Alice Cooper Says The 'Disco Plague' Is Why He Has So Many Hit Ballads
By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta
March 15, 2021
For one of hard rock's greatest ambassadors to the general public, Alice Cooper sure has a lot of love songs on his hit list.
Alice's most immortal tracks are heavier numbers like "I'm Eighteen," "School's Out," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Elected" and "Poison." But if you were listening to a lot of radio in the mid-'70s, you would have had reason to believe the Godfather of Shock Rock had metamorphosed into a full-time balladeer.
Alice looked back on this awkward phase in a recent conversation with Q104.3 New York's Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein. He says it was merely a sign of the times.
"There was that time in rock history when the disco plague happened," he recalled. "All of the sudden, radio stations would only play disco. And for Aerosmith and Kiss and Alice Cooper, they would only play our ballads; they didn't want any rock and roll on the air, but they would play ballads.
"So I had four ballad hits in a row. And everybody thought that I'd become like the Frank Sinatra of rock and roll, whereas, the rest of the [songs on the] albums were all hard rock. They just wouldn't play it."
Indeed, since Alice parted ways with his original band in 1975 and officially became a solo artist, his biggest U.S. hits were all ballads: "Only Women Bleed," "I Never Cry," "You and Me" and "How You Gonna See Me Now," which was co-written with Elton John's writing partner Bernie Taupin.
Alice isn't apologetic, though. Despite his aesthetic, he's always been a multi-faceted artist, and each ballad served a purpose on its respective album. But anyone who heard a song like "You and Me" on the radio in 1978 and came to see Alice Cooper in concert was probably in for a surprise.
Alice just released his 21st studio album, Detroit Stories, and he revealed that he's working on three more LPs. Today, he isn't worried about new music airplay or having hits. Detroit Stories debuted at No. 1 in the Billboard Top Albums chart anyway.
Looking back in his catalog, Alice is more interested in turning the volume up on his older material than trying to be more accessible. When asked if he would ever do a Broadway show, Alice replied that he's already got one.
"If I were going to do something on Broadway, I would redo [1975's] Welcome to My Nightmare because it's still valid. Everybody would know every song and we wouldn't water it down."
He continued, noting that Broadway has a style that doesn't always play nice with rock 'n' roll. Keeping Nightmare's teeth sharp would be paramount to the production.
"I think Tommy got watered down on Broadway," he said. "When you hear The Who do Tommy, it's big power chords. It's Keith Moon on drums, it's [John] Entwistle... you know, it's powerful. When it got to Broadway, they realized that they had to water it down because people were coming in from Iowa, and it would be offensive to them — that's the way I heard it. But we would never do that with Nightmare; we would turn it up. ...Find me a producer and we'll do it."
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