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Book Review: Alice Cooper @ 75 by Gary Graff  

“Cooper @ 75” is, I believe, the third in a series of books from Quatro Publishing that looks at iconic pop/rock performers “through the lens of 75 significant career achievements and life events.”  (My review of “Bowie @ 75” is available here . I did not read Gillian Gaar’s book on “Elton @ 75). As I noted in the Bowie review, these are visually appealing projects that land somewhere between biography, photo journal, and a coffee table book. Extras in the packaging for “Alice @ 75” include a suitable for framing 8×10 pic of Cooper draped with a boa constrictor, a 13×19 pic of an older Alice (still wearing more makeup than Boy George and Marilyn Manson put together), and a 13×19 vintage concert poster reproduction.  

Cooper was an important figure in rock ‘n’ roll history. His theatrical approach to hard rock music bridged the gap between the British Invasion and 70’s movements such as glam and punk rock. The ever-quotable Cooper notes that his band put “a stake in the heart of the peace-and-love generation.” (The author enjoyed this quote, using it twice and a variation of the quote a third time).  

“Alice @ 75” moves along at a breezy pace, chronicling Cooper’s upbringing, the forming of the Alice Cooper band, being signed by Frank Zappa, the infamous chicken incident, etc. Author Gary Graff takes a very workmanlike approach to the subject and there are plenty of colorful quotes from Alice. Cooper noted that working with producer Bob Ezrin (“our George Martin”) was the key to moving from a weird cult act to mainstream success. After the success of the half a boy and half a man “I’m Eighteen,” the band was off to the races. Cooper, on perhaps his most famous song, “When we did ‘School’s Out,’ I knew we had just done the national anthem. I’ve become the Francis Scott Key of the last day of school.”  

The major problem with this book is that the glory days of Alice Cooper, as a hitmaker with his band and as a solo artist, are completed less than halfway through its 200 pages.  There are a lot of filler chapters like “Cooper’s Unlikely Early Friendship with Pink Floyd,” “Actor Ken Osmond’s Mistaken Identity as Alice Cooper,” and “Cooper Stands with the Snake for Wrestlemania III.”  

This is a book that diehard Cooper fans will love and he’s clearly a smart, talented man who frequently pushed boundaries with great success. He understood rock music and popular culture well enough to be accepted in rock ‘n’ roll and by mainstream audiences. However, the depth of his work isn’t at the scope to adequately fill this 75-chapter tome. By the way, did you know that Alice enjoys golfing and nice cars?  

Grade: B  


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