December 15, 2010
The following is from http://rockhall.com/inductees/
“Before there was Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson or KISS, there was Alice Cooper, the original self-proclaimed “rock villain.” Born Vincent Furnier, Cooper and his mighty band of the same name – lead guitarist Glen Buxton, rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, bass player Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith – pioneered the dark spectacle of heavy metal with their huge blues-rock sound and extravagant stage show. Drawing from horror movies and vaudeville, Cooper brought a new level of visual theatrics to arenas with guillotines, electric chairs, boa constrictors and fake blood; their 1973 tour broke box office records previously held by the Rolling Stones, and raised the bar for major rock tours. What made it stick were some of the catchiest, most reckless hard-rock songs of all time: “Eighteen,” “School’s Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Along with the New York Dolls and David Bowie, Alice Cooper was a starting point for the glam rock of the 1970s; it’s impossible to imagine the hair metal of the 1980s without them. You can hear and see the band’s influence in bands from the Sex Pistols to Guns n’ Roses. The original lineup split in the mid-Seventies, and singer Cooper would continue on with an evolving lineup; in the meantime, the pure shock value of America’s first shock rockers has faded, but their legacy is safe.”
I am THRILLED with this news!
Alice Cooper was always amazing to work with and WTAC had the pleasure of promoting him from the very earliest days.
In celebration of his Alice’s pending induction into the Hall of Fame in March, I thought I would post several excerpts from “Local DJ” dealing with his first few years of ascent.
We decided to take a chance with a relatively unknown group
from Phoenix, Arizona, who had moved to Michi-
gan, and were working out of Detroit. They sounded pretty
spooky to me, and had already established a significant “word
of mouth” reputation after only a few appearances. The lead
singer claimed to be a witch who was burned at the stake and
had come back from the dead. He was the real-life son of a
preacher-man. The singer’s name was Alice. He played in a
long-haired, rock ‘n roll band.
The radio advertising for Alice Cooper was a joy to write
and produce. Alice’s entire set was even more theatrically de-
signed than that of the MC5, with dozens of props, special ef-
fects and curious twists. Instead of the “Revolution,” Alice
Cooper was the “Reincarnation.” In place of “politics,” we had
“horror.” Where “fuck” had been daringly screamed in defiance
of established standards, there was a doll’s head decapitated by
a maniacal monster of non-specific gender. All in all, “Alice
Cooper” was an upgrade in degrade. Perfect entertainment.
Timing is everything. “Halloween Night with Alice Cooper”
drew another capacity crowd.
The Alice Cooper contingent arrived early in the afternoon
for their evening performance. The stage was completely pre-
pared, the sound system installed and tested, and the entire
show rehearsed from start to finish. Manager Shep Gordon ran
an exceedingly tight ship. Nothing was left to accidental chance
or random luck. Every note was practiced, every move choreo-
graphed to the inch, every beat bolstered and balanced.
Backstage prior to performance, Chief Boyce wasn’t at all
sure what to make of Alice Cooper. It wasn’t only the extreme
application of facial cosmetics and the ancient hooded-robe
with skeletal sequins which brought pause. It wasn’t even the
12 foot snake sleepily coiled around his neck. It was the fact
that dozens of young women were loudly and longingly chant-
ing Alice’s name outside the door, begging for entry that they
might be entered. One of the oldest thoughts known to man
flashed into consciousness:
“All that wants this?”
Alice put him instantly at ease.
“Hey, Chief! Wanna fuckin’ beer?”
“Save you a cold one for after the show!”
“Wanna fuckin’ beer?” That creature talkin’ like a Marine?
Word sped around the rank and file security deployment
that the Chief said “Alice” was a “nice kid.” There was specula-
tion that what the Chief had really said was that somebody
ought to “ice the kid.” It was double-checked. There was con-
firmation. No, it was “nice,” not “ice.” The “Alice Cooper Show”
combined Vaudeville, Rock ‘n Roll Assault and Ultra-Shock
Theater. Could you tell who he really was? Did it matter?
A dozen plastic pumpkins, which I had donated from home
(for which my two oldest daughters have never forgiven me),
were kicked out into the crowd. This instigated a moment or
two of fish-feeding frenzy, similar to a home-run ball at every
baseball park in the land, the significance of such souvenirs
being similar. Premium items. A doll was held high into the air
and then placed upon a flower-decked altar for careful behead-
ing by hatchet, “blood” squirting several feet into the air with
the initial blow. Ewwwwww. Looked real. Really real.
At the conclusion of the performance, Alice was spun slowly around.
He was primitively perched, wearing loin-cloth and jungle rags,
inside a revolving metal cage covered with purple leaves and
green vines. He pounded the floor with primordial rhythm as
the band played an eerie, haunting, soul-chilling rendition of
“Sun Arise,” an aboriginal “dream within a dream” chant
brought to brief adaptation and popularity by Australian Rolf
Harris in the early ‘60s. Suddenly, as the beat swelled to pon-
derous proportion, it ceased.
From the public address system came an unworldly hissing
and humming, then buzzing and rumbling. Louder and bolder
and wilder it came. Closer. Nearer. Approaching with fearless
advance. Alice jumped from the cage and threw himself upon
the stage. On his back, he began to rise forward and upward.
Clenched fists came into view. With grimaced glare and dark
intent, he was tightly clutching both a struggling, squawking,
live chicken and the blood-soaked hatchet. A piercing scream
filled the air with tormented terror and taut intent. The thun-
dering, pumping, audio oscillations were becoming almost un-
bearable. Sitting upright, his face distorted by madness and
malice, Alice lifted his hatchet to strike. It appeared to fall in
full, evil arc. A blinding explosion of fire and light was com-
pletely unexpected. Hidden behind scenery, members of the
Cooper crew instantly emptied four large pillow cases onto the
blades of a giant turbo-fan, spewing twenty pounds of feathers
toward the crowd in an airborne avian avalanche. The howling
of a hundred tornadoes filled the room, the wind from the fan
adding realism and effect. The stage went dark. The silence
absolute. The crowd went ballistic.
“Alice! Alice! Alice! Alice! Alice! Alice! Alice! Alice!
Alice! Alice! Alice!”
The spell had to remain unbroken. No return to the stage.
Back in the dressing rooms, Penny the Chicken was gently
retired to her cage. Kachina the Boa Constrictor was separately
confined. Penny had been with the group for several weeks and
certainly was faring better with Alice than she would have with
As happy Halloween rockers poured out of the building
and with his evening’s responsibilities concluded, Chief Ed
Boyce joined Alice for that cold beer. They talked about the
Lions and The Tigers. Alice told Ed he hoped they’d see
each other at the next gig. Ed that was quite pos-
sible. He later confided in me that he’d never seen so many
women go “apeshit” over a performer. You could never tell how
much charisma might rub-off suckin’ down a few suds.
New Year’s Night saw a return to Sherwood Forest by
Alice Cooper, who added a special “Baby New Year”
segment to the act in honor of the occasion. Chief Boyce
told Alice later over a few beers that “you could almost see
balls” under the “Baby New Year” costume. He asked Alice to
possibly be a little more careful the next time he donned a
diaper. Although not specifically included under the “No Say-
ing Fuck” guideline, there was a gentleman’s understanding that
the rock stars refrain from any public display of genitalia.
“Every Picture Tells a Story” by Rod Stewart was the #1
album on WTAC in October. We were playing the title cut
every two hours. On November 20, WTAC exclusively intro-
duced the new Led Zeppelin “Four Symbols” album in the Mid-
west. “Misty Mountain Hop” was initially my favorite cut. The
Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, I presented a double-
header at The Saginaw Auditorium. Friday night was a touring
production of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” It successfully sold over
4000 tickets. I had played the original album on Christmas
Eve, at Midnight, on WTAC, for the last several years. On Sat-
urday, we staged the world premiere of Alice Cooper’s new
“Killer” show. It had sold-out within hours of our first announce-
Alice was now a huge act, and preparations for the Killer
Tour had been months in planning. Alice’s manager, Mr. Gor-
don, wanted to use Saginaw as a kick-off to work out any pro-
duction problems before hitting major venues. I was delighted
to act as promoter for the test-run. With major funding from
Warner Brothers Records, the theatrics were now even beyond
Broadway quality. At the end of the set, Alice was seized by
eight mad monks, chained, whipped, and then hung from gal-
lows. The crowd went wild. He came back to life and encored
wearing top-hat and tails, singing “No More Mister Nice Guy.”
The cheering continued for ten full minutes after he left the
stage. Shep was happy. Everything had worked with efficiency.
The big cities were about to be blitzed.
On Saturday night, December 25, Brownsville Station and
The Plain Brown Wrapper performed Christmas honors at
Sherwood Forest. New Year’s Eve saw Frijid Pink and The
Woolies on stage. Alice was playing Madison Square Garden.
Ed Boyce needn’t worry about his balls.
Concerts at Sherwood Forest were becoming ever more
infrequent. Band prices were starting to soar, and ma-
jor booking agencies were grabbing up the bigger acts, and de-
manding much higher guarantees and percentages. Without
exception, all of the Michigan-based attractions still worked
with me on a 50/50 basis when they were available. Bob Seger
was now playing regularly throughout all of the Midwest, and
had developed a strong following in Florida and Texas. Ted
Nugent was appearing throughout the entire country. Alice
Cooper and Frijid Pink were international. I was grabbing oc-
casional dates on new national talent by spotting them early
and booking them far in advance, before the rest of the world
caught on. Other than that, Rock ‘n Roll had become quite
In the early ‘70s, almost every city had one or two pro-
moters who would bring in major headliners and use area
talent to open each show. The exposure and identification
afforded the opening acts by this procedure made it possible
to use the same local groups to draw 500 or 600 to area
halls, amusements parks or smaller auditoriums as the baby
bands developed individual followings of their own. It was a
As Premiere, ATI, Banner, IFA and other New York/Los
Angeles agencies starting signing acts and calling shots,
middle rungs of the extant Rock ‘n Roll ladder disappeared.
With consolidation came compression. A requirement in
obtaining a major band was to use other artists represented by
their agency on the same bill. Local acts were out. Unless one
could ante-up with massive guarantees for staggered dates in
multiple cities, a local promoter was out. Everything went big-
time. As a generation aged and became legal, the only remain-
ing venues for local or regional acts became taverns and inns.
The Rock ‘n Roll world became divided between stars and those
playing bars. Musical Darwinism had seized the scene. Only the
strongest survived. How could it ever have been otherwise?
The most natural form of society is feudalistic. The most natu-
ral form of music is Rock ‘n Roll. We all listen to the Master’s
Then it was time for a powerful combination.
On Tuesday, June 20, Alice Cooper broke in his new “School
is Out” tour at a sold-out Flint Industrial Mutual Association
Auditorium. Alas, this time there was a major production prob-
lem at the end of the show. Shep Gordon, now challenged to
top the hanging from the neck until dead finish to “Killer,” had
reached into his wizard’s bag of terrifying tricks and came up
again with what promised to be a real winner. At the end of the
act, Alice would be loaded into the barrel of a cannon, and
shot through the air over the audience to a net stretched across
the very back of the auditorium. Talk about cool. If only it had
The dramatic staging was far past intense. It was transfix-
ing. Alice slowly donned his cannon-suit with masterful sus-
pense. The band was droning a solid, throbbing tone. He cou-
rageously marched up to the giant cannon and, waving a last,
pathetic salute to the anxious throng, bravely climbed into the
weapon and disappeared. The cannon was flooded with light-
ing. A drum-roll began. The moment of sheer climax was at
hand. Everyone held their breath. There was an ear-shattering
explosion of fire and light. Smoke was everywhere. Protruding
from the cannon’s mouth was a life-sized, sad, rag doll dressed
like Alice. The mother-fucker hadn’t even cleared the barrel.
The real Alice, of course, was hidden inside the cannon. It
was goddamned dark in there, but he could sure hear the ex-
plosion. He counted to five. The stage lights would be struck
by now with the attention of the crowd diverted by spotlights
on the flying dummy. In the absence of ejection, the lighting
operators kept their massive beams trained on the main set.
Alice emerged. Now there were two Alice Coopers on stage.
Which one was the dummy? Ummmmmmmmmmm. “Hi!”
Mercifully, the crowd enjoyed a special treat during Alice’s
encore. WTAC had brought Mickey Dolenz into Flint, in con-
junction with a major client campaign. I had escorted Mickey
backstage to meet Alice prior to the performance. Alice was
thrilled to be greeting a real “Monkee.” Mickey was excited
meeting Mr. Cooper.
After his roadies removed the “fuckin’ cannon” from the
stage, out came Alice Cooper, his band and Mickey Dolenz.
The encore turned-out to be a spontaneous ten minute rendi-
tion of “Hey-Hey-We’re the Monkees,” which Alice and musi-
cians knew by heart. They had been fans of the TV show in
their early teenage years back in Phoenix. No rehearsal was
needed. As soon as the crowd recognized Mickey, it erupted in
loud, rapturous celebration. Six thousand voices joined right
in. The cannon episode was completely forgotten. This was a
Alice Cooper went on to perform before hundreds of thou-
sands as he traveled across the land with “School is Out!” The
cannon was also out. It stayed in Flint. So did Mickey Dolenz.
He was part of our next day’s “Wild Wednesday ‘72” at Sherwood