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/// ON TOUR “D

Legendary Detroit shock rocker Alice Cooper plays Soaring Eagle

Casino & Resort November 26. PHOTO: ROBERT MATHEU



By Steve Miller 12 | REVUEMM.COM | NOVEMBER 2011 THE DAY ooper

EAD BABIES” WOULD NEVER have been born without the inmates of a small state prison outside Pontiac, Mich. The song that defined Alice Cooper for a time in the early ‘70s came

together in a barn the band rehearsed at in 1970. The barn, which neigh- bored a prison, was part of a dilapidated 10-acre Cooper compound that held a five-bedroom house and sat off Brown Road in Oakland County.

Nine people lived at the farm, including roadies and girlfriends — plus pets. Often times,

the prisoners acted as a makeshift audience during the band’s barnyard rehearsals. “Yeah, you could throw a rock and hit [the prison] practically,” says Dennis Dunaway,

the original bassist for Alice Cooper, the band. “[The prisoners] didn’t clap at everything, but when we played something that we really

nailed you’d hear them at the prison farm cheering,” Dunaway added. “So the song ‘Dead Babies’ never would have happened if that prison farm hadn’t cheered for it.” When Alice Cooper plays Saturday, Nov. 26 at Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant,

Dunaway won’t be on stage with Cooper, nor any of the other original members, which included guitarists Michael Bruce and Glen Buxton, and drummer Neal Smith. That original lineup was once called by music scribe John Grissim “a rock group composed of what appears to be four amphetamine drag queens gone mad.” The band broke up in 1974. Buxton died in 1997, and

the rest of the guys went their own way. This has been the year of Alice though, and for it, he

brought the old band. At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in March they played the dubious gala as a band for the first time in a zillion years, with session man Steve Hunter filling the shoes of Buxton. In June, a 4-CD box set called “Old School: 1964 - 1974,”

ALICE COOPER Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, Mt. Pleasant November 26, 8 p.m. $22-$40, (888)732-4537

– eBay price at last check $350 – was issued, full of goodies like a full 1971 set in St. Louis, the band in its prime. It’s a gem for devoted fans that haven’t gotten a Cooper fix for years. Finally, there’s the latest album, Welcome 2 My Nightmare, a sequel to 1975’s Welcome to

My Nightmare – Cooper’s acclaimed first solo effort. The new disc hit in September and was produced by Canadian wunderkind Bob Ezrin, who took the band to fame by corralling their metallic hamming and jamming tendencies in 1970 and arranged the band’s first hit,

“Eighteen” into AM radio friendliness. Alice has defied the years as a money-making machine, still raking in big bucks as a

headline performer with a tireless work ethic. The show in Mount Pleasant comes on the heels of a 2011 tour that has taken him to Europe, Australia, Asia and North America. At least half of the set list is still culled from that perfect era that defined the band – “Love

It To Death,” “Killer,” “School’s Out” and “Billion Dollar Babies.” It remains a string of flawless rock‘n’roll notable for both the song structures and the lyrics. But recall that it all started on that tract in rural Michigan, sleeping on mattresses they

scored from the Salvation Army, pulling props from Dumpsters and living on $10 a day. “It had boarded up windows,” Ezrin recalls. “It looked like a derelict farm house that no

one had been in for 50 years.” Times have surely changed for Alice. Today he’s a star who is sealing his legacy as a

creator of myth, an entertainment genius who came out of the gate with something no one had ever seen or heard. The years have seen much less, though. Many Alice albums simply stumbled through,

selling on the back of those initial bursts of brilliance, much like Iggy Pop’s later career cruised on the uncanny ass-kicking of the three Stooges LPs. Today’s light from Alice is his prolific nature and steadfast belief in music and beyond.

But there’s more; he is also a giver, and next month he will hold his annual benefit for his Solid Rock Foundation, which raises money for troubled kids. Alice Cooper, the human, sets a bar higher for humanity these days than for music. And

when you support Alice, you back not only a history of rich music but also a man who is trying to make a better world. Not a lot of rockers can say that. And “Dead Babies”? He hasn’t played it since 2009, according to his rabidly active online forums. But maybe it’s worth a gamble at Soaring Eagle. n


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