Alice Cooper: Our Christmas Is More Ozzie Nelson Than Ozzy Osbourne
From blasting "Schools Out" during my teenage wasteland days to jamming out to the chugging guitar in "Under My Wheels" in my office, Alice Cooper has always played a prominent position in my heavy metal playlist.
Solid Rock Alice Cooper wishes you a very metal Christmas.
Not only did he help shape the sound and look of heavy metal with his horror and vaudeville imagery as rock and roll's first villain. By the time Cooper was 18, it was the sexual revolution and Vietnam, and the band's best friends were The Mothers of Invention, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix.
He toured with Pink Floyd and once awoke to find Syd Barrett staring at a box of corn flakes like he was watching television, laughing, to which the shock-rocker comments: "He was a paranoid schizophrenic. Add acid to the mix and you get a much deeper problem."
Alice Cooper needs little introduction, whether you're 16 or 60. Around the Valley of the Sun, that's especially true. A golf enthusiast, you're likely as not to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer out on one of his favorite courses, Legend Trail or Renegades Desert Mountain, when he's not touring. Hell, we even go to the same dentist.
But the rock legend still has some stuff he wants to do--and prove. He wishes he learned to play guitar, or piano, and he once pretended to decapitate "Britney Spears" (portrayed by his own daughter) in a home video because she represented "the softening of rock and roll." In 2011, he released Welcome 2 My Nightmare -- a sequel to 1975's chart-topping concept album Welcome To My Nightmare -- to some of his best reviews in years from critics and fans. He also thinks that there's a chance his story may hit the big stage one day.
"Alice Cooper is almost destined to end up on Broadway," he laughs. "There's so much music and so much of a story involved of how I started," he laughs. "A little band from Phoenix ended up being the biggest shock-rock band in the world, and changing the face of rock and roll."
And every year for the past decade around Christmas, he throws a bash full of rock stars that raises more than $100,000 for at-risk teens. Called Christmas Pudding, it's a variety show that showcases comedy, music and dance. This holiday season Cooper will be in good company when he's joined for the 13th annual Christmas Pudding by many of rock and roll's biggest stars, including Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer of KISS, Joan Jett, Rob Zombie, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Stephen Pearcy of RATT, Tom Keifer of Cinderella, Kip Winger of Winger, and more.
"Although I have played more than 100 shows this year, Pudding is the one I look forward to most," said Cooper. "We love bringing people together for Christmas, for the sake of music and dance and the mission of Solid Rock."
Cooper's philanthropic ventures in the Valley all started when he and Chuck Savale established the Solid Rock Foundation in 1995 to fund music and arts programs for at-risk youth. Christmas Pudding was put into effect to fund raise enough money to one day open up a center of their own. And in May 2012 they finally achieved that goal when they opened the Rock Teen Center.
The 22,000-square-foot Rock Teen Center offers teens an outlet for teens' creativity and gets them off the streets. It encompasses an auditorium, dance studio, and music rooms full of guitars and amps donated by longtime corporate partner Fender. When completed, the Center is expected to expand to 60,000 square feet with the proposed addition of a gym and indoor skate park. In Cooper's mind, the best way to get teens off the streets is to put a guitar in their hands, teach them how to play and get them into a band.
"We say 'give me your 9-millimeter and we'll give you a guitar,'" says the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. "I think that's a fair trade."
Up On The Sun talked to Alice Cooper about some of the Teen Center's success stories, his upcoming album, why modern rock and roll lacks attitude, and the first girl to ever join his band.