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Susan Foreman 30th December 2020 08:10 AM

Alice (alongside Roger Daltrey) appears in a new music documentary entitled 'Rock Camp'

Susan Foreman 7th January 2021 08:14 AM

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December 18, 1976 - Alice or Andy!

Susan Foreman 12th January 2021 09:34 AM

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The many moods of Alice

Susan Foreman 23rd January 2021 10:38 AM

The latest news and sightings

There's a new interview / feature with Alice at Arizona Central

"How Alice Cooper returned to his roots for the new album, 'Detroit Stories'

Alice Cooper spends his latest album, "Detroit Stories," paying tribute to a city that looms large in Cooper legend for obvious reasons.

First and foremost, he was born there.

And although he met the other founding members of the Alice Cooper group in Phoenix, where his family moved when he was 12, the Cortez High School track star and his bandmates were sharing a farmhouse on the outskirts of Detroit when they recorded "I'm Eighteen," their breakthrough single.

They'd moved to Detroit after several years in California, where they cut their first two albums for Frank Zappa's Straight Records.

As Cooper, who now lives in Paradise Valley with his wife, Sheryl Cooper, explains, they didn't feel as much like outcasts on the Detroit scene, surrounded by such kindred spirits as the Stooges and the MC5.

"Detroit, their sound was hard rock driven by guitars," he says. "And that's where we felt right at home."
'Let's make Detroit the thing'
On "Detroit Stories," an album due to be released on Feb. 26, he celebrates the legendary music city and its hard-rock heritage, a premise Cooper first suggested in a conversation with long-time producer Bob Ezrin.

"Bob and I, we never go into an album and say, 'Let's just write 12 good songs,'" he says. "Both of us come from a very theatrical background. So I said, 'Let's dedicate it to Detroit. Let's make Detroit the thing.' Because I'm from Detroit."

Once they'd decided on that "Detroit Stories" concept, there were certain ground rules.

"I said 'The most important thing is let's make sure that everybody on the album is from Detroit. Let's record it in Detroit. Let's not give up on that.'"

Guest appearances include such veterans of the Detroit scene as Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad and Johnny "Bee" Badanjek of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels.

The only person on the album not associated with Detroit, Cooper says, is guitar hero Joe Bonamassa, who plays a cover of the Velvet Underground song "Rock 'n' Roll."

Although the Velvet Underground was based in New York City, not Detroit, the arrangement is on loan from Ryder's cover of the song, produced by Ezrin.

"Bob also produced 'Berlin' for Lou Reed," Cooper says. "And Lou was a buddy of mine. We used to live at the Chelsea Hotel back in the early '70s together."

Ezrin played their version of the song for Laurie Anderson, Reed's widow.

"And she said she loved it," Cooper says. "She said Lou would've loved our version. The Velvet Underground's version was very New York heroin chic. We took it and gave it the Detroit treatment."
How Bob Ezrin helped hone their sound
It was Ezrin who initially helped Cooper and his bandmates hone their sound into the airplay-friendly hard-rock anthems that became their stock in trade as "I'm Eighteen" gave way to "School's Out."

The young producer had been sent to see them play a gig at Max's Kansas City (a New York club) with strict orders from his boss, Jack Richardson, a producer enjoying a run of big hit singles for the Guess Who.

"It was the only time a producer ever came to a show," Cooper say, with a laugh. "And he came there to get rid of us. That's what Jack Richardson told him. 'Just get rid of them. Go see them and tell them we're not interested."

But Ezrin couldn't do it.

As Cooper recalls the gig that changed his life, where future members of the New York Dolls were pressed against the stage, "The audience went crazy. They loved it. And Bob went back to Jack Richardson and said, 'I know I'm fired. But I signed them.' Jack said, 'Then your punishment is you have to produce them.'"

The success of "I'm Eighteen" convinced the suits at Warner Bros. to take a chance on releasing a full-length Alice Cooper album, the 1971 classic "Love It To Death," produced by Ezrin.

"Well, 'Love it to Death' became a huge hit," Cooper says, with a laugh. "And nobody saw that one coming. But Bob was totally right. What he saw in us was the future. He said, 'I listened to them. I watched them. And I saw something I wasn't expecting. They're great players. But they could be a lot better.'"
'He was our George Martin'
It was Ezrin's job to make them better. And the weird thing is, they let him get away with it.

"It's funny," Cooper says. "We never listened to Zappa. Zappa gave us advice. A lot of guys gave us advice. And we never listened to it. We thought 'We know what we're doing.' For some reason, we listened to Bob Ezrin. He was a young, young guy with long hair."

Ezrin went on to produce their next three albums, "Killer," "School's Out" and perhaps their most iconic effort, "Billion Dollar Babies," and continued to work with the singer when Cooper went solo in 1975, resulting in another huge commercial triumph, "Welcome to My Nightmare."

"He was our George Martin," Cooper says, referring to the man who famously produced all but a tiny fraction of the Beatles catalog. "And still is. I would rather work with Bob than anybody."

"Detroit Stories" is the singer's third consecutive album with Ezrin producing, following the "Welcome to My Nightmare" sequel, "Welcome 2 My Nightmare," and 2017's "Paranormal."

A strict interpretation of the singer's album credits would suggest that "Welcome 2 Nightmare," released in 2011, was the first they'd worked together since the criminally underrated "DaDa" hit the streets (but not the U.S. album charts) in 1983.

But Cooper says it's not that simple.
'If anybody knows Alice Cooper better than me, it's Bob Ezrin'
"Bob has always been my go-to guy," he says.

"If I was doing an album with David Foster or all those different producers, I would always run the songs by Bob and say, 'What do you hear here?' And he'd send it back and go, 'Well, I'm doing this other band right now, but this chorus could be better' or 'Cut that section in half' Or 'Alice would never say that.'"

There's a trust they've built up through the years that goes beyond familiarity or even friendship.

"If anybody knows Alice Cooper better than me, or at least as much as me, it's Bob Ezrin, because we created that character together, voice-wise," Cooper says.

"So we know what he would sing and what he wouldn't sing, if this song is an Alice song or if we're forcing it on Alice. Sometimes it's a great song and you go, 'Yeah, but it's just not an Alice song.' And you put it away."
'We always felt like social debris'
The other three surviving members of the original Cooper group – guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith — appear on two tracks of "Detroit Stories", "Social Debris" and "I Hate You."

Cooper wrote "Social Debris" with Smith and Ezrin.

"We just always felt like social debris," he says. "We didn't feel like we ever fit in. So that song came out pretty easily. It sounds like it should have been on 'Love it to Death' or 'Killer.' So it worked."

"I Hate You" was written by Cooper, Dunaway and Ezrin, and features the former bandmates trading insults.
The band loved Glen Buxton
"Most bands when they break up hate each other," Cooper says.

"We never did that. We didn't really break up with bad blood. So we wrote a song where each guy has a verse about the other guy. The funny thing is, everybody that thinks the Alice Cooper band hates each other, we said, 'OK, yeah, we hate each other. Here's the song.'"

The song ends with a tribute to the late Glen Buxton, who died in 1997.

"But most of all we're filled with rage," they sing. "At the empty space you left on stage."

As Cooper says, "We all loved Glen."
Alice Cooper doesn't live in the past
It's tempting to think that the timing of Cooper's tribute to Detroit is based at least in part on the 50th anniversary of "Love It to Death," a breakthrough album recorded while sharing a farmhouse with his bandmates on the outskirts of Detroit.

"Detroit Stories" hits the streets on Feb. 26.

"Love it to Death" turns 50 on March 9.

"People always surprise me when they say 'It's the 40th anniversary of this' or 'the 50th anniversary of that,'" Cooper says, with a laugh.

"I never think about. I guess because I don't really live in the past that much. But the fans do. It's very important to them. I didn't even know it was the 50th anniversary until you mentioned it.""

Alice features in the March issue of 'Uncut' magazine...
"ALICE COOPER: When Cooper and his band found themselves in Detroit in 1969, they found their natural home. As he prepares to revisit those roots on a new album, Uncut winds the clock back to look afresh at the Motor City’s heyday and Cooper’s “improv, guerrilla theatre”."
...and is featured on the cover of the French language 'Rock And Folk' magazine

Susan Foreman 26th January 2021 06:31 AM

New article in Rolling Stone magazine

Strippers, Drag Queens and Dancing Dogs: The Insane 1971 Party That Launched Alice Cooper

There were record companies, and then there was Warner Brothers. During the halcyon, Wild West days of the music business in the Sixties and Seventies, Warner Brothers — along with its associated labels like Reprise and Sire — earned a reputation for signing some of pop’s most idiosyncratic or unconventional artists. But even better, the label — and executives like Mo Ostin, Joe Smith and Lenny Warner — allowed those musicians the freedom to roam and grow in the studio with few artistic constraints. Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead, and Randy Newman were among the label’s first wave of talent, followed in later years by Prince, Madonna, Van Halen, Devo and the post-indie Replacements.

The result wasn’t just a mind-boggling string of classic and often groundbreaking music but also plenty of profit to go around — and plenty of ways to spend it and revel in the excesses of the times. In this excerpt from Peter Ames Carlin’s Sonic Boom: The Impossible Rise of Warner Bros. Records from Hendrix to Fleetwood Mac to Madonna to Prince, the label — especially head publicist Bob Regehr working with band manager Shep Gordon — decides to go all out to launch a new band called Alice Cooper in 1971. The gorilla suits alone make us nostalgic for a long-gone aspect of the business.

"Alice Cooper, a five-piece hard rock band known for its cross-dressing, horror movie villain–style front man (who later took the band’s name as his own), had been a tough sell for its first couple of years in the Warner/ Reprise family. Signed by Frank Zappa for his Warner-distributed Bizarre/ Straight label, the band’s first two albums bombed, due in part to Zappa’s disinterest in them. The band didn’t help itself the night Gordon corralled a group of Warner/Reprise executives to their show at the Whisky a Go Go and, amid the band’s lackluster set, the drummer managed to fall off the stage. A terrible show.

But Gordon, all of twenty-two, was convinced his group was bound for stardom, so when they were offered an opening spot on a national package tour in the summer of 1970 only to be denied the tour support money they would need by Zappa’s partners at Bizarre/Straight, the manager decided to take his case to the central office on Warner Blvd. Gordon gathered the group, bought a few sacks of tacos on the way to Burbank, waited until Joe Smith had gone out to lunch, then rallied his troops to invade the label president’s office, where, with their large and odoriferous lunch in hand, they stretched out on his chairs and sofas to wait. When the executive got back, Gordon greeted him at his door and introduced himself. He and his entire group were staying put, he promised, until Smith came through with the cash they needed to go on their summer tour. Or else, Gordon continued, Smith could always call the police and have them thrown out. But then the matter would be in the public record, and did Smith really want to read news stories about how he’d had one of his own bands tossed out of the building? Smith gave this some thought and then nodded. “You’ve got balls,” he told Gordon, with new respect in his voice. “Come with me.” Smith led the manager down to the finance office and told them to cut the check.

The tour went well, and given the dough to produce a new single, the band came up with the rocking but tuneful “I’m Eighteen,” a tale of adolescent frustration that scraped against the Top 20 on Billboard’s singles chart. Reassigned from Bizarre/Straight to Warner/Reprise, the group saw their third album, Love It to Death, climb to No. 35 in March 1971. In it, the band traded its psychedelic influences for a crunchy hard rock sound that, along with its comic book horror, satire, and some distinctive sexual transgression, put them at the fore of the blossoming glam rock genre.

It was a potent combination, but how could Warner/Reprise distill its essence into a promotional campaign that would grab the media by the ear? This was a problem Bob Regehr was uniquely equipped to tackle. Hunkered together in his office, Regehr and Gordon fell into a brainstorming session that began with the idea of throwing a debutante ball for the Alice Cooper character at the elegant Ambassador Hotel, where all the best Los Angeles families celebrated the launch of their daughters’ social lives. The Ambassador’s managers would never allow it if they knew what the event was actually about, so Regehr asked his assistant, Shelley Cooper, who had the most proper voice and attitude in the building, to deal directly with the hotel.

No one was to give any hint that the debutante in question was actually one of the freakiest rock & roll bands currently in existence. To make certain that Mo Ostin and Joe Smith attended, Regehr scheduled the affair for the evening of July 14, so it could double as a fete for Evelyn Ostin’s birthday. Did they know July 14 was also Bastille Day in France? They didn’t, but they tossed that in, too, because why not? Then, with all that figured out, they got to work on the details. And this was where things got interesting, and expensive. After the bills topped seven grand, a massive amount for a single event in 1971, a very concerned Smith came to ask what the hell they were up to. Regehr gave him some kind of reasonable explanation, then told Shelley Cooper to stop sending the invoices to the finance office until after the party was over. “If it’s a success, they won’t care,” he explained to her. “If it’s not, then we’ll all be fired anyway.”

They hired a traditional dance band to play standards, procured an oversize wedding cake designed to have someone pop out of it, rented a pair of gorilla suits, and hired, among other entertainers, a dog trained to do things dogs don’t do, a three-hundred-pound singer/stripper named TV Mama, and an entire troupe of dancing drag performers from San Francisco known as the Cockettes. They then sent engraved invitations to hundreds of industry and media figures, asking that they dress formally, or “appropriately,” which could, and did, mean many things to the many people in the Warner/Reprise sphere.

Regehr had specified that their debutante, young Miss Cooper, would prefer a room bedecked with chandeliers, so the Ambassador’s managers put the affair into the regal Venetian Room. When the evening arrived, some guests arrived clad in tuxedos and gowns, others in suits or cocktail dresses, and still others in worn denim cutoffs and midriff-baring halters. The actor Richard Chamberlain was there, along with the pop poet and Warner Bros. recording artist Rod McKuen, Randy Newman, Gordon Lightfoot, Steppenwolf ’s John Kay, Donovan, Cynthia Plaster Caster, and a handful of the company’s other acts, along with dozens of writers, reporters, critics, and industry figures.

The gorilla suits were assigned to two waiters, greeting the guests with silver trays of hors d’oeuvres, which some nibbled as they found their way to one of the many open bars scattered around the room. The Edward Gould Orchestra played sprightly versions of “Moonglow,” “Somewhere My Love,” and other dance favorites as couples gamboled before them. When the appointed time arrived, the entire crowd gathered in the main lobby, much to the astonishment of the chiffon-clad society dames and tuxedoed gentlemen bound for other affairs. Gould’s band struck up “Pomp and Circumstance” to kick off the procession.

First came the Cockettes, a dozen heavily made-up men in spangled dresses and plus-size high heels. One was dressed as a nightclub cigarette girl with a shoulder-strapped tray bearing cigars, cigarettes, and tubes of Vaseline. Next came the dog walking on its hind legs and pushing a baby stroller with its front feet. He might have been wearing a party hat; memories differ. TV Mama, the three-hundred-pound singer/stripper, came next, in a silky, white fur–lined black gown cut to feature her prodigious assets. Finally came Alice Cooper, the five band members clad in tuxedoes, one set off by his caked-on mascara, streaks of rouge, and heavily powdered cheeks, grasping one of the long-stemmed roses being scattered in front of and over him.

Then the real revelries began, fueled by the sloshing open bars and whatever was causing all that snorfling and snuffling in the bathrooms. Mo and Evelyn Ostin arrived along with Joe and Donnie Smith, Ahmet Ertegun, and whomever he was dating in Los Angeles at the moment. Evelyn’s arrival triggered a chorus of “Happy Birthday,” led by TV Mama, who pressed in to sing, shake, and shimmy her assets as close to the birthday girl’s personal space as possible.

When that ordeal was over, Evelyn grabbed Joe Smith’s shoulder and shouted in his ear, “Are we supposed to be here!?”

Smith shouted back, “Where else in the world would you rather be!?” Whatever Evelyn said in response was lost when the oversize birthday cake at center stage blew its top. Miss Mercy, the GTO band member they’d installed in the cake’s inner compartment, had gotten sick of waiting for her cue and came exploding upward wondering, at the top of her lungs, what the **** she was doing in there. Then she started scooping up handfuls of frosting and hurling it at the guests, many of whom hurled it right back at her. Alice Cooper played a short set, and as the clock spun to midnight and beyond, a laughing mayhem prevailed. The poet McKuen, a tumble of silver hair, aquiline nose, and bespoke tuxedo, climbed onto a table and started dismantling one of the chandeliers piece by crystalline piece, while the Cockette cigarette girls returned with trays overflowing with multicolor dildos, many of which were carted away by frisky couples eager to take a test drive. And somewhere out of sight, a Cockette had traded her gown for one of the gorilla suits, in which she scampered out of the hotel’s main entrance and was last seen on the Sunset Strip galloping into the dawn.

When Regehr got back to the office late the next morning, his desk fluttered with angry messages from the manager of the Ambassador Hotel (You broke our chandelier!), from the costume rental company (You stole our gorilla suit!), from the hotel manager’s boss (You shattered our dignity!), and a few others. But these were overwhelmed by messages about the avalanche of Alice Cooper coverage the party was spurring. The Los Angeles Times planned an A-1 feature for the next Sunday. The wire services spread the story into newspapers all across the country, while industry magazines cranked out their own party tales, all celebrating how Warner/Reprise had launched another hit act.

The tsunami of publicity swept the three-month-old Love It to Death album back up the charts, where it remained for the rest of the year on its way to selling 1.2 million copies. Killer, released around Thanksgiving, climbed to No. 21 on the album charts. The group’s next single, “School’s Out,” jumped into the Top 10 in May, tugging its album, also named School’s Out, released a month later, to No. 2 on the album charts and more than a million copies sold. As Regehr predicted, no one ever asked how much the party cost."

Excerpted from SONIC BOOM: The Impossible Rise of Warner Bros. Records, from Hendrix to Fleetwood Mac to Madonna to Prince, by Peter Ames Carlin. Published by Henry Holt and Company, January 19th, 2021. Copyright © 2021 by Peter Ames Carlin. All rights reserved.

Susan Foreman 27th January 2021 08:31 AM

Susan Foreman 31st January 2021 07:23 PM

New interview at Entertainment Weekly

"'We were not against a little violence onstage': Alice Cooper on life in Detroit

There are few things Alice Cooper loves more than telling a good story, especially one with vibrant characters, tons of action, and horrific scares that unfold one killer verse at a time. But for Detroit Stories, his 27th studio album, the shock rocker, 73, turned to his hometown for inspiration — and found a fresh appreciation for the Motor City music scene.

"Welcome to My Nightmare, Brutal Planet, School's Out, Paranormal: I like writing to a theme," he says, listing off a number of his prior records that each revolved around a concept. "This one, I said, 'I want to do a real rock & roll album; real AC/DC-type, pure rock & roll.' That takes me immediately to Detroit, because it's the home of hard rock. Los Angeles had the Doors; San Francisco had the Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead; New York had the Rascals; and then Detroit, what were they known for? Iggy and the Stooges, the MC5 — and Alice Cooper."

Cooper (born Vincent Furnier) grew up in Detroit, but his family moved to Arizona when he was 10 years old. He cut his teeth with his first band in Phoenix before heading to Los Angeles at the end of the '60s, where he scored his first deal, on Frank Zappa's Straight Records. But Cooper's career didn't really take off until he left L.A., in part because the city didn't feel like home. He puts it succinctly: "We just didn't fit in anywhere we went." Though his hard-partying days at notorious West Hollywood hangout the Rainbow inspired the formation of the Hollywood Vampires, his star-studded supergroup with Joe Perry, Duff McKagan, and other veteran rockers, Detroit had always been Cooper's lodestar. He considers it to be the "proving ground" of hard rock, which goes back to his first game-changing gig in his home state, at the 1969 Saugatuck Rock Festival.

"Shep [Gordon], my manager, said, 'The first place that gives us a standing ovation, we're going to move there,'" he recalls of that first show, which also featured the Stooges and the MC5. "We watched the bands going on before us, and every band was a killer rock band. We got onstage, and they loved us, the theatrics, the attitude. They could see that we were not against a little violence onstage. They took us right under their wing. When they realized I was born in Detroit, I became a favorite son. We fit right in with all those bands. It was exactly where we should've been." Cooper adds that in Detroit, "if you didn't come onstage with an attitude, and with artillery, that audience is not going to respect you."

Fast forward to 2018, when the seed for Detroit Stories was planted. While touring behind 2017's Paranormal drew to a close, Cooper spoke with his longtime producer Bob Ezrin. Intrigued at the prospect of pulling from the world Cooper knew for his next album instead of building a new one, the two began working on songs that would eventually make up 2019's Breadcrumbs, Cooper's first EP to date — and one that serves as the "movie trailer" for Detroit Stories. They eventually returned to Detroit and assembled a wrecking crew for the project, with the Detroit Wheels' Johnny "Bee" Badanjek on drums, renowned jazz bassist Paul Randolph, and notorious MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer.

"'I immediately said, 'Is Wayne still working?'" he recalls. "He's a better guitar player now than he was then! I thought, 'Okay, I'm connected now to pure Detroit.' This guy was a White Panther, this guy was in jail, he always kept a sense of humor, and always kept his true sense of rock & roll. I love his playing. It's got this real street Detroit feel to it, and it's not glamorous at all."

Kramer's blistering solos stand out on Cooper's cover of "Sister Anne," one of his favorite Detroit Stories tracks; other notable covers include his pummeling take on Bob Seger's "East Side Story" and the Velvet Underground's "Rock & Roll" (which was penned in Detroit). Detroit Stories offers plenty of new material, too, which touches on multiple facets of the city's musical history and indefatigable spirit. "Don't Give Up" is a moving encouragement anthem that Cooper released at the bleak height of the coronavirus pandemic. (Cooper was diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020, as was his wife, but both made a full recovery: "We had it at the same time, which was great, because we could commiserate.") The R&B groove Randolph brought to the table for "$1000 High Heel Shoes" invokes the influence of Motown, which Cooper considers to be a crucial helix in the "DNA of Detroit." And while the adrenaline and heavy guitars that roar throughout the record throw to the scene of his youth, the lyrics are just as surly and street-savvy — and occasionally inspired by the Detroiters Cooper counts as kin.

"When I started writing the songs, I thought, what references can I make to when I was a kid?" he says. "I made a reference to St. Clair Shores; my mom was a waitress there. I tried to put something about Detroit that tasted like Detroit in every lyric… it's not written about elegant characters, but blue-collar characters. The three bums that are sitting and singing 'Hail Mary,' they sit there drinking all day in the alley, and this one secretary walks by every day, Mary, and she's the high point of their life: 'Hail Mary! Full of grace, what are you doing in this place?!' In other words, we belong here, you don't belong here. My uncles were all those guys. I had an Uncle Jocko, an Uncle Lefty, and an Uncle Ratsy, and they were at the track every day, that's all they did. That influenced me."

But Detroit Stories is, if anything, a prompt for further listening: it's a love letter from Cooper to his city, and one that encourages a deep dive into his own back catalog and that of his peers. He even namechecks his essential Detroit artists — Mitch Rider, Suzi Quatro, the Stooges, MC5, the Motown roster — on the updated version of his 2003 single "Detroit City," which he includes on the track list. One thing's for certain: you can take the rock star out of Detroit, but you can't take the rock & roll out of Cooper — and you definitely can't take it out of Detroit, either.

"I'm proud of being from Detroit, I really am," he says. "I always found that Detroit was a tough city, and rock & roll belonged to Detroit — they deserved the title of hard rock capital of the world.""

Susan Foreman 1st February 2021 06:35 AM

I'm hearing rumours that both Alice and Sheryl contracted Covid either late in 2020 or early in 2021

Susan Foreman 1st February 2021 06:45 PM

1st February, 1973 - 48 years ago today, the Alice Cooper Group release an edited version of 'Hello Hooray' from the 'Billion Dollar Babies' LP as a single

The single is backed with 'Generation Landslide', also from the 'Billion Dollar Babies' LP

The single spends 12 weeks on the chart, and peaks at #6 on March 17th. Above it on the chart that week were:


Susan Foreman 4th February 2021 05:48 AM

New single - 'Social Debris'

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