Vincent Furnier may have quit drink and campaigned against drugs, but he’s still addicted to Alice, the Big Bad Guy who shocked the 70s Rock world. Graham Caldwell talks to the man who has inﬂuenced a new generation of rock stars in
America and is now making a triumphant comeback.
STILL UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Back in the mid to late seventies I began, occasionally, to catch my father looking at me strangely. It was the advent ofpunkand I could tell he was waiting for the first sign of spikey hair or pierced nostril, but he was in luck. Although I mentally pogoed to Anarchy and White Riot, thankfully cast aside my ﬂares and narrowed my lapels, I was unable to embrace punk completely. With each article on gobbing and safety pins my smirk grew broader — every claim that the end of British civilisation was nigh, every hysterical headline brought the feeling that I had seen it all before. I had, after all, been an Alice Cooper fan.
My father had despaired of me. Looking back I can see why. There I was, barely into my teens and I had a bedroom bulging with pictures and posters, each one showing the same wild looking, long haired, outrageously made up man in a variety ofposes: clutching a dripping, severed head; hanging obscenely from gallows; performing lewd pantomimes with snakes. As if this were not enough my record player — stereos were still a luxury in the early seventies — rang with the voice of this same wild American singing songs like Sick Things and I Love the Dead. When my father did come into my room it was to demand that this vile racket be turned off or to suggest that I take up more socially responsible habits like mugging or pot smoking. But I didn’t care. I was an Alice Cooper fan. The first album I ever bought was Billion Dollar Babies and my first rock concert was seeing the man himself at Green’s Playhouse — which is what the Apollo was called before it became the prospective office block it is now.
At school the other kids were getting down to heroes like T Rex or Slade — a few, the ones who eventually went to Art School, preferred Bowie or Roxy Music- I stuck with Alice. Every horror story in the media brought forth an enthusiastic chuckle; tales ofhis most recent outrages were my food and drink. Teachers predicted terrible things for me. At best I
4 The List 14 — 27 November
would end up in jail, they agreed, at worst I might be a journalist. Eventually, they said, my passion for Glam, Gore and Guillotines would wear offand, ofcourse, it eventually did. The year 1975 saw Alice‘s greatest hits and his last great album, Welcome to My Nightmare. Irrevocably broken hearted at missing his triumphant, London concerts I turned my thoughts to other things.
And so, for the next ten years I went on my way through college, university and employment. Now and again tales would emerge from the States about Alice‘s addiction to golfand Budweiser — no one could say in which order, his admiration
forBob Hope and his latest album. These were religiously checked out but, although sparks of the old genius were there, it wasn’t the Alice I knew and loved. 1982 saw him return to Glasgow for a breathlesst enjoyable night but he was gone almost as soon as he had come. Then, earlier this year. came rumblings from across the Atlantic, Alice, so it was said, is back. Back and better than ever. . . and so it has proved. His new album, Constrictor, is his best in years; he has a hit single with The Man Behind the Mask , from the film Friday the Thirteenth Part VI, his tour is packing them in all over America. Best ofall, he’s coming this way.
‘I haven‘t toured since 82 or 83 and everything’s going really well,’ he told me from Columbus Ohio. ‘The United States is selling out and the albums are doing great. I think it’s because the new show is a lot more startling than the others.’ With memories of his old shows; guillotine, scaffold and snake in mind, I had to ask. ‘We’ve got the guillotine back and we’ve got three or four other special effects which are just as good.’ They should be, since Mark Wilson who manufactured the creations in Aliens and The Fly is responsible for them. Remembering how Alice was literally strung up one night when a
has reached the status of a Rock Legend, ‘everybody calls me that so I’ve started thinking of myselfthat way‘, you might think Alice would be relying more than a little on long memories on this tour. Not so. ‘We played to thirty two thousand in Detroit and they were all 16. I7. 18 years old and they knew every word of every song from (‘onstrictor to 18 to No More Mr Nice Guy.‘ He thinks he knows why. ‘All the bands that are big now - the Motley Crues and Ossie Osbornes — they always refer to me in interviews as their influence. so a lot of kids know of the legend of Alice (‘ooper and when they come and see me they get more
stunt backfired I asked how safe they were. ‘The last two months have been nothing but rehearsing the special effects especially . . . the guillotine is a little more dangerous than it used to be and there‘s a lot of things we’re doing that are dangerous. . .there’sa lot more blood in the show.‘
For someone whose Greatest Hit, album is over 10 years old and who