Alice Cooper Photo Retrospective

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  • Monday, 09 December 2013 09:24
John Lennon and Yoko Ono John Lennon and Yoko Ono Bob Gruen

On Tour with Bob Gruen

Alice Cooper Retrospective

I first photographed Alice Cooper in 1971 when he played at the legendary Fillmore East in New York City. It was one of the most theatrical shows I have ever seen. Alice goes a lot further than just standing and singing into a microphone; he acts out each song with simple but effective props. During the show he was strapped in a straightjacket, tries to break out, and ends the show in an electric chair. In later shows the electric chair was replaced by Alice getting hanged by the neck from a gallows. Later came a guillotine, which remains part of his act today. Alice has said that his show is about being the bad guy punished for his evil deeds, like a real life horror movie with a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack.

By 1973 I was working more with Alice, who up to that point had several top 10 hits and was becoming a well-known act. The band had rented a mansion in Connecticut and I photographed them there. One of my favorite pictures is Alice looking very comfortable wearing a jacket with stuffed white rats running up the front and on the sleeves. On another occasion Alice came to my studio with the great radio DJ Wolfman Jack to make a Christmas picture with Alice as Santa Claus and Wolfman Jack sitting on his lap like a little kid.

Salvador Dali felt a kinship with Alice Cooper due to the surrealistic aspect of the rocker’s show. When Dali made the world’s first moving hologram, he chose Alice as his model. The picture I took shows Dali holding the brain of the rock star with a chocolate éclair in the middle and ants running around it. Dali arranged for Alice to wear $2.5 million worth of diamonds so they would sparkle in the hologram. Also in ‘73, Alice embarked on the Billion Dollar Babies tour, one of the biggest tours of its time. One of my photos shows Alice holding a baby doll spiked on a sword over the audience, which is strange, but not as weird as the audience reaching out to touch it! To promote their Muscle of Love album, the band dressed up as sailors on leave and looking to party.

Alice is the ultimate professional and over the years his performances have only gotten better. In 1989 he hosted an MTV Halloween show and one of his guests was Iggy Pop.When Alice presented Iggy with a bucket of peanut butter as his trick or treat prize, Iggy took a handful and smeared it on his face. Alice still tours today and I was happy to see him in New York in August – he was as much fun as ever

The complete article is available in Issue #273. Click here to order from Amazon

01 – Alice at Filmore East - NYC - 1971   02 – Alice always puts on his own makeup -USA - 1975
03 – Early portrait session, NYC - 1972   04 – Alice in the guillotine - Detroit -1973
05 – Alice & Wolfman Jack - NYC - 1973   06 – Alice Cooper in Rat Jacket- Greenwich Connecticut - 1973
07 – Alice with Baby on Sword - Spectrum, Philadelphia - 1973   08 – Alice Cooper Group as Sailors - Los Angeles - 1973
09 – Alice & Salvador Dali - NYC - 1973   10 – Alice Cooper -NYC - 1975
11 – Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper - MTV -NYC - 1989   12 – Alice Cooper- Beacon Theatre -NYC - 2013

Written By:

Bob Gruen

Tokyo Journal columnist Bob Gruen is one of the most well known and respected photographers in Rock and Roll. By the mid 1970s he was already regarded as one of the foremost documenters of the music scene working with major artists such as John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Elton John, Kiss, Aerosmith, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, etc., and also covering the emerging New Wave and Punk bands including The New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones & Blondie.


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