Notes From The 3rd Shift: Book Review - “Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group”
“Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!...My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group” by Dennis Dunaway, Alice Cooper’s bass player in his original ‘60s-early ‘70s band, is a must-read. Not only because it will send you scurrying like a musical retro-rat to the dusty box at the back of your closet to dig out Alice Cooper CDs with names like Easy Action and Love It to Death and
Billion Dollar Babies, but because this book also has the Black Juju power to send you out the front door to the nearest dive bar in search of live music.
Really. At least it’s true if you held a lighter instead of a smartphone in the air at arena rock shows. It might even be true if an old person gave you the book for your birthday, and you’re actually trying to read it because they grounded you, and took your phone away for doing something really fun and really stupid, and you’re bored. People do lots of fun stupid things in the book. Dunaway could have added a whole extra set of exclamation-pointed words to the title: “Drugs! Sex! Chickens!” He disinters an era of music and demented goings-on that deserve to be relived. And the music needs to be heard, because of its quality.
In that box at the back of my closet, along with the best of Alice Cooper, are CDs of The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, MC5, Lou Reed, and Paul Butterfield. Dunaway knew many of the musicians in these bands personally. His stories about them, especially Jim Morrison, are highlights in the book. So are his accounts of the girlfriends, groupies, GTOs, and assorted freaks and geeks of Hollywood Boulevard.
But it’s obvious he still holds a special love for his own Alice Cooper group. Especially for his high school buddy Vince Furnier (aka Alice), and guitarist Glen Buxton. According to Dunaway, Rolling Stone Magazine named Buxton one of the hundred best rock guitarists. Listen to the Love It to Death album and judge for yourself. Read the book and judge that for yourself, too. I think you’ll be glad you did both.
(Host of The Haunted Cabaret on RI Free Radio)
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