he weirdest thing about our band was that it was made up of athletes. Alice Cooper, the sickest band in America, we were all four-year lettermen.
We lived on Kool-Aid and Wheaties that we stole from stores. And then we'd mix the two together. We all lived together, seven guys in one room. One guy in the band was really good-looking. He would invite a girl over, and when he took her into the bedroom, the rest of us would go through her purse and take, like, five dollars. We weren't major thieves. We just took enough to keep the band together.
The thing that really turned it all around for us was when we realized we were not into peace and love. We were more sensational. We were the National Enquirer of rock 'n' roll.
We finally got an audition with Frank Zappa, and we showed up at his house at seven o'clock in the morning. We got there, set up outside of this log cabin he had, and we started playing. We were dressed like we dressed every day -- chrome pants, hair, makeup, everything -- and Zappa liked us. He was our hero. Knowing him was like knowing the Beatles. He was so straight. It was shocking. When Zappa said he was going to sign us to Bizarre Records, we were just elated.
Then we met Shep Gordon at a party at the Landmark Hotel. Everybody was living there -- Hendrix, the Airplane. Shep had just moved out, and he said, "I'm a manager. I'll be your manager."
We said, "Great." I knew immediately that Shep was the guy. He was as outrageous as we were.
The night that really did it for us was the night of Lenny Bruce's birthday party at the Cheetah. There were 6,000 people there. We went on last, after the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Everybody was on acid, everybody was into peace and love, and here we come looking like A Clockwork Orange. We started out with the theme from "The Patty Duke Show," and we scared everybody out of the building. It was as if somebody said, "There's a bomb in the building." We cleared the building in three songs.
I guess we represented something people hadn't thought about for years. Even hippies hated us, and it's hard to get a hippie to hate anything. But the next time we played, there were maybe 1,000 people there. It became the "in" thing in L.A. to come see Alice Cooper and then walk out.
Our official "coming out" party at the Ambassador Hotel was totally outrageous. Nobody knew who Alice Cooper was. The Ambassador thought Alice Cooper was a debutante from Pasadena.
"Eighteen" became our license to kill. Probably the most dangerous thing anybody ever did in the business was give Alice Cooper a single. It gave us confidence.
We played the Toronto Peace Festival with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and the Doors. While we were on, somebody from the audience threw a chicken on stage. I'm from Detroit, I'm not a farm kid. I figured a chicken had wings, it'll fly away. So I took the chicken and threw it and it didn't fly. It went into the audience. Blood everywhere. The next day, everybody's reading, "Alice Cooper rips chicken's head off, drinks blood." Zappa called me. He said, "Whatever you did, keep doing it." To this day, wherever I'm booked the ASPCA is usually there, too.
I used to be terrified of snakes. One time someone had a boa constrictor backstage. I realized that the snake is perhaps the strongest image in the world. I thought, what if I bring it on stage and sing a song with it wrapped around my arm? The next thing you know, the snake is fifteen feet long, the biggest snake anybody's ever seen.
We lost the snake at the Marriott Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee. They had barely finished the hotel, and we were staying there. I put the snake in the bathtub to let it swim, and I closed the door. I got up the next morning and the snake was gone. There was no lid on the toilet, and the snake had gone into the toilet and down into the pipes.
I called the manager. "My snake is gone." Workmen start tearing down walls, and they don't even want to find this snake. Well, they couldn't find it, so I had to go out and buy another one for the next show. I knew the snake would survive for a while in the pipes. They only eat once a month.
Well, now it's two weeks later, and we're in another town, and I pick up a paper and I read about how the snake came up in Charley Pride's bathroom. Apparently, he walked into his bathroom at the Marriott and there was a boa constrictor coming out of his toilet. He must have turned white.
One of the best things that ever happened to us was getting banned in England on our very first tour. They hadn't even seen us and they banned us. One the flight over I sat next to an old woman, probably eighty-five years old. She says to me, "I've been traveling from Beirut. I want to go to sleep. Please don't wake me when the food comes." I said OK.
We land in London and I go to wake her up. She doesn't wake up. She's dead. Died in her sleep. I get off the plane, they pull the body out, and the people say, "We understand that lady died sitting next to you."
I said, "Yes," and they go, "Wow," and start checking for holes in her throat.
Main Page | Seventies Superstars | The Classic 500 | Seventies Almanac | Search The RockSite/The Web