Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Alice Cooper's unexpected duet in Flint

Would someone please turn off the fan? It's disturbing the snake.

Flint Expatriate Rich Frost recounts his encounter with Alice Cooper at the IMA:

Growing up in Flint, I got a chance to see a lot of great Michigan rock n' roll bands as I was a part of the "behind the scenes" production team at Sherwood Forest for Wild Wednesday and all the other concerts that Peter C. Cavanaugh staged there. I also got a chance to work some rock concerts at the IMA, Delta College and the Saginaw Civic Center.

If you're into stories about rock n' roll and Flint's IMA, here's one for you:

Alice Cooper did a warm-up concert in Flint before doing a big tour. It was one of those concerts where the band could get the kinks out of the show and make it better before taking it on the road. The band was based in Detroit at the time, so they were able to drive up to the IMA Auditorium in the afternoon to get ready for the show.

As soon as they got into town, Alice requested several top hats to wear while he performed, so I was put in charge of going out to get them with his girlfriend at the time — a model whose name I can't remember. We drove all around town to secure some top hats, eventually finding them at H&D Tuxedo. With top hats in hand, we drove back to the IMA where sound checks were in progress. By all appearances, it looked like the concert was going to be just another rock n' roll show, but the appearance of another celebrity in town changed all of that.

Just before the show started, none other than Micky Dolenz of The Monkees showed up. Dolenz was in town to do a live appearance at the South Flint Drive-In where the movie he was appearing in — brace yourself…the R-rated Linda Lovelace for President — was showing.

Once Micky and the Alice Cooper crew met backstage, they started to party, and they worked out something to surprise the audience at the IMA. The final song of the show was Alice Cooper's "School's Out," and if you remember the song there's a long guitar note/semi-feedback noise at the end. But on that night the long guitar note went into another familiar song — the theme to "The Monkees.”

Once they went into the theme song, Micky bolted out on stage and sang the song with the band. Well, that was how it was planned, but Micky had a hard time doing anything because he was completely plastered after consuming mass quantities of alcohol backstage. They did the song, sort of, but Alice literally had to pick Micky up and carry him off stage. He was that plowed.

Now, that's rock n' roll at the IMA that I remember!


  1. my time was a few years later but there was no better place than the old IMA for a concert.

    i saw the likes of Foreigner, REO, Heart, Santana, and some others i can't remember.

    it was strange having a smoke with the cops walking around as security, they could care less.

    i do remember the old army style stretchers that the ushers used to carry out the overly drunk and overly drugged and dumped them out in the hallway to sober up.

    that old auditorium rocked....the flintoids really knew how to party

  2. And Steppenwolf, Steve Miller,(at his peak), ZZTop, Kiss,(ugh),and the lovely and vivacious Anita Bryant. Dropped 3 tabs of yellow sunshine for that show! just kidding...I had no idea who Kiss was at the time, and attended the show w/some girls from work. Kiss came on, and it was bizzare. Gene Simmons and his tongue, spitting out fake blood. just weird B.S.. The girls liked it though. Yeah, Slick...try carrying some of treats to a show nowadays and You'll be in the security room, and the 100$ for the ticket so much smoke...Damn shame the IMA was torn down...

  3. Hey Rich, what year was this? I worked as a maid at the Holiday Inn on Bristol Rd. for the summer of 72, when Mickey Dolenz was staying there. I was so thrilled I got to clean his room!

    I found a coffee table literally coated with pot, which the asst. housekeeper (who untypically appeared on the scene) scooped up very carefully and equally carefully put into a Holiday Inn envelope - and took away with her.

    My boyfriend was really bummed when I told him ...

  4. I don't remember the exact year -- but according the Interational Movie Data Base -- they have the movie being released in April of 1975.

  5. There is/was no South Flint Drive-in. You may be referring to the South Dort DI which was at the corner of S. Dort and Maple in Grand Blanc Township. That property has been subdivided with three buildings occupying the site including the newest one, the Mass Transportation Authority Grand Blanc facility. There is another south end drive-in theater which is still open, the US 23 Twin DI on Fenton Road whose two screen towers are derived from the South Dort DI's 60' x 120' prefabricated screen tower. The South Dort was dismantled in 1985. The following year, a 38' x 76' screen tower was built as the second screen of the US 23. There were plans to build a third screen with the remaining parts, but the 1997 arson fire which destroyed the 23's original wood screen tower forced owner Lou Warrington to build the replacement screen with the remaining parts.

  6. Flinn --

    I stand corrected. I don't know why I typed in the South Flint must be an old age brain fart sneaking was the South Dort Drive-In. Please excuse me for my error.

  7. I was at that show and Dolenz came running out from stage left and lept into Alice's arms as they both sang "Schools Out". Mickey was wearing a graduation gown and cap. Michael Quatro was the warm up show. My friends father was a ticket taker at one of the doors so we all got in free. Alice was shot from a cannon and also hung. His head was removed in a guillotine and he chopped up a lot of baby dolls. One of the best shows I ever seen.

  8. Anybody got any pictures of the South Dort Drive-in? There are literally NONE on the internet that I have found. I saw "Star Wars" there and would love to get a nice pic of the drive-in.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at