Back in 1972, on the sole basis of loving the song “School’s Out”, I was certain that I was an Alice Cooper fan. What I knew of Alice at the age of 9 was what I heard from older kids on the school bus and from the babysitter’s boys, who were all at least four years older than me. I heard his performances on In Concert or Midnight Special were outrageous and offensive. I heard of his pet snake Killer, and how he used a guillotine to chop off his head. You know, it sounded just like the kind of thing that a 9-year-old should own. So, on my birthday in 1973, my beloved uncle and aunt give me three 8-Track tapes: Goats Head Soup by The Rolling Stones, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John and, of course, School’s Out. I played the crap out of that tape until it finally broke three years later. I was bummed.
Now, those of you who grew up with remember might remember that in addition to my love of sports and my eidetic memory of sports stats, they probably will all attest to the fact that I had a smart mouth. Well, my parents, bless their hearts, tried in the spring of 1973 to break me of my smart mouth by setting up a behavior modification plan. With a calendar to monitor this, I could earn a star for every day that I was not a smart ass to someone in my life. Don’t laugh! This was hard! I had to get 21 non-smart ass days out of 30 days in the month of April 1973.
Believe it or not, I actually met the goal, but I had to go TEN days in a row to capture the feat. Now, my prize was anything I wanted (I guess this moment meant that much to my folks!), and I wanted the new Alice Cooper album, Billion Dollar Babies. So, off to K-Mart we went, and I made the purchase of my first album. I was so excited, that I skipped baseball throwing after dinner that evening to listen to my new album on my old record player. The music was exciting to my 10-year-old ears. I got to listen to my newest favorite song, “No More Mister Nice Guy”. Inside the wallet-looking gatefold album cover was a large Alice Cooper dollar bill poster that I hung up in my room. On the opposite side of the gatefold were some punch-out pictures of Alice and his band in poses and in concert. It was the live images that haunted me for some reason. At the time, 10-year-old Keller felt as though he needed to “hide” those concert cards, so I punched them out and kept them hidden. Then, after five years of owning that album, I sold it in one of our after-the-divorce garage sales that Mom would hold each summer. So, from 1978 until 2016, I no longer owned Billion Dollar Babies, my first album.
But, as fate would have it, on Black Friday Record Story Day 2016, while perusing for special releases of the day, I rediscovered THE album that jump-started my love affair with rock music and that music in the album form. I found Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies WITH the money poster AND the cards still INTACT! I could not believe it. Plus, the album was in my “under $20” price limit, and the vinyl was in Very Good Plus condition. JACKPOT!!! I had rediscovered my youth at the great Village Green Records in Muncie, Indiana. Besides being my favorite independent record store to shop these days, I have also found missing albums of my youth there, such as KISS Alive! and Alive II, Elvis Costello’s Goodbye Cruel World, King of America, Blood & Chocolate and Taking Liberties, among many other great albums of my past.
So, now, whenever I put it on my Technics turntable that I bought back in 1992, those sounds that Alice Cooper created in 1973 still inspire me to love all things rock ‘n’ roll. I am such a fortunate man to have grown up during such a fertile time in history for music that appeals to the young and the young-at-heart. So, let me hear what your first album that you bought was. Funny thing: both of my boys first CDs they purchased were Beatles’ albums, Sgt. Pepper and Rubber Soul. They sure took after their old man with their love of music. Once again, leave a comment with your first album! Peace!
P.S. Unfortunately, I am still a smart ass to this day. But for that one ten day period of time back in April 1973, I held it together, which only gave my parents false hope.