SickthingsUK: The Tubes

The Tubes and Alice Cooper have an interesting history. Both bands formed out of the same area of Phoenix, AZ, went to the same high schools, and went on to be the two most theatrical live bands ever. Alice once commented that it "must have been something in the Phoenix water". Tubes founder Bill Spooner reportedly even went to the same school as Alice at one point (and later he mentioned one of his children was in the same class as one of Alice's daughters). In the early days the 'Red, White And Blues' and 'The Beans', the two Phoenix bands who eventually combined to become the Tubes, played many of the same venues and 'battle of the bands' nights as 'The Spiders' and they all ran in the same social circles.

According to 'Billion Dollar Babies' guitarist and fellow Phoenix musician Mick Mashbir, original 'Spiders' drummer John Speer actually managed the 'Red White & Blues' at one point. And Original Earwigs/Spider's guitarist John Tatum left the Spiders to join a band with future Tube Bill Spooner, replacing a certain Michael Bruce who in turn replaced him in The Spiders'.

Once the two bands left Phoenix, the Coopers to Los Angeles and the Tubes to San Francisco, they both developed the early theatrical ideas into much bigger productions, but took things in slightly different directions. While Alice Cooper was always a rock band with theatrics, The Tubes became a real multi-media production where the often satirical theatrics were almost as important as the music. Their extravagent shows became legendary, featuring dancers, acrobats, TV's screens and anything else they could think of, often with a definite x-rated theme.

In 1973 Prairie Prince, by then also a well known graphic artist as well as The Tubes' drummer, designed the famous 'Billion Dollar Babies' tour poster.

The two acts eventually played together again in 1977 at the opening show on the 'King Of The Silver Screen' tour at Anaheim Stadium. Other shows were mentioned in the press at the time but it doesn't appear that The Tubes played on any other dates at that point.

In 2017 the Tubes finally toured with Alice when they opened the UK 'Paranormal' shows, which also featured the original band, it was reportedy fascinating to sit in the room while the old friends, Neal, Dennis, Michael, with Rick Anderson, Praire Prince and Roger Steen, reminisced about the old days, recalling shared experiences and other old friends.
Unfortunatly the shows didn't really allow the band to show themselves at their best. They were placed in the opening slot with UK goth band 'The Mission' stuck between them and Alice, which reduced their stage time to around 40 minutes. With so little time they elected to cut most of singer Fee Waybill's between song banter, and many of their most classic songs, in order to cram as much into the set as possible. As good as they were it really didn't do them justice. Sound issues at some shows didn't help them either.