Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency
, Last Updated: 2:58 PM ET
Original shock rocker Alice Cooper has never done a covers record in his 45-year career.
Cooper, 65, reveals he’s about three quarters of the way through recording an early-to-mid ‘70s rock covers album - tentatively called Raise the Dead - that pays tribute to his former drinking pals.
“I had a drinking club called the Hollywood Vampires and we met at the Rainbow Room (in L.A.) every night,“ Cooper, who calls Phoenix home, says.
“And it was Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, Mickey Dolenz, Bernie Taupin, myself and everybody else that showed up. Hardcore drinking, last man standing kind of place. Well, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, all those guys dropped in, and (the album) is a tribute to our dead drunk friends.”
Cooper, an avid golfer with a 2 handicap, is also covering the music of who he calls “honorary” Hollywood Vampires members - such British acts as Marc Bolan and Small Faces.
“We drank with (them), not necessarily at The Rainbow, but in the realm of rock ‘n roll.“ We caught up with a now-completely sober Cooper - 31 years and counting - recently.
Q. What did being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 mean to you?
A. It’s like graduating because what happens is the guys that you learned from are the ones that vote on you. ... The Jaggers, the McCartneys, the Pete Townshends, the Jeff Becks .... and you never feel like you’re ever in their league. It just doesn’t matter how many records you’ve sold or how many tickets you’ve sold, you always look up to those guys as being your big brothers and you’re never going to quite be in their league, which is good. It’s not an ego thing, it’s a humbling thing.
Q. Can you see an end in sight as a live performer?
A. The retirement word never comes up. I quit drinking 31 years ago and I never smoked cigarettes. I’ve been happily married for 37 years. So my stress level is absolutely zero. I’m in better shape at 65 than I was when I was at 35. I was a mess at 35. So 65 years old, I get up and do two hours on stage, five nights a week, and feel great ... When people say, ‘Why are you still touring? And I go, ‘Because that’s what I do.’
Q. Have you kept all of your tour memorabilia?
A. I have a warehouse (in L.A.) that probably even ghost hunters wouldn’t go into late at night. I’m sure that that stuff that’s living in that warehouse has been through a lot. Guillotines, gallows, electric chairs. Everything you can think of is in that warehouse and there should be a movie just about that warehouse. I wouldn’t stay in there late at night by myself.
Q. Are audiences truly unshockable now?
A. We just did a tour with Marilyn Manson and we both realized that you can entertain the audience, you can use shock effects on the audience, but you can’t shock the audience. In ‘71, you could shock the audience. Here’s this band called Alice Cooper, they have hair down to here, they’re wearing makeup, there’s a snake, there’s blood, there’s dead baby dolls all over the stage and the last thing mid-America wants is there kids to grow up to be like that ... And there was no Internet. It was all urban legend which made it even better.
Alice Cooper’s five landmark career defining moments:
As The Godfather of Shock Rock - with a stage show that features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, boa constrictors, and baby dolls - Alice Cooper has had his fair share of career-defining moments. Here are five:
1. His “shock rock” reputation began by accident at 1969’s Toronto Rock and Roll Revival concert with an unrehearsed stage routine involving Cooper, a feather pillow and a live chicken. The press reported he had chomped off the chicken’s head and guzzled its blood on stage, which Cooper denied.
2. Cooper and his Detroit band decided to model his stage persona in tattered women’s clothing and make-up after such big screen villians as Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Anita Pallenberg in Barbarella.
3. All but one member of the classic Alice Cooper group line-up - inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2011 - were on the Cortez High School cross-country team, whose coach Emmett Smith inspired many of the band’s onstage antics as one of Smith’s class projects was to build a guillotine for slicing watermelons.
4. The Alice Cooper band had its first two big hits with its first international breakout song, 1971’s I’m Eighteen, followed by 1972’s School’s Out, the latter arguably Cooper’s signature tune.
5. Born Vincent Furnier, he later changed his name to Alice Cooper starting with his 1975 concept album, Welcome To My Nightmare, his first as a solo artist.