Skip to main content

A love letter to a city: How Alice Cooper and Bob Ezrin made Detroit Stories

Alice Cooper
(Image credit: Jenny Risher)

Detroit, Michigan’s Motown, shaped both Vincent Furnier and Alice Cooper. Evangelist’s son Vince was born and raised in the city. Asthmatic from birth, he suffered with ill-health. Yet, while active in his father’s Christian Restorationist church, his soul was awakened to significantly more earthly delights. 

“I discovered rock’n’roll when I was about six,” he recalls. “My uncle played me a Chuck Berry song and I was like: ‘Wow, what was that?’ It was the first song I ever heard that was driven by guitar rather than piano or horns. It was different, and it just stuck with me. Real, straight-ahead hard rock’s in the Detroit DNA somehow. It’s where they make the cars, it’s where all the heavy machinery is, and people end up wanting their music like that.” 

As the sixties dawned, Detroit offered everything that young Vince desired from life: “It was always a good sports city and it was always a good music city.” But his parents, concerned for their son’s health, had other ideas. Following a move to California, the Furniers ultimately settled in Phoenix, where Arizona’s arid conditions helped Vince blossom steadily from sickly child to stalwart member of Cortez High School’s track, field and cross-country teams. 

In 1964, having fallen under the spell of The Beatles, Vince formed The Earwigs with fellow Cortez track team members John Speer, Phil Wheeler, (art class surrealist) Dennis Dunaway and (the band’s only musician) Glen Buxton on guitar. 

Impressed by the kind of female attention that standing on a stage brought them, The Earwigs persisted (entering talent shows and local Battle Of The Bands competitions), became The Spiders (enjoying a local hit single with Don’t Blow Your Mind) and then The Nazz, before relocating to Santa Monica in ’67. 

Finally settling on a line-up of Buxton (lead guitar), Dunaway (bass), Neal Smith (drums) and Michael Bruce (rhythm guitar), Vince renamed the band and – crucially – himself, Alice Cooper. 

Setting out to simultaneously freak out and out-freak Los Angeles, the quintet dressed up, messed up and generally outraged all that they surveyed. They signed to Frank Zappa’s Straight Records and recorded a pair of feet-finding, if largely audience-baffling, albums: Pretties For You (’69) and Easy Action (’70). But Los Angeles simply didn’t ‘get’ them. It was time for Alice to go home; to let the Motor City work its magic.

Alt

The first time we went to Detroit was because LA had had enough of us,” today’s Alice readily admits.”They couldn’t understand what we were doing because they were all on acid and we were scary. We were a bad trip. It was the same in San Francisco. So we went to the first place that gave us a standing ovation. 

“We played the Saugatuck Pop Festival [4-5 July ’69], and I’d never heard of The Stooges, MC5 or Ted Nugent and the Amboy Jukes. They weren’t national bands, they were local. I saw the MC5 and was like: ‘Holy crap, these guys are good.’ And not just as players, they were a show band, like a revue, and they were political and really in-your-face. Then The Stooges came on. 

“Until then I didn’t think I had any competition when it came to outrage. Then I saw Iggy and thought: ‘Okay, what’s this?’ It was the total opposite of what I did. Total punk: no shirt, no shoes, walking on the hands of the audience. I’m going: ‘Oh, boy.’ The band was basic, but powerful, just two or three chords. But it didn’t matter. It was all about Iggy. 

"Then we went on stage, did the Alice Cooper show and the audience loved it, because we weren’t one of those bands that went up there and said: ‘Gee, I hope you like us tonight.’ We were just like them. We grabbed them by the throat and shook them for an hour and everybody loved it. They said: ‘There’s a new guy in town.’” 

Relocating to Pontiac, Michigan (within easy striking distance of Detroit) the band immersed themselves in the local scene and evolved. Although not entirely by symbiosis. 

“Arriving into Detroit,” recalls Dunaway, “we’re thinking: ‘Oh man, the Stooges, the MC5, Mitch Ryder, all these great bands… How are we going to fit into that? We were like… ‘Okay, we’ve gotta up our game here if we’re going to follow The Stooges.’” 

While the decidedly androgynous, thrift shop-styled Coopers’ hitherto baroque strain of freak-out music toughened and simplified under the influence of the bands that they were witnessing and supporting, the exchange of ideas wasn’t one-way.

“Our music got stronger,” Dunaway continues. “But, by the same token, we land there and overnight the MC5 have sparkly fabrics in their outfits, and Iggy’s wearing women’s silver gloves, so it was a mutual merging of the arts. That’s how art works: you see something you like and you make it your own. But as far as it being successful for us, we got a lot of gigs, but were still living in the raunchiest dive hotel on the outskirts of Detroit.” 

So what was the secret ingredient that ultimately took the newly Detroit-shaped Alice Cooper from abject poverty to worldwide chart-topping, box office records-breaking superstardom in just three years and four albums? Two words: Bob Ezrin.

Alice Cooper and Bob Ezrin

Alice Cooper and PBob Ezrin during Music Biz 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Image credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images )

“I’d just started working for Nimbus 9 productions in Toronto,” Ezrin recalls. “I was Jack Richardson’s assistant, and my job was to get rid of Alice Cooper. But after seeing them play Max’s Kansas City in New York I was so impressed I told them we’d produce their record. 

"Then I had to come back to the office and explain myself, because I’d been sent to do the exact opposite. In the end I argued so aggressively and energetically that Jack said: ‘Enough, already. If you like it so damn much, then you do it.’ And that’s how I became a producer.” 

“Let me tell you something about Bob,” Alice continues. “Bob was our George Martin and he’s my George Martin. He always was. Love It To Death [their defining, Detroit-recorded third album, released in 1971, Ezrin and the band’s first collaboration] was the first real Alice Cooper album, because Bob got involved and gave us a sound. 

"When we first got together with Bob he said: ‘You hear a Doors song, you know it’s The Doors. When you hear the Stones, same thing. But you guys don’t have a signature.’ So we worked very hard on making the Alice Cooper sound come alive."

Ezrin (who remains, according to Alice, “the only one who may have a darker sense of humour than I do”) succeeded in forging the band’s floundering sound into a swaggering, hard-edged, garage gothic, Grand-Guignol glam-rock tumult. 

Confidently evolving from I’m Eighteen to Elected, via Under My Wheels and School’s Out, this Ezrin-assisted Cooper sound rapidly captivated – and outraged – the global mainstream. And while clearly born of a shared vision, it was also a product of its time and place: 1970 Detroit. 

More specifically, producer and band hunkered down in a barn that overlooked an insane asylum, cross-pollinating macabre psych-informed surrealism with theatrical vision, informed by Stooges, MC5, local radio, heavy industry, radical politics, riots, soul and rock’n’roll. Alice Cooper owes an enormous debt to Detroit. And it’s payback time.

The first seeds of Detroit Stories (Alice Cooper’s twenty-first and latest album) were sown on 2003’s The Eyes Of Alice Cooper with Detroit City, a stand-out song that name-checked Iggy Pop, Ted Nugent, Creem magazine, Bob Seger, Eminem, Kid Rock and the MC5 (whose guitarist Wayne Kramer guested). 

Sixteen years later the song was reprised as the lead track of The Breadcrumbs EP, essentially a six-track dry run for the album that Detroit Stories became. Four of its tracks (covers of Bob Seger’s East Side Story and the MC5’s Sister Anne, Wayne Kramer co-write Go Man Go and Detroit City itself) have even been revived for Detroit Stories, while Alice’s version of Suzi Quatro’s Your Mama Won’t Like Me and the Mitch Ryder-styled medley of Shorty Long’s Devil With A Blue Dress On and J.J. Barnes’s Chains Of Love (with Motor City stalwart Mick Collins on backing vocals) remain EP exclusives. Essential ones, at that. 

Yet rather than exorcise any desire to pay fitting tribute to the city that provided a crucible for both of their subsequent careers, the EP’s half-dozen tasty Breadcrumbs merely served to whet Cooper and Ezrin’s appetite for more. Detroit’s cultural legacy is vast, there’s much to celebrate, and, as Ezrin freely admits, they both feel they owe the city an awful lot. 

“We chose to do Detroit Stories this time around because the Alice Cooper sound started there. The group became Alice Cooper in Detroit when we started to work together, and it created a career for both of us that’s lasted our entire lives and for which we are incredibly thankful. Detroit Stories is an homage to the place to which we owe our careers.” 

Not just the place, but also its people. As Detroit Stories took shape, the pair realised that they were already sitting on exactly the right song to encapsulate the intrinsic Detroit attitude: the succinctly titled Shut Up And Rock, an out-take from 2017’s Paranormal.

“When it came time for the Detroit project,” Ezrin recalls, “it was like, well shit, Shut Up And Rock’s as Detroit an attitude as we’ve ever had. It’s a straightforward, in-your-face, full-of-energy, blue-collar, hard-working place. They don’t want to hear about your Gucci this, or your yoga class that, they just wanna move forward… So shut up and rock."

Opening the record with a cover of the Velvet Underground’s Rock ’N’ Roll might seem incongruous, yet in spite of the Lou Reed composition’s long-established association with New York City, even it has got a Detroit story to tell. 

“I first heard it in 1971 when we were doing the Detroit Featuring Mitch Ryder album,” Ezrin remembers. “A lot of the songs were covers, because Mitch wasn’t really a writer. So we decided to work it up. Steve Hunter, who had just joined the band, was still very uncertain of his role, kind of shy and retiring, but he came up with a riff that knocked everyone’s socks off. That ignited the song and made it one of the album’s stand-outs. 

“When it came time to do Detroit Stories, we were talking about what Detroit meant to us, and one of the main things that was going on while we were working there was the city’s amazing radio. There was so much rock’n’roll on the air, so we felt it was really important to set the stage by acknowledging that it was Detroit radio that turned a hard, monochromatic, dark place into something multi-coloured, full of possibility and energy that inspired us to be who we were.” 

Today’s Alice, meanwhile, saw distinct possibilities in the song that its original incarnation never quite captured: “The Velvet Underground’s Rock ’N’ Roll had that New York heroin chic thing going on, with the lyrics kind of thrown away. So we listened to the song, and thought why don’t we take it to Detroit, put a V8 engine into it and turn it into a really rocking rock’n’roll song? And so we got Steve Hunter, Joe Bonamassa and [Detroit Wheels’ drummer] Johnny ‘Bee’ [Badanjek] on it, and they turned it into a whole different song."

What better way to put a Detroit spin on to proceedings than by utilising the talents of some of the city’s more iconic musicians? And Detroit Stories is positively packed with prime examples of the very best.

Scoping around for the ideal core rhythm section, Alice and Ezrin approached their old friend Johnny ‘Bee’ (who, aside from his work with the Detroit Wheels, appeared on Cooper’s ‘solo’ debut Welcome To My Nightmare, and has performed alongside such luminaries as Edgar Winter, Bob Seger and Nils Lofgren). 

Badanjek suggested they contact jazz-literate bassist Paul Randolph, hot young local guitarist, Garret Bielaniec (“The guitar backbone of the record,” according to Ezrin), and Parliament/Funkadelic’s Amp Fiddler (although the latter ultimately couldn’t make the final sessions, leaving Tommy Denander, James Shelton and Ezrin to handle any occasional keyboards). 

Detroit Stories is also favoured with guest appearances from some bona fide members of Michigan rock royalty. Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner adds six-stringed support to a newly refreshed Detroit City, East Side Story (a Bob Seger composition that dates back to 1966), the hi-octane punkoid blur of Go Man Go and a rip-snorting, all-out assault on Sister Anne that also features Wayne Kramer. 

In many ways the heart and soul of the Motor City’s music scene, Kramer’s soul-searing, D-defining guitar licks are all over the record, serving to accentuate just how much of the MC5’s influence remains in the enduring Alice Cooper oeuvre. 

Other Detroit legends were approached with a view to making guest appearances on the record – Iggy Pop, Suzi Quatro, Ted Nugent and Bob Seger included – but, with a narrow recording window due to Alice’s invariably packed schedule (“It’s insane,” says Ezrin, “he’sthe hardest-working man in showbusiness”) simple logistics got in their way. 

But while Detroit is (as Paul Stanley willingly attests in an iconic Kiss anthem – co-written with none other than Bob Ezrin) a Rock City, it’s also the home of Tamla Motown, and of countless illustrious electric bluesmen from John Lee Hooker to Andre Williams, so Detroit Stories sees Alice venturing into occasionally unexpected musical terrain.

“I wrote $1000 High Heel Shoes to be kind of R&B,” says Alice, “but never thought it would end up being so R&B. Then we just looked at it and said we’re in Motown, so let’s give a nod to Motown. So we used the Motor City Horns, and Sister Sledge (technically Philadelphia’s own, but very much forged in the spirit of Motown) on backing vocals, and it turned into a total R&B song. 

"Normally I’d have said absolutely not, but on this album I went: ‘Absolutely yes, this song needs to be on here because you can’t ignore Motown, you’re in Motown.’” 

Another Cooper/Ezrin/Kramer co-write, $1000 High Heel Shoes is the funk-fuelled tale of a humble Uber driver’s unquenchable fetish for bank-breaking designer stilettos that grooves irresistibly to Johnny Badanjek’s insistent backbeat, Paul Randolph’s loping bass and the smoothly deployed R&B chops of Kramer and Bielaniec’s intertwining guitars. It’s very Motown, irrefutably funky, yet totally Alice Cooper. 

“I think a lot of people might balk at that song a little bit,” Alice continues, “and go: ‘That’s not Alice Cooper.’"

But it’s not as if Alice hasn’t surprised us before. Long-time listeners will remember such distinctly off-piste AC favourites as Blue Turk, Crazy Little Child and Teenage Lament ’74 (the latter featuring a veritable tabernacle choir of backing vocalists that included Ronnie Spector, Labelle, The Pointer Sisters and Liza Minelli). 

So when Drunk And In Love turns out to be a blues-based excursion with Joe Bonamassa on lead guitar and Alice blowing a mean harp, no one’s got any real excuse to be particularly shocked. An unlikely collision of biting social commentary and coal-black gallows humour, Drunk And In Love addresses the darker side of Detroit’s recent history; the proliferation of homelessness in the wake of the City’s declaration of bankruptcy in 2013 and its long-term human cost. The song’s central protagonist is a homeless alcoholic endeavouring to embark on a perilous romance: ‘Come into my cardboard box and out of the storm/You can mend my socks while I keep you warm’. 

“This guy knows his situation,” explains Alice. “He knows that he’s living under a bridge, and there’s a girl who lives there too and he’s inviting her into his box. It’s like: ‘We’re both here, we both like to drink, let’s do this together.’” 

Essentially it’s a boy-meets-girl song, but one that comes with a couple of stings in its tail: ‘Just call me Ripple and I’ll call you Rose,’ its unflinching lyric continues, ‘we can cuddle on the pavement where my buddy froze.’ It’s dark stuff, and based in uncomfortably familiar territory. Anyone who has dealt with the spectre of alcohol dependency can only consider the words of Drunk And In Love’s narrator and reflect: ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ 

“Oh yeah, that was me.” Alice freely admits. “Thirty-seven years ago that’s where I was headed."

For hard-core Alice Cooper fans, Detroit Stories’ headline is that it finds the four surviving original members of the Alice Cooper group back in harness, writing and recording again. This time out Cooper, Dunaway, Bruce and Smith combine their resources on two songs, the first of which, Social Debris, stampedes out of the traps in vintage style: Michael Bruce’s riff bolstered by both Rick Tedesco and Tommy Henriksen’s guitars; Smith’s hammer of the Platinum God drums entirely titanic; Dunaway cheekily reprising Elected’s opening bass flourish. 

It’s Alice Cooper in excelsis. 

“That song could have been on Love It To Death or Killer,” reckons Alice. “We started it at my house in Phoenix, but when you get in the studio with the original band, it gets a little more dangerous. It has its own personality. It doesn’t sound like the stuff recorded with the other guys, it’s the Alice Cooper sound, especially when you put Bob Ezrin at the helm.” 

When reconvening the original Alice Cooper group to record a song that could have been included on 1971’s Killer, the dream scenario is to record it exactly as it would have been recorded for Killer. But, as Ezrin admits, there’ll always be a missing piece. “I wanted Glen Buxton to play lead on that song, and he wasn’t available.” 

And for very good reason. Original Alice Cooper guitarist Buxton died of viral pneumonia in 1997. He was just 49. So how do you replace the irreplaceable? 

London-based guitar-playing singer-songwriter Steven Crayn is an Alice Cooper fan. And a Bob Ezrin fan (which came as something of a surprise to Bob when they hooked up on social media: “I didn’t even know I had fans,” Ezrin deadpans, “but I apparently have one”). 

When Crayn shared photos with Ezrin that the producer himself had never seen before, it became increasingly apparent that he wasn’t just a fan, but a super-fan. And as an Alice Cooper super-fan who played guitar, it followed that he’d probably learned to play by jamming along with Glen Buxton’s Killer solos, ergo Steven Crayn was exactly the man for the job. 

Whether this supposition constitutes entirely logical joined-up thinking or not, Ezrin explained his plan to Alice and the pair decided to give it a shot. 

“So Bob called him,” Alice recalls, “and said: ‘Listen, can you play like Glen Buxton?’ And he goes: ‘Yeah.’” (Like he was ever going to say anything else.) “So he actually played on it.” 

“He was over the moon,” Ezrin continues. “And he gave me some real time and effort. He went into a studio, tried out a few things, and I sent him back to the drawing board a few times, but in the end he managed to capture that original Alice Cooper energy and sound. So when you listen to Social Debris you can easily imagine it having been recorded in 1971."

The second outing for the original Alice Cooper band on Detroit Stories marks something of a first: rock’n’roll as relationship counselling. 

“We couldn’t record a Detroit album without the original guys,“ Ezrin explains, “because some of the stories we’re telling on the album are our own. I Hate You is one such song, and it’s probably the most personal, non-allegorical story on the whole album.” 

I Hate You’s first four verses feature successive lead-vocal performances from each member of the band tearing into another of their number with no holds barred. ‘I hate you and your stupid bass’, Neal Smith rails at his brother-in-law Dennis Dunaway, before Mike Bruce lashes back at Smith: ‘I hate you and your spinning sticks, your platform boots and your insane chicks.’ 

A chorus follows with the entire quartet bellowing the song’s uncompromising title, prior to Dennis – either the bravest combatant or possibly the oldest friend clutching the shortest straw – hitting out at Alice with: ‘I hate you, your spider eyes/A guillotine? Oh, big surprise.’ Then The Coop himself, up last but no less vicious, takes Mike down with the bitchy: ‘I hate you and that guitar pout/Those tired riffs we all laugh about.’ 

It’s hard-core family therapy, but also a comedy roast. Everybody’s kidding. No, really. 

“It’s very truthful,” says Ezrin, who’s been closer to the band and its members for longer than almost anyone. “In the sense that they all aired their grievances with each other in a very loving, openhearted comical way.” 

“When most bands break up they hate each other,” says Alice. “They never talk again and only have bad things to say about each other. But our band didn’t divorce, it separated. Everybody did their own projects and it splintered."

"We never had bad blood, no lawsuits, nothing. And then Glen died. Glen passing away was the stake in the heart of the original band. He was our Keith Richards, and it just wouldn’t sound the same without him.” 

As I Hate You approaches its close, the entire band turn their fury on the heartbreakingly absent Buxton for a poignant final verse: ‘We hate you, we hate your sneer/The cigarettes, the smell of beer… But most all we’re filled with rage/At the empty space you left on stage.’ 

“That was really heartfelt,” Alice says of the stand-out song’s touching emotional twist. “All of us really do miss Glen.” 

“They all shared the laugh,” Ezrin reveals. “But then they all came together and told the most fundamental truth about the Alice Cooper group as it is now, that there is a hole on stage. And because Glen gave himself away, in a way [the smoking, the drinking, the ‘unapologetic life’ that’s also referred to in I Hate You’s final verse], they’re angry with him. They love him so much, and they still talk about him all the time.”

Without Buxton, might it ever be possible for Ezrin to record a new Alice Cooper album that’s comprised exclusively of material written and performed by the four originals, perhaps with Tommy Henriksen or even Wayne Kramer deputising on lead guitar? 

“Could it happen? I think it could,” Ezrin speculates. “Would it happen? I think that there are issues outside of my sphere of influence that would have to be resolved. But I’d love to see a project like that at some point. There isn’t a discussion to that effect going on right at this moment, but it has been floated from time to time, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone called me up and said we really want to do this. And if they did, I’d be in.” 

“Oh yeah,” concludes Alice, the someone who might some day finally decide to make such a call. “Anything’s possible."

While nostalgic fans might pine for the reanimation of Alice Cooper the group (the lost five-piece entity that soundtracked disaffected adolescence – I’m Eighteen, School’s Out – way better than any preceding band apart from The Who), Alice Cooper the man, and the artist, has always striven to maintain his relevance. 

To tweak the Cooper brand in line with rock’s progress, to move with the times and, counter-revolutionary or not, to remain commercial. Hence the inclusion on Detroit Stories of a decidedly Cooper-ized cover of contemporary Detroit alt.rockers Outrageous Cherry’s earworm-tastic Our Love Will Change The World, which is, in the best hook-laden way possible, both saleable and as catchy as all hell. 

“We’ve never been afraid of being commercial,” Ezrin admits, “as long as it’s on our own terms. When we first came across Outrageous Cherry, we were attracted by the name. They sounded like our kind of band. Then when we listened to the song, we thought: ‘This is insanely good, but it’s not Alice Cooper.’ We needed to change the arrangement, make the lyrics, sound and attitude more Cooper-esque while maintaining the spirit of the disaffected Gen-Zennial who’s saying: ‘Get out of the way, this is our world. You may not like it now, but you’ll get used to it.’”

Ezrin’s ability to recognise what is and what isn’t ‘Alice Cooper’ lies at the heart of the couple’s enduring working relationship, for the creature that is Alice Cooper was originally crafted, constructed, and continues to be maintained, by twin Dr Frankensteins in tandem. 

“Bob and I are the only two that really know Alice,” says Cooper. “When we’re writing or listening back to a song, we may look at each other and go: ‘Alice would never say that.’ We look at Alice in a third person: ‘Listen to the way he sings this, Alice wouldn’t sing it that way.’ And that’s how we treat Alice. Bob’s the only one I would trust in the world to do that with me, because we both created the Alice character. 

"Even when I’m doing albums with other producers, I run the songs past Bob. He sends me back a list of comments, and I take notes, then I fix whatever’s wrong before going to the other producer."

Detroit Stories was in a large part constructed under COVID restrictions that lay heavily on proceedings and slowed down progress. Routine travel between studio locations became either impractical or impossible as the pandemic took hold. 

“There were a lot of complications caused by COVID,” Ezrin says. “But in a way I like the fact that it forced us to stretch.” Hanging On By A Thread (Don’t Give Up), the album’s climactic closer, directly addresses its fraught times. 

“There’s an element of gallows humour in everything we do with Alice Cooper,” Ezrin continues. “The only place we didn’t indulge it was on Hanging On By A Thread. It was originally conceived as an anti-suicide song. There was a sharp rise in the number of people taking their own lives in Detroit during very difficult years for this city economically, socially and culturally – and not just in Detroit but all over the place. 

"So we thought that maybe one of our Detroit stories might be useful to the world if we admitted that even we are hanging on by a thread and they’re not alone. Their feelings of desperation, fear and hopelessness are shared by so many people and the important thing is to not step off the ledge, but to reach out to someone and talk. That’s why we have the suicide hotline number at the end. Then along came COVID.” 

“When the pandemic hit,” says Alice, “Bob and I realised that all we had to do was change the second verse and Hanging On By A Thread could also apply to the pandemic. Let’s give the audience a break and say ‘Let’s quit being victims and let’s attack this thing. We’re the human race and it’s going to go down before we do. Let’s punch the bully in the nose.’” 

“When Alice had written and recorded that second verse, I listened to it and it stopped me in my tracks,” says Ezrin. “I played it to my wife and said: ‘Listen to this! Doesn’t this capture the way we’re feeling?’ So we finished an updated version of Hanging On By A Thread directly addressing the COVID crisis, called Don’t Give Up. I’m really proud of Alice on that one. He’s such a great lyricist and highly underrated.”

So what’s next for the temporarily grounded, highly underrated, hardest-working man in show-business? With two vaccine jabs in the bag, Alice Cooper (still bafflingly limber and age-defyingly sprightly at 73) is aching to get back on the road. 

“I can’t wait to tour,” he says. “We’re already working on the next Alice Cooper album and the next Hollywood Vampires album, with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, we’ve already got tons of songs for that, so we’ve two tours coming up and hopefully two more albums.” 

With the singing half of the Cooper/Ezrin partnership’s eyes set firmly on the horizon, the producing half further reflects on the couple’s unlikely, if fateful, shared Detroit genesis. 

“My biggest blessing of all,” Ezrin concludes, “was having my boss Jack Richardson not want to produce Alice Cooper and throwing me under the bus. And instead of being crushed by the bus I got on it and rode into a career. The whole experience of being in Detroit at that time was fantastic. The people within its music community were rivals, but friendly rivals. There was a lot of cross-pollination, a lot of attention being paid from one artist to another and each thinking: ‘Oh crap, I’ve got to do better.’ 

“So the scene became self-nourishing and self-cultivating as the rest of the world remained unaware. Then suddenly all these bands just erupted and became globally important. Having the original band on Detroit Stories rounded out our Detroit story. We knew we had to do that. 

"Our experiences in Detroit were informed by certain fixtures, and one of those was that every time we walked out of that barn, where we worked on Love It To Death, we were looking across at a mental hospital. And while we were very much aware of it, we weren’t entirely sure which one was really the mental hospital: the building at the end of the field, or the barn itself."

Bob and Alice: still crazy after all these years.

Detroit Stories is out now

Ian Fortnam

Commissioning both album reviews and live reviews, Classic Rock reviews editor Ian has been fearlessly filtering the rock from the cock since 2003.