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Originally Published: November 05, 2006
Author: Chris Hansen Orf
More than three decades into his enormously successful rock career, the Valley's own Alice Cooper is still reaching goals he set long ago.
"Get a star on Hollywood Boulevard, have a platinum album, go to No. 1 and open for The Stones," Cooper says by phone from a Connecticut stop on his tour after a round of golf in which the scratch player shot a 75.
Cooper has his star in Hollywood, has hit No. 1 on the album charts and has gone platinum several times over. On Sept. 23 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Cooper got to open for The Rolling Stones, and he'll do it again Wednesday when The Stones play University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
"It's one of the things I get to scratch off my list," Cooper laughs.
Like millions of others, Cooper is a die-hard Stones fan and, in a roundabout way, it was The Rolling Stones that got a track star at Phoenix's Cortez High School named Vince Furnier and his teammates to form a band called The Spiders.
"In those days you didn't play original material," Cooper explains of the Valley music scene in 1966. "So we were the Rolling Stones band and it would say, 'Tonight at the V.I.P., The Spiders will be doing "19th Nervous Breakdown." ' That's all we did. We were expected to do Rolling Stones just like the record and, honestly, that's why people came. Everybody was doing Beatles, so we were the band that ventured out and started playing the Stones."
And when The Spiders undertook the task of writing their own material, the Stones' music was a touchstone for the young band that would later change its name to Alice Cooper (when the group split in 1974, Furnier legally changed his own name to Alice Cooper).
"The Stones are so good — they are the prototype garage band," Cooper says. "And I say that in all great respect because Aerosmith is a garage band, Alice Cooper is a garage band and The Rolling Stones are a garage band, but they are the ultimate garage band. You take their band and you could put them in 70,000-seat (arenas) or you could put them in a club, and it's still the same music and it still works."
Cooper, who will begin recording his 29th album in January to be followed by another world tour — he has done five global treks in the last five years — after the disc is released in April, is still influenced by The Stones.
"To this day," Cooper says. "On my last album (2005's ‘Dirty Diamonds') we did two songs — ‘Sunset Babies (All Got Rabies)' and ‘Zombie Dance' — that were absolute, pure Rolling Stones."
Although Cooper has known his idols for years, he had never played on the same bill with The Rolling Stones until he got three dates this year, including the Valley show.
And nothing could be better than playing with The Stones for his fans at home.
"We'll be the first concert act to play the Cardinals' stadium," Cooper says. "It's nice to be the hometown boys.
"It's gonna be a great show."
Although Alice Cooper is known mainly for his elaborate stage show that has features fake executions, boa constrictors and chopped-up baby dolls, there's no denying that he's made some great rock 'n' roll music as well. Here's a look at some of Cooper's classic tunes.
"I'm EIghteen": Cooper's first big FM radio tune, from his 1971 album "Love It to Death," provided the musical blueprint for his sound — a crunching riff, sinister chord changes, a blistering guitar solo, a catchy melody and Cooper's full-throated roar.
"School's Out": This title tune from Cooper's 1972 album is ubiquitous on classic rock stations every year as kids get out of school for the summer break, and it is particularly enjoyable to hear the singer snarl "School's out forever/school's out for summer/school's out with fever/school's out completely."
"Billion Dollar Babies": This ode to a man's love of a doll, from Cooper's 1973 album of the same name, contains the darkly humorous lines "If I'm too rough, tell me/I'm so scared your little head will come off in my hands."
"Only Women Bleed": Cooper surprised rock fans with this song, taken from his 1975 album "Welcome to My Nightmare," which proved that the singer could handle tender, nongothic ballads as well as scorching rockers.
"Go to Hell": Probably the heaviest thing Cooper has ever recorded, this bludgeoning tune, from the 1976 album "Alice Cooper Goes to Hell," is built on a monster guitar riff and features Cooper shaking maracas — the percussion instrument has never sounded so evil.