Alice Cooper Producer Bob Ezrin Recalls the Concert That Made Him a Fan for Life
Producer Bob Ezrin has helmed some of the most successful albums in rock 'n' roll history, including Kiss' Destroyer and Pink Floyd's The Wall, but he'll arguably always be best known for his long association with Alice Cooper — a creative partnership that, as he recalled during a recent Consequence of Sound profile, rose out of an early Cooper gig at Max's Kansas City.
At the time, Ezrin worked under producer Jack Richardson, who was fending off repeated phone calls from Cooper's manager, Shep Gordon — and ultimately fobbed Gordon off on Ezrin, who heard a glimmer of potential in Cooper's first couple of records and decided to check out his band at the New York club. Entering a scene filled with "people who looked stranger than any group of people I'd ever seen in my life," Ezrin witnessed a rock spectacle that left him an immediate convert.
"My friend and I sat down at the table in front of the stage, I was 18 inches away from Alice Cooper, and by the time the show was over, my friend and I were wide-eyed and slack-jawed, overwhelmed," he recalled. "I said, ‘What the f--- was that?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, but I think I liked it.’ I said, ‘I think I loved it.’"
Thus inflamed, Ezrin went back to work, where he wouldn't rest until he swayed Richardson. He remembers standing on his boss's desk at one point, explaining, "This is not about music. It’s a cultural movement. This is the beginning of something. They have sets and props, the audience dresses like them, wears makeup like them, we gotta get in on this."
Sufficiently browbeaten, Ezrin said his superiors finally yielded, saying "'Okay, if you like it so much, you do it.' That," he noted, "is how I became a record producer."
Cooper and Ezrin stuck together for a string of classic records that started with 1971's Love It to Death and continued through 1977's The Alice Cooper Show — and though they parted ways for a time thereafter, Cooper's turned to Ezrin's expertise repeatedly over the years, using him as a producer or executive producer on a number of latter-day efforts — including his recent all-star Hollywood Vampires project.
It was Ezrin, admitted Cooper, who came up with the idea for the Vampires record in the first place. Calling him "the only other person that actually knows who Alice Cooper is," he said, "Bob came up with the idea, ‘Let’s concentrate it on all the guys that you drank with in L.A., the Hollywood Vampires, the ones that are all dead.' I like the title ‘All My Dead Drunk Friends.’ It’s just offensive enough to work, but all those guys would have totally got it."
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