Sometimes, too many rock stars can spoil a jam, as Alice Cooper can all too vividly recall about one session with some of the most illustrious names to ever pick up an instrument. That said, booze was the only thing that was on their minds on this occasion.
Cooper’s brand of shock rock was captivating, and his peers adored him as much as the audiences. It didn’t matter if you liked him and his band or not; in the seventies and eighties, it would be challenging not to have an opinion on their every move. Getting into a session with Cooper was something that almost every musician would dream of doing and, during a period of time, there was nobody more notorious than him.
He was like nobody else working within the music industry, and there was a compelling charm to Cooper that nestled within people’s hearts. Although he was already a thriving artist who’d achieved moderate levels of success, 1972’s School’s Out elevated Cooper to household name status, and everybody wanted a piece of him.
“Well, we had already done [1972’s] School’s Out, which was, it was a number one album in England, and so we decided to record Billion Dollar Babies at Morgan Studios in London,” Cooper told 95.5 KLOS. “And we got there, and so we’re pretty much at the end of a session, and all of a sudden, here comes Harry Nilsson, Marc Bolan, Ringo [Starr], Keith Moon, Ric Grech, and they all decide they’re gonna play on a song.
“What they didn’t realise was that we were just as drunk at that point of the night. Ezrin was the only one that was sober because it was the end of the night. We’d already finished recording. So Keith Moon picks up a guitar, Harry Nilsson gets on the drums, everybody’s playing the instrument they don’t play, the only guy playing a real instrument I think was Marc Bolan. To this day, we can’t remember who played on what on that album.”
As you can imagine, things didn’t exactly go to plan, and they hardly created the magic you’d expect from such esteemed names. However, even the greats have an off-day. While the music they made that day wasn’t anything of note, the memories they produced for Cooper may be a little hazy but will last forever.
“There was a version of ‘Put the Lime in the Coconut,’ that if it ever gets released, we’ll all be in jail,” he added. “There was another version of ‘Jailhouse Rock’ I think we did, and finally, Bob Ezrin had to put an end to the session because it was just so incredibly silly.”
“We started doing the credits on the album, we couldn’t remember where Marc Bolan played, what song, and we couldn’t remember where Harry played piano, or where Keith Moon played drums or Ringo, any of that stuff. I mean, that was definitely one of the… When you hear stories about the ’70s, this was one of the stories. This was equal to the lost weekend that night at the Morgan Studios.”
The sheer amount of debauched behaviour that Cooper and his cronies packed into one evening is what you’d expect if you put a number of larger than life characters in a room with an endless supply of booze. The result was either going one or two ways, and they’d stumble on a moment of unhinged genius or something not fit for public consumption. Sadly, the toss of the coin didn’t land on the correct side that night at Morgan Studios.