Rays of light emanating from his mirrored bass. Sinister bass lines underscoring grandiose rock anthems. These are the elements Dennis Dunaway brings to the stage. It's a presence he's refined during the years of his legendary rock career, and that was recognized when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Dennis was the oldest of four in a farm family in Oregon. When placed in a lineup, the classically-coiffed little boy in cowboy garb would have been the least likely suspect as a founding member of legendary shock-rockin’ band, Alice Cooper.
Dennis and his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where, in high school, he became best friends with cross-country teammate Vincent Furnier. Soon after, the duo formed several bands: The Earwigs, The Spiders, and The Nazz. Dennis assumed the role of bassist full force, practicing day in and out, with Alice on vocals, Neal Smith on drums, and Michael Bruce and Glen Buxton on guitars, and they changed the band name to Alice Cooper.
With starry eyes and blistered hands, the band moved to Hollywood and changed their name to Alice Cooper. Amidst a sea of Beatles-influenced light rock and surfer bands, Alice Cooper realized they could catch more attention by integrating provocative theatrics into their shows.
Neal's sister, Cindy, an aspiring fashion designer, understood the band's vision and conceptualized a trailblazing line of androgynous, sequin-adorned costumes that helped coin the term "glam rock."
In tandem, Alice Cooper's musical style evolved into a unique blend of cryptic lyrics and mysterious music, and they began integrating improvised fights, mesmerizing light shows, and feather storms into their stage routines. This caught the attention of Frank Zappa, who signed them to his record label. And the career track that changed rock and roll began.
The band worked constantly the next six years, knocking out two albums every year, and creating the largest and most innovative stage productions ever seen in rock. They were the first band to tour with their own lighting, the first to wear makeup and sequined costumes, and the first to create albums to support elaborate stage productions. In 1971, the band had their first Top 10 single, "I'm Eighteen." In the few years to follow, the group acquired 6 gold and 5 platinum albums, 1 certified triple platinum. Their hit single "School's Out" was the biggest selling single in the history of Warner Bros. records and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2015. Dennis was awarded Best Bass Player of 1974 by Circus Magazine. Their Billion Dollar Babies album reached #1 in America and Britain simultaneously. Their live theatrical concepts set new standards for arena rock shows and their 1973 Billion Dollar Babies Show got them on the cover of Forbes as the highest grossing tour. Alice Cooper were also in the Guinness Book of World Records for drawing the largest indoor audience to their show in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
During the thrilling chaos, Dennis and Cindy Smith fell in love and married.
The band broke up in 1976 as Vince Furnier took the band's name, and theatrical concepts, as his own. The 80s brought the birth of Dennis and Cindy's two daughters, Renée and Chelsea, and also the bands Billion Dollar Babies and Deadringer. Dennis then focused his attention on his family, and continued to write music for his own creative fulfillment.
In the 90s, Dennis went into a month-long hospital stay due to Crohn's disease complications and was flooded with fan mail from around the world. Cued by the kind words of his fans, and by the encouragement of his family, he vowed to perform for live audiences again.
Ever since, Dennis has been back in action, constantly recording and playing shows with bands involving his musical friends.
In 2011, Dennis received a Revolver Golden God Award and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the other members of the original group known as Alice Cooper.
In 2015, Dennis released his much-awaited memoir about the rise of the Alice Cooper group, Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! It has since been released in audiobook format (narrated by Dennis), German translation, and paperback with a new intro by Alice Cooper.
Dennis's fans continue to inspire him to take new risks, staying fresh and current while remaining true to legendary roots.