50th Anniversary of the Alice Cooper Group Original Line-Up Celebration Part 2
published: 26 /
Brigs Jones is a musician, mastering engineer, a composer and arranger for eclectic, artistic clients – occasionally a bespoke guitarist and sound recording teacher, and looking forward to returning t
Brigs Jones is a musician, mastering engineer, a composer and arranger for eclectic, artistic clients – occasionally a bespoke guitarist and sound recording teacher, and looking forward to returning to the band Super Punk Muffin later this year. He resides in Devon.
“As a young kid, I wasn't immediately crazily into music, I spent most of my time writing computer games, but then aged 15 or so I found a tape of some really bizarre songs that just got completely stuck in my head. One track in particular was called 'B.B. on Mars' which had this insane deep siren sound, sliding all over the place - after asking around (I really knew nothing much about music at the time) I found out that this chaotic cacophony underpinning the song was the work of the bass player - This frantically frenzied storm of playing warped and shimmered the foundations of the sound like some Dali-esque vision - nothing played on top of this bass could ever be a normal song.
The fact it was the bass playing that did this came as a real surprise to me, as I thought (like I think a lot of people assume) that the bass is normally an uncontroversial instrument that just solidly supports everything else in the background - surely all the glory goes to the vocalist, guitarist or maybe the key?s - yet here was a bass guitar subverting the entire sound - locked in with some equally odd and inventive drumming.
The label had been ripped off the tape, so I had yet to find out who this band and their bass player actually was. You might be surprised to know that this took quite a lot of playing to people what turned out to be their first album 'Pretties for You' before someone recognised it as Alice Cooper! Once I had discovered who it was and that the bass player was called Dennis Dunaway I went out and bought everything by them - and under the influence of their Cooper-esque wit, I sold a rather darkly humorous computer game in 1987, which has the claim to fame of annoying Mary Whitehouse, the moral arbitrator of the time, who coincidentally enough helped ‘School's Out’ get to number one in the UK through her public outrage about Alice Cooper. It is also to my knowledge still considered the first graphic horror game of the genre ('Soft and Cuddl').
Fast forward to 2007, and I'm back to playing and writing music with our wryly alternative band Super Punk Muffin - and while messing around on bass, a bunch of curious grooves appeared, all in a very Dennis Dunaway style. A rough idea for a song quickly appeared that really had to be about the fella that changed my whole understanding of music, and so ‘The Ballad of Dennis Dunaway’ had arrived. Being a Brit, it seemed a bit rude to just release a song about a real, living, breathing, human being without making an effort to track them down to make sure they're okay with that. This turned out to be the wisest idea, as Dennis had only recently got himself on MySpace (it was that long ago!) for his Dennis Dunaway Project - so through the clunky wonders of MySpace messenger, we managed to have a number of conversations that ended up inspiring all manners of lyrical details to add and adjust in the song. He also kindly gave his permission to use his voice on the intro and outro, which added another really sweet touch.
The single was released in 2008, and got a bunch of radio play both in the UK and the USA, and some in Canada - but, even more importantly, we started getting some really nice messages sent to us about Dennis from a whole range of people, which inspired us in setting up the dedicated Facebook group, 'Dennis Dunaway (original Alice Cooper group's bass player)', which is still bringing a whole bunch of great people together to celebrate the incredible musicality of that bass player and that band.
In the years since, I've got to know both Dennis and his wife Cindy (the sartorial genius who designed all the Cooper Group costumes) and in addition to their near-royalty Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame status, they're both just the most astonishingly brilliant, funny, thoughtful and good-hearted souls - long may they be rockingly, sartorially and literarily creative.”
May Pang’s 40-year career in the music industry began in 1969 at ABKCO Industries, the management company of Apple Records and (three of) The Beatles, in New York. Around this time, John Lennon and Yoko Ono moved to New York and hand-picked Pang as their assistant. She immediately began coordinating their appearances and exhibitions to recordings and films. In June 1973, John and Yoko temporarily separated and Lennon and Pang began a personal relationship. Pang is also a photographer, jewellery designer and author. Her latest book, 'Instamatic Karma', a photo memoir of her time with Lennon was published in 2008. www.maypang.com
“Besides being one of the quintessential Rock ‘n’ Rollers of all time, Alice Cooper was also the founding member of the Hollywood Vampires, a legendary celebrity ‘drinking club’ (to put it mildly). I had the honour of meeting Alice with John Lennon on many occasions both in LA and NY. I also had the privilege of living with three Vampire “principal members” — Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson, while we were recording Harry’s ‘Pussycats’ album.
We met for the first time in Fall 1973, when John and I went to the Troubador to see songstress Anne Murray. Alice, Mickey Dolenz and Harry Nilsson were also big fans and happened to be at the same show. A few months later John and I had a blast with Alice (and then-girlfriend Cindy) back in NY at the Hippopotamus Disco.
Over the years I became friends with original Alice Cooper Band bassist Dennis Dunaway and his wife Cindy Smith Dunaway, who designed the outfits for the Alice Cooper Band. Dennis has performed at my annual birthday party/jam sessions playing some classic Alice Cooper songs including my favorite, ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy'.
As long as there are kids and schools, Alice will rock forever with his anthem ‘School’s Out!’, signaling summer is just around the corner.
“So I want to wish a Happy 50th to Alice and the members of the band. Thanks for the music!”
Chris Penn was brought to life in San Marcos, TX 1971. He spent his formative years watching horror movies, riding BMX, and most importantly, listening to music.
He grew up in San Antonio, the self-proclaimed Heavy Metal Capitol of the World. Thus, needless to say a few Iron Maiden posters adorned his walls. His first concert ever was Rod Stewart on the ‘Blondes Have More Fun’ tour in 1978. It has been all downhill for him ever since. His father, initially, and stepfather enabled his journey into rock music by taking him to countless concerts.
CP attended Texas A&M University in College Station and ultimately graduated in December 1994. Whilst there he began booking and promoting national bands at clubs with intriguing names as The Cue, Vertigo, The Cow Hop, 3rd Floor Cantina, and the Stafford Opera House. In addition to that experience he managed THE local mom and pop record store appropriately and pun intended named Marooned.
In 1997, he moved to Dallas to work for one of his favorite bands Tripping Daisy. On the side, he worked
at CD World to keep himself busy and immersed in music. He obviously learned more about the music industry and even shoveled elephant poop along the way. Tripping Daisy disbanded in early 2000. This
led to the rise of Good Records: THE independent record store in Dallas, which provides its constituents with an adventure in listening. Chris Penn started the store along with Tim De Laughter and Julie Doyle. It recently celebrated its 18th anniversary, which is a feat in itself.
About six months after starting the store, Tim De Laughter embarked upon his next band The Polyphonic Spree that Chris has helped steer along with Tim and
Julie. The Polyphonic Spree is a choral symphonic pop experience that must be heard and seen to believe. Usually numbering 23 or so, The Polyphonic Spree has
toured ACROSS the globe and has appeared on 'The
Tonight Show with Jay Leno', 'Late Night with Conan O'
Brien', 'The Jimmy Kimmel Show', 'The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn', 'UK Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony', 'MTV Music Awards' and the esteemed Nobel Peace Prize Concert.
While on the road, CP provides the soundtrack for The Polyphonic Spree shows and after parties they have thrown and attended. When not on on the road with The Polyphonic Spree, Chris enjoys collecting and playing music for friends. Thus, this is a natural progression for him to spread the eclectic good sounds he has encountered with the masses. He DJ’s private events and clubs around Dallas under the moniker DeeJay CeePee when he is not busy chasing his wife, Jennifer, and three children Oliver, Archie and Grover around.
“I have been a lifelong fan of the Alice Cooper Group and Alice Cooper. I discovered Alice Cooper in my dad's record collection. He had a copy of ‘Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits’ and ‘Alice Cooper Goes to Hell’. I liked both but gravitated toward the latter, more. It made me seek out the full-length albums those songs came from and learn the rich history of the band. I am a huge collector of AC memorabilia but what really gets me is the spirit in the music. There is something there that no matter how many times I have heard a song, it still gets me going and feels fresh.
The very first time I was able to experience the four surviving members of the Alice Cooper Group was at my record store Good Records in Dallas, TX October 6, 2015. They have done various reunions together prior at Glen Buxton Memorial Weekends, Cooperstown, Christmas Puddings, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction. I think we all expected to see more shows post RRHOF (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) thus I didn't try to attend the induction ceremony in NYC.
I was on cloud nine when they played the store as a part of Dennis Dunaway's book signing with Alice's surprise appearance to the unsuspecting crowd. They also played ‘School's Out’ the next night with the current band who were opening with Motley Crue, which I also got to witness. I actually was able to drive Alice Cooper to watch Alice Cooper where the originals ultimately sat in for that one song. It was a mind boggler to say the least.
Dennis, Michael, and Neal, once you meet them, make you feel a part of the dysFUNctional family. They are the sweetest guys. I had the pleasure of releasing a two song 7" for Black Friday Record Store Day of ‘I'm Eighteen’ and ‘Is It My Body’ from the in-store performance that was very well received, selling out on the day and not fetching silly money on eBay. It was my small part of celebrating and spreading the gospel of the legacy of the Alice Cooper Group. You may not hear them on classic rock radio daily like other records, but you should. Their wealth of music outshines the theatrics they were so well known for.
The next reunion was in Nashville, May 14, 2017 with a mini set similar to the recent ones in the UK and another set in a hotel ballroom where they received a Music Business Association Lifetime Achievement Award 2017 the next evening. I made the trek to Nashville and glad I did. It was amazing.
The next reunion was November 2017 in the UK. I knew all along that I was going but didn't decide until about a week out as the stars, moon, and sun all aligned for me to be able to attend. Each time I have seen 'The OG's' — the name Alice uses to lovingly reference Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, and Neal Smith, it has been a cathartic experience, a gamut of emotions. The band gets even tighter each show and their confidence shines like the sun… My favourite moment at each of the UK shows was the bombastic intro of ‘I'm Eighteen’ and how Alice introduced his lifelong friends during the ‘School's Out’ finale.
The Alice Cooper Group are my Beatles. I think these most recent shows have proven the fan's enthusiasm and demand for more shows. Here is to 2018, the 50th Anniversary of the Alice Cooper Group. It may not happen until later in 2018 or maybe not until 2019, but I think we will see the guys play and record together more. Remember the Coops.”
Rick Tedesco is the owner of Guitar Hangar music store, www.guitarhangar.com and is also a guitarist and producer. He worked on BDS ‘Back to Hell’ and the ‘BDS Live’ album, He produced, played guitar and sang on the Dennis Dunaway Project Album 'Bones from The Yard', mixed, played guitar and sang on the Neal Smith album, ‘Killsmith and the Greenfire Empire,’ sang backup for the Alice Cooper Group induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has played with Neal, Dennis and Mike live as the Billion Dollar Babies. Rick has also worked with Ian Hunter on all of his albums over the last twenty years, as a guitarist, background vocalist, engineer and pianist.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to hang and work with these guys as a band and individually. Each one is very unique and special in their own way. They are all a little twisted and I think, therein lies the magic. I never met Glen, but from all the crazy stories I’ve been told, he was another perfectly crooked spoke in the wheel we know as the Alice Cooper Group.
One of the biggest laughs I had from working with these guys was with Dennis, who, I would say, is the farthest out there in the stratosphere of the band. A true dreamer and visionary...he just thinks outside the box. And sometimes way outside the box and I mean that in a good way.
“We were working on the final touches of the Dennis Dunaway Project album and there was a song ‘Subway’. I had an idea of putting the sound effects of a train leaving the station in the beginning of the song and then pulling into the station at the end, like you were actually riding the train during the song. I had wanted my dad to be on a track on the album, as he is a great sax player, so I thought I would add him playing while the train was at the station in the beginning and end (like you would hear a guy playing in the subway.) I added a bunch of reverb and it sounded great. I had him play 'I’m in the Mood for Love'. When I played it for Dennis, he looked concerned. He was worried about copyright infringement. Then his face lit up and he said, "I GOT IT! We release the record, then sue the guy that wrote ‘I’m in the Mood for Love'.”
Sisters and native New Yorkers Tish & Snooky Bellomo have been America’s punk rock pioneers since their days in the original Blondie band line-up in the mid 70s. They have backed up some of music’s biggest icons, including Patti Smith, Ronnie Spector, The Blues Brothers, Moby, RuPaul, members of Blue Oyster Cult. The list goes on…
Today Tish and Snooky perform regularly with the all-star band Blue Coupe, consisting of R&R Hall of Famer Dennis Dunaway (founding member of the Alice Cooper group) with Albert and Joe Bouchard (founding members of Blue Oyster Cult), as well as with their original punk band since 1977, the Sic Fucks. The sisters make numerous guest appearances at all-star musical events.
Tish and Snooky continue to deliver their rock n’ roll lifestyle to the masses through their renowned alternative hair color and cosmetics brand, Manic Panic®. They have made celebrities such as Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Cyndi Lauper, and Dennis Rodman stand out of the crowd with hair colours spectacular enough to make a rainbow feel inadequate! And they’ve been doing it for over 40 years!
“We were absolutely obsessed with the original Alice Cooper Group! ‘I’m Eighteen’ and ‘School’s Out’ were a huge part of the soundtrack of our misspent youth.
When we hung out at Max’s Kansas City, it was always a huge thrill whenever members of the Alice Cooper Group would show up. The notorious back room would be mobbed. We knew an eccentric flute player who would brag about his friendship with them. The band lived in Connecticut at the time, and for whatever reason, he was going there and needed a ride. We were the only ones he knew who had a car so we were “elected.” We were so excited —we hopped into the Bellomobile, our mom’s 1963 Dodge Dart Swinger convertible, with the top down, singing our way to Connecticut.
Halfway there, he warned us that these are rock stars and we might be expected to join in an orgy or two. Since we had no intention of being part of any orgies, we weren’t worried, knowing our getaway car would be right outside. When we arrived at the house (we think it was Alice’s), we were escorted to the huge refrigerator that held nothing but beer. There was plenty of leftover, fast food on the table, so we were in heaven. We were in the kitchen smoking pot with the friend we had driven when Alice came in and said, ‘Why do you think they call it dope?’. He was quoting an anti-drug TV commercial of the 1970s. We thought he was hysterically funny. Maybe it was the pot! Years later, we realized that we may have actually been the unwitting delivery girls of illegal recreational substances!
“Fast forward 35 years. We were at Chiller Theater (a horror convention) when Cindy Dunaway came by our booth for a Manic Makeover. She must have smelled the glitter! She told us that her daughters were huge Manic Panic fans and we immediately realized that we were kindred spirits!”
“We now sing backup in Dennis’s band, Blue Coupe (featuring Albert and Joe Bouchard from Blue Oyster Cult and Dennis Dunaway from the Alice Cooper Group). We’re also so blessed to have Cindy Dunaway working with us here at Manic Panic!”
Note: Artist bios were largely furnished by contributors with few, if any, editorial changes. Lisa Torem would like to thank Phillip Solomonson and the many author contributors who made this feature possible.
And to the Alice Cooper Contingent, Happy 50th Anniversary!
Photo credits: Patrick Brzezinski, BDS, 2002, Manchester, 2017
Photo credits: Philamonjaro www.philamonjaro.com
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