factory, and Barry adds this great, sweeping orchestration to the scene. It made me think, 'Wow, I wonder if we can do that with guitars?' - so we tried it on 'Billion Dollar Babies'.
In at least two books on Zappa, Zappa gives Miss Christine credit for Alice's ideas. While it would be overstating it to credit Christine for Alice's ideas, she and the GTO's definitely influenced the ACG in their early androngenous image.
(Renfield, October 1995)
I know I read somewhere that AC cited Ziegfeld and Busby Berkeley as *serious* influences. I watched a PBS thing on Mr. Zeigfeld and his legendary 'Follies' and it was obvious that Alice would have certainly been aware of them enough to adopt some of 'follies' into his productions. If only in spirit
- Absolutely. More Berkeley than Ziegfeld though, I think.
And while I'm at it, where was Shakespeare listed as an influence when we talked about it before?
Not really. Alice has used Shakespeare more as an analogy than an influence.
Rolling Stone even had a lengthy article called Gold Diggers of 1984. (A reference to Busby Berkeley's 1933 overblown production. In fact, the stage setting for that one was not unlike the one used in the 'Billion Dollar Babies' show itself!(IMO)
(Renfield, August 1997)
- There's a wild, old semi-obscure movie from that era called 'Hellzapoppin' that had a huge influence on him.
(Renfield, February 1997)