Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Long-Time Alice Cooper Assistant Brian "Renfield" Nelson Passes Away

Don't have much more than that, but long-time readers know that I am a huge Alice fan. What I know of Nelson is this: He was the biggest Alice fan, and had been collecting memorabilia since the early 70's, and became Mr. Cooper's assistant in the early 80's (How cool a job that must have been!). Here are some things I have pieced together about Brian, from the UK site Sick Things:

The Alice Cooper Archives are basically the private collection of Brian 'Renfield' Nelson, Alice's personal assistant. Everything you may have heard about it is probably true. Ren has the Leopard skin boots from the 'Billion Dollar Babies' Tour, the gold jacket that he wore when they were the Spiders, his leather bondage outfit from the 'Madhouse Rock' tour, Alice's birth certificate, passports, and contracts amongst literally thousands of items. The Alice display that was at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame was mostly taken from Ren's collection.

In his own words:

The 'Special Forces' tour was my first tour. My first AC concert I went to was the 'Billion Dollar Babies' show, New Year's Eve in Buffalo-the last show the original band did in the US (chronicled in Bob Greene's book), I saw the 'Welcome To My Nightmare' show, I saw the '77 show about 4 times, 'Madhouse Rocks' about 4 times, 'Flush The Fashion' show about 5 times and then have seen every single show starting from 'Special Forces' to present-and I even get in for free!
(Brian Nelson, June 1995)

I was just a dumb kid in Buffalo, NY (now I'm a dumb guy in L.A.) who in 1972 became obsessed with Alice Cooper and insanely addicted to collecting Alice memorabilia - EVERYTHING. Any how, when I got a bit older, I started going to various cities whenever I could to see AC shows. Once I was in Chicago in '77 and by a stroke of luck and a lot of begging, I got my first backstage pass. Had a bunch of brief encounters with Alice at shows and tours afterward (after that first pass-it was pretty easy for me). After awhile he started recognising me and remembering what my deal was (I used to carry around business cards with my name claiming I was the "World's Biggest Alice Cooper Fan" - it was a good attention getter).

Cutting to the chase-at one point-after the 'Flush' tour [Nov. 1980] - I managed to get Alice on the phone. He needed a personal assistant type (he had just gotten rid of someone) and figured if I was going to go to all these shows anyway-I might as well go along with them. It is kind of incredulous cuz he didn't really know me. Anyway, He flew me out to LA - put me up at his house and the rest is history. I'm still a fan (obviously) and I have never stopped collecting.
(Renfield, June 1995)

Here's the official statement from Alice's web site:

It is with extreme sadness that we need to inform the community of Alice Cooper fans of the passing of Brian "Renfield" Nelson, Alice's long-time archivist and personal assistant. It was a sudden, completely unexpected, and untimely passing. We would appreciate it if you would keep him in your thoughts, appreciate his many contributions to Alice's life and career over the years, and respect Brian's privacy and the privacy of Alice and his extended family (at home and on tour) at this time.

Alice is currently on tour in Russia, because the show must go on, which is as Brian would have wanted it.

I think he's right.

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