Originally Published: 1989
Author: John McGurk
Those eerie, spooky things that go bump in the night will 'shake, rattle, and roll' as one of the greatest showmen, the ghoulish Alice Cooper comes to haunt an Irish audience for the first time at Belfast's King's Hall next Wednesday.
Anyone over 25 will surely remember the unforgettable sight of Cooper, a satanic D'Artagnan like sword wielding Muskateer prowling the 'Top of the Pops' studios way back in 1972 roaring his British No 1 hit, the classic School's Out while terrorising an unsuspected long-haired girl in the audience. Less than Sweet Dreams were made of this man!
Way back then old fogey Tory and Labour MPs did their damndest to get Cooper, the Michigan monster, banned from Britain. But an amazing 17 years later, while the likes of politicians Leo Abse are long gone, it's Cooper who is laughing last and laughing longest - a crackling, curdling laugh like the best of a pantomime horror villain.
It's all a bit of a joke now to the 41-year-old son of a preacher man, Detroit-born Vincent Furnier. While musical trends have come and gone, Alice Cooper, the ghoul with the darkened eyes, tortuous nightmares and murderous habits, has been reincarnated to become a chart topper all over again in 1989.
The career resurrection, certainly on this side of the world, came this year with the album Trash which raced to the top of the British charts on the back of the ultra-commerical, anti-promiscuity messages song, No 2 hit Posion.
And right now he's storming his way around a sellout European tour which started in Scandinavia on November 21. Last month, Cooper was deep in rehearsals for the tour in sunny L.A. - Cooper a black sunspot on the Californian horizon!
Speaking from there he talked of his forthcoming Irish visit. Was he surprised with the clamour to see that vicious alter-ego of his roaring and rampaging like some kind of uncontrollable demon?
"Well, you know we've never played Ireland and I can't believe that. Somebody told me that we'd never played there. I wondered, y'know, if that was possible. But we're really looking forward to ti. I can't wait to get out there. It's gonna be a real classical Alice - so going to be like very upright rock and roll, then a gothic horror cathedral, and then it's gonna go into a sleazy trashy section (chuckles). Then we're gonna try to open it up and do what you want us to do. When it comes to the encores we'll ask the audience what they want to hear. The show will last around one hour 45 minutes to two hours. Right now there are about 26 or 27 songs."
Cooperman was no Superman in the early Seventies. For while he trail blazed his way up the charts of the world with the likes of the immortal Elected, Hello Hooray and No More Mister Nice Guy, his name unfortunately became synonymous with quaffing copious amounts of Budweiser beer or up to a bottle and a half of whisky a day.
He was pictured with infamous American groupies, Pamela Des Barres and the whole rock and roll circus seemed to have swallowed him up whole. But the Alice Cooper of the Eighties is now more likely to be seen getting into the swing of things in a round of golf with comedian Bob Hope or happily staying home at his Arizona ranch with his wife and two children, Calico and Dash.
He's only too well aware of the 'Jekyll and Hyde' nature of the snake-loving, chicken and baby chopping, decapitated schlocky, rocky horror he plays on stage and how to make sure that the character who made his fortune does not interfere with the settled existence of Mr Vincent Furnier, model American citizen.
"In the early days with Alice I didn't really separate the two characters and the problem with that is that really Alice takes over. He's too intense. I don't think I want to know Alice! He's up there on stage for two hours and other than that I never see him now."
So Alice hasn't mellowed down over the years? "Oh not at all, if anything he's gotten worse! Up on stage the attitude is that you never know what he is going to do. I don't know what he is going to do. During our rehearsals on Halloween Night we played a little club called the Cat House in Los Angeles. It only held 500 people and there were 2,000 people trying to get in.
"It was like the Alamo - there were people jumping on the stage and they were getting thrown off. It was like a total madhouse. And the more chaotic it got, Alice loved it. So I don't think Alice has mellowed one little bit.
"When we started we were the great alternative".
(Originally published In Seasons, Christmas 1989 in Belfast, Northern Ireland)