“These guys were in outer space” | Alice Cooper remembers his extraordinary dinner with David Bowie and Ray Bradbury
David Bowie and Alice Cooper were better friends than you thought. It may difficult to imagine all of these monumental rock stars cosying up together with their huge bank balances and even bigger egos. But the truth is, they were all just embryonic egos at one point or another and Cooper and Bowie were, in Cooper’s words, “lifetime rock & roll theatrical comrades.”
As such, we’re taking a trip down memory lane with Alice as our guide as he tells Rolling Stone about a particular dinner party with Bowie and American author Ray Bradbury. Cooper is a long-time friend of Bowie’s “We both started in theatrical rock & roll at the same time, and in some cases we challenged each other to go farther and push the envelope,” he offered Alice a non-competitive but ultimately engaging counterpart. On reflection, there really wasn’t another who could stand toe to toe with Ziggy, but Alice was, in many ways, Bowie‘s inspiration.
“I remember him coming to one of our shows early, early on, before he was David Bowie,” Cooper tells Rolling Stone. “He was David Jones then, and he was a mime then. He came to one of our shows when Alice was really notorious and banned in England. He probably had it in his mind already to be Ziggy Stardust, but this kind of opened that door, because he saw what it could be.”
Despite the media being determined to set the pair against one another, Cooper was adamant this wasn’t the case: “I said, ‘He created an entirely new character,’” Cooper says. “I was pushing that. I was hoping more people would jump into the theatrical part of it and create characters, so there was no animosity between Bowie and myself. If anything, I really admired what he was doing. And I think he liked Alice, what Alice was doing. It was a true admiration: ‘How far are you going to take this?’”
“He was a chameleon,” Cooper continues. “He kept changing what Bowie was going to be, whereas I wanted Alice to be an established Dr. Moriarty type. I wanted Alice to be the mysterious villain of rock where nobody knows where he came from, but he was a hard-rock guy. David kept changing it up and down and over and out. I said, ‘Man, that’s great.’”
Cooper and Bowie created a beautiful friendship together in the late sixties and beyond. Alice then reflects on the dinner he once shared with Bowie and Ray Bradbury. Bradbury, a noted and acclaimed writer, is most famous for his brilliant piece Fahrenheit 451 and other wonderful works. It’s far to say that with both David and Ray at the table the conversation was never going to be straightforward: “It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere, they were talking about quantum physics, and I’m going, ‘So … what kind of car are you driving?’” laughs Cooper.
“I was a little more of the rock-star guy,” Cooper tells RS, reflecting on a conversation now with only one member left. “I got what they were talking about. It’s just not what I was much into. I think I was maybe more interested in the UFO idea, where they were talking about dimensional stuff and I’m going, ‘Yeah, OK.’ But it was great to listen to. You try to chime in every once in a while. I probably came in with a theological way of looking at it, but it was pretty interesting to listen to those guys, and then you try to sift through it and see how much of it is just riffing, how much of it is just one guy trying to impress the other guy. ‘Cause it’s all theoretical. I was just going, ‘You’re way past me here. If you want to talk about horror, then I’m in.’”
It’s a tale of solid friendship which brought a smile to our faces for a few reasons. Firstly, it shows that Alice and David could find a home in one another for their undying commitment to their art. Secondly, the idea of these three guys sitting down to a gentle meal, for some reason, really pleases us. And finally, it’s always good to know, that no matter what, Alice Cooper is a stand-up guy. Facts.