Music Scene

Originally Published: July 1973

Alice Cooper - Pop Star circa 1973

Alice Cooper spends every evening being half strangled by a huge boa constrictor, being chased by a giant tooth and being executed on the guillotine... In the middle of all this he also manages to sing.

All these events are part of the latest Cooper extravaganza currently touring the states and reputedly earning the star in excess of 4 million dollars. No wonder that Cooper's private jet bears a dollar sign on it's tail.

In addition to all these attractions Alice adds odd quirks like bringing the Lone Ranger on stage to introduce the show in Los Angeles.

"I'm a TV addict," he says, "I always have two televisions going in my dressing rooms and hotel suites so that I can watch the best of two channels at the same time. I really like westerns and that's where the Lone Ranger idea came from."

He pointed with pride at the pair of boots that his mother had given him at a previous gig. "The first pair that I've ever had despite the fact that I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for some time. Look how sharp the toes are, you could easily kick someone's eye out with them."

Everywhere the tour goes it is garnering sell-out audiences, Alice got the idea from watching old Hollywood musicals and horror movies on TV. The specially built stage even has steps that light up one by one as he steps on each of them. "I'm very interested in the idea that our society is becoming decadent. What's happening here in America is very similar to what was happening in Germany just before the second world war."

"Everybody's got so much money and is having such a great time that they've really got to look for different things to enjoy themselves. I know for a start that the U.S. Of A. is definitely the best place in the world to live, I'm an incredibly adamant patriot but that doesn't stop our show being cynical and reflecting some of the different things that are going on here nowadays."

"People like David Bowie are trying to get into futuristic things. Me, I'm living for the present. What people tend to forget when they knock us for being to far out is the fact that we work very hard as well, we really knock ourselves out. The fact that we tend to insult everybody when we're interviewed is all part of the act, the problem is that many of the people take the insults far too seriously."

Alice is the first one to admit that the band was somewhat musically naive when it was first conceived: "We just weren't very good, we're a lot better now. Since then we've done a helluva lot of rehearsing... anyway, when I get up on stage and tell the audience that they're all insane, the music really doesn't matter, audiences love being insulted."

'Billion Dollar Babies' is the title of Alice's current epic and we all know how that developed, and what of the previous roadshow 'School's Out'?

"That was conceived, developed and written on the road whilst we were touring. When I was at school I hated every minute of it, the only thing I was ever any good at was running. I really didn't even do much about music at school although my backing group were all there with me, we didn't play any gigs until we'd left, though."

"That's a strange thing, you know, how things like that can inspire you to write. I don't write any lyrics for songs for about seven months and then I'll write eight or nine in a couple of days. 'Elected' was a good example, I hadn't written anything for a long, long time and then I was elected 'Homecoming Queen' at one of the American Universities... beating Angela Davis, believe it or not."

What about Alice's violent and bisexual image on stage?, "I get really annoyed about that because it's just not so. Some guy threw something at me when I was on stage recently and I asked him if he would like to come up and join me. To the audience that just sounded like a friendly gesture but, in fact, I was going to hit him... Still, as I said before, I enjoy antagonising people, I consider myself to be an entertainer before anything else. I don't try to educate my audiences like some rock'n'roll people... take the snake, if you pull one of those out on stage then everybody's immediately going to be a bit scared, I was terrified when I first saw the snake but I'm used to it now."

Alice is, in fact, now onto his third boa constrictor, the latest addition to the Cooper family is called (affectionately) Eva-Marie Snake. "I still have very fond memories of the first one", says Alice, with perhaps a small trace of unusual emotion. "She was called Yvonne and I'm having her stuffed so that she can be with me for eternity."

Now that he's 'made it' in the financial sense of the term Alice is making damned sure that he and the group don't suffer the touring indignities that most embryo groups have to endure when they're starting out: "Everything is done in the greatest luxury possible. We stay at the best hotels everywhere we go, we eat the best food available and we travel in luxury on my private jet. You can only got on for so long living on hamburgers and sandwiches before your whole body metabolism breaks down and you get ultra-violent in the smallest situations."

The phone rang and Alice leapt across the room to answer it: "Alice Cooper - Pop Star!" he said...