Alice Cooper arrived on the music scene in 1970 like a demented dagger to the heart. From the very start, it was clear he was a devilish figure that was here to pour some fright back into public consciousness. He proudly later recalled his vehement arrival, explaining: “We were into fun, sex, death and money when everybody was into peace and love. We wanted to see what was next. It turned out we were next, and we drove a stake through the heart of the Love Generation.”
Cooper’s brand of shock rock was entirely captivating, whether you liked him and his band or not, one thing that they couldn’t be labelled was ‘unoriginal’. This feature is the most salient ingredient and is something that Cooper has always cherished above all else. It means that when he was asked to create his own supergroup, he made sure it was packed with stars.
Unlike many of these games, ones in which we’re asked to dream up our favourite supergroup or rock festival line-up, we can get drawn to the individuals and not the entire machine. Cooper’s supergroup, however, is a cohesive unit, which would genuinely work together. The singer’s selection doesn’t mash together people from entirely different eras, or genres, with Cooper taking a serious approach to this age-old hypothetical question.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2017, Cooper answered the theoretical question that a fan had sent in and described it as a “classic pub question”. This question is one that every muso on the planet has at one-time considered in their head, with Cooper seemingly spending more time weighing up this speculative situation than many, as he came up with what might well be the definitive answer.
Cooper, quick as a flash, stated: “Keith Moon on drums. Jeff Beck on guitar. Pete Townshend on guitar. Paul McCartney on bass. And then John Lennon on a third guitar! Lennon and McCartney singing together, that’s your whole background.”
The inclusion of The Beatles holy duo of Lennon-McCartney perhaps raises an eyebrow, as, on the surface, the shock rock eyeliner identity of Alice Cooper doesn’t hold an awful lot in common with The Fab Four. However, The Beatles jolted the nation and raised eyebrows in the same way that Alice Cooper would later do, just with a few different notes.
Writing for Classic Rock in 2014, Cooper noted: “Sometimes you get a song that doesn’t mean anything, and you sit there and you go: ‘Oh, okay, they’re not trying to say anything.’ Look at ‘Come Together.’ I spoke to John Lennon about it, and he said the funny thing about that song, people are basing their lives on some of the songs he wrote. He was just trying to make things rhyme. ‘Come Together,’ he says, was just total nonsense. Yet people were taking it apart and going: ‘Oh, this is important to my life!’ Well, okay…”
Cooper continued: “In the prime of Alice Cooper we were getting all this publicity, and I think John understood and really did like the idea that we were so controversial, that we were banned and that we couldn’t care less what Mary Whitehouse said. And he liked the songs. When Elected came out, that to him was like a great poke in the eye to all politics. He came to listen to the record at the office in New York, and he kept bringing people in, like, ‘You’ve gotta hear this record!’ One time he’s walking out and I’m walking in. ‘Hey John, how are you doing?’ ‘Hey Alice! Great record.’ Then he says: ‘Paul would have done it better.’ And I went: ‘Well, of course he would – he’s Paul McCartney!’ The fact that he loved the record was a big deal.”
Cooper has also spoken on the record about how The Who, and Jeff Beck’s former outfit The Yardbirds, influenced the band in the early days. Famously, Keith Moon was an ardent drinking buddy of Cooper’s and both were members of the ‘Hollywood Vampires’ hedonism gang, which is now, of course, the name of the singer’s supergroup alongside Johnny Depp and Joe Perry.
“We were much more smitten with the Yardbirds and the Who than the Beatles and The Stones,” he surprisingly once proclaimed. “The Yardbirds were our band but The Who was what we wanted to be. We used to play with the Who at the Grande Ballroom [actually the Grande Riveria] in Detroit, it held 3000, and we would play and The Who would play, and my drummer Neal Smith would always find out how many drums Keith had and add one! At one point they were both on stage with all their drums and Keith came up and played with us and there was 70 drums.”
Imagining the supergroup that Cooper has dreamed up is an opiating thought that gets the pulses going, even envisaging it for a split-second. Mixing The Who in-their-peak with The Beatles and throwing Jeff Beck in for good measure is a recipe for a celestial cocktail that unfortunately will have to remain left to our collective imaginations.
Alice Cooper’s dream supergroup
- Keith Moon – drums
- Pete Townshend – guitar
- Jeff Beck – guitar
- Paul McCartney – bass/vocals
- John Lennon – guitar/vocals