Veteran Michigan music writer Gary Graff (Billboard, Oakland Press) toasts Alice Cooper’s 75th with a devastatingly entertaining recap of an illustrious career. Cooper’s U.S. tour kicks off Friday in Michigan.
EDITOR’S NOTE: On Friday (April 28), Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Detroit native Alice Cooper launches his 2023 tour in Michigan, at a sold-out Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant. It comes after acclaimed Detroit-area music writer Gary Graff (Billboard, Oakland Press) released a new book, “Alice Cooper @ 75,” that colorfully reflects on milestones in Vincent Damon Furnier’s remarkable career. Here’s the Local Spins review. And scroll down to listen to Alice’s latest single.
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The Book: “Alice Cooper @ 75”
The Author: Gary Graff
Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group ($75 retail list price, $55.99 hardcover at Amazon)
What Stands Out: Divided appropriately into 75 deliciously digestible and concise “chapters” and rife with resplendent photos of the bombastic shock-rocker’s groundbreaking rock ‘n’ roll escapades, “Alice Cooper @ 75” recounts what truly stands out as a remarkable musical career. From growing up in Detroit as Vincent Damon Furnier, a diehard Tigers fan, to forming “the most dangerous band in the world” in Los Angeles and returning triumphantly to Detroit to find chart-topping success (and controversy) as the shock-rocking Alice Cooper, this biographical retrospective oozes juicy tidbits that rabid Alice Cooper fanatics in particular will find intriguing.
More than anything, the lavish, 208-page, coffee-table-styled gem depicts just how event-filled Alice Cooper’s journey has been: his ghoulishly garish on-stage antics, his snakes and near calamities, his almost-pro ability as a golfer, his TV and movie roles, his recovery from alcoholism, his “reinvestment” in Christianity and nonprofit foundation work, his collaborations with other stars (including the Hollywood Vampires) and more.
Digging Deeper: Alice Cooper says it early and says it often: He’s a Detroiter through and through, with Michigan roots that run deep. Indeed, Chapter 11 notes that the real turning point came in 1969 when the band left L.A. to find a home more receptive to its unusual approach and wound up in Michigan, playing the Saugatuck Pop Festival — of all things — with other Michigan rock heroes such as The Stooges, Bob Seger System and MC5. “Finally a crowd that got it,” Cooper is quoted as saying. “We found our home.” They eventually moved into “an abandoned farm on Brown Road in Pontiac” where they worked on material for 1971’s epic “Love it To Death.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Must-Read Chapters: In addition to the aforementioned No. 11, Michigan fans will certainly revel in the final chapter, “Home Again,” which details Alice Cooper’s decision to record the 2021 album, “Detroit Stories,” in Michigan with iconic Detroit artists (Wayne Kramer, Mark Farner, Johnny Badanjek) as well as the original Alice Cooper Band. “When people say, ‘Well, what is your music?’ I say it’s Detroit rock — we just put a different slant on it,” Cooper says in the book. “At the bottom of it, all Alice Cooper records are Detroit …”
Chapter 15, meanwhile, outlines the move toward the macabre in the band’s stage shows — beheadings, hangings, electrocutions, chopping up baby dolls and so forth, something that set the standard for so many other theatrical acts that followed. Then there’s “The Nightmare Returns” of a newly sober Alice Cooper in Chapter 45 revving things up in robust fashion in the mid-1980s, with classic photos from a concert at Joe Louis Arena.
Perfect For: Even casual fans of Alice, thought diehard devotees will eagerly devour the inside story of his relationships with Elvis Presley, Pink Floyd and Salvador Dali, not to mention various controversy-fueled hubbubs over the years, including the on-stage “chicken killing” incident in Toronto. (You’ll just have to read the book to learn more about that bizarre caper.) It’s also a must for rock ‘n’ roll history buffs.
Listen: “Winner Takes All,” Alice Cooper and Nita Strauss
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