“Every time I see him, he goes, ‘Am I still a Vampire?’”: Alice Cooper on initiating Paul McCartney into Hollywood Vampires

Paul McCartney and Alice Cooper
(Image credit: Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

There are few people as well-connected in rock as Alice Cooper. The man born Vincent Furnier has tales for days. You name them, Alice Cooper has hung out with them, recorded with them, got drunk with them, got sober with them, played golf with them. Cooper already had enough stories to last a hundred lifetimes when he formed his rock supergroup the Hollywood Vampires in 2015 and now he’s got a ton more. Speaking to this writer for Classic Rock a few years ago, he said the new band – named after the drinking crew he was part of in the 70s with Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, John Lennon and more – has provided him a series of late-career highs.

“The idea was to play songs for all of our dead drunk friends, the Jimi Hendrixs, the Jim Morrisons,” he explained of the group he formed with Johnny Depp, Joe Perry and Tommy Hendriksen. “People had no idea that Johnny Depp was a great guitar player. They think he’s a movie star trying to be a guitar player. Well, he’s playing with Jeff Beck, playing with the Stones. You don’t play with those guys unless you know what you’re doing. You get in that room and you’ve got Duff McKagan on bass and Joe Perry on guitar and Joe Walsh on guitar.”

An impressive line-up, for sure, but for Cooper the icing on the cake was when the Vampires were joined by Paul McCartney in the studio. “He walks in and sits down at the piano,” Cooper marvelled, referring to McCartney playing on their rendition of Come And Get It, the song the Beatle wrote for Badfinger back in 1969. “I never thought I’d ever get to sing with Paul McCartney. Everybody in that room was just dumbstruck because they were on a track with Paul McCartney. And not only that, but now Paul McCartney is a Vampire.  Every time I see him, he goes, 'am I still a Vampire?' And I say, 'you’re a Vampire for life.'"

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.