Tag Archives: Billion Dollar Babies

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!!  





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!




Band Names : Borrowed, Recycled and Re-used

Through the use of Youtube and Discogs over the last few years I’ve stumbled upon different bands that existed before a much bigger band of the same name – best examples being the Asia from the US and the 2 other British bands that played under the name Iron Maiden in the ’60s and 1970. Back before the internet it was likely much more difficult for bands to realize that the band name they had chosen had already been used or was in use, and many bands probably didn’t think about the importance of registering a band name at the time. I think this sorta came to light more so in the late ’70s to early ’80s when bogus versions of Steppenwolf and Deep Purple existed, the latter being sued out of business – these bands though were related to a previous line up of the band, which in these cases was now being used by 1 former member who didn’t have the right to the name, until someone took legal action. In this series I want to point out successful bands [or in a few cases, had well known players and should’ve done better] that had names that had been previously [or still were] used by an unrelated band that also recorded.

I’ve put down 12 cases of names being re-used or taken. I’ve put the emphasis on the lesser known band, in most cases the first one(s). I’ve also provided a few links to check out. I had a list well over 20 to start, so there may be a Part 2 down the road. Check out some of these bands on youtube, and leave me some feedback in the comments.


The ‘supergroup’ named ‘Asia’ debuted in 1982, and there self-titled album was one [or the] biggest of that year. They would follow it up with another highly successful album in’83 before the band’s fortunes started to drop and non-stop personnel changes would occur with the band over the next few decades before the original band reunited for 3 albums in the 2000s. But, that Asia -featuring John Wetton [RIP], Carl Palmer, Steve Howe, and Geoff Downes had used a name that was already in use by an American band from South Dakota, another prog / hard rock 4-piece who had recorded 2 albums – 1979’s self titled, and 1980’s Armed To The Teeth, which featured a pretty cool cover drawn by the band’s guitar player . The band consisted of – Michael English – vocals, bass, percussion, Larry Galbraith – vocals, guitars, mandolin, Mike Coates – guitars, mandolin, piano, harpsichord, mellotron, background vocals, and Doug Johnson – drums, percussion [replaced John Haynes]. This Asia’s sound was based more around the twin guitar approach, great vocals and harmonies, mellotron, and lengthier prog pieces with fantasy and history based songs like “The Road Of The Kings”, “Xanadu”, “Kamikaze”, and “Genghis Khan”. Not much in the way of ‘commercial’ rock of the time here, aside from the ballad “Paladin” [issued as a single], on the 2nd album. Both worth checking out, but may as well get the CD [see link below], as original copies of the first LP are over $300 and the second – over $100, on Discogs. Anyway, also check out the link below for Mike Coates detailed account of how they were duped out of the name by the supergroup’s management, and which ultimately lead to the band’s demise.

Rock Recordings | Mikecoates (mikecoatesguitar.com)


Iron Maiden

One of the biggest bands in heavy metal history got their start in the mid ’70s, founded by bass player Steve Harris. The name was taken from the 16 century torture device [or 18th, depending on source] . However, the British metal legends were certainly not the first to the use the name for the their band. There were 3 previous bands that used the name, 2 of which, also from the UK recorded original material under, and another being a 5-piece all-female band from the mid-west USA, though I can’t say they recorded anything – but check out the link below on a brief history of the band with photos and show adverts.

The first Iron Maiden was from Basildon, Essex. This band started as a folk duo and eventually became more of a blues outfit. The band seemed to have a number of connections and brushes with opportunity. They eventually signed to the Gemini label and recorded demos in 1969 for a proposed debut album. A single was also released on Gemini in 1970. with the line-up –  Steve Drewett [vocals, harmonica], Trevor Thoms [guitar, vocals], Barry Skeels [bass, vocals], and Steve Chapman [drums, who had replaced Paul Reynolds].

But when a tour of Australia was cancelled, things started to fall apart with Chapman leaving. Their recordings were eventually released under the Iron Maiden name, titled Maiden Voyage in 1998. Interesting stuff, kinda psychedelic, bluesy, a bit folky, even a bit doomy. The CD includes the band’s single, as well as 2 tracks recorded under their previous name ‘Bum’, one of which is titled “God Of Darkness”. Bass player Barry Skeels would go on to record with Zior.

Another Iron Maiden hailed from Bolton, a trio formed in 1967 and consisted of Ian Boulton Smith [aka Beak, lead & rhythm guitar], Paul T.J. O’Neill [drums, keyboards, lead vocals, producer], and Derek Austin [bass, vocals]. This band was a heavier rock band [ala Zeppelin, Free]. I recall reading in a Steve Harris interview [or book?] how he’d got a call regarding another band named Iron Maiden and asking [or demanding?] that he cease using it, to which Harris [I think] ignored it and went out to register the name. Maiden from Bolton disbanded in 1976 anyway. Guitarist Ian Boulton Smith left the band in ’75, and the band carried on with a replacement [Noel Pemberton-Billing], but after more changes they split. Smith passed away from cancer in ’76, and nearly 30 years later O’Neill put together the band’s recordings to release on CD,. He would contact Rod Smallwood [Iron Maiden manager], who would give the band’s OK [with an adjustment to the name], and would also advertise the album’s release on Maiden’s website. Under the name ‘The Bolton Iron Maiden’, they made 1000 copies of the CD Maiden Flight [1970-1976] . A 2nd CD was released years later, as well O’Neill would carry on and record a 3rd CD under the band name, released at the end of 2020. *All profits from Maiden Flight and Boulton Flies Again are given to two cancer charities in Beak’s honor. Cancer Research UK and Macmillian Cancer Care.

Although it’s interesting to note that Steve Harris’ band went on with a name that was in use [and was made aware of], the other 2 British bands that had used the name prior would benefit [or living members would] by having a starting point [name recognition] to release the music they made decades ago. Perhaps without the one Iron Maiden that’s known world wide, recordings from the other 2 bands might’ve never seen the light of day[!?] … Check out the links below for more info on the other Iron Maidens.

Iron Maiden – Seattle/Kent (70-73) (pnwbands.com)

The Bolton Iron Maiden

Paul O’Neill of The Bolton Iron Maiden: Interview – At The Barrier

About Us (offbeat-management.co.uk)


This one is one that puzzles me, as Canada’s FM had started as a progressive 3 piece in the mid ’70s, and were still active when the British aor band formed and took up the same name. Hmm, but oh well. Very different sounding bands. I don’t know how much activity or success Canada’s FM ever had in the UK, but I am pretty sure the British FM would be hard to find in any record shop or heard of here. Just a guess. I have most of the Canadian band’s albums, but nothing of the UK band. I’ve checked out plenty of FM [UK], but not too crazy to get anything anytime soon. Canada’s FM, from Toronto originally featured just Cameron Hawkins [bass, keyboards, vocals], and Jeff Plewman [aka -Nash The Slash electric violin, mandolin, vocals], and would soon add [drummer] Martin Deller. Nash left after recording of the legendary debut [rereleased after Nash left, as Black Noise] , as he also had a successful and pioneering solo career. Black Noise featured the band’s best known song “Phasors On Stun”. His replacement was Ben Minks for the next 3 albums [Minks also known for his work with KD Lang, as well as Rush’s Geddy Lee]. Nash would return to the band in the ’80s, as the band became a 4 piece and took on a slightly more commercial approach [I saw them open for Rush at one point]. The original trio reunited in the ’90s for a brief tour of Ontario to promote the CD release of Black Noise, and record a live album. I saw 2 of these shows. Plewman [Nash] passed away in 2014, and though he hadn’t been in the band for years, it continued with Hawkins and numerous changing line-ups. [Well, that was longer than I planned]. FM were never really a commercial band, being very ground breaking in their sound, and I would say the closest thing to them would’ve been John Wetton’s short lived UK .

FM [UK – as they would add to their name in the US] formed in 1984 Merv Goldsworthy [bass], Pete Jupp [drums], Steve Overland [guitar/vocals], Chris Overland [lead guitar] . and Philip Manchester [keyboards]. Chris Overland would be replaced by Andy Barnatt. The band created a strong following in the UK, releasing a number of albums before breaking up in ’95. FM [UK] plays hard-rock / AOR, and features a great singer in Steve Overland. They returned a decade later, and have released a number of albums consistently, including 2020’s Synchronized [Frontiers].

“We did find out, that’s when we had to change the name to FM UK in America, in the States we had to change the name, which was really crap.”, recalled Pete Jupp in a 2011 interview for Metal-Rules.com


Many may be familiar with the US AOR band Touch, who were formed in the late 70s in New York, and released 2 albums, as well as had a few hits – “Don’t You Know What Love Is”  & “When The Spirit Moves You”. The band was /is lead by keyboard player / songwriter / producer Mark Mangold [who’d recorded with 60s band Valhalla]. This ‘Touch’ reformed in recent years and just released a new album – Tomorrow Never Comes.

However, in the late ’60s there was a band using the name Touch, from Portland, Oregon. The band featured the vocal talents of Jeff Hawks, and recorded one album in 1969, as well as a few singles. The album was recorded at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, and was known for drawing the likes of Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix, who hung around at the time. The band split soon after it’s release, with a few of the members going on to form Stepson. The album would have an impact on a number of bands, including Uriah Heep.

Touch • Prog History • DPRP.net

Billion Dollar Babies

Billion Dollar Babies is the name of a Swedish metal band, who’ve released 3 albums from 2010 to 2017. Not too bad actually, well worth checking out. But the name has been used so often, and it all comes back to the Top selling album by the original Alice Cooper, released in 1973. More so, ex members of Alice Cooper recorded the album Battle Axe under the name in 1977, and I’m sure there’s been a number of AC tribute bands that have used [or are using] the name as well.

“We took the name Billion Dollar Babies cause we LOVE Alice Cooper!!” – 2008 interview with http://alixlixxglamsleaze.blogspot.com/

Scorpions [The]

The German heavy metal band founded by Rudolf Schenker released their first album in 1972, though Schenker likes to date the band to 1965 [when he was in High School, whatever]. So if that was the case, the German Scorpions were the 3rd rock/pop band to use the name.

The Scorpions, from South London started in 1959, It featured brothers John & Ted Barber, along with drummer Ivor Knight [having replaced Mick LeDieu]. The band released 2 instrumental singles in 1961, – “Rockin’ At The Phil” [a Chuck Berry cover, and “Ghost Riders In The Sky” [originally by Western artist Stanley Davis Jones, and later covered by Johnny Cash, as well as US band The Outlaws]. The band recorded more [and tho’ I’m not sure of dates]; at some point also went by the name The Ferridays. A 32 track “Anthology” of their recordings was released in 1996, which included some tracks done with legendary British producer Joe Meek [see next entry]. The band were still playing up until 2010, at least [on youtube].

There was also a 5 piece band going by The Scorpions from Manchester. Originally including  Tony Postill [guitar], Rodney Posthill [guitar], Tony Brierley [bass], Mike Delaney [drums]. and Pete Lewis [vocals]. The band’s records would only get released in The Netherlands, where they would go play, and they had a hit with a cover of Fats Domino’s “Hey Josephine”. Within a few years though Lewis was the only original member left. The band continued to release singles, and even a few LPs in the mid ’60s – but only in The Netherlands. “Hey Josephine” became a hit again in ’77, and Lewis with a new version of the band recorded an album, consisting of new and re-recorded songs. The band played in The Netherlands up until 1979. Lewis passed away in ’85. Interestingly, Graham Lee and a few other non-original members released a CD in 2011 as The Scorpions.

The Outlaws

The name The Outlaws has been used a few times, probably most notably by the Southern rock band from Florida, formed in the late ’60s by guitarist / vocalist Hughie Thomasson, and by teh time of the first album in ’75 consisted of Billy Jones [guitar], Frank O’Keefe [bass], Henry Paul [guitar, vocals], and Monte Yoho [drums] . The band would release numerous albums over the decades, and scored hits with “Green Grass And High Tides”, “There Goes Another Love Song”, and a cover of “Ghost Riders In The Sky”. The band was non active for some time when Thomasson joined Lynyrd Skynyrd, but returned a decade later. Thomasson passed away in 2007, and Henry Paul & Monte Yoho kept the band going, following legal issues over the name. They released a new studio album last year.

Now, the other Outlaws was a British band that was put together by producer Joe Meek, and existed from ’60-’65. An instrumental group, originally put together to back singer Mike Berry, who had a string of hit singles. They would also back other singers, as well as record their own material. The band was known for it being a starting point for such rock notables as Mick Underwood [Quatermass, Gillan], Chas Hodges [Chas & Dave], and largely – Ritchie Blackmore [Deep Purple, Rainbow]. A few CD compilations of the bands singles would be released as recent as last year.


Not that either rock band that used the name Angel were huge successes, but the US band formed in ’75 featuring Frank Dimino [vocals], Punky Meadows [guitar], Gregg Giuffria [keyboards], Mickey Jones [bass] and Barry Brandt [drums] are best known. The band was signed to Casablanca Records, the same label as Kiss – who they be forever linked to. The band released 5 studio albums and 1 live set from 1975 til 1980 before breaking up. The first 2 albums were the bands most popular amongst longtime fans, being more progressive and harder rocking, but then looking for singles the next 3 albums consisted of more pop oriented rock tunes. More recently Dimino and Meadows reformed a new version of the band and released the excellent Risen album in 2019.

In the UK though the name Angel existed briefly from 1974-’75 as a glam band. The band was managed & produced by Andy Scott and Mick Tucker of Sweet, who knew bandmembers from their previous band – Pebbles. As Angel, they released just 2 singles in their short existence, sounding very much like Sweet. The band consisted of Brian Johnson [vocals], Martin Kemp [bass], Steve Rickard [drums], Joe Ryan [lead guitar], who was replaced by Bob Banasiak for the 2nd single.  Both A-sides -“Good Time Fanny” and “Little Boy Blue” were penned by Scott, while the B-sides were the band’s own. Hmm, sounds familiar. The first single [“Good Time Fanny”] became a hit in Germany, and the band would go tour there. Bravo Magazine [Germany] would also vote the band 2nd place in best newcomers [behind Queen]. After a change in line up, the 2nd single was recorded and released, but failed to chart. The band recorded more tracks in 1975, following a few line-up changes, but nothing came of these, due to record company & management issues, and they broke up. Singer Brian Johnson [not the guy from AC/DC] joined Belgian band Octopus, and had a pile of hit singles with the, In 2005 Angel did a reunion show, and subsequently released a 15 track CD of all their studio recordings from 74 & 75, plus live tracks from the 2005 concert. In 2010 a reformed version of the band released the CD The Butterfly Song.



Best known band using the name Magnum is British hard-rock / pomp band who were founded by guitarist / songwriter Tony Clarkin and singer Bob Catley in the early ’70s. By 1978 they signed to Jet Records and released their first album. The band scored hits in the UK, and released a pile of great albums before splitting in 1995. The band had 0 success in North America and rarely played over here. The band reformed in 2001 and have continued to release excellent albums every few years, despite a number of personnel changes. Clarkin and Catley remain the face of the band.

The name Magnum though would be used by a few other bands in the US. There was the California based funk/latin/jazz band that released their lone LP Fully Loaded in 1974, as well as a few singles. There was also a band from Pennsylvania who would release a trio of singles from 1980 to 84, and a full album in 1989. Again, not sure why these guys wouldn’t have know the name was already in use by the time they recorded, but oh well. The band was largely a covers bands, performing hard-rock / AOR hits, and were founded by keyboard player Lonnie Warner and guitarist Steve Weiss in ’78, and included drummer Dave Werkhiser, lead vocalist [and keyboardist] Tommy Zito, and bass player Butch Samolewicz. In ’83 the band released a 10 song cassette of originals titled Hot Nights. And by the time the band released their only CD, of 8 songs titled No Secrets in 1989, the band had gone through more changes, and then featured singer Robert Mason [later of Lynch Mob, Cry Of Love, and Warrant] and were produced by Benjy King [who’s various credits up until that point included Rick Derringer, Scandal, and (the late) Alan Merrill]. Original singer/keyboardist Tommy Zito joined AOR rockers Aviator for a few years. The band split in the mid ’90s, but apparently do the occasional local reunion show, and has added ‘USA’ to their name [online]

Media Five Band Archive for Magnum (mediafiveent.com)

Lehigh Valley rock band Magnum reunites for two free shows on big stages – The Morning Call (mcall.com)


UK band Thunder formed in the late ’80s, and were hailed as the next huge classic rock band to follow the likes of Zeppelin, Bad Company,… with their 1990 debut Back Street Symphony. The band remained highly successful in the UK and elsewhere, but had no such fortune in North America [see Magnum]. Lead by the talents of singer Danny Bowes – Lead Vocals and guitarist Luke Morley, and originally including keyboardist Ben Matthews, bass player Mark Luckhurst, and drummer Gary [Harry] James [who would later join Magnum for a number of albums]. The band split a few times over the years, but are back making great music in recent years, including the recently released All The Right Moves, with 4 of the original members.

The name Thunder had been used before, notably by 2 separate bands in the US. The first being the short-lived band featuring guitarist / songwriter John Nitzinger [Nitzinger, Bloodrock] and bassist David Hungate [Toto], as well as singer David Alley, drummer Randy Reeder [Bloodrock], keyboardist Whitey Thomas [Nitzinger],… Not really sure who Was the band, as there’s only 2 guys featured on the back cover, tho Nitzinger, Hungate, and Alley all contribute to the songwriting, and Thomas serves as co-producer, and there’s also a number of guitar players credits, and a pile of female backing singers. Hmm.. Anyway, not a bad album. I have the Nitzinger albums, and this is comparable with songs like “King’s X”, and the fast rocker “Power Glide”. Not consistently heavy tho, plenty of slower funky tunes and a few ballads. Nitzinger would go on to record a number of his own albums, as well as recording with PM [w/ Carl Palmer], Alice Cooper, and Dave Evans [original AC/DC frontman]. Hungate would join Toto til 1982 and do tons of session recordings in Nashville, and Randy Reeder would go on to record on the lone LP by hard-rock / prog band Alexis [1977]- which was produced by Ron Nevison [great sounding album, cool cover!]

A Southern rock band, from Tennessee used the Thunder name, consisting of bassist Chopper Anderson, drummer Tris Imboden [Honk, Kenny Loggins], and guitarist / vocalist John Porter McMeans, and guitarist / keyboard player Mo West. The band released 2 albums – 1980’s self-titled, and 1982’s Headphones For Cows [great title and album cover!], adding keyboardist Denny Henson [Fools Gold] for the 2nd album. The albums, usually listed as Southern rock, are kinda that late 70s AOR rock, but occasionally touch on funk, blues and country. Good tunes include “Easy Street”, “Service With A Smile”, “Can’t Let Go / Can’t Hold On” and “Midnight Heartache”. I prefer the 2nd album, being a bit more upbeat.

Chopper Anderson would join the reunited line up of Whitford- St Holmes [on their 2015 album], McMeans would go on to write and record with Dan Seals, as well as release a solo CD in 1991 with West as producer. West passed away in 2010.

Nitzinger – Nitzinger Music – CD’s & DVD’s, Nitzinger T-Shirts

Skid Row

American heavy metal band Skid Row arrived in 1989 with their excellent debut album, featuring the hits “18 And Life” and “Youth Gone Wild”. The band was originally fronted by Canadian singer Sebastien Bach, who later went on to acting and a solo career. The band split after 3 albums, but reformed with a different singer 6 years later. Although a cool name for a metal band, the New Jersey based band was not the first to use it – that would be the legendary Irish blues rock band originally consisting of bassist Brendan ‘Brush’ Shiels , drummer Noel ‘Nollaig’ Bridgeman, guitarist Bernard “Ben” Cheevers on guitar, and singer Phil Lynott! Gary Moore would soon join, and Cheevers would leave, and Lynott was fired by Shiels, having appeared on just 1 single, making this Skid Row a trio. In return for letting him go Shiels would give Lynott a bass guitar and taught him how to play it. The band’s debut album in early ’70 was pulled quickly so that the band could re-record some tracks and add newer ones. It was re-released in the fall of ’70, titled Skid. It was followed by 34 Hours [titled after the amount of time taken to record it] A 3rd album was recorded but not released until 1990 under the title Gary Moore/Brush Shiels/Noel Bridgeman. The band under Shiels’ went through numerous changes and would feature guitarists Eric Bell [for a few shows], then Paul Chapman. Shiels would return with a new 4 piece line-up in the mid-70s, and release the double live set [mainly covers] Alive And Kickin’. Noel Bridgeman would go on to record a number of albums with Irish folk singer Mary Black, among others, and passed away March 23 of this year. Chapman went on to record and tour with Lone Star and UFO, before passing in 2020. Moore had a lengthy solo career, as well as a period in Thin Lizzy, he passed in 2011. Shiels latest solo album was in 2012. In later years he also challenged and protested the use of the band name by the American band [see link below].

Skid Row Founder Doesn’t Understand How American Group Ended Up Using His Band’s Name – Blabbermouth.net

Skid Row (irish-showbands.com)

Mr Big

Well, long before the massively successful US band had their top hit “To Be With You” in 1991, the name Mr Big had been used for years by a British band. The US band formed in the late ’80s, featured the vocals of Eric Martin, and bass player Billy Sheehan, guitarist Paul Gilbert, and drummer Pat Torpey [RIP, 2018]. The band released 9 studio albums, as well as had a number of smaller hits, and live albums – particularly in Japan where they were huge.

The band name had previously been used by a British band formed in 1967 under the name Burnt Oak, before changing it to Mr Big in 1972. Original members were – Jeff (Dicken) Pain [guitar, vocals], Pete Crowther [bass], John Burnip and Vince Chaulk [drums]. The band was managed by Bob Hirschman, who also managed Mott The Hoople. They signed to Epic in ’74 and released their first album Sweet Silence in ’75, and would land the opening slot for Queen’s Night At The Opera UK tour. The 2nd album Photographic Smile was recorded in Los Angeles and featured the pop song “Romeo”, which would become a top 10 UK hit. And this is where things get confusing – Photographic Smile came out in late ’76 in North America , where the band was signed to Arista [EMI also issued it then in Japan], EMI would release the self-titled album [w/ a different cover] as the band’s 2nd album in the UK, and everywhere else. The Arista version would feature a mix of songs from both albums [EMI], so there was only 2 albums. Later they’d be openers for Sweet in Europe, but by ’76 they were big enough to headline their own UK. They also toured the US in ’77 with shows alongside Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Journey, and Kansas. Mr Big had also seen a few personnel changes. The band’s 3rd album – Seppuku would be produced by Ian Hunter in 1978, but due to record company & management issues would not be released until 2001 when Angel Air Records put it out. A single “Senora” [co-written by Hunter] was issued and the band promoted it on UK’s Top Of The Pops, but the band split up soon after.

A few members [Dicken and Crowther] went on to form Broken Home, who released 2 albums, and scored a few minor hits in Norway. Dicken would later revamp the band with former member Edward Carter, releasing albums in 1996 and 2011. Drummer Vince Chaulk would go on to record with Streetband [which featured Paul Young]. replacement drummer John Martyr went on to record with Voyager and Alaska.

A shame this Mr Big didn’t last longer, their first few albums are full of pop and hard-rock, as well as unique instrumentations and arrangements, and great harmonies,. Not unlike Queen in some ways, but a bit more experimental at times, Favorite tracks – “Time Base”, “Sweet Silence”, “Enjoy It”, “Easy” and “Can We Live (Angel Of My Life)”, In one of the links below, the name dispute is also discussed, as the band felt they’d registered the name in 1973.

Mr Big (UK) | Nostalgia Central

‘Oxford Rocks’ (Dicken – Mr Big – Broken Home fan page) (mottarchive.com)

KJJ, 05 / ’21