Memory Lane (and the Sunset Strip)

Been spending quite a bit of time living in the past the last week or so:

A dear friend of mine from high school passed away recently, which led to the receipt of emails from people I haven’t heard from in 30+ years. Then today I was talking to my mom about my grade school.

And then, I noticed some friends on Facebook commenting on Alice Cooper.

Alice Cooper is one of my heroes, so I felt compelled to respond. Since I took a few minutes to write some comments, I figured I should share them here, too.

Since it’s hard to link to a Facebook comment stream, I’m just recreating the thread:

From Tony C:

Listening to Billion Dollar Babies for the first time in years. An odd pairing of Donovan and Alice on the title track. Out of character for Donovan that’s for sure.

From Bob C:

First concert ever was Billion Dollar Babies tour. I was and still am a big fan of the original AC band. Influenced me to get an SG for my first electric guitar. After BBB, I wasn’t so crazy about Muscle of Love when it first came out but, have since come to like it a lot. Look up old vids on YouTube. Some crazy shtick going on there.

From Bob K:

Alice Cooper is at the top of my all-time favorite lists and Billion Dollar Babies is such a classic record!! Their last great record, too.

@Tony: I remember hearing that title track the first time, and thinking – wait, who’s that singing, it’s not one of the band. When I grabbed the cover and saw Donovan’s name in the credits, I was like…why would they do that?

My favorite song on the album is the opening track Hello, Hooray, though. Those lyrics are total rock n roll and fit the Alice persona so perfectly. Interestingly enough, he didn’t write them but he has certainly lived them for the last 40+ years.

The original Alice Cooper band was certainly amazing live, but that string of recordings (Love It To Death, Killer, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies) and partnership with Bob Ezrin (Love It To Death was the first record he produced!) was was so far beyond what was happening at the time.

@Bob: April 13, 1973 at the Arena. Yep, I was there with my friend Lindy (RIP). Opening act was Flo & Eddie (with Aynsley Dunbar on drums). By that time, guitarist Glen Buxton – the man with the SG – was so lost, they would plug him into the backline but he cut him out of the live house mix….

That wasn’t my first concert, though – that honor goes to the Alice Cooper/PG&E/Dust show at the Arena Annex on December 17, 1971.

If you ever get a chance, read Bob Greene’s Billion Dollar Baby – on one hand, it’s an awesome insiders look at what touring as a top act in the early 70’s was like, and on the other hand it is a stunning chronicle of a band on the verge of collapse.

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