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Record & Popswop Mirror
(February 22, 1975)
Originally Published: February 22, 1975
Author: Martin Thorpe
"You have a call booked through to a Mr Alice Cooper in America?" inquired the operator.
"Yes that's right."
"Is that THE Alice Cooper?" he asked.
"Just hang on." There were various clickings and noises. When he came back in the middle of a conversation with another operator.
"...no, no, but she's got a lovely voice."
I seems that even today poor old Alice can't get it right. There he is in America, hobnobbing with all the right people, desperately trying to repair his bad-man image and convince everybody that biting the heads off chickens and being executed on stage is all harmless fun. And still people are caught out by his name.
But despite the constant deluge of personality press pictures which show Alice with various members of the chat-show union and a President or two thrown in to add a bit of sparkle, Cooper's latest project is back to the gruesome theatrics you might think he was trying to escape from.
His latest scheme is to release an album and a 90 minute TV film which go under the rather dubious title of Welcome To My Nightmare. As Alice sat in his hotel room supping what he described as his morning beer, the idea behind the Nightmare package forced its way over the bad trans-Atlantic line.
"The idea is to put on a musical nightmare," he says. "And not only will there be the film and album, but we're also going to put some of the scenes in the new stage act.
"There's plenty of room to work with so we're going to make it as much fun as possible, and with Vincent Price in the thing it can't fail to be.
"He's an old friend and a very nice guy, but he's amazing because even at seven in the morning when he goes to record, he can go straight into that voice and be just as horrible."
The whole package is Alice Cooper's first solo effort. The band he usually works with have been laid off for a year so they can do individual projects, and Alice has got together a collection of new musicians to help him realise his nightmare.
"Up to Billion Dollar Babies it was fun, but then it got gruelling and everyone lost their sense of humour," said Alice. "So we decided to take a year off after the last tour.
"Michael, one of the guys, has written tons of material and I wanted to do something on my own.
"The idea for the film was Shep Gordon's (his manager) and mine, I'd never done a TV special before so we thought it would be great to make the whole idea visual, use TV as a rock and roll media."
Final rehearsals before shooting have just finished, with a compromise for the music - it will be half live and have recorded voice over!
"That gives us chance to get into choreography properly and play with the camera. David Withers who did the choreography for West Side Story is doing it for us using four dancers including me.
"It's the first time I've ever danced and I have to do about three hours' practice a day for it. I've found muscles I never even knew I had.
"I can hardly stand up now. You know we're doing five hours' music rehearsals on top of three hours' dancing rehearsals and exercises. It's a lot of work, it's really hard. I can't understand how Fred Astaire's lasted so long."
But it helps to keep Alice fit for his golfing activities, and it seems that his handicap, which is down to 11, is falling as fast as his beer intake, which is down to 12 pints a day.
And bearing in mind some of the people Alice has been photographed with, he added: "You'd be surprised how many crazy people play golf."
At the moment Alice, who admits to being very pro-American, is pro-Whip Inflation, the current stateside excuse to wave flags and blow trumpets in the national cause. But when it comes to the heavy political matter Alice stays well clear.
"I find that some levels of politics are entertaining, like Watergate, but I would never run for election because I don't know enough about the political theatre.
"Neither would i go along to a public place and say 'vote for this person' like some people do. They get big stars like Steve McQueen to go along to a supermarket packed out with housewives and say, 'this guy is OK.' Well that's using your star image to unfair advantage."
Anyway, with an eight-month world tour coming up Alice isn't going to have much time for either golf or politics, even though this time the schedule has been eased a bit with four days' working and three days off.
"Maybe I can get to see more of London than a hotel room this time," Alice added cryptically. He will reach here in the summer.
Judging by his past stage performances, an act that is based on a child's nightmare should be extremely exciting visually.
"I don't really care whether the thing comes off commercially," went on Alice, "as long as it's entertaining. There's going to be things in that stage act that kids have never seen before.
"I can't tell you what they are as yet, but there are three or four new ideas, one of which is a five foot high Cyclops robot which moves around the stage as my bodyguard."
A bodyguard should come in handy on a world tour if Alice is going to visit the whole world including such countries as Russia and China. Talking of China, Alice reckons he wouldn't mind playing there.
"I'd love it, maybe we could do it on a cultural exchange or something. And if they don't like us we'll send all the rock and roll bands over there and put the fear of God into them."
(Kindly submitted from the collection of Si Halley)