Session File: Surviving the Legacy of the Original Alice Cooper Band

Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare was a concept album, and I love an album that tells a story.
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Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare was a concept album, and I love an album that tells a story.
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Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare was a concept album, and I love an album that tells a story. It reminds me of those great black-and-white horror movies like Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and Dracula, but rocking and rolling all the way through. Welcome to My Nightmare was such a blast to do, and I was a bit sad when it was finished. So you can imagine how excited I was when I was asked if I wanted to tour. Absolutely! I always felt I was a deep part of that album—almost as if it were my own album—and now I was going to go on the road, all over the world, playing the album live. I couldn’t wait for rehearsals!

Then, I realized that I would be stepping right into the controversy about the breakup of the original Alice Cooper Band.

People may forget that Cooper going solo for Welcome to My Nightmare was a big deal in 1975. Both he and his manager, Shep Gordon, were very concerned that the fans would abandon Alice as a solo artist. That didn’t happen, of course, but back then, even the Welcome to My Nightmare band was under fire for trying to replace the original Alice Cooper Band members.

Now, I had no idea what brought about the split with the original Alice Cooper Band. I loved that group, and I really wanted to play with them. I often hoped they’d be open to having three guitar players and invite me onboard. So, at times, it was a bit odd for me to be playing their songs—such as “School’s Out”—on the Welcome To My Nightmare tour. But I understood my place in the grand scheme of things. First and foremost, the Nightmare band was not trying to replace the original group. Alice Cooper the solo artist was a whole new ball game, and my job was backing up Alice Cooper the singer.

That said, I gained even more respect for the original Alice Cooper Band when I had to learn their songs for the tour. The way they played things was so wonderfully unique to them, and I was always frustrated that I could never quite get the edgy, almost punk vibe that ACB guitarist Glen Buxton did. All of the things each member of the original group did is what made the material work the way it did. I loved playing those songs—even though I played them my way. It was a joy finding ways to mix the old with the new, while maintaining some kind of consistency throughout the show. I think we were able to do that, and the Welcome to My Nightmare tour of 1975 became one of my all time favorites.

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