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More about Alice Cooper, the man, the myth, the legend:
Alice Cooper pioneered a grandly theatrical brand of hard rock drawing equally from horror movies, vaudeville, and garage rock. With his influence on rock & roll long since acknowledged, his place in rock history and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame secure, and his multiple gold & platinum albums, sold-out tours plus countless honors and career achievement awards, there is little that Alice Cooper hasn’t achieved in his remarkable career.
Cooper has rattled the cages and undermined the authority of generations of guardians of the status quo, continuing to surprise fans and exude danger at every turn, like a great horror movie, even in an era where 24 hour cable news can present real life shocking images.
Still touring worldwide year-in and year-out, still hosting his worldwide syndicated radio show (heard on Planet Rock 5 days a week in the UK), still writing and recording new music, Alice Cooper show no sign of slowing down.
Alice Cooper was on a roll in 1971. Teaming with Canadian producer Bob Ezrin, the band had returned to its Detroit roots (literally and figuratively), working hard to simplify its sound for maximum impact. The first result was “I’m Eighteen,” a big hit for the Coopers from the Love It to Death album, released in February of 1971, and they kept it going later on Nov. 27 of that year with Killer.
Good things began to happen when Warner Bros. signed the group to a multi-album deal, with Love It to Death as the first offering from that contract. A tour took them to Britain and gained Alice Cooper new celebrity fans from David Bowie to Elton John. And some critics began to see the band as more than an outlandish act with a goofy stage show.
“Not only the image was there. The most important thing, in our mind, was the fact [that] the music has to stand up years from now,” Alice Cooper (the singer) said on In the Studio With Redbeard. “It has to stand up even after they’ve forgotten what we’ve done on stage.”
With longevity as the goal, the band went back into the studio to make Alice Cooper’s second album of 1971 (and fourth overall), with Ezrin again in the producer’s chair. Alice has often praised Ezrin for shaping the band’s sound, going so far as calling Bob “our George Martin,” a reference to the famous Beatles producer.
“All of these great songs started coming out,” Cooper remembered. “Bob worked us hard. I mean, he was hard in the studio. He was a tough guy to work with because he really demanded a lot.”
The hard work paid off on Killer, in both the amount of quality songs and the variety of tunes. The album contained songs that matched irresistible pop melodies with punchy hard rock, landing two singles on the Billboard chart with “Be My Lover” and “Under My Wheels” – which also became Alice Cooper’s first U.K. hit. But the LP also included some more challenging compositions, such as the multi-part “Halo of Flies,” which was also a riff on James Bond-esque spy games.
Listen to “Halo of Flies”
“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,” bassist Dennis Dunaway said. “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.”
Other inspirations included Jim Morrison. Alice Cooper and guitarist Michael Bruce paid tribute to the Doors singer on the moody and tense “Desperado,” because he had just died before the band’s Killer sessions. While some might have thought that “Dead Babies” was just an excuse to torture baby dolls in concert, Cooper explained that the song was written by the entire band (including guitarist Glen Buxton and drummer Neal Smith) as an earnest statement.
“Actually that song was probably the first anti-drug, anti-parental abuse song,” Cooper said. “It was like ‘Mom is high and in the other room with some guy she’d never seen before. Dad is out drinking and the baby is taking every pill in the medicine cabinet.’ … It was a total anti-parent abuse song.”
An eye-popping peek into entertainment industry from the magnetic force who has worked with an impeccable roster of stars throughout his storied career.
In the course of his legendary career as a manager, agent, and producer, Shep Gordon has worked with, and befriended, some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, from Alice Cooper to Bette Davis, Raquel Welch to Groucho Marx, Blondie to Jimi Hendrix, Sylvester Stallone to Salvador Dali, Luther Vandross to Teddy Pendergrass. He is also credited with inventing the “celebrity chef,” and has worked with Nobu Matsuhisa, Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Roger Vergé, and many others, including his holiness the Dalai Lama.
In this wonderfully engaging memoir, the charismatic entertainment legend recalls his life, from his humble beginnings as a “shy, no self-esteem, Jewish nebbisher kid with no ambition” in Oceanside, Long Island, to his unexpected rise as one of the most influential and respected personalities in show business, revered for his kindness, charisma—and fondness for a good time.
Gordon shares riotous anecdotes and outrageous accounts of his free-wheeling, globe-trotting experiences with some of the biggest celebrities of the past five decades, including his first meeting with Janice Joplin in 1968, when the raspy singer punched him in the face. Told with incomparable humor and heart, They Call Me Supermensch is a sincere, hilarious behind-the-scenes look at the worlds of music and entertainment from the consummate Hollywood insider.
Rock singer Alice Cooper performs, on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie. BEN TORRES/SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR
Using every shock rock stage prompt and cavorting around the Verizon stage like a man half his age, legendary rocker Alice Cooper put on a vulgar display of power Wednesday night that spoke to the cathartic nature of heavy metal.
At 68, Cooper is in better health than a vast majority of his audience. Looking fit and vigorous, Cooper led his youthful backing band through his nightmarish lengthy back catalog. Beginning with “The Black Widow” (from 1975′s Welcome to My Nightmare), Cooper quickly transitioned into the well-worn riffing of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels.”
Cooper’s three guitarists embraced songs from four decades as if they had just learned them. Songs such as “Billion Dollar Babies,” “Long Way to Go,” and “Is It My Body” demonstrated just how much Cooper had influenced the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Marilyn Manson. Cooper’s brand of rock may have been shocking, but it was never unintelligent. Throughout the 70′s and into the early 80′s, Cooper deftly struck a vibe with adolescent males. Judging by the fist-pumping 40-, 50- and 60-year-old fans in attendance Wednesday evening, Cooper still maintains such a connection.
Always a snappy dresser, Cooper roamed the stage like a carnival barker in front of a high end tailor shop. He tossed out canes and brought out his signature anaconda and the crowd ate up every well-rehearsed move. He has always been an entertainer, even though his songs can stand on their own.
Midway through the show, Cooper and crew played deep cuts such as “Halo of Flies” and “Ballad of Dwight Fry,” songs that are as complex as they are powerful. With his cane in hand and his back to the audience, Cooper was the conductor of some bizarre, heavy metal symphony. By the time he got around to the expected finale of “I’m 18″ and “School’s Out,” Cooper had the audience in the palm of his leather-clad hands.
This was much more than a man simply coasting on his legacy. Sure, there were silly, remotely sexist ditties like “Woman of Mass Distraction,” but for the most part, Cooper and his band keep things tight and tantalizing. The tributes to David Bowie (“Suffragette City”) and Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister (“Ace of Spades”) were thoughtful and intense.
Encoring with “Elected” while poking fun at both major candidates, Cooper showed that his brand of rock could still be shocking, funny and immensely entertaining. Wednesday night’s performance was everything a great rock and roll concert should be.