Tag Archives: Alice Cooper

ALICE COOPER – Killer and Schools Out to get deluxe reissues on Cd & vinyl


Alice Cooper was unstoppable during the 1970s when the band released four consecutive platinum albums and five Top 40 hits like “I’m Eighteen,” “School’s Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and “Elected.” Rhino will reissue two of those platinum albums – Killer (1971) and School’s Out (1972) – with newly remastered sound, rare recordings, and previously unreleased live performances.

Both Deluxe Editions will be released on June 9 as 2-CD sets and 3-LP versions on 180-gram vinyl. 

The vinyl versions for both Deluxe Edition recreate the original album sleeves down to the smallest detail. For Killer, that means a gatefold sleeve that opens to reveal a detachable 1972 calendar with a photo of Cooper in the gallows. The cover of School’s Out looks like a wooden school desk and opens to reveal the LP wrapped in a pair of panties. The band stopped including the underwear following a controversy as to whether or not they were flammable. Thankfully, the lacy unmentionables in the new Deluxe Edition are not a fire hazard.

Both sets come with booklets that include track-by-track commentary by band members and former Creem Magazine editor Jaan Uhelszki, plus liner notes by Bill Holdship, also a former Creem Magazine editor.

SCHOOL’S OUT (DELUXE EDITION) begins with a newly remastered version of the 1972 original, which peaked at #2 on the albums chart. Essential tracks like “Luney Tune” and “Alma Mater” are joined by “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets.” The latter is an homage to West Side Story, a significant influence on the band. The song incorporates lyrics from “Jet Song” from the 1957 musical, which led to an unlikely songwriting credit for Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim on an Alice Cooper track.

The Deluxe Edition contains rarities like the single versions of “School’s Out” and “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets.” Two previously unreleased tracks are also included, an alternate version of “Alma Mater” and an early demo for “Elected,” a song that would appear in 1973 on the band’s first #1 album, Billion Dollar Babies.

Alice Cooper’s concert in Miami on May 27, 1972, adds even more unreleased music to the collection. The show was recorded a few weeks before the band entered the studio to record School’s Out. The live performance features standout versions of “Halo Of Flies,” “School’s Out,” and “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” a song that gives Cooper a chance to show off his impressive harmonica skills.

Check out an Unreleased Live Version Of “Be My Lover” Out Today – https://rhino.lnk.to/PA9BML

Vinyl Track Listing
LP One: Original Album Remastered
Side One
1.       “School’s Out”
2.       “Luney Tune”
3.       “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets”
4.       “Street Fight” (Instrumental)
5.       “Blue Turk”
Side Two
1.       “My Stars”
2.       “Public Animal #9”
3.       “Alma Mater”
4.       “Grande Finale” (Instrumental)
LP Two: Live in Miami, FL (May 27, 1972)
Side One
1.       “Public Animal #9/Be My Lover” *
2.       “You Drive Me Nervous” *
3.       “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” *
4.       “I’m Eighteen” *
Side Two
1.       “Halo Of Flies” *
2.       “Dead Babies” *
3.       “Killer” *
LP Three: Live in Miami, FL (May 27, 1972)
Side One
1.       “Long Way To Go”*
2.       “School’s Out” *
3.       “Is It My Body?” *
Side Two: Studio Extras
1.       “School’s Out” (Single Version)
2.       “Gutter Cat” (Single Version)
3.       “Alma Mater” (Alternate Version) *
4.       “Elected” (Early Demo Take) *
* Previously Unreleased

KILLER (DELUXE EDITION) introduces a newly remastered version of the original release, which peaked at #21 on the Billboard albums chart. Along with the singles “Under My Wheels” and “Be My Lover,” the record also includes “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” “Desperado,” and the prog-rock-inspired epic “Halo Of Flies.” The bonus material features alternate takes for “You Drive Me Nervous,” “Under My Wheels,” and “Dead Babies.”

The collection also gives fans an unreleased live recording of the band’s performance at Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico on April 2, 1972. Recorded a few months before the band returned to the studio to make School’s Out, the show previews “Public Animal #9” from the upcoming album. The band played most of Killer during the concert, including “You Drive Me Nervous,” “Under My Wheels,” and “Halo Of Flies.” They also tapped the group’s 1971 album, Love It to Death, for live versions of “Is It My Body?,” “Long Way To Go,” and the smash hit “I’m Eighteen.”

Vinyl Track Listing
LP One: Original Album Remastered
Side One
1.       “Under My Wheels”
2.       “Be My Lover”
3.       “Halo Of Flies”
4.       “Desperado”
Side Two
1.       “You Drive Me Nervous”
2.       “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”
3.       “Dead Babies”
4.       “Killer”
LP Two: Live at Mar Y Sol Pop Festival, Puerto Rico (April 2, 1972)
Side One
1.       “Public Animal #9/Be My Lover” *
2.       “You Drive Me Nervous” *
3.       “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” *
4.       “I’m Eighteen” *
Side Two
1.       “Halo Of Flies” *
2.       “Is It My Body?” *
LP Three: Live at Mar Y Sol Pop Festival, Puerto Rico (April 2, 1972)
Side One
1.       “Dead Babies” *
2.       “Killer” *
3.       “Long Way To Go” *
Side Two
1.       “Under My Wheels” *
Studio Extras
2.       “You Drive Me Nervous” (Alternate Version)
3.       “Under My Wheels” (Alternate Version)
4.       “Dead Babies” (Alternate Version)

To Pre-Order: https://store.rhino.com/en/rhino-store/artists/alice-cooper/

NEAL SMITH – Interview from the archives, 1996

This interview was done in June of 1996.  Through a friend (and associate of Neal’s – Billy James) I was able to send Neal plenty of questions, and he gladly answered them on a cassette and sent them back. (Note that this interview was done well before the death of Glenn Buxton. )

I did another interview with Neal in 2014 (which I’ll re-post here in the future). Neal has a new album coming out ‘Killsmith Goes West‘ – check out my review and news of it elsewhere at this site.

What are your memories of the earliest gigs the band ever played under the names prior to the Alice Cooper Group [i.e.:  What sort of venues?  Responses?  Set-lists?]. 

Some of the first memories I have are of The Nazz – that was when I’d joined the group in the fall of 1967. We were playing a lot of clubs, and once in a while we were on Arizona local television. It was basically the biggest clubs in the South-West that we were playing at the time, as well as Los Angeles. The responses were always positive. One of the main things we always tried to do was have people walk away with a reaction. The set list at that time included all of the songs from the Pretties For You , which we recorded on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records. There were some songs we also did which were songs that were later re-written and recorded for later Warner Brothers albums.

Who were some of your own musical influences and ‘heroes’ starting out [any favorite drummers back then]?

Some of my own musical influences at the time were from when I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s like Gene Krupa and Sandy Nelsen — a lot of the big band sound and pop together. Of course, when the British Invasion happened I was influenced to an extent by the likes of Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts because I liked what they did with what they were playing musically on records with The Beatles and Rolling Stones. From a theatrical stand-point I really liked Keith Moon and Mitch Mitchell (from Jimi Hendrix’ band). I also liked Ginger Baker, but probably more from a playing stand-point. He is, I think, probably the best drummer of the rock era.

How did the whole ALICE COOPER concept evolve [i.e.: from the time you chose that name]?

The concept for Alice Cooper really came from when we all went to art school together. Alice, Glen, and myself were all art majors. We liked to employ the mixture of art and theatre into the music. That was simply the concept, just something that nobody had done before. Even before the name Alice Cooper came along, when we played we tried to have people walk away, and the one thing we wanted them to do – was never forget the band!

No matter what we had to do to make that happen!

The first 2 AC albums were so strange (in retrospect), what influenced a lot of the sounds and production ?

Yes, they were a little different for the time. Any influence that we had, again being art majors and wanting to do something completely different – that was our approach. We had a few other influences like early Syd Barrett with the original Pink Floyd.  I liked a lot of the things with sounds that they played around with at the time. Also, Stockhausen – electronic music that was coming out of Germany and Europe at that time. There was just a lot of experimentation with instruments, instruments that every group had – 2 guitars, bass, drums, and a singer.

How did the band hook up with Shep Gordon and Warners?

Shep Gordon and Joey Greenburg were partners and we signed with them. They were just out to Los Angeles from Buffalo, New York. They’d graduated from Business College at the University Of Buffalo. My sister – Cindy Dunaway, who’s married to Dennis, worked at a boutique store in LA, and at the time had a lot to do with our clothing and image.  So, Shep and Joe came into the boutique and I guess they were talking, and she asked them what they did, and they said that they manage bands. She said “my brother’s in a band, and they need a manager!” We hooked up from that point on.  Of course, Warner Brothers bought out Straight Records, which was Frank Zappa’s label and there was 10 bands – which I still think was one of the most amazing business deals ever done at the time. Warner Brothers bought out 10 bands from Straight Records for about $50 000 at that time – 1969-70.  This was already after we’d recorded Easy Action. Linda Ronstadt was with a band called “Stone Ponies” and also James Taylor was in one of the groups that Frank Zappa had at the time, so they kinda got Alice Cooper as a bonus because they’d (Warners) really wanted Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.

What influence, advice, and ideas did Bob Ezrin bring with him when you began to record with him for Love It To Death?

Well again, it was our first album for Warner Brothers, we were now with a major label, we had incredible management, we were making a presence with the underground – very strongly with Pretties For You and Easy Action and the affiliation with Frank Zappa at the time. We wanted to break-out, not really into the mainstream, but hit more people with our impact, so we needed someone who’d take our music to the level of what our show was and where we really wanted to be. Bob Ezrin, at the time, was with Nimbus 9 Studios in Toronto. He was just starting out, the same as Shep and the band; we were all starting from the same place. Bob’s influence was very substantial in really taking the songs and working with us on arrangements. Lyrically, Alice – I still think is one of the best rock lyricist that’s ever been around. So, to take those lyrics and to take the ideas of our music, which the majority of was written by Mike, although Dennis and myself also influenced the music as well. Bob really took it and put it all together, and worked quite closely with the band. He was really, in my opinion, like the 6th member of the band! One other thing – Bob not only was an incredible influence on the music, but keeping in mind the “theatre” of the band, and keeping in mind what we did on stage and implementing that in a musical expression on our records, as well as what we did live. That was a lot of the “magic” of what Bob and the band did together.

What was the songwriting process in the original AC band?

That’s an interesting question.   I think we probably utilized every possible aspect of songwriting. A song like “School’s Out” – everybody wrote together.  Some of the riffs from that song were done a long time ago in the early days before we even recorded. A better example is “Elected” which was originally on Pretties For You and was called “Reflected”; we’d re-wrote it. Anything from that period of time (Pretties For You and Easy Action), we basically wrote together.  We would come up with songs either from a group jam where everybody is together working out a concept or idea and Alice would work on lyrics.  We would also brainstorm on the lyrics. The other way was that Mike would write a song, bring it to Alice and then there was lyrical changes on it.  A great example of this is “No More Mister Nice Guy”.  Another example of co-writing was Dennis and Mike writing “Under My Wheels”, and from the standpoint of the lyrics they were very involved and then Alice came in and worked on the lyrics as well. And to this day it’s one of my favorite all-time Alice Cooper songs!  There was also songs in the band that members wrote by themselves like “Black Ju-Ju” – Dennis basically wrote that song and “Hallowed Be My Name”, from the Love It To Death album is a song I wrote in it’s entirety. It was always fun and it was always a very creative process.  One of the last songs we ever wrote together was from Billion Dollar Babies. We needed 1 more song, it was “Generation Landslide”, again one of my favorite songs.  We had needed 1 more song for the album and we were in London recording at the time, and we just had to get out of town – go rehearse and write a song.  We went down to the Canary Islands and there was a brand new hotel that was being built.  We rented the whole top of the hotel, moved in, took our equipment – just enough to set up a little studio and write a song.  I started playing the drum beat to “Generation Landslide”, Mike joined in, and in a couple of days we’d developed the song.  We wrote the song as a group and everyone participated in it’s creation.  Usually last songs can be filler, but I think that was an incredible song!

What influenced the words to some of the bands’ biggest hits, such as ‘Eighteen’ & ‘Be My Lover’?

With “Eighteen” we wanted to have a hit song as we’d never had one, and this was our third album (Love It To Death).  We wanted something that was going to be timely, and the subject of being 18 years of age at that time was a very hot subject!  We wanted something like an anthem, and I certainly think “Eighteen” succeeded.  “Be My Lover” was from the standpoint of a “cabaret” kind of thing.  Alice used “Katchina” – the snake, on stage, and even throughout the ’80s he used the snake during “Be My Lover”.   It was a fun song; I always liked playing that one.

What is the story behind the sessions for the Billion Dollar Babies album  [i.e.:  who were guest on it that is not written in the credits]?

We recorded it at our mansion in Greenwich Connecticut, in London England at Morgan Studios, and at The Record Plant in New York.  All the songs were recorded by the band.  There was a jam session in London that Keith Moon, Harry Nilson and Mark Bolan from T-TEX attended.  Flo and Eddie were there too as were a couple of other friends that had played with us on albums – Mick Mashbir, who later played some guitar on Muscle Of Love.  They were in the session, but it was nothing that was ever on the record. It was a fun jam session and a great party!!

How did you and the rest of the band deal with the fame and success?

We’d played for about 10 years, and it was almost like a non-stop party.  We had worked very, very hard to achieve what we had achieved at that time, and we were all enjoying it.  It wasn’t a situation where it was a bad thing – it never was!  We got along great together, and to this day we still get along great.

With Alice, himself, being more in the public eye than the rest of the band as a whole, create any bitterness or animosity amongst band members?

To tell you the truth when the band first was together and went on the road in the late ’60s, there was a lot of time where we could all go to the radio stations and do the interviews.  We could all do the interviews with the magazines.  It was a little hectic with 5 people, but we all had the time to do it.  As things changed there was times when Mike, Dennis and I or Alice and I would do the interviews.  If Alice couldn’t make it I did the interview – it just depended.  It was a situation that was orchestrated by the band.  As the pressure became greater later on and the band had to do sound checks at big concerts, and we’d traveled so much that by the time we got to the venue our thing was the music and Alice would go to the radio stations and do his things.  Everybody had their job.  There was never any bitterness.  It was a lot of work and everyone had their job to do at that particular time. We all shared equally in the band.  Everyone had their own weight to pull and we did it to the best of our ability in always trying to put on a great show – no matter what the bottom line was!

Why did the band decide to record Muscle of Love so soon after B$B’s, instead of taking a needed break?

I don’t know if there was a needed break.  We actually took the break after Muscle Of Love.  First of all. we recorded albums, and we played concerts – that’s what we did for many years.  After Billion Dollar Babies we wanted to get in to the studio.  We’d been playing those songs for a year now and we had a whole new group of songs that we wanted to put down; we had a new concept.  There was actually even songs for an album after that! And that’s why Muscle Of Love was recorded, and then the Greatest Hits came after that.

Why were two guest guitar-players used on that album?  Was it due to Glen’s ‘health’?  [Stories that Glen was so ill on the last few tours that in fact someone else played his parts from behind the stage  – True?]

Dick Wagner, who was a very good friend of Bob Ezrin came in and did some guest spots on some albums for a little bit different texture or flavor. Mick Mashbir, who was a long time friend of mine from high school – even before I was ever involved with the guys in the group, he played lead guitar on some of the live shows. What was happening was when we got into Billion Dollar Babies on stage the show was becoming bigger, we needed more music, more musicians.   With what we were doing on the albums – we wanted to portray that more live.  So, we needed a keyboard player, Bob Dolin, and we needed another guitar player – so Mick played for us in the back-ground on the Billion Dollar Babies Tour, as well as some lead work on Muscle Of Love.

Glen always played “School’s Out” and “18” – those were his songs.  All the hits he would do.  He contributed immensely to those songs. Those songs were never the same without him. Yes there was people who played with us live on stage, and they actually had their own section in that they were in the spotlight as well. There wasn’t anything hidden about it or anything like that.  Yes there was a period of time, unfortunately, with the Billion Dollar Babies tour, that Glen wasn’t feeling too well, but he’s a trooper.  He went on the road with us and it was one of the highest grossing tours at the time.  It wouldn’t have been the same without him, that’s for sure !

Do you feel that Muscle Of Love is an overlooked album?  It is my personal favorite ACG album.

I don’t think it’s that overlooked.  I think it was an interesting turn for us to do the Muscle Of Love album.  It’s one of my favorite albums too.  It was fun recording it.  Bob Ezrin unfortunately, didn’t help us out on the production – it was Jack Douglas.  That was one of Jack Douglas’ first albums before working with Aerosmith, and then Jack Richardson also helped. He’d originally started with us on Love It To Death.  He produced The Guess Who, some of their biggest hits.  Bob Ezrin was Jack Richardson’s protégé.  Prior to albums to that, the 2 or 3 before, we’d shipped over 1 million copies the first week. Muscle Of Love came out and it sold 800 000 copies the first month, so it was a little bit off the mark.  It wasn’t followed up with a major stage show worldwide, and I think that may have been a part of it.

During your time with AC you recorded a much publicized solo album (The Platinum God).  What is the story behind it  [i.e. :  Who played on it ?  Who wrote?  Sang?  Why has it never been released?]

I guess it got a lot of publicity (!?)  It was a concept that I’d been working on.  I wrote all the songs, and sang all the songs on the tape.  The guitar player was Mike Marconi.   He was a musician I had met while we were on the road in the Rochester area. I went to see him play live in a club one night and liked his work, so we ended up working together.  Jack Douglas produced the tapes, Dennis played bass, Mike Marconi played the lead guitar, and there was another guitar player – Stu Day.   Stu had a band out of New York called “The Mix” in the mid to late ’70s. Then there was some orchestrations where I had brass sections and string sections – which was actually the New York Philharmonic at the time on the tapes.  We had taken them (the tapes) to a lot of record companies, and I guess being the “shock-rock” band, or whatever we were at that particular time; this tape was actually pretty shocking to them in a lot of respects.   And to this day I think that’s a great aspect to these tapes. On the song “Platinum God” itself, I just had no clue as to what was going on. It’s an interesting mixture between contemporary drumming and primitive drumming, and mixed with the concept.   Who knows – maybe someday it’ll still be released , I don’t know !

Did the band intend on getting back together following the “Greatest Hits” release?

The band still might get together!  Who knows?  Of course we planned on getting together.  That’s kind of a crazy question !

What did you do in the first few years following the break-up of the band?

We took the year off.  We had worked very hard, as I mentioned previously.  It was a lot of fun but a lot of work too.  We’d travelled all around the world.  We’d gone from obscurity to fulfilling our dream of bringing what we did that was so different and exciting to the music world and bringing in theatre – an element that had never really been brought into play before that period of time.   And still to this day, I think that of all the great stage shows you see – that did not exist before we were on stage.  There’s no doubt in my mind that what we did has influenced music for the past 2 decades – especially from a live presentation standpoint.  But there comes a point in time where you have to take a break from it all.   We’d all lived together under the same roof for all that time and when we took that year off everybody got their own places, and got a chance to relax and get into who they were.  And like I said, you just can never know what’s going to happen!?

Were you ever bitter that Alice, himself, carried on without you guys making a living out of the songs and ideas that you all contributed to?

If anything, I’m proud of what Alice has done on his own.   I’m always extremely impressed with him and any of his lyrics I hear.  Some of his songs from Welcome To My Nightmare, and even to his newest album – The Last Temptation, there’s some songs that I’d have loved to have played the drums on.  When he’s out on the road he’s playing a lot of the Greatest Hits – songs that we all wrote on, played on, and made famous.  So, the word wouldn’t be “bitter”, but “proud”!  I’m extremely happy that he does so well.  We’re still good friends; he’s even helped me get bitten by the “Golf-bug” here.   He’s an incredible golfer!!  We get together and play once in a while.  At any rate, basically what I think of his albums is that they’ve been great.

In 1977 yourself, Dennis Dunaway, and Michael Bruce formed a band ‘BILLION DOLLAR BABIES’.   How did that all come about?  Bob Dolin had previously guested on Muscle Of Love,  who was he and who was Mike Marconi?

After Muscle Of Love there was a pile of songs written, this was past out solo projects.   We got together and we wanted to record an album.  We put all the music together.   We had Bob Dolin on keyboards from the Muscle Of Love album, and Mike Marconi – from my Platinum God project.

Did B$B’s record anything past the Battle Axe album?   Did you tour?  And why did it fall apart?

We recorded a demo song past that.  We did do a tour; we played around the country.  Again, it was a great concept.  It would’ve been fun if the whole band could’ve done it, but it worked on it’s own.  I guess the main thing was the 3 points in the “triple crown” for the success of the Alice Cooper Band was certainly the band – it’s creativity and writing.  The second was Shep Gordon – our management and the leadership that he had in the field. And then (third) Bob Ezrin in producing the records.  Bob worked closely with making the music and records happen, and then Shep took it and put it over with the record company and made everything else work, like the publicity and all that.  We were spoiled by that sort of a formula and the B$B’s did not have that formula.

Who have you kept in touch with over the years?  Ref. to Michael, Dennis, Alice, and Glenn.

Of course with Dennis – he’s my brother-in-law, and he lives very close to where I do in Connecticut.  Michael Bruce and I talk, I’ve seen him in Arizona several times.  I’ve probably seen Alice more than Glen and Mike.  Glen, I haven’t seen in quite a long time, but I do talk to Glen a lot as well.  Yes, I get along with everybody in the band, and I always wish them all the best – all the time.

You and Dennis played on Buck Dharma’s 1981 solo album Flat Out.   How did all that come about?  Do you keep in contact with Buck?

Donald “Buck” Dharma was a very good friend of ours.  As a matter of fact the Alice Cooper Band had played some shows in the 70s where Blue Oyster Cult had opened for us.  We got along pretty well.  So, when Buck did the solo album he had asked Dennis and I to play on some of the tracks for him.  I co-wrote the song “Born To Rock”, and it became the single from the album, and the video that was on MTV. He (Buck) and his family are very good friends of ours.  Even though they don’t live in the State anymore we still keep in touch.

What sort of recording and playing did you do throughout the ’80s?  Much session work?

In 1981 I played drums on a complete album by The Plasmatics called Beyond The Valley Of 1984. That was a pretty cool project.  I enjoyed working with them.  I did co-write a song with Joe Bouchard of BOC for the Revolution By Night album.  The song was called “Shadows Of California”, that was recorded in 1983.  Then I did some solo recordings during the mid-80s.  Then I got into the profession I’m in now.

What’s the story behind ‘DEADRINGER’?

DEADRINGER was Joe Bouchard from BOC, Dennis Dunaway, and the singer was Charlie Huhn from Ted Nugent’s band, “Intensities In 10 Cities” – those days.  I think Charlie’s an incredible singer, and we were lucky to have him work together with us in 1989 for an album called “Electrocution Of The Heart”.  It was released on Grudge Records in 89.  The guitar player was a guy who I’d been working with and writing songs with in Connecticut for the last 10 years; his name was J. Jesse Johnson.  He was really the focal point of the band as far as the music goes; he’d written a lot of the songs, and helped to co-write some of the others with me that were on the record. It was a great record, and we had a lot of fun recording it.  I do wish we had had more time in the studio. It may be re-released on another label soon, because it was a great record.

How did you get involved with ANT BEE?

Billy James (ANT BEE) was a friend of Mike Bruce’s and through Mike is how I met Billy.  There was a portion of The Platinum God tape that Billy sampled and was on his new album.  It sounds really cool, and I’m pretty pleased with that.   He’s a very talented guy, and a good man !

Do you have any plans for future recording and/or session projects in the future?

You never know what this business can bring!   I have a studio in my own home.  I’ve always maintained the studio, and every year I try to make it a little bigger and better.  I’m always writing.  Over the years, with the help of Mike Bruce, I taught myself how to play guitar and piano, so I know enough that it helps me write.  And then I work with somebody that’s incredibly talented like J. Jessie Johnson or Mike Bruce!  I am always looking to write; I love to write and collaborate with people.  Do I have a dying urge to get back on the road? I’ve really already done that! I love drums, that’s my biggest thing in life, naturally! I still have almost every drum kit I’ve ever had.  I have over 100 of them at home! I noticed a new book called “The Stars’ Sets”, and it covers the 1930s to 1995.  They have a great picture of one of my first Slingerland kits in there that Slingerland gave us.  The Love It To Death and Killer albums were recorded on that set of drums.  I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing right now, (real estate).  I write in the studio, send Alice songs once in a while.  Mike Bruce has heard my songs; I’ve heard some of Mikes’. He still writes incredible songs.  A great songwriter!!  That’s a natural combination with Mike, Dennis and I together – we play any song, like “My Stars”, or any song that the original Alice Cooper band did and it will sound exactly like the record.

Do you ever fore-see yourself working with any of the original AC band guys again?  Is there ever a possibility of a reunion?

I’m friends with everybody, I work with everybody.  Dennis and I play a lot, Mike and I played last year when I went out to Arizona, and we did some jamming on some of his songs.  I got together with Alice, gave him some songs, and we kicked around some ideas.  I don’t have a crystal ball to know what’s going to happen in the future, but I’d be the first one to bring my drums to a session if we ever did decide to do anything!  But, it’d have to be just for fun – that would be the bottom line to ever doing anything.

What do you do outside of music?   How did you get into real estate?

I really do music as a hobby now.  Real Estate is my main profession.  It’s a very serious and professional business, but I have a lot of fun with it in the Connecticut area.  I got into it when the band was together.  We made investments in real estate, individually and as a group.  I found it fascinating, and it was another way that I could make an income. I enjoy it a lot, and love this part of the country.  People do say “from rock ‘n’ roll to real estate – what the heck is that all about?”.  But we did have the opportunity to invest and learn a lot about it in the early ’70s, so it was a natural progression – a natural step.  Is it as much fun as going on the road?  Maybe not, but, it’s not as tiring either.

Do you follow current music?  Thoughts on today’s scene as opposed to the early 70’s?

Not as much, I really just don’t have the time. I never really followed current music in the old days.  Once we’d started as a group I was so concentrated on what we were doing, and not paying too much attention to other bands. But when I hear a band like The Counting Crows – I think that’s a great band.  The Smashing Pumpkins are another good band.  The one thing that I really like about a band like Smashing Pumpkins is that that drummer who was in the band, actually plays drums, and is a significant part of their sound.  There was so much music in the ’80s where the drums were just a particular sound – they were just there!  But now, the drummers that I’ve heard sound like they’re musicians again, and actually contributing to the sound of their groups!   It just seemed like in the late 60s – early 70s that there was a lot more excitement in music.  There was a lot going on then, and I think it was socially and politically as well. With Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement, there was a lot of things changing in the States. Music has always been sort of a barometer of what’s going on with social event.  That is why I still like to listen to the old music.  The country scene, of course these days, has changed immensely from what it used to be many years ago.  I like music whether it’s a Broadway play, Big Band, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Punk.  If it’s a great song – it’s a great song and it holds no matter what the style of music.

Have you ever thought of writing a book ? (As Michael Bruce recently has.) And, can you give us a favorite story from the road?

Well, if there was ever an Alice Cooper story – there’d be 5 different versions of that story! Every guy in the group would have his own version.  So if everybody wrote their own book, believe me – they would all be completely different!  They’d be parallel to a certain extent, but a lot of different stories would come about. It’s interesting every time we sit down, either with Mike or Alice, one of the guys will remember something that the other guys just totally forgot. It’d be more fun, I think, if all sat down and just started talking into tape recorders and let somebody else write the book.   A story?   When we were in Paris we played in The Pierre Cardin Theatre. I think it was the “Killer” or “School’s Out” show (I’m not quite sure!).  After the show Bianca Jagger and Natalie Delone were there and Alice and I were kind of hanging out with them for the evening.  Pierre Cardin was a big fan of ours, and in France Alice Cooper was a very very “hip” thing.  Every time we went over there we were treated incredibly well. All in all I think most French people seem to not to like Americans, but for some reason (ha) we weren’t average Americans. Anyway, in the evening after the performance they had a big area for entertaining and what have you. They didn’t have any Smirnoff Vodka there; they had some other vodkas, but that’s what I was interested in drinking that evening.  So Pierre Cardin said that he didn’t have any there, but he did at home in his apartment. So he went out, took a taxi, got the vodka and came back!! It made no sense to me, but he was more than cordial and happy to help out. Everybody in Paris was just incredible to us, and all over Europe too!  One other story is from when we were over in London. Alice and I used to like to play a lot of pool together, billiards.  As a matter of fact we had an on-going game, and I think Alice still owes me $65! We had our rehearsals in Greenwich (Connecticut). We had a very large solarium with a pool table in it. So Alice and I would play for the period of time that the band was tuning up. It was a fun game. Anyway, we went over to London on one of our first tours through Europe, and they of course – play “snooker” over there!  One evening we went out and there was Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood, and we were at one of their houses (I forget who’s).  Alice and I figured we could learn this game, you know – you had a cue stick and balls, and a velvet table.  And actually we got our butt’s kicked — a couple of times!  Later on we finally ended up beating them though.  So, we had to adapt to the European form of the pool game.  That was a cool night, we’d never played it before.  I could go on and on and talk about different stories all night,…  and most of them we probably couldn’t print anyway!!  





SAXON – More Inspirations, out now

SAXON recently released a sequel to their 2021 covers’ album Inspirations. So, More Inspirations is 10 classic rock songs that have been been given the Saxon treatment. I do Not normally like or buy covers’ albums, but the 2 Saxon have made I am happy with. The band tends to choose plenty less-then obvious gems to include. They also keep the production simple, without adding things that are not part of the song or not part of the Saxon sound, hence there’ s no keyboards on the likes of “Gypsy” (Uriah Heep), or “Man On The Silver Mountain” (Rainbow), which is fine, both still sound great!.

Favorites here include the band’s takes on “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” (Cream), “Substitute” (The Who), “From The Inside” (Alice Cooper), and Nazareth’s “Razamanaz”, which suits Saxon & Biff’s voice perfectly! Love the band’s performances here, and Biff has one of the most recognizable voices in British rock. Well worth checking out!





ALICE COOPER – Billion Dollar Babies @ 50

Billion Dollar Babies was Alice Cooper’s peak, as a band, massively huge at the time, and still (arguably) the most important in the AC catalogue (band or solo!). Released in March of 1973, it would be a #1 album in the US, the UK, and Finland, as well as #2 in Canada, and top 10 in a few others. The band’s previous album, School’s Out had given the #1 hit and most famous AC track ever – “School’s Out”, and the album was a big seller, but there were no further singles. The band reworked the song “Reflected”, from their 1968 debut Pretties For You in time for the 1972 presidential election, even making a promotional film out of it, though that featured more of the chimp than bandmembers (aside from Alice). “Elected” would be the first of 4 hit singles from Billion Dollar Babies, released September 13 of 1972., months ahead of the album. Credited to the entire band, “Elected” gave Alice Cooper their 2nd Top 10 hit in the UK, as well as being Top 10 in a number of European countries, And reaching #26 in the US the week of the election! The song would remain in Alice’s live set, post-original band, often being used as an encore. The song also picks up radio play every election year.

Record World, Sept 23, ’72 Amidst a continually broadening sphere of activities, Alice Cooper has not neglected this election year, and has just released a new single, “Elected.” The music and lyrics of the song were written by all five members of the group. “Elect-ed” took ten days to record, with basic tracks recorded at the Cooper Estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. To add authenticity to the sound of “Elected,” Alice makes use of Will Jordan’s impersonation of Walter Winchell, as well as recorded portions of the Democratic Convention in Miami. Also, the record ends with Alice giving a campaign speech. In keeping with the laws pertaining to full disclosure of campaign funds and expenses, Alice wishes to note that the recording costs of “Elected” were $10,000, inclusive. Warner Brothers has initiated a national campaign for “Warner Bros. Elected Alice Cooper Days” September 18th and 19th, which will consist of promo men dressed as Uncle Sam along with two models in red, white, and blue outfits to present the record to program directors at each station. (Robert Feiden)

Alice S -elected
With Alice Cooper’s latest record “Elected,” racing through the country, Louis Araiza, a student at the University of Houston took the lyric seriously. It seems he found a loophole in the bylaws governing the Student Union at the university and had Alice Cooper elected homecoming “queen.” It was never specified in the bylaws as to what sex a homecoming queen has to be Araiza explained. Alice Cooper, the male, lead -singer of the rock group bearing the same name may be cancelling a portion of his upcoming European tour to fly to Houston on November 11 to accept a loving cup during the half-time, coronation festivities in Dome Stadium, the 49,000 capacity home of the University of Houston Cougars.

So, tracks for Billion Dollar Babies were recorded over a 5 month period. A second single was released prior to the album – “Hello Hooray” , in January of ’73. The song was picked for use as the album’s and the live show’s opener. “Hello Hooray” was written by Canadian Rolf Kempf (thus qualifying AC’s single as CanCon), and originally recorded by folk singer Judy Collins for her 1968 album Who Knows Where The Time Goes (featuring Stephen Stills on guitar throughout the album). The AC single would reach top 10 in the UK and the Netherlands, top 20 in other countries, and #35 in the US. Further versions of the song included American folk singer Meg Christian (1974), UK industrial/alternative act PIG (1992), and Rolf Kempf, himself, released a version of his song on his 1993 CD Woodstock Album. “Hello Hooray” was also used for years as the opener to Toronto’s Q107 Radio’s Psychedelic Sunday program.

 “That song was presented to us. I still have the reel to reel tape with the original song on it; I guess Judy Collins did a version of it just before we did, so. We didn’t normally do someone else’s material because we were such avid writers, ourselves, but for the beginning of the album, Billion Dollar Babies, and for the beginning of the Billion Dollar Babies show it seemed to be perfect!” – Neal Smith (2014)

Side one of Billion Dollar Babies could be seen more as the ‘singles’ side, while Side 2 would be more of the ghoulish side. Aside from the first 2 singles, the first side also featured the album’s 4th single, the title track. The song, “Billion Dollar Babies” was based around that classic drum intro from Neal Smith, while the song is co-credited to Alice, himself, Michael Bruce, and Rockin’ Reggie Vincent (Vinson). It is another that has remained in Alice’s live show ever since. As a single, was released in July, charting in Germany (#30) and the US (#57).

 “Rockin Reggie was a friend of our’s, used to hang out with the band; he was from Detroit originally. We would party with him a lot, and when we moved to Connecticut he would come and hang out with us. He was a good friend of Glen’s, and he was a guitar player and a singer, with kind of a Nashville influence. And he had a song, and it eventually evolved in to the song Billion Dollar Babies. So that is why he (Reginald Vincent) has a writing credit on Billion Dollar Babies. So, we worked on it at our mansion house, in Greenwich, and I had always loved the Rolling Stones intro from Charlie Watts to the song ‘[Hey You] Get Off Of My Cloud’. I thought that was very cool, and as a drummer I always used to like to write songs for drummers, because people listen to songs and think ‘that’s cool’, but if I was a drummer listening to an Alice Cooper song – what would be cool about it? And I always tried to have something special in there that would get someone’s interest. ” – NS (2014)

“Raped And Freezin”, a tale co-written by Alice and Michael Bruce was the second track on side one, and is straight up memorable rocker, with a title/subject matter that may not fly today. An interesting twist though. This is one of my favorites here.

Side one closes out with “Unfinished Sweet”, credited to Bruce, Cooper, and Neal Smith. It tells the horror of going to the dentist for some painful gum work, complete with sounds of a drill and Alice moaning in pain.

Of the many outside players and guests on the album were guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, who’d appeared on previous AC recordings, as well as fellow Phoenix player Mick Mashbir. Mashbir would eventually go on to play live on the band’s next couple of tours. Bob Dolin would play keyboards (as well as live), and numerous other guests appeared, notably Donovan Leitch swapping vocals on the title track. That Donovan vocal was recorded during sessions at Morgan Studios in London, England, which rumored to have included numerous others via a jam session. The press did report that a Marc Bolan guitar solo made it on to “Hello Hooray”, but most involved only confirm that the Donovan vocal was the Only guest appearance used from those sessions. Billion Dollar Babies also would be the last ‘band’ album produced by Bob Ezrin.

Mick Mashbir on recording on Billion Dollar Babies – “It was actually Mike Bruce that made that happen. GB was basically on strike. He didn’t want to be in the same room as Michael or Bob Ezrin and they were rehearsing for the next record, B$B. ….
I played on every track except “Elected” “Sick Things” and “Generation Landslide”. My favourite song was “No Mister Nice Guy”. I was happy with all my parts, GB was around as little as possible. We were recording in the band’s mansion and he didn’t bother to come downstairs.

The album’s third single – “No More Mr Nice Guy” opens side 2. Credited to Cooper & Bruce. In his book No More Mr Nice Guy, Michael Bruce recalls that the song had been started back around the time of making the Killer album, and that most of the song had been written by him. But lyrically it’s been fixed up to suit Alice. The track was chosen to be rush-released as a single in time for the beginning of the band’s massive tour. It would , a top 10 hit in the UK, #1 in Holland, a top 20 in a few European countries, as well as hitting #25 in the US. The song would be covered by a number of acts, notably Megadeth and Pat Boone, as well as used in a few tv shows, such as Family Guy and The Simpsons, and in the movie Dazed & Confused. I love the production on this track, the backing harmony vocals are a classic touch. From The Best Of Alice Cooper CD notes, Alice stated – “I wrote the lyrics out of anger because of how my parents were treated by some of the press. It was particularly hard because of my dad being a minister. Fact is, my parents were the only ones who knew I was a nice guy.”

All Alice Cooper singles should be up tempo and should break fast, if they are going to break at all. Therefore, we advised their management to rush out ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy'” from the album, which they are doing. – Kal Rudman, Record World.

“Sick Things” and “I Love The Dead” were the darker side of the album, with producer Bob Ezrin getting a co-writing credit on both, Both songs being slower, darker, and spookier, would be a major feature in Alice’s live show, with “I Love The Dead” being used at the show’s climax with Alice’s execution. Both tracks feature great guitar solos, and I think “I Love The Dead” is a superb ending to the album, though I am less enthused about “Sick Things”. The album’s finale was written about necrophilia, and though credited to Cooper & Ezrin, Dick Wagner would also co-write on this, without credit – “The first song we wrote together was ‘I Love The Dead’ for the Billion Dollar Babies album, but I got no credit on that either because I was told they were going to have only Alice’s name on the album and that was it, so I sold out my share of that song to them. That’s what you do when you need money, right?” -Dick Wagner (Brave Words, 2006)

Sick Things was just such a great song for us to lead in to I Love The Dead, where of course we’d cut Alice’s head off with the guillotine. And I still have the same guillotine to this day. Sick Things was just talking about necrophilia, tearing people apart and having sex with dead people.” – NS (2014)

The latter 2 tracks were connected via the piano ballad “Mary-Ann”. I think the inclusion of “Mary-Ann” wasn’t a favorable one by the entire band, with most preferring something heavier, as well as something that would be a ‘band’ song, as “Mary-Ann” was simply Alice with piano accompaniment (from someone outside the band). It would be the lone song from the album not to be featured on the ensuring tour.

“Four of us did not want “Mary Ann” on our album.   We had some killer rock songs and the best one of them should have been where ‘Mary Ann’ was. Betraying our long proven rule was a major problem, and damaging.”Dennis Dunaway (2012 Interview)

The last song recorded for Billion Dollar Babies was “Generation Landslide”. Needing one more song for the album, the band flew to the Canary Island’s and stayed at an unfinished hotel where they worked on this song as The band. It would be credited to the entire band, and featured Glen Buxton, who’s participation elsewhere on Billion Dollar Babies was said to be minimal. Alice would re-record the song for his 1981 album Special Forces, and American metal band Lizzy Borden would record an excellent version of this song on their Deal With The Devil album in 2000.

“The Alice Cooper group wrote “Generation Landslide” together from scratch.   It proved that Alice Cooper was still at our best when we were left alone.”DD

Billion Dollar Babies came in a green snake-skin wallet looking cover, a gatefold, with an inner sleeve with lyrics and band photo, as well as tear away cards of the bandmembers, which many felt the urge to tear off as the credits were on the inner gatefold behind them! Designed by Pacific Eye & Ear ( Ernie Cefalu). The package also contained a large folded ‘Billion dollar bill’ featuring the band in the middle. It was the inner sleeve photo (other side of lyrics) which would cause controversy for the band, as would be illegal to include photos of US currency –

FEDS NIX ALICE SPREAD: The Treasury Department and -the Secret Service have told Alice Cooper that it is illegal to use pictures of currency, thereby holding up plans to use a picture of Alice amid $1 million in cash on the new album `Billion Dollar Babies.” Shep Gordon, meanwhile, winged into Washington (D.C.) with a phalanx of lawyers to appeal, vowing the picture would be used. Alice’s canceled Palace Theater show, by the way, will be going on the road shortly. It’s titled after the new album. – By JOHN GIBSON

The band would go on to the biggest rock tour at the time (see below). The tour would eventually give fans the movie Good To See You Again Alice Cooper, which made a brief theatre appearance, as well as the Billion Dollar Babies Live recording, from Houston, which was included on the 2001 2CD deluxe version, as well as the 2019 Record Store Day vinyl issue.

“The biggest tour in the history of rock and roll with “The Alice Cooper Show” playing to an audience of over 820,000 people in 56 cities.” – Cash Box

Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies.” This brand new release has exploded in cites such as Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. because it is a fantastic album. They opened their record -breaking national tour last Thursday and Friday at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before 20,000 people each night. We introduced them from the stage, and I am now known as the Sixth Alice Cooper. This tour will gross 4.6 million dollars, and the second biggest tour in the history of show business, the last Rolling Stones tour, grossed 3.2 million dollars. Because of the unprecedented public demand, more shows and more cities are being added according to Ashley, and their manager, Shep Gordon (astute industry observers tell us that Shep Gordon now has to be rated as the best manager in the business, and he is spoken of in the same breath as the legendary Col. Tom Parker of Elvis Presley fame). As of now, they are booked into 60 sold -out shows in 56 cities and they will play before 820,000 people. Obviously, a tour of this magnitude deserves media attention of unprecedented magnitude and a train load of 60 press people came to Philadelphia from New York City to cover the events. Warner Brothers’ Ray Milanese and Joe Fiorentino rented a Delaware River showboat for an incredible party after the show . . – Kal Rudman, Record World

-New Alice Cooper album, “Billion Dollar Babies” is going to make believers of all who think the group is all gimmick and little talent. It’s their finest album to date, and it’s very solid, too. This is the one we’ve all been waiting for . . . – CashBox, March 17, 1973

BILLION DOLLAR BABIES – Alice Cooper – Warner Bros. BS 2685
Every time an Alice Cooper LP comes out, we claim in these pages that it’s the best they’ve done yet. And so must we still declare. Lyrically, the set is as strong as ever … “You tell me where to bite, you whet my appetite” being only one choice line. Musically, the package is clearly superior-both in melodic impact (yes, we said melodic) and arrangements. In addition to their current “Hello Hurray” and their recent “Elected,” the album contains a strong single in “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Worth every penny of it, baby!




NEAL SMITH releases latest Killsmith album

In Neal Smith’s latest release under the Killsmith character, he ventures in to country / western, with this 10-track CD, due out at the end of March. Lyrically and musically Killsmith Goes West draws inspiration & influences from old school country & western types like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Jimmy Dean, and more. So, there’s good uses of piano, slide guitar, and fiddle throughout this. There’s also some great titles and stories from song to song. I do lean a bit towards liking the lighter numbers, which there are a few of, but there are some serious rockers as well. Favorites would have to be “Sunsets Of Gold”, “Coffee, Beer & Borrowed Time”, the hard driving’ “Pull It Out Smokin'”, and “Evil Wind”.

*check out the press release below, as well as the links.

Drum Legend Neal Smith To Release the Fourth in His KillSmith Solo Series “KillSmith Goes West”

Founding member of the original Alice Cooper Group and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee

Neal Smith’s newest album, ”KillSmith Goes West,” the fourth in his KillSmith solo series, is heading in a whole new direction partner. Neal’s percussive, musical and songwriting contributions and influence to the world of rock are undisputed. From the ground breaking shock rock direction of the multi gold, multi-platinum legendary band “Alice Cooper,” until the present, Neal has always taken on the challenge of exploring new musical directions.

Neal’s early music influences were not only rock, big band swing, theater and movie music, but also country western. Growing up in Ohio, his mother, who loved live music, would often take Neal and his sister Cindy to Fixler’s Ballroom in nearby Sharon Township. Neal would often dance the “Mash Potatoes” solo with a clapping crown encircled around him, to the live band’s rousing version of “The Orange Blossom Special.” That band consisted of a drummer, guitarist, fiddle player, upright bassist and a blind piano player named Clarence. Now any band with a blind piano player named Clarence has to be a great band and this was a great country band.

In the story-telling spirit and tradition of great singer songwriter legends like Franke Lane, Johnny Horton, Jimmy Dean, Tennesee Ernie Ford, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Neal continues in that Western spirit with “KillSmith Goes West” and his ten new Outlaw Country Rock songs!!!

Neal Smith (rhythm guitar, keys, drums, percussion & lead vocals)
Rick Tedesco (lead, slide, rhythm, bass guitar, keys & backing vocals)
Peter Catucci (bass guitar & backing vocals)
Pete Hickey (keyboards)
Stu Daye (slide guitar, rhythm guitar & backing vocals, on Tattooed Cowgirl)
Arlen Roth (lead guitar)
Gary Oleyar (fiddle)

To purchase: http://nealsmithrocks.com/store

For more information:

ALICE COOPER – School’s Out at 50

OK, so I’m a few months late on this one… At some point or another over my years as an Alice Cooper fan – any of the original band’s 5 albums from from 1971 to ’73 has been my favorite, at least for a brief time. School’s Out – the album, may not top the fan polls as much as Killer or Billion Dollar Babies, but it is a tough call for me. Heck, I love Muscle Of Love as much as any of them, so for me to rank them depends on the day of the week, I guess. School’s Out – the album was preceded by “School’s Out” – the hit single. The song would reach #1 on the UK charts, top 10 in numerous others, and it would be the album’s only single! But it wouldn’t be the album’s only classic. And I’ve often wondered if the album would’ve been better served with a follow up single(!?), as there was no shortage of great choices. But as the music business moved so fast back then, the next single would be “Elected”, recorded for the US election campaign.

The album opens with Glenn Buxton’s most recognizable riff (and most iconic in AC’s catalogue) to the title track. And despite the AC band having a number of signature songs (there’s about a half dozen that Alice has always kept in his live show) – “School’s Out” is #1 with the masses, and one that can’t be covered (yeah, a few have tried, but.) School’s Out also featured “Luney Tune” (from Cooper & Dunaway) and “Public Animal #9” (Cooper & Bruce), both classic AC rebellious teen anthems that I think would’ve made excellent singles.

Anyway, following “Luney Tune” on the first side is “Gutter Cat Vs The Jets”, credited to Buxton, Dunaway, Bernstein & Sondheim . The ‘Gutter Cat’ section of the song is the tale of an alley cat, that features one of the greatest bass intros on a rock album and is a driven by Dennis Dunaway’s bass performance before it makes a change, and the band breaks in to the ‘Jets’ theme from West Side Story! The West Side Story bit ends just as the band rolls in to “Street Fight”, a short instrumental based on bass, drums, along with bottles smashing, yelling, cat’s meowing… all put together more so for theatrical purposes (stage show). The first side ends with “Blue Turk”, which though it was penned by Cooper & Bruce, this chilling classic, which I seem to think is about necrophilia (anyone?) is a very jazzy number, very different in sound and performance highlighted Dennis Dunaway’s bass playing that drives this slowly along, as well as Alice’s excellent vocal, and a trombone solo from Wayne Andre, which went uncredited! A shame as this trombone performance is most unique on a rock album, and is a major highlight on this album, IMO. “Blue Turk” is a hidden gem amongst Alice Cooper’s (original) catalogue.

Side 2 opens with “My Stars”, credited to Cooper and Bob Ezrin, who plays piano on this one, and brought in Dick Wagner to play guitar on this one. It’s an interesting track, a good side opener, with a few changes, though I’m not sure what the heck it’s about. As previously mentioned, I think “Public Animal #9” would’ve made an excellent single, it’s a great rebellious teen anthem, with Alice delivering words on bad deeds he’s done, and is ‘proud to be Public Animal #9’.

In contrast, “Alma Mater”, from Neal Smith is a ballad that reflects on his time in school making mention of pranks, teachers, high school…. nicely delivered by Alice with effect, sounding like it’s being sang into the telephone. As that track fades out “The Grand Finale” fades in, an instrumental closing number that is pretty dramatic, full of horns, and a tip to West Side Story in the end, ending with a ‘pow’; credited t the band, as well as Ezrin, Bernstein, and American tv/ Disney movie songwriter Mack David. A fine ending to this album, tho I always felt like this album was short a (real) track.

School’s Out came in a fold-out desk cover, designed by Craig Braun, which opened up showing a report card, band photo, cartoons, pencils, etc.. The desk cover concept had been used a year prior to AC, by British band Hotlegs (designed by bandmembers Goldey & Creme) on their album Thinks: School Stinks. With the School’s Out LP came a pair of women’s paper panties, which got the record seized (after it’s first print) due the panties not passing a Flammable Fabrics Test upon arrival (having been imported from the UK). As relayed in Dennis Dunaway’s book, a planned panty drop on the band’s Hollywood Bowl show from this era went sideways when panties dropped from Helicopters were blown away from the show in and landed on rooftops of nearby houses! Dunaway also brought out pink paper panties at promotional stops for his book.

From CashBox Oct, 9 ,’72 Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” on Warner Bros has run into trouble from Mrs. Mary Whitehouse, Secretary of the National Viewers and Listeners Association. She has sent letters to the BBC and education authorities complaining that the lyrics are capable of sparking off increased violence in schools this autumn. The single now topping the U.K. charts and published by Carlin Music has now passed the quarter million mark earning itself a Silver Disk.






Canadian rock biographer Jeffrey Morgan has a new book out titled Alice Cooper Confidential: Confessions! Secrets! Fan Mail! Morgan wrote for many years for iconic 70s & 80s rock mag Creem, being invited by the legendary Lester Bangs. Creem was the next biggest music publication after Rolling Stone. Morgan became Alice’s official biographer writing Alcohol and Razor Blades, Poison and Needles: The Glorious Wretched Excess of Alice Cooper, All-American, which came in the 1999 box set The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper. With Alice Cooper Confidential, Jeffrey Morgan puts together a pile of Alice features, most notably being pages of fan mail (emails) from AC fans who want to contact Alice. Interesting to read, as so many fans have no problem inviting Alice over for a BBQ, a birthday party, a wedding, out for a game of golf – you name it! Or they just want to share some odd story about something to do with him, most of which will leave you shaking your head. Beware if you think you wrote to him in the past! Elsewhere this138 page coffee table read book is full of fantastic photos from every era of Alice’s career, on & off stage (cool to see the late Nash the Slash’s early photos of the AC band in Toronto), various other images! Most interesting is a previously unpublished interview from 2009. An interesting addition to any Alice fan’s collection.



ALICE COOPER – Live from the Astroturf

So, this is the 2015 reunion show of the actual Alice Cooper (the band) that penned and recorded all those hits (a number of which are here), and classic albums like Love It To Death, Killer, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies and Muscle Of Love. The greatest American rock n’ roll band, ever! So, there was finally a reunion, minus original lead guitarist Glenn Buxton, who passed away in 1997. Filling in was Alice’s current solo band player Ryan Roxie, who does an excellent job. The sound on this release is amazing, considering it was in a shop in Dallas (Good Records), and not a theatre or something, so somewhat informal. The band was there to promote Dennis Dunaway’s book Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! and played this 8-song set. With Michael Bruce (guitarist) taking vocals on the opener “Caught In A Dream”, you can tell by the audience reaction when Alice comes out to join the band for “Be My Lover” and the rest. It’s a killer performance, being done by those that created these songs and know how they should sound. Check out Dennis’ bass on “Is It My Body”, the way it should sound. The show ends with “School’s Out” (surprise!), with harmonica added by Chuck Garric (Alice’s present bass player), but the band returned to perform “Elected” for the encore.

Live from the Astroturf is full of energy, and the bandmembers sound like they’re having a great time, with between song banter, drum rolls, and laughs; Alice tells a few humorous tales as well. Added here is the soundcheck instrumental performance of “Desperado”. This release (on Ear Music) is a worldwide reissue of the Record Store Day album from 2018, but has been repackaged nicely, with a different cover, inserts, vinyl variants, and all CD and LPs numbered (I got the ‘glow in the dark’ green vinyl!). An amazing addition to the Alice Cooper collection! Looking forward to watching the included Blu-Ray disc of the documentary of the whole event, later. There’s also been 2 videos released from this album…




Press info: By 1974, the Alice Cooper group had risen to the upper echelon of rock stardom… and then, parted ways. In October 2015, over 40 years later, record store owner and superfan Chris Penn convinced the original line-up to reunite for a very special performance at his record store Good Records in Dallas, Texas. Alice Cooper (vocals), Michael Bruce (guitar), Dennis Dunaway (bass) and Neal Smith (drums) were joined on stage by Alice’s current guitarist Ryan Roxie (standing in for the late Glen Buxton). A packed audience, believing they had come to Good Records for Dennis Dunaway’s ‘Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!’ book signing, were surprised to bear witness to a full-blown happening. The historic reunion show including all-time classics such as “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out” is now becoming available for the very first time worldwide. Luckily the event was documented. “Live From The Astroturf, Alice Cooper” (edited and directed by Steven Gaddis) toured the world to the acclaim of music fans and rock journalists alike. The documentary won multiple awards for it’s coverage of the historic event. Now all Alice Cooper fans and rock music lovers across the globe can enjoy this movie as it’s included as a video bonus to this live album. Pop the popcorn, blow up the balloons, dim the lights, and crank it up!

ALICE COOPER – Live from Astroturf 2015 reunion show gets worldwide release on film, CD & vinyl!

The 2015 reunion concert of the original Alice Cooper band featuring Alice, Neal Smith, Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce along with Ryan Roxie filling in for the late Glenn Buxton is coming in various formats and most notably the film of the whole event to DVD & Blue-ray! There will be vinyl variants, as well as awesome new packaging for fans and collectors.


“Caught In a Dream”
“Be My Lover”
“I’m Eighteen”
“Is It My Body”
“No More Mr. Nice Guy”
“Under My Wheels”
“School’s Out”
“Desperado” (Intro Bonus Track)

For all the details and ordering visit – https://www.ear-music.net/alice-cooper-live-from-the-astroturf/



DENNIS DUNAWAY – Interview From The Archives [2012]

This interview was written by Ron Mann and myself in 2012. We both tried to come up with original questions for Dennis. With the current 50th anniversary of the Alice Cooper classic album Killer, I thought it might be a good time to re-post it here, and add some updates. Dennis played co-wrote a few of this album’s most famous tracks, and re-reading this interview there is a number of references and recollections from the Killer recordings. Since this interview Dennis has been busy with the latest Blue Coupe album, a short film, writing and performing on Alice’s last 3 studio records, a reunion tour [UK], a live AC reunion album, and [most notably] his book Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! *You can find out more on Dennis and still get his book at his website > http://www.dennisdunaway.com

Dennis Dunaway has been in and out of the rock spotlight for nearly 45 years.   As legendary bass player with the Alice Cooper Band, from the late ’60s until 1974, he contributed his talents as a player, performer, and songwriter on such classic rock anthems as I’m Eighteen, Is It My Body, Dead Babies, Halo of Flies, Under My Wheels, Schools Out, Luney Tune, Elected, Big Apple Dreamin’, as well as other Cooper classics like Killer, Generation Landslide, Never Been Sold Before, and his own Black Ju-Ju.

After the original band was put on hold Dennis contributed bass playing and writing to Alice Cooper Band drummer Neal Smith’s solo project “The Platinum God” [which was shelved in 1975 until it’s release in 1999], and then rejoined forces with Alice Cooper band mates Michael Bruce, Smith, along with AC touring keyboard player Bob Dolan, and Rochester guitar player Mike Marconi to form the band ‘The Billion Dollar Babies’. The band set out to recapture that early Cooper band magic, but after a poorly received album ‘Battle Axe’ in 1977, and just 4 shows, the whole thing came to an abrupt end. 

Dunaway continued to play with Neal Smith in ‘The Flying Tigers’, before getting out of music for some time [and run a chain of video stores!].   In the ’90s he returned to playing and recording with Smith, as well as Blue Oyster Cult alumni Joe Bouchard in the ‘Bouchard, Dunaway, Smith’ Project. He also released one album under his own name – ‘The Dennis Dunaway Project’ in 2006, and for the past few years has been out playing with Joe Bouchard and his brother Albert Bouchard [also ex of BOC] in the classic rock trio – ‘Blue Coupe’ .   The band’s impressive live sets include early Alice Cooper Band classics, as well as BOC classics, and songs from the band’s debut album in 2010 – “Tornado On The Tracks”.

Dennis was kind enough to let [ok, insist] that Ron Mann and myself put him through a grueling pile of questions, covering his entire career, holding back nothing!   Pull out those early AC albums, Dennis Dunaway was the one with perhaps the longest hair in rock n roll back then; something I inquired about at last month’s Blue Coupe show [in Algona] to which he responded, “I still have it!  It’s in my attic.”

So, here’s a look in to the career of a rock legend and member of the ‘Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame’.   One of the longest, most colorful, honest and humorous interviews to date.  He is still out there rocking like it was 1972……

For the most up to date information on Dennis, please visit his official website and Blue Coupe.    

The first question has to be a good one. Who would you list as your biggest influences, and would the name of Kenneth Passarelli enter into that group?

My biggest influences were painters like Dali, Magritte, Earnst and Miro.   I’ve always been an artist and the band was another way of expressing art.   It didn’t matter what instrument I played.   I ended up with bass because everyone else chose their instrument before I did.   So in order to learn how to use that tool for expression, I sat down with Glen Buxton and a phonograph and he helped me learn blues patterns from Bill Wyman via Rolling Stones recordings.   I learned a lot from McCartney too but more through listening to his parts rather than playing them.   But hearing Paul Samwell-Smith of the Yardbirds made me realize the bass can go anywhere you take it and that concept set me free to pursue my own direction.

You’re referring to the mention of Kenneth Passarelli in “Mr. & Misdemeanor.”   Someone we knew was always talking about Passarelli.   And because his name kept popping up everywhere, we thought it would be funny if he popped up in our song for no apparent reason.

What is the real story behind the name Alice Cooper, and who thought of it [I will be honest from my standpoint; this is one of the things that drew me to the band]?

We were in a blizzard of new band name ideas.    But when Vince suggested Alice Cooper, everyone paused.   But our image was already triggering lots of threats so we weren’t sure if we could survive with that name.   And so the blizzard of names continued.   But with suggestion after suggestion, the Alice Cooper name kept gaining strength in comparison.   When I got home that night, I told my parents that our new name was Alice Cooper, and when I saw the look on their faces, I was sold.   So the next night when the band got together, Vince had my added enthusiasm.   And everyone agreed on one condition, that Alice Cooper would be the name of our group to be shared equally.   And years later, at the band’s farm in Pontiac, Michigan; we even signed contracts to legalize that agreement.

The band did some interesting shows in the early years.  The video footage from Toronto Rock n’ Roll Festival in 1969 gives an early glimpse into what the band would become live.   

The Toronto Rock and Roll Revival footage is an insight to how we applied our artistic influences to the show. That night, we used a metal folding chair with the concept that a common item can take on significance when it’s featured in the spotlight with the whole band looking toward it while playing a big fanfare. Making a chair seem that important sparked curiosity and assumptions.   It had to mean something, didn’t it? We also incorporated a football that night, which Alice kicked into the crowd.  That kick was the cue for an explosion of musical and visual chaos.  It was a Rock and Roll Revival and not many Canadians knew about us so it was completely unexpected.

We were fearless about trying things in our show.   It was like an evolving string of assaults to the senses.  Very few people outside of the Alice Cooper group realized how fast and furiously the show evolved.   People would comment about how different one night’s show was from our previous night’s show.   And if they had returned the following night, it would be different again.

What do you think about the incident where the cake was thrown into Alice’s face and he picked up pieces of the cake, and then preceded to eat it while continuing to sing?

The Midsummer Rock in Cincinnati was the first nationally televised rock festival.   We played “Black Juju” for the very first time. I explained the arrangement in the car on the way to the stadium.   We had swiped a bunch of bed sheets from the motel so that Alice could cover each of us during the song. Alice getting pelted with a cake was a surprise to everyone.   But when the cake hit Alice, he didn’t retaliate like anyone would expect. Instead, he grabbed a gob of it and smashed it in his own face.   It was the most unexpected thing that he could have done.   That was our fear of failure.   It made us invincible on stage.  And like Alice said in his acceptance speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, “We won’t promise that we’ll never embarrass you.”   We’re Alice Cooper, that’s what we do.”   We used embarrassing situations on stage for dramatic effect anyway, so the cake fit right in.

This brings us to the famous ‘chicken’ tossed on stage story.   What can you add from your perspective and how these incidents helped with publicity?

The chickens were just another element in our ever evolving props.   During a section of “Lay Down and Die, Goodbye” Glen played a tapping effect through his Echoplex that reminded me of chicken’s clucking, so I decided that chickens should mysteriously appear on his amp.   The Rock and Roll Revival wasn’t the first time we had used them, but it was the last because we really didn’t like what the crowd did to our pet chicken, Pecker. Following the chicken incident at that show, we continued our heavy schedule of playing every gig we could get. But we noticed that lots of people were showing up at our shows with rubber chickens.   It took a few nights before we figured out what was going on.

Did the band ever plan or stage any such incidents, and how close to your recollections are Alice’s in the AC history video?

We intended to do something different for every show, and we had gotten comfortable with winging it.   We would use anything as a prop. We would even grab things on our way to the stage – a watermelon, a bicycle, a garbage can, anything.   If we used something and it bombed, fine, we had so many other things that it didn’t matter.   And many people were convinced that our odd choice of props had some significant underlying meaning.   They would come backstage and say things like; I know why you opened the umbrella over Glen’s head while he did his solo.   The band’s dead serious attitudes was imperative to this end.   But in reality, we were just having fun.   That was the art of it.

I’m not sure what AC history video you mean, but generally my recollections coincide with Alice’s up until the point when he started drinking regularly.

From the fan side of things we have heard rumors over the years with false or fabricated stories.  Have you ever heard or been asked about anything along these lines that just makes you shake your head?

It depends on what rumors you’re talking about.   Some make me smile and some make me see red.

On the first two Alice Cooper albums, the band is credited on all songs as co-writers.   Production credit was listed as Alice Cooper [after Frank Zappa didn’t show], was that actually referring to the band or Alice?   Please explain the story?

Like I said, the band name belongs to all of us equally.   That’s just one example that confirms that.   Each of us have always received 20% of the royalties on every song on Pretties For You because the credits say; Music, lyrics and arrangements by Alice Cooper.

Although those albums sort of flopped at the time, can you tell me how the songs were put together [writing-wise], and were there any that stand out to you for in your memory as something you brought in or really liked?

Sort of flopped?   Those albums were exclusively limited to a small group of people with impeccable taste.

We spent most of our time rehearsing and batting ideas around.   We wanted to show the world something unique. So creating those crazy abstract songs was a fun process.   Our day could end with a new song or it could just be a long day of improvising.   But improvising is how we gained our intuitive feel for each others playing.

Ideas started with, “What if…”  And each and every idea was a challenge to be topped, or made crazier.   And we became razor sharp at it.

I really liked “Fields of Regret” because it was dark and eerie.   The middle part is a good example of how we used instruments like orchestration. Bass, guitar, cymbal repeating in that order.   And I liked “Lay Down and Die, Goodbye” because it contained a free-form sound collage that was disturbing.   I would have been happy if the whole album was like that.

Tell me something about the song, ‘Today Meuller’, that is a classic sing along from years past.  How did it come about?

Toodie Mueller was/is a friend from our earliest days.   She was innocent and bubbly, and she got us to gigs in her Baby Blue Mustang, so we wrote a happy song about her.

Outtakes from the first LP gave us the ever so popular song ‘Nobody Likes Me’, why was this left off the first LP?

“Nobody Likes Me” belonged on Pretties For You as much as “Strawberry Fields, Forever” belonged on Sgt. Pepper.   But it somehow fell by the wayside.

I wrote it to symbolize how audiences were treating the band then. Alice sang through a window in a door, ‘nobody likes me, it’s all my fault.’   And we answer, ‘oh yes, we all like you, we like you a lot’   (but by the final verse, it’s revealed that we hated him.)   We wore masks to sing our responses to Alice because we represented the audience.   The masks were shaped like birds symbolizing how people would fly out the exits when we played.

Outside of The Doors, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd and your relationship with the GTO’s, what other artist from this period did you get to know?

You’re talking about Hollywood in the 60’s, so, like everyone on that exciting scene, we ran into tons of bands and actors.   But those you mentioned were the ones we knew best.

Any memory of Jim Morrison or Frank Zappa you would like to add?

Jim was the only person that ever got away with blocking the view of the television in our house.   Anyone else would have gotten yelled at by Glen, Alice and Neal.   People that knew us would step quickly around the television.   Jim sat on top of it.

Frank was thrilled to hear that I loved Do-wop and Electronic music and he spent a whole afternoon digging stuff out of his record closet and playing it just for me.

Did any of these early friendships have any effect on the band, or could you name other bands that influenced the band musically or visually?

Visually?   Not really, but the GTO’s showed us where the best Thrift Stores were.   Musically?   The Yardbirds, the Doors and the Stooges.   Neal liked Sandy Nelson, Gene Krupa and Keith Moon.   Michael liked the Beatles. Glen liked Chet Atkins, Les Paul and Jeff Beck. Alice liked Burt Bacharach and Leonard Bernstein.   We all liked Bernstein and Gene Barry’s James Bond Soundtracks.   I liked avant garde Electronic Music.

David Briggs produced ‘Easy Action’.   Who brought him in and what do you recall of working with him?

I don’t know who hired David.   He had just finished producing an album for Neil Young and Crazy Horse and that’s what he should have been doing.   We all got the impression that he didn’t like anything about us.   Despite that, he got an album out of an unprepared band.

Easy Action had a couple of memorable lighter tunes in ‘Shoe Salesman’ and ‘Beautiful Flyaway’, the former was issued as a single [?].   Do you recall much of either of these?

Alice wrote “Shoe Salesman” with an evident double en-tender lyric about a dealer.   Glen was pretty faithful to Alice’s original acoustic guitar part on that, as well as on “Laughing at Me.”   But Glen raised the bar with his Chet Atkins influence.

“Beautiful Flyaway” was Michael’s piano tune, which I’ve always loved.   He reminded me of a little Mozart brat when he was recording it.

Why did David Briggs play piano on this, and did Alice sing ‘Beautiful Flyaway’, it’s such a different vocal feel?

Michael is singing and playing piano on “Beautiful Flyaway.”   David Briggs played piano on “Shoe Salesman” which was one of the welcome few times he seemed to care about the sessions.

‘Lay Down and Die, Goodbye’ includes the line, “You are the only censors; if you don’t like what I am saying, you have a choice, you can turn me off”.  Where did this come from, the actual source and the idea to include it?  It seemed a bit ahead of it’s time as censorship would become a big deal in the ’80s and ’90s in rock music.

That is an excerpt of Tommy Smother’s farewell speech in response to the network pulling the plug on the controversially ground-breaking Smother’s Brother’s Comedy Hour.   I think it was David Briggs idea to use it.   Briggs called the song psychedelic garbage, and he looked like he wished he could turn it off.

I think his negative comments seeped into the feel of the recording.

What sort of publicity [and who was in charge of it] did those first 2 albums get?  Were there any TV or radio ads; advertisements in magazines or newspapers?

Bizarre was supposed to be in charge of it, but it seemed like our first two records were pretty much promoted from our managers’ telephone and out of the trunk of their beat up old Cadillac.   Pretties for You got some publicity when Woolworths refused to carry it with the girl’s panties showing.   So it  was censored with a sticker, which caused a slight boost in sales.

Later on the Alice Cooper group went to a Woolworths to see if they were stocking Easy Action and they had a big poster of us in the front window.  A kid was standing on the sidewalk staring at it so I got the other guys to sidestep between the kid and the poster.   We waved at him and pointed to our poster.   He freaked out and begged us to wait there while he ran to get his friend.   We took off.

What do you recall of those first few album covers, the early photo shoots, album artwork itself?

We wanted to use Salvador Dali’s ‘Geopolitical Child’ for the front cover of Pretties, but they claimed that it would cost too much, so we used a painting that Zappa had just purchased (he probably took a tax deduction on it.)   For the back cover, the band did a photo session at an art gallery.   We loved one particular photo but Bizarre lost it. None of us were happy with alternate one they used.

For the cover of Easy Action, the photo of the band facing away was Neal’s idea.   It proved to be very effective for emphasizing our androgynous look.   Especially since nobody had ever seen anything like that before.

What changed upon the band’s initial success with ‘I’m Eighteen’ [musically and personally within the band] and the next few singles?  Was there an intention to write more in that style?

Following the lack of acceptance for Pretties for You, we decided to write songs in a more relatable style.   We would have come much closer to achieving that on Easy Action if we had had a rehearsal space and another month or so.   But by the time Bob Ezrin saw us at Max’s Kansas City in New York, Michael had spearheaded the development of songs like “Caught in a Dream” and “I’m Eighteen.”   Neal had written “Hallowed Be My Name” and I had written “Black Juju” as a vehicle for the Alice character.

When did certain issues start to ‘creep’ in to the band, such as alcohol [and/or] other substances starting to affect things amongst a few members?

You’re talking about the mid-sixties through the mid-seventies.   We saw the explosion and the demise of the drug culture.  Musically, the negative effects of excess started rearing it’s ugly head around School’s Out.

Do you recall the first time[s] Bob Ezrin decided to use outside session players on studio recordings and did this upset anyone in the band or feel it had an effect on the 5 members as ‘the’ band?

We had a lot of positive things going on with outside musicians.   Bob wasn’t the only one that advocated that.     The only time it was ever upsetting was later on when the majority vote of the band was dismissed. 

I’ve heard rumors of this but do you recall if Rick Derringer did any session work on any album?

Rick plays the lead guitar break with the heavy effect on my song, “Under My Wheels.”    We became friends during a six night stand with the McCoys at Steve Paul’s Scene in NYC in ’69.   Rick was Glen’s friend too, and when he stopped by the studio in Chicago to wish us luck; “Under My Wheels” was in progress, so we told him to get in there and plug in.

What was the biggest change for you [and what you learned] when the band began working with Bob Ezrin?

We quickly learned how to dissect a song and properly reconstruct it.   We were like sponges for that kind of knowledge and Bob was a revelation.

On the ‘Love It to Death’ album, the songwriting credits changed as being individually credited.  Did this affect how anyone perceived themselves or the relationship amongst band members [as to who contributed more or less]?

I preferred crediting everyone.   Dividing up who did what never mattered much to me.   I let others decide the breakdowns because I was obsessed with thinking of the next thing we were going to do.   There are a lot of songs that my name probably deserved to be on as a song writer, but then there are others that I feel like I’m generously included.   Michael once said,  “It’s pretty much a wash concerning my credits”.

On band credited tracks [I’m Eighteen, Is It My Body, Halo of Flies, etc…], how would these songs come together as band-written songs, as opposed to one or two people bringing them in?

They all came together as band songs.   I mean we pounced on every song thinking of every possibility to make it better.  And we stuck to a hard rule that every idea had to be played by the band.   But only then, could a majority vote eliminate it. And then everyone would move forward with a positive attitude – no grudges.   That wasn’t easy, but it was an extremely important key to our success.   Few songs came through our mill with little changed (“Caught in a Dream” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” did), and many changed radically several times over (“Elected” and “Lay Down and Die, Goodbye”).   And most were group efforts from scratch.

‘Black Ju-Ju’ is an early song of yours, and one you feature in the Blue Coupe set.  What do you recall of writing this song and the reaction of the band and producer at the time?  This song was also a highlight of the bands live set for a few years as well!

I plugged my bass into a small guitar amp and cranked it to a sinister distortion.   Like Dave Davies “You Really Got Me” guitar sound, but with a bass. I was alone in an old motel that had a little room with a water heater.   I removed the metal plate from the heater and used the glowing pilot flame as the only light in the room.   I imagined the flame as an inferno, and that inspired the riffs.

A week later, I discovered a hot old attic in an off-campus dormitory in Cincinnati.   I went in there with pencil and paper and my Frog bass.   It was dimly lit in a spooky way and I got into an Edgar Allen Poe frame of mind.   That’s where I wrote the lyrics, which included the concept of Alice hypnotizing the audience with a swinging pocket watch.

The band liked it as it was because, ever since we had dropped “Fields of Regret” I had been talking about giving the dark side of the Alice character another dramatic vehicle; and finally, there it was.

By time ‘Killer’ was released, Michael Bruce emerged as the band’s biggest writer, and you co-wrote on a number of classics with him.  What can you tell me about Michael as a songwriter in those days, how much he wrote, how serious he was?

Michael did a lot of woodshedding back in LA became a much better guitar player.   Then he did the same with the piano. And then he applied those instruments to his songwriting.  He was extremely persistent with each song.   He was loud and didn’t care who was around to hear him pounding out parts.  He could drive you nuts with it. I mean you wanted to choke him sometimes.  But by the time we met Ezrin, Michael was on top of his game.

He was also the most aggressive at getting the band to do his songs.  If he didn’t have an idea, then he was willing to work on mine.  But if he had an idea, he was like a steamroller.  Sometimes I thought he would sabotage my ideas, which would have been unacceptable if his ideas weren’t so strong.

Could you add something about how you and he worked together on classics like ‘Under My Wheels’ and ‘Killer’?

Neal always tells the story about Michael and I flipping a hotel couch forward to make a fort for privacy.   We spent most of a day under there working up “Under My Wheels.”

“Killer” came from a vivid dream that I had.   I woke up and wrote it down as lyrics.   Not long after that, the band was packing up after a long rehearsal day at our farm in Pontiac when I asked Michael to stay after.   I played “Killer” for him and we worked it up pretty fast.   I wanted it to be longer but Michael applied what he had learned from Ezrin.   The next day, we showed it to the others and the band took it to the next level.

I love how Glen and Michael’s guitar parts compliment each other on that song.

I believe it was Michael who once stated that “Halo of Flies” was written as a response to all the critics who didn’t think the band could write a lengthier, more progressive song [much like many of the British bands coming over were].   Do you recall what and/or who influenced the band’s direction into writing that song?

Many critics went to great lengths to insult our playing abilities.  Many of them seemed convinced that our theatrics were just a crutch to smokescreen our deficiencies.  If our name had been something like Hurricane Cooper, and we just stood on stage in t-shirts and jeans looking down at our instruments, they might have heard what we were playing.   We overshadowed ourselves by giving people a real show.   Just wanna’ hear music?   Stay home and put on the record.

As for the approach on “Halo,” early in our career, we prided our ability to assemble medleys of our favorite British bands.   We did a Kinks medley, a Who medley, a Beatles medley, and we thought our transitions were pretty clever.

So, years later, having a bunch of extraneous riffs and melodies kicking around, we decided to apply our knack for segues and we came up with “Halo of Flies”.    It was the first time many critics finally admitted that we could play. And it proved that the band were self sufficient in writing our own complex arrangements.

Alice Cooper has always been cited as an original, due to the theatrics and the make-up, etc; both as a band and the man, himself.   But I am curious how familiar were you guys with Arthur Brown and what’s your take of him appearing with Alice on his recent UK tour?

The Cortez High School Halloween dance in 1964 was the very first real show we ever played.   Vince (Alice) and I applied our artistic abilities to that show.   We had giant spider webs, coffins with a ghoul in heavy makeup, and we even had a guillotine.

By ’65, the Spiders had gained a reputation for our theatrics.   We had landed a regular gig as the house band at a popular teen club in Phoenix, Arizona, which had a pretty fast turn-over of bands – the new flavor mentality.   So we kept changing our music and our theatrics so that we would always be the new flavor.

So we were well into our thing by the time we heard of Arthur Brown.   And there were others out there like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins who inspired Screamin’ Lord Such, but our theatrical inspirations came from the surrealists and horror films.

I’ve heard Alice claim that ‘Dead Babies’ was ‘the first song written about child abuse’.  Was this really written with social awareness on child abuse in mind at the time or were there other stories being told?

In this day and age, it’s impossible to realize how tough the censors were back then.   We were trying to be shocking under the critical magnifying glass of radio stations, advertisers, church groups, parents and even many of the kids that were our age.   Plus we actually did have our own sense of decency.   It was a balancing act.   And as tame as some of our things appear in retrospect – like five androgynous looking guys with a girl’s name – it really was shocking then.   It demanded more thinking than the public cared to do, so many just tried to write us off as a joke.   Others threatened to kill us.   Girls loved us.   But nobody could ignore us.

The Alice Cooper album covers, right from the beginning seemed to always come with some sort of controversy; be it the painting on the first album, Alice’s thumb up on Love It To Death, the snake on the Killer album, the Schools Out panties, or the nude wrestling pics.  How much input did you guys have in to the album artwork, and did you ever take some of the threats to ban certain covers or criticism seriously?

Unlike most bands at that time, and thanks to Shep Gordon and Joe Greenberg’s brilliant management savvy, we had artistic control over our album covers.   We brainstormed our album concepts like everything else we did.

As for threats, our entire career was riddled with threats of all kinds.   We had so many threats that we became immune to worrying about them.

‘Schools Out’ was such a huge hit single.  The album had a lot of great songs on it, and had a school theme to it [school and school-age rebellion].  Did you ever feel the other cuts from it were overshadowed by the success of the title track?

We had a lot of fun making Schools Out mainly because we all related on the exact same level.   Glen, Alice and I started the band in high school and Michael and Neal went to nearby school’s.

I’m not sure the historical success of the single detracted from the other cuts though.   John Lydon of the Sex Pistols is always citing “Luney Tune” as the scariest song he’s ever heard.   And royalty checks reflect that many of the other cuts are still getting various kinds of exposure.   I thought the album flowed together pretty well.   And it has a lot of musical texture.

‘Luney Tune’ is one of my favorite AC songs, and one that you wrote w/ Alice.  What do you recall of the song and where did it come from musically and lyrically?

I wrote that song and Alice wrote the bridge.  I still have the very original lyrics, which also may have come from a dream. I have lots of notebooks filled with what I call my Dream Poems. Alice used lines from those poems in many songs.

I wrote the song on bass and Alice delivered the lyrics as I had imagined them, with convincing sincerity.   We had one of our rare disagreements over the line, couple shots and I don’t feel no pain.   I’m not sure why I didn’t like that, it’s a strong line.

Prior to the Billion Dollar Babies album the band recorded and released the single “Elected” in time for the election.  Whose idea was it to re-write the lyrics from ‘Reflected’ and put out such a song [satirical] at that time?

That was a natural follow-up for “School’s Out” because of it’s similar potential for repeating air-play.  Every time school ends, they play it.   So what about every time there’s an election?   It was pretty simple so I might say we all thought of it together.   And they both continue to get periodical bumps in airplay.

In reference to the promotional film of the song ‘Elected’, memories of seeing that video being shown on the ‘Midnight Special’ in the 70s are special but do you recall anything of shooting it?   Who came up with the idea?

I didn’t like that video because, like Glen said, “even the Chimp’s in it more than the band”.

Very few bands shot complete videos during that period; Jethro Tull, Queen and long standing acts like The Stones or early Beatles.   Did you view this as being another pioneering step in music?

Because our controversial image was repellent to parents, and therefore advertisers, we had a rough time getting anything filmed, or on television.   So the money wasn’t invested there.    But I know we could have introduced some bold ideas if we, as a band, would have been left to our own invention.

But unfortunately, every time a camera was around, outsiders would be there to impose their interpretation of what they thought Alice Cooper were all about.   And, with all due respect to their talents, they missed it completely.   Why would we record “Black Juju,” project a sexually threatening image with a sinister stage show and then ride an elephant like the Monkees?   It was embarrassing and damagingly counter-productive to our cause.   How can you shock people after that?

The Billion Dollar Babies album was recorded at a number of studios, using different engineers, as well as a number of outside musicians.  What are your best memories of working with some of the people you met during those sessions?    And did it ever seem a bit too much at the time; with recording in various places, using outside players?

Being in various places is what a band does, so that wasn’t a problem, especially since we recorded most of the tracks in our own house.

As for other players, Rockin’ Reggie was a friend and a good influence on Glen.   We knew Mick Mashbir ever since our Arizona days.   Bob Dolan added what we were looking for in keyboards.   Steve Hunter is a very unimposing guy.   He fit in better than Dick Wagner, who is a nice guy but he just didn’t get our humor.   His severe sort of seriousness was foreign in our world, and it created an awkwardness all around.   Ezrin insisted on his involvement, and he certainly could play, so we went along with it.   We all liked Donovan and we were honored that he sang.   We just tried to keep doing what we had always done –  keep moving forward and try to stay focused on each task at hand.

Bob Ezrin brought in the song ‘Hello Hooray’, penned by Canadian Rolf Kempf.    What did you think of the song at the time and how did you guys feel about using material from outside sources back then?

Alice and I chose “Sun Arise” for Love It To Death so weren’t against outside material.   For Billion Dollar Babies, we were trying to come up with a good opening song so Bob’s suggestion was a welcome solution.

A classic song from B$B was ‘Generation Landslide’ which is credited to the entire band.   Could you expound on how this song came about and how much each member contributed?

We had just finished a European tour and we were all sick and exhausted so we went to the Canary Islands to rest – “rest” was management’s code for finish writing the album.   We were the first guests to stay in a brand new high rise hotel on the beach.   We had our equipment set up on the top floor where, unfortunately, men were still working on the hotel.   So, with the sounds of hammers and saws all around, the Alice Cooper group wrote “Generation Landslide” together from scratch.   It proved that Alice Cooper was still at our best when we were left alone.

Did you hear the version of ‘Generation Landslide’ that was redone by Alice in 1980 and what where your thoughts on that?

I probably have it but I would have to dig it out to refresh my memory.   I’m sure it’s good.

The band’s success grew as did Alice’s own celebrity status.  How did the success of the band and Alice’s sort of separate celebrity status affect you in reference to your relationships with the other guys, presumably as the quieter member of the group?

I fully understood Alice having his own celebrity status and I had no problem with it.   That’s what we had strived for.   The problem came with the decision to cut us out.

Out in the real world, I was excruciatingly quiet, but the band knew me as a relentless crusader for a crazy cause.   How else would you talk a preacher’s son, a football linebacker and two punks from Ohio into wearing sequins?

With Michael being the biggest writer in the band and Alice getting more attention as an individual, did this create any tension or competition between them?

We all wanted the same thing.  To make great records.    It didn’t matter who came up with the best idea for a bridge or a lyric. We tried every idea and voted on what was best.   That’s what got us to the top.   The problems came when that democracy fell to dictatorship.   For instance, four of us did not want “Mary Ann” on our album.   We had some killer rock songs and the best one of them should have been where “Mary Ann” was.   Betraying our long proven rule was a major problem, and damaging.

And as that type of thing escalated, so did our resistance to it.   But Alice wasn’t resisting.   And the more he was separated from the rest of us, the more we saw our band, and all of the benefits of what we had all strived for, being taken away from us.   And the louder we rebelled, the more they called us out of control rock star ego maniacs that they had no choice but to replace.

We just wanted our band back.

Did the success of ‘B$B’ and the singles from it play any part in ‘Muscle of Love’, consisting of more ‘mainstream’ written songs, without any lengthy tracks or short pieces?

I don’t think so.   That was just the nature of the songs that we came up with.   Because of their complex arrangements, “Muscle of Love” and “Man With The Golden Gun” seemed longer than their actual running times.

Did the band sense pressure making an album to follow up B$Bs, which was #1 in the world at one point?

The thought never crossed my mind.   When Billion Dollar Babies hit the top, we were already deep into Muscle of Love.   But by then, the band were buckling from pressures far more severe than that.

Alice was quoted that he didn’t think ‘Muscle of Love’ was a complete album, more of an assortment of songs; I disagree as I love the album.   How do you see it and what are your memories or favorite tracks?  What tracks did you contribute to most on that album?

I like the album except it really needed Glen.   That’s why it didn’t flow like a complete album.   But he had dropped out entirely by then.   And for the first time ever, I found myself going against the majority vote, which was to replace him.

But the band began as friends and I wouldn’t have given up on any of them.   I wouldn’t want them to give up on me, and I refused to give up on Glen.   We all loved Glen, but the Don Quixote in me refused to allow the big business machine to rule over friendship.   I knew he would be lost, and as it turned out, he was.   My insistence on keeping him only added to the fractures in the band.

The song ‘Hard Hearted Alice’ should have been a great single but the lyrics were a bit cheesy.   If Michael and Alice would have written it a bit differently and not used the title, [which I think kills the song] do you think it would have worked better?

I really like the lyrics on that song.  The chorus may have held a more biting significance to us in the band.   It had a two-fold insinuation.   I’ve always felt the recording was too soft and whispery.  The live version had a lot more dynamics and the guitar solos really kicked in.

Another classic from this album would be ‘Crazy Little Child’.   I’ve always wanted to know the story behind it.  Do you have any thoughts or comments on this track?

I thought the style of that song was too typical for us but I liked the challenge of going for that classic bass playing, which I got Jack Richardson’s guidance on.

Jack Richardson produced ‘Muscle of Love’, instead of Bob Ezrin.   This choice was made due a band vote type decision; in hindsight do you think replacing Bob had any part in the album’s success?   Was it promoted less from your standpoint?

Jack Richardson never gets credit for co-producing Love It To Death and Killer.   The band didn’t vote for Bob’s departure.  This is what happened.   We were rehearsing at Nimbus 9 studios in Toronto.   We were happy to see Bob walk in because we had just worked out a song.   But as soon as we started playing “Woman Machine,” he stopped us to make changes.   We hadn’t even gotten past the intro!   Michael confronted him over it, emotions escalated, and Bob got insulted and walked out.   There was no vote and no reason to think it was anything more than a temporary flare up.   But somehow, it turned out to be beyond our resolve.

Muscle of Love shipped fine but a lot of record stores returned them to Warner Brothers claiming the box had a defective stain on it (the stain was intentional).   And some stores didn’t like the depth of the box because it took up too much space per unit in their record bins.   Those returns were a major blow to the album’s momentum.

Following some rough times on the ‘Muscle of Love’ winter tour, were you looking forward to [or planning] a break in the action from each other, and did you foresee the break as possibly being permanent?

I didn’t want to, but being completely driven into the ground physically and emotionally, we had no choice but to take a break.   We all agreed to take one year off and then we would get back together and do our next Alice Cooper album.   That wasn’t unreasonable, and it was a solid investment for the band’s future.   Never in a billion years would I have thought that Alice would take the ball and run with it.

Alice’s side of the story has been publicly stated that the band wanted to ‘cash out’, rather than reinvest the money into a new tour for the ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ concept.   Were any of the original members asked to take part in the WTMN recording sessions or invited to tour afterwards, and would any of the members accepted?

“School’s Out” was the biggest selling single in the history of Warner Bros. records.   Our Billion Dollar Babies album was #1 in the US and the UK.   We were on the cover of Forbes magazine for topping the Rolling Stones’ and Led Zeppelin’s tour records.   We had worked incredibly hard for a decade.   And I’ve never squandered any money away.   So we were questioning where the money was, which is very different than wanting to cash out.   Their “they wanted to cash out” rationalization came way after the “they refused to do theatrics” campaign.

After our break, we thought we would all return refreshed, sign a significant new record deal, and finally have the funds to do what we had always strived toward.   The Battle Axe album was going to be the next Alice Cooper album.

I didn’t know about WTMN until it was released.

You have mentioned before that certain ‘politics’ came into play and it was all about money; could you explain further on those statements?

The timing of the fulfillment of our original recording contract, and the newly negotiated record deal, coincided perfectly with the shedding of the band as financial equals.

It was a few years before the ‘Battle Axe’ album came out.   Did you work on any other projects and were you in any way disappointed or bitter that Alice had carried on the name and songs without you guys?

I donated a lot of time to helping Neal with his Platinum God album.   And I retreated to my basement and wrote lots of songs in the spirit of proving that they couldn’t take away my love of music.   Thank my lucky stars, I had my wife Cindy to pull me through.

As far as Alice was concerned, I was disillusioned and heart broken, and I slid into a dark place that eventually drove my health into critical condition.   Allowing that to happen was more my fault than anyone else’s, but I just couldn’t shake it.

The ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ band included Mike Marconi and Bob Dolin [who played on Muscle of Love] and excluded Glen Buxton.   Glen’s health has been brought up several times, was he asked to take part of this project, and if he was why do you think he decided against it?

Glen and I were getting together to play music.   I would go to his house and he would come to mine, but he didn’t want to have anything to do with the band.    He kept saying they’re taking it from us.   I didn’t believe him but he was right.   We had a lot of fun nights jamming though.

Was it an easy move to carry on with Mike and Bob or did you have any reservations about that, during that time period?

Once it finally sunk in that Alice wasn’t going to honor our agreement, Mike Marconi and Bob Dolan became official Billion Dollar Babies.   It was a solid band, and they loved music as much as we did.   If the rest of us hadn’t been so snagged in dealing with overwhelming legalities concerning the Alice Cooper name, we would have been fine.   Despite the blizzard of distractions, we managed to pull off four spectacular theatrical shows.   But without the finances to support that massive stage production, in the end, we suffered extreme losses.

‘Battle Axe’ had some strong material on it, but ultimately didn’t do too well as it only peeked at #198 on the Billboard charts.   Were these songs written with the intention of being the next Alice Cooper Group album?

It was the new Alice Cooper album and the new theatrical stage production.   It had futuristic Gladiators who fought to the death with axe shaped guitars. Alice was to oversee the battle until one gladiator fell, and then he was to encourage the crowd to motion “thumbs down.”   And then he would use the plexiglass Battle Axe with a jagged blade on it’s headstock to finish off the fallen warrior in a splatter of blood.   And then the hydraulic boxing ring would slowly roll back into the dramatically lit fog.

But rehearsals proceeded without Alice.   We tried to roll with the punches but as expenses mounted it slid into a matter of survival. Michael was forced to take on the lead vocals.   And since we could no longer rely on Warner Bros. (who had made fortunes off us), we had to scramble for management and a record deal.   And the Alice Cooper name, which we had invested our careers in building, was no longer working in our favor.   It was working hard against us.    So we had to decide if we should sue our best friend.

Did you or the band really have high expectations for the ‘Battle Axe’ album or was it a fairly nervous time [upon releasing the album], and were you overly surprised or disappointed by its lack of success?

The overwhelming situation did effect the quality of the recordings.   Never the less, I was very disappointed in our fans for quietly allowing us to be swept under the rug like that.   And I was bitter about our artistic vision becoming a money generating machine.

There are rumors of threats of lawsuits for using the name ‘Billion Dollar Babies’.   How can we take that part seriously, since the group was named ‘Alice Cooper’ and he was able to move on with that being his name, and into solo success?

There were all kinds of legal threats coming at us from many directions, and some of them made no sense other than to scare us out of suing.

Can you comment on other problems and set-backs the band encounter with the album and that whole period, and why was it decided to merely pack it in after the live dates, as opposed to regrouping and put together a second album?

We didn’t have the funds to support such an elaborate show out of pocket.   Without Alice and our manager and our record company, it was a financial disaster.

It seemed like you took a bit of time off from the music world after that.   The entire industry was changing, the sound was different.  As the 80’s came into play it wasn’t about the music, it was about the video.   Do you think the original group could have been big during this time?

The Alice Cooper group had already invented the most elaborate shows ever.   And we were destined to do even greater shows.   We had the hair before the 80’s hair bands, we had the glam before any of them.   We had the punk attitude.   And we had plenty of creative ammunition for making competitively entertaining videos.

Since Neal Smith is your brother-n-law, you have always been close to him.  It’s well known about Neal getting into real estate, did you get into other type ventures during that period?

Cindy had a fashion store that I helped run.   And then I became the general manager of a “mom and pop” chain of video stores.   I needed the health insurance because I had Crohn’s Disease.

Man, this is a cheery interview.   They call me Dr. Dreary and even I’m picking out a rope to hang myself.

Can you give us some type of insight on the ‘Flying Tigers’.   We’ve only heard about this, but never found an album.   Out of curiosity who else took part in those sessions and how did it come about?

The Flying Tigers were a rowdy bar band featuring Neal and I and two singing guitar players from Chicago named Paul Roy  and Dave Stackman.    We did a demo with Jerry Wexler, and Ron Delsner considered managing us, but we never recorded an album.   We had quite a few rocking pop songs and a solid local following.   That band has lots of stories about bar fights.    Cindy even got into one.   And one night in the Bowery, a gun fight erupted. Ah, what we go through just to play some music.

The album ‘Deadringer’ wasn’t successful as far as the charts go but we liked the album, for what it was and the time period.   Can you give us some insight into what you took from that experience?

I liked and respected all of the musicians a lot but there wasn’t much of me in that album.   I liked the music but it just wasn’t my style.    The only time all of the musicians were together at once was for a photo session.   An album needs togetherness to have a heart.

Your personal health suffered through the early nineties and you had a major fight with Crohn’s disease.  Having family and friends who suffer from that illness, can you give some type of insight on how it affected you mentally, and how it helped to revive your interest in music to move forward?

I never lost my interest in music.   I lost my interest in the music business.   But through many years of misdiagnoses, I was in such bad shape that I came close to checking out.   The ongoing pain was beyond description.   It was hard on my family as well.   I survived the operation and, so far, I haven’t had another flare up. That kind of experience makes one appreciate all the little things in life.   It brought me much closer to fans too.   I got letters from all over the world and so I decided to write a book and get out and aggressively pursue playing live again.

Would you mind kicking this chair out from under my feet?

What effects on you did the death of Glen Buxton play on you personally?   When I first read he had passed away it was like a part of my childhood had died with him, can you please pay tribute to him with some sort of story?

A story that I can tell in an interview?   Boy, that narrows it down.   Ha ha.

A week before I heard the sad news, I had a lengthy phone conversation with Glen.   He was excited about the show he did with Michael and Neal out in Texas.   He wanted to do some more shows but with me included.   And he had written a new song that he wanted to play for me over the phone.   He kept asking me what I thought of his playing.   I told him that my only criticism was that he needed to get control of his feedbacks, otherwise he was as unique as any guitar player I had ever heard.   And I complimented his ability to play by feel, which was something that he always said was the most important thing.   He once asked me what I thought he should play on “Drive Me Nervous” and I said, that’s easy… play nervous!   And you’ll never find a more nervous guitar break anywhere.

What is your take on the previous Alice Cooper books by Alice [Golf Monster] and Michael’s [No More Mr. Nice Guy]?

Even though I read lots of books, I haven’t gotten around to reading Golf Monster yet.   Perhaps I’ll ask Alice to read it to me when I see him.   There is another Coop book in the works.

As for Michael’s book, it’s been years since I read it, but I remember thinking it was too short.   And Michael has enough stories for another book.

Neal has been working on a book as well.   But I think Glen had the best stories.

You bounced back in big fashion to become part of some great ventures.   The ‘Bouchard, Dunaway and Smith’ period produced some excellent music.   How did this take shape, how far back do you go with Joe, and how familiar were you with BOC’s catalogue?

Blue Oyster Cult opened for the Alice Cooper group in ’72 so that’s how long Neal and I have known Joe and the guys.   The three of us had done a lot of various demos together, even a trio of original Christmas songs.   And so we finally decided to make a CD.   We recorded a studio album called Back From Hell and a follow up called BDS Live in Paris, we played lots of shows in the US and Europe.

Some BOC songs are tricky to play properly.   Joe says the same thing about our Coop tunes.

What are some of your favorite BOC tunes you played then and now?

BDS played “Cities On Flame (With Rock and Roll)”, “Astronomy” and of course “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” which are all true classics.   And we recorded our own version of “Fallen Angel,” which is on Back From Hell. And now Blue Coupe play those songs and lots of others like “Red and the Black”, “Burnin’ For You”, “Hotrails to Hell” and “Godzilla.”

You then formed the ‘Dennis Dunaway Project’.  It has only produced one album to date, being ‘Bones from the Yard’ in 2003.    I was blown away the first time I heard it, it’s so well produced and has some very intriguing songs like ‘Kandahar’, ‘Man Is A Beast’ and ‘New Generation’.    Explain how that album came to be, who took part and can we expect further material from that group?

That group was me helping Rick Tedesco get the bugs out of his brand new studio in exchange for getting some demos recorded there.   We brought in Russ Wilson on drums and Ed Burns on Keys and vocals.   We got the bugs out of the studio and were pleased that the quality of the recordings was more like an album than a demo.   And the band had great chemistry so we decided to make an album, which Ian Hunter participated in. Ian played piano, sang backgrounds, helped with the writing, and was our all around musical guru.

We were half way through a second album when the chemistry disintegrated.   Rick used some of those songs on his solo record, Light In The Attic.

We’re still trying to figure out what went sour.

I have to admit that we know nothing about ‘5th Avenue Vampires’ and the album ‘Drawing Blood’.   Could you fill us in on what that is?

The 5th Avenue Vampires began with me agreeing to play bass on a recording that Richie Scarlet was involved in. But their drummer didn’t show so I called in Russ Wilson on the fly.   The instrumental track came out great and that would have been the extent of it, except DDP hit a landline, so Russ and I finished recording an album.   The singer was Joe Von T and the songs were hard rock and spooky vampire ditties.   We played a bunch of shows including opening for Alice five times.

The 5th Avenue Vampires had started recording our second album when the announcement of the Alice Cooper group’s nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hit with months of total chaos.   It was too overwhelming for me to continue working on so many projects, including Blue Coupe and a blues-rock thing that I was enjoying with Cactus singer Jimmy Kunes.   And the original Alice Cooper group had plans to play shows in several major cities, which we will still do if there’s enough demand for it.

The latest venture ‘Blue Coupe’ is outstanding.   This seems to be a continuation of the ‘BDS’ venture and it’s produced some great live shows and interesting recordings to date.   You have a new album that includes songs involving original Doors member Robby Kreiger, how excited are you about the present output of your music?

Blue Coupe are more willing to get down in the trenches and travel than BDS was.   And scrapping up decent gigs has gotten even bleaker since then.   We all work very hard on every aspect of music, and we always have fun with it.   As brothers, Joe and Albert’s voices blend well.   And then we often have sisters Tish and Snooky of Manic Panic and the Sic F*cks singing high harmonies, which sounds majestic at times.

I handed Alice a copy of our CD, Tornado on The Tracks, and he said that Robby Krieger had already given him one with a big enthusiastic hype.   Robby played on the BOC Imaginos album with Albert so they’re long time friends as well.   You can get that CD Here

I really like your writing on the Blue Coupe CD, ‘God I Need You Tonight’, ‘Waiting For My Ship’, and “Untamed Youth’ are three really strong cuts [the first two being my faves on the album].   Curious if you can tell me a bit about these [and / or other you wrote]; as far as where the ideas and inspirations for any of them came from?

For ‘Tornado On The Tracks’, Blue Coupe recorded fourteen basic tracks and shot our “You (Like Vampires)” video in three days total.   All pre and post production was done in home studios.   That’s not how we used to make albums but this wasn’t funded by a record company, but by pledges from our fan’s.   And every penny went toward making the best music we could.   Now that more people have heard those results, our new album is being funded on a somewhat bigger budget.

Like some songs on DDP’s ‘Bones From The Yard’ album (“Man Is A Beast” and “Home Sweet Home”), some songs on Tornado came from a concept album that I had originally written for the Alice Cooper group.   “God, I Need You Tonight” was intended as the mental breakdown of the Alice character in a futuristic cityscape where street gangs and corporations battle for power.    The Alice character got caught in a crossfire because he was trying to do both.

“Waiting For My Ship” came from my era of secluded basement writing, as did “Untamed Youth.”   My daughters were quite young at the time and I had them sing background parts on my original home demos.   I had forgotten that I had told them about the Beatles including backwards messages on some of their songs.   And so my girls surprised me by singing “redrum” during “Waiting For My Ship.”   They got the idea from seeing a commercial for The Shining.

“Untamed Youth” is a story song inspired by Brando in the Wild Ones.   That particular interpretation sprang from a darker version of the same song called “Devil’s Highway” that will be on the upcoming Blue Coupe album.   Two songs from one, like what the Cooper group did with “Reflected” and “Elected.”

You put that album together in three days?   That is impressive!

We recorded 14 bed tracks and shot the video in 3 days.

You’ve played with two legendary and influential drummers, in Neal and [now] Albert.  Can you give me a few words about each of them;  their style and how they are to perform with?

They both favor percussive styles with lots of floor toms and heavy kicks, which is right up my alley.   Neal has a more natural swing feel but Albert has swing in his arsenal.   He’s a music teacher in New York City.   Joe teaches music too. Neal and Albert are both seasoned pros and I’m a lucky bassist.

Tell me how it felt to have original ‘B$B’ member Mike Marconi back on stage for a few shows recently and can we expect more from that relationship?

Mike is a hot rod guitar player with perfect tone and lots of texture to his feel.   Fiery rock mostly but he can also play ballads with finesse.   He’s also a great guy to know.   We lost touch for decades but now that we’ve reconnected, we’re having a blast.

What one song that you’ve written since the Muscle of Love album,  do you think would have suited the Alice Cooper Group best, and been a big hit?

As for songs I’ve written, or co-written that I think Alice could do were, “Me And My Boys” and “Man Is A Beast” from the DDP Bones From The Yard.   “Jokes On You” and “Vampire Nights” by BDS.   “Cravin’ A Drink” and “Broken Ways” by 5th Avenue Vampires.  And one that I sent Alice called “The Creeper”, which he used the title for his song.   But the best might be one I’m recording now called “Crypt And Coffin”.  

Your popularity in other countries is remarkable, especially France.  How would you explain the reasons and the feeling it gives you?

Some French writer called me a genius.   I rarely believe anything I read but I certainly will believe that!   Just don’t ask my friends or family to confirm it.   Miss Axelrod would have disagreed too.   But seriously, Blue Coupe love France and they keep having us back.   We will be there again in January 2013.   Perhaps if I study real hard, I can actually become a genius by then.   (Did I spell genius right?)

Several well known videos and personal appearances have been brought to light with reunions over the years of the original members together.   It was thrilling to see the last three surviving members of the original band take part on three songs on the latest Alice solo album.   Sad that it didn’t lead to further events and recordings, but do you keep contact with Alice often?

Alice and I are like family.   The whole band is.   We keep in touch.   Blue Coupe will be opening for Alice in Bethlehem, PA on July 1, 2012 and again in Pittsburg, PA on July 15th.   I’ve been told that Alice will be playing “A Runway Train” in his set.

In closing I wish to congratulate you on the [long over due] induction into the ‘Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame’.   A part of me went into that introduction and it wouldn’t have been right to use the name ‘Alice Cooper’ without recognition of the band that made it happen.  How does it feel to be listed among the greats of the industry?

It’s a true honor.  And it’s great to get an award for being crazy.   And now our fans have proven to the world that it’s okay for them to be crazy too.   They are what the Hall of Fame Induction is all about, really.   They are why we dedicate our lives to doing what we do.

And to be acknowledged as Alice Cooper, the group, is fitting and proper.   I just wish Glen had been there to accept the honor.   We tipped a few toasts to him in the Wadorf-Astoria bar.   They couldn’t kick us out till the wee hours.   

The last statement I have from my side, “Come to the southern United States and do some shows in NC if you would.”

It’s a great state.   I’ll see what I can do about that.  Thanks for the good questions.   

I’ve decided not to hang myself after all.

Interview: © Kevin J.  & Ron Mann , June 2012