John Lennon had a clear vision of how artists should behave and believed their platform should help bring about positive change. In fact, Lennon even tried to convert Alice Cooper to this school of thought but, ultimately, the Beatle failed to convince the shock rocker.
The two artists started to frequently associate with one another during Lennon’s drug-fuelled ‘Lost Weekend’ thanks to his sidekick Harry Nilsson, who was also friends with Cooper. Although it seems a strange notion to imagine Cooper hanging around with the late Beatle, they became incredibly close and got on royally despite their perceived differences.
Cooper, it transpires, founded the celebrity drinking club The Hollywood Vampires, with Keith Moon acting as his vice-president, and other initial members included Ringo Starr and Nilsson himself.
Lennon was New York City-based, but whenever he found himself on the other side of America, he’d always find himself drinking with The Hollywood Vampires and later became an honorary member.
It was a dream come true for Cooper to host Lennon in Los Angeles, and he’s previously said on record that he owes everything to The Beatles. Before the Fab Four showed up in his life, Cooper only listened to chart music, but they opened his ears to this whole new world that he explored.
The singer later reflected upon these cherished drunken nights with Lennon during a conversation with the BBC and remembered how it was always a heated encounter whenever Lennon was in town. “John was great,” Cooper told the broadcaster. “You had all these guys that would just like to drink. And Harry [Nilsson] and John, after they drank five or six drinks… It was one of those things, I’d have to sit between them.”
Cooper recalled how Nilsson and Lennon revelled in hostile clashes, even when it was over an unquestionable fact. He continued: “If John said ‘black,’ Harry would say ‘white.’ If Harry would say ‘Republican,’ John would say ‘Democrat.’ And they did it on purpose because they loved to fight with each other. And I’d have to sit them both down and go ‘Stop, stop, stop.'”
He also remembered Lennon’s unflinching political nature and how he constantly tried to make him adopt a similar ethos, but Cooper straight out refused to accept his request. Cooper revealed: “The one thing about John was, he always tried to get me more into politics. John, you’re trying to save the world. I’m just trying to entertain them.”
While it can be crucial for artists to be political, it must be sincere and come from the heart. If the message is inauthentic, people will notice it’s a transparent act, and ultimately, it won’t lead to change. Although Alice Cooper hasn’t tried to write his version of ‘Imagine’, he’s still lit up the world by entertaining audiences over the last 50 years and offering a dosage of escapism from the monotony of day-to-day life.