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Interview:
Alice Cooper thrilled that full band will be inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

When Alice Cooper is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March, it will be five men -- the Alice Cooper band -- rather than one.

And the man named Alice Cooper is just fine with that.

"The original band was cutting edge," says Cooper, 62, who was born Vincent Furnier in Allen Park, Mich., and moved to Phoenix, where the group formed, as a teenager. "The original band was the one that broke all the ice. It wasn't me on my own. It was the original band that had all the iconic records from 'Love it to Death' on to 'Billion Dollar Babies' and 'Muscle of Love.'

"What I did after that was an aftermath. The original band were the guys that had to cut through that big, thick ice in order to become an entity out there. I can't see how I could just go up there as an individual."

The Cooper band was announced Thursday (Dec. 15) as one of five performing inductees for the Rock Hall's class of 2011, joining Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Darlene Love and Tom Waits. Record company executives Jac Holzman and Art Rupe will receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-performers, while Leon Russell will be given the Musical Excellence Award.

The ceremony takes place March 14 at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel and will be broadcast live by Fuse TV.

The Cooper band appeared on the nominating ballot for the first time this year, though fans felt the group, which pioneered macabre rock 'n' roll theatricality while notching four platinum albums and five Top 40 hits between 1971-73, was long overdue for the honor.

"It did get to be kind of a joke, not being nominated," Cooper acknowledges. "I got to the point where I was saying, 'OK, I'm the Pete Rose of rock 'n' roll!' So now that it's a reality, it's a different take on it. Now I sit there and go, 'Wow. Wow! We've got to really get up and play, and assume the position of being in the Hall of Fame.' It'll be great."

Cooper says the only time he was upset about being slighted came in 2009, when Kiss, who he considers proteges of a sort, were nominated before him.

"That one stung a little bit," he says. "I sat there and went, 'Now, wait a minute...Really? Are invisible here or what?' "

The Cooper band -- guitarists Michael Bruce and the late Glen Buxton, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith -- split up 1974, following the "Muscle of Love" album. Cooper has continued on as a solo artist. However, the surviving members are playing together on Saturday (Dec. 18) at Cooper's 10th Annual Christmas Pudding in Phoenix to benefit his Solid Rock Foundation for children. And they'll perform together in March, with Steve Hunter, who played in Cooper's "Welcome to My Nightmare" band, filling in for Buxton.

Detroit, Cooper notes, played a key role in the group's success. "It's where we broke out of," he notes. The band had moved to California to record its first two albums but relocated to Detroit -- and to a house on Brown Road in Pontiac, where it wrote and started recording its breakthrough 1971 album, "Love It to Death."

"In L.A. we were notorious, but we weren't popular," Cooper recalls. "We fumbled around and said, 'The first place that gives us a standing ovation, we're moving there.' It happened to be Detroit, which happened to be my home town. I was from Detroit, so as far as they were concerned, the band was from Detroit, and we became the next finger in that glove, which we're very proud of."

Major theatrics -- such as the guillotine or gallows -- are unlikely for the induction, Cooper says, but it will hardly be a bare-bones performance.

"We'll play 'I'm Eighteen' and 'School's Out,' probably," he says, "but I'm sure there'll be weather balloons of confetti thrown into the audience and stuff like that. They'll know it's us."

He also plans to acknowledge the role the Detroit area played in the group's success. "Detroit is where we broke out of," he notes. The band had moved to California to record its first two albums but relocated to Detroit -- and to a house on Brown Road in Pontiac, where it wrote and started recording its breakthrough 1971 album, "Love It to Death."

"In L.A. we were notorious, but we weren't popular," Cooper recalls. "We fumbled around and said, 'The first place that gives us a standing ovation, we're moving there.' It happened to be Detroit, which happened to be my home town. I was from Detroit, so as far as they were concerned, the band was from Detroit, and we became the next finger in that glove, which we're very proud of."



Alice Cooper is the 28th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees with Detroit or Michigan ties. Its predecessors include:

Hank Ballard (1990)

Benny Benjamin (2003)

The Four Tops (1990)

Aretha Franklin (1987)

Marvin Gaye (1987)

Berry Gordy, Jr. (1988)

Al Green (1995)

Holland-Dozier-Holland (1990)

John Lee Hooker (1991)

The Isley Brothers (1992)

The Jackson 5 (1997)

James Jamerson (2000)

Gladys Knight & the Pips (1996)

Little Willie John (1996)

Madonna (2008)

Martha & the Vandellas (1995)

Joni Mitchell (1997)

Parliament-Funkadelic (1997)

Smokey Robinson (1987)

Bob Seger (2004)

Del Shannon (1999)

Patti Smith (2007)

The Stooges (2010)

The Supremes (1988)

The Temptations (1989)

Jackie Wilson (1987)

Stevie Wonder (1989)

Web Site: www.rockhall.org

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