When David Bowie died last month, Alice Cooper released a statement in tribute to what he called one of his "lifetime rock & roll theatrical comrades." "We both started in theatrical rock & roll at the same time, and in some cases we challenged each other to go farther and push the envelope," he wrote. Now, in conversation with Rolling Stone about Hollywood Vampires' upcoming tribute to Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister at the Grammys, the shock rocker offered a deeper look at his friendship with Bowie.
"I remember him coming to one of our shows early, early on, before he was David Bowie," Cooper says. "He was David Jones then, and he was a mime then. He came to one of our shows when Alice was really notorious and banned in England. He probably had it in his mind already to be Ziggy Stardust, but this kind of opened that door, because he saw what it could be."
Cooper also dispelled any notion of a rivalry between Bowie and him, despite his feeling that the press at the time attempted to spark a feud. "I said, 'He created an entirely new character,'" Cooper says. "I was pushing that. I was hoping more people would jump into the theatrical part of it and create characters, so there was no animosity between Bowie and myself. If anything, I really admired what he was doing. And I think he liked Alice, what Alice was doing. It was a true admiration: 'How far are you going to take this?'
"He was a chameleon," Cooper continues. "He kept changing what Bowie was going to be, whereas I wanted Alice to be an established Dr. Moriarty type. I wanted Alice to be the mysterious villain of rock where nobody knows where he came from, but he was a hard-rock guy. David kept changing it up and down and over and out. I said, 'Man, that's great.'"
After Cooper's initial meeting with Bowie in the late Sixties, they later forged a friendship. Once, they even had dinner together with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. "It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere," he says. "They were talking about quantum physics, and I'm going, 'So ... what kind of car are you driving?'" Cooper laughs.
"I was a little more of the rock-star guy," Cooper continues, reflecting on the conversation. "I got what they were talking about. It's just not what I was much into. I think I was maybe more interested in the UFO idea, where they were talking about dimensional stuff and I'm going, 'Yeah, OK.' But it was great to listen to. You try to chime in every once in a while. I probably came in with a theological way of looking at it, but it was pretty interesting to listen to those guys, and then you try to sift through it and see how much of it is just riffing, how much of it is just one guy trying to impress the other guy. 'Cause it's all theoretical. I was just going, 'You're way past me here. If you want to talk about horror, then I'm in.'"