Shrouded by rumours, conspiracies and wild tales, Alice Cooper’s story is one so interesting and peculiar that it cannot be documented in just one book, and Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!, written by bassist Dennis Dunaway, is an exceptional recount of life within the original Alice Cooper band. Here are ten things we didn’t know about the band and the godfather of shock rock.
“When everything is screaming, nothing is screaming”
Mrs Sloan Vincent Furnier AKA Alice Cooper and Dennis Dunaway had been art students under the wing of the unprecedented Mrs Sloan. The down-to-earth art teacher had acquainted them with The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and the surrealistic works of Dali, provoking wild ideas to unfold and igniting their interest in music.
Realisation in The Fields of Regret
Dennis Dunaway presented the idea that Alice should play a different character every time they changed song to liven up their stage performances. It was during The Fields of Regret that Alice acquired his sinister character, which inspired the band to write more dark songs.
The Dead Will Sleep Soundly
The rumour that Alice Cooper use to sleep in a coffin may sound factious even for the godfather of shock rock… but it’s true. Whilst staying in Topanga Canyon in the 60s, Alice slept in a homemade coffin with a built-in stereo installed in by Les Branden, a former Pink Floyd roadie.
Waiting for the Sun
Remember how plain Jim Morrison’s clothes looked on the cover of The Doors’ Waiting For the Sun? The Lizard King forgot about the shoot, and it was too late to go and change by the time he’d realised. Glen Buxton (Alice Cooper band lead guitarist) saved the day by offering up his black sweater.
Frank Zappa’s Plan
Frank Zappa once wanted to rename the band Alice Cookies. Each song would have its own cookie-sized record, which would come in a can, to be opened with a can opener. Unfortunately, perhaps, the band deemed the idea too ridiculous and too expensive.
Diary of a Mad Housewife
The whole Alice Cooper band made a guest appearance in this 1970s comedy-drama Diary Of A Mad Housewife as the party band. They decided to play one of their new songs, Lay Down And Die, Goodbye. During the performance they poured oil over the unsuspecting extras and showered them in chicken feathers.
The Chicken Incident
Most Alice Cooper fans will have heard the story already, but you may not know that the chicken thrown into the Toronto audience and killed was actually part of the show. The chicken’s name was Pecker. Glen Buxton kept Pecker in his motel bathroom as a pet.
I’m Edgy and I like It!
Alice Cooper’s producer Bob Ezrin thought their song I’m Eighteen was called I’m Edgy. The young Ezrin had worked with Jack Richardson of the Guess Who, but at first his age led the band to jokingly laugh at him. In later years, Bob Ezrin would help them by producing a series of hits such as School’s Out.
Dennis Dunaway was a big fan of frogs, and used to dress up as one. He also nicknamed his Gibson EB-0 bass The Frog for the reason that it was metallic green; he then stuck mirror pieces on the guitar to symbolise how the Alice Cooper band reflected society
Alice Cooper is renowned for using a boa constrictor in his live performances, yet it was Neal Smith (drums) who suggested they should use a snake in their performances. Kachina was the first of many snakes to appear on stage, and can be seen on the front cover of Killer. Smith adopted the snake after it was thrown on stage.