Alice Cooper

On October 12, 2018, the greatest all-time Rock N Roll showman, Alice Cooper and his fantastic, top-notch band arrived through the looking glass to Chattanooga, TN at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium that was packed to the rafters with an all aged audience that was cocked and ready to rock, and everybody did.

Sitting in the audience, I thought about all the times I played Alice on the radio through the years at several Chattanooga rock stations, all the hits you would expect plus deep cuts like “Leather Boots”, “Levity Ball”, “Black Juju”, and “Halo of Flies” and thinking about my former radio station KZ106 where I did tours of duty in the 80’s 90’s and 2000’s and how they were celebrating their 40th anniversary, when suddenly the lights dim, the black and white curtains with Alice Cooper’s logo lights up and the eyes on it change colors and the whole curtain falls suddenly to the floor as Alice and the band come out with all their guns a blazing to the headbanging “Brutal Planet” accompanied by three guitarists a bass player, drummer and the Mad Hatter himself, Alice Cooper, who at 70 can out move and out rock everybody in the building prancing back and forth on stage and spinning canes and swashbuckling a sword cutting balloons full of confetti. At one time, Alice stuck his sword in a pile of money and scattered it into the audience. I was lucky to get a 100 with the master himself on the bill. I’m never gonna spend it.

And the audience knew how to rock as well. This wasn’t one of the concerts where the staff asked those standing to please sit down so the seated could see, because I never saw anyone seating or using them except to hold the prized t-shirts and albums and other Alice paraphernalia through one continuous party where everybody seemed to know all the words to just about every song and liked their music loud. They were never disappointed as Alice’s tunes seamlessly segued one after another. There was “No More Mr. Nice Guy” followed by the thunderous drums and jet fueled guitars of “Under My Wheels” into “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Flush the Fashion’s Grim Facts”, “Lost in America” from Cooper’s Last Temptation, and the wonderful “Serious” from From the Inside reminded me of watching Alice sing it on a Showtime Alice Cooper special when I was in Junior High.

On went the show – full-speed with lots of props. There was the teenage Frankenstein running around on stage. How tall was he? I would guess at least 15 feet. Alice’s lifelong wife Sheryl Cooper in her Nurse Rozetta get up and she did ballet as a wind up toy during Alice’s power ballad, “Only Women Bleed”. And Alice sure did bleed a lot when he was beheaded in the guillotine after he escaped the straightjacket placed on him during the “Ballad of Dwight Fry”. That and “Halo of Flies” were my favorites each clocking in over six minutes. Luckily for us, Alice grew another head like a lizard grows his tail and came out blasting away at the rock anthem “I’m Eighteen”, a song I have known and loved since it was new and I was seven. After a brief encore, Alice reemerged with the greatest anthem of them all “School’s Out” that incorporated another song that Alice Cooper’s often co-writer and producer, Bob Ezrin collaborated and produced, “Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2” for Pink Floyd. It fit right in. I wanted both of the songs to be my high school class songs. In the end we all graduated with rock n roll diplomas.

After the show, I was with Alice and what looked like about 20 other folks. The first words out of Alice’s mouth were, How many of you fell in love with my guitarist tonight? One guy hollered out, “Which one?” And Alice said, “Yeah right!” We all knew he was talking about the gorgeous Nita Strauss who she said can rock as good if not better than anyone else, and that not only that, she could beat all of us, including the band and the rest of the audience in a fight. She has an album coming out soon. I can’t wait to hear it. A mixtape of various AC tunes were playing. I heard “Zorro’s Ascent” and then an early song that had a guitar medley during an instrumental and Alice said, Listen here and you will here the James Bond Theme going into the ISpy Theme into another theme. Was it Green Arrow or Route 66? I do not remember exactly. He asked if anybody knows what song it was and I said it was off the Billion Dollar Babies album and he smiled pleased and said Unfinished Suite. Later, “Pain” from Flush the Fashion kicked in and after the opening lines, Alice started singing exactly where I would when the chorus kicked in… “I’m your pain… unstoppable pain…” I let off an audible whew. I didn’t plan it, it just came out. Later we talked one on one and he couldn’t believe that I had played his debut album, Pretties For You and all of the album cuts through the years. He laughed when I told him I used his Muscle of Love album’s paper insert for my mandatory English class book cover. It said Institute of Nude Wrestling. Alice was impressed with this town. He and his longtime manager, Seth Gordon’s granddaughter agreed that we really knew how to rock. Alice said his mother was born in Tennessee that he had Tennessee blood in him. I think I may be an official Chattanooga Vampire. He signed my album, “To Randy Black with all my blood, Alice Cooper”. Hopefully, Alice comes back time after time including with his other band, Hollywood Vampires. Maybe there is a reason Alice never ages.

– Randy Black