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Originally Published: February 1973
Author: Marc Shapiro
To many people, Alice Cooper has the ultimate in stage acts. But for all his outrageous make-up, theatrics and carrying on, Alice is really second in line because, for folks old enough to remember, Lord Sutch was the original mad man. As he says:
"I was wearing white powder and black around my eyes in 1959. Alice Cooper has a nice act but I was doing that exact same thing 10 years ago."
Sutch is perhaps best known in America for his "Heavy Friends" albums which include back up musicians like Jimmy Page, Noel Redding and Keith Moon. He is anxious to put matters right about Alice Cooper. He comments:
"The only thing different is the sound of the music. I did everything that Alice does now. I used to do swords and axes and have the make-up on. I actually saw a picture in one rock magazine that I thought was one of my stage shots - but it turned out to be Alice. He was wearing top hat and tails which is what I wore to promote the Lord Sutch image."
Lord Sutch is, in fact, one of the few surviving English rock and roll artists. His group, Savages, were formed 1958 first recorded 1959.
"In the old days I had good competition with guys like Johnny Kidd (who wore an eye patch), Nero and the Gladiators (who dressed in ancient Roman gear) and Joe Brown (who was a kind of Cockney rocker). They all knew how to put on a good show. I've lasted because I've built up a reputation as a visual act. Some bands find that they can't get work today, even though they might have one or two big records in the past. People always want to see a good visual act. That's our policy. We're like the Marx brothers of rock - there's always something happening."
"I became interested in early rock and roll and did my own version. I wouldn't do "Great Balls of Fire" straight - I'd light fires on stage and have the band as firemen with the crowd handing up buckets of water."
[The article also talks about musicians he has played with and about his album at the time, "Hand of Jack the Ripper." The stage show has the band dressed in period clothes and Sutch dressed as Jack the Ripper. A girl also dressed in 18th century clothes hides in the audience. A policeman chases Sutch, but he end up stabbing the girl.]
So you see kiddies. Alice Cooper is NOT the originator of visual rock. There was Screaming Jay Hawkins, Arthur Brown (circa 1968) as well as Lord Sutch before him. Sutch has been on the road for 14 years now and he's likely to carry on.