Alice Cooper Takes the Stage

Alice Cooper Takes the Stage

Musical icon, Alice Cooper talks his upcoming tour in V120.

Musical icon, Alice Cooper talks his upcoming tour in V120.

Photography: Richard Avedon

Text: Ilana Kaplan

Five decades in the making, Alice Cooper's now-ubiquitous hard-rocker mythos – one of flamboyant irreverence and Twilight Zone-meets-Vaudeville visuals – is the kind a younger generation could take for granted. But Cooper seems more concerned with staying active than redeeming his points as a trailblazer. "Younger audiences only heard of the legend of Alice Cooper, but they have never seen Alice Cooper," he says. Lucky for them, Cooper's robust touring schedule, both as a solo act and lead vocalist for Hollywood Vampires, his supergroup with Johnny Depp and Aerosmith's Joe Perry, offers ample opportunities for new recruitment: "Once they see [me], they become fans."

Cooper's music has reflected a cheeky, haunted-house mirror image of American life since the 70s, with trenchant anthems like "Billion Dollar Babies" and "Schools Out" winning fans in everyone from burnout youths to Frank Sinatra. From his gender-fluid alias to his hair-metal locks, a Richard Avedon captured in 1972, Cooper's presentation was as radical then as it is iconic today. Nowadays he can be selective about the projects he pursues, but that hasn't made him any less prolific. Closely following a seven-date West Coast mini tour with Hollywood Vampires, supporting the group's June LP Rise, he'll embark on a co-headlining tour with Halestorm. "There is a big difference between wanting to tour and having to tour," he says. "I'll go around play 130 or 140 [dates] with Alice Cooper show, but it's because I want to, not because I have to."

His Hollywood Vampires side hustle,  launched in 2015, embodies Cooper's fun-loving approach to rock and roll. The band is a derivation of a namesake drinking club founded by Cooper alongside a laundry list of hall-of-famers, including The Who's Keith Moon, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and John Belushi. And While intoxication may no longer be a tenet, the new Vampires offers its members an outlet for inspired hedonism. "The Vampires is more like a bar band – just a bunch of guys having fun," says Cooper.

For Alice Cooper the band, the level of rigor is another story. In addition to the high production value – think special effects and narrative-driven shows ("I don't think we've ever done a show that hasn't been produced from the beginning to the end," he says) – Cooper works with a stable of world-class rock musicians, many of whom have been members since the beginning. In particular, he credits longtime bandmates like guitarist Nita Strauss and drummer Glen Sobel with helping him to deliver a top-notch multi-sensory experience after all these years. "I surround myself with the best players ever," he says. "Nita is the best guitarist out there, and same for [Sobel's] drumming."

But it's among his fellow Hollywood Vampires that Cooper upholds that devious mandate, first unleashed in 1972, the same year he and Avedon crossed paths: School's out, so forget your daily responsibilities, and rock out. "I think Johnny Depp likes touring more than he likes making movies," says Cooper with a somewhat devilish smile.


Alice Cooper, New York, May 4, 1972; Photograph by Richard Avedon Copyright © The Richard Avedon Foundation


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