Alice Cooper keeps a black Alexander McQueen cane with a solid silver skull in “a very special place” in his house. Of the many canes that have been signature parts of Cooper’s show for decades, it’s this one that’s become the singer’s most sentimental.
“It wasn’t just a cane, but it was a cane that he was actually using before he got into the wheelchair,” Cooper says. “So now, every time I look at that, I can’t help thinking about Kerry.”
“Kerry” is Kerry Simon, the celebrity chef adored by some of the biggest names in rock & roll who died earlier this month at age 60 to the rare neurodegenerative disease multiple system atrophy. The former Iron Chef winner was a wildly successful restaurateur with an empire stretching from South Beach to Los Angeles. In the early Nineties, Rolling Stone dubbed him “The Rock & Roll Chef,” a name that would stick for the rest of his career.
What exactly does Cooper remember about Simon when he looks at that silver cane; and what was it about the young, upstart chef who “looked like he probably played lead guitar in a band somewhere, not like a chef” that not only pulled so many rockers into his orbit, but left many of them mourning his passing?
“He was just comfortable to be with and I think that’s something that rockers look for,” says Cooper. “He just had this natural vibe to him. He seemed more like a guy that would have somehow been involved in music a lot heavier than he was, but I think that’s what appealed to everybody.”
Simon’s allure to musicians even extended to those unfamiliar with his cooking abilities.
“I actually never got to one of his restaurants,” admits Aerosmith‘s Joe Perry, a close friend of Simon’s. “[But] so much of it has to do with who you are outside of your actual talent. You can write a hit song, or your paintings can get recognized, and all the sudden you’re on that next level – but a lot of people change with that. And he did not seem to have that at all, He just seemed to be the same guy. And that’s what made him special.
“There’s a reason they called him the ‘Rock & Roll Chef’,” adds the guitarist. “Somebody like that, you feel like you’ve known him for a while, or you’ve met him before, and that’s the common thing with that rock & roll spirit – and he definitely had that through and through. I felt like I’d known him before.”