Giving the Los Angeles Fire Marshall fits, the band of gypsies led by Alice Cooper known as the Hollywood Vampires really didn’t need that pyro performance near the end of the 58th Grammy Awards telecast, because the frontline of Alice Cooper, Grammy telecast MVP guitarist Joe Perry, and actor and legit guitarist Johnny Depp brought the heat during their live performance of a Vampires original,”As Bad as I Am“, plus a tribute to Motorhead‘s late leader Lemmy Kilmister by doing “Ace of Spades”.
Detroit’s blue-collar bars and cheap motels along Woodward Avenue may be less than 200 miles away from the steps of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but it turned out to be a four decade odyssey for Alice Cooper. Only in rock’n’roll can a preacher’s son named Vincent Furnier dress up in make-up, leather, and fishnet stockings while simulating his own execution by hanging, beheading, and electric chair as 10,000 mesmerized fans gladly pay for the macabre experience. Formed by five friends from Phoenix AZ, Vince‘s band had quite a struggle choosing the right name for the group. Among the early choices were The Spiders, the Earwigs , & The Nazz (but Todd Rundgren had dibs on that last one) . By 1969 they had moved to Los Angeles with the name Alice Cooper, but after recording two unsuccessful albums – Pretties for You and Easy Action– on Frank Zappa‘s Straight Records label, Alice Cooper headed for Furnier’s birthplace of Detroit in hopes of better luck. Inking a deal with Warner Brothers, they actually released two albums in1971, Love It to Death and Killer , with both albums becoming instant successes.
When I first saw Alice Cooper(that was the band‘s name then, as well) shortly after the March 1971 release of their third album Love It to Death, he was genuinely menacing. Trust me, the audience never rushed the low six-foot stage that night, fearing that Alice’s dark intimidating prowling would escape the invisible boundary that separated our hippie peacenik world from his. There was no hint of the clever humor that would inform some of his later work. At a time when Mick Jagger and David Bowie were sporting eyeshadow and feather boas, Alice Cooper was appearing in a straitjacket draped in a REAL boa constrictor. Alice proved that you can project practically any fringe, edgy, sociopathic image in rock and get away with it – as long as you deliver the hits. And beginning forty-five years ago with “I’m Eighteen“, followed in rapid succession by “Under My Wheels”,”Be My Lover”,”School’s Out”,”Elected”,”No More Mr Nice Guy”,”Welcome to My Nightmare”, and “Only Women Bleed”, Alice Cooper indelibly changed the rock world and revolutionized American Top 40 radio. -Redbeard