On December 7, 1973 Alice Cooper had the opportunity to meet one of his personal idols and favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, at a party on the eve of the Billion Dollar Babies/Muscle of Love holiday tour. During this hectic but successful period in his career, Alice partied like, well, a rock star, and hung out with unexpected celebrities like Liza Minnelli and Ronnie Spector, who both sang back-up on his group’s Muscle of Love album, not to mention Chubby Checker, Elvis Presley and porn star Linda Lovelace. That’s not even counting his hard-drinking “Hollywood Vampires” crew from the Rainbow Bar, which included Keith Moon (“Keith was like a battery that never ran out. It got to the stage with Keith where I’d hear he was in town and hide somewhere because I couldn’t face another bender.”), John Lennon, Micky Dolenz from The Monkees, Harry Nilsson, and Ringo Starr.
That night Vonnegut promised Alice a signed copy of his new book, Breakfast of Champions and Alice was thrilled when the promise was actually fulfilled. He said:
When you meet famous people, they always say they’ll send you stuff and they never do. But Vonnegut sent the stuff down and I was so thrilled. I sent him all our albums and T-shirts and posters. I’m a Vonnegut fan forever.
Alice always named Vonnegut as his favorite author, listing him as such in the tour program for his 1977 Lace and Whiskey tour. It’s not surprising that he enjoyed Vonnegut’s similarly dark humor. In particular he loved Vonnegut’s masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five, still citing it as his “desert island book” on BBC 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2010. It was reported in the mid-‘70s that he was up for the role of Bunny Hoover, a gay lounge piano player at an Indianapolis Holiday Inn he described as “the kind of guy you hate the minute you see him,” in Robert Altman’s movie adaptation of the book, presumably with Vonnegut’s approval. While that would have been truly awesome, the project fell through. The movie wasn’t made for another twenty-six years, and then it was without Alice and Altman (and some would argue, Vonnegut!)
When asked by The Quietus about his recurring character “Steven,” Alice mentioned Vonnegut’s influence:
I used to read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut and when I’d read all the Vonnegut books I realized there was a character [Kilgore Trout] that always ran through the books. He was sort of this character that just kept showing up. For no apparent reason and no apparent connection to the story. And I kind of liked that. So Steven, he’s a mystery to me too but I like throwing him in. I like throwing Steven in whenever I can so that when people go “Where is Steven?” I can say “He’s right there.” He’s kind of like a spirit, an Alice Cooper spirit.
The new film Super Duper Alice Cooper is released tomorrow on DVD and Blu-ray by Eagle Rock Entertainment. Expect a review here in the coming days.
Pre-sobriety Alice on Finnish TV, 1973, below: