Magazine article Gramophone

Alice Cooper: The Rock Singer on Discovering Rock 'N' Roll, His New Recording of Peter and the Wolf, and How Classical Music Has Influenced His Own Work

Magazine article Gramophone

Alice Cooper: The Rock Singer on Discovering Rock 'N' Roll, His New Recording of Peter and the Wolf, and How Classical Music Has Influenced His Own Work

Article excerpt

As a child I didn't hear any classical music. My dad was a fan of big band music. He liked Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Dorsey. I absolutely loved that music too.

Then Elvis came along. I was six or seven years old at the time. One day my uncle, who played guitar, came over to our house and put on this record. It was Chuck Berry. My uncle played along with it and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. So that was my introduction to music. From that point on, rock'n'roll was really my music.

My dad was a preacher but he could tell you who played electric bass for The Animals or who played electric guitar in The Yardbirds. He would listen to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and say, 'This is really good!' He wasn't one of those guys who said, 'This is the devil's music'.

My first experience of classical music was at junior high school. Everybody had to study the classics--Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin. Then I met my wife, who was a classical ballerina. She was completely steeped in classical music and ballet so I'd hear a lot of classical music around the house because she was always practising and rehearsing.

You know, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms were the rock stars of their day. They were pretty crazy! They probably did things that were considered oudandish by a lot of their fellow musicians. At the time they were probably considered really avant-garde. But we don't see them like that these days.

There have always been strong operatic elements in my songs. Bob Ezrin, who produced many of my most successful albums, and who also worked with Lou Reed, Pink Floyd and a number of other artists, was classically trained. He added a classical touch to the theatrical ideas I had. My songs had rock-based chord structures but Bob taught us to think classically. He added these classical touches and turned our songs into something different. I liked that. I liked the idea that those things could collide and create something new and refreshing. Great composers will hear something and store it up somewhere in the back of their minds. Then when they're composing, suddenly that line will be in there again, but they won't remember where it came from. …

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