Alice Cooper Played a Surprise Reunion With His Original Band at Good Records

Good Records has hosted many great in-store signings and shows, but Tuesday night, they made rock 'n' roll history when all of the surviving members of the Alice Cooper Group played an 8-song set.

On Monday, rumors floated around that the former Vince Furnier would join guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith for the first time since Alice Cooper’s induction into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. But nothing was set in stone. It just so happened Alice Cooper the solo artist would be in town a day early during a tour with Mötley Crüe while Dunaway, Smith and Bruce were in town to do a Q&A for Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!, Dunaway’s memoir of the days when Alice Cooper was a band and not just the name of its frontman.

By Tuesday evening, more rumors were abound in the parking lot of the Lower Greenville mainstay. Owner/manager Chris Penn would not explicitly say Cooper would show up and play, but he didn’t deny it. A couple hundred people gained access to the store after purchasing a copy of Dunaway’s book and no one was turned away.

After Robert Wilonsky moderated the Q&A with Smith, Dunaway and Bruce, where stories of the band’s early days were discussed, the signing slowly began. The three sat in fake electric chairs on pink Astroturf, under balloons that spelled out Alice Cooper. Everyone got a green ticket with a number and the numbers were called by groups. While many people got books, records, posters and other memorabilia signed, a visibly stressed Penn told the remaining people in line that the cut-off for signing would be 9:45. Simply, the signing line went too slow, but Penn offered people a chance to leave merch to be signed at the store or at the after-party at Midnight Rambler.

The people that did get signed merch were asked to wait in the parking lot and come back in when the band was ready to play. Joined by guitarist Ryan Roxie taking the parts left by the deceased Glen Buxton, Bruce took lead on the first song, “Caught in a Dream." When the second tune started, Cooper took the stage to rapturous applause. Going into “I’m Eighteen” for the third song, it was apparent this version of the Alice Cooper Group is the kind that is never seen in public. There were no snakes, chickens, pillow feathers, confetti, or guillotines; it was simply Detroit-styled R&B, garage rock and blues filtered through the Beatles, the Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones and Frank Zappa. In other words, it was a way to enjoy the tunes as great tunes, not mediocre tunes masked by costumes and theatrics.
Cooper had a lot of great quips between songs, like mentioning it had been 40 years since they played “Is It My Body” and how Paul McCartney was afraid of “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Rounding out with the great sing-along to “School’s Out,” the five left the stage and the crowd wanted an encore. After a handful of minutes of “Will they or won’t they?” they came back onto the stage and did “Elected.”

By 11:00, the reunion was all over, but people came away happy. The majority of the crowd was an over-45 crowd, but they clearly loved Cooper as a lifelong artist, not just something they listened to during teenage growing pains. A number of people flew from California to see this potential reunion while many others were from around the DFW area. They certainly got to see something that was super-rare and extremely memorable. 
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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs

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