Photo by Len DeLessio
As soon as
heard the Dec. 15 announcement that the original Alice Cooper band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2011, we couldn’t resist ringing up that esteemed quintet’s bassist, Dennis Dunaway, to ask him what he thought about it.
Dunaway is the guy who played all those amazingly twisted bass parts on all those 1969-1974 original-era Cooper hits like “I’m Eighteen,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “School’s Out,” “Elected,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and more, often on a mirror-covered Fender Jazz Bass guitar that really has to be seen to be believed. “Alice Cooper” was actually the name of the entire group, which also included Alice himself, guitarists Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce, and drummer Neil Smith. Buxton passed away in 1997. The group’s groundbreaking glam look and shock-rock theatrics were the stuff of legend, but underneath it all was a rock-solid foundation of hit-writing chops and highly creative and dexterous musicianship.
The four surviving members of the Alice Cooper band have remained friends over the years, occasionally performing together. They will do so once again at the 26th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on March 14, 2011, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Further, Dunaway, Bruce and Smith will all appear on Cooper’s forthcoming Welcome to My Nightmare II album.
And although we interrupted Dunaway’s morning coffee, he was more than happy to comment …
FN: You, sir, are inducted. Congratulations.
Yes, yes, it’s official today. It’s celebration time.
FN: How does it feel?
Oh, it’s great. It’s really a validation of what all our fans have said all along. And like I said to somebody yesterday, it kind of proves that we haven’t been crazy all these years (laughs).
FN: And it’s for the entire Alice Cooper band. That’s got to feel great.
Yes, it does. And the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in light of all of the criticism that’s always fired at them over the years, I think they deserve a tip of the hat for this one, in recognizing the original band.
FN: What did the other guys say about it?
Oh, we’re all in very good spirits over it. Our rehearsal yesterday sounded great, and we’re all excited about celebrating. We’re working with Steve Hunter, and he sounds great—he’s taking Glen’s parts.
FN: What would Glen have thought of all this?
Oh, Glen would have been thrilled about it, no question. I wish I could think of a quote that’s as clever as what he probably would’ve come up with. I think that he would be ready to party (
). I do miss having him here for this.
FN: Imagine how exciting it’ll be to perform at that ceremony …
Yeah. And even more than that, just rehearsing with the original members—it just sounds right. As soon as Neil and I start playing, and Michael, and of course with Alice on top, it just feels like it always has supposed to feel. And I’ve played these songs with so many great musicians; I’ve played “I’m Eighteen” sitting in with musicians in New York—top-notch guys—and no matter how good they are, it just always sounds different. But you get Michael (Bruce), and as soon as we start playing, he sounds like Michael.
FN: The old chemistry is still there.
Yep. That’s the best. So we’re all excited. It’s unbelievable. The amount of communications that have been coming in—e-mails and phone calls—over this have been overwhelming. I talked to Alice about that; I said, “If my phone is ringing off the hook, I can just imagine yours.” He said his phone exploded (laughs).