Originally Published: May 1997
Who are the Billion Dollar Babies?
Actually, it's just changed. The four of us included my brother Paul, but he got attacked by a dog, a rottweiler, who bit him on the rear end and the wrist, so he's not playing with us on the fourth (Bruce refers to a concert that has already come to pass). So Billy (drummer Billy James) Lan (bassist Lan Nichols) and I are going to play, and maybe special requests will be played that Thursday night.
You've been working on a recording project on your own for a while...
I've got a couple of tracks and I'm going to try to get into the studio before I go back to North Carolina. I've got a couple more tracks and then record a couple more and I'm going to try and get an album out. Right now, with this group I have currently, we're doing a few old originals, but basically all Alice Cooper tunes that I wrote with the band. Just basic rock and roll, without the snakes.
You were with the band from when to when?
From the beginning to the end! That would be from 1963 to 1975 when the original band broke up.
Your first two albums were on Frank Zappa's label.
Right, and then on Warner for Love It To Death, Killer, School's Out, Muscle of Love, and Billion Dollar Babies, and then the Greatest Hits release.
You played a lot of interesting gigs. Tell me about one of the stranger ones you recall.
In '74 we played in Brazil. We arrived at the airport and the promoter picked us up in a Lear jet. He flew us to the hotel and it was like the Beatles arriving. Down in South America they didn't get a lot of bands there at the time. They took us to the show in jeeps with machine guns on them, and took us down the opposite side of traffic. Pulled over all the vehicles, got us to the show and then we started playing. About the third song into the show, the people were standing up and clamoring up to the front of thestage, just piling on top of one another until they were almost up to the top of this 10-foot stage. The military, which was very much in control down there, had a guy come out on the stage and fire his gun up into the air. Took us off stage, a couple of guys walked up with machine guns, and stopped the show for about 15 or 20 minutes until everyone sat down, and regained order. Then we started again!
Have you run into Alice over the 20 years since the band break-up?
He played in Arizona here about 2 years ago. I saw him. Neal Smith, the drummer, was just in town here. There's always talk about doing some reunion thing but nothing really jelled.
I heard you ran into some old freinds of our recently, Ace Frehley and Richie Scarlet.
Yeah, I played with them up in Raleigh, with Peter and Ace and Richie. I hope to get up to Connecticut sometime in January and do some recording with Richie.
So how does an Arizona rocker get to North Carolina?
Just get on the I-40 and head east...
I asked for that!
Actually, I met Billy James through a mutual friend and expressed a desire to start playing music and one thing led to another. I played the "Save the Thunder Roll" benefit at Thalian Hall. I really like the area and decided to move here. When I get back now I'm looking for a place to set up residence.
How in touch do you stay with current music?
I keep it at arm's distance. I have a drum machine so I'm up with the technology, but I'm not a rapper.
A lot of groups do covers, on record and live, of Alice Cooper tunes.
I've seen anywhere from The Cult wearing Alice Cooper t-shirts on stage to Joe Elliott from Def Leppard doing "Elected" and Megadeth doing "NMMNG". Anthrax does a song. When I hear some of these bands like Green Day, I hear Dennis Dunaway's bass sound. Yeah, I'm really relating to a lot of stuff right now, plus we have the perennial hits like "School's Out" which will get us into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so I'll become immortal!
What about groups who acknowledge your influence, and tribute groups?
I run into that a lot--that I'm responsible for someone playing guitar. I'm responsible for them getting into music. I hope it was a nice experience for them.
The tracks you are putting together have been done over a fairly lengthy period of time with a lot of famous names involved.
Gene Cornish and Dino Dannelli of The Rascals produced some of the songs that are going to be on this album. The original tracks were done in '85. There's a lot of different players, like Timothy Schmidt from The Eagles and Poco, Alice sings on one song, Micky Dolenz from The Monkees...! It's quite a range of people. Some of these tracks will be on this album.
What is it about Wilmington that is attracting people in the music business?
It's a nice town. The weather is good, you're near the ocean. I would have to think that the movie industry draws a lot of people too. Down at the rehearsal hall, at Jimmy Chadwick's place, I've run into a band called Spider Shack that I might be doing something with in the future. I may be doing some production work with Jimmy and Patrick Ogelvie at FLUX Audio Video. Everybody knows everybody here and works together.