You know, it’s been two years since my mother passed away, but I have only gotten serious about cleaning out her stuff out of the house in which I grew up. Mom and my stepfather are pack rats, or probably more appropriately, hoarders. Now, I have been taking my time as I separate the “treasures” versus the crap, which has caused me to discover some interesting things that were buried in closets and dresser drawers. The crazy thing is that I found some artwork that I made back when I was 9 or 10. As I quickly flipped through this drawing pad, I came across a quick sketch of Alice Cooper, the man, from his School’s Out or Billion Dollar Babies era. I am not sure if I have stated this in the blog or not, but the first rock artist that I was a big fan of was Alice Cooper.
Back in 1972, I was totally into “School’s Out,” the song. I bought the single because I never had enough money to purchase the album. Still, throughout the year, I kept reminding my parents that I wanted that album of the same title. Finally, when Christmas 1972 rolled around, I was given a portable 8-Track tape player by my parents. Then, a couple of days later, my aunt and uncle on my mom’s side of the family give me a present that have THREE 8-track tapes in it.
First, I pulled out a tape by none other than Elton John. Immediately, I was pumped. Then, I pulled out Goat’s Head Soup by The Rolling Stones. According to my beloved Uncle Dick, he asked his high school students which tapes to give to me, and these were their top three. At the time, to be perfectly honest, I had little idea who The Stones were, but that would soon change. Finally, the last tape I pulled out was specially wrapped. Quickly, I tore through the paper, shredding it to pieces. As soon as I broke through the paper of vintage ’70s Christmas wrapping paper, I discovered that I had another tape. I flipped the tape over to see the cover, and it was the tape I had been coveting for nearly 10 months – School’s Out by Alice Cooper. Yes!
As soon as the extended family gift exchange commenced, I picked up my tapes, a book I had gotten from my grandparents and my tape player to the room I slept in at my grandparents, the little upstairs guest room above the garage. That was the very same room that Uncle Dick lived in before he got married. This room was the coolest place on God’s green Earth. First, I was at the furthest point away from the rest of the family. And, because of that, I was free to listen to music as loud as I wanted. Of course, loud was the perfect way to experience Alice Cooper’s music.
While listening to this exciting music, I dreamt of what it be like to see this band perform live in concert. Over the course of 1972, I had listened to the high school kids paint a vivid picture of the band’s onstage antics, specifically those of the lead singer who went by the same name as the band, Alice Cooper. While much of their stage performance seemed to provoke parents, my mom recognized much of their antics being similar to “carnival folks” performances at the country fairgrounds in the town in which she grew up. So many of those acts were out to shock their audiences, so she had no problem allowing me to follow this band. So, for an educator, my mom’s acceptance of my rock artists showed her progressiveness when compared to some of my friends’ parents.
Through my Alice Cooper fandom, I was able to quickly discover Kiss, which led to Rush then to AC/DC, Boston, Foreigner, Styx, etc. And, if there was an album that helped me deal with the dissolution of my parents’ marriage, ironically, it was Alice Cooper’s second solo album, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, that helped me out lyrically. Actually, that album chronicles Cooper’s trip through drug and alcohol rehab and the psychological toll the whole journey took on the man who took on the character known as Alice Cooper. While the lyrics dealt with mental illness and addiction, I could relate to the mental illness aspect as I was dealing with depression throughout my life, but the lyrics resonated in my head and heart through 1976. And, because of that, I will always have a special place in my heart of that album. I would love to meet the man to thank him for that album, even though I recognize that the album is not really a classic piece of art. Simply, it was the right album being released at the right time in a young person’s life to help that person through a very difficult period.
So, Alice Cooper, thank you for, first, getting me interested in rock; second, to develop me into a fanatic about it; and, finally, to help me survive the initial year of my parents’ divorce. I definitely would not be the person I am today without Alice Cooper’s three albums, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies and Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, although I loved Killer, Love It to Death AND Welcome to My Nightmare as well. And, I would love to apologize to all my teachers, classmates and relatives who I bugged with my Alice Cooper obsession.
Now, to celebrate this rediscovery of the music of my past, let’s take a look at my 40 favorite Alice Cooper songs. So, on with the countdown!
40. “Brutal Planet” (Brutal, 2000)
39. “From the Inside” (From the Inside, 1978)
38. “Keepin’ Halloween Alive” (Non-album single, 2009)
37. “Love’s a Loaded Gun” (Hey Stoopid, 1991)
36. “Detroit City” (The Eyes of Alice Cooper, 2003)
35. “Desperado” (Killer, 1971)
34. “Rock and Roll” (Detroit Stories, 2021)
33. “You’re My Temptation” (The Last Temptation, 1994)
32. “Might as Well Be on Mars” (Hey Stoopid, 1991)
31. “Dead Babies” (Killer, 1971)
30. “Wicked Young Man” (Brutal, 2000)
29. “Muscle of Love” (Muscle of Love, 1973)
28. “Hurricane Years” (Hey Stoopid, 1991)
27. “Hello Hurray” (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
26. “Teenage Lament ’74” (Muscle of Love, 1973)
25. “Teenage Frankenstein” (Constrictor, 1986)
24. “Dangerous Tonight” (Hey Stoopid, 1991)
23. “Social Debris” (Detroit Stories, 2021)
22. “Department of Youth” (Welcome to My Nightmare, 1975)
21. “Clones (We All Are)” (Flush the Fashion, 1980)
20. “Be My Lover” (Killer, 1971)
19. “Is It My Body” (Love It to Death, 1971)
18. “Billion Dollar Babies” (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
17. “Welcome to My Nightmare” (Welcome to My Nightmare, 1975)
16. “You and Me” (Whiskey and Lace, 1977)
15. “Poison” (Trash, 1989)
14. “The Black Widow” (Welcome to My Nightmare, 1975)
13. “I Love the Dead” (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
12. “Cold Machines” (Brutal, 2000)
11. “Sick Things” (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
10. “How You Gonna See Me Now” (From the Inside, 1978)
9. “Generation Landslide” (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
8. “Elected” (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
7. “Under My Wheels” (Killer, 1971)
6. “Feed My Frankenstein” (Hey Stoopid, 1991)
5. “I Never Cry” (Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, 1976)
4. “I’m Eighteen” (Love It to Death, 1971)
3. “Only Women Bleed” (Welcome to My Nightmare, 1975)
2. “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (Billion Dollar Babies, 1973)
1. “School’s Out” (School’s Out, 1972)
And that’s a wrap! Thank you must go to Alice Cooper and his former band for 50 years of some terrific music. This is my tribute to the heir to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins shock rock throne. Peace!