Enjambment as marketing technique: ‘Love It to Death’ ad in Creem, 1971 (via SickthingsUK)
The greatest achievement of American democracy was Alice Cooper’s perfect Warner Bros. debut, Love It to Death. (As Bill Maher says “I don’t know this for a fact, I just know that it’s true.) Fittingly, a few months after the LP’s release, the group celebrated 195 years of U.S. independence from the hated English crown by playing Love It to Death at the Sunshine Inn in Asbury Park, New Jersey, a musket ball’s bounce from Monmouth Battlefield. Or playing most of it, anyway—it’s hard to know, because the video of the show cuts out during the seventh number, “Black Juju.”
It’s primitive, black and white, 1971 video, to be sure, but this upload sounds and looks way better than the quavery zillionth-generation copies of the “Stone Pony show” I’d seen before. (Tape traders misidentified the venue as the Stone Pony, as I understand from the timeline at The Original Glen Buxton, which confirms this date and location.) You can watch it for pleasure, even, and while cutting off the end of “Black Juju” is a fucking scandal, AC’s outstanding (and intact) TV performance of that number on Barry Richards’ Turn On will comfort you in your time of loss.
Independence Day, Asbury Park. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Could the Boss have been in the crowd at the Sunshine Inn that night, raising a glass to Lady Liberty?
Alice Cooper, the late Chuck Barris, and a devilish Danny Elfman.
Like everyone else of a certain age, I spent time this week mourning the loss of Chuck Barris, the one-of-a-kind game show king and the host of often questionable “talent” competition The Gong Show. I was old enough during the show’s run in the late 70s to never want to miss Barris’ antics, as well as the never-ending parade of hopeful weirdos who flocked to the show. If you’re young enough to be unfamiliar with The Gong Show, the best case scenario was that your act didn’t get “gonged” before you were done. Worst case scenario you got frantically “gang-gonged” by all three judges, but still got to fly your freak flag high to much of America. The prize for not getting gonged and coming away with the highest collective score? $516.32.
As I was busy being nostalgic watching a few vintage clips from the show, I came across a couple worth sharing. One features Alice Cooper (who called Barris one of his “favorite people in the world”) serenading him with “Goin’ Out of My Head” while stuck in his trusty guillotine. The other is a wildly out-of-control performance by cinema maestro Danny Elfman back in his Oingo Boingo days who at the time were still called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. Elfman and Oingo Boingo’s antics on stage were judged by none other than Gong Show regular Buddy Hackett, a solo Shari Lewis (Lambchop must have had the night off), and actor Bill Bixby of Incredible Hulk fame. Apparently, they loved what they saw as the Mystic Knights won the contest that episode.
Watch Alice Cooper and a young Danny Elfman on ‘The Gong Show’ after the jump…
A show poster for a series of live gigs at the Whisky A Go Go featuring Led Zeppelin and Alice Cooper, January 1969.
Beginning on January 2nd, 1969, Led Zeppelin played a series of live gigs with Alice Cooper at the Whisky a Go Go on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. According to Alice, both bands were still so under the radar that they took turns opening the bill by flipping a coin to see who would start the show each night. To support Alice’s point, a scan of an old print ad for the show makes a point to promote Zeppelin by noting that the band featured the talents of former Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page. Zeppelin’s set on January 5th, which you can listen to below, would allegedly mark the first time “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” (originally writen by American songwriter Anne Bredon in the 50s and popularized by Joan Baez back in the early 60s), was captured in a live recording. Cooper was only 21, and Jimmy Page the oldest member of Led Zeppelin, was just 24.
The January 5th show was part of Zeppelin’s first tour of America and once again to illustrate the point of how unknown the band was, they had yet to release their first self-titled record, which was panned by some after it came out on January 12th. The first stop for Led Zeppelin in the U.S. would be Denver and a last-minute opening slot for a sold-out Vanilla Fudge gig (along with LA band Spirit) for which they were paid $750. Promoter Barry Fey, who almost didn’t book the band for the show, recalls how blown away he was by the band that was about to take over the world:
You didn’t have to be a genius to know that Zeppelin was going to be a smash. Oh, my God. People were going crazy!
The next day the program director for local Dever station KLZ contacted Fey telling him the station’s phone lines had been inundated by calls from people who had born witness to the first coming of Led Zeppelin, demanding that the station play their music. Fey headed over to KLZ with his copy of Zep’s eponymous (and still unreleased) album which the station would play over and over again for the entire day.
When it comes to shock-and-roll history associated with Alice Cooper’s reception by critics at the time, it’s not that much different than Zeppelin’s. Pretties for You, the 1969 debut from the group was also being beaten up by music reviewers including legendary meanie Lester Bangs who had this to say about the record in his review published by Rolling Stone on July 12, 1969:
But neither is there any hint of life, spontaneity, joy, rage, or any kind of authentic passion or conviction. As such, Alice Cooper’s music is, for this reviewer at any rate, totally dispensable.
Oof. After playing three shows, Page and other members of the group came down with the flu and so Alice Cooper would soldier on with the Buddy Miles Express filling in Zeppelin’s slot.
A huge mural of Motörhead vocalist, Lemmy Kilmister on the side of an apartment building in Kavarna, Bulgaria. Photo by Bob Ramsak.
Fittingly adjacent to the very metal-sounding Black Sea several apartment buildings in the town of Kavarna, Bulgaria have been adorned with the images of heavy metal heroes like Alice Cooper, Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy Kilmister and Joey DeMaio—the bassist for the only band metal enough to pull off full-body waxing, loincloths and manly jams all at the same time, Manowar.
According to Bob Ramsak, the proprietor of the blog Prian Café the idea of dressing up the sides of apartment buildings in Kavarna was spearheaded by the town’s mayor, Tsonko Tsonev. A major heavy metal fan, during his time as mayor of Kavarna from 2003 to 2015 Tsonev was instrumental in helping Kavarna become the “rock capitol of Bulgaria” by luring bands to play gigs in his hometown. In 2006 Tsonev started the Kaliakra Rock Fest which attracted the likes of Motörhead, Manowar, The Scorpions, UFO and Heaven and Hell. When it comes to the murals themselves, I wasn’t kidding when I said they were massive as many of them are at least two and a half stories tall. If that’s not metal enough for you, Kavarna is also home to Ronnie James Dio’s memorial statue. Like many of his headbanging peers, Dio himself was no stranger to Kavarna and he performed there on several occasions including while he was the front man for Heaven and Hell back in 2007. However, Dio was also a favorite son of Bulgaria for other reasons—specifically by playing an instrumental role in helping bring about the release of a group of Bulgarian nurses in 2006 who were imprisoned by the Libyan government for nearly a decade.
“PUT DOWN those needles and quaaludes, kiddo, and pick up the jug!” So CREEM urged juvenile readers in its June 1973 cover story “Alice Cooper’s Alcohol Cookbook and Timetable for World Conquest.” Today, with our nation blighted by opiate and meth abuse, and our citizens poor in cash but rich in reasons for seeking oblivion, we have to ask: did CREEM have the right prescription?
It wasn’t the best advice to give the nation’s teens; after all, liquor is one of those drugs that can cause people to drop dead, or otherwise fuck up their lives beyond repair. It might even be worse than heroin and crack. (And me with a cupboard full of sauce, but nary a grain of H or C!)
But, you know. What am I, your doctor? I don’t know how anyone reads the morning news without a stiff belt of something or other. Besides, nobody ever looked to America’s most bibulous band for health tips. By ‘73, the late, great Glen Buxton, who contributed four recipes to this cookbook, had already been hospitalized for pancreatitis and forbidden to drink ever again—not the most seductive advertisement for a cold glass of Buxton’s Bomber.
The pages below contain 23 recipes (22 drinks and one hangover remedy) which I have faithfully transcribed. The “Timetable for World Conquest” part of the CREEM feature is available at the Alice Cooper eChive.
Pinacolada a la Cooper (for six)
10 ounces dark (151 proof) rum
1/6 fresh pineapple, chipped into sections
16 ounces fresh coconut milk Pour the rum into a bowl. Soak the pineapple into the rum. Pour into blender, adding two more ounces rum. Add coconut milk, then two ounces fresh pineapple juice and one tray ice. Blend until you freeze it. Garnish with pineapple wedge and cherry.
1 ounce gin
1 ounce apricot brandy
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 dash Maraschino liqueur
1 dash orange bitters Stir with ice. Strain into standard cocktail glass.
Royal Setup (for preconcert)
2 ounces Crown Royal
8 ounces coke
1 ice cube Drink until you feel prepared to face 20,000 screaming teenage maniacs.
More drink recipes from Alice Cooper, after the jump…
Though the man himself doesn’t remember much of it, heavy Alice fans of my acquaintance adore his new wave period. It’s been some years since I worked in a record store, but I bet you can still pick up most of these albums for a song: Flush the Fashion, where AC out-Numans Numan on “Clones”; Special Forces, the one with the manic cover of Love’s “7 And 7 Is”; Zipper Catches Skin, where Alice’s dead dog comes back to life to save him from getting run over by a truck; and the no-shit start-to-finish masterpiece DaDa, which reunited the singer with writing partner Dick Wagner and producer Bob Ezrin.
To promote the French leg of the Special Forces tour, Alice and band filmed this hourlong TV special in France. Roughly the first two-thirds consists of promo films they made on the cheap in the Republic’s wrecking yards, escalators, Métro stations and meat lockers. Then, after a gag “interview” by a really familiar French journalist named “Vincent Furnier,” there follows a TV studio recreation of the Alice Cooper live experience as it was in 1982.
To be sure, these are not the definitive versions of classics like “Generation Landslide” and “Eighteen.” However, I think this video for “Clones,” filmed in front of a heap of junked cars with the band holding a bedsheet and AC wrapped in duct tape, lays waste to the official one they made with a smoke machine, a wardrobe and a second camera. And director Agnès Delarive’s sequencing and setting of “Cold Ethyl” and “Only Women Bleed” is inspired.
Skeleton Alice and his ‘82 band mime “Model Citizen” in a Métro station
If you’re wondering why Alice looks like a moldering cadaver in this footage, check out Supermensch, the documentary about the improbable life of manager Shep Gordon that’s still streaming on Netflix. There (unless it’s Super Duper Alice Cooper I’m thinking of), Alice is pretty open about the cubic miles of freebase smoke he was sucking down during the early ‘80s. (No fool, Gordon stuck to slam-dancing with Mr. Greenjeans, as I’m sure he affirms in his new memoir, They Call Me Supermensch. “Let’s burn another one soon, Shep,” Willie Nelson says in his blurb.)
Alice Cooper and Gene Wilder on the set of the short-lived TV sitcom ‘Something Wilder’ in 1995.
After Gene Wilder’s passing last week I’ve been trying to clap my eyes on anything from Wilder’s long cinematic career. I even rewatched 1974’s classic Young Frankenstein even though I could recite lines from that film in my sleep. Today I’m really excited to share with you one of my finds: an episode from Wilder’s sadly short-lived mid-90s sitcom on NBC Something Wilder guest-starring none other than Alice Cooper playing himself as Wilder’s annoying neighbor.
Gene Wilder, Alice Cooper and Wilder’s TV wife actress Hilary B. Smith on the set of the fourteenth episode of ‘Something Wilder.’
On what would be one of the last Something Wilder shows (the fourteenth episode called “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”) Cooper moves in next door to Wilder’s character “Gene Bergman” and since this is Alice Cooper we’re talking about, things don’t go so well. For Gene.
After being kept up all night listening to the same song being blasted out of Cooper’s windows over and over again Wilder heads over in his adorable plaid robe to see what’s happening. And again, since this is Alice Cooper we’re talking about, Wilder walks in on a wild party that includes a tall red-headed dominatrix, a rat and for some reason a juggler (Now that’s kinky....) After hearing of Wilder’s death, Cooper posted this heartfelt message on his Facebook page about his experience working with one of the greatest screen comedians of our time:
I count working with Gene Wilder on his TV sitcom Something Wilder to be one of the most precious memories of my entire career. Doing ‘one on one’ comedy with Gene was like jamming with the Beatles. It doesn’t get any better. Gene Wilder is IRREPLACEABLE and will always be an American treasure.
I don’t want to give anything else away but if you love the image of Cooper and Wilder at the top of this post, there’s more where that came from. I don’t recall seeing the show myself back in the mid-90s, but seeing it now made my day. Since Something Wilder had such a short run and never really connected with an audience, the show hasn’t made its way to DVD yet.
A custom figure of Lemmy Kilmister by ‘Elvis 1976’ (or Sébastien Bontemps’ if you prefer…)
If you read Dangerous Minds on a regular basis then you know that from time to time myself or one of my intrepid colleagues enjoy spotlighting various action figures based on bands like Crass or perhaps a poseable version of Al Pacino’s portrayal fictional cocaine-gobbling drug lord Tony Montana from Scarface. If you dig these kinds of posts then I’ve no doubt that you will soon be coveting the custom action figures by Brussels-based artist Sébastien Bontemps who works under the moniker “Elvis 1976.”
Bontemps’ interest with action figure customization started with a Joker figure released by DC Comics in the late 2000s and though his exceptional creations are generally “one-offs” it does appear that the talented artist sells his figures from time to time. You can find out how to purchase one by contacting the folks over at One Sixth Warriors for more information.
If you’re more of a movie memorabilia kind of collector I’ve no doubt that Bontemps’ highly detailed take on the most famous mohawked member of Lord Humungus’ Marauders from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, the completely badass crossbow-wielding Wez will make your head spin. Images of some of my favorite inhabitants of Bontemps’ ultra-cool world follow.
Alice Cooper and the 30-foot tall Alice balloon, 1975
According to rock and roll legend, in late August while on a press tour in the UK, avid golfer Alice Cooper got a spot at a major tournament in Scotland at a course called Glen Eagles. At the end of the match in what may be one of the coolest moments in heavy metal history, Cooper got to present the trophy to the winners—who included Christopher Lee. Let that sink in for a minute before we move on to the subject of this post, the epic Macy’s Parade-sized balloon of Alice that followed him around Antwerp, London and Australia in 1975.
Alice Cooper, his excellent mustache, and the giant Alice balloon, August 30, 1975
The Alice Cooper balloon taking a ride on the Ferry Prince, floating by Big Ben and the House of Parliament in 1975
The Alice Cooper balloon floating up, up and away, September, 1975
Used to advertise gigs during the Welcome to my Nightmare tour, the Alice balloon was around 30 feet tall and clad in all white (a nod to the white tuxedo Cooper wore during the tour for the 1975 album Welcome to my Nightmare). Alice’s massive helium-filled face was, of course, painted in standard Cooper corpsepaint style and there’s even ballooney hair on top of its head. If there is a heavy metal artifact that is cooler than a 30-foot balloon of Alice fucking Cooper, I do not know what it is.
I realize that I’m blogging about these cards just a week before Valentine’s Day. Perhaps I’m too late to the game on this one, but maybe they can be rushed delivered? Anyway, here they are in all their glory… heavy metal heroes Valentine’s Day cards! For those who, you know, don’t want to get all mushy-gushy on the holiday.
You get nine different metal heroes that come in a set of 27. The set of cards sell for $15.00. Get ‘em here.
The guillotine used during Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies tour in 1973
Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith will be auctioning off some of his career memorabilia including what Smith says is the guillotine used during the tour in support of Billion Dollar Babies in 1973. Nice.
Neal Smith’s mirrored drum kit
Other items of note in the auction held by Heritage Auctions which is set to begin sometime in early February are Smiths’ mirrored drum kit that he used during the Billion Dollar Babies tour, and a load of glammy clothing Smith wore on stage in the late 60s and early 70s. Some of my favorite items from the auction follow.
‘Tis the Season folks and as I’m getting ready to roll off Dangerous Minds for a week, I wanted to share some choice photos of famous folks dressed up like our savior, Santa Claus or in some cases, just hanging out with jolly old Saint Nicholas.
Marc Bolan as Santa Claus
I really never get tired of pursuing the Internet for vintage images of celebrities and musical icons doing stuff that we all do, but I think this post is a doozy. I had all but forgotten about that time Nancy Reagan sat on Mr. T’s lap (who was dressed as Santa) at the White House during Christmas in 1983. Didn’t you?
From icons like Frank Zappa to Marc Bolan, even John Waters being confronted by Santa as he’s trying to steal a rib roast, and Ginger Rogers looking downright Cockettish in a Santa beard, I’ve got your Christmas covered in photos that are funny, touching and simply weird. Which is exactly how I like to roll. Merry Christmas, Dangerous Minds readers and thanks for digging us this year.
Nancy Reagan and Mr. T at the White House during Christmas, 1983
Wait until you see the one of a young Johnny Thunders, after the jump…
During the opening sequence of this documentary on the Canadian music industry from 1973, The Rolling Stones rip through “Jumping Jack Flash” as the crowd at the Montreal Forum go wild. Mick Jagger struts across the stage, before dousing the audience with a bucket of water and handfuls of rose petals—why? I dunno, each to their own, I suppose…
Not to be outdone, Keith Richards plays his guitar as if each chord struck will bring pestilence, plague, death and disaster down on some faraway land. Richards plucks at his guitar with great gothic dramatic posturing—while in the background Mick Taylor plays the tune.
By 1973, the rock ‘n’ rollers of the early 1950s were middle-aged, mostly married with kids. The new generation of youth who filled their place were long-haired, turned on, tuned in, many believing that music could change the world. Where once rock had been about having a good time, now the feelings it engendered were the driving force for political change. Pop music made the kids feel good—and that feeling was how many thought the world should be.
Well, it never happened, as music—no matter how radical—is in the end… entertainment. Those who took their political education from twelve-inch vinyl platters were quickly disappointed and soon awakened by pop’s utter failure to liberate the world, bring peace and harmony and all that. Nice though this idea certainly was, it was all just a pantomime—like Keef having fun hamming up his guitar playing.
Of course, the music industry is a far more sinister business than this—as this documentary Rock-a-Bye inadvertently points out. From the start, our choice of music was manipulated by long hairs with no taste in fashion as shown by their suits and ties and ill-fitting tank tops. These men picked the records that received the necessary air time to guarantee their success—thus making billions for the music industry. As Douglas Rain quotes one cynical record plugger in his commentary, who claimed if he played the British national anthem “God Save the Queen” on the radio often enough it would be a hit. The youth were only there to be manipulated and sold product—plus ça change….
This is a good illuminating documentary and apart from The Stones, there are performances from Ronnie Hawkins (plus interview), Muddy Waters and Alice Cooper. There’s also an interview with Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful who lets rip a four-letter word (mostly bleeped out) tirade on the state of music in the 1970s. What Yanovsky forgets is that music is a business and only the amateurs and the rich will play for free.
A book signing at a Dallas record store last night turned into a surprise reunion concert of the original Alice Cooper band. The reported 200 people in attendance got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of the best bands that ever existed.
What the attendees there for the signing didn’t realize was that Alice himself was on deck.
Reports are still coming in, but as we’ve been told, no one knew what they were in for. One attendee posted to Facebook: “Alice’s unannounced walk on took the roof off the building, and our brains.”
Photo by Bucks Burnett via Facebook
The short set consisted of “Caught in a Dream,” “Be My Lover,” “Eighteen,” “Is It My Body,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Under My Wheels, “and “School’s Out.” Michael Bruce sang on “Caught in a Dream” and then Ryan Roxie joined on lead guitar for the rest of the set, starting with “Be My Lover.”
Photo by Bobby Beeman via Facebook
Photo by Bobby Beeman via Facebook. “What an amazing night. The whole thing was like a dream.”
The rest of us get to be jealous of what those lucky folks witnessed last night. Here’s crossing our fingers that there will be more similar appearances in the future for Alice’s best band.
We assume more video will be seeing the light of day at the speed of Internet, but for now we have found this from last night. We’ll update this with more video and information as it comes in.
Man, the fuckin’ ‘70s… It’s no secret or surprise that teen magazines’ content started to skew a bit more adult in that decade, mirroring significantly more permissive times, but I was floored by the August, 1974 issue of SPEC, a sometimes quarterly, sometimes bimonthly, typically more pin-up heavy special publication of 16 Magazine. While 16 tended to keep details of teenybopper stars’ sexual lives obscured in favor of probing questions into Bobby Sherman’s favorite (sorry—FAVE, always fave) color or David Cassidy’s fave dessert, SPEC offered up a Grand Funk “Be Our Groupie” contest, a ridiculous shirtless crotch-shot centerfold of Rick Springfield, and an advice column addressing how to touch a guy if you want to turn him on, fittingly written by a gentleman named “Rod.”
And as if to prove that clickbait is nothing new, here’s what ultimately grabbed me:
OK, I was curious what I’d need to do to marry an Osmond, too…
It speaks volumes about values dissonance over the decades that that could be printed at all, let alone on the COVER of a magazine, let alone the cover of a magazine for junior high and high school girls. And not even JUST on the cover:
Sooooooo I’m still confused—is Alice Cooper or is he not a fag? We’ll have to refer to the ridiculous interview to find out:
SPEC: People say all kinds of things about you. Alice: I know, I know.
SPEC: So what’s the story, Alice? Are you gay? Are you straight? Are you bisexual? Which? Alice: Oh, I’m straight. I’m attracted only to members of the opposite sex—girls, that is.
SPEC: But you have a girl’s name, you wear all that make-up. Don’t you expect people to get the impression that you’re not straight? Alice: Well, I have a girl’s name, but that’s kind of a goof. And lots of men who perform wear make-up—that’s a theatrical tradition, it has nothing to do with sexuality. And I do not attempt to look like a girl, in case you haven’t noticed. I’m not a transvestite—I don’t imitate women. Did you ever see a woman who looked the way I do? If one did, she’d really get called a weirdo!
SPEC: Nevertheless, we get all these letters saying “Alice s a fag!” I’m sure you get them too. How do you account for that? Alice: To some extent, I must admit, we do encourage that impression. But I’m not a “fag”—you know I don’t like using that word because it’s insulting to gay people.
SPEC: What impression do you encourage? Alice: Oh, you know, bizarre, kinky, neither-here-nor-there. But I never went out of my way to lead people to believe that I was actually homosexual. After all, make-up and costumes have nothing to do with homosexuality—the only pertinent behavior is whether or not you’re attracted to people of your own sex.
SPEC: I understand you’ve been criticized by people in the gay liberation movement for exploiting homosexuality and making fun of it. Alice: I’m sorry they feel that way, but there are a lot of gay people who don’t mind what I do also. It’s all in fun, and it’s certainly not meant to be malicious in any way whatsoever.
SPEC: Don’t you think a lot of your fans want to believe that you’re gay? Alice: Yes, I know they do. Isn’t it curious? They’ll read this interview, and they’ll say “Bull! We know he’s queer!” Nothing I could say or do could convince them that I’m not.
SPEC: Why do you think that is? Alice: I figure it probably makes these kids feel far-out to think that they can dig a performer who’s supposedly gay. I think it’s groovy of them.
SPEC: Would you admit it if you were homosexual? Alice: Of course, and I wouldn’t just admit it, as if it were something you’re supposed to conceal. I’d just be it. I’d be natural about it, and I don’t see where it would be very much different for me, except I’d be making it with men instead of women.
SPEC: Aren’t you even just a little bit bisexual? Alice: You mean do I mostly like girls, but do I like boys sometimes? No, I only like girls, but if I could have chosen my own sexuality, I think I might have chosen to be bisexual.
SPEC: Why is that? Alice: It would give me twice as many people to pick from!
SPEC: Do you really mean that? Alice: Sure—I think in the future everyone will be bisexual. And everything would be so much simpler then—you’d just make love with anyone you liked, and it wouldn’t matter what sex they were, and maybe it also wouldn’t matter what color they were, or what age, or anything, except that you liked them.
That’s a way better chat than you were expecting, no? Me too. I’ve conducted a fair few interviews and I can’t imagine in a million years bluntly asking someone if he or she is gay, and Cooper handled that all really well—especially for 1974. It goes on for a bit longer, with a lot of silly, if period-appropriate, shockrocker gobbledygook about pansexuality as a panacea for social ills blah blah blah. What’s transcribed above is the worthy stuff.
Here’s some more rare ‘74 vintage Alice—a mimed version of the Billion Dollar Babies cut “Sick Things,” from a short-lived TV mystery series called The Snoop Sisters. They were actually NAMED “Snoop” AND they were snoops, you guys. Why did that not last?