Tales of Rock – Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948)[1] is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over five decades. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers alike to be “The Godfather of Shock Rock“. He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock people.[2]

Originating in Phoenix, Arizona, in the late 1960s after he moved from Detroit, Michigan, “Alice Cooper” was originally a band consisting of Furnier on vocals and harmonica, lead guitarist Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar, Dennis Dunaway on bass guitar, and drummer Neal Smith. The original Alice Cooper band released its first album in 1969 but broke into the international music mainstream with the 1971 hit “I’m Eighteen” from their third studio album Love It to Death, which was followed by the even bigger single “School’s Out” in 1972. The band reached their commercial peak with the 1973 album Billion Dollar Babies.

Furnier adopted the band’s name as his own name in the 1970s and began a solo career with the 1975 concept album Welcome to My Nightmare. In 2011, he released Welcome 2 My Nightmare, his 19th album as a solo artist and 26th album in total. In 2011, the original Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[3] Expanding from his Detroit rock roots, Cooper has experimented with a number of musical styles, including art rock, hard rock, heavy metal, new wave, glam metal,[4][5] pop rock, experimental rock, and industrial rock.

Cooper is known for his social and witty persona offstage, with The Rolling Stone Album Guide calling him the world’s most “beloved heavy metal entertainer”.[6] He is credited with helping to shape the sound and look of heavy metal, and has been described as the artist who “first introduced horror imagery to rock’n’roll, and whose stagecraft and showmanship have permanently transformed the genre”.[7] Away from music, Cooper is a film actor, a golfing celebrity, a restaurateur, and, since 2004, a popular radio DJ with his classic rock show Nights with Alice Cooper.

Random Facts

Vincent Furnier and his band the Nazz adopted the name Alice Cooper after attending a seance in which a preson identifying herself as Alice Cooper talked to the members via a Ouija board.

In 1986, Megadeth opened for Cooper on his US Constrictor tour. After noticing the abuse of alcohol and other drugs in the band, Cooper personally approached the band members to try to help them control their abuse, and he has stayed close to front man Dave Mustaine, who considers Cooper to be his “godfather”.Since overcoming his own addiction to alcohol in the mid-1980s, Cooper has continued to help and counsel other rock musicians with addiction problems. “I’ve made myself very available to friends of mine – they’re people who would call me late at night and say, ‘Between you and me, I’ve got a problem.'” In recognition of the work he has done in helping other addicts in the recovery process, Cooper received in 2008 the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award at the fourth annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert in Los Angeles.

Alice Cooper filmed and Exedrin television commercial which was never shown.

Alice was once elected Homecoming Queen for the University of Houston.

I once read a book back in the seventies about his life, entitled, Me Alice. If you can find a copy of it check it out. It is hilarious and heartwarming, about how a bunch of no talent idiots rose to the top of rock stardom.

In the book, Alice said he used to masturbate so much into his pillow that it started to crunch.

He also said as a teenager he used to jerk off into his sister’s jelly donuts and she would unknowingly eat them.

I also read that for a few years in the seventies he went on a “Total Budweiser Diet” drinking nothing but bud bottles.

I don’t know if this is true or not but there used to be a Budweiser commercial on TV that showed their logo imprinted at the bottom af a luxury swimming pool. Apparently that pool belonged to Alice Cooper.

 

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Renegade – 1978 to 1979 – Chapter 4 – Draw the Line

“Me? But I don’t know how to play guitar.”

“Yet. You don’t know how to play guitar… yet.”

(That is not a Sears Silvertone guitar. That is a semi hollow body Kay guitar borrowed from a friend. But that is a me at around 16 years old.)

One day we were in the basement working on some new tracks. One of the songs we really wanted to do was Draw The Line from Aerosmith’s latest self titled album. I was a huge fan of Aerosmith and had gotten that album for Christmas.

We started working on the song, which wasn’t that hard. The only difficulty I faced was the last verse. The lyrics aren’t written down anywhere and it’s mostly just Steven Tyler screaming a bunch of nonsensical rhyming phrases. It’s incredibly hard to decipher what he’s saying, so I had to keep playing it over and over and listening very carefully to Mr. Tyler scream the final lyrics.

But eventually me and a couple of my friends figured it out. The lyrics are here:

Checkmate, don’t be late
Take another pull
That’s right, impossible
When you got to be yourself
You’re the boss, the toss
The price, the dice
Grab yourself a slice
Know where to draw the line

You can hear the whole mess at the 3:16 point of the video below.

So that problem was solved. Now trying to sing it. I could sing, but I’m no Steven Tyler. Not by any stretch.

As we continued to work out the song, we came upon another problem. There is a point in the song where they do a musical break before that final onslaught of lyrics. While guitarist Brad Whitford keeps the rhythm going along with bassist Tom Hamilton, Joe Perry does a solo using a slide.

Jerry addresses the problem with me and Larry.

“Larry can carry the riff on bass, but I can’t play the rhythm guitar part and play the solo.”

“So what do we do?”

“I need another guitarist to play those three notes over and over until the solo is done and then I can pick it back up again. That’s when you sing that last bit.”

“Well we can’t bring in another guy to play three notes in one song!”

“We already have the guy.”

“Who?”

“You.”

“Me? But I don’t know how to play guitar.”

“Yet. You don’t know how to play guitar… yet.

(Smiling from ear to ear) Okay, Jer. I’m down. How do we do this?”

I still have my first electric guitar before I bought the Strat. It’s a Sears Silvertone. You can use that and I’ll show you how to play it. I’ll bring it with me tomorrow.”

“Okay… okay.

Oh my God! It’s a brand new world. I’m the lead singer of a rock and roll band and now I’m going to learn how to play guitar!

All my dreams are coming true!

 

 

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Tales of Rock – David Bowie

David Robert Jones was born on 8 January 1947, in Brixton, south London, England. His mother, Margaret Mary “Peggy” (née Burns; 1913–2001),[3][4] was born in Kent, and had Irish ancestry;[5] she worked as a waitress.[6] His father, Haywood Stenton “John” Jones (1912–1969),[3][4] from Yorkshire,[7] was a promotions officer for the children’s charity Barnardo’s. The family lived at 40 Stansfield Road, near the border of the south London areas of Brixton and Stockwell. Bowie attended Stockwell Infants School until he was six years old, acquiring a reputation as a gifted and single-minded child—and a defiant brawler.[8]

In 1953, Bowie moved with his family to the suburb of Bromley, where, two years later, he started attending Burnt Ash Junior School. His voice was considered “adequate” by the school choir, and he demonstrated above-average abilities in playing the recorder.[9] At the age of nine, his dancing during the newly introduced music and movement classes was strikingly imaginative: teachers called his interpretations “vividly artistic” and his poise “astonishing” for a child.[9] The same year, his interest in music was further stimulated when his father brought home a collection of American 45s by artists including the Teenagers, the Platters, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley and Little Richard.[10][11] Upon listening to Little Richard’s song “Tutti Frutti“, Bowie would later say, “I had heard God”.[12]

Presley’s impact on him was likewise emphatic: “I saw a cousin of mine dance to … ‘Hound Dog‘ and I had never seen her get up and be moved so much by anything. It really impressed me, the power of the music. I started getting records immediately after that.”[11] By the end of the following year he had taken up the ukulele and tea-chest bass, begun to participate in skiffle sessions with friends, and had started to play the piano; meanwhile his stage presentation of numbers by both Presley and Chuck Berry—complete with gyrations in tribute to the original artists—to his local Wolf Cub group was described as “mesmerizing … like someone from another planet.”[11] After taking his eleven-plus exam at the conclusion of his Burnt Ash Junior education, Bowie went to Bromley Technical High School.[13]

It was an unusual technical school, as biographer Christopher Sandford wrote:

Despite its status it was, by the time David arrived in 1958, as rich in arcane ritual as any [English] public school. There were houses, named after eighteenth-century statesmen like Pitt and Wilberforce. There was a uniform, and an elaborate system of rewards and punishments. There was also an accent on languages, science and particularly design, where a collegiate atmosphere flourished under the tutorship of Owen Frampton. In David’s account, Frampton led through force of personality, not intellect; his colleagues at Bromley Tech were famous for neither, and yielded the school’s most gifted pupils to the arts, a regime so liberal that Frampton actively encouraged his own son, Peter, to pursue a musical career with David, a partnership briefly intact thirty years later.[13]

Bowie studied art, music and design, including layout and typesetting. After Terry Burns, his half-brother, introduced him to modern jazz, his enthusiasm for players like Charles Mingus and John Coltrane led his mother to give him a plastic alto saxophone in 1961; he was soon receiving lessons from a local musician.[14] Bowie received a serious injury at school in 1962 when his friend George Underwood punched him in the left eye during a fight over a girl. After a series of operations during a four-month hospitalisation,[15] his doctors determined that the damage could not be fully repaired and Bowie was left with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil, which gave a false impression of a change in the iris’ colour.[16] Despite their altercation, Underwood and Bowie remained good friends, and Underwood went on to create the artwork for Bowie’s early albums.[17]

David Robert Jones was an English singer, songwriter and actor. He was a figure in popular music for over five decades, regarded by critics and musicians as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, his music and stagecraft significantly influencing popular music. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at 140 million worldwide, made him one of the world’s best-selling music artists. In the UK, he was awarded nine platinum album certifications, eleven gold and eight silver, releasing eleven number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and seven gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Born in Brixton, South London, Bowie developed an interest in music as a child, eventually studying art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. “Space Oddity” became his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of his single “Starman” and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, Bowie’s style shifted radically towards a sound he characterised as “plastic soul“, initially alienating many of his UK devotees but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the album Young Americans. In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth and released Station to Station. The following year, he further confounded musical expectations with the electronic-inflected album Low (1977), the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that would come to be known as the “Berlin Trilogy“. “Heroes” (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes“, its parent album Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, and “Under Pressure“, a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He then reached his commercial peak in 1983 with Let’s Dance, with its title track topping both UK and US charts. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. He also continued acting; his roles included Major Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), the Goblin King Jareth in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos. He stopped concert touring after 2004, and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006. In 2013, Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus with the release of The Next Day. He remained musically active until he died of liver cancer two days after the release of his final album, Blackstar (2016).

I love this song. That’s Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar!

 

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Renegade – 1978 to 1979 – Chapter 1 – My First Band

I lived on Magee Street in Northeast Philadelphia back then. I was walking up my street on that fateful night back in 1978. I was 16 years old. I saw this other kid carrying a bass guitar. He was my height, blonde hair with glasses and peach fuzz all over the lower part of his face. He looked like a total nerd.

I went up to him and said: “Hey, I always see you passing by carrying that bass. Do you need a singer?” I think I genuinely startled the guy.

“Well, probably. Because our guitarist Jerry just quit. Well get him back and tell him you’ve got a singer.”

“I’m Chaz.”

“I’m Larry.”

I get his phone number and give him mine. I guess he had a pen on him and I think he wrote his number on a pack of matches I had in my pocket. That’s how it was done back in the 70’s before cell phones. Matchbooks and cocktail napkins. Then you would have to call a stranger’s house and his mom or another family would answer the phone.

So a few days later Larry brings Jerry over and we go down to my basement for an audition.

Jerry is a tall, lanky Italian guy who is probably a year older that me. But since he’s Italian I can see that he has to shave every day and already has hair on his chest. I’m as smooth as a peach.

I think Jerry just wanted someone fresh to jam with and wanted to check me out and see if I was a fit for he and Larry. I don’t think he really cared if I was much of a singer. I had spent a few years in choir in grade school, but beyond that it was zero experience.

I put the song Dream On, by Aerosmith and started to sing along. This was a vinyl record that belonged to my sister Janice that I was playing on my father’s record player. I loved Aerosmith back then.

So I sing the whole song, and I’m nervously waiting for a response.

Jerry: “Would your mom let us practice here?”

Me: “Right here in the basement?”

Jerry: “Well not right here, more like right over there.” (Pointing and ever the smartass)

“I’m sure that would be okay.” (Bold Faced Lie – No idea if that would be okay)

“We’ll tell Jack our drummer and we’ll come over Thursday with our gear.”

That night I asked my mother and she was cool with it. She said it would be fine to have the boys come over and play in the basement after school.

I was overjoyed! Not only was I going to be a singer in a rock band, (Dream coming true) We were going to be jamming in my basement. This could up my cool factor in the neighborhood, which had been very low for years.

Back in those days my dad worked at a bank down the shore. He lived in our Wildwood, NJ house during the week and would mostly come home on the weekends. It was my parents version of getting separated. They were always a united front as parents to us kids but they fought a lot. My dad was a good man, and a decent father to us but between his high anxiety and OCD he was pretty hard on my mom. He’s hard to get along with, let alone live with. So I was happy to have him out of the house all week. Life was so much more chill around the house. Peaceful.

One of the things my mother would let me do is put a small record player on the chair beside me at dinner. I would play these 45 rpm records and me and my sisters would all laugh and sing along with the songs. We didn’t do it every night but enough that I remember it. After dinner my mom would wash the dishes and I would dry them. I remember this as one of my fondest memories of my mother. Because it was just the two of us.

We’d have the radio on and be listening to WYSP or WMMR which back then were the only two rock stations on the radio. There was no such thing at satellite radio, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify or I tunes. Just your local rock and roll radio stations. She liked the Rolling Stones and even thought that David Bowie was a fine boy. I remember one album that could be found in every white suburban home was, Frampton Comes Alive. The big hit from that record was a song entitled, “Do You Feel Like We Do?” It got heavy rotation that year, and I remember explaining to my mom what a talkbox was.

This is a brilliant clip and I’d never seen it until I went looking for it to include in this piece. Please watch the whole thing (because it’s awesome!) but if you suck and you just want to see what a talkbox is, skip to the six minute mark.

 

 

The sound from the guitar goes up through the tube and into the musician’s mouth and the guitar sound and notes come out and he can form words with them. Cool as shit, and I totally wanted one at some point, but that quickly passed. How many times can you use that trick in your songs. Probably only one before you become known as the talkbox guy. It’s an effect, not a sound or style. But still way cool in the hands of the great Peter Frampton.

By the way, that clip is from a show that came on Saturday nights. It’s called “Burt Sugarman’s Midnight Special.” There was that and “Don Kirchner’s Rock Concert”, were the only places to see your favorite bands of the day play live on TV. This was many years before videos and MTV. But it was on late at night and normally I was asleep by then and rarely saw any of them. If you’d like, I recommend you YouTube these programs because they are truly time capsules of joy.

Those were good times in our lives. Everybody was healthy and happy for the most part. Dad would swing home most weekends and it was greatest hits with him. A little bit goes a long way and you know by Sunday night or Monday morning he’s back down the shore.

I was really looking forward to being part of a rock and roll band! I love rock and now I’m going to be able to MAKE rock!!!

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Greta Van Fleet

This is a post I wanted to nail the day I felt this magic but I just didn’t have room for it with all that’s been going on. But let me tell you…I love these boys. They are everything that’s alive in me in music and give me hope. Not that I need it but, goddamnit it feels so good.

I was working a Saturday at the salon. Usually the music playing is pop or top 40. Lately it’s been a lot of workout type music that is really busy and peppy. I’ve grown accustomed to all of it and don’t mind listening to it during my shifts.

I enjoy music and have all of my life, but as you get older it just isn’t that important to me. I guess I’ve sort of heard it all in my lifetime and nothing new really lights me up anymore. There just aren’t any new bands coming out that spark my passion.

I’m okay with that.

Sometimes the music cuts off if the internet fails at the salon. I usually go into the control room and just turn it back on.

That happened today and I went to the tablet that the internet station is on and tapped what I thought was the station we were currently on. But it wasn’t the disco workout channel. It was a hard rock channel. I dug what I heard and just left it on.

I’m hearing the likes of Metallica, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, etc. It all sounds good to me.

Then I hear this song that really strikes me. It has a certain familiarity to it. An almost eerie familiarity. I grab my phone and walk into room #2 (The music comes from the sun beds themselves.)

“Siri. What song is playing?”

“Let me listen.”

“That’s Highway Tune, by Greta Van Fleet.”

I’m thinking, who is this chick Greta?

It’s a quiet day, so I go back to the computer at the counter and pull up Youtube and search for Greta. I find that there is no girl named Greta. Greta Van Fleet is the name of a band of four good-looking young guys. Three of them are brothers!

The band was formed in 2012 by Joshua “Josh” Kiszka, Samuel “Sam” Kiszka, Jacob “Jake” Kiszka and Kyle Hauck. Hauck subsequently left the band, in Oct. 2013 and was replaced by Daniel “Danny” Wagner the same year.

The band is named after a woman from Frankenmuth (MI, US) named Gretna Van Fleet and the name is used with her blessing. Frankenmuth, Missouri is where this band is from.

GRETNA VAN FLEET . . . center, was the 2016 recipient of the Frankenmuth Women’s Club’s Edelweiss Award for her volunteer work for the community and the club. Above, Edelweiss Award organizers Ruth Wallace, left, and Marilyn Banes, present the honors to Van Fleet. The club also makes a $500 donation to the cause of the recipient’s choice and Van Fleet chose the Frankenmuth Farmer’s Market. Read about ALL the happenings in your hometown in this week’s issue of the NEWS.

One of their grandparents once said, “Hey we got to stop by and visit with Gretna Van Fleet.”

And the boys were like: “Hey that would be a cool, unique name for our band!”

In the time Hauck was the drummer, the band recorded and released 3 songs “Highway Tune” “Cloud Train” and “Standing On”. February 28, 2014 a live EP was recorded all in one take and subsequently released on June 7, 2014 at a release party. In 2014 their song “Standing On” was featured in 2014 Chevy Equinox advertisements in the Detroit area. It’s one of several songs, along with “By the Riverside”, “Cloud Train”, “Lover, Leaver, Taker, Believer”, “Down to the River”, “Sing in the Rain”, “Thunder Stomp”, “You’re the One” and “Written in Gold” that were previously released and are currently unavailable.

I wanted to give you some background on this band before  I got to what I wanted to say.

I pull up the Highway Tune video and it begins playing.  I watch this band and hear the opening chords and then a very familiar howl come from the singer. Goosebumps pop up all over me. I’m tingling as I watch what I would describe as…

The Second Coming of Led Zeppelin.

I kid you not. I am so excited to hear this band, I look to see if they’re on tour and if they’ll be coming to this area and also if I can get tickets.

They’re that good. It’s almost haunting to see a band that can create a sound like Zeppelin. The howling vocals of a young Robert Plant coupled with the galloping rhythms of Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and the late John Bonham.

It feels so good at my age and experience I can still be moved. Thank you boys! I wish you much luck. Rock ‘n Roll is alive and well!

Check this out!

 

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Tales of Rock – Keith Moon

Keith Moon was the drummer for The Who, and if he didn’t invent insane rock star behavior, he did his best to popularize it. What are now common rock star cliches, were daring and original back when Moon was doing them. Trashing hotel rooms, consuming horse tranquilizers, engaging in naked cake fights–Moon did it all, with vigor, passion and creativity. The best Keith Moon story is the time when shortly after leaving a hotel, he sat up in a panic and told the driver to stop and turn around. “I forgot something! We’ve got to go back!” Upon returning to the hotel, he ran to his room, grabbed the television and threw it out the window and into the pool. Returning to the car, he said with a great sigh of relief, “I nearly forgot.”

His signature stunt was ruining toilets, and not in the way Kevin Smith ruins toilets. Moon actually demolished them. He went on the road with an enormous supply of cherry bombs, M-80s and dynamite, exploding toilets wherever he went. Moon was ultimately banned from every Holiday Inn, Sheraton and Hilton in the country for his trouble–though he was heralded Man of The Year by several plumbing supply industry associations.

A Typical Day If You Were Keith Moon’s Personal Assistant:

You: Keith? Please come out of there, Keith. Please don’t flush that down the toilet, Keith. I could see why you’d think it’s funny the first 60 times, but this is too much. Exploding Toilet 61 is going to be no different than any of the rest. We’re just gathering redundant data now. There is no logical, scientific or statistical need for this.

Keith Moon: -Opens bathroom door, runs past, cackling.

You: -Rolls for cover.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Slash Filled His House With Nearly 100 What…?

In an industry where cocaine and heroin should be receiving royalties for their contribution to rock history, it’s hard to consider drugs as a wild vice. Fortunately, Slash had the answer: a Raiders Of The Lost Ark-worthy fortress of snakes.

Using the proceeds from a hard career of standing on stage and playing guitar while dressed as someone’s mad aunt, Slash turned his mansion into the Reptile Room. As one interviewer discovered, there were cages in the walls, cages on the stairway landing, and a cage containing a 22-foot-long python underneath the stairs. There was even a room that was specially converted into a python house containing water features, tiling, and greenery. Yes, even the pets of rock stars live better than most college students.

Perhaps because his snakes could see the future, one of them attempted to eat Axl Rose. As Slash recounted, while he and Axl were living together, Axl awoke one night to find a reticulated python staring at his head and, presumably, deciding whether or not it wanted to remove Axl’s headband before swallowing his head. After an hour of watching Axl’s pile of fear-poop grow to ceiling height, Slash locked the snake away.

Sadly, several years ago, Slash got rid of his 80-strong collection of snakes, owing to the (understandable) worry that they might be dangerous for his newborn son to be around.

 

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