In September of 1970 the band called Alice Cooper had been living out of their suitcases for a year; playing gigs across the country nonstop since leaving California in 1969. Choosing to put down roots in just outside of Detroit, in the center of the Midwest rust belt, proved to be one of the best decisions the band ever made, both creatively and financially. With two commercially unsuccessful albums behind them, Michael Bruce, Glen Buxton, Vince Furnier (aka Alice Cooper), Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith were at the threshold of turning their music into Gold and Platinum for the first time. In the dawn of a decade bookended by The Beatles and Punk Rock, Alice Cooper exploded as a revolutionary force in theatrical American Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Alice Cooper in the 1970s: Decades, a new book by UK-based author Chris Sutton explores the story of Alice Cooper from their early years as band of five guys through to the end of the decade, when Alice launched a solo career after the band dissolved.
Ultimate Classic Rock reports that Chris Squire, legendary Bass player for the progressive rock band Yes has died (June 28th) after a battle with Leukemia. He was 67 years old. This kills me, as Squire was one of my rock heroes and my favorite bass player ever, followed by John Entwistle and Dennis Dunaway of Alice Cooper. Not only was Squire a phenomenally innovative bass player, but he was also one of the first bassists to release a solo album (1975’s Fish Out of Water) on which the bass is played as a lead instrument with no other guitars appearing on the record.
All you have to do is listen to the lead track on that album, “Hold Out Your Hand” — a song that I would put up against the best of Yes’s entire catalog — to have your mind completely blown. Chris Squire was a true Rock God. Both his contributions, as well as the loss of his talent, to the world of Rock music, is immeasurable.
I’m going to assume that everyone reading this not only knows who Alice Cooper is, but is also aware that “Alice Cooper” was originally the name of a band with five guys in it. If you don’t know that much, you need to do your homework. Aside from getting your hands on Bob Greene’s long out of print book, Billion Dollar Baby, this film is as good a place as any to get schooled.
Although many only know Alice Cooper as an individual solo artist and Pop Culture icon, there are legions of devoted fans who are deeply dedicated to the music, history and memory of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-inducted original band called Alice Cooper – a group that recorded seven groundbreaking gold and platinum-selling albums of original material and set single concert attendance World Records before disbanding in late 1974. For that latter group, let me speculate now that there will never be a better-made, more authentic public vehicle for telling the story of that original band, in as close to the ‘true story’ as possible, than this film. If the statement “Alice Cooper was a Band” resonates with you, then there is no way you will want to miss seeing this film.
Super Duper Alice Cooper is a highly entertaining documentary that aims to tell the life story of Vincent Furnier, the lead singer of the band Alice Cooper, who took the name as his own when the group disbanded. Vince/Alice’s story is told via first person voice over and vintage interview clips with Alice, but Alice Cooper band bassist Dennis Dunaway (whom Furnier met in high school) and drummer Neal Smith, who joined the band when they were still called The Nazz, also contribute to its engaging narrative. Furnier’s early days playing in local Phoenix bands with Dunaway and AC co-founder and lead guitarist, the late Glen Buxton are discussed in fairly minute detail, so you get a really good idea of the struggle that these guys went through on their way to becoming the biggest band in the world. Oddly, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter, Michael Bruce is never mentioned by name even once in the film.
The most enjoyable parts of the film, for me, were the up-and-coming story of the band, its transition into becoming Alice Cooper, and the insane live performance footage, 90 percent which I would guess has never been shown in public before. It is one thing to read about how the band Alice Cooper invented Shock Rock, but it is an entirely different animal to see it play out before your eyes. No wonder that fans who were lucky enough to see the band live 40 years ago still talk about those shows to this day.
I’d say that a good 80 percent of Super Duper Alice Cooper is dedicated the formation and disintegration of the band (and holy shit, what a great fucking band they were), with the other 20 percent covering Alice’s budding solo career, alcoholism, cocaine addiction and recovery. So, there’s something for everyone. Consult Google to find a showing in your area, or wait for the DVD release. Either way, you gotta see this film.
The Worley Gig Gives Super Duper Alice Cooper 5 out of 5 Stars!
Super Duper Alice Cooper is a new documentary film due for release in the Spring of 2014 that will be previewed at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC in April. While the film’s storyline seems to be based on Alice’s time fronting the band from whom he would eventually take his name as a solo artist, it appears, sadly, that it also focuses fairly tightly on the myth and legend of Alice (AKA Vince Furnier) as an individual, rather than on the story of the band which was made up of five individuals. Not that the filmmaker isn’t allowed to make the film he wants, if he wants to just focus on Alice. But it’s like every time somebody refers to the band called Alice Cooper as a “He” it just makes me want to scream. And this is kind of more of the same. Alice Cooper was a band.
I have heard that Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith, as well as producer, Bob Ezrin were interviewed for the film although there are no on camera appearances. But at least fans will get to see classic performance footage of the original band including Dennis, Neal, Michael Bruce and the late Glen Buxton. This would be my main motivation for seeing the film.
Alice Cooper fans worldwide rejoice! Marshall Blonstein’s Audio Fidelity is releasing “…one of the best rock ‘n’ roll records of all time” – the band called Alice Cooper’s classic album Billion Dollar Babies on Hybrid SACD (Super Audio CD) on February 4, 2014! As a bonus, along with the meticulously reproduced artwork, enclosed in every CD is the very collectible replicated Billion Dollar Bill that was Included in each original vinyl album.
With Billion Dollar Babies, the band called Alice Cooper refined the raw grit of their earlier work in favor of a slightly more polished sound, resulting in a mega-hit album that reached the top of the US and UK album charts. It’s impossible to overstate how popular the band had become by the time their sixth album was released. The album is brilliant, decadent and encapsulated all the celebrity trashiness of the ‘70s only three years into the decade.
Song for song, Billion Dollar Babies is probably the original Alice Cooper group’s finest and strongest work. The album’s singles “Elected,” “Hello Hooray,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” all became hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Also included are a pair of perennial concert standards – the disturbing necrophilia ditty “I Love the Dead” and the chilling macabre of “Sick Things.”
After the album was released, the band embarked on a tour which broke the US box office records previously held by The Rolling Stones. The show climaxed with a guillotine execution of Alice. The album and the tour made the band into the world’s preeminent pied pipers of teenage trash culture and the most successful rock band ever to be loathed by American parents.
“Other than the original ‘Alice Cooper Band’ being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2011, our second biggest achievement was when our album Billion Dollar Babies went to Number #1 in all three music trade magazines at the same time in April of 1973. Number #1 in Billboard, Number #1 in Record World and Number #1 in Cash Box. We had hoped it would sell Gold or Platinum as a follow up to the success of our album School’s Out, but a Number #1 album was something that was totally unexpected. Over the years the title track “Billion Dollar Babies” has become my signature song because of the recognizable drum intro.”
– Neal Smith, Alice Cooper drummer and founding member
“I remember we were out on the road when the album finally came out in February 1973. I listened to it in my hotel room and just got this really big smile. I was thinking, ‘It’s amazing, we’re really pulling this off’. The album was very, very unique and very, very different. I was really proud of the songs, especially ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ and ‘Generation Landslide’.”
– Michael Bruce, Alice Cooper guitarist/keyboardist and founding member
1. Hello Hooray
2. Raped and Freezin’
4. Billion Dollar Babies
5. Unfinished Sweet
6. No More Mr. Nice Guy
7. Generation Landslide
8. Sick Things
10. I Love the Dead
Produced by Bob Ezrin, Mastered by Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering.