“It is not too difficult to imagine, nor should one fault, the 30-year-old Cooper for making at least one last sweep of the lucrative concert market and salting it away for security until some other enterprise strikes his fancy. After all, rock stars tend to have the longevity of professional athletes.”
When Detroit News music critic, Stephen Ford, wrote this review of Alice Cooper’s “King Of The Silver Screen” tour in 1977, and his three-night stint at Detroit’s Cobo Hall, he clearly didn’t have a crystal ball in front of him. Nor did he know that, 36 years later, Alice Cooper would not only have become a film star, the recipient of Wayne Campbell & Garth Algar’s famous Wayne’s World mantra, “We’re not worthy!,” a radio host, a scratch golfer and a father of three, but a musician who still spends roughly nine months on the road each year playing to arenas full of rabid black-eyeliner-donned fans around the world. Alice Cooper would reach super duper super star status in the years following while Stephen Ford would end up…where is Stephen Ford now anyway?
This wasn’t the first critique that riled up this die-hard fan from Detroit. Four years earlier, during his Billion Dollar Babies Tour, a 10-year-old Lisa Goich was driven to address the editor of the Detroit News because of a review that made my beloved Alice Cooper out to be “no good, rotten and crude, which I’m sure he isn’t.” It was my first published piece of writing, inspired by my first concert I attended with my godmother’s daughter, Lynne. She was older and cool and smoked pot and knew I loved Alice. My mind was blown out of proportion that night and I would never see or hear music the same way again. Having your first concert experience be Alice Cooper, is the equivalent of having Lenny Kravitz as your first sex partner. How are you expected to top it? That my mom even allowed me go to the concert is astounding to me. Perhaps she trusted me in Lynne’s hands. Perhaps she was wiser than most and saw through Alice Cooper’s theatrics to know that underneath it all he was a hilariously brilliant entertainer who was inspiring her daughter in her formative years. Perhaps she was just naive. What I do know is that, when tearing down the Donny Osmond posters to replace them with Alice Cooper memorabilia, and hearing me belt songs like Dead Babies and Cold Ethyl from my yellow-flowered wallpapered bedroom, she never flinched. For that I am forever thankful to her.
I’ve since been to countless Alice Cooper shows. Thanks in part to my husband being hired as a keyboard player for the Brutal Planet and Dragontown tours (I mean, who would have imagined that happening when I was 10-years-old?!?). My childhood fanship, has grown into an adult friendship with Alice and his family. His wife Sheryl, who I once idolized for being a ballerina who could actually get a job on a rock gig, has become a friend, and “Little Lisa” inside of me always has to pinch myself when I think how this crazy path of life has brought me around to face my early idols head-on.
And as I sat in the Clive Davis Theater of the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles last night, with Alice’s life unfolding before me on the big screen in the new documentary, Super Duper Alice Cooper, I saw parts of my own life unfold, as well. Super Duper Alice Cooper follows Cooper’s rise from a frail and asthmatic child growing up in Detroit, to a sequins-clad shock rocker selling out stadiums around the world. Using Jekyll and Hyde as a vehicle to show the two sides of Vince Furnier (Alice’s birth name) vs. Alice Cooper (the name he adopted after a crazy night on a Quija Board), the documentary takes the viewer through periods of Cooper’s personal and professional life which aren’t always pretty. It’s a “preacher’s son gone bad, but not really” tale of a young man fueled by crowd adoration and Budweiser. His rise to fame was a rocky one, that may not have happened had he and the band not ended up back in the Motor City where crowds embraced his bizarre and macabre theatrics. Detroit has always appreciated its hard rockers; and hard rockers have always appreciated Detroit. Just ask Bob Seger.
I don’t want to give too much away here, I’ll leave that up to the work of directors Reginald Harkema, Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn, along with the famous voices (there are no on-screen current day talking head shots) who lent their stories of life with Cooper including Elton John, Bernie Taupin and Iggy Pop. Also making cameo appearances via film clips are John Lennon, Diana Ross, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Carson, Tom Snyder, Salvador Dali and many more colorful characters from that flower-powered, LSD-dropping, cocaine-snorting era.
Bottom line: I thought I knew everything about Alice Cooper there was to know. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn more. One thing for certain is, the minute I heard the driving guitar riff of Hello Hooray, I said, “Let the show begin, I’ve been ready!”
I give this documentary five guillotines up.
Lisa Goich-Andreadis, a Detroit native living in Los Angeles, manages the Jazz & Comedy Fields for The GRAMMY Awards. She’s currently working on a memoir titled 14 Days and can be heard as a special guest on “The Mitch Albom Show” on WJR-AM in Detroit. For more information on Lisa and her projects, visit her website at www.lisagoich.com.